FANTASTIC FEST 2022: Chaos Reigns Vol. 2

Even more shorts I watched at Fantastic Fest.

Gary Screams for You (2022): Gary (Cody McGlashan), a campus security guard, discovers his animalistic side when his obsession with a viral video leads him down a very dark path. The filmmakers have said that it’s “a cry for help, a love letter, a Greek tragedy, a superhero origin story, an ode to madness.” It’s also the spec for a potential full length movie as well.

Gary is an undiagnosed and unmedicated bipolar guy experiencing his first manic and psychotic episode. It’s also based on the creator’s real life experience. And I love the kind of hype that says that this movie is “a story about infinite realities, eternal life, total anarchy, becoming a god and what it means to be both human and inhuman.” 

Co-directed by Nolan Sordyl and Cody McGlashan, who also wrote the movie, this movie has more than one moment of absolute strangeness, which I completely endorse. Well made, too.

Godspeed (2021): Directed and written by Teddy Padilla (The Party Slasher, Ultra Violence) this has a man (Logan Miller, Escape Room) blackmailing a woman (Olivia Scott Welch, Fear Street) into teaching him her bank robbing secret. Well, he learns it, to his detriment. This is a really good looking film that, unlike so many shorts I’ve seen lately, has a beginning/middle/end and tells an incredibly rich and complete story in just ten minutes.

Where so many shorts are just test runs for longer movies that go on and on and never expand the feeling of the original, this is the perfect length and honestly couldn’t be improved with more time.

Good Boy (2022): Eros Vlahos has made a movie that I completely understand: a woman is hired to be a dog watcher and must deal with a Pomeranian who wants to kill everyone. Seriously, his tag says “A Normal Dog on one side and “Run” scrawled into the other. This film has some amazing angles, including one dog POV shot where he keeps nodding to the bowl of food that must be filled. You know, I live with a long haired chihuahua pomeranian chupacabra mix that I fear might kill me at any moment. So yeah, this movie reached me on a level that went beyond anything else I’ve seen in so long. This is what it’s like every day when my wife leaves, as a small dog stares at me and shakes and makes noises that sound straight out of a 70s Satanic movie.

Hairsucker (2022): Directed and written by Paddy Jessop and Michael Jones, this movie has somehow exceeded how disgusting I thought it would be and now, if I even think about it for a little more than a few seconds, I get physically sick which is a major accomplishment for a movie to make these days. Then again, I have to snake the shower every few months and man, I could use the creature from this, as long as I don’t wake up and it’s scalping me and getting blood all over the place.

This is really simple but man. It lives up to the title. Hair sucking. Who knew? And great, now I feel like I’m going to vomit again. Consider it high praise.

Hell Gig (2022): A struggling comedian tries to win a local standup competition, which sounds normal, but then we learn that she’s been infected by a demon who eats anyone she envies. And her best friend is also in the competition.

Gale is also a stand up, so obviously, she gets what this feels like in the real world. And hopefully she doesn’t have a demon in her.

Bruce Bundy, who plays Maeve, was Octavia in The Hunger Games movies, while Jamie Loftus, who has done a lot of comedy work, is Eli. Both work really well together and I love the idea of a demonic figure standing in for the natural feelings when our friends become successful.

Huella (2021): Directed and written by Gabriela Ortega, this gorgeous short has Daniela (Shakila Barrera) escaping from the drudgery of her work-from-home customer service agent job when the ghost of her grandmother (Denise Blasor) who makes her consider if the fleeting moments of dancing she does upon her rooftop are enough.

Generally, ghosts come to us in films to shock or attempt to hurt us. Not so here, in a movie whose name means “fingerprint.” Ghosts can hopefully shock us from our set lives and help us change the path of our lives. This movie only has fourteen minutes and yet does so much with them.

Kickstart My Heart (2022): Director and writer Kelsey Bollig survived a near-death experience to tell this story of, well, a near-death experience. Lilly (Emma Pasarow) must survive three levels of living hell to return from the near-dead which ends up looking like scenes from horror movies and Mortal Kombat, which I can totally endorse.

You have to love when someone tells an incredibly personal story and does it with fight scenes involving ninjas and demons. More people should follow the model that this film has set, but then again, this is so original and well-done, they’ll find themselves wanting in comparison.

The Last Queen of Earth (2020): In this world, Y2K really happened, so a farmer named Zebediah (Travis Farris) gets to live out his dream of wearing women’s clothes, which yeah, it’s going to upset everyone on every side and not win, but that’s the way the world works. I’ve seen people upset that it pretty much leans into everything people laugh at about guys dressing up like women and kind of makes it a joke, so yeah. Look, I write about Jess Franco movies so I’m not going to solve this issue. This movie looks really nice, has a good pace and Y2K actually ending humanity is a good idea.

Director Michael Shumway also composes music for films, while writer Lex Hogan has worked as a script supervisor. I’d like the see what else they can both create.

Last Request (2022): Greg (Michael Greene) is on his death bed and requests that Even (Tim Casper), his high school bully who has turned his life around and become a man of God, comes and fulfills a very specific request: to listen to the angel that lives inside his rectum.

Yeah, this is a simple joke that you can see coming, but you have to admit that it’s pretty funny. The talent is great and director Daniel Thomas King, who co-wrote the script with Ryan Kindhal, has added the right tension to make it even more hilarious.

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