This weekend's Diabolique International Film Festival in Bloomington offers an embarrassment of riches, featuring 41 works of genre cinema from across the globe.
Here are 10 of the shorts you can see at IU Cinema this Saturday.
A charming animated short film from Portugal that teaches kids how to identify zombies. Its amusingly lighthearted tone recalls “Duck and Cover”, the '50s civil defense film that educated children on what to do in the event of a nuclear attack. Zombies4Kids is a fun trifle to kick off the festival’s first batch of short films, which start at noon on Saturday, Sept. 20.
Another kid-centric film but much darker. This UK short follows an 8-year-old boy as he fights to overcome his fear of leaving the house and ward off zombies in the aftermath of an apocalypse. Tamzin Outhwaite delivers a poignant performance as the boy’s mother and Emma Cunniffe has strong screen presence as a fellow zombie survivor. M.O.T.H doesn’t transcend the tired zombie apocalypse genre so much as effectively inhabit it, but it does have a few darkly exciting tricks up its sleeve.
Leviathan Ages (2013)
The visuals in this film from the UK have an organic, tactile quality rarely found in films that use CGI. You can practically feel the craggy hilltops of an ancient land crumbling beneath your feet. The narration, which follows the spirits of nine dead kings locked in stone statues, is a bit convoluted, but doesn’t distract too much from the film’s hypnotic atmosphere.
The Last Halloween (2013)
Would anyone celebrate Halloween during the apocalypse? This Canadian short follows four young trick-or-treaters as they go door to door through a devastated neighborhood. As ominous synth notes pulsate on the soundtrack, you may find yourself warmly reminded of John Carpenter’s Halloween and his apocalyptic adventure, Escape from New York. But in the second half of the film, The Last Halloween proves to be far more than a nostalgia-fest, turning into a fierce fever dream tinged with melancholy wonder.
The Seventeenth Kind (2014)
It looks like director Andrew Collier found Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright's recipe for comedy, delivering popcorn genre entertainment with a side of dry British humor. In a charismatic, energetic performance, Tony Curran stars as a washed-up presenter on a cable shopping channel who finds himself negotiating with an alien in the midst of a broadcast. With a breezy comic vibe that smacks of Shaun of the Dead, The Seventeenth Kind is a blast.
Possessed Forklift of Death (2014)
Rest assured that this film is every bit as fun as its title would have you believe. The delightfully schlocky short revolves around a repo man who sneaks into a shipping yard and stumbles upon “a different breed of guard dog” — a living, breathing forklift whose steel prongs are splattered with the blood of countless trespassers. Possessed Forklift of Death is an authentic grindhouse experience, complete with a funky synth score and trailers for Deathforks 2: The Massacre and Deathforks III: Return of the Massacre.
Strange Thing (2013)
A fitting title for a thin story, which finds a newly married couple stumbling upon a strange portal in their house. The couple's home is nerd heaven — movie posters line their walls, Star Trek coffee mugs rest in their kitchen. It's essentially a shrine for the sort of fantasy world to which the portal in their living room leads. If only the film played with that amusing scenario a little more instead of drifting into darker territory, which isn't as engaging as the lighthearted rapport between the couple (charmingly played by Hali Lula Hudson and David O'Donnell).
The Fragility (2014)
A man goes to his fiancee’s house to find the second worst thing next to her parents — her parents covered in blood! What starts as a grisly, intriguing little whodunit builds up to a twist that's just not completely satisfying. But this suspenseful short from South Korea will keep you guessing up to that moment.
Another impressive Canadian short. While babysitting a precocious boy obsessed with horror magazines, Amy learns that serial killer Daniel Lively, "the Valley Slasher," has escaped from a nearby prison and is likely heading toward his old neighborhood. Reminiscent of '90s-era slasher films like Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer. In other words, a fun time. Ryan Barrett has strong screen presence as the title character.
A wickedly fun short from Greece. When a young girl awakens on Christmas Eve to what she thinks is the sound of jolly old St. Nick, she finds a much scarier incarnation of Santa Claus. The scenario is so intense and unsettling that you'll find yourself overcome with nervous laughter. Santa has a rich atmosphere and impressive creature effects. Mighty creepy.