The Guild of Horror Gals, and Our Lady of Jump Scares

My Sunday started off with April (@nightowlauthor) scaring the living daylights out of me by forcing me to watch mini-horror films. By “force,” I mean she left the link on Twitter and I was compelled to click it despite her warning over never sleeping again.

I huddled before my computer in broad daylight trying not see shadows out of the corner of my eye. April linked me another video. Which I also watched.

Courtney Alameda (@CourtAlameda) joined in, adding her own contribution (my favorite of the three):

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a horror writer… who doesn’t really dig on horror. I hate jump scares more than anything else. My brain goes into overdrive, and although I know nothing has changed, that seed of fear is already firmly rooted and sprouting. The three of us, soon joined by Hillary Monahan, opened a dialogue about being terrified. Strength in numbers, right?

Each of the films present their subject in typical, everyday situations. Maybe we haven’t taken apart an old camera, but we’ve turned off the hall lights and thought we saw something. I’ve spent many a night huddled under my blankets. And heaven knows we take all manner of photos with our phones. This is the ordinary. This is the norm.

The shorts have limited to no soundtrack, giving a greater credibility to the situation.

I’ll admit in the second clip, I totally had to question why this girl was following the spooky path set out by her camera phone. No. If there’s a dead girl in my kitchen, I am out of there, especially if you’re trying to tell me she’s haunting my bedroom. No way.

The real chill-inducing trait of all three of these short films is the power of telling a story in under three minutes. The truth about terror is it works fast. April described it as, “an espresso shot of pure, straight up fear.” Which is exactly what I’ll need because I won’t be sleeping tonight. Three minutes gives you enough time to be interested and immersed, but it’s always too late before you realized the monster or ghost is going to get you. It’s that split-second image that haunts you, too fast to see, but visible enough. Enough to compel you to watch it again.

Courtney made a great point. “They manage not to show *too* much monster. Just enough to leave fear seared on your brain.” That, my friends, is true horror. The vaguely known. The lurking.

For me, it’s always that horrendous gaping mouth. The unhinged jaw. Distort any other human feature and the result, while odd, can never been as terrifying as a stretching mouth, all blackness and sharp teeth. Even the cover of Courtney’s upcoming YA, Shutter, features this nightmarish attribute.

-1It’s the one thing to really makes someone appear inhuman. Gets me every time.

April now bares the distinction as Our Lady of Jump Scares, and perhaps in the future we’ll find more short-horror to discuss. I sort of like the idea of a guild of gals talking horror in short films.

Do you have any favorite short horror films you’d recommend? What sticks with you late at night, making it impossible to sleep?

I know I’ll be wrapped up beneath the covers tonight.

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