Midnight Mania: Creepy

Midnight Mania: Creepy
The brand of creepy on display in this batch of shorts is cut with a heavy dose of humour and a strong side of the uncomfortably bizarre.

Everybody gets the weird rolling, making a serious case for a WTF? sub-section to Midnight Mania programming. Thankfully brief, it consists of oddly drawn animals spouting stream-of-consciousness babble about insecurity and cosmetic surgery.

Dialling back the suck and cranking the funny, Jardin Dead End follows a callous loser whose lame advances on women in nightclubs are shunned until he meets a lady who claims to be "kinda possessed by the devil." He doesn't care or believe her until she's screwing his brains out Linda Blair style, then he just doesn't care because the sex is so wild. It plays off typical date movie tropes, with horror film conventions, before jumping off the deep end with a Mexican wrestler priest attempting to excise the demon with a holy water patch. A predictable, but satisfying dark laugh caps the mildly wacky shenanigans.

Less entertaining, but actually creepier, The Elemental shows promise with a sinister set up. A woman revisits her childhood home, specifically a dark stairwell that freaked her out as a kid. Quick flashes of unknown violence attempt to induce a few cheap scares, but in the end, it amounts to nothing more than a guilt trip to check in on your parents more frequently when they get too old to take care of themselves.

Jack flips back to the campy chuckles. It's shot like a cheesy commercial, complete with garish lighting and intentionally bad acting. A group of pumpkin carving Halloween celebrators discuss Irish folklore and play with black magic, resulting in an attack of killer pumpkins. There is impalement via pumpkin stock, face-eating pumpkin guts, death by seed shuriken and a baby stealing ending that would probably offend some if it wasn't so damn fake and ridiculous looking.

MRDR Chain brings the creepy back in a very weird, surreal way. This wholly CGI piece presents an armless, segmented Tweedledee-looking creature with a pulsating vagina face walking through a nightmare landscape of floating bones, dim streetlights, a swarming tube of many-limbed flesh swallowing itself and a strange building where a daisy chain of plucked, turkey-like meat bulbs ice-pick each other in the back. Then it gets weirder while expounding its visual horror version of the titular scientific theory.

The comedy/creepy ping-ponging continues with 5 Minute Dating. A horribly disfigured yet highly cultured man participates in a round of the title activity. It's well paced, with laughs jabbing at the jaded and judgmental women he's attempting to woo, and just when the result seems sweetly evident, it doles out a deliciously nasty twist ending.

Chloe and Attie is the most snoring dud of the pack. A lady injects a bedridden, near-catatonic woman day after day to keep her under control. Not even an assault with a deadly iPod can liven up this drab bore.

Spicing up the proceedings, we have the fiendishly odd Scottish stop-motion short Battenberg. A purring squirrel attached to red thread in a house finds an unconscious bird that flew into the window. It drags the magpie into its lair and upon waking, convinces it to sign a guest book that no animals have ever signed out from. A battle of wits and, literally, shits ensues, as does a touch of incredulous hilarity.

Head and shoulders above the pack, Off Season ends the collection of creepy with some serious chills. A happy family still photo of a cottage vacation gives way to a desolate winter scene of a man and his dog raiding abandoned cottages for booze and knick-knacks. The man's early alcoholic rage over his beloved dog causing him to spill liquor only heightens the terror when a raid uncovers something frightening enough for him to drop a whole bottle and flee. Excellent lighting and haunting atmosphere, coupled with a few genuine scares and steady tension, make Off Season a perfect example of what a truly creepy short can be.