Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Mayhem Film Festival 2017 Report - Scary Shorts

The afternoon of Day 3 of the Mayhem Festival saw their annual short films showcase, which went something like this...

A rather enthusiastic journalist (Frank Moseley) calls round to the home of a former serial killer, Karen (Cindi Williams) hoping to interview her for his true-crimes website. 

Having served her jail time and now living with her grown up daughter (Heather Kafka - Texas Chainsaw Massacre [2003]) she is eager to put the past behind her and get on with rebuilding her life.

But this particular journalist has an ulterior motive for visiting and soon becomes apparent he thinks she should pick up where she left off all those years ago, in this darkly comic tale from director Don Swayons, which had the audience (much like her victims) in stitches...


Set to the backing of an old child's nursery rhyme which they've expanded upon, this darkly chilling tale from Director Jason Bognacki, tells of a witch (Maram Hassler - Bone Tomahawk), who assumes the identity of a bride-to-be, in order to get the one thing she couldn't have.

Visually stunning, and boasting some very good special effects, I was certainly impressed with how highly professional this looked (it seems the director has a few films under his belt according to IMDB, so knows his craft) and was well received by the audience.

A young woman, Sam (Dana Miltins), returns to her childhood home to help her father (Chris Orchard - Prisoner Cell Block H) move house. But as they get chatting about the old house, she discovers there was a reason why she always felt fearful of the place as a child, and a ghostly presence is about to make itself known...

Directed by Natalie Erika James, this Australian ghost story was an effective chiller which certainly sent a shudder down my spine at the end.

LIZ DRIVES (8mins)
Another Australian short, this time from director Mia Kate Russel. Stopping off at a remote store, Liz (Sophia Davey) is alarmed when man covered in blood drives up and bundles her sister Ellie (Cassandra Magrath - Wolf Creek) into the back of his car. Taking off in a panic, with the abducter following close behind, she attempts to lose the guy whilst phoning the police for help. But is everything as it seems?

Must say, I had a suspicion as to how this was going to end, but it was still like getting hit by a sledgehammer when the twist was revealed.

A woman is playing with her young daughter out in the woods, when they come accross something exceptionally creepy. Lets just say, when you've got Laurence Harvey (Human Centipede 2 & 3) as a large killer Teddy Bear, you know you're in trouble.

If the director's name Thomas Hodge sounds familiar, that's because he's the artist behind "The Dude Designs" who's done the artwork for a large number of horror movie posters and disc case covers. Teddy Bears Picnic marks his debut at directing a horror film himself and he made a damn good job of doing something grisely.

UNDRESS ME (13:27)
A young college girl (Lee marshall) is chatted up by, and ends up sleeping with, a young lad at a frat party. But shortly afterwards, she begins to find something rather nasty happening to her body, which she thinks only this lad can stop.

Wasn't sure what to make of this offering from Director Amelia Moses. Whilst it was competantly filmed and showed some good gory make up, it was never explained what was happening to her and was left to wonder what on earth the point of it was.

A budding young artist (Tiffany Hines - TVs Bones, 24), hoping to get into the movie industry, gets an interview at a major Hollywood studio specialising in animations. Only to find it may not be the dream job she originally envisaged, after discovering just how how closely she will have to work with the company's computers.

Director Cameo Wood's non-to-subtle swipe at the direction Hollywood seems to be heading in and humanity's over-reliance on modern technology was an interesting and rather poignant piece, though ironically was also the most professional looking and featured the most special effects out of all the shorts.

A teenage babysitter (Stacey Snider) goes to cover for a friend of hers, who was supposed to be minding the child of a rather peculiar couple who are new to the neighbourhood. But she soon begins to realise there is also something rather peculiar with the child itself..

Director Matt Mercer's (actor - Alien Encounter, Contracted)  horror/comedy was rather fun, and the audience seemed particularly amused by the whole scene where the babysitter is texting her boyfriend, in a nod to modern day problems that everyone faces. I felt this would have made an excellent intro to a much longer film, would be good to see this expanded.

Four girls wake up to find themselves locked in a room, with no recollection of how they got there from the party they were at. As they try to work out where they are, they are then alarmed to discover objects in the room suddenly moving, some of the girls dissapearing then reappearing again and other wierd things. But is what's happening actually real?

Very bizarre short from Liam Banks that will probably make you think twice about buying dolls for your children again.

A group of girls spending a weekend at a Heavy Metal festival rent out a cabin off Craigslist to stay at for the duration. But the socially awkward landlord seems less than impressed at them rebuffing his attempts to socialise with them. Even less so, when him and some friends attempt to scare them. But, as they are about to find out, you should never mess with a Metal head.

Easily my favourite of the short films (being a metal head myself), Laurel Vail's twist on the old teens in peril format proved a big hit with the audience, who laughed throughout.

An Englishman's shed is his pride and joy, and avid DIY enthusiast Jack (Shaun Dooley - The Woman in Black) is absolutely chuffed to bits with his new 'man cave' which he built himself out of recycled timber. Just a pity the salvaged wood came from the houses of several notiorius serial killers and now they have a killer shed that devours anyone that goes inside it

Without doubt the funniest short film of the set, Director James Moran was clearly having fun showing how proud and indeed possesive some men are with their sheds . The dialogue was absolutely spot on and the gore was hilarious, which proved a major hit with the audience. Bloody good fun!

AMY (6:46).
Set in the early 1900s, and young Amy (Rebekah Kennedy) is being cared for at some residence full of sick people by a woman named Mary. However, it seems Mary hasn't really got the patients best interests at heart, as Amy wanders out of her room one night and discovers something very sinister going on in the dark...

Director L Gustavo Cooper also directed the equally chilling "The Home", which screened in last years short film selection and the brilliant "Velvet Road" which I saw at the Leicester Zombie film festival a couple of years back. Amy is another effective horror short and am surprised he is not more widely recognised.

Read my reviews of Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 and Day 4.

The Mayhem Horror festival takes place Mid-October at the Broadway cinema, Nottingham. For more info visit…

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