One of the nice elements of the Blood in the Snow Canadian Film Festival is the large number of short films that the festival showcases amongst their feature films. Here is a small sample of the shorts screening as part of the BITS Short Film Showcase program.
Tasha and Friends
If the Muppets were ever to make a horror film, I envision it would be something along the lines of Greg Kovacs oddly entertaining short, Tasha and Friends. The film revolves around a children’s show host named Tasha (Stephanie Christiaen) who becomes jealous and worries about being upstaged by one of the puppeteers on her show. Looking to prove her dominance, Tasha plots to sell the puppets on an eBay-like website. Unfortunately for Tasha, the puppets have other plans when a freak event brings them to life. Using practical special effects and smart work by the film’s puppeteers, Kovacs crafts a film that, despite a few juvenile moments, is surprisingly effective. Though more humorous than scary, Tasha and Friends hits all the right notes.
Before engaging in that next one night stand, it is best to keep Kalen Artinian’s cautionary tale in mind. The premise is as simple as it gets, Mark (Brian Quintero) and Ruby (Jane Void) hit it off at a bar and head back to Ruby’s apartment. What Mark uncovers at Ruby’s will have him rethinking his choice. Short, no pun intended, and to the point, Artinian’s film wastes no time hitting the key notes. The fact that the film ends just as things get really interesting might irk some. However, Artinian provides closure during the closing credits. While it would have been nice if the film had taken more time to flesh out its ideas, Ruby’s Secret still conveys its theme well in the brief running time.
Thanks to the advancements in technology, POV-style filmmaking is quickly becoming all the rage. While not all have been successful, there are a few that have really raised the bar in terms of creative storytelling. A great example that comes to mind is Ben Wheatley’s inventive POV monster segment in The ABC’s of Death. Dead Rush tries to bring the same sense of creativity to its POV take on the zombie genre. The film follows its protagonist as he wakes up in the middle of a zombie outbreak and tries to find safe shelter with his friends. Due to the fast paced nature of the first half, the film does feel more like a video game scene rather than a fully realized film. Fortunately, things settle down during a sequence in the car that is by far the film’s highlight. Though I liked that Zachary Ramelan’s film shows both sides of the outbreak, the downside to the POV is that you never feel connected to any of the characters. While creative and well-executed stylistically, by literally placing the audience in the shoes of the main character, Dead Rush sacrifices the human element needed to take it to the next level.
The second part of a three part series looking at the various facets of serial killers, Mr. Spontaneous offers a unique blend of imagination and horror. The animated first half of the film is a delightfully skewed take on the Mr. Men and Little Miss children books. We observe Mr. Normal as he goes through the sad existence that is his daily life. However, things change for Mr. Normal in the live action second half of the film. When Mr. Normal witnesses the Happy Face Killer, a serial killer who wears a smiley face bag over his head, dispose of a promiscuous couple in an alley, it triggers something unexpected in him. The animated section is easily the more entertaining segment of the two in film. The latter half is more disturbing and is a stark change in tone from the cheeky opening. Despite the abrupt shift in tone, Mr. Spontaneous actually works well when looking at the film as a whole.
You can view the full list of shorts playing at the BITS Short Film Showcase on Saturday night at 7 pm at the Carlton Cinemas