It's hard enough to create a compelling story in under ten minutes -- imagine trying to scare someone in that time, too. With a feature, filmmakers have plenty of time to create a scenario, build tension and slowly freak you the hell out. But a short filmmaker has only a fraction of the time to do the exact same thing. Trust me, it's hard -- I've been there.

If you'll allow me a moment of self promotion: Last year, along with a few friends, I helped shoot a short film for a fantastic little film festival called the New York City Midnight Run. We came up with this idea to write a story about a guy whose obsessive compulsive disorder is suddenly brought to life in the form of a weird, lanky sort of fellow. The story was easy, it was the execution that proved difficult. How do you creep someone out in just three minutes? Going in, I thought it was impossible. Oh, and did I mention we had to have it done in 24 hours? See, it's a 24-hour film festival. Talk about a rush -- the four of us could barely walk by the time we finished. But we did finish -- and I imagine we succeeded as the film placed fourth out of sixty teams. If a 24-hour film festival heads your way, I strongly recommend it to any and all aspiring filmmakers out there. It truly tests your limits as an artist and forces you to produce in a very short amount of time. End moment of self promotion.

In my opinion, the following films are the best we've featured yet on Eat My Shorts. They thrill. They chill. All five of them are definitely worth your time. Once again, if there's a short you love and it's available to watch online, feel free to send it on over to shorts at Cinematical dot com. Speak up! I'm loving your suggestions so far. Now, are you ready to be scared? (Don't worry, I'm not going to show you a picture of me in my underwear. Unless, well ... nevermind). Let's go watch some shorts ...

p>While researching the films for this week, I noticed there weren't many straight-up horror shorts available online. If you're an aspiring filmmaker and really dig the horror genre, I suggest throwing together a short or two, because the online community needs them. In saying that, the films featured below could probably be classified as thrillers, with a touch of the bizarre.

There are plenty of different ways to frighten people with a story. Some films rely on a scary setting or a mysterious visitor, while others focus more on the main character. The following three shorts revolve around people who find themselves in peculiar situations. Who are they? Why are they there? And what's happening to them? More importantly, is it all real?

  • Since starting this feature a few weeks ago, 50% Grey is, perhaps, my favorite short so far. Nominated for an Academy Award in 2002, Grey isn't exactly the scariest of all films, but it is creative and unique. Directed by Ruairi Robinson, the pic shows what happens to a soldier once he dies. After waking up in a mysterious place unsure if he's in heaven, purgatory or hell, one man must figure out where he is, who he is and how he's going to get out. Thanks to Anthony for sending this my way.
  • Don't you hate it when your mind plays tricks on you? In Blinded, a confused man wakes up to find his wife and son missing, while a stranger stands in his kitchen with a knife. Who is this stranger and what did he do with the missing family? Watch as this poor dude slashes he way towards the truth ... even if it's impossible to accept. Written and directed by Jeff Wastila, Blinded has screened at various festivals, including the London International Festival of Sci-Fi and Chicago Real ShortsFest.
  • Sometimes it can be extremely hard to differentiate between your dreams and reality. In The Undone, one woman learns this the hard way when a ghost from her past decides to pay a visit. Oh yeah, we've got a strange one here. Directed by Norman Cabrera, The Undone reminded me of that creepy girl from The Ring. Remember her? God was she freaky -- that damn little bugger gave me nightmares for weeks. All scary with that long hair of hers. Oh yeah, I'm tough. Carry on ...

Okay, so what happens if your main character is just an average guy who happens to find himself in a very strange place? This, to me, appears to be the most common route filmmakers go when it comes to scaring an audience. Sometimes you'll find characters stumbling into a haunted house or a deserted camp. The following film kicks ass in a very Twilight Zone kind of way. Check it out ...

  • Quite simply, this film rocks. In Still Life, a sleepy driver on a road trip realizes he's running out of gas and must stop off at the nearest town to fuel up. However, after arriving in the town, he accidentally hits someone with his car. Um, and that's when he notices everyone in the town is a mannequin. Needless to say, this one gets real weird, real fast. Pic was directed by Jon Knautz.

Finally, the bizarre. No hero. No haunted house. Just a creepy guy in a mask standing over the body of a dead woman. For films like these, if the set up is not familiar, then there needs to be decent payoff at some point down the road. And if it comes in the form of a freaky twist ending, that's even better.

  • Okay, this one is real creepy. And I love creepy. For a short film, My Skin has great production value and dynamite acting. A woman is dead on the floor and a man in some bizarre bird mask stands over her. Who is this man? And why does he freak me the hell out? Directed by Cristopher Alan Broadston, the film has a marvelous little twist ending that I refuse to ruin for you. It's definitely worth a look.

Once again folks, please send all tips, links and suggestions regarding Eat My Shorts to shorts at Cinematical dot com. Cheers!

categories Movies, Cinematical