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5 Thrillers for Halloween

At Aesthetica, we’ve welcomed some incredibly talented filmmakers who used the discipline of short films to tell some captivating thrillers. Get ready to be on the edge of your seat this Halloween and watch these spine-chilling thrillers from our Short Film Library.

Anaconda | Joshua Amar

The notion of cat-fishing has been a popular subject in the modern era, and writer-director and editor Joshua Amar twists the knife with this unsettling 12-minute thriller that played at ASFF 2022. Sam Marra plays Joe, a young man who is lured into an online sexual encounter only to find he might be the subject of a blackmailing stranger. Co-starring Keaton White, this fires a warning shot to anyone who might be tempted into an anonymous virtual encounter: there’s always somebody watching.

Lili | Yfke van Berckelaer

Shot straight to camera, Lili is a smartly-scripted #MeToo-inspired horror-thriller from Dutch director Yfke van Berckelaer that played in ASFF 2019. Lisa Smit plays Lili, an aspiring actress who is auditioning for a new role. Off camera is the man (Derek De Lint) who holds all the power, as he runs lines with her. But as she tries out the same scene again and again (“Don’t play games with me! Did you do it?”), the atmosphere and the dynamic changes. As her aggressor crosses the line, he might well regret his actions.

Be Uncertain | Jack Carrivick

Carrivick’s career has spanned the gamut, from comedy to dark thrillers, like Be Uncertain, which he brought to ASFF 2018. This richly atmospheric nocturnal tale, set in a world where Britain has banned all American imports, sees Stephen Wight play JD, a man who decides to shake up his stagnant routine by doing the unexpected. Co-starring comedienne Aisling Bea in a welcome dramatic outing, Carrivick’s short also benefits hugely from the nervy score from Wayne Roberts and moody cinematography from Jamie Cairney.

Wash Club | Simon Dymond

Part of ASFF 2017’s line-up, Dymond’s cleverly-made tale is based on a true story about a university campus cult – think the Bullingdon Club with tumble dryers, as a bunch of students use the facilities for more than just airing their clothes. Tom Blyth (Benediction) plays Doug, an aspiring undergrad journalist. “If you don’t have a mystery, find one,” says his tutor, as he begins to look into this oddball group, an investigation that snowballs into a social media phenomenon.

Woodwoo | Jonny Phillips

Actor Jonny Phillips, who was so memorable in David Mackenzie’s debut The Last Great Wilderness, turned to directing with this vivid short, Woodwoo. Writing, directing and starring, Phillips tells the story of a jaded true surgeon who finds an ancient oak awakens him back to life when he unexpectedly finds a routine job turns into something more. Programmed in ASFF 2014, this moving quasi-spiritual tale is made in a low register, but remains deeply affecting.

At ASFF 2023, we are expecting no less than intense chills, heart-pounding suspense and plot twists. Browse this year’s Festival Programme and take a look at our Official Selection.

Aesthetica Short Film Festival | 8-12 November, York

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Cover image: Scorched Earth dir. Markela Kontaratou (ASFF 2023, Official Selection)