Five Incredibly Creepy Animated Short Films

Sometimes, stretching out a great idea into a full length feature film just doesn’t work, especially if you are trying to scare an audience. You risk watering down the story and losing the essence of what makes the story so great in the first place. Some stories are told far more effectively when kept in a shorter format. And often, when reflecting on some of the creepier or more powerful films I have seen, I notice some of them are no longer then three minutes.

It is often a great treat to see when a director can pull you in and deliver the story, characters, and atmosphere in that short amount of time, and still manage to leave you with a film you know you will always remember, no matter the length. Whether they are morality tales or just a good old fashioned creepy story, here are six of them, linked for your viewing pleasure.



At what point does paranoia go from being paranoia to being completely justified? From the stylish, psuedo-realistic animation on tap here, to the extremely creepy reveal, SMILE is one of those films that you will find yourself coming back to, to watch again and again.

I don’t even recall when I first saw SMILE, but I know it was years ago, and to this day, it is still something I show to people from time to time, just to see what they think of it. The overall reaction it gets is ” that was very creepy” from most people, and for something that has already been in circulation for so long, that speaks quite a bit in its favor.

And I don’t care what anyone says, everybody is afraid of clowns at least a little. And those faces at the end of the video seem to hint at clown to me, so that says it all.

So is this about paranoia? Social phobias? The drugs kicking in? That is left for you to determine for yourself.

The Backwater Gospel


This is the piece that inspired me to write this list. I feel like EVERYONE in the world needs to see this. Though this video does get violent, it is quite stylized, and everything from the stark, angular art style to the incredible soundtrack all add up to provide a viewing experience you will not soon forget.

The animation, in particular, is staggering. I hope there is a video game desginer watching this and realizes how well this look would lend itself to a video game world.

Would I want to see this story stretched out for 90 minutes? No, I wouldn’t. The story tells itself PERFECTLY in nine. But, with that having been said, would I watch a 90 minute movie that used this animation style? Yes, without hesitation.

And just like all good works of art, Backwater Gospel has pissed some people off. Some Catholics have gotten mad as a result of this film, because they think the message is anti-religion, which it clearly is not.

This film simply sums up the idea that the biggest monster known to man is not the Devil, nor is it religion itself. It is man. And much like the first film on the list, this movie also touches on paranoia. At what point is it justified, and at what point does it drive you mad?

Sebastian’s Voodoo


I would call this one less “creepy” and more “moving”, but because of the subject matter involved, I think that merits a place on this list.

Though initially dark, and with an ending that could summon emotion in even the most stoic of us, this is the one I am most surprised has not been snatched up and squeezed into a much more family friendly version by some major studio. I am quite grateful it has not happened, though.

I truly believe it is the format and execution that makes a tale this concentrated work so well. You feel for these little guys (especially the hero) and in the end, though your crestfallen about how it had to go, there is hope, and you can feel it.

For a four minute movie to evoke the emotional responses that this one does is nothing short of remarkable. Some directors and writers could not summon that in a viewer in ninety minutes.

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  1. Oooo! My favorite creepy short film is The Birds Upstairs.. I saw it at a filmfest last month. Very profound… kind of a dark, creepy comedy.. in some ways.

    Great list! Thanks for posting these; I can’t wait to watch them later.

  2. Nice list. Alma, and the Backwater Gospel I’d seen before but the others were new to me. And that last one, wtf? I thought, this is a nice little play on childhood fears…. uh, not so much.

  3. I’ve already seen Backwater Gospel and Smile, both were wonderful. After finishing Sandman, I realized I had seen the ending, and only the ending, as a young kid during Halloween on TV one year. That short scared me for a long, LONG time. Probably the reason I have a fear of eyeball gore too.

  4. Wow. Thanks for that. One hell of showcase. Backwater Gospel is just wall-to-wall genius. I love that Catholics got offended by it. It proved the film’s point about intolerance. Death/God/Satan/whatever are just spectators to our madness. It’s our own hand that is responsible for the death and suffering and madness we create, but it’s always much easier to extricate it from ourselves to an outside source (preferably something different and therefore scary), and in doing so our resulting fear and hate and (over)reactions to that fear and hate create the exact evil we were so afraid of in the first place. It bugs the hell out of me that stuff like this is relegated to self-funded personal passion projects while idiots like Michael Bay blow through billions making condescending sugarcoated garbage for children.

  5. ^wonderfully put, thanks man. As soon as I saw Backwater I immediately made this list AROUND it, because I felt more people needed to see it. I have watched it at least 30 times, and every time, I notice a nuance I missed.

  6. I won’t lie we all know the main attraction was Backwater Gospel, when watching it I immeditaly thought Borderlands and RAGE whic I thought for the graphics and how comedic it was both. Sorry if I am the the only one who laughed when watching it. I am going into film and directing and no I would not want anyone, other than creators, to make a this a movie. Of course I don’t think this should be made into a movie but I would love to work with the directors and graphic designers who made the short film. Oh also quick note I love the honor in Sebastian’s Voodoo, I have seen it before and also the Pixar short, but I was also curious if anyone else thought steampunk Bioshock for the graphics of that film??? Oh if anyone wants to rant at me my email is I hope everyone liked these films as much as I!

  7. It’s strange that the claynimations such as Pussycat or Bloody Date aren’t here.

    I wouldn’t say that the 90 min version of 9 ruined it. Come on, that sounds too fatalistic. I do prefer the short version, but I like to keep an open mind. It wasn’t bad, is what I believe and say, it could have been horrible and it ended up being enjoyable.

  8. Nice selection. Here is a few that I’ve seen that are kinda creepy…Zero, The Little Girl Who Was Forgotten, Styx & Stones, Frat, Mortys, Mirror (although very short…its…freaky..)Bad Egg and lastly…The Maker. I actually have only seen the trailer for it, but it looks promising.

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