Dark Stories (2019, dir. François Descraques & Guillaume Lubrano)

A woman held hostage by a bloodthirsty doll tells it stories to keep it from killing her. Superior Anglo-French anthology horror with no weak episodes. The tales tend to the EC style twist narratives, covering some unusual ground as well as riffs on zombie, ghost and vampire yarns. A solid job all around.

Enhanced (2019, dir. James Mark)

A young woman with special abilities is hunted, both by a government agency and by one of her kind. Decent little SF actioner riffing in the spaces between Terminator movies, the X-Men and host of other genre properties. Effective location work and a wintry feel help matters along, as does working within budget limitations.

Aquaslash (2019, dir. Renaud Gauthier)

High school graduates partying at a run-down waterpark are targeted for murder. This 80s throwback horror gets a lot of its incidentals right, but takes an age to deliver on its single promise, and ultimately makes little sense. Still, there’s some good work here, even if this is a solitary idea for a short stretched to feature-length.

Hall (2020, dir. Francesco Giannini)

A contagion spreads along a hotel corridor, affecting those staying on that floor in different ways. A slow-burn z-movie of sorts, and timely; it takes time to get going, but there are some interesting ideas on display, even if some of this good work is undone by a talky explanatory coda.

Two Heads Creek (2019, dir. Jesse O’Brien)

Adopted twins flee Brexit Britain searching for their birth mother, apparently living in a remote Australian township. Scattershot horror-comedy in need of a second script-editing opinion. Competently made, and with glimmers of focus and satire, making the film all the more frustrating to sit through.

Dark Place (2019, dir. Kodie Bedford, Perun Bonser, Rob Braslin, Liam Phillips, Bjorn Stewart)

Five horror shorts concerned with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females, and with the legacies of colonialism. Not a dud among them either, with a range of subgenres and stylistic approaches (from human trafficking to vampirism, and from moody b/w to Raimi-esque splatter comedy). Each stand-alone story is brisk and effective enough to earn its place and more. Recommended.

They’re Outside (2020, dir. Sam Casserly & Airell Anthony Hayles)

A YouTuber psychologist attempts to force a cure on an agoraphobic; supernatural forces are at work. While some performances are fun, the bulk of the movie is simply an arrogant and unlikeable bloke bullying a woman for running-time-consuming reasons. A decent genre idea for a short is stretched uncomfortably to feature-length. Not for me.

Playhouse (2020, dir. Fionn Watts & Toby Watts)

A writer and his daughter move into a remote castle, but their presence awakens old demons. While it doesn’t really work as a whole (more story needed, basically), there’s effective location work and one lovely creepy moment delivered, plus some interesting ideas and images evidenced. It’ll be good to see what the writer/director brothers can come up with next.

The Columnist (2020, dir. Ivo van Aart)

A progressive newspaper columnist with a book due turns to murder to quell online trolls. Sprightly yet deadpan black comedy horror, exploring the impacts of internet bullying, the limits of free speech, and the rapaciousness of publishing. Plenty of dark fun to be had, and some neat asides about writing along the way.

Triggered (2020, dir. Alastair Orr)

A camping group of former schoolfriends turn on each other during an elaborate hi-tech revenge scheme. Smart, funny and at times brutal body-count flick that makes the most of its premise. Good playing by an unfamiliar cast helps, as does controlled direction and lighting, and excellent backwoods location work.