Every year the hosts of Mayhem put together an eclectic mix of international short films, usually with one or two local films thrown in. This year was no different.
First up was one of the local films, Lab Rats, a film about a group of animal rights activists attempting to expose a company’s animal abuse and uncovering more than they bargained for. Unfortunately, the film struggles with poor dialogue and characters that give us a hard time believing they would have survived into their twenties, especially confronted with a slowly closing shutter they just can’t work out how to duck under. The film does excel in is its gleefully over the top practical gore effects, the highlight being one character literally melting.
Next up was the delightful but word-count-eating, Himiko the God Slayer Versus the Daemon Legion of Azure Dragons. At times it felt like a parody of old Japanese serials, the type which power rangers was edited together from. It’s a nice simple idea that doesn’t overstay its welcome and seems to really get the most out of a handful of Poundland toys.
“The standout was Solitudo, the directorial debut of the writer and actress Alice Lowe of Sightseers fame”
Next was the Spansish Ultravioleta, a sleek, professional looking short that for some reason cribbed the haunted painting idea off of Ghostbusters 2. It was satisfactory enough, despite the prominent song that features some distractingly awful lyrics.
Then it was the standout Solitudo, the directorial debut of the writer and actress Alice Lowe of Sightseers fame. It follows a nun who has sent herself into isolation but cannot escape her sins. The film is nicely shot with a good use of silence and peripherals to give the viewer the sense of being followed. The only issue is that isolation is a topic which is typically suited to a longer format.
Surgery was up next; a well-executed but ultimately very standard torture story. Knocking nails into someone’s face is pretty brutal, but even so, using such an over-saturated image it’s hard to stand out.
Next, The Herd proved to be an obnoxiously extended metaphor for the mistreatment of cattle. Its heavy-handedness inspired a desire for hatred, but annoyingly it was successfully sickening. It outstayed its welcome, clocking in at twenty minutes. It even bothered to have two sets of credits, one featuring footage of mistreated cattle just to make sure you got it. F*** off.
“Count Magnus, a lacklustre retelling of the classic story from M. R. James using shadow puppets. Not the most original undertaking”
From the confrontational horror of The Herd, we moved onto the darkly satirical world of Juliet, where life-like robotic sex dolls have flooded the market. It is told through a mixture of the daily grind that leads one man to his purchase, accompanied with adverts and news stories. It covers a well trodden idea, but still has a satisfying enough conclusion to be worth a watch.
Next was Count Magnus, a lacklustre retelling of the classic story from M. R. James using shadow puppets. Not the most original undertaking.
Then it was Heir, or to anyone who has seen it, ‘Cum Hand’. This one was more than a little messed-up. Reading between the lines, a father’s paedophilic desires towards his son become physically manifest in the form of a little growth in his hand that cums…a lot. The implications of this one are truly disturbing.
“In regular fashion the screening was rounded off with a short but sweet comedy”
The penultimate entry was the Australian Kobold which was an underwhelming attempt to play on both the vulnerability of children, and that half remembered sense of dread everyone has felt at some point in their childhood. When you wake up in the night and glimpse something out the corner of your eye. I can understand why it’s a popular topic, it’s a decent seed for horror, but there’s been a lot of this sort of thing lately and this is one that is going to get forgotten.
Finally, in regular fashion the screening was rounded off with a short but sweet comedy, this time Crow Hand. As the name suggests, someone grows a crow hand; gore and funny ensue. Good stuff.