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Panic Fest ’23: Innovative Short Film Offerings Introduce A New Class Of Genre Filmmakers

Tuesday, April 25, 2023 | Fest Wrap, Short Films


Almost every beloved horror filmmaker in history got their start making short films. The short film is an incredibly flexible medium, that allows filmmakers to explore ideas and concepts that don’t naturally conform to the feature-film formula. Panic Fest has always been admirably dedicated to promoting the work of first-time and repeat filmmakers alike through their short film offerings – many of whom will go on to produce features that we will all come to love in the years to follow. In celebration of that eventuality, here are ten highlights from Panic Fest’s 2023 batch of short films from up-and-coming genre filmmakers:

“Nightmare At Camp Bloodbath” dir. Dylan Arnow
After discovering their lodge totaled by a neighboring camp, two counselors are stalked and prayed upon by the local legend Terrance Fisher in his slapstick parody.

“Black Dragon” dir. Alexander Thompson
Inspired by the real-life My Lai Massacre, the short is a Vietnam War-set psychological horror-fable that follows a feared American Colonel (nicknamed “The Black Dragon” by Vietnamese locals due to a distinctive dragon tattoo) who, on the heels of committing an unspeakable atrocity, is forced to confront his inner shadow after his platoon presents to him a captive Vietnamese girl with some very unusual powers. 

“The Fore-men” dir. Adrian Bobb
Weeks after a mysterious time-compression event violently splices environments from the past into the present, two survivors encounter the foreboding figures responsible for the event and experience firsthand their sinister nature.

“Feng Shui” dir. Kamran Rathod
After a long shift at work, Shena (Natalia Dominguez) begins to notice things out of place in her room. The next morning, she leaves the house in a rush, forgetting her wallet. When she doubles back, she discovers the roommate she didn’t know she had…

“The Dream Machine” dir. Josef Hermansson Embring and Philip Sterner
At the dawn of the new millennium, a man suffers from severe insomnia. But during another sleepless night, an offer appears that simply seems too good to be true. 

“The Internet Remains Undefeated” dir. Robbie Gibbon
The disturbance of a noisy neighbour leads to the discovery of a haunted boombox and a terrifyingly possessed dancer in this tale of internet memes gone wrong.

“Chicks” dir. Geena Marie Hernandez
A girly slumber party unravels when a shy teen becomes the center of a bizarre nighttime ritual.

“That’s Our Time” dir. Alex Backes
Danny is unable to make connections with the people in his life. Now his sympathetic therapist tries to help him realize that it’s more important to focus on the time you have left than the time you’ve already spent.

“Red Velvet” dir. Blake Simon
Upon learning the end of the world may be taking place, a lonely man locks himself in a motel room when a female escort arrives at his door.

“In The Shadow Of God” dir. Brian Sepanzyk
As a woman packs up her childhood home following the passing of her father, she comes to learn that there may have been a more sinister threat behind his death, long buried on the grounds of the family home.

Grace Detwiler
Grace Detwiler (@finalgirlgrace) is a freelance film journalist and law student. Her original work can be found on her blog, FinalGirlGrace, as well as in Rue Morgue's print and online publications.