SXSW 2021 Midnights Review Roundup

This year was the first time Bloody Flicks had the opportunity to cover the SXSW Film Festival, being treated to some truly unique genre content.

The final part of our coverage is a roundup of short films that screened as part of the Midnighters section of the festival.

Dale’s House

This horror comedy pits two estranged best friends to house sit for the mysterious and aforementioned Dale, with potentially deadly consequences.
From the outset of this film it is clear that everything is not as it seems, and while it flirts with horror elements, the comedy was much more resonant which made for a slight tonal inbalance.
While we get hints of a wider plot Dale’s House does have an abrupt ending that may catch viewers offguard, but not in a good way.

Significant Other

Significant Other follows a couple struggles to see eye to eye when a mysterious red orb appears in their new home.

The concept might not be completely brand new, but with the use of subliminal imagery and a really surrealistic vision; this is certainly worth checking out. The finale is also very chilling.

Puss

There is always a film you watch at a festival and you can safely say; ‘well I’ve never seen anything like that before’.

Puss is very timely as we follow a twenty-something girl who is clearly going a bit crazy stuck in quarantine, mainly because she just wants to have sex. This dark comedy works extremely well, as she even tries to co-ax food delivery men inside for some quick hanky panky. Puss goes to a place you might not be expecting, but it is hilarious at times, strange and very engrossing. A must-see.

Reklaw

The main selling point of short Reklaw is the involvement of genre-favourite, but admittedly this is the best thing about this concept which feels slightly half-baked.

The film follows a group of altruistic vigilantes who destroy evidence to try to keep people from a life behind bars. Their philosophical leader (Henriksen) attempts to keep the group headed in the right direction morally and physically.

The bizarre plot is certainly engrossing and will certainly keep you watching, just don’t expect all of the answers by the time the credits roll.

Run That Shit

We’d all like to live in a world where giving out your mixtape to strangers on a car park we lead becoming rich and famous. This is not the world that Run That Shit exists in. Instead, this dystopian tale involves cults and giving over your soul via chamber pot to get all the riches in the world.

While its subject matter may not be for the squeamish, you have to praise the creativity of this truly bonkers tale which feels like some sort of fever dream at times. Run That Shit is possibly once seen but certainly not forgotten anytime soon.

Stuffed

We simply don’t get enough good horror musicals; especially ones about crazy taxidermists.

The premise of the plot follows our aforementioned stuffer, as she searches the web for the ultimate project – a man she can stuff and add to her collection.

Despite its dark subject matter, Stuffed is surprisingly heartwarming with an almost fairytale quality about it. The practical effects are also breathtaking, rivalling anything plucked from the heyday of the 1980s.

Stuffed is an absolute triumph and a must-see.

Don’t Peek

While writing this review I found out that Don’t Peek is going to be adapted into a feature film. Taking the concept of a computer game story and have it play out in the real world may have been done before, but this short does manage to conjure up some good scares.

The imagery is haunting and it is very suspenseful in places. It will certainly be fascinating to see how this narrative works for a feature length running time.

A Tale Best Forgotten

Based on a poem by Helen Adam, this folk horror tale follows a father and daughter who live in a house by the river with a ‘dog-headed’ man.

A Tale Best Forgotten is stunning to look at, bringing us into a dystopian world where we are pretty sure the narrator is not reliable. For fans of a slow burn this short will work well, with its conclusion living long in the memory following the credits.

Joanne Is Dead

Joanne Is Dead plays with pre-conceived notions of older generations and flips some of these ideas completely on their head. It is clear from the outset there is clearly something more to this story plus the titular Joanne who appears quite delusional and possibly suffering from dementia.

I won’t spoil this one, but would certainly urge people to seek out just for the bold choices it makes and its truly insane finale which you will not see coming a mile off.

A Puff Before Dying

Angela is just a normal teenager who wants to just hang out with her friends at the local burger barn. Her father, an overbearing man of the law is paranoid that she will try his most hated drug; marijuana.

Using string puppets and a synth soundtrack A Puff Before Dying is a truly unique concept that feels plucked out of the 80s. The film successfully mixes teen drama with social commentary on drug use before going to some surreal and dark places. While it may concluce on a sombre note, A Puff Before Dying is a fun ride which really showcases how to craft a short story in a different way.

All of the films reviewed here screened as part of the SXSW Film Festival 2021.

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