Shortcake #16 – “Moving In” and “Smile”

How much can you do in 16 seconds? What do you hope to accomplish when you start off your article with a question? Errr…

Anyway, the question stands, as it seems to be a premise of a relatively fresh film competition organized by River Film Production Company that encourages film-makers from all walks of life to put their skills to a test. And the test involves shooting a short that consists of four shots, no more no less, each of which is exactly four seconds in length and the entirety of a short fits the genre criterion of the challenge – it needs to be a horror…


Really, what can you possibly do to scare me when you are confined to 16 seconds of footage… You can’t possibly tell me a story, but you can only tease it enough so that I can make up the rest in my head. So, when your hands are tied, you can maybe throw a jump-scare at me. That’s what I thought before I watched all 32 entrants (you can see them here on Youtube, or on the River Film website where you can vote for your personal favorite). I have to say that I just spent some scary 10 minutes of my life. Fair enough, some of the films weren’t up to par with the rest, but it is to be expected and I shan’t really discuss it further. The whole make-up of the shortlisted films spans from slashers, zombies, ghost stories, bits of homage to classics (like “Halloween”, “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, “Saw” or “Evil Dead”), horror comedy, stop-motion, all the way to proper animation. From prop effects to CGI, from gore to terror, you’ll see it all. Some shorts will scare you, some won’t, but give them a go anyway. It’s only 10 minutes of your time and if you like horror, you will not be disappointed.


What I think is the best of all the little 16-second horrors is “Moving In” by Mat Johns (whose other really disturbing short – “Run” – I had the pleasure to see some time ago). It’s nice, creepy and it scared me a bunch. On top of that, it actually tells a story in those 16 seconds – so that’s a win right there. Interestingly, Mat Johns has also entered a second film into the pot – “Smile”, but I think that while it still tells a very condensed and disturbing story, it lacks some oomph in comparison to the first one. But since watching them back to back would take less than a minute, why the hell not…

I’m now secretly hoping that Mat’s work will get picked up by someone with funds and as a result we’d get so see his take on horror on the big screen someday. Fingers crossed…


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