10 Chilling Horror Shorts to Binge Right Now

Not only are horror short films great for quick bursts of terror that don’t take much time away from busy schedules, but they’ve become a major platform for aspiring feature directors. Horror shorts don’t have to just be relegated to the month of October, either. While Hulu and Netflix both featured curated horror shorts in their overwhelming Halloween programming, there’s no wrong time to enjoy. Here are 10 great horror short films that elicit chills and thrills, and some that even make you laugh.


Mikus

Writer/directors Todd Spence and Zak White previously charmed with a spooky riff on nostalgic board game Mystery Date in Your Date is Here, but their latest horror short takes a very different approach to the horrors of childhood. In Mikus, Pete finds an old box of drawings and toys from his childhood. Pulling out a life-size cutout of his imaginary childhood friend prompts a huge grin, but that quickly fades when…well, you’ll see.


The Maiden

Director Michael Chaves is on the verge of becoming a big name in horror with The Curse of La Llorona and The Conjuring 3 on the way, and his horror short The Maiden is what put him on the map. The short takes a familiar haunted house setting and gives it a fresh spin with a unique perspective; a realtor that is willing to do what it takes to sell the house. Even with familiar tropes at play, that underlying dark humor bodes well for Chaves’ upcoming slate of horror.


Special Day

Director Teal Greyhavens and writer Nikolai von Keller turn a birthday party into the stuff of nightmares in Special Day. Emily’s 18th birthday celebration brings her family together for congratulations and cake, and a disturbing family secret too. This short has a great build up of tension, but more than that it delivers a unique mythology that leaves you wanting more.


Intruders

It didn’t take long for writer/director/producer Santiago Menghini’s latest horror short, Milk, to make its way through the film festival circuit before it was announced that James Wan would be producing a feature length adaptation. Before that was Intruders, Menchini’s stunning short that plays like an anthology connected by one sinister entity that wreaks havoc on a neighborhood. Menghini also handled some of the visual effects, further demonstrating this is one up and coming talent to keep our eyes on.


Whisper

This short is effective on the scares, but even more so if you happen to have an Echo or any smart speaker that’s behaved strangely before. It was recently announced that Amblin Partners was closing a deal to turn this short into a feature length film with its director, Julian Terry, to helm the movie. That’s not the only short of his to receive the feature length treatment either, as a full feature of his short They Hear It is also in the works.


Death Metal

Written and directed by Chris McInroy, this proves that not all horror shorts revolve around the scares. A metalhead receives a family heirloom in the form of a Satanic guitar, and immediately breaks all of the rules contingent upon its receipt. Its humor is only rivaled by the excessive gore and blood flow. So. Much. Blood. Play with the volume up.


Givertaker

This short by director Paul Gandersman and writer Peter S. Hall plays like a condensed episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark? But a bit bleaker. An aspiring teen witch conducts a ritual to enact vengeance upon the girls she feels has wronged her. Horror teaches us many things, not least of which is to be careful what you wish for. Major bonus points for cool creature design.


Tickle Monster

Sometimes all it takes is 5 minutes to find effective horror in the most bizarre places. Tickle Monster, by writer/director Remi Weekes seems absolutely silly. Until it’s not. The less said the better about this one, except that it takes a crazy concept about tickling and turns it into something completely unexpected. It works.


Closet Space

By now everyone is familiar with Lights Out and the short that inspired it, but there’s a bunch of shorts that director David F. Sandberg filmed with his wife Lotta Losten that are worth bingeing. Closet Space changes up the effective jump scares for a little Twilight Zone inspired dark humor. Sandberg and Losten star as the couple that discovers a bizarre, microcosmic reality within the closet of their new apartment. The doll of the Lights Out apparition makes an appearance. Or two.


Overtime

This Australian short film by filmmakers Craig D. Foster and Emma McKenna also boasts creature effects by Odd Studio, who won an Oscar and BAFTA in 2016 for their outstanding special effects make-up in Mad Max: Fury Road. More importantly, this short is an absolute blast and feels like an episode of Tales from the Crypt. Poor Ralph is stuck working late at the office, but he really needs to make it home before nightfall if he wants to keep his secrets locked away.

Metal & Mike: Exploring Cosmic Destruction With OUTER HEAVEN

Pennsylvania’s Outer Heaven deliver a brutal onslaught of grotesque death metal in their debut record, Realms Of Eternal Decay (out now via Relapse Records). And if the band name happens to ring a bell, well you might be thinking of a very popular video game series.

“The name is in fact pulled from the Metal Gear video game series,” vocalist Austin Haines shares. “At [the band’s] earliest point, we even briefly discussed just making the entire band Metal Gear themed. I even had a couple really good song titles / ideas… but that was all eventually scrapped when the songs ended up being really good. So from that point we decided to go the more serious route.”

And by serious route, Haines is speaking to the band’s horror / sci-fi apocalyptic subject matter. Lyrically, Haines was interested in exploring the concept of alien bacteria wiping away mankind, and conveying that destruction through death metal.

“We are all very much fans of horror/sci-fi in our personal lives,” Haines says, “so of course this would translate across into our music as well. The concept for our new album, ‘Realms Of Eternal Decay’, arose from a discussion on the Stoned Ape Theory [an “evolutionary catalyst philosophy]… just taken a step further. We thought to ourselves.. well what if cavemen had consumed/been consumed by a bacteria or slime mold? This consumption causing hallucinations/violence/physical abnormalities and behavioral degradation. All of this eventually escalating into the total destruction and decay of a planet.”

Realms Of Eternal Decay is a relentless experience of savage death metal. Instrumentally and vocally the band come together to emit a sincerely menacing aura. To work with the intensity of the story, Outer Heaven work relentlessly to present the right combination of all-out devastating instrumentation.

“The riff is crucial when it comes to Outer Heaven,” Haines shares. “It keeps us grounded when we stray a little too far from it, making the heaviness something that just comes from that mindset. I’m sure down tuning doesn’t hurt either! Keeping it simple while making it interesting for us to play is another key piece. There are  riffs on Realms that are a few years old, some of them are even older than the band, but they really didn’t work until we were writing as a five-piece.”

“We want to be able to play what we record live so there’s more emphasis on harmony and weird lead stuff now. A song like “Sacrificial Evolution” would never have worked in the past, because it would sound completely empty live with just one guitar. Sounds from albums like ‘Human’ from Death and ‘Spheres’ from Pestilence started creeping in as well. When we recorded Realms there were no click or scratch tracks, so while it wasn’t done live it still has that feeling to it. The drums for ‘Bloodspire’ were recorded without any guitar whatsoever. Everything we’ve done as a band has been done on our own terms since the beginning, and it’s just starting to break through the surface…

Haines shares how he mapped out the lyrical component of the record, and specifically, how he adapted to a new form of writing. “The process of lyric writing for this record was a bit foreign to me at first. Typically in the past, the themes of our records were more religious or political in nature. These were themes that I felt touched me personally or that I really had something to speak on. With ‘Realms’, I had to form an overarching concept and lay out each song’s ideas to fit the narrative. Then, go in and expand on each object of the concept. In combination with the portrayal of the concepts through the artwork, I feel like we really pulled something unique together.”

If you haven’t heard of Outer Heaven until now do yourself a favor and check them out. Given how impressive and ferocious Realms Of Eternal Decay is, the band is only going to climb higher. You can listen to the track “Bloodspire” below, as well as order a copy of their record via Bandcamp or the Relapse Records website.

You can find past Metal & Mike articles here, and can follow me on Twitter.

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Metal & Mike: Black Metal Art With BEHEMOTH

Behemoth are not only one of the biggest bands of our time, but also one of the most blasphemous. Their 2014 LP, The Satanist, is a grandiose testament of black metal; incorporating savage compositions alongside annihilating vocals and chilling lyricism, The Satanist is remarkable in all its unholy glory. That said, to follow up such an achievement should’ve been challenging; but regarding Behemoth’s newest record: It delivers some of the band’s most interesting work.

I Loved You At Your Darkest (released today via Metal Blade Records) is a fascinating gem from Behemoth. Given the all-out beat down of instrumentation that was The Satanist, I Loved You At Your Darkest offers a blend of black metal that meets rock and roll. The record’s instrumentation exudes ominous theatricality, with the lyrics presenting a collection of philosophical exploration.

At the core of this work is none other than the Behemoth mastermind himself, Nergal. The vocalist/guitarist has had one hell of an artistic journey; from making black metal, writing a book, and even making folk music, Nergal is an unstoppable force of magic and talent.

Before even diving into the music the record sets up a sense of mystery given its title; for those who aren’t aware, “I Loved You At Your Darkest” is a direct quote from Jesus Christ. Regarding his interpretation of the line, Nergal shares, “You surely know Rolling Stone’s ‘Sympathy For The Devil‘ album title, don’t you? Just to make [a] long story short, that’s exactly how I interpret ‘ILYAYD‘ (I Loved You At Your Darkest). And the fact that those words came from a supposed messiah makes the whole thing even more twisted and disturbing! This leads to another question: What if Jesus was a double agent? And if he was, who [did] he worked for? This question [is] gonna remain unanswered.”

Nergal’s lyrics have always been at the opposition of religion; growing up in Poland, he found himself in a country that enforced strict religious ruling, presenting an oppressive means of living. Throughout Behemoth‘s music, Nergal has continuously gone after religion, using his art to critique humanity and its belief systems. Speaking further as to why he writes about religion, he shares, “Well… I’m still fascinated by its influence on humans. On [the] majority of them for sure. I hope I’m a good observer, and that’s what makes me stand in opposition to ANY monotheistic religion. Keep in mind I was born in Poland, a VERY Catholic and conservative country. There’s no separation between church and a state here; this makes us as a country regress. Quoting Dave Gahan, ‘We [are] going back to the cavemen reality,’ and I blame religion as the main reason for that.”

In I Loved You At Your Darkest, Nergal approaches the topic of religion on a more intimate level; rather than use cheap-goading, his words are meant to convey a deeper philosophical understanding. Regarding this approach, he says, “[I Loved You At Your Darkest is a] rather complex and multi-dimensional record. The album title kinda determines what’s happening in there; the complexity of it, the multi-layered meaning and so on. The main leitmotivs we are exploring on this album are the ones who’ve always accompanied us on every record, to be honest. I’ve always been attracted [to] all [types of] outcast beings [and] stigmatized archetypes that reflect the darkness of human nature. I’m exercising my demons; I’m making friends with them… trying to embrace the abyss within myself.”

Behemoth has a lot more for fans beyond the lyricism, however; from the moment the record kicks off, listeners will come to find that the band has built upon their signature style. While the music goes flies forth with ferocious black metal speed, each rhythm and melody fluctuates, providing an exciting rock and roll vibe. This shift was intentional for the band, and as Nergal puts it, a desire to push their sound and try something different. “I just don’t want my own music to be dull and repetitive. I love my cave, and I love rock and roll. And I keep my head open to whatever comes from our universe.” Beyond exploring his interests and opening himself up to the universe, he also mentions his desire to broaden the potential of the music. “And on top of [that], you’ll [find] my attitude — fearless exploration of yet unknown grounds for this genre [black metal]… here we go with an answer!”

Nergal sees I Loved You At Your Darkest as a journey down a new path; the record offers the chance for him to explore more of his creativity and what he is capable of making in art. “[The record is] a new beginning. It’s [our] 11th album that still brings sooo [sic] much fresh air to our niche. On one hand, it’s deeply rooted in our characteristic style, yet it’s very adventurous. Exploring yet unknown grounds, beats, [and] flavors keep this music very fresh for us.”

This record marks an immense turn for Behemoth; after all their years of delivering black metal brutality to the masses, they continue to prove they have more to offer. I Loved You At Your Darkest gives fans a Behemoth they will at once recognize, but who have also brought new and refreshing elements to their work. Nergal is moved by art and inspired to create; as an artist, he is excited to keep growing and exploring what life has to offer him. Speaking to his drive and inspiration, Nergals shares, “I’d say that curiosity is what drives me through life in its EVERY aspect if you ask me. I’m always attracted by the unknown. I will never be happy with the same set of answers that will spoil myself and make me lazy. I’m determined by questions, [by] an endless contestation of paradigms, rules, and laws… it’s VERY inspiring [and] motivating.”

You can order I Loved You At Your Darkest via the Metal Blade Records website. You can listen to the track “Wolves ov Siberia” below as well. You can find past Metal & Mike articles here, and you can follow me via Twitter.

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Metal & Mike: Into The Madness Of Death Metal, Sci-Fi & Horror With REVOCATION

Of all the classic horror writers, H.P. Lovecraft has had one of the most significant influences on contemporary horror. Along with creating Cthulhu, it’s Lovecraft’s exploration of cosmic existentialism that has had the most impact on the genre. Throughout numerous mediums, horror artists continue to examine this idea of cosmic anxiety and terror; and what better way to explore it than through annihilating death metal.

“I’ve loved sci-fi horror ever since I was a kid,” guitarist/vocalist Dave Davidson of Revocation shares. “I would go to blockbuster with my mom and beg her to rent me all the classics. I really loved The Thing and the Alien series. [Those] were my first exposure to the world of science fiction and horror.” Davidson’s love for these genres is the foundation for Revocation’s seventh studio album, The Outer Ones (Metal Blade).

From the moment the album begins, Revocation dive into a world of sci-fi insanity and horror adrenaline. Each song presents technical death metal thrashing, exuding madness and brutality. In regard to Lovecraft’s writing, Davidson shares, “A few years down the line I discovered Lovecraft and quickly realized just how strong his influence was on [horror] as a whole. Lovecraft interests me in a number of ways; ­­­­­­­he was probably the first writer to create a world of horror on such a massive scale. Sure there were concepts of ghosts and aliens before him, but the whole idea of cosmic entities older than time that ruled a multiverse was pretty unfathomable.”

He adds, “I also enjoy his writing style in general; it can be descriptive and paint a macabre picture, or it can be intentionally vague. [This] lets the reader’s imagination fill in the blanks to create something truly terrifying in their own minds. Finally, I dig the allegorical nature of his works. In many of his stories, the human character is trying to meddle with forces beyond their control, and their lust for power often brings about their own demise. I think it’s an interesting reflection of society.”

Davidson says that while the record focuses on a lot of horror/sci-fi storytelling, the music itself is the first factor. “For me, it all starts with the music first; I need to let it inform me in some way. Hearing an entire song, or even just listening to sections of riffs, will start to conjure certain imagery in my mind.”

“From there, sometimes I’ll start with a title or just scrawl out a few lines on a page. It takes a while to get the ball rolling, but once the ideas start flowing I kind of obsess over it until I feel satisfied. I’ll usually go back and make some changes here and there as any writer would, but generally, once the first verse is done the lyrics really start to flow.”

Davidson unleashes some of his best storytelling throughout each song, captivating listeners with bizarre and haunting imagery. “There’s a few songs influenced by Lovecraft’s tales on the new [record],” he shares. “The opening track [‘Of Unwordly Origin‘] is based off of ‘Dreams In The Witch House’. ‘That Which Consumes All Things’ is about a lesser-known short story of his entitled ‘The Colour Out Of Space’. That one is particularly interesting because the entity in the story has no real form; it’s just an amorphous cloud that saps the life force from this small farm town. [Lovecraft] was able to take the creepy ethereal nature of a ghost, but turn it into something alien, which was an interesting twist on a classic which I appreciate.”

He continues, “Not every song [on the record] is inspired by Lovecraft though. ‘Fathomless Catacombs’ is a story that I created; [it] involves three grave robbers that break into a haunted cathedral in search of wealth in [a] luminous tomb in [these underground] crypts. Their avarice leads them deeper and deeper into the labyrinth, [where] they realize that the luminous tomb was merely a cursed illusion meant to draw them in. They end up being cursed by the evil presence in the crypts, damned to roam eternally in the lightless maze.”

The Outer Ones is one of the strongest releases in the Revocation discography; its ominous tone and masterful technicality emit pure chaos. Horror and metal make for an extravagant combination of art forms; they are both aggressive and can tap into the taboos of human existence. Davidson recognizes these traits and hopes that the record will represent them (or at least get people to headbang).

“I think [death metal and horror] share a mystical and thought-provoking quality that can be both intriguing and terrifying at the same time,” he shares. “Both art forms are meant to be confrontational and push the viewer or listener out of their comfort zones. I tried to capture that horrifying expression of ineffable madness present in Lovecraft’s work on this release; at the very least hopefully [the record] make people want to bang their heads.”

You can purchase a copy of The Outer Ones via the Metal Blade website or Bandcamp. And you can listen to X below. And if you want to catch up on previous articles of Metal & Mike, you can find those here. You can also follow me and my work via Twitter.

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