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Joseph’s Reviews (Horror-on-Sea Film Festival): Big Man, Bleed, Idle Hands, The Last Reel, This Mourning


Horror-on-Sea Film Festival offered up a treasure trove of incredible fright-fare shorts. In this second installment of short-film reviews from the fest, I discuss six U.K. productions that screened there.

Big Man

★★★1/2 out of ★★★★★

Ray Sinclair stars as the verbally and physically abusive  Dan the Hustler, who starts off the night with a big loss at the card table. Soon, however, that will be the least of his problems. Sinclair gives a gripping performance in this supernatural thriller that also features some chilling practical effects work, including cool creature make-up from Alison McCabe. Co-directors Ramman Gautam (who wrote the screenplay) and Kaushy have crafted an impressive slice of urban-set, independent scare-fare cinema.

Bleed

★★★1/2 out of ★★★★★

Something is quite wrong with Charlie (Leona Clarke), and she requires fresh blood to help her feel better. Her girlfriend Georgia (Annie Knox) is willing to help her — to a certain extent. How far will love carry on in such a relationship? That is the question that writer/director Andre Harrison engagingly explores in his short Bleed. Featuring moody lighting, a dash of dark humor, and a cringe-inducing gag, the film moves at a rapid clip, fueled with a soundtrack from U.K. punk band Dead Stiff. Knox and Clarke both give solid, believable performances, and Harrison does a nice job at the helm. 

Caged

★★★★ out of ★★★★★

Northern Ireland-based filmmaker Mark Nugent wrote and directed this superb horror short about a pet store owner (Andrew Dickson) who is hiding terrible secrets in the back of his shop. To give away any more than that here would be doing a disservice to future viewers, so suffice it to say that this is horror played straight, and that Dickson does a crackerjack job of conveying the struggles and emotions through which his character is going, and that the reveals are gut wrenching. Cast members Maria McCamley and Elaine Donnelly turn in splendid performances, too. The short looks fantastic, with Glen Nigel Matthews doing a fine job with the cinematography. 

Idle Hands

★★★ out of ★★★★★

Writer/director Simon Cluett had two of his Dark Library shorts screening at this year’s Horror-on-Sea edition, Idle Hands and The Lost Reel. In Idle Hands, video game player (Ben Cluett) finds a slug on his arm, develops an itch, and then goes hunting for human prey (Calum Aldridge). Simon Cluett filmed the black-and-white short on a Samsung Galaxy phone, and then added some striking visual ideas in post-production and set the proceedings to a driving rock music score. The result is gritty hoodie horror with an artistic flair.

The Lost Reel 

★★★1/2 out of ★★★★★

The Lost Reel involves George (Bartley Burke), a man who wants to get his hands on something badly, and he demands that put-upon Felix (Scott Samain) take care of it . . . or else. Felix finds himself in the middle of a mysterious, dangerous situation involving the titular celluloid. Simon Cluett uses both color and black-and-white in this crime thriller/horror hybrid, with some eerie visual effects involving the lost reel. When one mystery is partially revealed here, another one begins, and Cluett builds both the puzzles and suspense captivatingly.     

This Mourning 

★★★ out of ★★★★★

Molly Brown wrote, directed, animated, and edited This Mourning, a parody of daytime television shows. Few morning-show formats, cliches, and personality types miss a skewering in this humorous short, which presents a show by the dead for the dead. Gags include a fashion segment about whether a type of ghost known as “white ladies” can learn to love wearing colorful clothes, a reality show from purgatory, and a pet adoption sequence featuring a black devil dog that is about 3,500 years old in dog years. Most members of the voice cast are fellow filmmakers who Brown met at previous installments of Horror-on-Sea, and they sound like they are having a blast. The jokes keep coming at a fast pace, and Brown offers up some fun visuals bound to bring smiles to the faces of horror aficionados.       

These shorts screened at Horror-on-Sea Film Festival, which ran January 10th–19th at Park Inn by Raddison Palace, Southend-on-Sea, U.K.

Reviews by Joseph Perry

Categories: Festivals, Reviews, ShortsTags: , , , , , ,

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