Amani Cassim
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Tis the season of crawling creatures and ghastly ghosts. As Halloween lurks around the corner, social media makes some killer suggestions for costumes and slithers in adverts for events that never quite live up to the expectations. YouTube, on the other hand offers a variety of short films that will haunt your dreams in the discomfort of your bedroom, the kind of discomfort that horror fans find comfort in. Turn out the lights, grab your favourite eye-covering blanket, and watch these bone-chilling short films.

Portrait of God
Directed by Dylan Clark, this short film follows the main character, Mia as she practices her presentation on the baffling fictitious painting the Portrait of God. Where Mia, like many others, see a black screen, others see a glowing-eyed, smiling figure and have eerily similar descriptions. The unsettling imagery, with shadows obscuring fragments of its features, sends chills down the spine. The original score mimics Latin hymns used in church settings, creating the mood of Mia’s spiritual awakening. With minimal but brilliant acting, this is a great video to ease yourself into your spooky endeavors.

This psychological horror is perfect for those prone to nightmares, unless you are acrophobic (have a fear heights). Both the viewer and the main character are dropped in the middle of the story. Confused and terrified, the unnamed
character must escape the curve of cement she finds herself on before she slips. The unknown and unshown creatures prowling beneath her leave much to the imagination. With only squeals and cries to go on, the viewer can only picture creatures hungry for blood. Many questions go unanswered in this Tim Egan short film, which will surely spark some post-viewing debates among you and your friends. Who doesn’t love a good theorising session? The anxiety-inducing nine minutes of this short film will leave you with sweaty palms – and possibly heart failure.

Other Side of the Box
Sometimes horror requires balance. There is some goofiness in terror and terror in goofiness, especially in this Caleb J Phillips short film. A couple receives an unexpected gift in a box, and its contents are equally surprising. While the
acting in this short film is about as believable as Facebook-fact-checking Covid vaccine conspiracy theorists, the creep factor will have you shielding your eyes. The silent, slimy, stalking antagonist echoes a predator playing with its prey, awaiting the perfect moment to pounce and rip its victim into chunks. Warning: this film may cause screams, shouting at the screen, and a large amount of cringing.

Daniel Gray and Tom Brown created this animated short film. The main character’s obsession with teeth accounts for a range of shiver-inducing, uncomfortable, never-should-be-heard-so-clearly sound effects. The unrealistic
depiction of body horror leans towards the safer-viewing side. However, the heebies will definitely jeebie if you are sensitive to sound and, well, teeth. Horror comes in many different forms, and this film may unlock a new type of fear in you.

Let us play a game: which is scarier, a pedophile or body horror? Whichever one it may be, prepare for a double whammy. This David Mikalson short film follows a gymnastics instructor who cares deeply for the safety of the teenage girls that she trains. When she notices a sordid creep lurking around her gym, she allows him to get what he wants in the most gruesome way possible. One could say he becomes a sort of contortionist himself. Stuck is the Midsommar of short films, as blood and guts are outshone by the “good for her” narrative. Empowering and ferocious, this short film showcases the epitome of a morally grey character.

Now, brave soul, with this list in your hand, embark on a journey into the depths of fear. Explore the short films selected for you after viewing the horrors of the paranormal and the primality of human nature. There is no shame in bringing company, but there is certainly fear in not being alone.