Little Terrors Short Film Festival is a monthly showcase of shorts started in 2011 by CEO of Unstable Grounds Productions Justin McConnell, who is also a Toronto-based producer-director-editor extraordinaire. Co-presented with Rue Morgue Magazine, it’s a time to celebrate short films that pack punch, and many a horror fan is often hungry for these bit-sized snippets of gore, suspense and mayhem.
Much to these horror fans’ delight, Little Terrors put out their first anthology last year called Minutes Past Midnight, a well-received collection of “nine stories of horror” from their monthly showcases. This year, they’ve done it again with another anthology called Galaxy of Horrors, focusing on the horror/sci-fi hybrid. Here, we have eight tales with a wrap-around story to carry us through space, the future and the horrors they hold, and quite frankly, the future’s not so bright!
What if there was a civil war where the air was not only toxic, but transformative? What if your life consisted of only credits, desperation and irresistible offers of sensory experiences? And what if A.I. developed a set of morals? These are only some of the plots from the 8 shorts which introduce a frightening and thoughtful dystopian future.
We begin with a man who is trapped in his life pod and must figure out the password before his life support system fails. While he makes numerous unsuccessful attempts, an A.I. program shows him films as entertainment, whether he likes it or not. Save for the first segment, Eden, which falls prey to the very device that is central to the story-a gas mask that obliterates some key dialogue-all the shorts are strong and make good use of CGI within their budgets. For me, “Iris”, “Flesh Computer” and “Kingz” were the stand-out shorts, with a Siri-like phone entity; a world where computers and humans are one; and a True Blood/Phantasm/martial arts mash-up about a drug deal gone wrong. All offer a strong plot, some with simple sets and effective story devices, and refreshing originality.
It’s great to see a curated collection with international representation, but I did happen to notice that with both collections, save a writing credit for Eveless by Dolores Diaz in Galaxy of Horrors, all the segments were directed/written by men. I know that there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes dealings with producing anthologies that may hinder the inclusion of some shorts in general, but hopefully their next collection will have some gender diversity as well.
Like I said, “dystopian” is the word of the day when watching Galaxy of Horrors, and why not? With that title, you wouldn’t expect much more, but it’s well worth the terror. So take the time to give this collection a spin, just make sure your life support systems are in order!