Two Masterful Horror Shorts
There is a particular thrill that a short horror film can achieve. Hastened by time, it must get straight to the point, weaving together its horrific elements quickly and effectively.
Machine Baby written and directed by Sean Richard Budde is a prime example.
The short film, which was has recently appeared at Nightmares Film Festival and GenreBlast Film Festival, is the story of a man who gets too close to a sinister plot involving a beauty queen. In less than ten minutes, Machine Baby runs the horror gamut, from suspenseful to downright disturbing. What I appreciated most about Budde’s film was his sort of Lynchian approach to filmmaking. Instead of holding the viewers’ hands, this film thrusts us into a world marked with inexplicable circumstances that we are tasked with making sense of. This makes it a fun, thought-provoking experience.
I was also struck with the film’s use of color, sound, and music. With little dialogue Machine Baby successfully moves the story along, relying on an impressive soundtrack, as well as some pretty nasty, well-timed sound effects.
Visually, the most arresting scene is actually captured on the film’s poster, of a pregnant woman donned in a blue robe propped on top of a cascading tower of red gasoline cans. There was a particularly artistic eye used in the making of this scene, and it leaves a haunting visual in my mind’s eye.
While Machine Baby’s strengths lie in its visuals, Unbearing, a short film directed by Aidan Weaver and written by Jennifer Trudrung, is a film buoyed by its performances. Starring Mary Katherine O’Donnell as a babysitter sensing doom, and Jennifer Trudrung and Reginald Heinish as the stressed and cautious parents, Unbearing plays upon two common points in a female’s life; when we are left alone, in the charge of other’s children, and when we are overwhelmed with society’s pressure to become dutiful mothers. In a few short minutes, the filmmakers are able to garner concern for both babysitter Lindsay and harried mom Beth. They’re real, the dialogue flowing authentically, and they are both strained by a normal circumstance; parents leaving their infant for the first time. Though this may seem like a typical exchange, there is an unspoken awkwardness, a tinge of wrongness, that pulled me in.
Suspense soon develops, as there is no time to waste, and without spoiling the film, I’ll tell you I felt the genuine slow creep of a delightfully psychological and effective horror film.
While the babysitter trope is not a new one, Unbearing focuses on motherhood, a topic rife with possibility in horror.
It was no surprise to me why my friends were raving about Unbearing and why it won the Audience Choice award at the Women in Horror Film Festival.
I encourage you all to seek out both films. As well as seek more independent short and feature length horror films. There are gems waiting to be discovered.
To find out where you can see Machine Baby check out the film’s Facebook page:
To find out more about Unbearing visit the Facebook page: