After all the hype (and massive letdown) from Day 1 at SXSW in the form of The Evil Dead remake, my second day viewing consisted of 18 short films over two blocks. The first, Shorts Program 1, did not provide any Bloody Disgusting-worthy material other than a brief crime scene shot featured in Kat Candler’s brilliant Black Metal, which was featured here in whole this past January. (I also worked on the film as a crime and music scene consultant and as music supervisor.)
The second block, however, is where the beefy center was located — the Midnight Shorts — at 9:00pm. Go figure? SXSW Shorts Programmer Claudette Godfrey appropriately set the tone with beer in hand and F-bombs on her lips, despite the early hour. What followed was a mixed-leaning-towards-solid bag of sex, guns, and shrubs.
The best of the batch included the Austin-centric Hell No, which posited the question, “What if the characters in a horror film actually made the right choices?” Director Joe Nicolosi evokes the best of horror cliches and simply says, “No more stupid choices.” The result is a bloody good riot.
On a more serious tip is Child Eater, directed by Erlingur Thoroddsen and starring Cait Bliss. A modern-day take on The Boogeyman about a demented character who eats the eyes of children. It’s moody, humorous, and not afraid to put kids in harm’s way. Bliss should easily make the leap from short film lead to feature lead any day now.
Director/screenwriter Caleb Johnson’s Root also stars a phenomenal lead actress in Kara Durrett. Her character has a dangerous liaison that leads to arboricultural transmitted disease that must be extracted. “Wince” is too polite a word to describe the emotion coursing through the crowd during the bathtub scene.
Finally, the big Midnight Shorts Audience favorite winner was The Apocalypse. I caught it at Sundance and thought it was funny. The premise is simple — everyone who thinks causes their heads to explode. The special effects were good, but the second time around, this short did not cut it for me. The introduction of the girl in a towel and the airhead paramedic actually ruined the ending for me. Definitely, a one trick pony of a short. Judge for yourself.
Corey Mitchell writes best-selling true crime books, watches and writes about horror movies, and listens to and writes about heavy metal. He is also the co-founder and director of the Housecore Horror Film Festival and co-author of Philip Anselmo’s upcoming autobiography.