Nightstream 2020: 15 Awesome Shorts Film Recommendations

Nightstream has 20 short film programs available for us, and each one of them has some delightful gems waiting to be discovered. 

I tried to watch as many of these short films as possible to compile a list of recommendations in which you’ll find a healthy mix of sci-fi, horror, comedy, social commentary and animation. If you’re looking for a quick night of fun, you can’t go wrong with any of the following films.

“A Night in Camp Heebie Jeebie”

Director: Dylan Chase (USA)

Animation Domination Program 

In the middle of a stormy night, a group of girl scouts gather to tell colorful ghost stories about a monster cupcake, a killer moon and a kissing boy scout. But are they only stories? 

This is a delightful animation featuring cute character designs, humor, classic horror references and a heart-melting ending. I completely fell in love with this short, and I cannot recommend it enough.


Director: Tony Morales (Spain)

Program 2

After their mother’s death, a couple of sisters await their father to pick them up, but the younger doesn’t want to go out because “Abracitos” is out there. 

When watching horror films, jump scares rarely work for me. Also, I’ve never screamed watching a horror film. But there’s always a first time, and the Spanish short film “Abracitos” got me, big time. Tony Morales takes a simple premise and creates one of the most horrifying films I have ever seen in my life. Watch it with no lights for maximum effect, and be prepared for a night of insomnia. 

“Audio Guide”

Director: Chris Elena (Australia)

Head Trip Program

A normal visit to an art museum turns into an eerie experience when a woman discovers that her audio guide can provide past and future information about anything and anyone. The guide tells her what the boy next to her will become and when a random girl in the museum will be murdered. And if she wants, she could find out about her own fate. Will she?

“Audio Guide” is an incredible, brilliant and highly creative film with a premise that kept me glued to the screen. In the lead role, Emma White is compelling without ever saying a word, and Nyx Calder does a tremendous job as the voice role of the title character. Plus, it was entirely shot on film and the close-up shots provide powerful scenes that allow for a complete immersion into the main character’s anxiety. A must-watch.

“Boy Eat Girl: A Zombie Love Story”

Director: Sarah Gurfield (USA)

Head Trip Program

This short film has your classic romantic tropes: love at first sight, heartbreak and even a “Lady and the Tramp” reference. Oh yeah, and the lovers are zombies. Short and fun, this will at least get a couple of laughs out of you. Nothing like a good ol’ zombie romance for this Halloween season.


Director: Spencer Ryerson (Canada)

Head Trip Program

While preparing to go on a night out, a shy woman faces an anxiety-inducing nightmare involving a giant worm. 

As someone that isn’t exactly thrilled about meeting people at parties, I felt that Ryerson did a fantastic job capturing the struggles of being shy. The character encounters metaphorical obstacles that represent the easy escapes your brain urges you to use when faced by a tricky social situation. And on top of that, there’s a stressful atmosphere created through sound, makeup and simple effects. I think Ryerson nailed it with “Coil.”


Director: Ashley George (USA, Mexico)

Transient Territories and Trigger Warning Programs

A 17-year-old Mexican woman named Nayeli is raped by her brother’s disgusting friend. When she tries to speak out, she gets nothing but insults by men. However, she soon receives the tools to get revenge by other rape survivors.

The Mexican culture, its barrios and its horrific patriarchal culture are all captured with tremendous detail by Ashley George. “Diabla” is an urgent film and a very authentic portrayal of the abundant misogyny in Mexico. Plus, Ruth Ramos (“La región salvaje”) does a tremendous job in the titular role; in fact, it might be some of the best acting I’ve seen in short films this year.

“The Door”

Director: Kyle C. Mumford

Home Invasion: NYC Shorts Program

A grieving young woman tries to escape from a secret by retreating to her family’s isolated cabin. But while trying to erase memories of her past, the eerie appearance of a tiny door in front of her bed unleashes a psychological nightmare.

This has jump scares, terrific acting and some very creepy moments, but what I liked the most were the tiny details: her scared reaction to a sudden noise, the way her morning/nighttime routine is shot, the use of music. This is a slow, but very effective burn that doesn’t waste a single second. I can’t wait to see what’s next from Kyle C. Mumford, because this is outstanding.

“The History of Nipples”

Director: Tom Bailey (UK)

Transient Territories Program

Obssesed with the existence of nipples, a man does something very dumb. That’s the concept. “The History of Nipples” is a weird metaphor about the search for meaning in our lives that manages to be absurd, funny, dark and disgusting. Not life changing, but definitely unique.

“The Howling Wind”

Director: Lorian Gish & Justin Knoepfel

Home Invasion: NYC Shorts Program

In this black-and-white film, Arnold finds himself securely locked in his countryside cabin while apocalyptic winds rage outside. The peculiar thing is that anyone caught in this storm starts acting violently. Things get complicated when Arnold finds a man named Jacob hiding in his cellar; after he swears the winds didn’t touch him, he gets safe passage to the house.

There are strong “The Twilight Zone” vibes, highlighted by the old-time radio through which Arnold is getting all the news updates of the situation. Along with the black-and-white photography, the production design gives “The Howling Wind” an old-school noir feel that is very effective for the themes of the film.

In these COVID-19 times, the simple prospect of being in the presence of an unknown figure is terrifying, and “The Howling Wind” conveys that feeling through a relatable story. Is it better to be left alone during apocalypse? But what if it’s not an apocalypse at all? 


Director: Jean-François Leblanc (France)

Head Trip Program

An intrepid music journalist interviews a death metal band recently freed from jail after completing their sentence for murder. The interview is conducted during a blizzard and inside a creepy cabin in the middle of the woods. And in case there’s any doubt that this story of “Landgraves” is inspired by Mayhem, the cover for one of the band’s albums is the corpse of their drummer. Not the ideal situation for our main character.

Although this doesn’t provide the gut punch I was expecting, it’s still a suspenseful film with great acting and a chilling atmosphere provided by candlelit cinematography. Definitely worth the watch.


Director: David McAbee (USA)

Head Trip Program

Through great editing and makeup work, this 4-minute sci-fi short shows a scientist urgently trying to record a warning to the world while in the middle of a gruesome transformation. 

Even though I was transfixed watching “Nova”, it left me hungry to know more about the story it proposed. With such a short duration, you can’t go wrong with his cool and tense exercise.


Director: Danny Garcia (USA)

Home Invasion: NYC Shorts Program

When visiting her abuela, a woman finds a very creepy new religious figure on her table. Apparently this entity has healed abuela from all her woes, and now she wants her granddaughter to experience the same.

This short has great acting, an authentic Latinx feeling, a clever use of subtitles and a very badass satanic dance scene. Creepy in all the right ways.

“Unholy ‘Mole”

Director: David Bornstein (USA)

Heartbeats & Brainwaves Program

A desperate husband makes a deal with the devil to exchange his unborn child for guacamole. 

This short rules. It’s hilarious, utterly disgusting and is a simple allegory about greed and toxic masculinity that reminds us how entitled some men are. Plus, the animation of the devil is fantastic. I’m not sure if you’ll want guacamole after watching it though.


Director: William Laboury (France)

Something Strange Program

While wandering through a trash field, a lonely girl named Maiko finds a holographic woman inside a crystal case: It’s a yandere, a Tamagotchi-like AI designed to fall in love with its owner. After a brief exchange, Maiko reveals that she was (or is?) a yandere too, and proceeds to tell her own love story.

This sci-fi romantic short is an allegory of female liberation told through a clever concept and a well-executed mix of animation and live action. Sometimes it gets too formulaic, but the concept works really well and it has a strong ending that might leave you wanting more.

“Your Last Day on Earth” (Tu último día en la Tierra)

Director: Marc Martínez Jordán (Spain)

A man in a fox costume gets help from a group of “hacktivists” to travel to the past with the hope of watching his deceased wife one more time.

This might sound like an exaggeration, but “Your Last Day on Earth” might be my favorite short film of all time. There are elements of comedy, drama, sci-fi and horror, all packed with creativity and heart. The costumes and editing are outstanding too. I have nothing but praise for this short and I’m utterly stunned at how much humanity Martínez Jordan managed to put in under 12 minutes. Wow.

You can watch these shorts at Nightstream 2020. Make sure to follow our coverage of the festival here.

Leave a Reply

error: Content is protected !!