EVENT REVIEW Dead By Dawn – Part 2 (The Shorts)
Part 1 of the feature on Edinburgh’s annual Dead By Dawn horror film festival talked about some of the features shown. Now, here are the world cinema shorts screened under the banners of Cutting Edge (live action horror) and 2D & Deranged (animation).
What would you do if you accidentally killed your girlfriend during a heated argument? What would you do if she then immediately became one of the living dead? Far from your usual zombie story, Quedate Conmigo is full of affection and tenderness rather than rage and violence.
The short is filled with neat touches such as rising anger leading to deathly blue veins spreading over girlfriend Macarena Gómez’s face and her eyes turning an Evil Dead-esque milky white, only for them to gradually fade when she calms down. Further stylish flourishes come in the form of Gómez never blinking, her reflection having a life of its own and a shadow lumbering up a flight of stairs after its owner.
Estomago is another survival horror, but more akin to the warped reality of Silent Hill than the relentless action of Resident Evil. A man sits alone at a hotel security desk in an abandoned hotel, watching the security monitors for signs of the screeching monsters that infest his small world of shadows and static. He will soon realise that not everything is as it appears to be when the reality he exists in start to crumble.
A schoolgirl sits in a classroom frantically trying to solve a maths problem. Gored and decapitated classmates surround her while she is silently watched by an invigilator in the garb of a plague doctor. As the clock ticks her time away and the hook-beaked figure edges ever closer, she must resort to extreme measures for a writing substitute when her pencil breaks if she wants to escape the same grisly fate.
At first you wonder what place this film has among the gore and death of the other shorts, being a story about a young boy keeping his confused and perpetually bewildered grandmother company on Christmas Eve. It’s only when you realise he’s doing all he can to stop her from going outside and that the doors and windows are subtly barricaded that you suspect something else is going on. And just where is everybody else?
Although the animation (made entirely on Photoshop) is reminiscent of The Snowman, this is a long way from a trip to the North Pole soundtracked by a warbling Welsh choirboy. A toddler finds a door to what at first appears to be a realm of fantastic wonder, but soon morphs into a dreamscape of every nightmare a small child could have, all twisting around one another, endlessly chasing him as he tries to run for safety.
A mixture of live action and digital effects, Ethereal Chrysalis is a visually stunning piece of dark fantasy difficult to give adequate justice with a verbal description. A traveller reaches his destination of a hill upon which a giant sleeps endlessly. Within the giant’s head a celestial convergence is being orchestrated. Meanwhile, a psychic alchemist attempts to pull something from the mind of a restrained schizophrenic, which may have repercussions for all involved while the “inter-dimensional cosmic order is consumed by dementia.”
A collection of brief skits parodying pretty much every single animation style you can think of throughout its century of existence, in the most depraved manner possible.
Animal sprites brightly swearing and having sex, a walking turd giving birth, a fax machine committing “tantric suicide”, a scalpel warehouse promising a “free puppy with every order,” nothing is considered too sacred or too deranged to warrant inclusion. Much like the entire festival itself.
The best part of any horror film festival is being in an audience of several hundred people with the same mentality as you. People who can see the inherent humour in a girl with a shard of crockery sticking out her forehead or a seven-foot Grim Reaper knocking on an old lady’s front door. People gathering in one place, united by a common love, gives an unspoken sense of camaraderie that you wish could happen more often.
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