The team behind last year’s efficient horror anthology Minutes Past Midnight return to bring similar chills and thrills with Galaxy of Horrors, another feature-length anthology hand-picked by Torontonian film programmer Justin McConnell. This time, he’s showcasing horror shorts with a sci-fi twist.
The featured work in Galaxy of Horrors shines when the story is basic and futuristic qualities detail the background. For instance, Richard Karpala’s Iris and Antonio Padovan’s Eveless are perfect shorts. The Black Mirror-inspired Iris humours the idea of a seemingly dependable AI (voiced by Michelle Strickland) building morals and conspiring against its owner (Luke Sorge) during a crime. By setting the film in a plausible reality, subtle manipulations are able to build foreboding dread effortlessly. It’ll make you laugh, gasp, and wince. While Iris works psychologically, Eveless carries out the same emotional gut-punches through visceral body horror.
McConnell’s semi-meta, claustrophobic wraparound short is also pretty clever. A man’s life hangs in limbo as he’s forced to watch videos in a malfunctioning pod – a bit of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 dowsed in Heavy Metal. The videos play for him – and for us – in a disjointed order; a forgivable trait since Galaxy of Horrors basically throws the audience into immediate abruptness.
Eden and Pathos are examples of dense stories that didn’t entirely work for me. While I could appreciate their commitments to apocalyptic aesthetics, the scripts were too often racing against the clock in order to cover ground. Thee filmmakers would be better off fleshing these stories out to their own individual features rather than trying to adhere to the confines of a short film.
Galaxy of Horrors is a typical anthology with the usual amount of highs and lows we’ve come to expect from these projects. More importantly though, Justin McConnell’s collection further proves that science fiction is a delicate genre where less is more.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie