Since we’re now all spending our hours indoors, there’s been newfound time to inhale entire seasons of a TV series or full movie franchises in one sitting. But in the event that you’re just looking for a quick hit of sci-fi or fantasy (or horror!), we’ve got five shorts worthy of briefly capturing your attention.
1) Oscar’s Bell
Creeping, peeping camerawork creates an eerie atmosphere in this Short of the Week pick directed by Chris Cronin, written by Chris Cronin and Sam Cronin, and starring Paul Bullion. Much to the displeasure of his son’s mother, a man has brought his young son into the middle of the wilderness for an overnight camping trip. With them is big, friendly dog Oscar, whose jingling collar adds an element of sonic unease when the man starts to suspect their little group may not be alone in the deep, dark forest.
2) Dirty Machines—The End of History
Another Short of the Week selection, this sci-fi piece from Swedish writer-director David Matthew Olson (who also stars in the film) unfolds like an audio tour, following a future tourist who’s visiting the exact moment in history when “the mother of time travel” makes her breakthrough discovery. It’s incredibly tense because you’re just waiting for something to happen to alter history—which of course it does, albeit with cleverly unexpected results.
Filmmaker Sean U’Ren sent us his short Snapdragons, which is available to view via Dust’s YouTube platform. “We made it for a few grand and shot it in my living room,” he notes—but that kind of simplicity is all that’s needed to backdrop this intriguing, high-concept story. After a woman nervously breaks into her neighbour’s apartment and pilfers what look like random items, the neighbour comes knocking, looking for help after realising that someone’s been in her place (but not, of course, realising who). And as we soon learn…there’s way more going on here than meets the eye.
4) Stella for Star
The great Robin Weigert (Deadwood, Castle Rock) stars in Nick Singer’s short about a scientist and single mum who’s forced to bring her kids along to a conference in New Orleans, only to see the climate change she’s been studying in theory take the real-life form of a sudden, violent hurricane. Stella for Star is more of a drama than a sci-fi story, but it definitely has apocalyptic elements—as well as the more fantastical inclusion of several friendly Furries.
5) Cupid’s Paradise
Dating apps can be demoralising in any context, but in the world of Cupid’s Paradise, sent to Gizmodo by filmmaker Ivy Liao, and viewable via Dust, failure to find a suitable match will seal your doom. Unlucky-in-love protagonist Jenn (Andrea Martina) thinks artificially enhancing her appearance with futuristic gizmos will land her a super-hot dude—but like so many before her, she soon learns an age-old lesson about what really matters.