It’s no secret that short films don’t get the attention that they deserve. Despite big award shows such as The Oscars having categories for them, most shorts don’t see the light of day afterwards—at least not by an ordinary audience. However, some of these eventually make their way onto platforms like YouTube and Vimeo for us to enjoy for free. Plus, there are millions of other filmmakers out there who are always putting out great content!
Horror is the perfect genre to translate into the short film format. It’s incredibly diverse and there’s a lot you can do when it comes to creating terror and inducing fear in a short amount of time. Last year for Reel Honey, I listed ten short horror films to get you into the spooky spirit—so here are ten more for you to enjoy! Each of these shorts range in their spookiness and manage to create fully realized worlds that all hint at bigger stories. So get cozy under a blanket with your hot chocolate and indulge in some short-term fun and terror this Halloween!
1. Salt (2018) dir. Rob Savage, 2 mins
In the shortest film on the list, a mother (Alice Lowe) must defend her sick daughter each night from a demonic force, using only a circle of salt at her weapon.
Although it only runs for a couple of of minutes, Rob Savage’s Salt manages to create an air of mystery, an intense atmosphere and some quick scares from its effective demonic antagonist. It definitely makes you eager to know what happens next.
2. We Summoned A Demon (2017) dir. Chris McInroy, 6 mins
Chris McInroy is making a name for himself after directing a number of fantastic and fun horror shorts, one of which is featured in the new anthology Scare Package. In fact, I’d recommend all of his shorts, which can be found here.
We Summoned A Demon follows two guys who just wanted to be cool—instead, they got a demon. It’s an incredibly fun twist on a common trope of the genre and every moment of it is pure entertainment. This clever comedy-horror is a must-see!
3. How to Be Alone (2019) dir. Kate Trefry, 13 mins
In Stranger Things writer Kate Trefry’s directorial debut, a woman (It Follows’ Maika Monroe) battles the physical manifestations of her repressed fears and desires every night while her husband (Stranger Things’ Joe Keery) goes to work.
“Be sure to lock the doors, don’t want anything bad getting in,” he says, but sometimes, nothing is scarier than yourself, and this woman has a three step guide for surviving a night on your own. It’s impressively shot and well-written, with a gorgeous color palette and entertaining imagery. It’s also still doing its festival rounds, but is already online for us to enjoy!
4. Night of the Slasher (2015) dir. Shant Hamassian, 11 mins
In this slasher, a teenage girl commits your typical horror movie sins such as drinking alcohol, doing drugs, and having sex, in order to lure in the killer and finish him off. Why? Who knows. Maybe he killed all of her friends.
This 11 minute short is shot in one impressive take. While it relies on this gimmick a bit too heavily for its success, Night of the Slasher is pure fan service for those slasher fans among us. It pays full homage to the classics we know and love, while also allowing us to laugh at the horror tropes we’ve all grown so familiar with.
5. Z-Day (2019) dir. Alex Bass, 9 mins
In this comedy-horror, local zombie Mia (Lottie Hanson) has had enough of the way zombies are portrayed in the media. To help put an end to the stigma, she invites a documentary crew to follow her around on her birthday.
While a small budget student film, Alex Bass’ directorial debut Z-Day is effective thanks to its witty writing (co-written with Daniel Coulthard and Philip Grandy) and promising cast. This mockumentary, à la What We Do in the Shadows, successfully brings to life a nifty, original idea, and it’s full of laughs.
6. Givertaker (2016) dir. Paul Gandersman, 11 mins
Givertaker is the first entry into The Dead Kids Club—a planned series of interwoven shorts and features in the vein of Goosebumps and Are You Afraid of the Dark?, from the minds of Peter S. Hall and Paul Gandersman.
Givertaker follows an angry teenage girl who conducts an ancient ritual to seek revenge on the classmates she believes ruined her and her brother’s lives. Hall and Gandersman’s intentions were to recreate fun 80s teen horror and that’s certainly what they’ve achieved—this short tells a simple yet enjoyable story, and even has a cool nostalgic book-like cover design to go with it!
7. Daddy’s Girl (2016) dir. Jed Hart, 10 mins
In this short thriller-horror, Dartmoor prison guard Vince is on his way home when he comes across a children’s bicycle in the middle of the road. With the sun setting, he sets off in search of the missing child, unsure of what he might find.
Daddy’s Girl has a very simple premise that is full of unwavering tension thanks to its clever sound design and heavy atmosphere. It slowly builds as the lead protagonist explores the woods and an old house, until the film eventually reveals its unexpected ending.
8. Special Day (2018) dir. Teal Greyhavens, 7 mins
On the night of her 18th birthday, Emily’s (Maya Bowman) family gathers to reveal to her an important family secret—a secret that will shape the rest of her life.
While the premise sounds fairly ordinary, Teal Greyhaven’s short, written by Nikolai Von Keller, is actually incredibly unique. The “gift” Emily receives is a terrifying concept, making Special Day the scariest film on this list. The short is only aided further by its fantastic cast, camerawork and cinematography.
9. Ghost House (2016) dir. Ryan Connolly, 7 mins
Known for his YouTube channel Film Riot, Ryan Connolly has made over ten short films, a few of which belong to the horror genre. In Ghost House, a family moves into their dream home, only to find that dream go up in flames when its hidden residents eventually make their presence known.
It’s a story that has been overdone, but Connolly takes the tired idea and brings it back to life, adding a fun spin with its comedic ending. Everything about this short is well-made: the “ghosts” are really effective, the cast is great and the entire short emits tense energy from the start.
10. Deep Dish Apocalypse (2019) dir. David Codeglia, 8 mins
During a zombie breakout in Los Angeles, co-workers Doug (Ron Morehouse) and Traci (Emily Bell) bump into each other on an abandoned subway platform. Doug is in love with Traci, Traci is in love with Josh and Josh chose the wrong day to eat a cheesy pizza.
Opening with the intense atmosphere of a serious horror, Deep Dish Apocalypse soon descends into the comedy territory. It remains interesting, witty and fun as it turns a well-known trope on its head. The virus began with… cheese, you say?
Tell us your favorite scary short film in the comments below!