SXSW Midnight Shorts Recap & Review


Night Stalker: New Media Ltd, Paul Horton Visuals

This 10 minute short starts off with an all to familiar scene of a couple drunkenly making their way through a killer karaoke set. Within the first couple of minutes the “Boy”, played by Keenan Mitchell gets sick and is taken into an alternate Universe followed by the “Girl” ( Myan Kazan) caused by possessed Chinese take out. Night Stalker is a mixture of colorful live action and animation that immediately made me think of a Jonathan Glazeresque film.

The film takes a weird turn when the couple is launched into the weird animated alternate universe full off twisted grotesque creatures with the human faces of our two main characters. It takes you back and forth from live action to animation and it all seems like a bad acid trip caused by food poisoning. “Boy” gets stuck in the alternate universe while “Girl”, is able to escape back to reality. She then has to order yet another round of Chinese take out to be able to go back and rescue her love. I wasn’t able to figure out if this was a cautionary tale of bad Chinese food or a punishment for bad karaoke. Either way it kept my interest with the crazy animation and is something I will have to revisit again.
Star Rating: 3 out of 5



An Arms Length: Directed by Max Weiland

Leonard, played by Jamie Goldberg is doing the best he can to live life with an overbearing Jewish mother. He longs for freedom and to get out from under his mother’s wing. An Arms Length opens with young Leonard sitting on a bench splattered in blood listening to his walk man reflecting on how his life has been growing up. He talks about his overbearing mother, his foreskin and just wanting his own friends.
There are some scenes in this 10 minute short that make you tilt your head slightly. When poor Leonard who is forced to sleep between his parents at night he says, “Going through puberty became the most difficult part.” As he tries to quietly masturbate under the covers without waking them up. He talks about his circumcision multiple times while watching the butcher cut meat that his mother has asked for. Leonard is never far from his mother’s reach and is seemingly miserable. It all becomes too much when he literally and metaphorically cuts the umbilical cord he shares with his mother. This film is strange but effective. The cinematography captures the essence of how the boy feels as you take this short journey with him. I can only assume that anyone who has grown up with and overbearing mother, Jewish or otherwise, can relate to this film.
Star Rating: 3 out of 5


SETH: Directed By Zach Lasry

This was by far my favorite of the midnight series. Seth, played by Logan George, sets out to accomplish all of his goals for the day. He then throws himself a congratulatory party for completing his tasks with all of his stuffed animals when he is reminded by Christopher (played by himself) that he still has one left, to impress his father. Logan George is so good in this. He constantly keeps you entertained and laughing throughout. There are so many great lines and the interaction between Seth and his father (Emmett Smith) are hilariously heartbreaking.
The dance montage is by far the best scene. We get to watch Seth dance around and pump himself up to impress his father to none other than The Real McCoy’s Another Night. The filming and editing is really good too but nothing compares to the jackpot Zack Lasry landed when he casted Logan George. He is a one man show of ridiculousness. Flailing around, contorting his face and having a real internal conflict about wearing headbands in public. I definitely give this a thumbs up. You might find yourself craving corn after watching this short, and if you think horse dicks are funny then this is the film for you!

Star Rating: 4.5 out of 5




Night of the Slasher: Directed by Shan’t Hamassian

This short was a pretty awesome take on the ol’ slasher film rule book. I immediately thought of the scene in Wes Craven’s Scream, when they talk about the rules of a horror movie. Jenelle played by Lily Berlina has zero lines but is really effective in her role. We are introduced to the killer after Jenelle runs down her slasher movie check list; drink alcohol, do drugs, have sex. The killer arrives just as though he was Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy waiting for the little kids to fall asleep. She is not surprised to see him and it becomes clear that she has summoned him for the specific reason of destroying him.
What makes this short interesting is that it is shot in a single take. It is full of gratuitous slasher film behavior. Girl stripping down to her underwear in front of the camera, carelessly dancing around the house. When Jenelle’s friend stops by after being invited he is greeted by her, half naked and ready to drink. The camera circles around the room from her to him as he tries to figure out if she has lost her mind. It soon becomes evident that he is just a pawn in her plot to fulfill the “have sex” portion of the check list. With the check list complete, the fight between Jenelle and the killer becomes a dance with the camera. Each dishing out blows to one another while the camera pans back and forth, the killer disappearing in and out of frame as our main character works hard to take him out. This film was shot well for a single take and kept me engaged. Night of the Slasher was also shown at Panic Fest in Kansas City, put on by Boom Howdy and was a crowd favorite. Definitely worth the time to check out!

Rating: 3.5 out of 5


Snatchers: Directed by Stephen Cedars and Benji Kleiman

Snatchers is a 5 minute horror comedy short, who’s name is a hilariously play on words. The film opens with two teenage girls, Sara (Mary Nepi) and Hayley (Gabrielle Elyse) in the doctor’s office trying to figure out how Sara woke up after a night of partying 9 months pregnant. It’s a 5 minute spoof of Spaceballs spoofing Alien. The story seems a little ridiculous and lacks detail to the plot. Eventhough we never leave the doctor’s office I feel like it would have bee nice to get a little detail about the night before. If you have figured out by now how the title is a play on words then maybe just take 5 minutes out of your day to see gratuitous blood, birth and aliens.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Keep Exploring
Adam Wingard Will Referee Battle Between Godzilla and Kong