[Sorta SXSW 2020 Review] The Midnight Shorts Collection is Short But Sharp

This might be a controversial opinion, but global pandemics suck. In the wake of everything being closed or canceled, Nightmare on Film Street has covered some projects that would have screened at South by Southwest this year. We call it Sorta SXSW.

Traditionally, the Midnighters category of SXSW films are subversive late-night fare. In the same vein is the Midnight Shorts collection of short films. In the festival’s own words, “Bite-sized bits for all of your sex, gore, and hilarity cravings“. What’s not to love?! I’ve taken a look at this category, given each pick a very scientific gut rating, and now you can see which titles to keep an eye on in the coming months!

 

Heat 

Directed by Thessa Meijer

Short but sweet, this is a body horror story set in an ice cream parlor. If I say anything else it would spoil it, which I won’t do, but I will say there are some cool effects and a unique take on body horror. Rating: 3/4

 

Hand in Hand

Directed by Ennio Ruschetti

Telling its story without the use of spoken dialog, Hand in Hand plays out a handshake that won’t end. There’s a very interesting design for a monster, and an unexpected hero, and it’s one of the most satisfying shorts from this batch. Rating: 4/4

 

The Doe



Hot at the Shop:


Directed by Jennifer Lumbroso

Hélène and her boyfriend are staying in a house in the middle of nowhere to work through a relationship problem, but when she steps out for some fresh air things go topsy-turvy. In a great example of dramatic irony, she believes everyone’s out to get her even though that doesn’t seem to be the case. This cinematic short features some very impressive animal handling, and I’m gonna be trying to figure out how they did that for weeks. Rating: 3/4

 

Double Tap

Directed by Eros Vlahos

You know when you’re sitting in bed scrolling on your phone, then you drop your phone and it hits you in the face and it’s the worst thing ever? That’s only the third-worst thing that happens in this brief horror comedy. I don’t wanna spoil anything so that the phrase “The Dickless Troll” echos around your brain without any context, but I’ll say that I laughed out loud (alone, to myself) and cringed hard, which is the best endorsement I can give. My favorite of the collection, I freaking loved this short. Rating: 4/4

 

Regret

Directed by Santiago Menghini

There are some things we can run from (a creepy dude with a knife), and some things we can’t (trauma). Unfortunately, this short draaaaaaags, and it comes off silly when it’s trying to be serious. I get what they’re trying to do, but it’s not for me. Rating 1.5/4

 

Danny’s Girl

https://vimeo.com/389490200

Directed by Emily Wilson

Internet dating is a minefield, and you never really know what the person on the other end will be like when you meet in person. Danny might have a small secret, but Cleo‘s is way stranger. I laughed, I gagged, I learned a little bit about human biology. And I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- huge props to any actor who’s willing to do full frontal for a short film. Rating: 3.5/4

 

Laura Hasn’t Slept

Directed by Parker Finn

Laura‘s meeting with her therapist, discussing the man who keeps finding her in her dreams. He always looks different, and she’s scared of what he might really be. An interesting twist and some pretty cool special effects, but ultimately it’s not the most compelling story. Rating: 2.5/4

 

Stucco

Directed by Janina Gavankar and Russo Schelling

There are a lot of story threads here, making it feel bigger than most short films, but the premise is that there’s a hollow space in a young woman’s wall and she…investigates it. Very good cinematography, a really rad prop, but the pacing is a little uneven. Rating: 3/4

Did you drop your phone on your face while you were scrolling through this list? If so, you’re legally required to let us know over on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or Reddit! To keep up to date with everything else, including more projects that didn’t get to see their festival premieres, stay tuned to Nightmare on Film Street.

 

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