Fear is an Option – Short Film Program

Fear is an Option [a play on the VIS motto of Fear is not an Option] was a collection of horror short films curated (among others) by the /slash Filmfestival as part of the VIS Vienna Independent Shorts film festival. They showed the following short films:
The Simpsons Couch Gag [You’re Next] (2015)
Directed and written by: Lee Hardcastle
[Can be watched here.]
The Chickening (2015)
Directed and written by: Nick DenBoer, Davy Force
Based on: The Shining
[Can be watched here.]
Invaders (2014)
Directed and written by: Jason Kupfer
Cast: Ricky Wayne, Jordan Woods-Robinson
[Can be watched here.]
Jack Attack (2013)
Directed and written by: Bryan Norton, Antonio Padovan
Cast: Helen Rogers, Tyler Rossell, Steve Anderson Jr.
Monster (2005)
Directed and written by: Jennifer Kent
Cast: Susan Prior, Luke Ikimis-Healey, Trash Vaudeville
[Can be watched here.]
One Last Dive (2013)
Directed and written by: Jason Eisener
Cast: Catherine Maltais, Peter Allen
[Can be watched here.]
Polaroid (2015)
Directed and written by: Lars Klevberg
Cast: Annika Witt, Thea Sofie Loch Næss, Anne Cloetta
Baskin (2013)
Directed and written by: Can Evrenol, Co-Directed by: Ogulcan Eren Akay
Cast: Muharrem Bayrak, Fadik Bülbül, Gorkem Kasal, Aydin Orak, Remzi Pamukcu
Lights Out (2013)
Directed and written by: David F. Sandberg
Cast: Lotta Losten
[Can be watched here.]
Seen on: 29.5.2016

They put together a strong collection of short films here, some of which were connected to the /slash Filmfestival – where they did show You’re Next, the basis for the Simpsons Couch Gag; both Baskin and Monster were turned into feature films that were also part of the festival program – Baskin and The Babadook respectively; and Jason Eisener had segments in V/H/S 2 and The ABCs of Death, where Lee Hardcastle also made an appearance. The short films ranged from very funny and silly to outright terrifying and most of them were really effective, even if not all worked for me.


[After the jump I’ll talk about each of the films individually.]

The Simpsons Couch Gag [You’re Next]

Hardcastle turns the Simpsons Couch into a claymation home invasion gorefest in the style of You’re Next.
Claymation gore is a fun idea, but in this case, I was actually more disgusted than entertained. Though I did like the ending.

The Chickening

What if you take the hotel from the Shining and turn it into a huge chicken fast food and entertainment complex with a whole lot of silliness and Jack turning into a chicken himself?
I admire the technical skill it took to pull off this remix of The Shining, but the humor went right past me. I just didn’t think it was funny at all.

The Chickening


Two men (Ricky Wayne, Jordan Woods-Robinson) prepare to enter a home on Thanksgiving to kill the family living there. But things don’t go quite as planned.
Invaders was incredibly funny. Here’s gore done right, with copious amounts of blood and a great, albeit silly sense of humor. I really enjoyed it.

Jack Attack

Elizabeth (Helen Rogers) is babysitting Jack (Tyler Rossell) on Halloween. They are preparing to carve a pumpkin. But maybe pumpkins have found a way to strike back.
Jack Attack was fiercely entertaining. It took quite a couple of twists that I did not expect and it looked great – both regarding the cinematography and the special effects. It was really well done.

Jack Attack


Mother (Susan Prior) and son (Luke Ikimis-Healey) are living together in a house. But the kid is scared of some monster, and there seems to be a presence with them in the house.
Monster is not only shorter and filmed in black and white, but it is generally a reduced version of the great Babadook. While that does make it feel a little rougher, it again grabbed me completely and pulled me in, scaring me at all the right moments but never missing an emotional turn. It’s clear why Kent got the chance to develop this short film into a feature – and it is beautiful to see how she made a strong concept even stronger in the process. Simply lovely.


One Last Dive

A diver (Peter Allen) who is supposed to be looking for something in the water, finds something he didn’t account for.
One Last Dive is very short and basically builds up to one scare and nothing more, but it does so nicely and achieves its goal very well.


Sarah (Annika Witt) and Linda (Thea Sofie Loch Næss) are packing up Sarah’s house, preparing for her to move. As they pack, they find an old Polaroid camera that shows things that aren’t there. Or are they?
Polaroid’s story isn’t exactly new, but Klevberg handles it very well, making it creepy and atmospheric with some nice moments and a beautiful look.



A group of Turkish policemen are called to the middle of nowhere. There they find a dilapidated house filled with evil.
The Baskin feature film didn’t really convince me, but I had heard that the boiled down short version works pretty well. Unfortunately I can’t confirm that – the short film was surprisingly boring and just didn’t draw me in. I was mostly bored.

Lights Out

A woman (Lotta Losten) is preparing to go to bed. But whenever she turns the light off, there is something in the darkness…
Lights Out has such a simple concept but it was incredibly scary – even when it was slightly funny. It’s a hard balance to keep, but they did it. Paired with Losten’s excellent performance, it was a terrifyingnote to end the program with and sending us all home in the dark. I loved it.

Lights Out
Lights Out

Summarizing: Definitely worth it.


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