Mystery Horror Theater with Leif and Dubs, Ep. III

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For this week’s edition of Mystery Horror Theater, I’ve collected three award-winning horror shorts of varying lengths. Each of the three films is vastly different from the last, so there should be something for everyone to enjoy. I hope you have your security blanket, because we’re about to get spooked.


Playing with the Devil

Playing with the Devil taps into two of our biggest cultural fears: evil dolls and demon possession. Based on a supposed Japanese horror ritual similar to The Midnight Game, this horror short features some great acting from three young ladies and effective use of atmosphere and tension. There are no jump scares or pointless acts of violence; director by Nick Stentzel is content to simply use a minimalist approach to build dread. It works.

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Birthday Boys

In Birthday Boys, writer/director Rafael De Leon Jr. uses heavy dialogue, gory effects, and disarming levity to great effect. This short chronicles the dissolution of personal relationships through a tale of murder, deceit, and necromancy. This is probably my favorite short in this edition. Hell hath no fury like a lover scorned.

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Downstairs

Our third short today is an award-winning 17-minute film written and directed by the Boxleitner brothers. Downstairs is a bit different than the other shorts I’ve collected here. The Boxleitner brothers forgo a lot of the tropes of horror films to offer something that feels a bit more self-aware. Hapless security guard Officer Flip bumbles around at his night post until things start to go bump in the night. To his credit, Flip actually acts like pretty much any of us would in this situation; he reacts to the weird happenings with a whole lot of cursing, running, and trying not to do something stupid. The humor and meta nature may be a bit much for purists, but if you want a well-filmed, light take on the genre, press play below to discover Officer Flip’s fate.

Thanks for tuning in, folks. Until next time, stay away from ouija boards.