In the span of just a few minutes, short films can offer up spine-tingling chills, nightmarish monsters, and plenty of grim humor. Here are a few of our favorite horror shorts that we've featured in the past year, ready to deliver a quick hit of Halloween horror.
Have a favorite horror short that you've seen in the past year that you'd like to share? Post it in the comments.
One Last Dive
For their 3:07 AM Project, Vice challenged filmmakers to create a one-minute, one-shot, POV film about something scary happening at 3:07 in the morning. Jason Eisener's One Last Dive spends that minute building plenty of creepy tension before delivering an ending that made us jump.
Inspired by slasher movie conventions, The Sleepover is a funny tribute to film franchises like Halloween, Friday the 13th, and Nightmare on Elm Street. In the town of Derry, all horror movie tropes are real and all of the residents of the town know it. That means that bedtime comes with certain rituals and babysitters need combat training.
It's one of the scariest segments Guillermo del Toro has ever seen, and the inspiration for his feature film Mama. The freaky special effects that went into its ghastly monster will get your heart pumping.
After six friends summon a demon through a Ouija board, they learn that only one of them will survive—whoever manages to stand still the longest and avoid the demon's notice. And this game of life and death quickly grows competitive. (I'd recommend using headphones for this one in order to hear the full audio.)
The Little Mermaid
The lovelorn mermaid at the heart of Nicholas Humphries' short film doesn't win a handsome prince or dissolve into foam. Instead, she languishes as a horrific sideshow attraction, at least until she decides to turn the tables on her abuser.
How do you get a child to stop sucking her thumb? In the gothic fairytale Suckablood, a vile mother tries to beat the habit out of her daughter and then resorts to summoning Suckablood, the monster who eats thumb-sucking children. But the night of horrors doesn't turn out the way either mother or daughter expected.
More unnerving than truly frightening, what makes Click a particularly interesting horror short is that it uses no special effects, but instead focuses on its setting, an abandoned building, and the completely dark room where a group of children simply switch the lights on and off. But its understated quality is precisely what makes the concept of darkness such a malevolent, and yet somehow indifferent, force.
Perished is short film set in a classic zombie apocalypse, but it does an especially good job of exploring the madness that comes with fending off the living dead. And it reminds us that during the zombie plague, death is still random and often pointless.
Javier Pérez's short film feels like it could be a sequence for a longer film, but it's plenty harrowing in its own right. It presents the image of a ballerina on toe shoes attached to carving knives while performing for an audience of one. Her performance is viscerally uncomfortable, even though the only thing we see destroyed is the lid of a piano.
So Pretty, So Dark
The first of Continuum's vampire shorts, So Pretty, pokes a bit of fun at Twilight and the way vampires are treated as tragic heroes in pop culture rather than violent monsters. While the vampire protagonist may be on the side of the angels, both So Pretty and its sequel So Dark prove that he isn't an angel himself.