Movie Reviews (Horror-on-Sea Film Festival): Horror Shorts — Bitten, Boo, and Retch

January 9, 2020

Written by Joseph Perry

Joseph Perry is the Film Festival Editor for Horror Fuel; all film festival related queries and announcements should be sent to him at [email protected] He is a contributing writer for the "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" and “Drive-In Asylum” print magazines and the websites Gruesome Magazine, Diabolique Magazine, The Scariest Things, B&S About Movies, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Uphill Both Ways" pop culture nostalgia podcast and also writes for its website. Joseph occasionally proudly co-writes articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right. A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.

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. 

Bitten

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/.

Boo 

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 [2016] and Psychopaths [2017]) 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.

Retch

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/.

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