Spoiler-Free Short-Film Reviews: DOUBLE NICKEL, BIRTHDAY WISH, and 3:00AM (Another Hole in the Head Film Festival)

November 29, 2023

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 josephperry@gmail.com. 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.

Double Nickel  (U.S., 2023)


Writer/director Mark Tomov’s short Double Nickel uses Johnny Burnette and The Rock & Roll Trio’s “The Train Kept A-Rollin,” known for its distorted guitar sound, and Tomov certainly keeps things rolling in the distorted world of his neo-noir/crime/horror mash-up short. Set mainly during Christmas season at The Hideaway Cafe, where the 1970s and 1950s blend together, the film finds a pair of criminals (Michael Spears and Jeff Medley) confronting the waitress (Gillian Todd) who hired them to kill someone — without her cluing them in that the target of their hit was no ordinary human. The vibe of Double Nickel is strong, with danger an ever-present feeling and no shortage of hipness on display. The three leads play off of each other wonderfully, and I don’t want to go into spoiler territory by revealing the target of their hit, so suffice it to say that the design is impressive and eerie. Tomov has crafted a colorful, captivating short with which genre-film fans should easily fall in love.



Birthday Wish (U.S., 2023)


Writer/director Armen R. Pogosyan’s horror short Birthday Wish packs a wallop of a climax. Young Alex (Ohannes Montgomery) feels neglected by his parents (Pogosyan and Clarissa Meneses), who seem to care more for his baby sibling. When the parents throw a big party for the baby, Alex’s jealousy takes a dark turn. Pogosyan serves up a real shocker with Birthday Wish, which is not a film for the faint of heart. 



3:00AM (U.S., 2023)


Horror short 3:00AM offers the kind of eeriness found in not only fright-fare cinema but also horror video games that require players to wander through goosebumps-inducing areas. Writer/director Ricardo Albarran’s simple but effective creepfest finds university student Steve (John Fonseca) falling asleep at his school’s reputedly haunted library, waking up in the dark at the titular time. As he searches for a way out with only the light of his smartphone, seasoned fear-fare fans may surmise that he is not alone. Albarran provides some uncanny visuals during Steve’s attempt to leave the premises.



Double Nickel, Birthday Wish, and 3:00AM screen as part of Another Hole in the Head Film Festival, which takes place December 1–25, 2023, in person in San Francisco and On Demand on Eventive and live on Zoom for those who cannot attend the live screenings. For more information, visit https://www.ahith.com/.


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