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Short Cuts: Frightgown Edition

Tuesday, July 27, 2021 | Short Cuts


Last month K Lynch (Salem Horror Fest) and Joe Lipsett (Horror Queers) hosted Frightgown, a virtual celebration of queer horror with feature films, panel discussions, and of course, short films. This month’s Short Cuts will highlight some of the standout shorts at the event that ranged from charming to downright terrifying. Frightgown was one of the best virtual events I’ve ever attended, plus proceeds went to the Transgender Law Center, so I hope to see the event become an annual tradition for years to come.

Enjoy this month’s shorts, and as always, if you or anyone you know have a short film you’d like me to consider or if you’ve got some news you’d like to share in the short horror world, please contact me via Twitter or email me at! 

The Original
11 minutes Director: Michelle Garza Cervera Starring: Ariana Lebron Baez, Rebecca Layoo
While The Original isn’t strictly horror, its ending filled me with a sense of existential horror that I haven’t experienced in quite some time. When a woman’s partner is afflicted by a debilitating disease, they both find hope in a radically experimental treatment. But just when it seems like everything may work out, an unexpected side effect forces the protagonist to make a decision that, one way or another, will end in heartbreak. I’m purposefully being very vague here because the conflict’s gradual reveal is at the heart of what makes this short so effective. The final shot left me stunned while contemplating both the ethics of medical advancement and the the philosophy of how we determine our identity.
Where you can find it: Streaming in YouTube

Islands (2017)
 24 minutes Director: Yann Gonzalez Starring: Sarah-Megan Allouch, Mathilde Mennetrier, Alphonse Maîtrepierre, Romain Merle, Thomas Ducasse, Simon Thiébaut
Anyone who’s seen Yann Gonzalez’s 2018 giallo homage Knife + Heart knows that he likes to use traditionally taboo sexuality to explore interpersonal relationships in endearing ways. Such is also the case for Islands, a short film that’s actually a series of tiny vignettes. First, we see a deformed killer stalking a young couple making love until he’s interrupted by them inviting him to join in on the fun. We learn this was a stage performance, and a man a couple from the audience go to a nearby park where they discuss their desire to finally consummate their relationship while being watched by a group of men pleasuring themselves among the trees. Finally, a girl who was watching this scene unfold makes her way back home where she also decides to pleasure herself. I know it sounds like I’m just describing porn, there’s something substantial running under the surface throughout the film. Namely, there’s a sense of loneliness among all the characters contrasted with the fact that they’re all being watched by people who are similarly lonely. Islands may not resonate with everyone, but I just love the way Gonzalez crafts stories that may seem exploitative on paper but somehow manage to be touchingly beautiful in their execution.
Where you can find it: Available to rent at Vimeo

Meta (2020)
9 minutes Director: Sydne Horton Starring: Jordan Gonzalez, Tess Speranza, & Tameka Cruel
This is the sweetest short film I’ve seen in quite some time. When a trans masculine high schooler attends his prom, he’s understandably nervous and skeptical to be one of the nominees for Prom King. Worried about making himself vulnerable and harboring the sneaking suspicion that all of this could be an elaborate prank, his internal anxiety manifests externally in a rather wolf-ish manner. I’m just going to come right out and say, however, that things work out for the lycanthropic lad as he gets the happy ending that we’d love to see for everyone in the transgender community. This was definitely the feelgood movie of the event.
Where you can find it: Making the festival rounds. Check out the trailer here


Thorns (2020)
5 minutes Director: Sarah Wisner and Sean Temple Starring: Sydni Perry, Kathleen Burke, Tyler Buckingham
Admittedly, I spent the first part of this film with the sense that it was treading familiar ground as a pair of young women are taunted and stalked by some creep in a low-rent motel. But the joy of the short horror format is that a solid ending can elevate everything that came before it in a way that’s a bit more challenging in a feature-length movie. Directors Sarah Wisner and Sean Temple take full advantage of the format by laying out what looks like a standard home (or motel) invasion trope and throwing a curveball in the final frames that had me grinning from ear to ear. It It’s a perfect example of “watch until the end.”
Where you can find it: Making the festival rounds. Check out the trailer here

Bryan Christopher