I missed Fantasia Fest's two opening night features, but providence at the festival's opening night party festivities saw to it that a USB with the short film that preceded The Conjuring ended up in my possession.
The buzz from those that had just seen it was good, the runtime was ideal -- hitting the short film runtime sweet spot of 8 minutes -- and I wanted a hit of cinema before I hit the hay. It turned out to be quite the solid entry into the pantheon of seasonal horror/comedy parables.
Jack Attack sees a precocious young boy doing a pumpkin themed 20 questions routine to his Jack'O'Lantern-carving babysitter one Halloween. Once the innocuous question "do pumpkins feel pain?" is asked, it isn't too hard to gauge the short's trajectory, but there's fun to be had in watching it play out.
Rather then barrel into an apocalyptic reverie of violence with gleeful, infectious abandon, like Jason Eisner's Treevenge, directors Bryan Norton and Antonio Padovan employ a slow burn here, eschewing a broad ensemble cast of caricatures for a more nuanced trio in order to twist the knife a bit further when the pulp inevitably hits the fan. Cringe-inducing skin penetration (from both inside and outside the body), plus a whole lot of slick looking tentacle action follow.
Ultimately it's your traditional punch-line short, and while some may be hoping for a bit more substance, it's the perfect morsel to whet the appetite of a festival audience before a feature presentation.
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