PHFF 2022: Day 2 Short Films

Day 2 of the Portland Horror Film Festival had two feature-film screenings, so it was lighter with the short films. Yet the short films for this day were still a blast. Here is what the festival had to offer audiences on day 2.

Festival director Gwen Callahan with ZOMBIES LIKE TO WATCH cast/crew; Rollyn Stafford, Sean Abplanalp, and Jenny Jen

PORTLAND HORROR BUMPER (bumper contest) – Directed by Steven Jackley

This bumper came before the night’s first feature-length film screening and was made specifically for Portland Horror Film Festival. While only a minute long, it definitely packs a punch. The short film depicts a woman as she prepares to have some slashery fun with a guy. It breaks the fourth wall in a playful way that got a good laugh out of the audience in attendance. There was definitely enough personality to the short that I would love to see it expanded into a bigger story. Overall rating: 3/5

MIDNIGHT SCREAMS – Written and directed by Sean Menendez

As a couple argues on their late-night drive home, they hit something on a remote road, but unfortunately for the couple, they didn’t kill whatever they hit. Considering this short film has an 11 minute run-time, it packs in a lot of story. The filmmaker managed to incorporate things that happened in the past off-screen in a way that informs the audience just enough to put the pieces together. There are some great tension-building moments that result in sequences that are both frightful and fun for the audience. It builds suspense, is playful, and crams in a lot of great creature effects and gore. Overall rating: 3.5/5

DOORS – Written by Dennis Cahlo and Bethany Watson, Directed by Dennis Cahlo

An unseen force terrorizes a woman in her maze-like apartment. Doors takes a fairly simple approach by having a mysterious banging torment a woman inside her own apartment. Yet the weirdest part isn’t what’s doing the banging, it’s the bizarre layout of her apartment. Doors upon doors upon doors take the audience on a dizzying journey through what is a relatively small apartment. The strange apartment layout becomes a character unto itself, not seeming to make any sense and adding to the feeling of dread within the space. While I wish there had a been a bit more to the short, specifically when it comes to the unseen entity, it still does a great job of creating suspense. Overall rating: 3/5

THE DRUID’S HAND – Written by Mitch Oliver and Jesse Sawitsky, Directed by Mitch Oliver

A priest and his seemingly lone follower are forced to confront their past as an evil threatens their small town. The Druid’s Hand is an effectively creepy Canadian short film making it’s US premiere. It has strong performances from the two leads and the evil entity of the short is absolutely terrifying. Yet there are some aspects of the plot I feel as though I missed because the dialogue was muddied a bit in the sound mixing. One thing is for sure, The Druid’s Hand has a terrifying evil entity that will crawl its way into your nightmares. Overall rating: 3/5

ZOMBIES LIKE TO WATCH – Written and directed by Rollyn Stafford

Lucy brings Brian home at the end of their date, but when things get steamy Lucy reveals her rather strange kink. Zombies Like to Watch sounds like a strange concept for a short film, and it definitely is. Yet at the same time, Stafford manages to make the characters endearing and the story sweet, in a twisted sort of way. The trio of actors definitely help to leave a romantic comedy impression and the fact that the plot is somewhat autobiographical for Stafford also adds an extra layer of humor. It’s the kind of story that, on paper, sounds like it wouldn’t work, but the finished product is a hilarious little rom-zom-com. Overall rating: 3.5/5

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