Clockwise (from top): Bad Guy#2, Controller, Night Of The Slasher and Point Of View
Wednesday night saw the launch of the fifth season of the ongoing short film series, Little Terrors
The crowd, strong in both size and energy, gathered together in the darkened little theatre at Carlton Cinema, as host/curator Justin McConnell held court at the front of the stage. After a brief introduction to the night’s theme, Control of Time And Space ( and the regular round of giveaways ), the house lights dimmed and the show began.
This latest round of shorts had something for everyone. Offbeat animation, quirky lo-fi, humourous genre offerings and bleak, apocalyptic fare comprised the 12 films on the night’s playbill. While each one had their own unique charms on display, there were a handful of films that deserved special notice. In no certain order, here are a few of the highlights:
NIGHT OF THE SLASHER: an inventive and clever “meta” take on the standard slasher movie tropes, SLASHER follows a teenage girl, as she breaks the horror movie golden rules to lure a familiar masked killer to her and finish him off. Already an official selection of Telluride Horror Show 2015 and Frightfest, SLASHER has a sharp sense of humour with sly references to classic slasher iconography (there’s a great bit, that I won’t spoil here, involving the killer’s choice of mask that should give HALLOWEEN fans a chuckle). The film also has a kinetic energy, thanks to its ‘shot-in-one-take’ cinematography. A lot of fun, and a popular one with the night’s crowd.
I’M YOU, DICKHEAD: a man signs up for a time-travel program, with one goal in mind: go back and convince his ten-year old self to learn the guitar so he can get laid. From that premise, the film has a blast playing with the concept of “time travel paradoxes”, resulting in an escalating series of events that get funnier and more convoluted as it goes on. Highly enjoyable.
BAD GUY#2: a parable of the perils of promotion in the workplace, as a master criminal’s henchman works his way up the goon ranks, with hilariously bloody results. Cartoonish violence, reminiscent of the glory days of Peter Jackson’s early gorefests, sharp comedy and great lead performances by Kirk Johnson (Bad Guy#2) and Dave Maldonado (Kingpin) made this one a real crowd-pleaser.
ONE-MINUTE TIME MACHINE: this one’s already generated viral word-of-mouth via social media, and with good reason. Another comedic riff on the perils of time travel, this one also finds a time-traveler on the make. Using the titular device, our hero is trying to pick-up a woman, hitting the “reset” button every time he makes a mistake. The payoff is brilliant.
POINT OF VIEW: one of the night’s personal highlights. A creepy, fun and perfectly-choreographed piece of terror, inspired (and credited by the filmmakers) by Doctor Who’s iconic ‘Weeping Angels’. Director Justin Harding, present for a Q&A at the night’s screening, explained that the film took five hours to shoot and that efficiency carries over to the final product. It’s tight, tense and unsettling. This one will be screening as one of the many pre-show shorts for this year’s Toronto After Dark Film Festival, and I cannot recommend it enough. Already hard at work developing his next short, a 30-minute sci-fi fantasy parody, Harding is one to keep your eyes on.
CONTROLLER: this “proof-of-concept” piece was one of the more polished and slick films on display. A young woman, able to control reality by pure thought, has been enslaved by a scientific corporation. She “controls” her boyfriend, using him as her weapon and her means of escape. A trippy live-action anime with fight scenes staged in videogame aesthetics, it hints at a much bigger story not yet told. It’s no surprise, then, that CONTROLLER is going the feature-length route, currently in development at 20th Century Fox.
STATE ZERO: another bit of glossy sci-fi, with a squad of soldiers are sent into post-apocalyptic Stockholm to investigate a surveillance tower, bringing them into contact with the abandoned city’s less-than-human new residents. Solid production design, cool creature effects and hints of a conspiracy at the story’s heart – with promises of more to be told, post-credits – made ZERO one of the night’s tightest films.
With short-form cinema quickly becoming the venue of choice for the most inventive and original genre fare, Little Terrors continues to be one of the best showcases for up-and-coming filmmakers to show off their wares. Next month’s screening – surprise, surprise – will be Halloween-centric. Considering the line-up of great films shown this week, it’s a more than safe bet that I’ll be back for October’s installment.
And so should you.
For more information, including showtimes, updates and where to submit your own shorts for future screenings, make sure you check out the Little Terrors Homepage, as well as their Facebook , Twitter and YouTube pages for info and trailers of upcoming films.