The Surrogate

By Stas Santimov | Animation
A man on a date encounters a strange creature. But a more horrible monster exists...

A man is on his way to a date with his girlfriend when he encounters a mysterious strange creature. He impulsively destroys its nest, causing it to invade his body and immobilize him. But as it turns out, that's not the worst monster that crosses the man's path...

Hypnotic and deliciously creepy, animator Stas Santimov's animated horror short delivers a tale worthy of a modern-day Edgar Allen Poe, full of chills, terror and an ice-cold brutal sense of comeuppance.

Much of the film's spell is due to its visuals, which have a dark, painterly uncanniness to them. Each image is captivating, with details that build character or add a mordant whimsy to a scene. Undeniably accomplished, the moody palette and especially the distorted bodies have almost a murky, water-logged quality to them -- almost as if they're reanimated corpses come back to life. An evocative soundscape and darkly ambient score also builds a full sense of the narrative's world and imbues it with an ominous and otherworldly foreboding.

But beyond the visuals and sound, the storytelling is also consistently compelling, laying down the pieces of the puzzle with a patient deliberateness (and without dialogue): the waiting girlfriend, the carelessly destructive man, a desperately placed phone call.

But the story gains real traction and momentum when another character enters, one with its own agenda, intrigues and longings. And when these paths cross, it unravels a climax and ending that is skin-crawling and horrific and made even more so because it plays out with the same measured pacing, augmenting a feeling of further doom.

"The Surrogate" takes advantage of animation's narrative and imaginative possibilities, taking a story that perhaps would be gross or shocking in live-action and rendering it as a dark, sinister fairy tale in the animated medium. It's almost a strange, inverted take on the story of "Little Red Riding Hood," with its riff on a walk through a dark wood and other motifs of that classic narrative. (To detail more would be to give away the ending.) The real gift is how "The Surrogate" both feels complete in and of itself, but invites viewers to wonder what happens next -- demonstrating what a dark spell it has cast through its command of art, story and dread.




You Might Also Like:

Omnibus (Oscars)

By Sam Karmann | Comedy
A man boards the wrong train and desperately tries to get off between stations.

Little Bear

By Nicolas Birkenstock | Drama
A young girl sleepwalks and runs away at night. Now she wants to see where she goes...

Tala'vision

By Murad Abu Eisheh | Drama
A young girl watches a secret TV in a war-torn world. But it becomes life or death.

Iniquity

By Oliver Goodrum | Drama
A man who bullied a disabled girl tries to escape his past. Then an angry mob finds him.

Pony

By Candice Carella | Drama
A single mother leaves her young daughter with a rock musician uncle.

Sylvia

By Richard Prendergast | Drama
A single mother takes her family on a road trip. But it's to an unwanted destination.

Second Best

By Alyssa McClelland | Comedy
Twin sisters turn into rivals when one's gymnastics career steals the spotlight.

No More Wings

By Abraham Adeyemi | Drama
2 friends meet at their favorite fried chicken shop. But their lives have diverged.

Avarya

By Gokalp Gonen | Animation
A man is trapped on a spaceship after his robot overseer finds every planet uninhabitable.

Feeling Through (Oscars)

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

Ernie

By Hadley Hillel | Drama
A man's suicide attempt rips a hole in the ceiling. Then he befriends the boy upstairs.

Dig Your Own Grave

By Kirk Larsen | Comedy
A man is forced to dig his own grave in the desert. But the ground is hard.

Call Connect

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

More Than God

By Kev Cahill | Comedy
A devoted husband suspects his wife is cheating on him. Then he hides under the bed.

Welcome to Iron Knob

By Dave Wade | Comedy
A young boy accidentally shoots a stranger and the town tries to cover it up.



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.