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  • Rev Horror

The Dunwich Horrors Short Film Collection (Boston Underground Film Festival 2024)

We're covering the Boston Underground Film Festival for the second year and are excited to talk about some of the fantastic short films on display! First up is The Dunwich Horrors, a collection of shorts from New England (New English?) directors who try to be scary as short as possible. Note: I'm lacking some stills from these, and I didn't have access to Sweet Meats, one of the shorts in this segment.

Within the Walls

Dir. Benjamin Swicker

Excellent use of soundtrack and some creepy visuals highlight this perhaps-a-bit-too-short bite-sized horror. It focuses on a very real fear that it handles fairly well. While I'm all for short-form horror, this one probably could have used a few more minutes: at just over three minutes, it did the most it could, but it's an idea that could've used a little more fleshing out. As it stands, fairly good short to kick things off.


Dir. Mike Canale

Following the pattern of being a little on the shorter side, Sleepyhead clocks in right at two minutes but it manages to get some terrifying visuals in its short package. There's not a narrative here so much as there is a play on every child's worst nightmare, despite the film featuring only adults. Regardless, it's well done, genuinely creepy, and just enough to make your skin crawl.

Who's There?

Dir. Ryan Doris

Now this is exactly what a horror short should be. Director Ryan Doris' excellent Who's There? is an eleven minute sci-fi/home invasion thriller that features a dad waiting for his teen daughter to return from a night out and being confronted by something on the other side of the door. It's perfectly paced and has a stellar ending, a great representation of what's possible to do with a short runtime. Fantastic short.


Dir. Alex Hanno

With the extreme dependence on digital technology in today's world, it makes sense to try to cleanse from it while attempting to get back to nature. In director Alex Hanno's short Detox, a woman discovers that sometimes there are things worse than social media. It's an excellent short, though somehow a little slow-paced despite only an eight minute runtime, but it hits where it needs to and is well worth a watch. Clever and entertaining, brilliant skewer of our social media-addicted society.

Cup of Tea

Dir. Diana Porter

Cup of Tea lacks direction to a certain extent, but it feels like the idea is there. A mentally ill mother with a daughter who is showing signs of not being who she says she is feels like a premise with legs, but the short itself stumbles a bit in the delivery. This is one that I feel could use a few more minutes, because the ending, while promising, poses a whole bunch of questions that it is never able to fully answer.

Padre Nuestro

Dir. K. Elisa Garcia

Sometimes, the possessions don't stop when the priest leaves. Padre Nuestro delivers a tiny little exploration of what can go wrong even after the fact, and while it doesn't quite deliver a gutpunch like it could have, it's not half bad. Short short, only three minutes long, but it manages to be somewhat effective with not a whole lot to work with. It's decent, and worth checking out for a quick bite.

The Piece

Dir. Emma Young

Sometimes the very thing that makes you spiral can be your saving grace, as explored in Emma Young's The Piece. It lacks a lot of scares but fits well into the short-form format, a piece about obsession and devotion to a singular focus while the world is falling down around you. It's well-made and worth a watch, though it does, ironically, lose a little bit of its focus near the end.

Don't Fall From Grace

Dir. Carley Byers

Well-made, stylish, and incredibly well-acted, Don't Fall From Grace is a creepy as hell short that got under my skin. There's something about the performance from lead actress Ariana Pérez that made me uncomfortable to the extent this was hard for me to watch, and the cinematography really adds to the paranoia and unnerving feeling throughout... until the whole thing became devastatingly sad and somehow even more effective than it had previously been. Ariana Pérez's performance had shades of Isabelle Adjani's in Possession, and she is by far my favorite actress of the festival so far, though granted we have a long, long way still to go. Phenomenal short, I loved it.


Dir. Ben Rooker

An interesting short that's visually impressive, though a bit slower than I would have liked. Scary animation inside a surrealist, magical realism story of a girl who uses her drawings to escape from her real life make it an intriguing watch that ultimately falls flat in its pacing. It's decent, but I feel like it could've been better if it was a bit more tightened up (or perhaps had explained its progression rather than drop the viewer right into the middle of it.) Seriously impressive animation, despite its relatively basic artistic style.

Come Back Haunted

Dir. Logan Freeman

Come Back Haunted is by far the most well-made short of the bunch. Starring Toby Poser from Hellbender, it's filled with gorgeous cinematography and excellent performances from its cast, though it does drag a bit. It feels very much like an Adams Family film, and if you know my opinion of their work you'll know what a huge compliment that is. I definitely recommend checking this one out, a nice fresh take on a classic story.

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