The horror anthology trend in 2022 has resulted in three showcases of wildly talented filmmaking. It’s always exciting to see where the next great filmmakers will come from, and Sinphony certainly showcases incredible filmmaking talent. With a wide variety of subgenres on display, Sinphony could very easily result in a half-dozen feature-length expansions. Below is a breakdown of the shorts assembled.
The bookending story, Symphony of Horror, provides a story that echoes throughout the shorts. What begins as a simple birth eventually reveals a far grander plan on display. Directed by Michael Galven & Sebastien Bazile, this one gets far less time in the spotlight than the other shorts. Yet its themes and music reverberate throughout the others, creating a commonality that brings the stories together in odd ways. The directors establish a visual template that fits with several of our stories, but the story also leaves enough mystery for potential future volumes to explore.
We will do anything to protect our children. Yet sometimes we need a little help from our friends. When a young mother finds herself stalked by a masked killer, her coven steps in to help. Directed by Jason Ragosta, Mother of Love features some unique camerawork. The use of the first-person shooter camera for the serial murderer is effective. The gore is not overpowering, but Ragosta delivers just enough backstory to make us care about the bloodshed on screen.
You can do a job right, or you can do a job by cutting corners. In Earworm, director Steven Keller shows the repercussions. As a young contractor rushes through a new job, he inhales spores of unknown origin. Keller’s story leaves some room for interpretation and is perhaps the darkest tale because of this vagueness.
Aging is hard, but sometimes the horror lies in the past. Despite not wanting to age up, Hayley Bishop (who wrote, directed, and stars in the short) must embrace turning 30. Instead of growing up, she attempts to dance back her youth. Sadly, youth is not what its cracked up to be. Bishop plays the humor to perfection, and the visual homage to giallo sells the coven storyline that emerges. It’s a very fun short, with perhaps the funniest body horror bit in the anthology.
It’s a shame more children are not used as monsters. In the case of The Keeper, directed by Wes Driver, we get a nice homage to Let The Right One In with a non-vampiric monster. The short’s attempts at misdirecting towards domestic violence are questionable. Its ultimately a simple story that builds tension effectively.
A woman purchases a unique car and drives around town to show it off. However, when a librarian asks for a ride, an uneasy feeling comes over the driver. The ideas in Limited Edition from Mark Pritchard are among the most unique in the collection. The high concept ideas at its center make Limited Edition more ethereal and unsettling than actually scary. Yet it burrows in the mind of the viewer, making it difficult to ignore.
What if your spouse dies a little early? Can you go on living a life without your partner? Well in some cases, the dead never leave us. They just try to kill us too. Perhaps the most disconnected short, Do Us Part from Kimberly Elizabeth is wildly funny. As the wife attempts to get her husband’s attention, she finds increasingly complex methods of trying to kill him. After all, they need to spend eternity together. Elizabeth’s pacing and visual gags are top-notch, and the performance from Amelia Macisaac helps sell the humor at every step.
Sometimes the simplest story is the right answer. For Tabitha, directed by Jason Wilkinson, the stripped-down nature of the short helps with world-building. A young woman pulls off a heist, only to find a bullet in her gut. As she loses blood, she begins to see strange creatures around her. The reveal of the creatures sells the end of the short, but Wilkinson’s energetic camera helps create tension and the appearance of action despite the main character never moving.
The horror genre runs a risk of overutilizing trauma as the inciting incident for most of its characters. Yet when a story like Maternally Damned utilizes it so effectively, it’s hard to fault the creators. Directed and written by Nichole Carlson, the total control of tone and subject matter is apparent from the early shots. While death looms over the story, Carlson eases us into the macabre and forces us to examine how we approach life events tied to grief. She also explores a monster-based story, forcing the transformation to occur simultaneously with the stress pregnancy puts on the female body.
Overall the shorts make for a great compendium. A good mix of women and men in the director’s chair results in unique visions for where the genre can go. As horror continues to evolve, there will be more collections like this one used as a proving ground. Yet the mix of established names and complete newcomers helps Sinphony bring attention to many filmmakers worthy of studio and independent attention.