Karen Gillan made a horror short that's too true for comfort. It's great.

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Oct 18, 2015, 7:52 PM EDT (Updated)

Fun Size Horror is a group of horror-loving filmmakers who strive to play with the genre in new and exciting ways. "Fun size" in this case denotes that most of what is produced under this banner are shorts. So the focus isn't so much on the complex narratives or detailed setups as much as it is on the blood and guts that make horror fun.

This year, one of the people who wrote, directed and starred in one of these shorts is Karen Gillan. Karen is obviously very familiar with genre filmmaking, having starred in Doctor Who and Guardians of the Galaxy on the sci-fi end, appeared in the underrated horror gem Oculus and even worked with my favorite modern horror director, Ti West, on a western called In a Valley of Violence.

In short -- Karen Gillan knows her stuff. And it shows.


Conventional centers on fictional B-movie scream queen Rachel Milligan and her complicated relationship with Axe Wound 2, the movie that made her (temporarily) famous. But really, though, Conventional is about the fickle nature of fame. Milligan sports painfully bloated collagen-infused lips curled into a fake smile and a pair of eyes that say "Kill me now." The only people who still seem interested in her are those who cosplay as her fictional slasher from Axe Wound 2, Stu Mac. Her fans love seeing her afraid, and she just loves being seen at all.

It's all very close to home. Karen Gillan has done her fair share of conventions, and it's clear that she saw other women actors there who were still trying to remain relevant, still trying to connect with a dwindling fanbase and desperately trying to fight the inevitable march of time. The story of Rachel Milligan could very easily been Karen Gillan's. Or anyone's. If you've ever been to a horror con, especially, you know this story.

That's what makes Conventional so good. It's bleak and uncomfortable because it holds up a very real and very horrific mirror to the darker part of being a genre actor. And that's what horror does at its best.