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BLOOD IN THE SNOW 2019 - SHORT FILMS

Written by Joanna K. Neilson

These short films are a mixed bunch, all clearly made with love and enthusiasm. Some blew me away, others... well, not so much. But it seems that we just can’t get enough of fuzzy VHS and electrowave soundtracks at the moment. And a splash of dark humour really goes a long way, making even the most low-budget flick worth a lot more of your time.

Housekreeping Poster Small Housekreeping

It's an icy day in an anonymous holiday home. A nonplussed chalet cleaner is a little creeped out by her male coworker, then looks across at the opposite building in the cold, icy snow while the camera moves really, really slowly. There's a suitcase with an ominous implication. The camera moves really, really slowly again.

Then – well, not a lot else really happens. Unrelated characters pop up. Possible 'OMG' moments are all too brief, and it kind of wastes its whole 'big idea' by utterly underselling it.

While what's really going on is quite clearly implied, and it looks marvellous, with a strong idea running underneath it all, this short doesn’t quite come together. Which is a shame. It has a wicked sense of humour, and somewhere in there the potential to be great. It just falls a little too flat, and the potential for tension and shock horror leaks away to nothing.

Overall, disappointing.

Twostars

Video Store Commercial Poster Small Video Store Commercial

A glorious fuzzy mess. A video store owner is trying to publicise his tiny, failing video store by making a shamelessly cheesy promotional video, only during the process one of his most priceless VHS tapes gets smooshed. This releases an evil entity with a pretty great special effect going for it. And it only gets better and much sillier from there.

Managing to balance its horror with loads of knowing winks, this is great fun. The VHS format gives a great, grainy aspect to the madness. While this is very brief, and incredibly silly, it wrings every bit of demonic joy from its simple, silly idea.

Fourstars

Blood In The Snow Funny Frights Banner Small Video Vengeance

Another film in the collection that plays with the fuzzy grunge of worn-out VHS. Come for the VHS, stay for the snappy backtalk and lipstick tips. Did you ever wonder what bored videostore clerks do with irritating customers? We're about to find out. Two such take-no-shit hipster girls versus one major douchebag in this silly but enjoyable short. Given how hard you're rooting for the douchebag to get justice, it's hardly fair, but pretty satisfying. Worth it for the weaponised snark and overall fuzzy 1990s vibe. If there's ever a full length film of this, it's gonna be directed by Kevin Smith and star his daughter, Harley.

Threestars

Housekreeping Poster Small Don't Sneeze

So, this very short story is simple. Oh so simple. And wrong. And hilarious. It opens in a scene you may watch through your fingers – where a guy is emphatically jerking off (stay with us here) in his bathroom, when he makes the mistake of sneezing as he... finishes. Doing this brings about some unforeseen consequences and, well, to say anymore would spoil it. Let's just say this short piece does everything right, uses a limited setting brilliantly, and I almost guarantee you'll laugh out loud.

It's not at all scary, but to be honest, the lesson learned might well be the biggest fear of many of those watching. Cringe humour that's truly scary.

Fourstars

Willa Poster Small Willa

A couple, David and Willa, are travelling across country on a train. It's dark, and the landscape gets increasingly foggy and mysterious. While David and Willa seem very much in love, when David gives something unexpected away, Willa gets very upset, walks into the train toilet and disappears entirely. When David gets up to investigate Willa's disappearance, he's repeatedly warned to stay put as the train 'may be leaving any minute'.

Is this a case of 'The Lady Vanishes' or something even stranger? Where is Willa, and how many times can they say Willa's name during the next twelve minutes of Willa?

Well, 'stranger', 'you can probably guess it' and 'a lot' are the answers to that. While this is based on a decent Stephen King story, and therefore has a solid enough idea to hang off, the pace feels leaden and nearly outstays its fifteen minutes. There are some creepy moments, the performances aren't bad, and they clearly had a decent budget for this. It just didn't gel for me. While it's a solid piece, it all feels a bit too familiar, played totally straight, and overall it's not quite got enough else going on to surpass that predictability.

Twostars

Utukku Poster Small Utukku

A girl is put through hell by a magnificently evil bully at French Canadian high school. The bully is protected by her status and good connections, so in desperation the bullied girl approaches a voodoo doctor for help. He reluctantly gives her a cut-rate deal on a very bad dolly. Naturally, the bully gets some much-deserved karma but – for goodness sake – don't break the rules that came with the doll. Especially because, in the business of black arts, there really are no refunds!

Naturally, things quickly go from bad to worse.

Complementing the fantasy and horror of this twisted story and understanding its ridiculousness as well, this is a beautiful series of short episodes. Summoning a very satisfying yarn from a fairly predictable setup, this gorgeously twisted tale of schoolyard bullying and creepy black arts becomes entirely fresh and interesting.

Great fun and a joy to watch. Highly recommended.

Fourstars

About The Author
Joanna K Neilson
Staff Reviewer
Favourite film ever watched is Alien (1979), but usually prefers to ingest her horror with a dollop of comedy relief…though the dusty charm of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1971) and the black and white lure of Psycho (1960) continues to draw her in. Found Baskin weirdly hilarious. Finds Finding Nemo godawful. Adores H.P. Lovecraft and has sort-of pilgrimed to his grave in Providence - very tidy. Very long walk. Half-expected cats and cultists to be set up all around it but sadly, just signs saying ‘no photos’ in the cemetery.
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