Festival Spotlight: SPASM 2022

Just like that, another edition of Montreal’s gut-busting, demon-summoning, face-punching Spasm Film Festival comes to a close. Here is a list of short films that were the highlights of my experience.

Seek – Dir. Aaron Morgan (USA)

Aaron Morgan’s Seek packs a hell of a lot of tension in its short 6-minute runtime. Not a second is wasted as we’re treated to an inventive and creepy re-imagining of the classic game of hide and seek. With its disgusting imagery (Who doesn’t love a dirty public bathroom?) and awesome creature design, Seek will give you the good time that the scrawlings on bathroom stall walls promise.

La Luz – Dir. Iago De Soto (Spain)

La Luz paints a gruesome image of creatures that live deep down at the bottom of the sea and what happens when they surface. Playing on the fear of the unknown lurking beyond human reach, you won’t find any pineapples or talking sponges where this short film takes you. Although minimalist by design, De Soto doesn’t hold back on the horror as were treated to a harrowing folk-horror tale about tradition, teenage rebellion and our place on the food chain.

Something Doesn’t Feel Right – Dir. Fergal Costello (Ireland)

Have you ever wanted to know what the killer is doing behind the scenes of your favourite slasher films? Then Fergal Costello’s Something Doesn’t Feel Right might just feel right to you! Costello isn’t afraid to put comedy first as he uses it to great avail taking us deeper into the psychology of the film’s masked killer as well as taking tropes from the slasher genre and creating a gag reel of failed attempts and campers who won’t cooperate. If you’re a fan of  Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon then this short film is for you.

Sushi Noh – Dir. Jayden rathsam Hüa (Australia)

“Yummy, yummy sushi time!” Jayden Rathsam Hüa’s, Sushi Noh, is a hard film to put into words. It’s simply as weird as it is gross, which is a huge positive in my book. The film follows a young girl who is in the care of her lonely and abusive uncle. After the uncle buys a creepy sushi-making kitchen appliance, the little girl finds out that not all is as it seems when it comes to her dreams. Although incredibly funny in tone, this film also delivers an unsettling atmosphere as what was once light and fun becomes grotesque and disturbing. This one is for all the sushi lovers out there. As well as fans of films like The Greasy Strangler.

Burder – Dir. Charlie Hankin (USA)

Charlie Hankins, Burder, follows bird enthusiast Nick Bird after he witnesses a bird-on-bird murder causing his passion to become his fear. Considering this short is just under five minutes long, Hankin jampacks Burder with as much absurdity as humanly possible. From Mr. Bean-like antics, bird fights, Tom Hanks and an Adult Swim-esque comedic tone, this film has it all and is a fun watch if you have five minutes to spare.

Monsieur Magie – Dir. Patrick Gauthier (Canada)

Monsieur Magie, follows the title character, a popular magician, as he performs a show in front of his biggest fan who just so happens to be a member of a biker gang. When things go south, Monsieur Magie is forced to conduct his biggest trick yet! Director Patrick Gauthier’s talent for the absurd carries this film forward as the dark comedy heightens and the situation gets to its boiling point. Luckily, for Monsieur Magie, a magician never reveals his secrets.

Squish – Dir. Xavier Seron (Belgium)

Squish, directed by Xavier Seron follows Tom, a man who would like nothing more than to write his novel. However, his husband, life and brain keep getting in his way. Although ridiculous in many facets, Seron manages to keep the film relatable, maybe not the murder part, as we see Tom struggle to find the time to write and then struggle to write when he does. It begs the question, does life actually get in the way of creativity or are we the ones stopping ourselves? Despite its absolute absurdity, Squish remains grounded and enjoyable thanks to its witty script and pitch-black humour.

Henchmen – Dir. Alistair Quak (Singapore)

The production value on display in Alistair Quaks, Henchmen, is quite frankly insane for a short film. From the cinematography, stunt choreography, and hilarious script, to the vicious direction, Quak and crew’s talents are on full display. Taking the perspective of two disposable henchmen that you would normally only see getting killed by the likes of John Wick, the lackeys try everything they can to not join the fight as a man with an exceptional talent for murder fights his way toward them, disposing of all their colleagues in the process. Never stopping to take a breath, Henchmen’s fast pace and hilarious toilet humour will take you on a wild ride before stabbing you in the jugular.

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