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Dunwich Horrors Collection: Boston Underground Film Festival Shorts

CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS


New England-made short horror films that are curated specifically for the Boston Underground Film Festival, these homegrown horrors pack a huge punch in a tiny package.

The Old God!

Dir. Samuel Carlson (2023)

Brilliant short that parodies those annoying television drug commercials, a middle-aged couple find that pledging their soul to the Old God may well save their marriage. Absolutely loved it, it’s an incredibly clever and very well done.


Petunia

Dir. Miriam Olken (2023)

Two prospective homeowners go see a house that seems a little… off. And they haven’t even gotten to take a look in the shed yet! Petunia is a fun, light-hearted romp that shows just how much we love our pets, and just how much our pets love to eat.


Dead Language

Dir. Erica Stockwell-Alpert (2023)

Some great creature effects and a genuinely funny payoff highlight this story of three amateur cultists who are trying to summon a demon to do their will. Unfortunately, Latin is not taught in schools anymore. I dig this one, it’s worth checking out.


Christmas Wrapping

Dir. Mike Canale (2023)

A guy looking for a nutcracker in an old house discovers he’s not as alone as he thought. The first short in the program that goes for scares more than laughs, this one features a deranged Santa Claus who wants to giftwrap his own presents. It’s not particularly scary, but it is pretty creepy. Not bad for six minutes.


Pray

Dir. Amber Chilton (2023)

This twelve-minute chiller comes from Maine, though there’s no whoopie pies to be found here. The sound design is perfect here, keeping the audience off-kilter throughout and showcasing some really stellar direction from Amber Chilton. Pray gets the absolute most out of its budget. I will say that it probably could’ve done without the last four minutes or so; stopping after the salesman would’ve tightened it up and probably been just as effective. Great film though, Chilton has a bright future ahead of her.


Last Train

Dir. Andrew Connelly (2023)

Last Train is the first short in the lineup that I could see being made into something longer. A man waiting for a train finds a mysterious package, and while I won’t spoil its contents for you, I will say that it, and the person who left it, hints at a much bigger story that I’d love to find out more about. This one is nifty, well-made, and with some pretty decent production values. Check this one out if you get the chance.


Rest Stop

Dir. Eric Bielakiewicz (2023)

This is one of those shorts where you feel like the person behind it has some real artistic potential. Director Eric Bielakiewicz shoots like an art school student, with classically framed shots that feel like early Kevin Smith. When a drunk man stops at a rest stop, he finds himself face-to-face with a mysterious entity with questionable intent. Great sound design ratchets up the tension in the creepiest short so far.


Reverberance

Dir. Alex DiVincenzo & TJ Frizzi (2023)

Speaking of sound design, Reverberance ratchets it up to 11 with this creepy-as-fuck short about sounds that should not be. You’ll never look at mockingbirds the same way, this is one that will legitimately make me lose some sleep. Definitely the scariest short so far.


Penny

Dir. Rachel S. Thomas-Medwid (2022)

Well-produced film and the longest so far, this one is well-acted and with a concept built more for a feature (or at least a longer short, where it could’ve been more fully explored.) It’s not a bad short by any means, and it has some real meat on the bones, I’d just like to see what the filmmakers could do with a bigger budget and a bit longer runtime. I don’t suppose that’s ever a bad thing to say about short filmmakers, though.


The Watcher

Dir. Nathan Sellers (2023)

A unique shot framing device and an intriguing story highlight this tale of a doomsday cult member left behind. Genuinely creepy and another that I’d like to see developed into something longer. Very well made, Sellers is one to keep an eye out for.


Skin & Bone

Dir. Eli Powers (2023)

I gotta admit, I wasn’t expecting to see Amanda Seyfried in this one, and Thomas Sadoski is also a face you might recognize. Of course, with the names attached, the acting in this one is excellent, and it’s a beautifully shot short. Eerie and powerful vocal performance from Seyfried and short-cut shots of unsettling visuals set up a truly terrifying and disturbing vignette with a killer ending. Fantastic sound design as well. This one has it all, and is probably the best short of the bunch. Don’t miss Skin & Bone if you have the chance to check it out.


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