Along with Sweden’s Lund International Fantastic Film Festival’s fine selection of genre feature films, the fest boasted a fine selection of fright fare in short form. Here are more capsule reviews of some of those short-length shudder inducers.
Such Small Hands
★★★★ out of ★★★★★
Directed by Maria Martinez Bayona
This adaptation of Andrés Barba’s novella of the same name finds young Marina (Sophie Mulhall in a quietly unsettling lead performance) being alienated by the other girls at the orphanage where she has just arrived. Ignored when she is not being made fun of, she invents a new game for everyone to play that takes place at night instead of sleeping. This game goes from odd to chilling and beyond as Marina suddenly finds herself the center of attention. The behavior of the young girls will set your spine tingling from the outset, and the proceedings only get darker from there. Director Maria Martinez Bayona, who adapted the screenplay from the novella, helms this eerie short masterfully.
★★★★1/2 out of ★★★★★
Directed by Joe Hsieh (Wen-Ming Hsieh)
The animated Taiwanese short Night Bus shocked and stunned me several times. What begins with a touching look at a mother monkey and her baby sharing a piece of fruit, and a few passengers boarding the titular mode of public transportation soon careens into an insane series of coincidences and planned events that lead to absolute mayhem. Hsieh, who also wrote the screenplay, packs a feature film’s worth of mystery, intrigue, and horror into his beautifully animated short film. Someone steals a woman’s necklace while she sleeps on the bus, and the driver’s demand for the thief to step up escalates into mob justice. Soon enough, though, a stowaway passenger seeks revenge on everyone. Full of surprises and twists, Night Bus is absolutely incredible. It’s the type of animated film that makes people who usually steer clear of animated films reconsider their position.
Such Small Hands and Night Bus screened as part of Sweden’s Lund International Fantastic Film Festival, which ran as a hybrid version with both in-theater and virtual versions from October 30–November 5, 2021.