Here are some more highlights from the upcoming Oxford International Short Film Festival on Saturday 23rd March.
Once Bitten – A fun, tongue-in-cheek horror pastiche starring Lauren Ashley Carter, Garth Maunders and Sir Dickie Benson (as himself). Her imagination fueled by a sensationalist horror television programme, a woman in a hotel bedroom who calls for the plumbing to be fixed begins to wonder if the maintenance man might be a killer. Director Pete Tomkies has a lot of fun winding up the audience with false scares that surely take inspiration from that Nazi werewolf double-nightmare in An American Werewolf in London. The payoff is amusing, and whilst it won’t trouble the brain cells, fans of the genre will get a kick out of this.
Futures – Obnoxious stock market middle manager Leo (an excellent, scenery chewing Craig Parkinson) tries to cash in on an international terrorist crisis, whilst his increasingly harassed staff begin to question his dubious methods. A taut, profane script builds an impressive head of dramatic steam, especially as the terror threat moves closer to home. Full marks to director Daniel Marc Janes for creating a genuinely impressive cinematic pressure cooker.
Blue Peter – This impressively mournful slab of Kieslowski-esque miserablism concerns a conscience stricken policeman, who finds he can no longer stand by and allow bailiffs to persecute despairing citizens unable to support themselves in the midst of an economic crisis. Director Marko Santic draws out some fine performances from his cast, wringing a great deal from every stilted exchange and awkward silence.
The Escape – A starry cast that includes Julian Sands, Art Malik, Olivia Williams and Ben Miller populates this future shock tale of a man seeking an escape from his seemingly humdrum life into a drug induced parallel universe. At first writer/director Paul Franklin seems to have fashioned a fable about mid-life crisis and rediscovering what is important in life, but hints of an impending watery apocalypse lead to a clever twist that neatly recalls Planet of the Apes.
Roughhouse – Winner of this year’s BAFTA shorts, Roughhouse is a vivid, grown-up animated story from director Jonathan Hodgson. Three students at Liverpool University have issues with a problematic housemate, who always seems to have money for booze but never any for rent. After a while irritation, teasing and taunting takes a more alarming turn. This foul-mouthed but heart-felt tale eschews cheap sentimentality in the serious issues it raises, and leaves the audience to interpret a somewhat ambiguous ending.
Check back tomorrow for our final highlights blog.
The official site for the Oxford International Short Film Festival is here.