We’ve had an amazing year on Popcorn Horror, promoting and showcasing the work of even more talented people in the indie horror scene. A bit part of that is, of course, our weekly #ShortFrightFriday film, where we show the scares independent directors are able to pack into short horror movies.
This year saw the release of many fresh, original horror offerings from the independent community – so we present a top ten list of our picks of the best. Some have been featured on Popcorn Horror, some have not. This is only a small selection of the amazing shorts we come across, and we would always urge you to check out more from indie horror directors.
Cameron McCasland’s short film Tailypo is an old fashioned supernatural tale set in rural Kentucky. The story is centered on Appalachian cryptozoology and features some impressive practical effects. The short stars David Chattam and features the voice of TV horror host Danielle Geleherter (aka Penny Dreadful).
9. Real Life Mortal Kombat Fatalities
Some of the films on this list really challenge the viewer and introduce unique ideas to horror.But sometimes, we just like to see creative and gruesome death scenes -right? While big-screen adaptations of the video game franchise have opted to remove much of the gore to achieve more family friendly ratings – this one doesn’t spare the gory details.
Directed and edited by Danny & Michael Philippou, the film has a very simple premise, centered on two friends talking about Mortal Kombat X. When one remarks that the game’s Fatalities are unrealistic, the other sets out to recreate them in real life. It’s a lot of fun, and packs a lot of gore into it’s short runtime.
8. Five Nights at Freddy’s: Evil Eyes
This is the shortest film on this list, and makes it here mainly for the impressive nature of it’s visuals. Before an official film adaptation of the popular video games was revealed in July, this short proof of concept fan animation was released on Youtube. A collaborative effort between Typhoon Cinema and Deviant Pictures, the team have since created other clips showing their ideas for a FNAF adaptation.
The animation is spot on, and it even manages to capture the game’s atmosphere in just over a minute.
7. The Pride of Strathmoor
Einar Baldvin created this unsettling animated short for his USC thesis. It’s a thought provoking, visually distinctive film influenced by Raging Bull, 40s Disney, H.P Lovecraft, Ingmar Bergman and boxer Jack Johnson. It blends together horror imagery and boxing, based on the filmmakers personal experiences.
The Pride of Strathmoor has an impressive list of festival credentials including Jury Prize for Best Animated Short at Slamdance. It’s story is rooted in historical racism – particularly in sport – with an American gothic horror twist.
6. Who’s There? A Halloween Tale
Although much of the filming for this one was done a couple of years ago, the film was actually released in 2015 so we’re going to include it. Written and directed by Brian Davis and Jay Brooks, this is a tale of Trick or Treating gone wrong. It’s an impressive looking film for it’s small budget and wouldn’t feel out of place as a segment in Trick R Treat.
It features a rural Texan, handing out Biblical lessons alongside candy on Halloween, who’s plan are constantly interrupted by an intimidating Trick or Treater.
5. Party 85
It might not have the best effects in the world, but that kind of adds to the charm of Party 85. This one centers on an adorably evil little boy kept away by a party downstairs. It’s campy and over-the-top, and the kid plays the evil with a dash of cute very well.
Director Dan Auty’s own children starred in the film, which is set in the 1980s and features suitably retro music alongside its themes of black magic.
Written, directed, and starring Karen Gillan, Conventional is a self-aware story about a B-Movie horror actress struggling to remain in the spotlight. It’s a dark, funny, but thought-provoking look at the disposability of Hollywood stars.
Crafted as an original segment for Fun Size Horror, the film deals with the all too common fear of loneliness and isolation, and losing one’s dreams. The actress/director captures the character’s depression and despair, as well as delivering some great in-jokes for the horror community.
Created by the heads of our Crypt Family CryptTV and directed by David Dinetz and Dylan Trussell, Chainsaw is unfiltered gore at it’s best. It looks and feels like a loving homage to the slasher genre, with impressively gruesome deaths and some black humor thrown in.
The villain, while we only spend a few minutes with him, is memorable. He’s gleefully enjoying the ensuing carnage, and we’re enjoying it with him. Maybe not one to watch over your lunch though.
2. Selfie From Hell
For a less than two minute short with only one location, Selfie from Hell did amazingly well – having been watched over 14 million times. It hit the internet at exactly the right time, tapping into a very modern fear that you probably didn’t know you had.
The film had zero budget and was shot in three days by German production student Meelah Adams – who also stars in it – and author-director Erdal Ceylan. Yes,we all know the jump scare is coming. But I like jump scares when they’re in short form pieces like this rather than being relayed on in full length movies. It’s short and succinct with just the amount of time to built tension.
1. He Took His Skin Off For Me
With the title, we were expecting something a little…out there. But this bizarre, beautiful short film is incredible. There’s some Hellraiser influence, but it mostly manages to tell a very original story in just under ten minutes. Ben Aston’s grad film from the London Film School is a practical effects showcase, with the director confirming no CGI was used at all.
Instead, the gruesome figure minus his skin was created with makeup effects – and it works really well. There’s horror and romance in this story which was created with a great deal of care and the support of over 200 horror fans on Kickstarter.