Spoiler-Free Short Film Reviews: “Bookworm,” “Hevel,” “Souling,” “Dark Mommy,” “Spooky Crew,” “I Could Just Die, and That Would Be Alright” (Overlook Film Festival)

April 16, 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.

Following is a capsule review roundup of six of the short-film shockers that screened at this year’s edition of New Orlean’s Overlook Film Festival.



Bookworm (Ratón de biblioteca; Spain, 2023) from director Javier Yañez envelops viewers in a phantasmagorical vibe before suddenly ramping up the visceral shocks. Irene (Aria Bedmar in a wonderful performance) is a young librarian in 1979 Spain who wants to become a writer, much to her mother’s dismay. Irene and her fellow librarian often see the ghost of a young man — though they can’t quite catch a glimpse of his face — browsing books. Determined to try to make contact with this potential soulmate, Irene sets out to find out what his visage looks like. With beautiful set design and cinematography, Bookworm both charms and chills.



In writer/director David Grace’s Hevel, devout Jewish woman Edra (Mor Cohen) begins a Shabbat service. A dybbuk has other plans for her, however, in this demonic possession horror. Grace’s short is rich in atmosphere and boasts a fine performance by Cohen.



Jacquelyn Ferguson directs, stars in, and cowrites (with costar Jason Anders) Souling, a haunting black-and-white supernatural short that finds a woman’s peaceful bathtime interrupted by two uninvited masked visitors. The title refers to a tradition that began in Britain and Ireland in the Middle Ages. Michael Greenwood’s cinematography splendidly captures the eerie proceedings.

Dark Mommy


After receiving a prank call from a kid, night shift 911 operator Ben (Ben Chandler) receives a disturbing call about someone the young caller calls Dark Mommy. He learns soon enough that that one is no prank. Heavy on the John Carpenter vibes from score to titles to mise-en-scène, director Courtney Eck’s Dark Mommy lays some interesting groundwork but could use a bit more explanation or backstory. Perhaps that is in the works for a possible feature expansion of this short.

Spooky Crew


A style that seems popular with filmmakers in recent years is the skewering of social media influencers. Director Erin Bennett offers the short Spooky Crew, which finds the titular trio of vloggers — Tim (Jeff Pearson), Nancy (Olivia Peck), and Emery (Jerik Thibodeaux) — investigating the paranormal. When they challenge a local urban legend  and attempt to conjure up a ghost named Mary Jane, the skeptic in the group may have to rethink their position. Although there is not much new in the “Influencers beware!” fear-fare department, the short is well paced and acted, with solid production values.

I Could Just Die, and That Would Be Alright


Writer/director A.K. Espada’s I Could Just Die, and That Would Be Alright finds a suicidal woman (Courtney Locke) and her husband (Chris Mayers) dealing with the aftereffects of her offering her life to a creature in the nearby woods. This intriguing short takes an unexpected, highly effective turn as it addresses mental health issues while adding gory supernatural elements to the mix.

These shorts screened as part of the 2024 Overlook Film Festival, which ran April 4–7 in New Orleans. For more information, visit https://www.overlookfilmfest.com/.


Share This Article

You May Also Like…