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Film Maudit 2.0: The Shorts: Birthing Pangs

Written by Stephen McClurg

special delivery poster smallFourandahalfstars Special Delivery
Directed by Andrew Melzer

In a mock film trailer, a maniacal stork puppet stalks a couple that doesn’t want to have a baby. One of the reasons for not being ready to have a child is this line, given with a straight face: “I just joined an ironic kickball league!” At some point, the stork wields a knife toward the couple, only to poke holes in their condoms. The short gets more gruesome but remains goofy fun.

Survival Poster SmallThreestars Survival
Directed by Philippe Sfez

Zak is an artistic and gentle outsider in a hostile French suburb. He enjoys bike rides and naps in the nearby woods and has a crush on a local dealer who protects Zak after the death of his father. Zak gets bitten by a tick that begins to swell and take over his body. Though there is some beautiful photography and more character development than in many short films, I disconnected once the action began. Structurally, the film could have been shorter or longer. It sets the scene beautifully and then ramps up in a less controlled way. The characters' reactions become strange and the film doesn’t hold together.

You Are Trash Poster SmallThreeandahalfstars You Are Trash!
Written and directed by Dan Frantz and Andy Koeger

A slobby bachelor must battle possessed trash and detritus for access to his home and perhaps to his own consciousness. A fun riff on Evil Dead and possibly a 1975 short called Flesh-Eating FIlm Reels. It builds to a dark Body Snatchers vibe, only to puncture that with a “Weird Al” track. You’re either going to love or hate that decision.

We Got A Dog Poster SmallThreeandahalfstars We Got a Dog
Directed by Ryan Valdez

We Got a Dog is a doppelgänger story with a twist. Mason surprises his girlfriend with an adopted pet, but the less I say about it, the better. The movie builds while maintaining an already creepy, tension-filled atmosphere, though aspects of the creature design are not as compelling as the mood of the piece. The movie left me wanting more, and the concept could not only be a feature, but also could be rich in a variety of approaches.

Nau Poster SmallFourstars Nau
Directed by Renata de Lélis

More on the arthouse end of horror, Nau is a dark, poetic look at someone discovering who they are, though the jaded could say it’s about someone turning into a fish. It has beautiful uses of light and color mixed with bizarre aquatic imagery. Even though there’s no dialogue, which can sometimes feel like a gimmick or a chore in other films, Nau left me wanting more in a good way.

Earthworm Poster SmallThreestars Earthworm
Directed by Grace Gregory
Written by Charlotte Foley

After Claire becomes pregnant, she decides to have an abortion. With her family behind her, she has the appointment set and begins to have unusual dreams. She expects to be given a pill but has to sit for an examination that becomes distressing. The film is well-acted and well-made but ends abruptly. It’s possible that as a man I missed something at the end and in the earthworm symbolism. Overall, Earthworm contains powerful images, covers important issues, and certainly leaves an impression whether or not one has had the experiences depicted.

Tistlebu Posetr SmallFivestars Tistlebu
Directed by Simon Matthew Valentine
Written by Alexander Delver and Simon Matthew Valentine

A young couple go to Tistlebu Farm to get away from their city lives. As they attempt to reconnect with themselves and nature, they also begin connecting with a primordial force that is part of the countryside and likely beyond. Great music, photography, and mood throughout this Lovecraftian folk horror tale. I don’t think slime has grossed me out in a long time in the way it did here.

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About The Author
Stephen McClurg
Staff Writer
No matter how hard he tries to focus on music, Stephen always gets called back to horror culture. The inciting incident is likely the night his grandmother cackled through his wide-eyed and white-knuckled first viewing of Jaws at three. The ‘70s were a different time. Over the years, he has mostly published poetry and essays, but started writing with a review section for the Halloween edition of the sixth-grade school newspaper. He rated titles like Creepshow with a short description and illustrated pumpkins. His teacher loved it, but the principal shredded the final version before distribution since all the movies were rated R.
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