Best Short Films 2021

It’s that time of the year again!! I have been a bit lazy with keeping the short roundups being posted on time as I had a lot of arting to do with an exhibition then with ill health and a few household “things” time got away with me.. BUT here’s the ultimate round up for the year.. Lets see what made the top list of movies i covers d in 2021!!

I am Become Death

I assume this is based on Oppenheimer and his famous speech after seeing the devastation of the Atom Bomb. but what Tom Potter does with this very short piece is to give a deeper insight into the blood thirsty post bomb 1950’s America, a world that lived in peace only due to utter fear. You can literally hear how broken Oppenheimer’s is for what has been created and how he fears it will be used this is a window into that dark thought.

Angst

Supposedly influence by existentialist thought, I can just about see what Dennis D Dinger (?) is trying to do with this piece of tree though I love the subtle shifts in the camera and the emotions build, how the outside world is affected by the inner thoughts.

Until there was Nothing

A feast for the eyes is what makes Paul Trillo’s piece stand out, As he moulds the world in tune with the Alan Watts talk, the sharp atmospheric sounds and the emotion of our natural planet. It looks like something that would be used in a really trippy music video and I wish it was a feature length…

Mr Madden

Floyd Hardy’s black and white drama concerns itself with Mr Madden, a man who’s just received a phone call from his employer saying that he has to meet his targets and failure is unacceptable, so he gets to work. I really love the set up, Madden goes through old 70’s textbooks and sits down with old tech but it seems his job is actually quite serious and when he gets into it. The idea of some madman shooting missiles using an old computer and dodgy joystick is out there but who knows how these covert missions are really done! The Cold War at it’s finest.

82

Alexei Slater‘s insightful and brutal short movie follows an experienced postman as he details how he learns about his regulars through their mail. Starring Nick Moran who’s known for his tough boy London roles and it’s all here, he’s a cocky guy with a purchase of a bit of naughty!. His sharp observations and razor sharp tongue soon turn dark in this spicy stylish short ,but is he unlike any of the people he criticizes behind the front doors?

It really spins on a dime and goes full throttle at the end after a deadly twist towards the end but it puts it all into perspective and really stands out for its creative nature to paint a worrying but believable picture of middle England..

Hello

A unnerving story from Tony Bloodworth takes a close eye on a man who seems to be haunted by a malevolent force but the trick is to work out if it’s in his head or not. There’s a lot of cultured shots, the man’s journey home through a communal garden is quite poetic and this all changes in the evenings, after he hits the bong and has a few beers, strange things begin to happen, just enough to unsettle even a man with nerves of steel, let alone the isolated guy in this chilling story. I really admire how so many of the jumps and scares are all audible and so eerie, but it’s so easy to wonder if these are in his head, so much clever work here.

Care

Something about this art house short reminds me of a stop motion piece than just your average Psychological Horror short. created by Tristan MG Aitchison and having the added bonus of tonnes of subtitles in different languages I feel most of the storytelling is done through the creative shots, creepy stills that zoom in on insects caught in cobwebs, strange vintage medical devices, taxidermy and all those unsettling things the Quay Brothers would make great use of in their movies. Aitchinson surrounds the abandoned home with creepy laughter, mumblings, animal screeches and tinkling piano music for that extra uneasy effect.

The main subject of the film is an elderly woman who moves from room to room of what seems to be an abandoned care home, re living the nightmares she experienced there, it’s quite heartbreaking at times, as a depression sweeps over the movie, as the shuffling aged figure moves through the darkened corridors whimpering, I think Maruene Pringle has done an amazing job in this touching film.

Where’s Waldo

I never imagined that the skinny stripe jumper nerd could ever be scary but Alex Bale has successfully changed my mind about this. While a young man is spending some time alone at home during a stormy night trying to find Waldo, however after a bold lightning strike it seems Waldo is transported from the book and into his home but insists on remaining hidden.. kinda..

A freaky alone at home terror is enhanced with a touch of computer graphics but it really does give a fright as it’s constructed so well, defiantly a top contender for this years list.

The Remnant

Navin Ramaswaran’s delightful short plays around with ideas of true and false paranormal events. A cleaner picks up a piece of jewellery then notices a painting bleeding, her disappearance and the feeling of a presence in the room encourage the homeowner to call in a professional team of investigators however they might have different interests at heart.

The film boasts a superb synth soundtrack and slow mo scenes that John Carpenter would be proud of. But the magic lays within the creepy effects that the team uses to create an authentic haunted house. Not just a creak or moaning in the night, but full on poltergeist wars. The movies shines an eerie light on spiral revenge, you’ll never want to touch an antique ever again, there’s definitely something masterful about The Remnant and I really do want to see a lot more fom Ramaswaran, horror needs this kick.

MINE

A girl sits in a circle of arcane symbols and candles chanting a haunting tune until a strange entity dressed in a black robe enters saying “mine” what could he mean? Jesus Diez Perez has created a curious folklorish occult horror, it has a slight Dark Song (2016) feeling about it. But in it’s short 7 minutes it opens up a lifetime of history between it’s two characters, a girl who was possessed by a demon and the demon who once possessed her, sadly the brutal exorcism is skipped but if you ever wondered what post exorcism life is like then this is a good enough insight.. and a chilling outcome is all that much tougher to behold.

Uninvited

So this crazy short comedy horror was conceived by a few viewers who wrote the piece via a “chain letter” which is really creative, a few high school friends and I would create freaky stories that way too, but we never came up with anything this solid. A guy ends up spending halloween by himself when all of his friends bail on him, rejecting and upset his best pal Macy turns up dressed up as a ghost using the old sheet method but as the night progresses he realises his silent bestie might be something more sinister. There’s a charm about the immersive soundtrack and a lot of work has gone into building tension with a range of filming techniques, the skewed angels really bounce off the idea that something isn’t quite right and the lead character handles the changes in mood and tempo really well. There’s odd bits of flashy photography cut scenes, it’s used a little too much but overall it’s a great indie flick and I think the team, especially director Alexander Rau and lead The Geek Smith can go far with their punk attitudes to filming

The Chrysalis

Initially I have to admit that the director might be a child from the Cthulhu Mythos, I introduce Mr. Michael Squid to the roundup and the first film I found from him is a delightful unsettling movie. A son moves home to help his mother, as she begins experiencing some kind of dementia but on arrival he begins to suspect that there might be something else at play with her. With an experimental classical soundtrack, plucking strings and constant disorder there’s nothing about the movie that will make anyone feel “at home” or confortable.

With such a high strung concept and it’s prequilararities the acting is what would make the movie work and Kathryn G. Howell and Aidan Laliberte deserve a lot of recognition for their impeccable work. this really is a tiny masterpiece.

3 Days

In a haze of blue monochrome three women awaken inside their tent with courier noises circling them, but of course there’s something outside, it’s the great outdoors and the city girls are camping in an alien environment, but they have each other. it’s not the creepy noises which captures the audience straight away it’s their 3am conversation about life the universe and everything that earmark the the women as awesomely funny and relatable, but after a flashback the film begins to breakdown like a Christopher Nolan production bending time and realty to get to the cause of the matter, and the truth of the situation engulfs the protagonist.

Written and directed by Julie Sharbutt 3 days weaves a brilliant retrospective tale of female strength and unity, but unfortunately just at the wrong time and place, however the message is clear, be careful when you try to lose yourself to find yourself, women need to stick together and support each other or the world will prey on us individually. Such a powerful story of solidarity which stings with a certain sadness, really emotive piece.

Stucco

So much of this movie seems like a version of Deep Dark (2015) both films are driven by a hole in the wall, a deep dark secret of a hole, but there’s a mysterious sert of dreams, a jealous ex, a break away from work and a persistent cough to take on board with Janina Gavankar and Russo Schelling’s thriller. There’s quite a strong narrative about a woman who’s really up against it, she’s struggling to get some peace from her semi violent ex her hiatus from work due to agoraphobia is causing all sorts of stress and yet she’s drawn to this strange hole in the wall which she finds while trying to hang a picture but are the mysteries behind the wall a key to her new awaking?

There are some gorgeous artistic body horror shots towards the end of an already engaging story, possibly one for the lynchians out there to really absorb the inner workings of a throne, but one thing you’ll be acutely aware of is the journey our heroine takes to finally become well again?

Mama PingPong Social Club

After finding out her husband has been cheating a woman searches for a new focus in her life. When life throws you a curved ball it can really set you on a different path, sadly when the world is unfamiliar that path can be stranger and more extreme than you’d have ever imagined.

A-Mien joins her old school friends ping pong class but after an unfortunate accident her (after)life takes a strange path which causes her to try and reunite with her daughter in order to secure a new sense of happiness, but is the Ping Pong group now more important?

Really moving drama, with some tense horror rushes while remaining highly thought provoking, something really common with Asian horrors, this one does not skip a beat.

Distortion

Grégory Papinutto’s neon horror feels like Climax with a hint of found footage and Argento’s Demons. A group of life long friends meet a night watchman for a local convent, who allows them to party, but when Diane wakes up the world around her is very different and filled with mutated monsters, can she fight her way to safety and survive the night?

It’s something that many seasoned horror fans will be able to predict, however the film never gives up in its attempts to keep its audience on edge. The gore and violence is quite palatable but it’s really impressive to see a film able to go from slasher to some kind of evil cerebral cat and mouse game. There’s a lot to love about the vivid stained glass look, almost as bright as a Bava. It’s not the only tip to the Giallo genre.

Peopling

You’ve gotta love the grotty atmosphere in this short, highly surreal movie, a blend of dated Americana expertly mixed with childlike aesthetics and urban decay, which makes for a playful and lowbrow movie with a sinister edge.

The short follows a young man, George Moody, who, while making ickies( or going no.3), accidently births his doppelganger from a rogue sperm cell which grows and becomes his mothers new favourite son. There’s a lot of artistic flare thriving, I’d guess that the director is highly influenced by the pop surreal movement as this feels like a Mark Ryden piece coming to life, maybe through the vision of Tom Six.

Disturbing just begins to describe the project with lots of dark laughs and twisted humor, you’ll either laugh or cry when you watch this uncomfortable film by Lucas Amann, who may just be my favourite director of all time now.

Allergic Overreaction

A group of guys gather for a horror marathon, and all is going boringly well when Dave realises that the homemade cookies he’s been eating all night have nuts in them. Without his EpiPen panic erupts and accusations fly about if the poisoning was intentional or not.

There’s a really hard violent edge to Zachary Eglinton movie, it seems the guys are taking on the personas of the horror characters that they have been watching all night and begin to Slash it out. Along with a brutal knife fight the special FX to make Dave look like he’s having a reaction are spot on and add a lot of body horror to the later half of the movie, it sings praise to Evil Dead.

I never thought of an allergic reaction making a monster but what it achieves in this creative short makes me wonder if this should be a new subgenre. The film is brimming with superb acting and a great retro soundtrack, both synth and rock, which really does seem to be a thing now..

The Fortune Teller

David Ferino makes another piece of your childhood scary again. Do you remember those little origami fortune tellers we all used to make at school.. well basically just don’t.. Super spooky and very slick creepy horror that really gets under your skin and all from a little bit of folded paper.. damn it Ferino, scare me again!! I really adore the monster design and this creepy lady really needs a full movie dammit.

The House Guest

When a woman opens up to her best friend about her nightly attacks from a strange entity in her home, they call in a couple of professional but incredibly playful paranormal experts to communicate with the spirit and get to the bottom of the problem, but when faced with the truth will the young girl pay attention to the warnings? A stunning award winning movie from David Walton Smith. It’s not entirely flawless but the acting is supremely natural and for this small scale project it does have a culture aesthetic. I would definitely like to see these investigators in future movies.

The Wake

A trio of sisters attempt a tarot reading and find a set of harrowing messages from their dead father.. unfortunately he wasn’t the kind loving father that a lot of us are used to. Lauren Brown’s spectacular moody story of occult mystery and death really gets under the skin and twists like a knife.

Death comes twice

Set in the year 2055CE this amazing experimental cyberpunk epic is a 2018 film from David Koenig, The meistro that made the top movies of 2020 which you can view here. In this dystopian future the world has crumbled and the government has a series of assassins known ad Black who in this film is hunting down White, but why? When you work out the mechanics of this daunting thriller you’ll be knee deep in aesthetics that takes you back to Terminator and Blade Runner.

Bella Koenig stars as both hunter and hunted in this world full of dualities, mystery and death. Filled with a sensational electro soundtrack and David’s brilliant unique mastery behind the camera opens up the doors to the imagination. Doesn’t his raw talent just make you want to pick up a camera and make a movie!

The Cunning man Folk Horror

An enchanting tale of a man who collects animal parts for his folk magic, based on the real story of real-life physician John Harries (1785 – 1839) and directed by Zoë Dobson. There’s a masterful eye which captures the more atmospheric scenes turning this creepy horror into terrifying dark fantasy with a lot of body horror be it more of the snail variety it’s no less scary.

Blending ideas about farm life being more than just raising animals for slaughter and living more closely with the land vs the greed driven world of the city. Our silent smelly Cunning man has recently lost his beloved dog and a few animals, while those who shun him in the town just want the authorities to “deal with him” but somewhere in a locked book and magic circle there’s a greater gift than any of those city types would care to dream about.

The Surrogate

A suggestion from the brilliant Fiend of Film , I was intrigued to watch this great textured animated short highlighting the dark moments of when a man heads out to meet a date but finds something wet in the woods. I can’t get enough of the rich tonal textures and character design. It almost makes you forget what might be lurking out in the woods at night. Definitely disturbing in more ways than one, Stas Sntimov really knows how to literally get under the skin and then he gets to work.

I Love your guts

Two girlfriends working the night shift in a fast food restaurant are dealing with their friendship woes when a drunk patron beings to fuck up their night, while trying to work out if they are in love or not he attacks one of the girls and breaks in to eat. David Janove somehow makes this night time shennanigans funny, even after one of the girls gets stabbed in the ass. There’s a lot to laugh about though, even if it isn’t the zombie/cannibal mix I was expecting from the title. This is what true friendship is all about.

The Voice In Your Head

Directed by Graham Parkes this hilarious short is just as disturbing as it is funny.. if you find this kind of thing funny. I can imagine it’s going to rub a few people up the wrong way as it deals with some crazy ideas of mental health but wow it’s so much fun to watch.

Following the nightmarish life of a man who’s stalked by chirping voices in his head, embodied by a foul shouting man in a green suit, he attempts to get by day by day with the oppressive speech, from the second he wakes up until he goes to bed this bully is just there, over his shoulder talking down at him, until one of his work colleagues speaks out about it and the movie takes a huge dramatic shift.

While it’s bizarre and funny, I find the film does speak about how we all try to cope without inner demons, trying to bury them and carry on regardless rather than talk, it’s not the best advocate for such a situation but the more we broach these subjects the more comfortable we’ll be with them in the future right?

Dig your own grave

Every now and again there comes a time in a man’s life when he has to put his guards down and be brutally honest. When it comes to this bizarre tale of a hitman and victim told to dig his own grave in the desert.. there’s no better time than the present.

The comedy is black, well timed and somehow doesn’t distract from the drama, which is surprisingly strong and fascinating at times. Once the victim has been released from the car boot and strapped to a shovel, he has to dig, there’s an argument about the type of shovel and questions about why this has to happen but it’s obvious, the victim should have paid up and the man with the gun to his head is being paid to make sure he’s never seen again but through the power of honest talking the two men seem to find an outlet for their stress and fears, but will this new found kinship change the outcome?

Kirk Larsen has really built a genuinely funny and challenging movie, with a true brilliant chemistry between the two characters they manage to carry this movie from bizarre to bizarre AND brilliant. the technical ability of the filming is spot on and if he’s not making features already then he really needs to be given a chance soon.

Colour of your Lips

A really riveting story, told through amazing cinematography as the cast are mostly silent. A diver returns to the surface but is unable to breath, taking his catch and re-plugging into his oxygen he begins to walk along the road, noticing nothing but corpses along the way. Eventually he stumbles on a woman who’s cradling her dead partner, but she’s also hooked up to a tank of oxygen and has survived whatever has occured because of her “condition” which I think is her morbid obesity. Either way the two pair up and head into town to look for survivors.. but what will they make of each other and the crazy end of the world situation?

With the leads being hooked up to oxygen they can’t say much but take a light hearted approach to the end of the world. The use of slow motion and the fact an audience is starved of sound, all focus is on all of the movement of the fated duo, it feels like a music video, you can’t help but feel everything with them. Annick Blanc made a decision that the film is silent apart from music so you don’t even hear much atmospherics apart from breathing or the clicking of oxygen tanks, only breathing is audible.

An engrossing and charming story that suggests a culture of excess is destroying its own oxygen levels, as well as looking deep into human condition and no matter how giving we are, at some point the need to survive will take over. it’s not exactly an arty WaZ it’s miles away from that but if you were faced with a similar situation, where would your choices take you.

Hopefully you enjoyed this week’s list, if there are any short movies that you can recommend please let me know.

You can find a list of all my Short Movie Roundup’s here.

My Favorite  Short movies of 2019

Best Short Movies  of 2020

Best Short Films 2021

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