There is a distinct and wonderful difference between full length horror movies and short films. With full length horror movies, you often wait up to 90 minutes for the twist or climax of the film. And sometimes, those twists and endings are not even worth waiting for. They feel like a let down after the hours you just endured to get there. It would be like waiting two hours for a delicious meal, only to be handed some croutons. Yeah, you can eat them, but they won’t do anything for you.
With short horror films, the payoffs come much quicker. You do not need to wait around for hours. Usually, in under ten minutes (and in some super impressive cases, under two), you get the whole story: the set up, the pay off, the climax, all before you finish a sandwich. In that sense, the horror short film is much more enjoyable than its full length kin because there is no filler. As many horror fans know, filler is the worst aspect of horror (or any genre, really). But with horror short films, there is no such thing. They just come at you like a bully and start swinging right away. You rarely even have time to duck and dodge.
With Halloween right around the corner, what better time to show you 10 horrifying short films you can watch right now, right here? Be forewarned, some scary stuff ahead, kids. Zombies and demons and death, oh my!
Why not start with a classic that got turned into a feature length film (which ended up being less scary than this short it was based on). Mama is more of a mystery in its short form, as we know little about the titular character outside of how visually scary she is.
Seriously, the animal-esque mannerisms in which she moves, even in this short, are massively creepy, giving her an otherworldly feel as we watch her move as if she were underwater. What makes Mama work so well as a horror short is not so much in what we see and know as it is in what we DON’T see and we DON’T know.
9. Light’s Out
This short horror film sucks for anyone who lives alone. Do not watch this before bed, those of you who sleep solo. If you do, you will be sleeping with the lights on, rest assured.
Lights Out plays with the idea of our own mind playing tricks on us, and at what point those tricks are actually real. Lights Out also shows you that when horror is handed to the right people, it can be more effective in two minutes than two hours – a recurring theme you will see on the list.
Oh, and that ending. Hope you have a good heart.
One would not expect an animated short to place above the other two. But once you watch the expertly crafted Alma and make it to the ending, you understand why it places higher. This is Pixar doing horror, and while it is wholly unsettling, it is also so stunning you cannot look away.
Alma plays out more like a cautionary tale than a straight horror story. But once you see that ending and think about everything that led up to it, the fear settles in. A dark tale told in a cute way, it is a brilliant way to juxtapose the scary with the beautiful.
7. The Cat with Hands
Much like Alma above, The Cat with Hands is not going to ruin your life, but it will creep you out. More of a surreal tale than a horror story, The Cat with Hands is a slow burn when compared to some of the others. Having an almost Tim Burton feel to it, you will find yourself too compelled to look away.
Though the title may hint where the story goes, what curious mind would not want to take this ride and see it for themselves? You will also find yourself being very grateful cats do not have hands after watching this.
6. 2 AM: The Smiling Man
This is one of those “Reddit stories turned into a short horror film” that tend to happen so much on the web these days. In this story, a man is on his way home, late one night, when he encounters a stranger acting rather peculiarly.
Some of you may know the story, some may not, but there is no denying the physical mannerisms and look on the face of said man in this video brings a whole extra layer of creepy to the story. This is why you call Uber and don’t walk!
Actually, some Uber drivers are scarier than this guy.
Robots are cool, but we have to be aware that they will probably eventually kill us all when they realize how useless we are to them. Blinky is an expertly crafted story of a boy being brought up in a troubled household. He is given Blinky as a sort of “distraction” gift. But the kid only sees people being mean to one another, so how do you think he treats Blinky?
Question is, if you were a robot, would you take some kid’s bullcrap? Well, watch to find out how Blinky reacts.
4. The Closet
The Closet plays with classic horror tropes by flipping the script. Hey, you want to hide in someone’s closet intent on surprising them, you best be prepared for what you see. In this case, an opportunity for a surprise “Happy Birthday!” backfires big time when the two people in the closet realize they are seeing something they shouldn’t and that this was a very, VERY bad idea.
From there, it really only gets worse for them. Take note that this is Daywalt horror, as more about that will be mentioned in a moment.
Though it is hard to tell what is going on right away, what unfolds here is pure madness. On top of that, you get it delivered in such a way visually that you will never forget it. It is like The Matrix crossed with some disturbing horror resulting in an ending you will not soon forget (even if it takes you a minute or a couple viewings to understand).
Just the visual effects alone push this one a bit higher. When you realize the story they told and the minimalist manner in which they told it, it gets even more regard. No dialogue, nothing – just a complete story told with pretty much one visual.
Impressive and creepy.
2. There’s No Such Thing
This short is from a YouTube user named Drew Daywalt whom was mentioned a few spots earlier. He constantly spits out awesome horror shorts on his channel for all to see. Though many of them will get under your skin, something about the ending of this short film will stick with you more than the others on the list.
Not to spoil it here, but you WILL be checking under your bed tonight before you sleep after you watch this one, so best to watch this one RIGHT before bed. And to those speculating about the ending, check the YouTube page, as the debate still rages as to what it all means (which makes it even cooler and creepier).
This is some “nah, wish I didn’t watch that” type of short film – fair warning. Many of us have seen horror films and movies and such over the years, yet somehow, Bedfellows is one that will place up there with some of the scariest stuff you’ve seen. Why? Because it is in bed with us already. We trusted it. It is too late for us.
Bedfellows is the kind of short you watch and actually get mad because you know you will never unsee that face from your nightmares. Shoutout to Fewdio horror, too – some great stuff from them.