Horror-on-Sea Film Festival, which runs January 10th–19th at Park Inn by Raddison Palace, Southend-on-Sea, U.K., features an incredible program of horror and horror comedy features and shorts from around the world. Following are reviews of three of the short films that will screen at the festival.
When a woman’s (Francine Torres) dog returns home with a bite after a mysterious struggle with an offscreen foe, she lovingly treats the injury before heading out on a first date. While she is away, Iggy the dog transforms into a man (Michael Curran) and the adventures he gets up to in this supernatural comedy are nothing compared to the hijinx that ensue when his owner returns home, to put it mildly. Curran gives a fearless, fully unclothed performance that hilariously captures canine traits and tendencies. Torres deals out a good deal of laughs, too, and the pair provide fine comical chemistry in Bitten, a superbly crafted, great-looking short from director Sarah K Reimers, who cowrote the screenplay with Emma Coats. For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/bittenshortfilm/.
Devi (writer/director Rakefet Abergel) discusses her newly received seven-year chip and the difficulties she has been having lately regarding temptation with her fellow addicts Ava (Parisa Fitz-Henley) and Grace (Laura Wiggins) after their weekly meeting. After her friends leave the parking lot, Devi waits for her fiancé Jared (Josh Kelly) to pick her up. A drunken man (Michael Villar of Carnage Park  and Psychopaths ) offers Devi whiskey and a ride, and then attacks her. Bloodied up and acting hysterical when he finally arrives, Devi — Jared’s “boo” — tries to explain about “something terrible” that happened while she was waiting for him. Told through flashbacks, Abergel’s Boo builds a thrilling air of mystery as she lets the story unfold piece by piece, building up to a highly satisfying climax. Abergel also gives an engaging performance in a nicely nuanced role. For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/booshortfilm.
Writer/director Keir Siewert’s U.K. short Retch puts grueling body horror front and center as a young woman (Chloe Wigmore as Sonja) has a choking seizure while another woman (Maria Teresa Creasey as Rebecca) desperately searches for medicine. After Rebecca administers a pill and an eyedrop, the setting cuts from a living room to a creepy basement, where Sonja undergoes a harrowing event. Both actors are superb, with Wigmore giving a physical performance that makes you cringe for all the right reasons while watching it, including some terrifying screaming, while Creasey’s facial expressions during Sonja’s plights are masterful. Special makeup effects artist Emily Bobczenok and assistant makeup artist Paula Barjau turn in top-notch work that will have many viewers chewing their fingernails or turning away from the screen. Siewert does a stirring job with Retch, kick-starting the tension right away and fashioning an eerie, dread-filled atmosphere. Retch is the type of horror that you can barely stand to watch what is happening but you can’t wait to see what’s next. Want to watch the film for yourself? Retch will be premiering online on ALTER on Wednesday, March 4th, 2020 at 8:00 am Pacific Time, so be sure to tune in! For more information about Retch and its creators, visit https://www.hydraholix.com/retch.
Horror Fuel plans to publish more reviews from Horror-on-Sea Film Festival in the coming days and weeks. For more information about the fest, including schedule and ticket information, visit https://www.horror-on-sea.com/.