Youtube horror shorts abound and, as an avid horror fan—grotesque body horror stay away, though—I am overdue for another paranormal terror and bloodshed list. And what do you know? Halloween is creeping up like a black cat ready to pounce. Youtube is a boon for horror fans, and directors and short films have gone from Youtube to feature-length films and directorial debuts. Unlike studios with limited horror releases in a year, there are Youtube channels dedicated to churning out the macabre, weird, and terrifying. Youtube is like catnip to horror enthusiasts.
So I decided to drop a list for more horror fun. If you’re looking for other horror lists of mine, I have one on my site for Youtube horror shorts from a couple of years ago, plus an anime horror list, an Asian film horror list, and another Youtube horror short list on Nerdist. Since this is my third list for Youtube, and I adored the Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark series, I guess this will be the “more” set!
Ready. Fret. Hacktion!
“Hello?” mixes Hollywood and the paranormal, a mix more common than some realize. From Hollywood Institute for Parapsychical Research, this Youtube horror short, inspired by true stories, a white woman (Emmy James) arrives at an Airbnb rental in Los Angeles to meet agents and attend auditions. The renter, played by Brian McGuire, regales her with tales of Hollywood, particularly the story of the first movie star, Florence Lawrence (Jules Nurrish), who lived in the apartment. Once night falls, terrifying paranormal events occur. With an intentional old-timey feel, the only way to survive “Hello?” without nightmares is if you remember and sing Lionel Richie’s song. However, it may not work at night.
Buried Hatchet Productions channel churns out some chilling bangers. “Motion Detected,” directed and edited by Vincent Dormani and starring Frank Dormani, is about a white man who comes home to items knocked over in the foyer. Using his Dormani Home Security, he replays footage to see what occurred in his home. A mix between a haunting, a home invasion, and One Missed Call—the Japanese original, not the subpar American remake. “Motion Detected” has the production and effects complete with well-timed scares to send shivers down your spine, especially if you have a security system.
Grimoire Horror’s channel may be only a year old, but it made an impression on Youtube. “The Changing Room,” written, directed, edited, and VFX by Sam Evenson brings fright to the store fitting rooms. Everyone uses them, stripping in a random public space that countless others used prior. The biggest takeaway from “The Changing Room;” always read the damn signs. When the young white lady, played by Jamie Taylor Ballesa, shopping in a small store, bypasses a “caution” sign, what follows is sheer terror packed into a short runtime. If you watch, you’ll never look at opposite mirrors in fitting rooms the same again.
“Do You See It Too,” directed by Liam Banks, is about a young white couple, Sophie (Chlöe Crump) and David (Jay Podmore), asleep in bed on a stormy night. When Sophie awakens to strange noises, seeing something her partner David cannot, what follows is an Inception equivalent fright. The top-shelf special effects and small space increase the tension to a fever pitch. When it unleashes, you think, “well, damn,” and also eye the escape routes in your bedroom. Superfreak Media channel brought out a gem.
“Moshari,” written and directed by Nuhash Humayun, follows a young Bangladeshi woman (Sunerah Binte Kamal) and her kid sister (Nairah Onora Saif) in Bangladesh in a dystopian world. They hurry through the forest to a small boat to get home before dark. As they do, someone on a loudspeaker blares that everyone get in their mosharis (mosquito nets) before dark. The film differs from other horror films on the list, as this tells you the sisters are hiding from vampires and builds the tension from there. The directing and scares are outstanding; combined with a great music score, you’ll root for these tough and outspoken sisters’ survival.
“Open Late,” written and directed by Julian and Christian Vetrone, this horror short from Dead Bros Videos Youtube channel starts with that annoying feeling retail employees get when someone places an order a few minutes before closing. But what follows is anything but ordinary, everyday annoyances. After closing, the young Black man (Akil McKenzie) prepares to leave when a new order comes through, despite orders on pause in the system, and the situation grows dire. “Open Late” feels real because there is nothing more hair-raising than closing a store alone. Every sound amplifies in the dead quiet. Watch, but make sure you are not eating anything.
Buried Hatchet Productions and Vincent and Frank Dormani return to the list again with “Ornate.” In another horror short with that old-time aesthetic, a young white man (Frank Dormani) goes through old photos—we’re talking ‘20s or ‘30s old. When he spies one photo of a featureless woman in an ornate oval frame. Once he puts the picture down, events spiral fast. The visual effects in this film are impressive and, like all the creators on this list, I hope to see a feature-length horror film in the future. At only a little over six minutes long, it is not only a scary watch but a compact one. Seriously, stop touching old photos.
One of the more inventive shorts on this list in its minimalist ability to build terror, “Curve,” written and directed by Tim Egan, is horrifying. A white woman wakes up outside on a smooth curved slope with a dropoff that is pitch black. Neither she nor the viewer knows what is below, but something is down there. Unfortunately, the rim to climb out is well above her head, and with the angle on this smooth surface so steep she cannot stand, she has limited options to survive. No beasties are jumping out at you, and no small room, yet the claustrophobic terror in an open space and fear of heights has the hair on your nape stand on end.
“Night Bus,” written by Jade Alexander and directed by Henrietta and Jessica Ashworth, takes place in England in the dead of night. A Black woman, Natasha (Susanne Salavati), boards a double-decker bus to start her shift on her birthday. Although she sees no one on the bus, the stop bell keeps pealing even after she turns it off. As things escalate, this game of torment takes frightening and comedic turns. Entertaining with a catchy end credits song, give this a watch if you like your fright with some laughs. How this only has 100k views is beyond me.
Technology is amazing. Games are literally at our fingertips now wherever we go. But with these come new pathways to terror. What The Ring did for VHS, “Don’t Peek,” written and directed by Julian Terry, does for handheld gaming. An Animal Crossing horror short, this 7-minute-long film is lean, with no dialogue. A woman is playing a game on her handheld when things turn strange and horrifying. Horror is tricky. But “Don’t Peek” delivers nightmare fuel with sound effects, a woman in terror, and no dialogue. You’ll think twice about playing at night. Or at all.
Youtube creator Dead Sound deserves more views for his dystopian Autodale world. Both chilling and too close to home, the series critiques society, conformity, and perceptions of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ based on appearance. This is how you include a meaningful message but still give the frights! Start the series with “Being Pretty” and it goes downhill like an animated “Examination Day” meets Bioshock. Except here, everyone must look and play their given roles…or else.
You have animation, beasties, sentient unknown and hauntings to fill your heart with joy and your dreams with nightmares. Have a wonderful Halloween!