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Sarangi (Tarun Thind, United Kingdom): Florescent eeriness, late-night study, and then an incongruous, but familiar sound. An unnamed student hears the tones of “God Save the Queen,” but performed on an instrument native to his ancestral land. When the witch appears, each run of the bow and turn of the wheel further traps the young man as the echoing pitch of his adopted home’s anthem severs him from his past.
Two Sides (Luo Mingyang, China): This animation was cryptic and circular, and prominently featured an ominous blade. Effectively silent, as well, as a troubled boy, the least-worthy member of a gang of toughs, is alternately challenged to rough up a victim, or petrified by a vision of a two-faced spirit. It doesn’t make much sense, but it has a “vibe”, a climax, and a post-credits coda that, for whatever reason, seared a deep impression in me.
English Tutor (Koo Jaho, South Korea): Comedy and horror from Korea! Few things are more of a delight. An (you guessed it) English tutor seeks work and is summoned by a mother desperate for her young daughter to write, one word, any word (!), in English. The tutor succeeds in her task after calming the weeping child. But, alas, something is very wrong: and things turn from sweet to creepy to violent with due haste.
Foreigners Only (, Bangladesh): Ohohoh, this was the best of the lot. Our hero (if you will) is a tanner by trade, desperately seeking lodging away from work. Bug bites from ambient animal skins vex him something fierce. His girlfriend is appalled to learn his trade (“You hurt animals!” —”No I don’t! They… they come pre-hurt.”) But wherever he seeks living quarters, all the landlords want “Foreigners Only.” When a pharmacy directs one such foreigner to the front of the queue, our tanner hatches a plan to be given the respect he deserves. [Note: this short is available as part of Hulu’s “Bite Size Halloween” anthology.]
Tang (Kim Minjeong, South Korea): This would work nicely as a business card or C.V. link for a programmer, but I was un-gripped by this dark, wandering, kinda creepy thing. Had the title been shown earlier (and made sense), or if I had been given any hint about what kind of thing was unfolding in front of me, I probably would have been game; I’m something of an easy mark when it comes to getting my interest. But Tang, well-made though it was (using the “Unreal Engine,” for you gamers out there),… well, I’ve said it already.
You Will See (Kathleen Bu, Singapore): Art-horror here, about a young woman named Gwyn being guided on the art of photography. “You have to want the moment. Want it so badly”, voices the unseen instructor. Gwyn pursues a mute repairman with her camera in hand, first at her school where she finds him, and nearly photographs him, fixing a door, and then at home. She rigs the floor with a upright screw, to make a moment for her to capture, and events turn supernatural with that frozen moment in time.
Night of the Bride (Virat Pal, India): Virat Pal: where’s the rest of this movie!? The sequence in question: bride being prepared for an arranged marriage to a man who had raped her, had everything you’d want to kick off a bitchin’ Indian-style giallo. Bright make up, flames, beautiful unnaturally ambient lighting, supernatural powers, and revenge: all in under seven minutes. I will have to further investigate this filmmaker, because a Bollywood Giallo is something that needs to happen. (That said, I will happily take any leads provided in the comments.)
A Night With Moosina (Tsai Shiu-Cheng, Taiwan): Chun-mei is supposed to be doing her homework. But when the sinister, mischievous spirit Moosina abducts her family’s hog, “Money #1” (later we learn of a “Money #2,” and more), she leaves her home and travels deep into the neighboring woodlands. This Moosina guy, I don’t trust him. Chun-mei beat him at rock-paper-scissors, with the deal being he’d leave her home alone if she did. But Moosina has been troubling children (or perhaps more precisely, their parents….) for a while now, and this is a night where things come to a head. They do so charmingly in this just-spooky-enough animation featuring glowimg-eyed ferrets, a charming hog, neon insects, and one of my favorite archetypes, the fearless little girl.