Place (Sundance)

By Jason Gudasz | Horror
A young woman moves into a new house. But the spirits make her life a living hell.

Looking for a fresh start, Lauren is a single mother who moves in with her daughter Stella and her new boyfriend into a new home in Los Angeles. But their first moments reveal a dead electrician — an ominous omen if there ever was one.

Despite the dead corpse, the new ad-hoc family unit moves in. But as they adjust to living together — and occasionally chafe at their new domestic intimacy with one another — the house reveals its own agenda as it slowly turns each member of the household against one another.

Writer-director Jason Gudasz’s offbeat short injects elements of psychological horror into what is essentially an awkward, off-kilter dark comedy about home, belonging and family. Jagged in pacing and editing, it deconstructs the look of an indie family dramedy, as it zigzags between characters and genres, engaging viewers with an accomplished sense of craft and a wry, unique eye for how people can be lonely and isolated, even when they’re sharing the same room.

The storytelling is more layered and ambitious than most short films, juggling three separate storylines as each character develops a unique relationship to the house. As the house’s paranormal tendencies ramp up — and are excellently constructed through sound and image, instead of special effects — the trio grow apart from one another. Instead, each character becomes more enmeshed with the house, often to strange and insular effect (which goes hilariously unregistered by the other characters.)

Visually, the film also echoes this trajectory, deconstructing the look and feel of an indie family dramedy. As the narrative proceeds, the palette darkens and the editing seems to disintegrate into shards, as the story and the characters descend into an almost schizoid mode of behavior.

Lauren and her new family unit become increasingly outlandish and surreal, but it’s sold with an excellent ensemble cast who balances the complex performance demands of the story. Each actor has to match the studied, awkward, almost mannerist tone of the storytelling, but they also have to come from a genuine emotional place.

They must register the growing detachment, isolation and even resentment of one another, while still hitting the “WTF” oddness of the film’s humor. But when it all comes together — and the family settles into the configuration that the house, and Lauren, truly desires — it results in a truly engaging, unexpected experience: one with a genuine freshness in voice, tone and sensibility that entertains but also challenges the audience with original storytelling.

“Place” premiered at Sundance but also made waves at prestigious horror festivals like Fantasia and Fantastic Fest, which demonstrates both the success of its cross-genre pollination and its singularity of voice and vision. Absurdist and sharp, it gently interrogates the notion of the traditional family configuration, and may even have intriguing readings during a time when many of us are home more than ever — and perhaps confronting the hidden and subsumed dynamics underlying our own lives.

You Might Also Like:

Feeling Through (Oscars)

By Doug Roland | Drama
A homeless teen meets a deaf-blind man who changes his life forever...

Call Connect

By Josiah Allen and Indianna Bell | Drama
A young helpline operator takes her first call and gets more than she expected.

The Things You Think I’m Thinking

By Sherren Lee | Drama
A burn-survivor goes on his first date after his accident.


By Christophe M. Saber | Comedy
A father slaps a disobedient child. Then a bystander threatens to report him for abuse.

The Landing

By Josh Tanner | Sci-Fi
A man uncovers the horrifying truth of what landed on his childhood farm.

Sometimes, I Think About Dying (Sundance)

By Stefanie Abel Horowitz | Drama
A woman thinks about dying. But a co-worker asks her out.

The Goodnight Show

By Charlie Schwan | Sci-Fi
A virgin tries to get laid before an unstoppable asteroid ends the world.

Naysayer ft. Steven Yeun

By David M. Helman | Drama
A father is cut off from his son, then takes matters into his own hands...

Joseph’s Reel

By Michael Lavers | Romance
An elderly man is given the opportunity to relive one day of his life.

Lost and Found (Oscars)

By Andrew Goldsmith and Bradley Slabe | Animation
A clumsy crochet dinosaur must unravel itself to save the love of its life.


By Joe Gillette | Romance
2 strangers at a wedding reception make an unexpected connection.

Exit Strategy

By Travis Bible | Sci-Fi
A man in a time-loop must work with his brother to prevent a catastrophic fire.

Garfield (Sundance)

By Georgi Bank-Davies | Romance
A young woman wakes up in a strange place, with a strange guy.


By Noel Loozen | Comedy
A young man works in a food truck, across from a brothel with a girl who needs his help.

Long Branch

By Dane Clark and Linsey Stewart | Romance
A young woman finds a one-night stand. But he lives 2 hours away via public transit.

Your favorite short films you haven't seen yet.

Inspiring and insightful. Entertaining and enlightening. That's what you can expect here: no fluff. Just a steady stream of the best films delivered to your inbox.