Horror shorts are special. They’re a wonderful introduction for those who are a little too nervous to sit in their own fear for two hours, and sometimes they even inspire feature-length versions or appear in anthologies (for better or worse!). Many filmmakers got their start making shorts, a more challenging feat than many realize. Here’s a list of 10 great horror shorts that aren’t Lights Out. For best results, turn out the lights, tuck into bed, and stay tuned for 10 more next week.

  1. Thresher gets an A+ for story and style. Featuring a man locked up in a rather posh-looking room in a mansion, we see pretty quickly why he’s trying to get the hell out of there. This one’s directed by Mike Diva, and I’d love to see what he could do with a feature horror film. Warning: this one has a couple strong jump scares, for those who like to be warned about that kind of thing.

2. CryptTV is a seemingly bottomless resource for horror shorts. Most recently, The Thing in the Apartment caught my eye. I love Apartment Horror. What would you do if your friend called you in the middle of the night in a blind panic because of what she’d seen in her room? Good performances here, and though it might appear trope-y at first, I was holding my breath by the end.

3. The Birch is one of my favourite horror shorts lately for its stunning effects and fairytale-like story. When bullying goes too far, a young boy finds an unlikely guardian in the forest. As much as I’d like to see a feature-length on this one, perhaps the rest is best left to the imagination.

4. Of all the shorts I’ve listed here, 2AM: The Smiling Man is the one that crept into my mind as I was trying to sleep, two nights in a row. At first glance it seems the slightest, but the bizarre turns terrifying very, very quickly. Coming across a man while walking alone at night is scary enough, but what if he acted like this?

5. Somnambule is a little French addition to the list, so you’ll want to turn on your subtitles. As someone who has been known to talk, sit up, and scream in my sleep on a pretty regular basis, this one felt personal. Good friends take care of you in those situations, (“Becky, why are you screaming?” “I thought you were holding a birdcage!”), but Somnambule tells the story of how a best friend might react to the worst discovery of all.

6. How many times has your mind tricked you into thinking a pile of clothes was a gruesome monster? This still happens to me on a regular basis. Generally the only lesson to be learned from it is that I need to stop leaving my clothes all over the house. But Vicious uses this familiar story to really pump up the scares and proves that sometimes turning on the light isn’t enough to save you.

7. Many of us have found ourselves around a Ouija board, slightly drunk and afraid and collapsing into giggles. But Don’t Move shows an inventive and horrifying version of what might happen when it isn’t all fun and games. Six friends channel a demon who forces them to play a game: whoever stands still the longest will be the only survivor. A couple totally gruesome kills to be found in this one!

8. Paroksh is a more innocent and eventually humourous short that shows how misunderstandings and limited information tend to inform our fear in the worst way. Beautifully executed, this one is a gem from Drishyam Films.

9. This might be a cheat entry but I’m including Deloused because it’s my favourite segment from ABCs of Death 2, and I can’t stop watching the creepy stop-motion short. It’s the kind of piece that makes you feel gross after, because it’s not restricted to the limitations of the human body. You get what I’m saying? Robert Morgan is a master at this stop-motion horror, and I highly recommend you check out his work if you’re not familiar with it and you appreciate a twisted mind.

10. Finishing off the list is Night of the Slasher, a clever horror short filmed in one take that stares every slasher trope in the face and eats it up with relish. This one is a lot of fun, and hopefully a lighter end to a string of scary shorts. See you next week!

Featured Image: CryptTV