Two weeks back I hit up the opening night of the HollyShorts Film Festival, a relative newcomer to the Hollywood Film Circuit. This festival, as you probably guessed, focuses on Short Films and started up at the lovely Grauman’s Egyptian Theater in Hollywood. Short films are often overlooked by many movie goers, but there are several notables that opened and are worth a watch, so I figured I’d give you the heads up on these little guys.

Verboten (14min)

This short by Martin Keegan is a thriller that follows a woman who starts getting the creeps from her boyfriend’s silent son. Far from having the perfect life, Todd takes a strong interest in his abusive father’s girlfriend.

Unfortunately during this film, some genius got the idea it was a comedy and literally laughed out loud every time the “bad guy” was on the screen in response to his appearance and threatening looks. This was assuredly not intended to be a comedy. Props for it being the only film to feature nudity (yay!) though the story isn’t all that enthralling and it falls a bit flat on the tension. The twist at the end, intentionally or not, homages Psycho but brought laughs rather than scares.

Watch It, Find It, Skip It: Skip It.

Red Princess Blues Animated: The Book of Violence (7min)

In this prequel to Alex Ferrari’s upcoming feature film, we’re introduced a 12 year old girl who quickly discovers that she’s far more skilled in the killing arts than one would expect. Her abilities nurtured by a mysterious man known as “Nino,” she stumbles upon a world of assassins and violence.

This animated film was pretty cool. The animation was very static though without a lot of movement going on; whether this was a budgetary reason or a stylistic reason, I didn’t especially love it. The actual artwork was nice and the story was interesting enough. Because there isn’t much going on, don’t feel the urge to track it down, but if pops up in your face…

Watch It, Find It, Skip It: Watch It.

Nosebleed (9min)

Featuring David Arquette as a man attempting to stop a nosebleed, this strange film follows a distraught and lonely widower employing a variety of ill advised attempts to bring his bleeding to an end.

From photographer Jeff Vespa, this short is weird. Arquette attempts to stop the nosebleed with a bullet, bounces around a bed, steps in a muddy field indoors, and otherwise moves around the stark black and white set while dripping blood from his nostrils. I can’t say I totally understood what was being said, though Vespa said the film was exactly what he intended. Well shot with good black-white balance, this short is not for everyone and stretches a minute or two long.

Watch It, Find It, Skip It: Watch It (barely).

Hole in the Paper Sky (33min)

Howard Ferp is a genius and a master chess player, though neither of these help him interact socially with those around him. After taking a new work-study position, his normally distant heart is slowly warmed by an exceedingly smart and talented laboratory dog. Alongside his new supervisor Karen, Howard explores his own humanity via his canine friend.

This is the longest of the films and a real tear jerker. I’m not known for being emotional or caring, but this film tugs on the heart strings and definitely moistened a few eyes. While I’m not entirely certain the ending was right or made the most amount of sense, the film is well shot and acted. Jessica Biel co-stars as Karen, a kind of dorky, sniffling lab assistant – clearly playing against type. Biel also produced the short which hits mostly right notes – with the evident exception of a CGI shot at the end that is very poorly done. All in all, an emotional ride which was perhaps the most professional of the shorts, with a finely crafted narrative.

Watch It, Find It, Skip It: Watch It.

X (15min)

An escaped inmate quests to find his wife’s grave to give her a proper burial, bringing his quiet and reflective daughter along for the ride. As expected, things of this nature rarely go as smoothly as possible in regards to father-daughter relations and escaped inmate-police relations.

Written and directed by No Country for Old Men star Josh Brolin, this flick keeps the same sensibilities as Brolin’s most well known work. The color palette is bleak, the shots somewhat washed out, and the characters troubled. Brolin proves himself to be capable of picking the right camera angles and working on a very low budget, while writing the spartan and serious characters you’d expect. He directs his daughter Eden Brolin in the co-staring role, who proves herself a capable actress. With Brolin’s bright future shining clearly, it may be worth your time to track this one down.

Watch It, Find It, Skip It: Find It.

The Outlaw Emmett Deemus (8min)

Aging Emmett Deemus wants to be an outlaw. With the aide of a 1957 BMW motorcycle and a sidecar, he sets out to live that dream by fighting the man, protecting the innocent, and battling the ruffians of the road. This comedy finds our “Don Quixote on a motorcycle” matching wits with a pigheaded Sheriff, protecting a fair maiden, and engaging in fisticuffs with some bad dudes.

Directed by Stephan Fleet and written by the hilarious and recognizable Larry Hankin, this was by far my favorite short of the night. The comedy works perfectly and the look of the video is good, despite an alarmingly low budget. The character of Emmett Deemus is both charming and utterly hilarious. Yeah, that’s right, I used “hilarious” twice to describe this. This is totally one worth hunting down and I would be first in line for an Emmett Deemus feature. I need more! Hunt this down and watch it!

Watch It, Find It, Skip It: Find It.

Do you watch short films? Have a favorite?


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