Spoiler-Free Short Film Reviews: “Apotemnofilia,” “Lullaby,” “The Bleacher,” “Make Me a Pizza” (SXSW)

March 22, 2024

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.


The titular condition is the desire of amputation for a healthy limb, and writer/director Jano Pita’s Spanish horror short Apotemnofilia finds actress Clara (Lucía Azcoitía) dealing with that as her highly anticipated post-pregnancy comeback play is about to begin. The film addresses Clara’s mental breakdown through graphic displays of body horror elements made with impressive, disturbing practical effects work. Azcoitía gives a fittingly unsettling performance, with Pita delivering a shocking work infused with some dark humor.   


U.K. slow-burn chiller Lullaby from writer/director Chi Thai examines the fragile mental state of a female refugee (Jane Le). She suffered a devastating loss that she finds herself reliving, with those around her providing no comfort or support. Thai uses ever-increasing dread in favor of jump scares and gore, crafting a mesmerizing short that packs a highly disturbing reveal.

The Bleacher

If you have ever wondered what happened to socks you lost after doing laundry, the animated short The Bleacher from cowriters/codirectors Nicole Dadonna and Adam Wilder may make you rethink your position. Titular character Rita (voiced by Kate Micucci) is an elderly woman who has in fact lost a sock at a laundromat, and her search for it leads to a bizarre quest that begins on the inner side of a washing machine door. This quirky, colorful, musical short is a trip in more than one sense of the word, and comes strongly recommended to aficionados of offbeat surreal cinematic fare.

Make Me a Pizza

Not a horror short but a short that does boast its fair share of goopy, gloppy, outlandish imagery, director Talia Shea Levin’s Make Me a Pizza takes the adult film trope of a pizza delivery guy being offered pleasures of the flesh in lieu of cash payment and takes it into highly absurdist directions. The woman who ordered pizza (Sophie Neff) is shocked when the delivery man (Woody Coyote, who cowrote the screenplay with Levin and Katie Peabody) declines her advances. Philosophical commentary about capitalism and absurd comedy commence as the pair attempt to elevate to a higher level. Levin serves up an outlandish slice of cinema that aficionados of weirder works should find interesting.

“Apotemnofilia,” “Lullaby,” “The Bleacher,” and “Make Me a Pizza” screened as part of SXSW, which took place in Austin, Texas from March 8–16, 2024. 

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