Midnight Mania: Creepy

Midnight Mania: Creepy
Billed as the, obviously, "creepy” portion of the Worldwide Short Film Festival, the seven films on hand do their best to push buttons, and most of them succeed in their mission. Considering the category’s subtitle, it’s almost too easy to find yourself rating these shorts on a scale of creepiness. Beasts (directed by Dirk Verschure of the Netherlands) is a five-minute thrill of stream-of-consciousness animation focusing on four different creatures. A cute bird is shot in half, creating a chain reaction of half birds that multiply so ferociously they eventually take over the world; sheep procreate in two different brief shorts, using some unlikely orifices; penguins experience the destructive nature of a colour change to yellow, which produces mass genocide; and the horror of a pig burger is unleashed on a human that results in an Alien homage. There’s some great imagination but on the creepy scale it’s a low score of four. Happy Birthday 2 You (directed by David Alcalde from Spain) really raises the stakes during its 13 minutes, introducing a grieving mother’s obsession with her son’s look-alike. The funny thing is, despite her disturbing behaviour, it turns out she’s not even the creepiest character in the film. The twists in this are top-notch and gore fans will appreciate the sadistic tone, which resembles the torture porn of Saw and Hostel. On a creepy scale it’s a solid nine. Nouvel Ordre (directed by Jean-Daniel Schneider, Gregory Bindschedler and Antonio De Sousa, Switzerland) is a nine-minute art-house romp complete with constant jump cuts, shifts in light and dark, and multiple mysterious characters. They all appear unconnected but there’s a build up of energy that affects them all, especially when they share a moment via various sensations during the finale. It’s fairly abstract but the ambiguity gives it a creepy factor of six. Ange (directed by Nikolas List, Belgium) rolls in at 16 minutes and features the most classic style of horror in this collection; in many ways it feels like it belongs in Showtime’s Masters of Horror series. A weird doll obsessive stumbles upon a tragic freak show character named "Angel,” whom he takes an immediate liking to. It doesn’t take much to guess where this one is going but lead actor Sebastien Schmit is brilliantly deranged. On a creepy scale it’s easily a nine. The highlight of the showcase is the 16-minute Máquina (directed by Spain’s Gabe Ibáñez), "a feminist retelling of Tsukomoto's 1989 classic Tetsuo,” where a woman is kidnapped and surgically altered while unconscious. Basically she has a dicer implanted into her vagina and no, it isn’t pretty. However, there’s a moment where she tests out her new "tool” by chopping up some carrots and of course, the expected happens: the ultimate coitus climax. Considering the consequences that are at stake here for both sexes, the creepy scale goes off the charts. Far Out (directed by Phil Mucci) can easily be summed up as Beyond the Valley of the Dolls meets Dracula on four tabs of acid. With a genuine ’60s sheen to it (the credits look great), it’s a riveting five minutes of go-go dancing and blood spurting that only rates a creepy score of two because it’s pretty straight-laced and amusing. The directorial debut of Toronto filmmaker and Rue Morgue publisher Rodrigo Gudiño, Demonology of Desire, closes thing out with the distinct honour of being the most original short in the litter. The 22-minute feature focuses on Ramona, a deeply troubled teen that lures an infatuated boy and her friend to an incapacitated spinster’s house. The opening prayer alone will turn some people off and the mix of careless violence, carefully sexualised manipulation and an unidentified, limb- and phallus-regenerating monster demonstrates his hunger for various elements of horror. It does feel a little distracted at times, however the unhinged chain of events and gratuitous content boost it to a steady eight.