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I will forever champion the short film medium. There’s just something so impressive and satisfying about a complete and cohesive story that you can enjoy in such a limited amount of time—sometimes in as few as two or three minutes. It’s challenging enough to pull off such a feat within a feature-length production (we’re well aware of how many disappointments have fallen short). When it comes to horror, though, genre fans are arguably more finicky about what they want to see than within perhaps any other style of film, so it stands to reason that horror shorts are under that much more scrutiny and face a greater challenge in trying to impress and entertain the viewer while also delivering on the requisite story elements.

With Halloween fast approaching, we’ve compiled a playlist of horror shorts that we’re dying for you to see. There’s a little something from every dark nook and cranny of the genre for you to enjoy here so dig in, get spooked, and then come back and discuss your favorites with us.


invaders

Title: Invaders
Directed By: Jason Kupfer
Release Year: 2014
Runtime: 6 Minutes

Invaders is hands down one of my favorite things I’ve seen in recent memory—across any medium. Usually I might argue that this one goes by even too fast, but it’s so perfect in its succinct execution that I really wouldn’t want it any other way. If anything, the ultra-brief duration just makes you want to rewatch it that much more. Focusing on the lead-up to a home invasion, two robbers plot their approach and are met with some obstacles. It’s so simple but it’s downright hilarious and over-the-top in all the right ways. This is pitch-perfect pitch-black comedy.


bobby-yeah-feature

Title: Bobby Yeah
Directed By: Robert Morgan
Release Year: 2011
Runtime: 23 minutes

Ever since I saw The Cat With Hands in high school (over 10 years ago) I’ve kept a keen eye on Robert Morgan’s work. The British filmmaker is yet to make a bad picture, but apart from his “D Is For Deloused” segment of ABCs Of Death 2, 2011’s Bobby Yeah has stayed with me the most out of all his works. Maybe it’s because of its runtime (double the length of his second longest short film) which allows for much more material to resonate in my mind, but regardless, Bobby Yeah is a truly horrifying nightmare of an experience. Morgan’s style of stop-motion animation is downright disgusting in an absolutely surreal way. With grotesque designs cast in vivid color and grossly glistening textures on his characters and creatures, everything looks visceral and nauseating. On top of the visuals, the brilliant sound editing often adds an extra layer of frightening detail that makes the entire production that much more memorable—or one that you can’t wait to get out of your mind.


blinky-pic

Title: Blinky™
Directed By: Ruairi Robinson
Release Year: 2011
Runtime: 13 Minutes

Everything about Blinky™ surprised me upon my first viewing. The visuals are stunning, as is the acting, score, cinematography, and just about every other aspect of it. Led by Max Records (Where The Wild Things Are, The Sitter) and one of the cutest robots I’ve seen on screen probably ever, this short is terrifying in the way Child’s Play is terrifying, only with a more realistic premise that utilizes the endless rise of technology as its backbone, along with a heartbreaking theme relatable to millions. It’s a slow-burner that you would initially never consider any type of horror film, but just let it play out; you won’t regret it.


cargo-movie

Title: Cargo
Directed By: Ben Howling & Yolanda Ramke
Release Year: 2013
Runtime: 7 Minutes

As a father, Cargo is hard to watch. It’s gorgeous and tragic. It doesn’t rely on the overuse of typical horror devices, and honestly, the only thing terrifying about it is the reality of the situation and the “what if?” you might find yourself circling in your head—especially if you’re a parent. I found myself appreciating the smart use of no dialogue which isn’t needed in this case to portray the emotion and tragedy onscreen, thanks to pitch perfect acting, a poignant score, and stunning cinematography. Within an over-saturated sub-genre of horror, Cargo takes a look at a side and situation rarely explored, one that I personally found much more interesting emotionally with an entirely different kind of terror.


suckablood

Title: Suckablood
Directed By: Ben Tillett & Jake Cuddihy
Release Year: 2012
Runtime: 7 Minutes

Beginning with a terrific title design, Suckablood wastes no time in showing off its qualities; fantastic cinematography, make-up, costumes, sound design, and more make it immediately clear that this is a top-notch production. Led by an amazing narration from Ben Tillett and the no-dialogue acting of the young Holly Jacobson, Suckablood will likely terrify any child, but mostly those who suck their thumbs. Between the horrifying visuals and the beautifully ominous, orchestral score, Suckablood serves not only as one of my favorite horror shorts, but as a remedy for parents who can’t get their child to keep their thumbs dry. It’s a cautionary tale of sorts…


unedited-bear

Title: Unedited Footage Of A Bear
Directed By: Ben O’Brien & Alan Resnick
Release Year: 2014
Runtime: 11 Minutes

Not long after Too Many Cooks went viral, Adult Swim concluded their 2014 series of “infomercials” with Unedited Footage Of A Bear, an 11-minute video so horrifyingly bizarre that I still think about it semi-regularly almost two years later. What starts out as a harmless 30 seconds of footage focused on a grizzly bear doing nothing at all soon turns into a commercial for a nasal spray called Claridryl. But, over the course of the remaining 10 minutes, the commercial spirals into complete madness in the way Kubrick’s The Shining slow-burns its way into making you immensely uncomfortable and entirely disturbed. The soundtrack is brilliant. The acting is brilliant. The small-print disclaimers are brilliant. Side effects may vary.


vintage-blood

Title: Vintage Blood
Directed By: Abigail Blackmore
Release Year: 2015
Runtime: 14 Minutes

Starring Indira Varma (Game Of Thrones, Luther) in a charming lead role, Vintage Blood comes off as an English version of a Tales From The Crypt episode, which is immediately appealing in and of itself. Mostly set in a small, retro boutique, the short is surprisingly quite funny throughout, yet something ominous lurks in the ether at all times—a tension you’re aware of until the final credits roll. Vintage Blood isn’t exactly scary per se, as it’s laid out more as a dark comedy than a straight-up horror, but the creepy elements are there; they’re just overshadowed a bit by the hilariously smart dialogue delivered by the film’s interesting and charismatic characters.


dead-hearts

Title: Dead Hearts
Directed By: Stephen W. Martin
Release Year: 2014
Runtime: 17 Minutes

For something a bit lighter than what most of this list has to offer, Dead Hearts is an absolute delight. Though not without faults, this short manages to be both cute and whimsical with elements of dark comedy while also including some quirky gore and a fun Halloween aesthetic throughout. Throw in some mixed-media, gorgeous cinematography, and what appears to be some Wes Anderson-style inspiration, and you’ve got a fantastic formula that could potentially be enjoyed by the whole family—but in the way that The Addams Family delivers on that front.


umta

Title: The United Monster Talent Agency
Directed By: Greg Nicotero
Release Year: 2010
Runtime: 8 Minutes

This short is a must-see for fans of classic horror; everything from the Universal Monsters of the ’30s and ’40s to your favorite masked murderers of the ’70s and ’80s. Directed by make-up and effects mastermind Greg Nicotero, The United Monster Talent Agency parodies all the best monsters in horror with a fun, black-and-white spoof that takes a look at the inner workings of the fictional UMTA. With cameos from some of horror’s greatest talents (Jeffrey Combs, Frank Darabont, Eli Roth, et al.) and verbal and visual references aplenty, this short was clearly made with a true love for the genre by those who have worked within it for years.


night-slasher

Title: Night Of The Slasher
Directed By: Shant Hamassian
Release Year: 2015
Runtime: 11 Minutes

Night Of The Slasher is a short created for horror fans by a horror fan. Writer-director Shant Hamassian clearly adores the genre; it’s evident in nearly every aspect of the film. Impressively shot in one continuous take, Slasher is a clever piece of work that’s deceptive in its predictability and thrilling for most of its 11-minute runtime. Although hampered mildly by clumsy dialogue, it’s an entertaining experience for genre fans, with meta jokes that will surely evoke some laughs. If it doesn’t feel entirely fleshed-out as a comprehensive concept, that might be because it’s supposedly only one portion of a feature-length script. If that is indeed the case, my interest is piqued for the lengthier product to follow.


dont-move-short-film

Title: Don’t Move
Directed By: Anthony Melton
Release Year: 2013
Runtime: 14 Minutes

Don’t Move is a fraught horror-thriller that takes place in one tight location with a handful of unfortunate players. Perfectly vague and ripe with intensity in every frame, this Bloody Cuts Films production is bloody indeed—very bloody. The acting is fantastic (mostly in the facial reactions from all involved), the creepy sound design accentuates the onscreen terror perfectly, and the creature design on the ghastly entity stalking the doomed participants is fantastically horrifying, reminiscent of something from the mind of Guillermo del Toro. The presumed measly budget on this was put to excellent use.


arret

Title: Arrêt Pipi
Directed By: Maarten Groen
Release Year: 2015
Runtime: 6 Minutes

If you’ve ever taken a bathroom break on a road trip at some dismal truck stop in the middle of nowhere, Arrêt Pipi will feel a bit familiar. But imagine that brief experience that you likely dubbed as “disgusting” and “horrifying” truly being both of those things and then some. Imagine it being downright deadly. Skimping on plot, director Maarten Groen instead goes for well-crafted style and scares with familiar horror themes that play out perfectly across its concise runtime. I’d call it a slow-burn but it happens so fast that it’s more of a flash fire; it does build in both creepiness and intensity, though, from the moment this French couple parks their car at the restroom.


game

Title: Game
Directed By: Josh MacDonald
Release Year: 2013
Runtime: 8 Minutes

Game is a short I was able to see early before its official release a few years back, and it’s stayed with me a bit ever since. Produced by Angus Swantee and edited by Jason Eisener (Treevenge, Hobo With A Shotgun), Game is a gritty, backwoods horror with an excellent twist that’s revealed at its midpoint. With some dark comedy thrown in for good measure, this 8-minute romp through swamp is a memorable blast of fun and terror.