[CINEPOCALYPSE] SHORTS BLOCK 1: SHADOWS WITHIN – PART 2

In “Shadows Within” Cinepocalypse showcases a series of short and surreal psychological horror films from a variety of talented directors.

MUFFIN
Directed by: Daniel Bolda
Written by: Marilena Karamolegou & Daniel Bolda

What would you do for a new life? A man finds out the hard way when he lets his father out in the middle of the woods never to return. However, he sees that his new life isn’t the one he wanted. He is desperate to find a way to reverse the damage he’s done.

At first view of Muffin, I was perplexed with what’s happening. However, it got down to the nitty-gritty of the story, and I was amazed. We all want to change our lives in some way. Maybe to be famous, wealthy, to have a stinkin’ hot person by your side, but what price would you pay? The man in this story finds out the hard way, but he gives away something so precious to help him achieve it — his father.

After viewing it, it makes you think. I think that’s one of the big takeaways from it. It’s also stunning in its execution. It’s off-kilter, bizarre, high-tech, almost Black Mirror-ish. Daniel Bolda does an incredible job of making every moment and feeling land. The actors, especially the main actor, is what holds this thing together and makes you feel like you’re watching the worst possible thing that can happen. Muffin is a bit of a master class in putting emotions on screen, and it does it beautifully.

 


THE FOLLOWER
Directed & Written by Stephanie Szerlip
Starring: Logan Polish & Jack Kilmer

“Name is Jimmy… Flowers. Said I was on my way. Now here I am.” 

Two strangers visit a vain and self-absorbed teenage girl obsessed with her social media presence. Both of them are charming as they are frightening.

Going into The Follower, I thought I recognized the vibe of it right away. If anyone is familiar with the movie Smooth Talk, the basis for both this and that movie is the short story Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” by Joyce Carol Oates. The one thing that bothered me about the story and adaptation was the tension between the characters. The teenage girl is alone and vulnerable, and the strangers have the upper hand. It’s a stalker tale and a home invasion at the same time which is a nightmare of a scenario.

That’s what makes this short unsettling and highly uncomfortable. Stephanie Szerlip GETS why that tension between the character makes you feel gross inside and uses it to her advantage to tell her particular adaptation, and it works. The Follower is way scarier because of the social media age now. The age of anyone knowing who you are and what you’re doing. The narrative is smooth and frightening building that tension and making it so heavy that you don’t notice you’re holding your breath until the credits roll.

This is one film I’d love to see a full movie of. The Follower is stylized take on a classic predator story that knocks the wind out of your sails and makes you want to delete your social media forever.


THE ORCHESTRA
Directed & Written by Curtis Matzke
Starring: Gillian Butcher

“STOP!” 

A woman goes into the concert hall and starts to play her clarinet, but she’s not alone.

I love a good ghost story. Revamp. I love a good ghost story that’s subtle in what it does. You don’t need a bunch to get a ghost story going, and that’s what The Orchestra shows. It has almost a Mike Flanagan style about it. It highlights the character, and the spooky parts are creepy and shocking instead of full-blown horrifying.

I also love this because it made me want to know more about The Orchestra itself. Did this use to play in this concert hall? What triggered them to come onstage? Is she practicing for a big night? Is she the first victim of the ghost Orchestra? Will she be playing among them? What happened to them? Full disclosure, I love coming out of a short film and figuring out all these details, and Curtis Matzke does a fantastic job in making your mind whirl to know who, what, where and why these ghosts exist.


WATER HORSE
Director: Sarah Wisner & Sean Temple

“I wanna go back, mommy.”

Review is taken from previous coverage. 

A small family’s life is disturbed once they come upon a presence from the water.

If you gave me a full movie of Water Horse, I’d run towards it. This short film could easily be longer because it had so much going on inside of it. This story carries many layers. For example, the family, where the water horse came from, the home invasion, and the hallucinations. It’s such a solid short horror film with solid acting, a beautiful location, and a heart-wrenching finish that leaves you gasping. 

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