This is the last gasp of shorts from Fantastic Fest.
Night (2021): Ahmed Saleh’s Night is based on the true story of a Palestinian mother and took four years to make, which you will realize is true after seeing how detailed the stop motion animation is. Hiam Abbass is the voice of the mother, Salma Saleh is her daughter and Night is played by Rafia Oraidi.
The idea of this film is that Night has to fool the Mother into sleeping to save her soul as war rages all around. This lives up to its title — it’s very dark in tone — and the music is beyond sumptuous. It’s haunting throughout and tells its story in an incredibly effective way.
I’d love to see a behind the scenes to learn how this was made.
O, Glory! (2022): Directed and written by Joe Williams and Charlie Edwards-Moss, this is the story of a psychiatric doctor and his assistant who have been summoned to an isolated country house to examine Deborah (Emily Stott), whose brother believes is losing her mind.
The three men find themselves in the grip of her psychosis — or is it theirs? — as they try to help her. Shot in rural England and infused with folk horror, this shot on 35mm short is gorgeous, this could — and should — be a full length movie.
Return to Sender (2022): Director and writer Russell Goldman and producer Jamie Lee Curtis were inspired by things ordered from Amazon that didn’t arrive or the wrong thing came instead. Goldman based Julia, the hero of this story, on his family’s history of addiction. She gets no support from customer service as her orders fail and ends up ruining not just her life, but someone else’s as well when she doesn’t get what she wanted.
Allison Tolman plays Julia and she’s great, just falling to pieces as she keeps getting the wrong packages which must be some grand conspiracy against her. This looks incredible and is better than most major movies I’ve seen this year.
Seafoam (2022): Directed, written by and starring Izzy Stevens, Seafoam explores a waking nightmare as Billy keeps seeing the same man (Jae Kim) after visiting her mother in a psychiatric health ward. By the end of the film, this descends into madness.
What it gets right is a really hard thing: the hours that seem to crawl by as you watch someone you love who is no longer there, telling you things that may not exist, as you keep watching their face for any inkling that they know who you are. And you know where they are now is where you will be someday very soon. This movie hit me a bit too hard.
Sucks to Be the Moon (2022): Creators Tyler March, Eric Paperth and Rob Tanchum have created an animated short in which the moon, tired of being lonely and in the shadow of the sun, decides to escape to meet other planets and falls in which a bad crowd — Pluto — and somehow comes back together to be friends with the Sun, only for both to realize just how important they are — were — to Earth.
This is a movie that has taught me that the universe is basically a club where all the planets hang out.
What have you been up to, Moon? “Hard drugs and crime.”
I’d say this was perfect for kids, but man, in no way should you let your kids watch it.
Tank Fairy (2021): In this short film by Erich Rettstadt, Marian Mesula plays the Tank Fairy, a magical woman who delivers tanks of gas with plenty of sass) to Jojo (Ryan Lin), a young man with a dream and the need for someone exactly like the Tank Fairy in his life.
This movie looks like foreign commercials or a strange TV show from a country you can’t place and you watch it while you eat and watch those wild music videos that some restaurants still play and I say that as a supreme compliment. Shot in Taiwan, it has energy, verve and, yes, sass. Also gas.
This movie feels like it could give someone that needs hope some hope.
Vertical Valor (2022): Directed and written by Alex Kavutskiy, Vertical Valor celebrates the lost heroes of World War 3: the skaters who stayed home and keep working on their ollie while delivering bad news to, well, the same dad over and over and over yet again. Man, I never knew I could have served in this unit, because I could rail grind and get some limited air even as a fat teenager. Perhaps my knowledge of sponsored riders and Misfits lyrics could have been put to service for my country. I could have read old issues of Thrasher to blind vets. Man, while I’m glad that we haven’t had a major world war — I mean, give 2022 time — I do know that I could have been part of the effort.
Zombie Meteor (2022): Co-directors and writers José Luis Farias and Alfonso Fulgencio have taken the boredom I feel about zombies and made them fun again. Mar (Coral Balas) and Petrov (Iván Muelas) are in orbit on a space station when — you guessed it from the title — a meteor filled with zombies adds so much danger to their regular day.
I had no expectations about this. In fact, I thought from the description I’d not enjoy it. I will admit it. I was wrong, this was great and I’ll watch anything these creative forces make. You won me over, even if I’m still sick of zombies.
Keep your mind open and allow the living dead inside, I guess.