Short-Film Reviews: “While Mortals Sleep,” “Huella,” and “Kitchen Sink” (Sundance Film Festival)

February 1, 2022

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.

While Mortals Sleep 

In writer/director Alex Fofonoff’s brilliant short While Mortals Sleep, Susan (Carie Kawa) is a cold case novelist who is going through a difficult patch so bad that she is rather reluctantly getting away from it all for a while at the vacation home of some friends. She spies a man named Eddy (Will Brill) ostensibly repairing a problem with black gunk who claims he is taking care of the property along with a woman named Abby (Grace Morrison). Abby asks the hesitant Susan to join her for tea, and things quickly get increasingly peculiar because of a startling sound before going full-on outré. Fofonoff packs his short with one mind-bending surprise after another in a story that blends a few different horror subgenres. The three leads are all superb, and excellent, startling visual effects and sound design combine to create an unsettling atmosphere and an unnerving slice of cinema that lingers long after the closing credits.


Generational horror receives a different kind of exploration in writer/director Gabriela Ortega’s Huella. Daniela (Shakila Barrera) is a work-from-home customer service agent for a travel agency who is visited by her recently deceased grandmother (Denise Blasor). The older woman’s supernatural social call is not to terrify Daniela to death, but to shock her for another reason, which would be wrong to spoil here. Ortega delivers a great-looking, well-acted work that hits on different emotions than viewers might expect from a typical familial horror story. You can check out the trailer at

Kitchen Sink

Director Alison Maclean’s 1989 New Zealand chiller Kitchen Sink received an Anniversary Short screening at Sundance, and if you like weird, enigmatic, black-and-white mind-benders — which yours truly does — this one checks all the boxes. A woman (Theresa Healey) cleaning her kitchen sink pulls something out of it — no spoilers here — and her day gets increasingly bizarre and terrifying. Healey is terrific, and Peter Tait does fine work, as well. Maclean manages to keep things deliciously off-balance so that audience emotions and perceptions change throughout the 14-minute short, and viewers will have plenty to chew on once the ending credits roll. If you enjoy Eraserhead and Tetsuo: The Iron Man, you’ll definitely want to give Kitchen Sink a shot.

You can watch the short below; please note that this link is in no way connected with Sundance Film Festival.


While Mortals Sleep, Huella, and Kitchen Sink screened as part of the 2022 Sundance Film Festival, which ran online January 20–30. 


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