short film review

Reviews and news about short films, short film festivals, reviews, links and guides to short films online,images from short films,directors,writers,cinemaphotographers. Copyright 2005, 2006 by Allan Maurer. All rights reserved.

Monday, February 25, 2008



The Nevermore Horror film festival in Durham, NC, has always presented excellent programs of horror themed short films, but the 2008 crop of entries surpassed even those of previous years.

Horror and science fiction short films are probably the single most viable of the short film genres following comedy shorts, which of course have been part of filmmaking from the start. All films were short films back in the beginning, and filmmakers can still learn plenty from silent short films about telling a complete genre story in short form.

Comedy horror, particularly Zombie comedy, is a subgenre of this short film subgenre that's increasingly notable at film festivals in both the short film and feature length entries. Short films, though, lend themselves particularly to comedy treatments.

"Prombies," a black and white homage to many other horror films as well as an accurate satirical take on what boys really want on prom night, as our reviewer, Nicole Black noted, is one of the cleverest takes on the whole zombie idea we've seen so far. Zombies, it turns out, provide a rotting canvas for metaphors of all types. George Romero's latest feature length "Diary of A Zombie," has been criticized for pounding home its idea that media has become our reality, and he pioneered the use of zombies to satirize modern life, such as consumer society ("Dawn of the Dead," the original version).

"Prombies" achieves this quite effectively, managing to throw in filmic homages to producer Val Lewton's shadow haunted B films of the 1940s ("Cat People,"), other zombie films, and the whole slasher genre. The jokes work extremely well. A line such as "He's eating her alive!" takes on double meaning in a laugh provoking context, for instance. The empty high school halls, shadowed and echoing, are a suitable horror setting. Fans of old 1950s TV shows such as Superman and B movies will recognize the much over-used stock suspense music, but it is quite appropriate here, its familiar rise and fall evoking the same sort of feel as the moody black and white images.

Still, "Prombies," manages about all the screen time it could sustain at this short length (briefest of the films discussed here).

"Gay Zombie," and the multiple-award-winning "Zombie Love," a musical with send-ups of Hollywood and Bollywood musical conventions, all work as short films, but lack enough substance to sustain feature length. They could actually benefit from judicious cutting even at their current lengths.

But I'm guessing that of all the short film genres, again, save comedy short films, the horror and comedy horror shorts will find real markets earliest. Today, the chance to see them, especially collected in group programs, remains one of the best reasons for attending film festivals internationally.--Allan Maurer

Comedy Horror Shorts at Nevermore

Nicole Black reviews the “They're Coming to Get You, Barbra!” program at 2008 Nevermore Horror Film Fest in Durham, NC:

The Nevermore Film Festival at the Carolina Theatre showed four comedy-horro-shorts. Included were: French film maker Guillaume Tunzini's Fathers-in-Law, Florida State University Film School and Frederick Snyder's Prombies!, Michael Simon's Gay Zombie and Yfke van Berckelaer's Zombie Love.

In the eight minutes it takes to completely view Fathers-in-Law, you'll find yourself both laughing at the stupidity of the scene and cringing at the absurd explosion of blood that follows. It does manage to surprise.

The zombie action begins with the seven-minute showing of Prombies!, a clever take on what high school boys really want on prom night. While the the acting and music may appear overdramatic in the beginning, they are a part of the film's charm, and the witty dialogue makes up for it. The idea that sex turns teenaged boys into one-track minded zombies is a hilarious concept on its own.

Gay Zombie can be hard to watch if your vision is not up to par. The lack of lighting in the film causes scenes to be murky, dark and blurry. Digital projection and digital filmmaking both leave something to be desired compared to 35mm at times. But if you can stick it out, the 20 minute short has an inventive twist on zombie existence. Viewers will follow the sexually confused and undead protagonist on his journey to fit in. The movie does have parts that reek of a dumb high school flick with the typical girlie makeover and clothes modeling scenes. Overall, the film is fun.

The 37-minute Zombie Love short takes the audience through a zombie and human's quirky quest for love. From the time Claudia finds the finger of the zombie-poet, Dante, who saved her in the graveyard, she is obsessed with meeting him again. Dante tries to become more human to win her affection, not realizing its the zombie in him that she loves. The musical's whacky lyrics and dialogue will make you laugh the way only something so nonsensical can. References to the films of Bollywood will have the audience in an uproar of laughter. The film is fantastically original and the most entertaining of the four.

Written by Nicole Black


Friday, February 15, 2008

Oscar nominated shorts show "astonishing creative revolution."

The venerable New York Times, reviewing this year's Oscar nominees for short films, notes that the genre is no longer restricted to the amusements that used to precede feature films.

Now, the times points out, they run up to 40 minutes and include sophisticated and technologically advanced work that has "sparked an astonishing creative revolution."

The Times' piece also notes that of the films nominated this year, none were made in the United States, let alone Hollywood.

Shorts reviewed include: “Madame Tutli-Putli” (from Canada); Aleksandr Petrov’s “My Love,”; Hugh Welchman’s version of “Peter and the Wolf,” which uses the Prokofiev score sans narration or dialogue; “Even Pigeons Go to Heaven” from France, "in which a greedy priest tries to sell an old man a machine that will take him to heaven," and “I Met the Walrus,” a Canadian film that animates a short interview with John Lennon in 1969..

Among live action shorts,the Times' Steven Holden sees Christian E. Christiansen and Louise Vesth’s life-and-death drama “At Night” (from Denmark) as the most compelling.

He says, "Daniel Barber and Matthew Brown’s western “The Tonto Woman” from Britain is the visually austere but pretentiously executed story of an itinerant cattle rustler who befriends the socially outcast wife of a rancher."

“The Mozart of Pickpockets” from France, which Holden says is "the too-cute story of a deaf-mute child who attaches himself to professional thieves."

Finally, he mentions Andrea Jublin’s “Il Supplente” (“The Substitute”), from Italy.

Here's a link to the review (registration may be required)