Horror in Short: ‘ABC’s of Death’ Favorites Round-up
by Marc Patterson
There are only a couple of more weeks for voting in Drafthouse Film’s ABC’s of Death Contest. For those not in the know, Drafthouse Films has put together a roster of 25 filmmakers who are currently creating some really cool genre flicks, and tasked them with creating a short film – each short to be focused on a particular letter of the alphabet. The project is simply titled The ABC’s of Death. Kinda fucked up, in a kids book turns murderous way. For those readers who are familiar with our common English alphabet you probably noticed that I said 25 directors, not 26, which is to say they’re running one director light. That’s not by mistake, more like by design. They’ve opened up the field to filmmakers everywhere to craft a compelling short film (using the letter T) and submit it to their website, where by popular vote the top films will be watched by the other 25 directors, and one title chosen for inclusion in this monumental project. Pretty fuckin’ cool, right?
Well – being that I’m a big fan of the short horror film I took myself to task to watch as many of these films as humanly possible in the course of one day and then selected a handful that I thought were worthy of inclusion. I didn’t care about who the filmmaker was, I only looked for a few key essentials, things that I look for in any good horror short.
First, I wanted to see originality. It was amazing how many submissions were completely redundant, or resorted to playing up to an established formula. Finding a film that was truly original and entertaining turned out to be a lot harder than you’d think. The film needed to immediately engage me in the first few seconds, and needed to avoid cliche attention grabbing gimmicks. (I was shocked – okay maybe not completely shocked – at how many films touted big tits as their gimmick). Up next – the film needed to be well shot. Considering it’s going to be included among some other fantastic entries by established filmmakers, the piece really needs to shine and look good. A great idea executed amateurishly just wouldn’t pass muster. Finally, it needed to do something really cool with death.
So with that said – here are my favorite flicks from the massive crop of entries. (In no particular order)
T is for Trick – Directed by Shade Rupe – This was a surprising entry for me. I didn’t even know Shade made films! What I liked about T is for Trick was that it had this eerie overture that dug into my spine. The sound design complemented the stalking horror, and capped it off with a twisted little ending.
T is for Tickles – Directed by Dan Riesser – This piece was possibly the most original of the bunch. It’s a lighter film, but extremely clever and well shot. A thoroughly humorous spin on the old torture/revenge set-up.
T is for Tamales – Directed by Lex Ortega & Sergio Tello – This short does a fantastic job of portraying an abused wife who takes revenge on her nasty husband by cooking up some Tamales. A real contender for the finals.
T is for Time – Directed by Jeremías Segovia – This was perhaps the most emotionally compelling of the group. It follows a death worker – think the Grim Reaper gone corporate – who in the monotony of his job is unable to execute a task. A simple, but effective piece.
T is for Trap – Directed by Alberto Lopez – I thought this film had a brilliant set-up and great use of atmosphere and tension building. I was a little let down at how it was resolved, but otherwise a very solid short.
T is for Talk – Directed by Peter Haynes – The only true “splatter” piece that I’ve picked for this feature. It starts by taking an interesting twist on the deplorable torture porn genre and then kicks the audience straight in the balls in the final moments.
T is for Termite – Directed by Steve Daniels – This short was a great take on survivalist post-apocalyptic horror, featuring a slick opening editing sequence that just made the cassette tape cool again. What I really liked is that the film framed out a larger story taking place that left me wanting to see more. Well done.
If you want to view more shorts you can do so at the official website.