Archive for Short Horror Films

Writing Horror: Interview with Author/Playwright Dan Weatherer

Posted in Horror Festivals, Horror Interviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 24, 2017 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

The most excellent aspect of Horror is how it holds appeal and can be adapted across all different mediums. In this interview I speak to the very versatile writer Dan Weatherer, who has written for the page, stage and screen, spilling the scares from novels to short films. He announced this week that he is working on a true crime piece, exploring the case of the notorious Dr. Crippen for a brand new novel. Not only that, his impressively darkly comedic short film Beige will screen at this year’s Stoke Your Fires Film Festival. He has also been shortlisted for an award for his collection Neverlight for the Arnold Bennett Literary Prize.

Legend-of-the-Chained-Oak Dan Weatherer

Before we get into the interview where Dan discusses his writing roots and upcoming projects, here is a little bit more info about the man behind then pen:

Dan Weatherer is represented by The Cherry Weiner Literary Agency (Author).

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Award-winning author Dan Weatherer, was first published by Haunted Magazine in Spring, 2013. The Legend of the Chained Oak was an immediate success and was made into a short film which won the award for ‘Best Horror’ at the Portobello Independent Film Festival (2014), ‘Best Short’ at The Bram Stoker International Film Festival (2014) and also the ‘Best UK Short Film’ award at the Stoke Your Fires Film Festival 2014. The film featured at numerous film festivals around the world during 2014. The premiere screening took place in his hometown of Cheadle.

In 2015 Dan was shortlisted for the prestigious position of Staffordshire Poet Laureate 2016-2018.

Aside from the publication of numerous short stories with a multitude of presses, his next major project was a solo collection of short stories titled The Soul That Screamed (Winner of the Preditors & Editors™ Readers’ Poll ‘Best Anthology 2013’.)

A further two collections Only the Good Burn Bright (Spring 2015, James Ward Kirk Fiction) and Neverlight (Spring 2016, Spectral Press) quickly followed. In 2017, Neverlight was shortlisted for the first annual Arnold Bennett Literary Prize.

His first non-fiction book titled ‘What Dwells Within’ was released in the Autumn of 2015 and details the life’s work of paranormal investigator Jayne Harris.

An accomplished playwright, Dan was a finalist in the Blackshaw Showcase Award 2016 and a two-time finalist of the Congleton Players One Act Festival, 2016. Dan has had several of his plays appear at festivals and fringe events.

Completed novels The Underclass and The Tainted Isle are currently with his agent. Expect to see The Dead Stage, a book detailing Dan’s experiences as a novice playwright appear via Crystal Lake Publishing in 2018.

Continuing on from the success of Legend of the Chained Oak, 2017 has seen Dan’s short film Beige added to The British Comedy Guide, and it continues to appear at film festivals nationwide.

Dan lives in Staffordshire, where is married to his wife Jenni and is a (proud) full-time dad to his daughter Bethany, and his son Nathan.

 

  1. What inspired you to become a writer?

As a child I always enjoyed creative writing, though never gave serious thought to a career as an author.

I was made redundant in 2013, and decided that I would try my hand at writing, now having time to dedicate to the craft. At the time, my daughter was two years old, and I fit my writing around her needs. My son is now aged two, and I still continue to work the same way. Being a full-time parent and writer seems to work for me, though the two aren’t without their challenges!

 

  1. You’ve written literature and written for the screen and stage, do you have a favourite medium or do you enjoy them all in equal measures?

I enjoy them all equally. Each medium presents its own challenges and rewards.

Writing for the screen is probably the most instantly gratifying, in that you write the action exactly as you intend the audience to see it on screen. Strong dialogue is a key factor in a good screenplay, but much of the writing centres on what the audience “sees” on screen.

Books enable you to delve deeper into a character’s mind-set, and literally construct the world around them. Every part of a characters psychological make-up is explored, resulting in a much richer final product.

Writing for the stage falls some way between writing for films/books. Again, very little direction is supplied by the author (leaving room for the actor/director to craft the piece as they interpret it), but the dialogue tends to drive the story here, as opposed to the visual element of film.

I find that stage plays are ideally suited to telling stories involving fewer characters/locations, where the level of intimacy afforded by a live performance heightens the impact of the piece.

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  1. Your first publication The Legend of the Chained Oak was adapted into a short film as was your stage play Beige. What was it like transitioning those works to film?

The Legend of the Chained Oak was my first introduction to film, and I learned a lot working on the project.

The film is actually a spin-off from my original story, and was entirely written to suit our non-existent budget, and limited shoot time.

Very little was scripted. The actors were given the outcome of the scene, and much of their dialogue was improvised. I would argue that this lends a natural feel to the film, though must add that this is due to the strength of the actors involved.

However, all of my screenplays/stage plays since have been tightly scripted. While I do agree that the method above can achieve results, most projects require a solid foundation of dialogue; Beige being a perfect example of this.

 

  1. What appeals to you about the horror genre?

There are so many angles with which the genre can be approached. I’d say much of my work could be classed as dark-fiction, as opposed to horror.

It is rare that I write anything that could be classed as outright horror, choosing instead to deliver more subtle, but equally unnerving pieces.

However, my recent short story/screenplay ‘The Home’, is possibly the most horror orientated piece I have written to date!

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  1. You’re working on an upcoming project that centres on the infamous murderer, Dr Hawley Crippen. What interests you about true crime and what is your overall goal with the piece?

I remember visiting The Chamber of Horrors, in Blackpool, as a child. One of the exhibitions featured Dr Crippen and his dismembered wife, Cora; it was an image that remained with me for many years.

I’d often recall the blank expression on the Doctor’s face, and I’d wonder what possessed him to commit the atrocity that he was executed for.

Many years later, I discovered that there was new evidence with regards to the case, and having read the report, decided to retell the story of Dr Crippen as a stage play.

The idea to further develop the story into a novel was one I have been toying with for some time. Now, having started work, I can attest that I will be supplying a much richer story than my stage play first hinted, and I am having fun exploring the minds of the characters.

Of course, this is to be a work of fiction – where I present a possible alternative theory as to what happened to Cora Crippen. However, it is based on a true story. I aim to present Dr Crippen, not as a monster, but as a person, flawed though he may be, and attempt to explain his actions.

Time will tell if I am able to achieve this.

I will say that I do believe he is guilty of murder…

 

  1. What do you think makes a genuinely scary story?

The reader has to feel for the characters. If bad things happen to them (and they inevitably do), the reader will feel. Whether you choose to scare the reader, or instil a sense of warmth, neither is achievable if your characters are throwaway.

 

  1. What has been your favourite project to work on?

Tough question. Each has its merits. However, I had great fun working on a script for a well know Hollywood horror franchise…

That script is now in the hands of my agent.

Birmingham Horror Con Halloween

  1. You will be showcasing your work at Birmingham Horror Con this Halloween, what are you most looking forward to about the event?

It probably sounds extremely unprofessional, but I’m looking forward to exploring the convention, and enjoying it as an attendee, rather than a stall holder.

I will be showcasing my short films, and hosting a Q & A panel afterwards, but most of my time will be spent meeting other authors/film makers working in the genre. These are people I respect, yet have only ever spoken to online. It will be great to say hello in person!

 

  1. Who are your literary influences?

Clive Barker, Stephen King, James Herbert, and Arnold Bennett. (Arnold did not write dark-fiction. He is the most successful author to come from my home city, and I am an admirer of both his work and his legacy.)

 

  1. What advice do you have for new and aspiring writers?

Rejection is never a “no.” It’s a “not for me.” Don’t ever let anybody tell you that you can’t – you just need to find that one person who believes in your work as much as you do.

I would like to thank Dan for taking his time to do this interview with me. Be sure to check out all of his awesome works.

For more information about Dan and his work, visit www.danweatherer.com 

Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

Short Film Review: Visitor (2017)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on February 9, 2017 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Force of Nature Films presents Visitor, an unnerving short film centered on a woman who receives mysterious text messages from a stranger. Visitor incorporates a simple premise and leaves the viewer wanting to know more. It’s key to bear in mind that Visitor is a concept piece geared toward becoming a feature film and already there is plenty of interesting material in place.

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Directed and written by Roger Sampson, Visitor is essentially body horror on a small budget but it doesn’t reveal a great deal. All that is presented about the lead character (played by Ashley Maure) is that she is a fertility doctor but there seems to be a whole lot more to her past that remains unexplored. The link between pregnancy and possession goes hand in hand thematically relating to the fear of physical invasion.

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Phone stalking is a frequent convention when it comes to horror but with modern technology continuing to grow and more and more people living through their devices it paves the way for a whole new kind of scary as an easier form of personal access. The combination of body invasion and the growth of technology makes for an unsettling experience. There’s a short amount of tension in place before events become extra sinister. The ending of the piece is disturbingly well-crafted and knows how to strike a nerve with it’s audience.

Visitor is well done and has a plenty of potential to develop it’s narrative further as well as include some creative and gory FX.

Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews 

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.