With even most features struggling to get the big screen limelight they so often deserve these days, it’s harder still to get shorts played big and loud. Once again FrightFest delivers though, with another three feature-length showcases of short-form goodness, giving a platform to some of the most exciting up-and-coming genre filmmakers on the planet.

Here’s this writer’s stand-outs, from another densely packed year:

Kicking things off with Chris McInroy’s tonally perfect, and utterly disgusting workplace splatter comedy Guts; a bold and terrifically performed sketch about what it means to have guts (in every sense of the word) that milks a single joke for all it’s worth beautifully.

The same can be said for smartly devised and shot black comedy Cruise, from director Sam Rudykoff, a tight one room concept that builds wonderfully to a laugh-out-loud kicker of a punchline.

British comedy had a banner year too, particularly with Ben S. Hyland’s brilliantly played Bleep, a domestic two-hander with a clever twist, featuring a surprise Toby Williams and smartly weaving horror language in amongst classic farce.

Watch a short trailer here.

On the very opposite side of the tonal spectrum is Fredrik S. Hana’s gorgeously uncomfortable From Beyond, a moody mock-doc from Norway about first contact, boasting some of the most striking images of the entire festival, features included.

Smile introduces Canadian filmmaker Joanna Tsanis as a true one-to-watch for more commercial horror; a seriously sinister little demonic chiller with a cheek-stretchingly horrific final reveal, that’s destined to become pure, unabashed nightmare fuel for anyone brave enough to sit through all six and a half minutes.

smile poster

Spain’s Pedro Rivero and Kevin Iglesias Rodríguez turned to the pandemic for inspiration for their stunningly realised – and sensationally grim – COVID-adjacent animation The Days That (Never) Were, which runs off of well-pitched, and neatly poetic narration.

Gonzo director Izzy Lee returns with what is essentially possessed ground beef’s answer to Sesame Street, in Meat Friend, a gloriously silly, not-at-all-child-friendly mock kids show, where the eponymous Meat Friend runs us through every important lesson in the book, from “how to make a shiv” to “how to make it look like an accident”.


Tremendously performed drama Legs plays like a nastier, British version of Carlo Mirabella-Davis’s Swallow, but with approximately 99% more Amit Shah (one of the UK short scene’s hardest working actors). Director Celine Cotran pitches a tricky story perfectly, and Laura Carmichael is brave, bold and totally unflinching in the lead.


Equally gnarly is Elliot and Reuben Vick’s gently escalating real-time shocker The Microscope, which finds a beardy scientist completely overtaken by his parasitic subjects, devolving madly in its final minutes into some of the most squirm-inducingly gruesome stuff on show all festival.

 And then of course there’s Eric, a pitch-perfect dark comedy starring Host’s Jemma Moore as a wild-eyed dog mum, introducing her latest beau to her pride and joy, an equally nutty Pomeranian called… Eric. I won’t spoil it here, but it’s safe to say that it’s one of the best canine performances since Cujo. Never trust a Pomeranian.