Give Your Attention Span a Break With These 7 Short Sci-Fi and Horror Movies

Maika Monroe in How to Be Alone.
Image: Vimeo

Sometimes, you’re in the mood for three hours of Marvel superheroes, or 90 minutes of battles in Westeros. Other times...doesn’t a fast-paced short film that makes you laugh, think, or shriek in terror (or some combination thereof) sound kind of nice for a change? If that’s the case, io9 has you covered.

Here’s our latest round-up of excellent genre shorts, none of which run over 15 minutes. (Many do have NSFW language, so be aware if you’re blasting ’em through your speakers.)


1) Singularity Stories Vol. 1

Where will you be when computers become self-aware and start rebelling against their human masters? In Colleen’s case, she’s just chilling out at home, really wanting to hear Alexa fire up some easygoing pop music. Asa Derks’ short—which is really just a well-directed conversation between one woman and her AI device—goes to some existential places, but it also has a great time roasting the crap out of Bruno Mars. [via Short of the Week]

2) “The Astronauts” Episode 1

Set adrift in space after their ship explodes, a pair of dorky astronauts (played by Colin Burgess and Tynan DeLong) take stock of their situation: Their space suits are charged enough to keep them alive for a while, but damn it sucks to have lost all their stuff with the ship. Oh, and they’ll miss that third astronaut, though he did have an annoying habit of humming Eagles songs. Graham Mason’s first short in a series (this first entry is by far the longest, at just under four minutes) may be pretty obviously low-budget, but it also proves that clever writing, good casting, and creative sound design can make all the difference. You can watch more misadventures with Kurt and Roy by checking out the rest of “The Astronauts” episodes right here. [ia Vimeo Staff Picks]

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3) On/Off

Here’s a very different sort of astronaut tale. On a space station orbiting Earth, Meredith (Carole Brana) has a freak-out moments before she’s set to do a spacewalk. If that seems ominous—especially considering she calms herself down by injecting...something...into her neck—it only gets worse, as her attention drifts from the task at hand (not ideal in any risky situation, much less in space) into first blissful abandon and then white-hot terror. Suffice to say, all is not what it seems in Thierry Lorenzi’s short. [Via Dust]

4) How to Be Alone

Written and directed by Kate Trefry, a staff writer on Stranger Things, this stylish short stars some faces you might recognize: Joe Keery (aka Stranger Things’ Steve Harrington) and Maika Monroe (It Follows). As the title suggests, it’s about a woman who settles in for a 12-hour stretch at home alone while her husband heads to his overnight shift—though between her apparently troubled mind and extremely overactive imagination, she barely has a moment to herself the entire time. [via Short of the Week]

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5) Quitter

Quitting smoking is notoriously difficult. But do the tremendous health benefits of kicking your nicotine addiction outweigh the possibility of losing your mind in the process? In Lee Boxleitner and Sam Boxleitner’s horror short, Jenna turns to hypnosis to rid herself of the urge to light up, which seems like an effective plan until she realizes she may have also unlocked something very sinister in her subconscious.

6) Twin Islands

This whimsical animated fable (co-directed by Manon Sailly, Lara Cochetel, Raphaël Huot, Christine Jaudoin, Charlotte Sarfati and Fanny Teisson) imagines a pair of island kingdoms, created by gods to be ruled by generations of twin brothers with one very specific requirement: perfect symmetry between the lands. Or else. When one of the queens gives birth to a single infant, her desperate husband tries to figure out how to save their baby without angering the gods. [via Vimeo Staff Picks]

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7) Special Day

Teal Greyhavens’ short begins at Emily’s 18th birthday party, as her family excitedly gathers to let her in on a little secret: Like all of her relatives, she’ll soon have “a new friend” of her very own, someone with some very specific knowledge about Emily. Her family thinks it’ll help her succeed in life, but Emily isn’t quite sure she agrees. And just when she’s starting to grasp what it all means...circumstances take a sudden, terrifying turn. [via Alter]


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