Survival Is Insufficient Collection: Boston Underground Film Festival Shorts
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
This smorgasbord of shorts hits a little bit of every genre, but it definitely has more of a horror bent to it. This is a catchall, the anything goes section of the festival.
The Lo-Fi Man (2023)
Dir. Brian Lonano and Blake Meyers
The Lo-Fi Man wears its inspiration on its sleeves, the cyberpunk Japanese era of the late 80’s, and joins the fight against the notion that “everything is content.” True film still exists, even the weird, experimental kinds like this. Delightfully weird, cheerfully perverse, and with some awesome Japanese-inspired monster fights. Cheers to both Lonano and Meyers for this one, a true shoutout to those of us who still love film more than YouTube. Ironically… my screener link was from YouTube.
It Takes a Village
Dir. Glam Hag (2023)
Like a punk-rock surrealist Stepford Wives, director Glam Hag tells the story of a pregnant woman who is trying desperately to make it to the hospital before her baby comes. She also may or may not be a victim, or perhaps even a member, of a bizarre cult (with a cool symbol to boot.) Bizarre, discordant soundtrack and babydoll makeup provide the backdrop for a 70’s-inspired story that is one of the weirder ones of the festival. And that’s after the previous film about a filmmaker who fights content-driving robots while being a celluloid golem.
Pool Party (2019)
Dir. Ellie Stewart
Teenage girls suck. Or at least that’s what Ellie Stewart makes perfectly clear in her short Pool Party. If they’re not making fun of each other in increasingly cruel ways, they’re… well, I’ll let you watch it and find out for yourself. Creative twist on expectations and with some unexpectedly good effects, this one was really enjoyable.
Rhyme or Die
Dir. Max Lincoln (2021)
Saw mixed with Hustle & Flow, this one is pretty creative. Strangers kidnapped and forced to rap battle, sudden death the penalty if they fail. It’s an ambitious idea for a short, and the effects are done pretty well for what it is. It’s also an idea that fits perfectly into its 10-minute frame, one that wouldn’t do if it were stretched any longer. As it is, it’s entertaining and pretty well done, though I’d love to get a sequel that explains why everything happens the way that it does.
Dir. Chelsea Lupkin
The lesson here, I guess, is that not all things that seem like misogyny are bad? Either way, this one is a surprising film, great twist, and definitely one that I’d recommend. Director Chelsea Lupkin uses some creative strategies to hide budgetary limitations, and the actors do a great job of portraying an unrealistic situation realistically. Pretty good short.
Dir. Fredrik S. Hana (2022)
Part experimental film, part cosmic terror, From.Beyond has some horrific otherworldly imagery to go with its terrifying sound design. It has the feel of a Nine Inch Nails video, an industrial music video about how the Earth would realistically react to a new alien invasion. Really well done and something that could easily be fleshed out into a feature, which I’d be first in line to watch.
Dir. Tito Fernandes (2022)
Fear is powerful, and director Tito Fernandes’ story about the lasting effects of trauma is gripping, powerful, and at times hard to watch. It’s like if Alien was mixed with sleep paralysis, which is even more horrifying to consider than I can imagine. Actress Malou Coindreau, who plays the lead character in the short, is phenomenal, and she does a terrific job of bringing the audience into the depth of her emotion. One of the most impressive shorts of the festival and an absolute must see, a short that should be watched by literally everyone. If I had the power to give a “best in show,” it would undoubtably go to this one.
They Call It… Red Cemetery!
Dir. Francisco Lacerda (2022)
Magnificent parody of the spaghetti western, like a modern take on Sartana or Django (not the Tarantino one, of course). Gorgeously shot and a truly excellent tale of revenge and fate. Enjoyed this one, makes me want to dust off some of my Arrow box sets and give them a watch. If you’re a fan of the later “giallo westerns,” as I like to call them, give this one a watch.