Dr. Lauren McIntyre is a horror obsessive, tattoo connoisseur, natural Goth and cat wrangler. Lauren is currently binge watching Season 1 of The Mandalorian and by the time this goes to press she will be binge watching Season 2. Say hi to her on Twitter: @noddinggoth
Darren Gaskell is a horror obsessive and “enthusiastic” karaoke performer. Darren is probably going to be kicked out of a watch party group fairly soon because his suggestion for an upcoming movie is The Severed Arm. Say hi to him on Twitter: @darren_gaskell
WARNING: HERE BE SOME SPOILERS, ALSO HERE BE SOME SWEARY BITS AND DISCUSSION OF SNAKE DICK
Not content with bringing the horror crowd not one but two online horror festivals in 2020, Soho Horror Film Festival supremo Mitch and all-round lovely person Mitch Harrod only went and confounded our already pretty confounded expectations by springing a THIRD – count it! – festival on us!
In this article, Dr. Lauren and Darren pick their favourite short films of SoHome Part III. With the quality of the selection it was a difficult task for them to pick their Fab Fives but they eventually managed to decide. Read on…
Dr. Lauren’s Number 5: IT CAME FROM THE 80S (dir. Levi Isaacs, Mike Kane, Aaron Ling & Geordey Sherrick)
Darren’s Number 5: IT CAME FROM THE 80S (dir. Levi Isaacs, Mike Kane, Aaron Ling & Geordey Sherrick)
Darren: This is a string of faux 80s VHS trailers for increasingly ridiculous horror movies.
Dr. Lauren: It was really fun.
Darren: I certainly want to see the feature-length version of The Sitting Dead.
Dr. Lauren: That made me laugh.
Darren: And the Jaws rip-off about the vending machine.
Dr. Lauren: Yeah! I think that was my favourite one out of all of them. It was so silly.
Darren: It was a pretty good parody of Jaws featuring a rampaging vending machine.
Dr. Lauren: They’d copied some of the shots like the famous Roy Scheider one.
Darren: I think it’s a dolly zoom.*
Dr. Lauren: It was very well done.
Darren: It was ridiculous. I had to stop it for a couple of seconds because it was making me laugh so much.
DR. LAUREN’S NUMBER 4: SNAKE DICK (dir. David Mahmoudieh)
Darren: This was a good one, about two women taking bizarre revenge on awful, sex pest-y guys.
Dr. Lauren: It’s also designed as a proof of concept for a feature length film.
Darren: It does work, so it’s a self-contained sequence but it also leads you to wonder what they’re going to do next.
Dr. Lauren: I thought that the ending, with the wide shot from the drone, was giving me Thelma and Louise vibes.
Darren: We’re probably not going to touch on drones too much. Drones are great for getting sweeping landscape shots but now the technology’s available they’re fucking everywhere.
Dr. Lauren: I know what you mean.
Darren: Having said that, the drone shot is this one was rather good,
Dr. Lauren: It was. I can see how the concept worked for the short. I’d be interested to see how they’d expand it for the feature. What they’d done was almost like the opening sequence to a full-length film, a bit like what Jill Sixx did with The Stylist short versus the feature version of that.
Dr. Lauren: I’d be interested to see what direction Snake Dick is taken.
Darren: Also, I just want to see a movie called Snake Dick playing cinemas. “One for Snake Dick, please”.
Dr. Lauren: It was a novel concept. You can probably guess where they’re going just from the title.
DARREN’S NUMBER 4: DOWNS OF THE DEAD (dir. Even Husby)
Dr. Lauren: I’m not sure I saw this one.
Darren: This played before Re-Elected.
Dr. Lauren: I didn’t see this one, then.
Darren: This is a take on the zombie movie set in a care facility where a couple of healthcare workers are supposedly taking care of young people wih Downs’ Syndrome but when the zombies attack it turns out that the folks with Downs have a lot more in the way of smarts than those looking after them. It was sweet and funny and it stuck to the rules of zombie movies. It also made the members of the cast with Downs the centre of the action rather than have them in background. One in particular has a prominent role and becomes the voice of reason when the de facto hero has proven himself to be a bit useless.
Dr. Lauren: I wish I’d seen this now.
Darren: It’s well worth catching up with. It’s a good zombie movie and it has a social conscience without battering you with it. At one point, one of the characters actually points out they have Downs Syndrome just in case it isn’t clear. It’s not dealt with in a ham-fisted way, it just happens to be part of the story.
Dr. Lauren: That sounds interesting. I wish I’d caught that one.
DR. LAUREN’S NUMBER 3: DON’T TEXT BACK (dir. Kaye Adelaide, Mariel Sharpe)
Darren: Excellent. I loved Don’t Text Back.
Dr, Lauren: I loved the dry attitude of the Pagan, Wiccan, witchy lady trying to get her client to not text a certain number back.
Darren: It’s about the dangers of toxic relationships taken to a strange extreme but done in a very funny way. It takes the piss out of new age lifestyles but toxic masculinity gets a kicking as well. It also has a quite interesting comedy romance going on.
Dr. Lauren: It was fun, it was well done, it didn’t overstay its welcome.
Darren: It would be good to see a short series of cases involving the Wiccan with different people coming to see her with odd relationship of lifestyle problems. I did like the crystal she had that was specifically for bad guys. It was massive as well. All the other crystals for other problems were tiny but the crystal for guy problems was fucking massive.
Dr. Lauren: I’d like to see some kind of web mini-series about her.
DARREN’S NUMBER 3: META (dir. Sydne Horton)
Darren: This was part of the HorrorIsQueer showcase and it’s about someone who transitioned in college and is at a prom and is panicking about maybe being made the Prom King. The way the stress manifests itself is via a kind of old Universal horror movie monster transformation.
Dr. Lauren: Yeah, he runs off into the loo and starts turning into a wolf man.
Darren: It’s an analogy for being seen to be different. One of the things I liked about Meta is that it build up the tension and there was a feeling that something really horrible was going to happen at the end.
Dr. Lauren: I was feeling like that all the way through.
Darren: And when the ending turned out to be quite sweet, I don’t think I’ve been more relieved in quite a while.
Dr. Lauren: I was fully expecting there to be a “Carrie at the Prom” resolution to this and I was really, really glad there wasn’t.
Darren: It’s probably a sign that both of us have been watching far too many horror movies that we both thought something hideous was going to happen. I was genuinely surprised at how nice it turned out to be.
Dr. Lauren: I was fully expecting something awful to happen. Maybe I’ve watched too many nihilistic films recently.
DR. LAUREN’S NUMBER 2: GOING STEADY (dir. Brydie O’Connor)
Dr. Lauren: This was also a part of the HorrorIsQueer showcase.
Darren: It was.
Dr. Lauren: It’s about a woman whose husband comes home from work and it’s set in the 50s and it’s all pastel colours and all very Americana. She’s got his tea ready for him and she daydreams about various things which suggest she’s not necessarily that into men. It’s about how queer people in the past tried to make themselves fit into normative lifestyles even though that wasn’t what they wante. She fantasises about killing him and she dresses him up as a woman and they do things together. It looked lovely but it was so sad. Everything looked so bright and fun and although some of it is quite ridiculous – she’s got this little trolley to cart this dead guy around in…
Darren: She takes him to the drive-in at one point.
Dr. Lauren: And she’s asking him if he wants popcorn. It’s actually super, super sad because she’s not living how she wants to at a time where a lot of people just couldn’t because it wasn’t the done thing. I thought it was brilliant.
Darren: I liked the contrast of how it was all bright and perky and the soundtrack reflected that and all of that worked against the message that she was trapped in the relationship but society made it impossible for her to do so. The fact that you have this fantasy and then you’re snapped back into the reality of what’s really going on is heartbreaking. It shows how good the standard of the shorts was when I really enjoyed this one and it wasn’t quite in my top five. I loved the way it was shot, it looked great. I agree with you, it was incredibly sad and it doesn’t offer that release of having her escape that lifestyle. She’s still trapped and she’s still pretending she’s something she isn’t.
Dr. Lauren: And it’s still a terrifying reality which is still probably being lived by lots of people.
Darren: When people criticise horror for being all surface and gore and how it’s just teenagers being chased by maniacs with axes, they don’t understand just what horror deals with. They’re not watching the right movies.
Dr. Lauren: They’re only watching things put out by Blumhouse.
Darren: Not that we’re having a go at Blumhouse. I understand where you’re going with that. Commercial horror can be good in that it leads people to less commercial stuff. The stuff that we would normally watch. If commercial horror is the gateway drug to proper horror movies….oh God, what a wanker, what do I sound like? How pretentious am I? Proper horror movies.
[Dr. Lauren bursts out laughing]
Darren: Oh, I only watch proper horror movies. Fucking hell, what a prick.
[Dr. Lauren is still laughing]
Darren: For anyone who says horror is just folks being chopped up, there’s a lot more to it that that.
Dr. Lauren: For sure.
Darren: Why didn’t I just say that?
DARREN’S NUMBER 2: DON’T TEXT BACK (dir. Kaye Adelaide, Mariel Sharpe)
Darren: We’ve already talked about that one, so I’m just going to re-iterate how good it was before we move on to your Number One short film of the festival.
DR. LAUREN’S NUMBER 1: MILK TEETH (dir. Felipe Vargas)
Darren: This was the very first short of the festival, wasn’t it?
Dr. Lauren: It was. It’s got lashings of Guillermo Del Toro all over it. It’s a fantastical piece about kids in an orphanage.
Darren: These kids were wishing that prospective parents were coming to get them and they were feeding their teeth down a sink, under which you find out there’s something dwelling which grants their wishes as long as it gets teeth. So as the kids want more and more, they’re doing things like pulling their own teeth out.
Dr. Lauren: I guess whatever it is – The Tooth Fairy – living in the sink is whispering to one of the kids to give it teeth and nice things start happening to me but not only are the kids pulling their own teeth, which is hideous…
Darren: It’s horrible.
Dr. Lauren: …you get one little boy meeting some prospective parents and when he smiles at them his mouth’s all gross.
Darren: That was absolutely nightmarish. I was leaning back because I knew they were going to show that.
Dr. Lauren: It also keeps cutting back to the Tooth Fairy or whatever the hell it is living in the drain and it’s taking the teeth and putting them in its own mouth which is similarly hideous.
Darren: If you have a general phobia about damage to teeth this is going to drive you fucking insane.
Dr. Lauren: Teeth and fingernails really set me off. The story’s really well done and it does have quite a sweet ending in its own way although I don’t want to spoil it for anyone.
Darren: It does, considering the stuff that’s gone on previously. It does have a vaguely nice ending. It isn’t a particularly happy one but it’s not the horrendous one it might have been. The creature work is very good in this one.
Dr. Lauren: Yeah, the creature effects are great. This was an all-rounder for me, it ticked all of the boxes. The effects were good, the story was great, the music was lovely, it looked awesome. All the performances were strong, the cinematography was grand. I think it was a home run, this one.
Darren: It was a good one and again, with the strength of the line-up, this fell just outside my top five.
DARREN’S NUMBER 1: LIMERENCE (dir. Dan Pederson)
Darren: If anyone was following me on Twitter just after I saw this my choice for the top short film won’t be much of a surprise. I went banging on about it at length.
Dr. Lauren: Yes.
Darren: This was a longer short about a woman who works and lives in a cinema and it’s a story about how she falls in love with one of the cinema’s patrons. This was almost not a horror movie, it had horror elements but it was more of a weird sci-fi romance.
Dr. Lauren: This was probably just outside my top five. It was quite serious. It had a slightly giallo feel about the way it looked.
Darren: Yes, some of the colours were muted in certain sequences but elsewhere they were really vivid. It also had that strange atmosphere of a giallo where the environment is real but there’s also something slightly odd about everything that’s going on.
Dr. Lauren: I know what you mean.
Darren: I loved this. It was right up my street. Any horror that has odd romances at its core is my sort of thing. A Ghost Waits, that sort of thing. It was almost as if someone had said “What’s everything Darren would like in a short?” then made Limerence and said “There you go, this will tick all the boxes for him” and they were right. I absolutely loved this. I can’t wait to see it again. I thought it was outstanding.
And that’s it for SoHome Part III but it’s not the end of SoHome for 2020. Look out for coverage of some festive festival frights in the near future.
Also, if you missed the other SoHome Part III articles:
*Darren demonstrating his tedious technical credentials there. You all knew what Dr. Lauren was talking about but he still had to crap on about it.