Sunday 14 February 2021

Bloody Flicks Awards 2021

For those of you who don't know, Bloody Flicks is a very fne horror/fantastic films site to which I'm immensely proud to contribute from time to time. In addition to running the thing site owner Paul Downey is now in the second year of mounting an annual awards ceremony, celebrating the best in genre short films and new features. This year Paul has given me a sneaky peek of all the entries; decisions will be made on the winners at the event, which will of course be online for the obvious reasons. If you're interested in attending, tickets are here on the day of the event; 20 - 21 February 2021.

So here's the rundown of the longlist of 20 shorts (there's also a surprise short which I'll unveil on the day of the awards):

Overkill (USA 2019: 14 mins) A very funny, sharply observed deconstruction of slasher movie cliches, with the knowingness of the Scream franchise combined with annoying millennial trigger speak, and a killer who just won't die, causing the resourceful final girl to dig deep for her supply of one liners.

Swipe (Netherlands 2019: 5 mins) A young girl picks a guy on a dating app who immediately stalks her via her phone, on the subway and finally in her own home. Creepy.

Cruel Tale, Friday Kills (France : 27 mins) Two hotel owners have closed shop for the season and are looking forward to a quiet vacation, once they dispose of the bodies of the couple they're just killed, of course. But their plans are thwarted by the arrival of a business couple who pay them handsomely for the use of their conference room. They invite three marketing strategists to meet with them, but they have an unusual request of the team; downsizing the company avoiding redundancies; they're asked to provide a list of the ten most expendable employees. A typically French short, packed with arch characters, nudity and graphic gore.

No One is Coming (USA 2020: 7 mins) Ellen drives to a cabin in the woods to meet her boyfriend on Halloween. But instead of finding him there she's menaced by a figure. Great 80s seasonal vibes and another resourceful heroine makes this short a real standout. 

Script (Italy 2018: 8mins) A very meta short in which two writers of horror scripts discuss the plots of their creations and expand on each others' tales to avoid them being cliched; but the stories start to predict real life, and before they know if they're being they're faced with the killers from their own stories. Cleverly edited, if not an entirely original idea.

Shared Document (UK 2020: 12 mins) I guess it wouldn't be long before the Host inspired movies came our way. Jim and Andi, brother and sister, separated one assumes during lockdown, are working on a shared document, a eulogy to their recently deceased father with whom they had a complicated relationship. They're joined in the document by a 'Professor Platypus' but it's not a public document. They log out and in again, but PP is back, wipes the text off screen and replaces it with a series of words which predict what's about to happen. And it's not good.

First Date of the Dead (UK 2020: 6 mins) If the walking dead had a dating app, of course it would be called 'Necromancer.' In this very sweet short, which manages to be funnier in its 6 minutes than the entirety of 2013's zomromcom Warm Bodies, a male zombie gets a match with a female zombie big on undead rights and they arrange a date at a restaurant, their grunting dialogue subtitled, in which they are as awkward as any new couple. They trade stories about how they were turned and whether they'd been shot. And guess what the restaurant is serving as a special? Great them tune too.

Atrophy (Sweden 2019: 17 mins) Freja, a personal carer, has been appointed to look after Alma, a young woman who can't move anything but her eyes, following a sudden collapse. But the longer Freja stays in the house, the more creeped out she gets. Her sleep is troubled, marks appear on her legs, and, worse still, strange figures haunt her dreams. Could she be going the same way as Alma? A haunting short with a great score by Lukas Markström.

Unusual Attachment (USA 2020: 14 mins) Hunter met a guy online on the website 'Man-Bingo' but a power surge separated them before they could exchange details; he searches the site endlessly, encountering various random uptight blokes until he finally hooks up with mystery man. But when the guy sends him an attachment, things are about to get very deadly. A very clever and funny lockdown filmed short

Sins of the Father (UK 2020: 9 mins) Well in every chocolate box there are likely to be one or two you don't like. This is nine minutes or so of watching a dishevelled priest running around a graveyard desperately overemoting. One assumes he's dead and has sinned during his life; well now he's wanted for crimes against acting too. It cost £6 to make, apparently.

Guest (UK 2020: 12 mins) A welcome rewatch of this unsettling short. A woman finds an older girl, Mary, in the bathroom of her house, and brings her to hospital. Mary has been trying to escape from a being called 'the Guest' who is a tall, bald headed entity with bulgy eyes, a little like the 'Momo' sculpture with less hair. Mary uses bleach to pour in her eyes to avoid seeing the creature, but she can still hear it breathing so she stabs at her own ears to block out the sound (don't worry, this is all offscreen). But will this be enough to drive the vision away? Seriously disquieting stuff.

She of the Land (UK 2020: 15 mins) Atmospheric modern day take on occult beliefs. There is a curse on Thomas's wife Mary so Thomas sets about to capture the woman that placed it and burn her. But which witch is which?

The Ferals (UK 2020: 9 mins) Filmed in the Seychelles. A guy wakes up on a deserted beach with an injury to his leg. Can he make it off the island to a waiting plane before its denizens get him?

Fright Corner (UK 2017: 7 mins) An independent film company are making a movie - a Scooby Doo/Hammer horror mashup - in the haunted village of Pluckley, a place where a previous crew have gone missing without a trace. Guest appearance from Billy Chainsaw. Pretty scrappy.

La Llorona (India 2019  ; 23 mins) La Llorona (translated as 'the crying woman' or 'the crying bride') must be the most overused title in the horror genre at the moment. But in this comedy things are a little different. Sati, a woman who continues to try and hang herself (she's already dead) after being spurned by a lover, returns to her home town to wreak revenge. However she meets with unlucky in love Pranay and they form a bizarre relationship. Very, very funny.

The Witch Hunters Are Coming (UK 2019: 10 mins) Brilliant mockumentary following the work of two witchfinders, Siddarth and his intern Dorothy from Kansas (!) who work for the Occult management department of Wandsworth Council. The pair are employed to seek out evil doings on the mean streets of south London. They visit Agatha Blair who is alleged to be a witch and to have turned a neighbour into a dog (she is and she has). This 10 minute short, as well as being hilarious, also mercilessly pins down both reality TV's stupidity and small town suburban life. Excellent work!

Static (UK 2020: 3 mins) Alison is desperate to bring her late boyfriend back from the grave, resorting to spells she's found on the internet do do so. But this one works, with horrendous results.

Deadly Scare (UK 2020: 7 mins) Talking its initial influence from What We Do in the Shadows, Mike Wiener is a professional scarer (and worse) and this film acts as a promotional tool for his work, which involves him donning his facial disguise (bandages basically), prepping his horror house for willing victims and, well, other things. Nasty.

Make A Wish (USA 8 mins) It's Freddy's 30th birthday and his girlfriend has baked him a cake with candles. Make a wish Freddy! But his rather unhinged partner Lexie has a rather different idea about the perfect present than he does, namely bringing home and tying up Freddy's former school bully Brock for her boyfriend to torture.

Malakout (Iran 2020: 10 mins) Ah some animation! And stunning animation at that. A pianist's wife dies. Obsessively he wishes her to return from the dead and strikes a deal with the devil to enable this to happen; he will lose both of his hands as a forfeit. He becomes the recepient of a transplant but, The Beast With Five Fingers style, the new hands belonged to a hanged murderer! This is a glittering, atmospheric short, stunning in its execution.

Temple of Devilbuster (Taiwan 2020: 24 mins) Hot on the heels of I-Fan Wang's Get the Hell Out, which also screened at the Bloody Flicks awards, here's the director's other release from last year, a typically crazy short from this enigmatic director. In the middle of down-town Taipei, a guy called Tai-Bao and a bald-headed woman, A-Queen are both the reincarnations of the Devil Star. As the two try to escape the criminal underworld, the police and an abusive 'father' who wants to take Tai-Bao back to the temple where the deity, the Holy Mother, is using them to take the blame for other people's sin, give chase. A dazzling short film with an electric soundtrack; of course it makes no sense but it's dazzling.

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