While in many ways, 2016 has been a year to forget, it has served us pretty well in terms of horror. Whether it’s been red-hot emerging talent, directors cementing themselves as bold voices in the genre, or high-class additions to huge franchises, the gems have come thick and fast, and in all shapes and sizes. With 2017 looming large, it’s time to reveal Shock Street Horror’s top five short films of the year – we’ll take a look at the big hitting feature films tomorrow.
Before we do, though, a quick word. I started this page with a view to sharpening up my skills in writing about the genre, and learning more about it as I went. As I’ve educated myself in horror classics old and new, and written as frequently about my discoveries as I can (hopefully more so in 2017), the support I’ve received from friends, filmmakers, readers and more has been overwhelming. To the filmmakers, thank you for giving me the opportunity to look more closely at your work, and for supporting the site as it enters its second year. To the rest of you, thanks for letting me join the discussion on the genre that we all love. I have some big plans for the page in 2017, and hope you’ll stick around to see what’s in store. In the meantime though, thank you all for reading, and all the best for the holiday season.
For now, though, down to business. Let’s take a look at The Top 5 Horror Shorts of 2016.
Lorenzo Ayuso hit us for six (or indeed, five) this year with De-Mente, a deftly psychological and darkly funny short that feels like an exciting prelude to a longer and deeper story. The less you know going in the better, but from the moment that dishevelled Klaus (Sergio Sanchez Shaw) makes an unannounced appearance at the home of Genio (Malcolm Sitte), inspiration starts flowing, and this one truly was one of 2016’s hidden gems.
4. The Stylist
Jill Gevargizian continues to go from strength to strength, and the Call Girl director recruited Contracted alum Najarra Townsend for a hypnotic central performance in this grimly compelling commentary on modern beauty standards. Black as night in its approach to its protagonist’s merciless pursuit of perfection, this one will linger long in your head after the credits roll.
Edgar Allan Poe’s The Cask of Amontillado gets a modern reimagining as Neville Pierce brings a Gothic classic frostily into 2016 in Bricks. Set in the wine cellar of William (Blake Ritson), the film, which in its entirety simply depicts one exchange with a builder he’s hired (Jason Flemyng), moves effortlessly into darker territory, and feels bleakly relevant in its commentary on social class, as well as packing a gut-punch ending.
Katie Bonham cracked the global festival circuit in 2016 with her deservedly acclaimed fourth short Mindless. Starring Hellraiser‘s Nicholas Vince, it’s a smartly observed and profoundly chilling take on mental illness, and felt both like palpable artistic growth for Bonham, and yet another fine entry into Vince’s recent body of short film work.
1. The Babysitter Murders
Very seldom are genre conventions so ingeniously exploited and inverted as they are in The Babysitter Murders, a brilliantly inventive riff on the age-old horror trope of terrorised babysitters from Ryan Spindell. It’s difficult to get into the specifics of why this is such an exciting watch without giving too much away, but this is smart, brutal, stylish, and a whole ton of fun.