3 Short Horror Films for People Afraid of Horror Films

Become a better filmmaker by breaking down this short film showcase.

 

Keep it short and simple.

It’s that time of year again – when society seems preoccupied with pondering the darker side of human nature! During the Halloween season, horror films masquerade in all their sundry forms, from supernatural to monster to slasher spectacular, making us wary of going to bed with the lights out.

Thankfully, these three short horror films are for those of us who aren’t quite into being totally terrified. They’re at once excellent executions and tongue-in-cheek parodies of their genre, offering a self-aware wink to the observant viewer.

If you’re looking for a laugh to lighten this season of terror, then these are the short films for you!

1. Night of the Slasher | Dir. Shant Hamassian, 2016

“A teenage girl lures a masked killer by committing horror movie sins.”

Mature Content; Viewer Discretion Advised.

This Oscar-qualified, SXSW selection has garnered 40+ awards in over 160+ festivals, and for good reason – it’s the perfect alchemy of scares and satire.

Our teenage lead, Janelle, commits the obligatory “horror movie sins,” such as dancing half-naked and drinking to excess, in order to lure a masked killer into her home and exact her revenge. She’s that unlikely survivor at the end of so many horror films – you know, the one who gets saved. Night of the Slasher is the story of what happens to a horror film survivor after the credits roll. It’s the revenge sequel that we’re rarely, if ever, privy to.

Shot as a single take – in the same style as Alejandro Iñárritu‘s Birdman, where the cuts are hidden by smart cinematography and editing – Night of the Slasher was quite a feat to pull off, requiring multiple takes and inspiring some fun production stories. The end result, with its frenetic but meticulous framing, allows the horror and comedy to bleed through in all their gory glory.

Ultimately, what makes Night of the Slasher such an interesting case study is its ability to entertain those who recognize and love the horror genre while simultaneously speaking to those who dislike it for precisely the same reasons. It pokes fun at itself, while daring to explore issues of trauma, victimhood, and revenge. That’s quite a lot to pack into 11 minutes, but Hamassian and his team do so brilliantly.

2. Teddy Bears are for Lovers | Dir. Almog Avidan Antonir, 2016

“Collin, a 20-something Casanova, becomes haunted by the teddy bears he gave to his ex-girlfriends in this short horror comedy featuring a quintet of animatronic (not-so) cuddly companions.”

Mature Content; Viewer Discretion Advised.

This may be the most adorable slasher film you’ll see this Halloween season. Teddy bears seek to avenge their owners – Collin’s brokenhearted ex-girlfriends – by harming Collin, their giver. While the film is a riot featuring teddy bears as cold-hearted killers, the actors take the situation so seriously that we can’t help but be drawn into the thrills.

It also helps that Teddy Bears are for Lovers is packed with impressive practical effects. Five animatronic bears were created for the film, and the puppeteers and their wires were removed via VFX in post. A lot went into bringing these jilted stuffed animals to life! Clearly, filmmaker Almog Avidan Antonir and his team went the extra mile to root the fantasy in reality.

Although Collin manages to ward off the teddy bears’ attacks with the help of his latest girlfriend, we can’t help but wonder: has he truly learned his lesson? Is he safe from future murder attempts, or will he continue to date selfishly? There’s a surprisingly relatable question at the core of this horror-comedy, adding a bit of substance to the fun proceedings.

3. Invaders | Dir. Jason Kupfer, 2014

“A pair of home invaders consider their potential character choices just prior to their planned invasion.”

Mature Content; Viewer Discretion Advised.


If you’re looking for a bloody good time, then go ahead and hit “Play”. Swapping jump scares for slapstick, director Jason Kupfer’s Slamdance-vetted, Short of the Week pick introduces us to two home invaders who may be better suited to a different line of work.

Rather than following horror film convention and assuming the perspective of the victim, the film puts us in the invaders’ shoes, (arguably) inspiring sympathy. Parked in the unsuspecting family’s driveway, the invaders prepare to execute their plan. One is most concerned with what masks they’ll wear – haven’t we all had that overly enthusiastic coworker? – while the other just wants to get the job done. This immediately establishes the film’s conflict in context of their relationship.

Suffice it to say that the conflict pales in comparison to the gallons and gallons of bloodshed that come next. The twist is perfectly timed, creating a sort of karmic comeuppance story. While more a comedy than a slasher film, it’s one for lovers of both genres!

From Teddy Bears are for Lovers | Dir. Almog Avidan Antonir

From Teddy Bears are for Lovers | Dir. Almog Avidan Antonir

In principle, all three of these short indie horror films exemplify a “short and simple” approach to filmmaking. They’re built around their key conceptual hooks – horror film sins, killer teddy bears, incompetent home invaders – and play out in a handful of scenes and settings.

They don’t belabor the backstory. They don’t get bogged down in extraneous details. Instead, they get to the point, maximizing screentime. It’s a pared-down approach that lends itself well to the horror genre – and by extension, to low budgets! If you’re pinching your film pennies, consider scaring up a horror film, comedic flourish or not.

 Courtney Hope Thérond, with


Want support and guidance making your own short film, horror or otherwise? Check out our in-depth online filmmaking course, designed to keep with your vision and schedule from concept through final cut – more guided than a blog, more interactive than a textbook, more flexible than traditional film school.

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