7 Disturbing Ari Aster Short Films You Need To Watch

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Ari Aster short films

Contrary to popular belief, Ari Aster didn’t just appear with 2018’s Hereditary. He put out unsettling shorts for a whole decade before that iconic cultural shift. While y’all were out here watching Midsommar and campaigning to become the next Flower Queen, I was scouring Youtube. That’s the only site where you can find seven of his disturbing short films.

Even when Aster’s goal is to be funny, it’s highly uncomfortable and off-putting. These nightmares are quick and free, but I warn you that you can never unsee them once you hit play.


Rachel Brosnahan plays a vapid young actress who gives us a glimpse into her privileged world. Her monologue is broken up into tableaus that are alienating and cold. They also give us a peek into the people who are working around our lead. I’m sure it’s supposed to be funny, but it made me uncomfortable and sad.

C’est La Vie

Speaking of uncomfortable and sad, this one follows the formula of Basically. However, this time we’re following an unhoused angry man in LA. These tableaus are giving a glimpse into a grungy version of LA as the protagonist continues telling his tale. But, it’s a story that makes it hard to empathize with him the more he reveals. Which might be the point seeing how this dropped in 2016…

Hermans Cure-All Tonic

A young pharmacist feels the pressure from his dad and his dad’s old clients as he sells a family elixir. This 2008 film is serving the uncomfortable camera work and family issues that we have come to expect from Ari Aster. This time the parent was physically disgusting. Also, the sound design sent me right to hell.


Have you ever wondered what it would be like if Aster made a Pixar movie? Well, this answers that wild question! Bonnie Bedelia plays a mom who isn’t ready for her son to go to college. This silent short also sees Rachel Brosnahan team up with this director again.

TDF Really Works

This short is a fake advert for “Tino’s Dick Fart” device. It also sees Ari Aster himself stepping in front of the camera. We have a bunch of animated instructions on how to use the device complete with dick illustrations. It’s by far the most unexpected film in his catalog. However, it is also so random that it makes sense for it to be on his resume.   

The Strange Things About The Johnsons

This horrific short about a familial relationship is possibly Aster’s most well-known short. It stars the late Billy Mayo and opens with an uncomfortable scene that is just the tip of the “WTF” vibe that is the whole project. Content Warning for sexual assault and incest.

The Turtle’s Head

An old gross womanizing detective finds himself with a mysterious medical condition. Spoiler alert: this one is about dick too! This is definitely the least upsetting of Ari Aster’s work. The sexist detective in a comedy-noir is refreshing after all the trauma he’s dealt us over the years. This one also has Richard Riehle and Jim O’Heir anchoring this weird moment. 

If you are caught up on Ari Aster’s work and want more, this is your year. His next feature Beau Is Afraid hits theaters on April 21 and looks like his trippiest film yet. Which is saying something. However, only time will tell if it will be as upsetting as any of these shorts. 

Did you watch all seven of these Ari Aster movies and survive to tell the tale? Then let’s chat at @misssharai

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