If you’re looking for something scary but not too long, there are some great horror shorts to see.
I love horror. Anyone who knows me knows that at this point. I love the best horror movies out there, the best A24 horror movies, or really just anything scary. I could spend an entire day watching horror movies and still get a good night’s rest.
Maybe that’s more of a personal issue, but whatever.
Either way, there are other times when I don’t have the time to watch the entirety of a horror movie – but that’s where some of the best horror shorts come along. Thankfully, we have some that are readily available for you to watch right now.
If Mama sounds familiar, it’s because Andy Muschietti (the man behind the 2010s adaptation of the IT films) made his debut in the film industry with the film adaptation of Mama, which was based on this short film.
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The short film follows a young child who wakes her sister up by telling her that their mother has returned home, but their supposed maternal figure is not who they ever expected it to be – it’s a lot more sinister.
This film is one of those that makes you scared to turn off the light, and as someone who first saw this when she was 10 years old, it was the first real short that made me want to watch longer-length horror movies, but also appreciate the fact that some horror films don’t need to be extended to be scary. This is terrifying enough.
Bedfellows is one of the shortest films on this list, clocking in at a whopping two minutes and thirty-one seconds – but it scares pretty quickly.
In the short, a woman receives a phone call in the middle of the night, but when she answers it, it’s someone that she never thought would call her, and as she speaks to them, the tension grows thicker by the second, until the ultimate reveal that makes you jump out of your seat.
Bedfellows almost reminds me of the slow-burn horror movies out there because while it may only last two minutes, the tension is done so perfectly.
Behind The Door (2020)
Another concise film on this list is Behind the Door, a short horror film that follows a young man reading a Stephen King novel at night but hearing something coming from behind the door. He investigates but finds nothing there – until it comes from the dark.
It’s such a simple, short horror film, but it builds tension in a way that reminds you of many other horror movies that involve ghosts or other creepies. Quick and to the point – precisely the kind of short horror we all need.
As someone who grew up with a mother whom we would watch demonic possession horror movies with all the time (like The Exorcist or The Omen), this is the best short horror film out there. It’s about a mother and a daughter trying to fight off demons using salt and other methods.
There is no buildup in this – you are thrown right into the action, which I like the most about it, if we’re honest. It has special effects, good action, and great acting, and personally, I could see this turning into a full-length movie.
The History Of Monsters (2019)
In this short horror film, The History of Monsters, follows a woman living in isolation who is haunted by monsters each night, but one day, she finds a companion in the woods and brings him back to her home. However, as time passes, she realizes that the monsters might not be the only thing she can’t trust.
Clocking in at eighteen minutes, this is one of the longer short horror films, but God, every second of it is pure mastery. I’ve watched this film a few times and shown it to multiple people, and it’s really well done. The makeup itself deserves all the awards.
The Black Hole (2008)
Think about some of the best sci-fi horror movies you’ve seen, and then shrink those down into shorter films – it’s hard to imagine a sci-fi concept in a short film, but The Black Hole does that and more. The short follows a worker who can create a black hole as a prototype to get whatever he wants – until it leads him to something horrible.
Again, this is a short, short film. It’s only two minutes, but man, it takes a dark turn quickly and turns a cute sci-fi concept into a great horror short that makes you rethink how greedy you should be.
A Sickness (2021)
Spanning ten minutes, A Sickness is the perfect ten-minute horror film, following Stephen, a man who looks normal and acts normal, but has secrets hidden deep within the floorboards of his house.
A Sickness is one of those short movies that I think is great, but you should go into it completely unaware of what you’re getting yourself into. In those ten minutes, I promise, the end will make you sit in silence for about ten minutes wondering what you just watched – and then recommend it to your horror-loving friends.
Behind Closed Doors (2010)
Behind Closed Doors is the only animated horror short on here, and I’m a pretty big animation fan, so I had to list this one. Behind Closed Doors tells a simple story – a boy who believes that a monster is haunting his bedroom, and when no one helps him, he has to confront the beast himself.
Behind Closed Doors is a concept I’m sure we have heard of – the monster in the closet waiting to emerge, as we’ve seen in so many films, from the Halloween movies to Insidious and so many more. But, I think what makes this great is that somehow, in five minutes, there are enough twists to take years off your life. I swear to God.
This is for everyone who is scared of heights. Curve follows a woman stuck on a strange curve that, if she falls in, will lead into an abyss filled with strange sounds that remind the audience of evil monsters. She tries to make it out and get to the edge for safety.
This movie gives me so much unease. It’s hard to make me feel uncomfortable, and this is coming from someone who has no issue with heights, but the idea that she’s just stuck there and trying to get herself out makes you squirm. All of this is done in one location, which is impressive.
The Black Tower (1987)
Last but not least, we have The Black Tower. This 20-minute short film from the 1980s follows a man as he videotapes London, all for a strange, mysterious black tower to fill the background of the video.
This short is the epitome of tension. There are no jump scares, but this strange building following this person everywhere sets your skin on fire and blares alarm bells in your head. It still makes viewers squirm all these years later.
I would recommend another horror short film, Lights Out, if you can find it – truly remarkable to watch. All of these, really – and now I need to go turn some lights on and watch a cute rom-com not to be scared anymore.