In the thick of it…judging horror.

I’m about 10 shorts into judging for the Bleedingham Horror Film Festival. There are 30 entries for me to review. Several of the entries are student entries, which are really fun. Overall, the films are technically adequate to pretty decent. The acting is generally poor to, again, pretty decent. Story is where most entries fall short. I know it’s hard to develop story with a short, but it can be done.

Additionally, a little originality goes a long way. I see too many filmmakers who just want to make a film and don’t start with a decent story, or even a premise. With that in mind, I’m gonna make some observations. Every year there are recurring set-ups, situations and elements. I’m able to group some of them for you. Here goes:

The masked killer who is going around murdering people (usually women) for no reason.

The bedroom short–I’m in bed minding my own business, and there’s something in the shadowy closet!

The “he killed my cat!” revenge short.

The couple driving into the woods, setting up camp and getting killed (usually by the guy in #1 above) short.

The “Oops, I ran over someone and left. Now I’m going to get revenge killed by a ghost who hates hit-n-runners.”

The found footage flick where they should never have looked at the film.

The brilliantly art/horror film whose intellectual title has nothing to do with the indecipherable story.

Films with “night” in a title that adds nothing to the piece. Midnight, The Long Night, Dead of Night, Beware of Night, Hey, It’ Night!

One-word titles that just sound creepy, but…add nothing to the piece. Hunger, Lurking, Insatiable, Vitals, Death.

The “This is actually a music video, but it’s creepy speed metal so that counts as a horror short, right?” submission.

The overly explained legend that then, shockingly, happens to the person to whom it was explained.

This is a partial list of minor creative crimes and things I see too much. They’re not terrible things or offensive to my sense of filmmaking, but they’re things beginners can work to avoid and make their films better.

Happy filmmaking,



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