Best Short To Feature Length Horror

sddIn anticipation of Friday’s release of Lights Out, an evolution from director David F. Sandburg’s 2013 short of the same name, we have chosen 5 of the best short films that were so captivating that they made it in to a feature length film. After all, if you can capture an audience and terrify them in just a few minutes, why not progress to a horrifying cinematic experience?

Saw (2003)
Originally just nine-and-a-half-minutes of horror, the low budget short was created as a pitch to studios to progress to a feature.
Known for its grizzly contraptions, we are introduced to the infamous reverse bear trap, which we’re reunited with in the 2004 feature film. Interestingly, the trap was authentically rusty and completely functional, whilst the trap used in the feature film was designed with artificial rust and fitted with safety features. Let’s hope there were no accidents!
Watch the short below:

Became: Saw (2004)
Saw became a full length feature horror hit that led to a legion of sequels that appeared annually up until 2010. The simplicity of the original allowed for the sequel to embody a more complex and utterly terrifying storyline – the prime ingredients for a successful franchise to be. The series would become known for its gory brutal and relentless games, certainly not for the faint-hearted.

Electronic Labyrinth: THX 1138 4EB (1968)
Set in a dystopian future where humans have lost their identities in a maze of technology, we follow protagonist, THX 1138 4EB, as he attempts to escape the nightmare of constant surveillance and oppression from society. Film student George Lucas directed and filmed Electronic Labyrinth whilst studying at University, which went on to win first prize at the National Student Film Festival held in New York earning the attention of industry figures Steven Spielberg and Francis Ford Coppola.
Watch the short below:

Became: THX 1138 (1971)
In 1971 Lucas re-worked his original to create THX 1138, an equally bleak film, starring Robert Duvall and Donald Pleasance, set in a society where emotions, reproduction and the concept of family are forbidden. THX 1138 was produced by Francis Ford Coppola’s film studio, American Zoetrope, which was co-founded with Lucas and received critical acclaim over the years.

Within The Woods (1978)
Within the Woods is a spin on the classic horror narrative: an unfortunate discovery of a desecrated Indian burial ground which goes horribly wrong for a group of teenage campers secluded in the woods. Demonic possession and unseen forces are the central theme after character Bruce becomes ‘zombiefied’ and attempts to mutilate his friends one by one. Within The Woods contains much of the grim humour and shooting style Raimi would employ in his next film The Evil Dead, give it a go and see if you can spot the similarities.
Watch the short below:

Became: The Evil Dead (1981)
In 1981 Sam Raimi returned to Within the Woods and directed the feature adaptation The Evil Dead. Much like the short, we follow five students heading to a cabin in the remote Tennessee hills for spring break, who soon find themselves in danger. Members of the group begin to suffer from what can only be described as demonic possession after the discovery of a seemingly innocent audiotape. Strange supernatural goings-on get confused with hysteria and paranoia, and evil quickly takes its hold on the doomed teenagers.

Oculus Chapter 3: “The Man With The Plan” (2006)
This documentary style short film delves straight into the mystery of a horrific crime the protagonist Tim’s father was accused of committing some years ago. After extensive research Tim believes the large ornate mirror he has tracked down is to blame, so armed with video cameras he attempts to uncover the true evil of the mirror. Over the course of 32 minutes Flanagan takes you on a journey so intense you may begin to question your own reflection in the mirror.
Watch the short below:

Became: Oculus (2014)
Mike Flanagan had a similar motive in mind as directors James Wan and David Sandberg when creating Oculus Chapter 3 in 2006: his idea to produce a film with a raw and basic storyline that represented his cinematic style and could be adapted into a feature film with ease. Starring Karen Gillan, who believes an ornate mirror is to blame for the misfortunes she and her family have suffered. Once again, the distinctions between sanity and insanity become blurred; taking you on an agonising journey as the relentless force of the mirror unfolds.

Lights Out (A Short Horror Film) (2013)
In this Swedish short film, David Sandberg creates three of the most intense minutes of any horror-enthusiast’s life. Featuring a young woman, who believes to be seeing a figure only when she turns her lights off, prompting her to tape the light switch permanently on and hastily hide under her duvet. Only then does she realise hiding won’t save her from the figure that lurks in the shadows. A low budget short in all its glory: simple and highly effective, only if you like jumping out of your skin of course.
Watch the short below:

Became: Lights Out (2016)
Sandberg brings the short to the big screen, this year, this time loaded with 81 minutes of pure horror in the feature film Lights Out. The film follows Rebecca and half-brother Martin on their desperate urge to be rid of the figure that haunts them from the shadows. The obvious struggle of mental illness prevalent in the feature blurs the lines between reality and imagination, leading the characters down a spiral of the unknown and ultimate fear. Armed with a substantially larger budget, you won’t want to miss out on this year’s most chilling horror!

Lights Out is in UK cinemas August 19th


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