PANIC FEST: Short Film Showcase Block 2

There was only one film in the first block of Panic Fest short films that I liked less than any of those in the second (An Actor Prepares.)  Had I been programming the schedule, I would have combined them differently to achieve a more even balance.

The creepiest one of the block is Sol.  When an old woman’s (Alvise Camozzi) husband is in the process of being exorcised, she makes contact with… something.  If there’s a familiar theme in several of this year’s short films, it may be religion.  It’s presented most blatantly and straight-forwardly here.  Of them all, though, this one has the most shocking ending.  It’s telegraphed slightly, but delivers an impact.

Directed by Carlos G. Gananian
Written by Carlose G. Gananian
Running Time = 14:04

Holiday Fear
plays like an epilogue to one of many Christmas slasher Santa movies, but has a cruel streak among its human characters.  Emily (Rebeca Robles) taunts and ridicules Bruce (Eric Whitten) when he’s reluctant to make sure the killer they’ve defeated remains down for the count.  I have a feeling it’s meant to combine comedy with horror, but I didn’t find it funny.  A little stinger at the end is nice… you must always make way for a sequel.

Holiday Fear
Directed by Nicholas Santos
Written by Nicholas Santos
Running Time = 3:51

We Summoned a Demon
is more clearly played for laughs.  Two losers/slackers, whatever you want to call them (Kirk C. Johnson and Carlos Larotta) try to cast a love spell but inadvertently… you guessed it, summon a demon.  Over the top humor and a bit of slapstick dominate its blessedly brief running time.  I’d probably rate it lower if not for its energy and style.  I will probably have the minority opinion for this one.

We Summoned a Demon
Directed by Chris McInroy
Written by Chris McInroy
Running Time = 5:52


Another one that emphasizes humor is Seafood Diet.  It’s more intellectual, though, with not so much a twist ending as a twist reason for what’s happening.  This is a great punchline to a film that is about the punchline of a joke, but its execution isn’t sharp enough for me.  By the time it gets to where it’s going, I’m checked out… mostly annoyed with the main character, who I’m more than happy to see get what’s coming to him.

Seafood Diet
Directed by Max Levine
Written by Max Levine
Running Time = 10:05

Spotlight is similar to block one’s Goodnight Gracie in that it’s all set-up for a killer jump scare.  Here, though, the jump scare didn’t work for me.  Taking place outside, it’s dark and murky, and I didn’t quite understand the game that four young women play with a flashlight.  It looks sort of like hide and seek… sorry; not familiar with this one.  The woods are scary, but I don’t know how I was supposed to react at the end.  It failed to manipulate me like it should have.

Directed by Joe Savage
Written by Joe Savage
Running Time = 5:48

The Daughters of Virtue
is The Witch of short films; that is, it has a slow, mysterious build-up, then ends on an unexpected visual note.  This one makes much less sense to me, though.  During a strange kind of prayer circle, Alice’s (Sylvia Panacione) sins are revealed.  When it’s clear the other women aren’t going to let her go unpunished, one of them tries to save her, but then things get a little wacky.  It left me scratching my head.

The Daughters of Virtue
Directed by Michael Escobedo
Written by Michael Escobedo
Running Time = 12:23