Last year, before Halloween, Netflix dropped a surprise horror-inspired series for fans – Don’t Watch This. The series, a collection of five horror film shorts, is a collaboration between Netflix, Crypt TV, and … Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. None of these horror shorts clock in at over 9 minutes. Two of the shorts are a mere two minutes in length. Is there a Lights Out somewhere in Netflix’s fun concept series?
Episode 1 – Friendship Bracelet
Social outcast, Julie, fancies herself a surgeon and likes dissecting things. When she invites two popular girls to her birthday party and no one else shows up, things go horribly wrong. Think of movies like May or Excision, just a lot shorter. At roughly 9 minutes, Friendship Bracelet is intended to showcase its creators’ practical gore effects. In this regard, the short is fine though it’s not likely to wow most gorehounds. It’s watchable, if not uninspiring.
Episode 2 – CTRL + ALT + DEL
An Internet Demon (I guess) challenges an Internet troll to a virtual puzzle challenge as his comeuppance. There’s not much to say about this terrible short. Aside from its Lawnmower Man and Brainscan take on virtual reality, CTRL + ALT + DEL has little to say about Internet trolling. This may sound like an odd criticism, but it’s punishment doesn’t seem to fit the crime. Unfriended has already done this subject much better.
Episode 3 – Incommudum
Some people might refer to Incommudum as ‘experimental’ or ‘edgy’. I would prefer to call it pointless. In short, Episode 3 is a montage of essentially anything you might remotely construe as ‘scary’. It could easily double as the credit sequence for a horror TV series. Do yourself a favour and just watch the creepy VHS video from The Ring.
Episode 4 – Keep Out
At just over 7 minutes, Keep Out is the longest of the horror shorts. Not surprisingly, it’s also the best of the episodes. A pair of obnoxious YouTuber’s (are there any other kind) investigate an abandoned house that may be be haunted. Once inside they discover the house is not as abandoned as they were led to believe. It’s a genuinely scary film short with good use of misdirection, lighting, and jumps.
Episode 5 – Antoni Psycho
Look, I enjoy Queer Eye but this short is another throwaway. Queer Eye’s Antoni Porowski stars in what is intended to be a two to three minute American Psycho homage. And that’s it. No clever twist, no subversive update. Antoni Psycho plays like a high school student reciting Shakespeare line-for-line for an English lit assignment.
Don’t Watch This A Wasted Opportunity
Netflix had admirable intent with Don’t Watch This, but the execution is flawed. At a mere 25 minutes, you can’t afford to have two throwaway shorts, one stinker, and shoulder-shrugger. If there is another session, Netflix needs to consider expanding with more shorts. And some of those shorts should stretch beyond two to three minutes. Let some up-and-coming horror filmmakers stretch their creative talents a little further. In the meantime, if you’re looking for a great horror short film, watch Never Hike Alone.