SXSW 2016: Midnight Shorts selections offer a great variety from budding filmmakers

Title: Night Of The Slasher
Director: Shant Hamassian
Length: 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.

Seth sxsw short

Title: Seth
Director: Zach Lasry
Length: 14 minutes

Seth is a flamboyantly animated man-child who owns an outlandish collection of stuffed animals. Inspired by the drive and success of the great Michael Jordan, Seth sets out to achieve all of his goals in one day—all 12 of them. The most intimidating challenge—the last on his list following largely peculiar, semi-disturbing tasks—is to impress his mostly unimpressionable father, who has no problem admitting his distaste for his son.

Logan George, who’s primarily worked in short films at this point, has a bright comedic future on screen and/or stage. As the titular lead, George sells the character with an hilarious performance, somehow managing to add a likable charm to Seth’s absurd and ofttimes disconcerting behavior.

an arms length sxsw short

Title: An Arm’s Length
Director: Max Weiland
Length: 10 minutes

An Arm’s Length is a dark-humored, narrative short from London-based writer/director Max Weiland that follows a Jewish pre-teen and his frustrating, years-long battle to detach from his (s)mother. Well-acted and technically proficient (in terms of editing and cinematography) with a great soundtrack and practical effects, An Arm’s Length may be slightly disturbing to a sensitive viewer, but the dry humor, universally relatable subject matter (to those with excessively protective, suffocating parents) and metaphorical climax make this short highly memorable and a must-see for any fan of dark, British comedies.

Night Stalker sxsw short

Title: Night Stalker
Directors: New Media Ltd.
Length: 10 minutes

Directed by the filmmaker collective New Media Ltd., Night Stalker is a stylishly surreal, mixed-media short that juxtaposes live action and animation in an impressive double music video. Often cast in eye-catching neon glows, and showcasing the tracks “Cut To The Chase” and “Might’ve Heard” by Brooklyn’s Fort Lean, this 10-minute short features karaoke, poisoned Chinese takeout and nightmarish, hallucinatory(?) sequences. Led by a frightening, face-stealing monster of sorts and disturbing versions of the short’s real-life leads, the animation is visually akin to the works of Robert Morgan and Allison Schulnik—undeniably unsettling if you’re familiar. Though, with an execution all its own, Night Stalker is wholly original and unforgettable at its core.

snatchers sxsw short

Title: Snatchers
Directors: Stephen Cedars, Benji Kleiman
Length: 5 minutes

Snatchers is a brief horror-comedy focused on Sara, a teen who has no choice but to visit a clinic after an abrupt pregnancy—so abrupt that she’s become full-term overnight. Starring Mary Lepi in the lead role, Gabrielle Elyse as her judgmental support system and Transparent‘s Amy Landecker as the nurse attending to this bizarre situation, Snatchers is undeniably entertaining, even if it’s steeped in immature dialogue and a bit of awkward acting. Despite being set entirely in one single room, Snatchers pulls off a lot in its short runtime; most impressively its ultra-bloody finale and the creepy-crawly cause of all the chaos.