Tuesday, 3 November 2020

End of October (2020) - Short Anthology Film Review


Back in the middle of the first lockdown, in April of this year a great little indie UK short horror anthology The Isolation Horrors was released. Each of the shorts was created in isolation. End of October is a new short anthology, produced by M.W Daniels, that features three of the same directors from that, and follows a similar format in that much of what is shown here again predominantly features single characters in what overall felt much more experimental in style.

The wraparound story was hard to fathom, featuring a man (Daniels) watching a show on his laptop, intercut with a woman dressed as a cat lounging around for reasons I couldn't understand, led to a very confusing first three minutes. Each of the three short films are introduced by a woman broadcasting an online show. First is The Castrator which was directed by Nicolai Kornum (Undertaker, Umbilichord) and stars David Cobbald and Alain Falzon as a couple who are working on a comic book together. Later that evening one of them appears to have a break with reality and takes on the persona of a character they had created together, leading to a bloodily violent conclusion. I liked the page tear effect, as well as the strong coloured backgrounds that made this feel like a living comic book at times. I did struggle occasionally to make out what characters were saying due to thick accents, more a problem of my hearing than anything else, but did mean I had to replay a few scenes to understand what was being said.

The middle film comes from John Whitaker (the composer 1i2c) who both directed and starred in Last Confession. I confess to initially not being sure about this one, shot in black and white it has Whitaker as a clearly troubled man who is sat at a table talking to himself, using repetitive phrases. This turned out to be my favourite in this anthology, it legitimately made me laugh out loud on a few occasions and does not take itself seriously. This was both weird and bizarre and I loved the sped up sequences inserted throughout displaying the manic insanity that is bubbling underneath the characters outward appearance. I also thought it was funny how this is made relevant to Halloween.

The final short is M.W Daniels's October Loner which was very experimental in feel. I confess I did not know what was happening with this one, but it was suitably creepy and uncomfortable to watch. Daniels plays a man who upon hearing a knocking at his door encounters someone very familiar to him. The final shot receding into a black background was an effective way to finsih.

Each of the three shorts felt quite different to one another but all had their merits to them, though it was especially the second and third ones I really enjoyed. I confess I didn't really understand what the wraparound story was trying to do. Overall though, as I always say, it is hard to go too wrong with an anthology. Getting a second one from these directors in the same year as their first was a nice surprise, it would be awesome if this became a regular thing as there are always good ideas used and is cool to see familiar faces. End of October premiered on Halloween on YouTube, it can be seen below.

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