Five Short Scares: Horror Films on YouTube

I don’t normally get on any bandwagon, and I absolutely hate crowds. But I’m experiencing some downtime right now, and have been seeing a lot of social media posts and websites talking about horror movies, since that western version of the Hungry Ghost Festival is coming up on Oct 31.

For a moment, the dilemma was, what do I write about? Listing the best horror movies I’ve seen would be terribly uninteresting since none of what I’ve seen is worth introducing for the umpteenth time, at the risk of sounding like a broken record. Then, I realised the best thing to do was to look elsewhere.

And I arrived at the fact that on YouTube alone, there are countless original horror films that are engaging, frightening and often overlooked. You don’t even need go to the cinema to get your fix. Here on your computer is a buffet worth checking out.

So, here are five short horror films on YouTube, from around the world, that I think would be worth your while to check out.

The Legend of Teresa Fidalgo (Portugal)

If you’re not familiar with the name “Teresa Fidalgo,” then you’ve not been paying attention to the Internet. She’s a phenomenon like the Slender Man, having made her rounds on the Internet in chain emails, chain tweets and viral videos. She’s like the Portuguese version of Sadako.

Legend has it that Teresa was a girl who died in a car accident. Keyword: “legend.” Actually, that’s all you need to know.

I saw this unsettling video some years ago, and although even someone with the IQ of cotton can tell that it’s fake, it’s still an extremely well-made video. There are two versions, but here’s the full 7-minute version, which I think is better because you get to spend a longer time with the characters in the car before they … well, go watch it.

Not Alone (India)

Here’s a Hindi short film I found recently. It doesn’t have subtitles, but you can pretty much understand what’s going on (there’s a smattering of English though). The idea isn’t new, and I’ve definitely seen other short films with the same set-up – two friends Skyping at night, each of them alone, when one of them sees something in the other’s room through the webcam. But I like Not Alone because it uses darkness very well, and it builds up some really tangible creepiness, I think exactly because of its low-budget look and feel. (Also, the girl’s room looks exactly like the many eerie hotel rooms I’ve stayed in!) There’s a twist at the end which any seasoned horror fan would be able to guess, but the journey there is worth it.

Ouiji (sic) (USA)

This one is pretty silly and nonsensical. And kind of dumb, too. But what I like about it is that it manages to capture the feeling of being alone but not alone. I’m sure everyone’s experienced it before – when you’re by yourself in a room or a house, and you suddenly get the feeling someone’s there with you. You start to feel like someone’s watching you. It’s a very creepy feeling, and this short film got it down pat. Also, read the comments on YouTube AFTER you’ve watched it (because they contain spoilers). They’re pretty damn hilarious.

Thai Animated Horror Short (Thailand)

This is an animated short film, done by the Thais. It’s very impressive, and quite scary, too. Yes, despite it being a “cartoon” with a child character with big, adorable eyes. I don’t have much information about this one, just that it was written by Wisit Sasanatieng of Tears of the Black Tiger fame, one of the Thai New Wave directors.

Grave Torture (Indonesia)

Now, here’s the one guaranteed to make you shit your pants. I’m not kidding. This is a short by famed Indonesian filmmaker Joko Anwar, about a boy who accidentally gets buried inside his dead father’s coffin. The first time I saw it, I made the mistake of watching it in the dark, at night, alone. It left me physically shaken, so you know the warning at the beginning of the film is really there for a reason.

Joko is well-known for his disturbing, unsettling films. I watched his Kala (Dead Time) some years ago, in an empty cinema hall, and was duly creeped out. But nothing prepared me for Grave Torture, simply one of the finest horror films there is out there, long or short. Watch it with a good pair of headphones, because the sound design is a big part of what makes this film work. Trust me, you’ve never heard the real sound of terror until you’ve heard this film.

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