Film News (UK): Pigeon Shrine FrightFest announces 2023 Short Film Programme
Discovering the best of horror shorts
FrightFest has showcased the best in genre short film from the UK and around the world since 2004, and this year in no exception, with eight countries representing four continents. From brooding rivalries to wicked encounters, from haunted houses to deadly bedtime stories, this year’s selection, screened at the Cineworld, Leicester Square, which includes thirteen world premieres, unleashes the latest from upcoming filmmakers from across the world.
This year the strand is sponsored by CenterFrame, a global community of filmmakers. Hosting the event will be CenterFrame’s CEO and co-founder, Bernhard Pucher. CenterFrame is also presenting The Filmmaker Spotlight, which highlights exciting new talent within the CenterFrame community and will give four filmmakers the opportunity to screen their shorts before main features.
Pucher commentated: “It’s such a thrill to present the Pigeon Shrine FrightFest short film showcases, which highlights some of 2023’s best horror and fantasy shorts. Getting films to the big screen is what CenterFrame is all about, so we are equally proud to be part of FrightFest’s feature programme, where we have the CenterFrame Filmmaker Spotlight, showing four films created and chosen by our community."
The Short Film Showcase kicks off with our international selection, which includes MUD ON MY SHOES, a childhood nightmare story narrated by horror legend Doug Bradley. From Malta comes every reviewer's nightmare in THE CRITIC, from the USA knife-wielding elves bring Christmas chaos in THREE HOUSE DOWN and in the New Zealand entry YOU’RE OUT, a closeted young gay man is tormented by a masked assailant. There are also chills from Chile with CAFÉ CICATRIZ, suspense from Spain with SAFE and haunting demons from Canada with OLD FLAMES. Other entries from across the pond include the unforgettable WE FORGOT ABOUT ZOMBIES, the funny BONE, the action packed and inspirational KICKSTART MY HEART, the very big TINY THING, the undead HERE TO STAY and the predatory AFTER HOURS.
The UK and Ireland is represented with two showcases featuring twenty-two entries. There is the wicked allure of THE LURE, starring Johnny Vivash, the overcast horror of RAIN, RAIN, GO AWAY, and the culinary, comedic, carnage of CHEF GUSTAV. Vivash also stars in the haunting sparkler FUSE, whilst James Swanton shines in the vengeful THE DEAD OF WINTER. Other highlights in the first showcase include THE DEVIL’S FOOTPRINTS, where sightseeing goes dreadfully wrong, the beastly FEAR INCARNATE, the demonic DEAD SKIN and the monstrous RED LAKE. There’s an encore mad performance in VIRTUOSO and who is at the door in KNOCK, KNOCK, (KNOCK)?
In the second showcase, CULT OF VHS director, Aaron Truss, returns with supernatural mystery chiller PAREIDOLIA, starring 80’s cult actress Diane Franklin and there are more thrills when a knight finds himself fighting his own armour in MY DREAMS HAVE BEEN DARK OF LATE. Home invasion takes on uniquely cruel twists in INHABIT, LEECH and MURDER, while in PABLO, HONEY! unemployed Emma starts dating the poltergeist who haunts her flat. Dinner party etiquette is turned upside down in HACK and a boy’s search for his missing father takes a surreal twist in VESTIGE. Guardian podcaster Savannah Ayoade-Greaves delivers her unique brand of urban horror with THE NEW GIRL and in TRIAL 22 a group people must survive monsters, traps and each other. Last but not least is NOSEPICKER, the snotty’ tale of Georgie, who can’t stop picking his nose…
In addition, there are four shorts preceding feature films in Discovery Screen 1. These are the winning entries from CenterFrame’s Filmmaker Spotlight initiative, which highlights exciting new talent. In Charlie Schwan’s brilliantly bizarre DEATH SNOT, Roberto grapples with a bizarre condition causing excessive mucus. Then there is Dani Guzman’s POSIT, where, during a power outage, a man finds a mysterious post-it note on his wall. And there’s another mysterious discovery in David Yorke’s FORESIGHT, when Tessa discovers a wooden box containing an item that will change her life forever. Lastly, there is JUST US, Alexander Osman’s take on OCD suffering, which takes two flatmates on a sinister, fetishistic journey.
The full line-up:
FRIDAY 26 AUGUST – SHORT FILM SHOWCASE 1
DISCOVERY SCREEN 3 from 15:45
The Critic (International Premiere)
Director: Bruce Micallef Eynaud. Cast: Nicholas Jackman. MALTA 2022. 5 min.
A bitter film critic attends a short film festival, unaware of the nightmarish presence awaiting him.
Three Houses Down (International Premiere)
Director: Ty Huffer. Cast: Hope Shanthi, Vivian Tam, Sienna Gaudet, Matt Coggan. USA 2023. 7 min.
Ah… the Holidays. Filled with joy, laughter, and cheer. And this year, murderous, knife-wielding elves.
Here to Stay (UK Premiere)
Director: Christopher Sheffield. Cast: Chris Labadie, Jessica Taylor, Zoe Yale. USA 2022. 7 min.
After abandoning friends and family at a funeral, Jude hides away in his home, but he's not as alone as he thinks, and sometimes the horrible mistakes you make have a way of following you.
We Forgot About the Zombies (UK Premiere)
Director: Chris McInroy. Cast: Carlos LaRotta. USA 2022. 4 min.
Two dudes think they found the cure for zombie bites.
Café Cicatriz (UK Premiere)
Director: Jordan Bahat. Cast: Max Morales, Lourdes Ramirez. Chile 2023. 14 min.
Max craves human connection. But he can’t bear to expose his truth.
Bone (World Premiere)
Director: Paul Coleman. USA 2022. 2 min.
Skellies in love.
You’re Out (European Premiere)
Director: Chaz Harris. Cast: Daniel Cockerill. New Zealand 2022. 10 min.
A closeted young gay man is tormented by a masked assailant threatening to out him.
Old Flames (London Premiere)
Director: Fugitives. Cast: Mylene Carino, Rhys Naylor. Canada 2023. 4 min.
A haunting portrayal of a recovering addict learning to live with her demons.
Tiny Thing (World Premiere)
Director: Joshua Giuliano. Cast: Jacob DeMonte-Finn, Britt Harris. USA 2023. 16 min.
It’s the tiny things that f*** us over in the end.
Safe (London Premiere)
Director: Josema Roig. Cast: Travis Myers, Dia Day, Josh Bernard. Spain 2022. 10 min.
Somewhere in the US a family hears an unsettling bump in the night.
Mud on My Shoes (International Premiere)
Director: Rosie Geozalian. Cast: Doug Bradley. USA 2022. 2 min.
Narrated by horror legend Doug Bradley (Hellraiser), Mud on My Shoes is a stop-motion adaptation of a childhood nightmare based off the poem of the same name from author Count D.’s book, "All My Friends Are Creeps".
After Hours (International Premiere)
Director: James Ross. Cast: Cameron Schmitt, Marshall Kapp. USA 2022. 6 min.
After closing hours in a department store, night shift security guard and custodian encounter strange, unusual occurrences. Armed with only their walkie-talkies and overhead cameras, they discover a stealthy, vicious predator.
Kickstart my Heart (London Premiere)
Director: Kelsey Bollig. Cast: Emma Pasarow, Cooper Alexander, Sadie Eve Scott, Jacqueline Bell. USA 2022. 14 min.
After a brutal car accident, a young woman fights her mind's three levels of hell to wake up again.
SATURDAY 26 AUGUST – SHORT FILM SHOWCASE 2
DISCOVERY SCREEN 1 from 10:30
The Lure (World Premiere)
Director: Tony Hipwell. Cast: Johnny Vivash. UK 2023. 2 min.
Late at night, a lone fisherman discovers he is not the only one hoping to hook something.
Rain, Rain, Go Away (World Premiere)
Director: Sebastiano Pupino. Cast: Carolina Lopes, Mike Sweeney-Collier, Gaz Hayden, Isabella Colby. UK 2023. 13 min.
Haunted by strange visions and nightmares, Clari receives a mysterious call from a long-lost friend who hides a dark secret from their past.
The Devil’s Footprints (World Premiere)
Director: Dean Puckett. Cast: Olivia Driver, Dean Puckett. UK 2023. 13 min.
In December of 2004, the bodies of a young couple were found in the middle of Dartmoor, a vast moorland that sits in the southwestern corner of the United Kingdom.
Fear Incarnate (London Premiere)
Director: Dylan Coburn. Cast: Bo Liew-King, Xander Manktelow. UK 2022. 7 min.
To protect his family, a teenage boy musters incredible courage to confront his greatest fear, manifested in physical form before him as a terrifying spirit known only as - The Beast.
Dead Skin (London Premiere)
Director: Ciara Lilly O'Rourke. Cast: Elizabeth Kanzi Jubb, Michaela Short. UK 2023. 11 min.
Disgruntled teenager Jess has an itch she just can't scratch and she's willing to do whatever it takes to be rid of it.
Red Lake (London Premiere)
Director: Shaun Dunne. Cast: Claire Bermingham, Hazel Doupe, Terry O'Neill. Ireland 2022. 14 min.
Estranged sisters Jess and Maddie return to Red Lake, mourning their father’s death. As tensions rise and the night unravels, Jess discovers that some legends are real, and resentment can indeed breed a monster.
Chef Gustav (London Premiere)
Director: Luke Frangeskou. Cast: Xandre Pearcy, Luke Frangeskou. UK 2023. 3 min.
A proud chef is cooking a fancy meal and is forced to fight a mischievous cat who will stop at nothing to steal the food he is cooking.
Fuse (World Premiere)
Director: Will Dennies. Cast: Johnny Vivash, Meryl Griffiths, Dennis Carr. UK 2023. 8 min.
An electrician finds himself stalked by a ghostly presence as he attends a night call at an elderly woman’s house.
Knock, Knock, (Knock) (World Premiere)
Director: Brendan Cleaves. Cast: Tom Bell Kiell Smith-Boynoe. UK 2023. 7 min.
A man finds a suspicious blood covered door in his living room.
Virtuoso (World Premiere)
Director: Stella Scott. Cast: Victoria Rigby, Roland Manookian, David Lewiston Sharp. UK 2023. 13 min.
Josephine auditions to play the piano for a prestigious orchestra. Her partner Jasper, a fellow pianist, helps her prepare. Josephine, self-defeating, sets a curse on herself that prevents her from performing and him from helping her.
The Dead of Winter (World Premiere)
Director: Stephen Graves. Cast: Oliver Maltman, Christina Cole, James Swanton. UK 2023. 12 min.
After an affluent man leaves a rough sleeper to die in the cold on Christmas Eve, he's haunted by a figure that may be a vengeful spirit - or his own guilty conscience.
MONDAY 28 AUGUST – SHORT FILM SHOWCASE 3
DISCOVERY SCREEN 1 from 18:30
Inhabit (London Premiere)
Director: Duncan Falconer. Cast: Duncan Falconer. UK 2022. 1 min.
A man moving into a new house discovers something left behind in the loft.
Hack (UK Premiere)
Director: Ben Mallaby. Cast: Toby Williams, Gem Carmella, Alice Etches, Luke Rollason. UK 2022. 4 min.
The ultimate life hack.
The New Girl (World Premiere)
Director: Savannah Ayoade-Greaves. Cast: Yasmin Monet Prince, Precious Mustapha, Michael Ajao, Savannah Steyn, Ellis George. UK 2023. 12 min.
On her first day at a new school, Angel gets more than she bargained for when she attracts the attention of ‘it’ girl Grace and her group of friends, who invite her to join their mysterious after-school club.
Murder (London Premiere)
Director: Graham Jock Robertson. Cast: Benji Sansom. UK 2023. 3 min.
A man is awoken suddenly by a knock at his window. His attempts to help the visitor put him in a precarious position.
Vestige (World Premiere)
Director: Joseph Simmons. Cast: Ben Hackett, Steve Evets, Corin Silva. UK 2023. 12 min.
A young boy searches for answers when he discovers a strange fossil on a Yorkshire beach and thinks it could be the missing piece to the puzzle of the disappearance of his dad.
My Dreams Have Been Dark of Late (UK Premiere)
Director: Joshua Warren. Cast: Alexander Lincoln. UK 2023. 4 min.
A knight finds himself at the mercy of his armour.
Trial 22 (World Premiere)
Director: John Ferrer. Cast: Corinna Brown, Felix Garcia Guyer. UK 2023. 9 min.
Trapped in a mysterious underground experiment, a group of people must survive against monsters, traps and each other.
Pablo, Honey! (UK Premiere)
Director: Jamie Yuan. Cast: Lindsey Santoro. UK 2023. 11 min.
When unemployed Emma starts dating the poltergeist who haunts her flat, she struggles to resolve her impending eviction with the ghost's ever-increasing possessiveness.
Leech (UK Premiere)
Director: George Coley. Cast: Sandra Voe, Josh Katembela, Graham O'Mara. UK 2022. 10 min.
An elderly blind woman is unaware of the stranger who is secretly living in her home. When her care worker begins noticing peculiar details around the house, they uncover the darker secret hidden within.
Pareidolia (World Premiere)
Director: Aaron Truss. Cast: Diane Franklin, Graham Cole, Carolyn Pickles, Joe Acres, Sandy Johnson, Stuart Morriss, Dawn Perllman. UK 2023. 14 min.
Sinead, a university lecturer studying the subject of pareidolia, becomes convinced she is being stalked by an entity hiding within her house. Meanwhile a mysterious death is brought to the attention of a local priest, who realises that his past is beginning to catch up with him.
Nosepicker (UK Premiere)
Director: Ian Mantgani. Cast: Leo Adoteye, Abi Corbett, Mark Garfield, Bridgette Amofah, Simon Bubb, Chloe Hinxman. UK 2023. 16 min.
A 'tale of the unexpected' about an 8-year-old schoolboy with a nasty habit of picking his nose.
Pigeon Shrine FrightFest 2023 runs from 24th – 28th August at Cineworld Leicester Square.
Tickets are now available to buy online: http://www.frightfest.co.uk/tickets.html
For full programme details: http://www.frightfest.co.uk/
Selection of Short Film Stills