The Farfield is an occasional series where I write about something other than gaming.
I once posted a list of Found Footage horror films because Found Footage is my guilty pleasure. And now I guess it’s close enough to Halloween to do a followup: here’s a list of horror shorts you can watch online. I’m not a fan of jump scares so I’ll let you know which of these entries feature one. Spoilers: not many.
1/ Curve (2016) – 10 minutes
Tim Egan’s Curve is a masterpiece, like watching an actual nightmare play out. No dialog. No monsters. No ghosts. Just a slope.
2/ The Backrooms (2022) – 10 minutes
Okay, you got me, I sneaked a Found Footage entry into this list too. There are tons and tons of horror videos based in “The Backrooms“ but this is the only one I’ve seen that really clicks. It captures the sense of being trapped in some fucked-up alternate dimension – and there’s something in there with you. There are lots of other Backrooms videos on the same channel but you don’t need to watch them.
Technically a jump scare at the end but it’s worth it.
3/ Lights Out (2013) – 3 minutes
Come on, I can’t exclude Lights Out whose online success propelled it into a full feature film. The opening minute is the best bit and after that it becomes more familiar horror on a budget: flickering lights, thumping feet. But it’s done well and very, very short.
A jump scare at the end – because that’s the only way something like this tends to end – but not as cheap as others.
4/ Skeletons (2020)
I’m afraid the video above is only the trailer.
Skeletons is not a horror short about dread or scares at all. It is delightfully macabre and blackly comic. I’d rather not spoil too much but I’ll summarise that it’s about a woman in a failed marriage who falls in love with a corpse.
However… it was originally on Vimeo but the video appears to be locked. I only just discovered this yesterday after jotting down Skeletons for this post months ago. I sent a tweet to writer/director Richard Hunter last night after discovering the film is now private on Vimeo, hoping there might be some other way to watch it. I’ll let you know if there’s any response.
5/ Other Side of the Box (2020) – 15 minutes
Perhaps this short is a little overlong and doesn’t quite know what to do with its central premise. It also uses the “don’t blink” trope which has infected modern horror. But there are some genuine creepy vibes in this and I salute the creative team for not settling for a jump scare ending which seemed to be coming.
6/ Peephole (2018) – 4 minutes
I quite liked the unusual idea on offer here however they don’t know where to go with it and so ends on a tiresome jump scare.
7/ Local 58 (2017-2021) – 1-6 minutes each
Kris Straub’s Local 58 is a series of very short videos each of which relate to late night broadcasts on public access television. They’re excellent at putting across a retro TV style while conveying something undeniably wrong.
8/ Zygote (2017) – 22 minutes
Neill Blomkamp’s OATS Studios produces film prototypes; the good ones are supposed to get developed for cinema. I’m surprised Zygote didn’t. It’s a powerfully effective The Thing/Alien hybrid and the creature is terrifying. Lavish production values.
The actual video is age-restricted so you’ll need to go to YouTube directly to watch Zygote. I think it might be on Netflix too.
9/ Slaughterbots (2017) – 8 minutes
This short film about the dangers of autonomous weapons remains disturbing as it feels very much in the realm of science fact. Probably the most horror of the horrors on this list.
10/ La Cabina (1972) – 35 minutes
And finally an old classic with a longer runtime. I saw this Spanish film when I was single-digit years old under the wing of my father on BBC2. It made a lasting impression and inspired one of my few viral tweets.
It’s a classic horror in the sense of something normal and everyday turning against you, rules being broken in a sinister but subtle way. It spends the first half acknowledging the comic absurdity of what has happened but then slowly drives (literally) towards its powerful climax. Brilliant.