Archive for Brian Lonano

The Top Short Films of Celluloid Screams 2016!

Posted in Horror Festivals with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 13, 2016 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

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At horror festivals, fans and film enthusiasts alike are treated to a selection of short horror films created by talented filmmakers that are currently taking the underground, indie circuit by storm. The feature films normally take centre stage however in his year’s Celluloid Screams line up the short films proved to be just as striking, some even thought provoking and others were downright weird! (but more on that later). So, here goes, these are the top shockingly good short films of Celluloid Screams 2016. As always these are my own views and not a reflection on the overall panel vote.

10. Death Metal (2016)

  • Directed by Chris McInroy
  • USA, 5 Minutes

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Perfectly placed before The Devil’s Candy, Death Metal is a loud and proud, gore-fuelled spectacle. With similar vibes to last year’s Deathgasm about a satanic guitar that unleashes hell on earth, Death Metal is a rocking black comedy that promises “riffs that shred”, literally! It’s a laugh out loud, thrill ride that’s perfect for the horror festival crowd. Watch this one LOUD!

9. Gwilliam (2015)

  • Directed by Brian Lonano
  • USA, 6 Minutes

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Where to even start with this one? Gwilliam is one of those moments in life where you watch something you completely cannot erase. Bordering between the disgusting, the bizarre and the comedic, Gwilliam is certainly a unique piece of genre cinema! Crow Hands director Brian Lonano takes the crazy up to max level as an ex-con (played by William Tokarsky) is released from prison looking for a night of fun with a hooker. The build up of Gwilliam is done exceptionally well as it’s unclear where the narrative is heading and boy, isn’t it a surprise! Expect the unexpected, once watched, you will never forget your Gwilliam…this short film means what it says!

8. Do You See What I See (2016)

  • Directed by Justin McConnell and Serena Whitney
  • USA, 14 Minutes

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Sloan (Caleigh Le Grand) is reluctant about attending her overbearing sister Jessica’s (Jorja Cadence) annual Christmas party. With all the garish Christmas iconography imaginable, Sloan goes through the motions, that’s until an uninvited guest gatecrashes with very little festive cheer causing madness and mayhem for the warring sisters. Do You See What I See has the makings of a classic slasherific Christmas flick. The performances are believable especially the increasing tension between Sloan and Jessica. The short showcases strong, kick-ass women who take matters into their own hands once the stakes are raised. From a filmic perspective Do You See What I See takes influence from iconic slasher films e.g. Peeping Tom, Halloween and The Burning to create a sinister effect, seeing things through the killer’s eyes with several POV shots. Intense and well executed, Do You See What I See guarantees you’ll be dreaming of a Black Christmas!

7. Dawn of the Deaf (2016)

  • Directed by Rob Savage
  • Canada, 12 Minutes

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In this hard hitting short focused on a minority group, Dawn of the Deaf raises the bar with the traditional apocalyptic horror narrative. With similar techniques to Mike Flannagan’s Hush, the audience is placed in the point of view of the hard of hearing characters and the world around them. A sonic pulse infects the hearing, now it’s up to the deaf community to band together in a fight for survival. Dawn of the Deaf is a layered offering and uses the survival concept in more ways than one, it centres on abuse, sexuality and coping with disability prior to any fantastical horror element. The film portrays the vulnerability of the deaf extraordinarily however the tables do turn depicting the strength within the community. As spoke about during my Ghostface Girls Facebook live video, there is a stunning moment where sign language is used and the camera pans around the characters, some of the subtitled dialogue is missed out proving to be incredibly effective. Dawn of the Deaf is a poignant and moving short.

6. The Disappearance of  Willie Bingham (2015)

  • Directed by Matthew Richards
  • Australia, 12 Minutes

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The Disappearance of Willie Bingham contained the most controversial and disturbing subject matter out of all the short films on this list. A new kind of torturous, radical punishment has been put in place for the worst kinds of criminals, and Willie Bingham is the first to undergo this method. This film conveys the internal thoughts of the majority of society who feel strongly about the lack of justice projected at murderers, rapists and pedophiles and this is a somewhat cathartic experience. The vulnerable and afraid side of the criminal is portrayed as the family are permitted to exact their brutal revenge as slowly as possible. Kevin Dee in the title role is exceptional as his character is paraded around by authoritative officials and made an example of. It’s a powerful piece of film that raises difficult questions in relation to the justice system and the treatment of despicable criminals. The Disappearance of Willie Bingham  deserves to be seen and talked about.

5. Ink, Cocks & Rock ‘N’ Roll (2017)

  • Directed by Matt Harlock
  • UK, 15 Minutes

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Ink, Cocks & Rock ‘N’ Roll is an innovative, cleverly executed, documentary style short that presents the work of controversial comic book artist Steve Martin (no, not the bloke from Father of the Bride!) and his perverted alter ego Krent Able. It’s psychologically chilling as the film challenges the concept of spilt personality and questions whether there’s a thin line between Steve and the monstrous side to him. Is Krent just a fictional character stemmed from his imagination or something much worse? Fourth wall breaking and filled with edgy art work in it’s believable set up, Ink, Cocks & Rock and Roll is one to look out for in 2017.

4. Mindless (2016)

  • Directed by Katie Bonham
  • UK, 8 Minutes

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Mindless is a thought-provoking psychological horror directed by the talented Katie Bonham. Taking away the horror subtext, the subject of Mindless is very real as it focuses on the care of the vulnerable within British society. Peter (Nicholas Vince- Hellraiser & Hellbound: Hellraiser II) is a senile man, living alone; each day his house is torn apart much to the horror of his patient care worker Judy (Kate Danbury). Peter has no recollection of how his home got into the state it has and becomes frustrated with Judy, blaming her. Determined to get Peter into a care home for his own safety and well-being, Judy is about to get more than she bargained for, is Peter’s declining memory the real issue or is there a more sinister presence at play? Mindless brings an important subject matter to light, it’s a topic that can be very difficult to talk about however Bonham does a tremendous job portraying it on screen. It’s bleak from the outset in it’s tone and cinematography creating a psychologically unnerving atmosphere. Nicholas Vince gives an exceptional performance as Peter, playing him with a sense of vulnerability and confusion that allows the audience to garner empathy for him. Kate Danbury also brings in a strong performance as the frustrated care worker doing her best to help him. Mindless is a film that will resonate with audiences as it draws on issues that many can identify with. Katie Bonham has created a powerful film on a low budget that demonstrates a film can leave a long lasting impression without traditional scare tactics or elaborate special effects. It’s no surprise that Mindless continues to win awards all around the world.

3. Imitations (2016)

  • Directed by Milos Mitrovic and Fabian Velasco
  • Canada, 10 Mintues

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Who doesn’t love a bit of Canadian Film Collective Astron-6? They are certainly one of a kind with their off the wall brand of humour. Imitations is another of their unforgettable and bizarre offerings, centring on a lonely YouTuber named Arnold (Milos Mitrovic) who gets plastic surgery to look like his idol “21 Year Old Baby” singing sensation Austin Kelsey (Conor Sweeney). Arnold begins to experience strange side effects following his operation, forcing him to take drastic measures when he attends his eagerly awaited karaoke night. Everything about this short is laugh out loud hilarious and strange. The entire cast look like they’re having a blast, Milos Mitrovic and Conor Sweeney are both fantastic as well as Divorced Dad, Matthew Kennedy. Imitations is an entertaining short that must be seen to be believed. If you loved Father’s Day and loved The Editor, then you’ll love Imitations.

2. Kookie  (2016)

  • Directed by Justin Harding
  • Canada, 13 Minutes

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Bree, a disobedient nine year old is taught a valuable lesson from a sinister visitor after breaking the rules set by her mother involving a creepy cookie jar. Kookie is a slow burning, genuinely comedic short that will certainly be appreciated by fans of creepy clowns. The child actress is superb as young Bree, playing the troublemaker role with menace. Harding ensures that the audience are kept on edge as he builds on the tension with the unnerving clown iconography. A thrilling and funny short, that will ensure that children should behave!

  1. Overtime (2016)
  • Directed By Craig D. Foster
  • Australia, 9 Minutes

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For a huge fan of An American Werewolf in London, it’s no surprise that Overtime, a werewolf themed, dark comedy takes the top spot. Comedic tension is at play as poor Ralph (Aaron Glenane) urgently attempts to get home from work but a series of obstacles get in his way. Overtime is a real delight to watch as poor Ralph attempts to make his exit before it’s too late. The joke is on those around him from his boss to romantic interest who risk unleashing the beast by stalling him. The special effects are incredible and are a spectacle to watch as Ralph’s body morphs into something inhuman. Aaron Gleane gives a brilliant performance as the tormented werewolf. Overtime is a lot of fun and a brilliant homage to one of horror’s most iconic monsters.

Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

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The Top 10 Short Films of Celluloid Screams 2015

Posted in Horror Festivals with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 6, 2015 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

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Just as much as the features, viewing a selection of short films is a vital part of the festival experience. Celluloid Screams screened some mind-blowing shorts that demonstrate how filmmakers can achieve effective storytelling in a limited time frame. This year’s festival saw a versatile mix from laughs and gore to hard-hitting to the bonkers and the bizarre. Please note that these are my views and do not reflect the winning films selected by the short film jury panel. Please comment if you agree or disagree with my picks.

10. Remnant

  • Director Andy Stewart
  • Country: UK
  • Run Time: 15 Minutes

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Andy Stewart returned to Celluloid Screams with his brand new short Remnant. Best known for his grizzly visual effects in his body horror trilogy, Dysmorphia, Split and Ink (that screened at last year’s festival and July’s UK Horror Con); Stewart shifted direction for his latest short which could be described as a combination of A Nightmare on Elm Street meets Jekyll and Hyde. Remnant is more narrative led than his previous offerings, Claire Miller (Lucy Goldie) suffers with nightmares and finds herself waking up in places with no memory of how she got there. Goldie delivers a masterful performance as the tormented young woman who struggles with daily life and holding down her job. Hellraiser and Nightbreed icon Nicholas Vince makes an appearance as Claire’s somewhat sympathetic boss, Ian. For its short run time, the audience are able to empathize with Claire as the film rockets towards its worth-the-wait climax. Remnant is a dynamic and psychological piece.

9. Slut

  • Director: Chloe Okuno
  • Country: USA
  • Run Time: 21 Minutes

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Its the classic tale of the ugly duckling who transforms into a beautiful swan in Chloe Okuno’s Slut. This impressive entry is a graduate AFI thesis film, that is tremendously shot and inventive in what it does. Already, an award-winning short, Slut centers on a naive, young girl named Maddy (Molly McIntyre) who lives with her invalid grandmother in a small Texas town. Tired of being ridiculed, Maddy decides to reinvent herself to impress the boys and prove fierce competition for the established town “slut”. With a 1970’s flair, Slut is a visual throwback that takes an unexpected turn. Incredibly professional and well-made. Fans of exploitation and old school horror will relish in it.

8. There’s Something in the Attic

  • Director: Lee Hardcastle
  • Country: UK
  • Run Time: 2 Minutes

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With the shortest run time of all the short films screened at Celluloid, There’s Something in the Attic is from Lee Hardcastle, best known for his inventive and extremely funny stop motion animations (T is for Toilet, ABC’s of Death). Starring Sightseers’s Alice Lowe, There’s Something in the Attic centres on a woman who finds something terrifying living in her attic, however all is not what it seems. Hardcastle delivers an unexpected twist, while Lowe brings in an expressive performance. There’s Something in the Attic marks Hardcastle’s first non animated film but still supplies some fantastic special effects, in a heartwarming tale that teaches don’t judge a book by its cover. Incredibly short but increasingly effective.

7.  Crow Hand

  • Director: Brian Lonano
  • Country: USA
  • Run Time: 3 Minutes

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Crow Hand is a gore effects visual spectacle. A husband gets more than he bargained for when he dismisses his wife’s warning and picks up an enigmatic crow totem from the ground in a parking lot. Highly played for laughs, Crow Hand is the kind of gory, comedy that is essential to the horror festival experience. An audience crowd-pleaser, events get crazier and crazier. Crow Hand is splatterific!

6. The Chickening

  • Director: Davy Force and Nick DenBoer
  • Country: Canada
  • Run Time: 5 Minutes

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Keeping in with the absolutely bonkers theme, The Chickening is unlike anything you’ve seen before! This Canadian collaboration will change the way you view Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining forever! The Chickening needs to be seen to be believed. Its the perfect midnight madness though cleverly put together to re-create imagery from the famous film but with chickens! Quirky, strange but completely hilarious. This is a film that should be seen amongst a group of friends if not with a festival audience.

5. The Mill at Calder’s End

  • Director:  Kevin McTurk
  • Country: USA
  • Run Time: 14 Minutes

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The Mill at Calder’s End is a beautiful combination of stop motion animation and puppetry, standing out from the rest of the Celluloid shorts offerings. Kevin McTurk tells a traditional ghost story centring on family and a deep seated secret that threatens to spill with grim effects. There’s a dark sense of dread throughout as Nick Grimshaw (Jason Flemyng) returns to his childhood home to unearth the secret of the Mill and attempt to break the curse that’s impacted his family legacy. Dark, ethereal and gothic, The Mill at Calder’s End also features the voicing talents of Barbara Steele, Piotr Michael and John Alexander. An exceptional and well crafted piece, The Mill at Calder’s End delivers genuine, spooky horror. The stop-motion world created is both stunning and impressive.

4. Evil Mexican Child

  • Director: Michael Noonan
  • Country: Mexico
  • Run Time: 8 Minutes

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Appropriately screening before Emelie, Evil Mexican Child menacingly fits in with this year’s creepy kids trend. Never underestimate the power of a seemingly innocent child as the parents of a young boy are about to find out. Playing on conventional horror tropes, Evil Mexican child (Maximo de la Rosa) draws horrific pictures that foreshadows the grizzly fates of those closest to him. Played with a blend of black comedy, the mother (Xochitl Hernandez) soon realises she can use this to her advantage! Tongue in cheek, twisted and entertaining, Evil Mexican Child keeps up the surprise element until the very end.

3. Selfie

  • Director: Geoff Harmer
  • Country: UK
  • Run Time: 7 Minutes

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Geoff Harmer, director of indie psychological thriller Addict returns with a freaky short film that asks what if there was something else in the picture with you when taking a harmless selfie? Stacy Hart’s character is about to find out! Relaxing at home one evening, the young woman partakes in some text flirting. The person in question encourages her to take some selfies to send to him. An innocent bit of fun turns into something far more sinister when the woman’s admirer insists that she’s not alone in the image. Selfie is ghoulish fun acting as a commentary for young people’s obsession with self-image and the vain, inescapable phenomenon of the Selfie. This nightmarish short could come straight out of a creepypasta. You will never Instagram in the same way again!

2. Surgery

  • Director: George Clemens and Samuel Clemens
  • Country: UK
  • Run Time: 11 Minutes

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Surgery is a bittersweet entry in terms of its background. Originally stemmed from an idea by Brian Clemens; writer of the popular 1960s series The Avengers. Clemens sadly passed away earlier this year. His sons George and Samuel Clemens continued their father’s legacy bringing his grizzly tale of vengeance to life in the squirm-worthy Surgery. Shot from the point of view of a man on the operating table, Surgery is a terrifying ordeal which sees him tortured by a mysterious figure known as “The Crude Surgeon”, but there’s more than meets the eyeball than first imagined. Surgery layers on the suspense and is tremendously acted, allowing us to feel empathy for the man as he undergoes the unimaginable. Nicholas Ball steals the show playing both caring and menacing equally well. The Clemens brothers have done their father proud, creating genuine horror. Surgery has everything a horror film should, intrigue, suspense and squeamish imagery. Unforgettable.

1. The Herd

  • Director: Melanie Light
  • Country: UK
  • Run Time: 20 Minutes

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The Herd deservingly won the best short film of Celluloid Screams but prior to the announcement it was without a doubt my personal winning short film too. Devastating, effective and thought-provoking, Melanie Light’s personal, political and feminist film gets under the skin and is hard to shake off especially once the end credits roll. A bleak and honest look at the dairy industry, The Herd is played as a metaphor placing women in the position of defenceless animals in a grim, run down medical facility. They are kept permanently pregnant and used for milk. If a female gives birth to a boy they are instantly taken away from her but if she has a girl, the cruel process is repeated from generation to generation. The Herd is a difficult watch, especially for animal lovers. Light however informs the audience of the harsh realities leaving us all with something to think about. The Herd features a stellar cast including Pollyanna McIntosh (The Woman), Seamus O’Neill (Inbred) and Andrew Shim (This is England). With all the fantastical horror films out there, The Herd is what should be described as true horror, it holds nothing back making it an exceptionally powerful and upsetting film.

**SPECIAL MENTIONS**

Invaders, Good Hands and Portal to Hell.

Scared Safe: Real Horror From the Public Information Films Archive.

Each year Celluloid Screams delivers a showcase focusing on the work of a particular director, previous years have seen Astron-6, Lee Hardcastle and Dennison Ramalho to name a few. This year the festival gave us a special treat by delving into the archives and seeking out the most strange public information films from the 1970’s and 80s. From the famous “Charlie Says…” to Protect and Survive, these films were in place to inform and protect the public however to a modern audience come across as rather amusing with their uptight British voice-overs, hammy acting and low production qualities.

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Never go with Strangers from 1971 proved a highlight reminding young children to never go off with someone they don’t know. It comes across as rather simplistic but also bizarre in its techniques. Remember kids, if there’s no donkey in that field it was all lies!

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Toning down the laughs but upping the horror was the notorious The Finishing Line, teaching kids not to play on the railway tracks. This oddly constructed film showed children in the context of a sports day event yet instead of having fun they are playing with danger. The most shocking moments come towards the end which sees a mass death of children in the tunnel, only for the adults to lay their bodies on the train tracks. It comes across as shocking today let alone how it was received back in the 1970s. Re-watching the public information films was a trip down memory lane with a fascinating insight into how these films attempted to scare and shock young people into keeping safe. They certainly were effective in their own way.

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Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews