With the spooky season already upon us and Halloween just around the corner, it’s time to watch some horror films. Here’s a list of thirteen independent horror short films that are worth the watch, so turn off the lights and curl up with some popcorn!
“Lights Out” (2013)
Director: David F. Sandberg
Arguably the most well-known of this list, “Lights Out” is a definite horror short favorite. David F. Sandberg shot, directed, and scored the film and submitted it to the Bloody Cuts Horror Challenge festival, where it made it to the finals (and earned Sandberg the Best Director award). In 2016, Sandberg adapted and directed the positively praised “Lights Out” full-length film. The short movie is scary and is guaranteed to make anyone afraid of the dark.
“Other Side of the Box” (2019)
Director: Caleb J. Phillips
Winner of the Grand Jury Award at South by Southwest (SXSW), “Other Side of the Box” is a creepy story that taps into the eerie feeling every person gets when stared at. The film is creative and makes good use of unsettling imagery, and despite the story taking place during the Christmas season, the frightening visuals and chill-inducing horror helped it earn its spot on this list.
Director: Matt Sears
From popular horror short director Matt Sears, “Tabitha” is the story of a woman dealing with the loss of her twin. Though often brutal in its depiction of grief and loneliness and what those emotions can drive people to do, it’s well worth the watch and bound to stay with you for days.
“Close Your Eyes” (2021)
Director: Andy Chen
“Close Your Eyes” is one of the shortest films on this list, but it does a great job of building suspense and creating a horrifying creature. The film won Best Short Film Award at the Venice International Film Festival and will likely be a fan favorite for years.
Director: Nicole Scherer
“Altitude” is an Austrian short film that will leave the viewer questioning whether something supernatural is taking place in the story or if it’s just human fear and paranoia. It’s a beautifully filmed piece filled with shots of the Austrian Alps, and the stark setting mixed with ominous music help turn “Altitude” into an unsettling short.
“The Smiling Man” (2015)
Director: A. J. Briones
There isn’t a single line of dialogue in “The Smiling Man,” which only adds to the creepiness of the film. It’s won multiple short film and horror film awards, and if menacing clown-like creatures are your thing, it’s worth the quick watch.
“Milk Teeth” (2021)
Director: Felipe Vargas
The award-winning fantasy/horror film “Milk Teeth” is a story about a boy in an orphanage and his new “friend” who lives in the drain and only asks for one thing in return for its friendship and help: teeth. It feels like a full-length film; the storyline is well-developed and detailed, and the polished cinematography is packed with detail.
“Don’t Let It In” (2021)
Director: Jessica Henric
“Don’t Let It In” incorporates Native American mythology into this family and inner strength story. The visuals are creepy, and the storyline delves into personal and generational trauma to create an exciting story.
Director: Aislinn Clarke
“Childer” is a horror entry that contains no gore and very little violence. However, it’s still terrifying in its depictions of motherhood gone wrong and an individual who is unable to let go of her fears, and the imagery and symbolism in the film turn it into a disturbing watch.
“TRICK or TREAT!” (2021)
Director: Wesley Mellot
This short is the perfect video if you’re into classic Halloween horror films like “Scream” or “Halloween.” “TRICK or TREAT” has an entertaining masked villain, a young couple in a new house, grisly murders, and every other classic Halloween film trope. It’s fun, and it’s no surprise that a sequel is currently in the works.
“The Changing Room” (2022)
Director: Sam Evenson
The infinite abyss created when two mirrors face each other can be unnerving, and “The Changing Room” takes that feeling to the next level. Elements within this short echo the horror classic “The Ring,” and this delightfully nightmarish film will make you nervous to ever try clothes on again in a public dressing room.
“The Blue Door” (2017)
Director: Paul Taylor
Another horror short that doesn’t contain a lot of dialogue, but still manages to be scary. The atmosphere is well-crafted and unnerving, and the sense of uncertainty that permeates the film helps to keep the viewers’ interest. It was nominated for Best Short Film at British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) in 2019 and has since been picked up by Steven Spielberg’s production company, and a full-length film is in production.
Director: Marc Martínez Jordán
Gruesome and cheerfully off-putting, Spanish horror short “Timothy” stars a child who receives a visit from one of his favorite TV show characters. The child actor does a great job, and Timothy the rabbit is a terrifying mix of happy and violent. It’s a fun watch, and you’ll find yourself feeling grateful your childhood imaginary friend never came to life.