The 13th Floor

Building a Better Horror Anthology: The Perils of Parenthood

We are certainly experiencing a new wave of new wave horror anthologies right now, and there’s no denying they are the perfect showcase for short film.

As with most films in this realm, audiences can always expect quite the eclectic mix of material to cater to a broader range of tastes which, more often than not, results in a bit of a mixed bag — although it has to be said that recent hits such as TALES OF HALLOWEEN, A CHRISTMAS HORROR STORY and SOUTHBOUND were all solid entries.

With creepy compendiums playing such a significant part of the zeitgeist, we thought it was the perfect time to compile our own curated collection of short films focusing on one specific central theme.

First up, we scrutinize the perils of parenthood…

CARGO

BREAKING BAD’s Walter White went all out to secure a comfortable future for his family before he met his maker, and the father figure in directors Ben Howling & Yolanda Ramke’s short film CARGO has those exact same designs. While Walter’s deadline was set by the cancer slowly eating away at him, the protagonist in CARGO finds himself battling a zombie virus flowing through his system, giving him mere hours to set in motion an unlikely plan to secure a decent life for the precious cargo he is carrying: his newborn daughter.

THE CUB

With THE JUNGLE BOOK all the rage in theaters right now, you’d be forgiven for thinking that wolves make the best surrogate parents. However, if Riley Stearns’ short is anything to go by, Mowgli had it seriously peachy.

While written after his superb directorial feature debut FAULTS, Stearn’s THE CUB is a prequel of sorts, with a middle-class couple surrendering their young daughter to a pack of wolves in the hope that she will learn “strength, self-reliance, and cunning behavior.”

When the parents come back to collect their daughter and her new skill set, they get quite the wake-up call, despite their good-natured intentions.

THE iMOM

Playing very much like an episode of BLACK MIRROR, Ariel Martin’s THE iMOM provides a somber look at a society where humanity has become way too dependent on technology for its own good.

Describing how the concept came to be, Martin said: “It was only after the millionth time I saw a kid sitting obediently at a restaurant table, staring silently at their parent’s iPad, that I wanted to tell a story about how tech products have seeped into family life… How would a family interact with Siri if she were actually walking around the home?”

Kids are absolutely enthralled by technology and, while it definitely serves as a great way to keep the little ‘uns entertained (and quiet) for a while, would you be willing to leave your children under the protective care of the latest fad: an iMom?

Set in the not-too-distant future, the revolutionary iMom makes bringing up a child that much simpler — or so it seems. But is it wise to be so predisposed to trusting technology, especially when the well-being of those most precious to us becomes part of the equation?

CHILD EATER

While the iMom is a concern for parents of the future, choosing a human babysitter who you can be sure will look after your kids as if they were their own is just as worrisome… and Erlingur Thoroddsen’s CHILD EATER is perfect testament to that.

Inspired by classic slasher movies of the ’70s and ’80s, CHILD EATER turns a simple babysitting job into a complete nightmare when a sight for sore eyes makes an unexpected appearance: a boogeyman going by the name of Robert Bowery, once the owner of a petting zoo who temporarily cures his bad case of macular degeneration by feeding on his victims’ eyeballs.

Feast your eyes on this one…

LA CRUZ (THE CROSS)

Divorce elicits all manner of painful and unsettling emotions; even more so when kids are involved. It’s this particular turmoil that’s put under the microscope in Alberto Evangelio’s LA CRUZ, as we find daughter Vero trying to make amends with her long-lost father by letting him teach her how to drive a car. If my driving lessons with my father are anything to go by, that was a horror story all of its own, but in LA CRUZ things suddenly take an unexpected turn for the worse — and all the pent-up tension caused by the failed marriage ends in a disturbingly moving display of paternal love.

MILK AND BLOOD

They say it’s not worth crying over spilled milk… but director Markus Englmair will have you thinking otherwise.

Working in a family business tends to be a challenge, especially when parents just assume their offspring will follow in their footsteps, even if it’s not really their career path of choice. But what if a lactose-intolerant dairy farmer reaches the end of his tether after way too many years of playing second fiddle to his overbearing father?

THE OFFERING

Those of you familiar with last year’s ALL HALLOW’S EVE 2 will most likely recall director Ryan Patch and scribe Michael Koehler’s segment, THE OFFERING.

A contemporary spin on the biblical story of Abraham and Isaac, this short finds a father and son heading out into the frosty woodland to make an offering to an unknown force. On reaching their destination, they realize they’ve gone and left one essential element (the meat) at home, and will have to improvise before time runs out — putting their father/son relationship to the ultimate test.

DADDY’S GIRL

Backed through the Creative England iShorts program, Jed Hart’s DADDY’S GIRL finds Vince, a Dartmoor prison guard and father of one, stumbling across an abandoned kid’s bike as he drives home along an isolated stretch of moorland road. Having a child of his own, his paternal instinct kicks in, and he heads off into the darkness in search of the bike’s owner.

To get the most out of this short, the less said about it beforehand the better. Suffice it to say DADDY’S GIRL also stresses the unconditional love a child has for his or her parents — no matter what sinister secrets they may harbor.

SELF-ASSEMBLY

Any parent’s worst nightmare is the loss of a child, but what if an IKEA-esque company offered you a substitute as a means of alleviating the mourning process? The substitute in question might not be quite as handsome as the deceased son in Ray Sullivan’s short… but then again, IKEA was never renowned for selling fine mahogany Davenports.

As with most self-assembled furniture, things never quite turn out as promised on the packaging, and despite the parents bringing the new member of the family up as their own, nature ultimately triumphs over nurture… much to their chagrin.

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