Starting off the final day of the festival was:
HUMAN KILLER & PSYCHOLOGICAL TERRORS SHORT BLOCK
Music Video: Dante’s Penance
We have a rap artist talking about his attraction to Lusa, and how his lust for her has brought him to the second level of Hell. While rap is not our go to form of music, of production values are sharp and disturbing. Story feels as if part of a much bigger idea and/or project. This was directed by photographer and graphic designer Dante Moran in San Diego.
Very graphic film of murder, but oddly told. Memory loss, possibly even split personality disorder plays into the psychological horror of the story. This short film was part of an experiment to shoot three short films in two days time. This film was shot entirely in a single day, and was directed by Damon Rickard.
Surreal film told through very colored lighting about a man who simply wants to escape his capture. Very well shot with plenty of minimalistic camera angles and lighting, and was directed by award-winning filmmaker Morgana McKenzie.
A man is being held prisoner and tortured through sadistic forms of surgery. The makeup is intensely graphic. The film then flashes to a hospital where he is being cared for. Is it real, or is it in his head a psychological defense for the torture he’s enduring? No, he’s being tortured and then healed only to be tortured all over again, and for apparently very deserving reasons. This film was directed by Sam and George Clemens.
Postpartum (California Premiere)
A horror tale about what happens to some women after giving birth. Excellent horror metaphor for the mental illnesses some women go through with postpartum mental illness. This short takes it to extremes where the mother kills everyone around her. This also shows that not all psychological horrors are entirely horror films. Director Izzy Lee has delivered a film that is more of a tragedy.
Sam is haunted by people wearing animal masks in a series of nightmarish visions. The film doesn’t reveal much, except that this is not in his head, and even Lola isn’t quite what she seems to be.
Bunker Game (USA Premiere)
A man holds a girl prisoner and tortures her by playing Connect Four. If she wins she gets to eat, but he hardly ever lets her win. However, there is more to who, and what, she is than meets the eye. This crosses sub-genres from psychological horror to supernatural.
This is a very non-linear story about torture as a form therapy to work through your own pain and issues. The entire film is shot with a “first person” POV. It certainly isn’t the type of psycho-therapy I wish to go through!
Classic babysitter horror with a killer in the house. Crazed killer wants to put his beloved sister back together. He mutilates others to “restore” her, only to be rejected by her. Is it real, or all in his head? This is another short film that demonstrates how three dimensional villainous characters aren’t necessarily evil, and this film is another example of how some horror stories are truly tragedies. This is in association with the VR Experience at Horrible Imaginings where nothing will prepare you for the hair raising sensation of finding yourself dropped directly in front of the killer with nowhere to escape no matter where you look. The tension builds as you discover what his creation is, but as the scene comes to a climax, you’ll learn the horrifying truth about why you are.
Night of the Slasher
Have you ever watched a “slasher” horror film, only to shake your head because a character on the screen is engaging in one of the “deadly sins” that always precedes that person’s death? You can read our review as well as listen to our interview with Shant Hamassian.
Little Boy Blue
What type of psychological horror and torture does a child go through after a terrible accident? Beautiful cinematography underscore the symbolism of the before and after. Story is a bit obscure, but the horror of childhood mutilation is very well communicated in this film by director Nathan Keene.
SUPERNATURAL HORRORS SHORT BLOCK
Eyes of Shadow
From director Ricardo Arriaga is a film that has the familiar trope of woman in the all alone in the house, but is she? Why is she being pursued? Does it pertain to the house? And what happened to the woman? This definitely shows how horror is rooted in the irrational.
This is a “timey-wimey’ story where a ballerina’s future is visited upon her. But does the “other” Mona now take her place and is now the starring ballerina? Beautiful short film with a lovely Eastern Eurooean score. More art than story.
A girl summons a demon to stop the abuse she receives from her father, but she got more than what she bargained for. Good cinematography and creepy audio adds to the scare factor of this short film that teaches, “Beware what you ask for!” This is from director Victoria Angell, a sci-fi and horror writer.
This is another short story that warns of the dangers of summoning dark things. Be careful when summoning spirits “just for fun!”
This short from Brenna Malloy is beautiful film set in the wild. It looks old in its filming style and feels more like a hallucination than a visitation from the dark side, but then turns into a film about a coven of witches.
Japanese Legends: Slit
Interesting film! Nice to see Pablo starring in her own film. Film about ancient legends writing wrongs against the “not so guilty.” This is the first episode of the Japanese Legends series.
Filmed on 16mm which gives it an unusual, but beautiful older quality. The film plays for a few surprises that jump out. This feels less of a supernatural tale and actually more of a hallucination from sleep deprivation. The production values in 16mm are a beautiful throwback to the cinema of the 70’s. This is a beautiful head-trip fro Kiefer Findlay!
Madre de Dios
Dark film dealing with witchcraft and voodoo. Very demonic in tone. No tragedy here. This is a short about pure evil. It is unapologetically disturbing and dark about two people trying to summon the anti-Christ. This is from Gigi Saul Guerrero, famous of her gritty “Tex-Mex” style with a touch of Grind House gore in her filmmaking.
Artistic video that shows how Flamenco can be used to tell a story. Through lighting, effects and makeup we learn the story of a ghost who searches for her children. Truly beautiful cinematography and gorgeous storytelling, from directors Maria Alaga and Nur Rubio.
Another excellently shot film with creepy minimalistic music that is reminiscent of 70’s and 80’s horror films. Alan Ruck (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) plays a character who is not a nice man, and his sins are back to haunt him. A common theme in supernatural films, but well played largely due to Ruck’s acting. This film from Mike Williamson is pure Night Gallery.
This short from Pavel Soukup has all the hallmarks of a feature length film. It makes excellent use of lighting to help heighten the terror that lives in the woods to those who are abusive to the creatures that live there. The story itself feels like an episode of Grimm. The makeup used to create the creature is absolutely brilliant. The only part that I dislike is how the innocence viewpoint of the child’s gets ignored. The guardian, for all of its savagery, is benevolent, but adults don’t listen to children, therefore they don’t understand. This story is seriously like an episode of Grimm.
FEATURE FILM (with short)
This starts off as a disjointed story about zombies. The male protagonist appears to be losing his grip on reality. How did he get caught? How did get amnesia? When did the zombie apocalypse begin? Is this a Korean version of “Walking Dead”? All the answers are delivered in a shocking ending illustrating that this film is actually a tragedy.
After a night of carousing the amateur photo model Zina heads for a fashion shoot in nature, accompanied by the ambitious Mia, apathetic Dragica and snowy photographer Blitcz. On their way to the location they come across some odd locals, but pay no attention to them. On an idyllic meadow that they chose as their location, they are violently attacked by its supposed owners Franci and Vintir. Thus an ordinary fashion shoot in nature turns into a fierce fight for survival. This is a feature film from Slovenia by director Tomaž Gorkič.
This is a methodical psychological horror that is disturbingly dark. While some “villains” in horror films of this nature are tragic characters, these antagonists are just plain evil and warped. Long played out torture scenes with horrifying screams just add layer upon layer of horror to the film. There are also extremely intense and long scenes that are pure suspense as our victims try to make their escape that leaves the audience trembling and exhausted. It is Deliverance meets The Hills Have Eyes with Soylent Green thrown in for good measure, all for the purpose of making of some very strong liquor. Mix that with some of the most beautiful settings that look as if Julie Andrews were about to start singing and you have one of the most intense horror films of the entire festival. This is one of those movies that play both to psychological horror as well as towards the cannibalism from day 3 of the festival.
The Brentwood Strangler
This film starts with an intense strangling opening scene. This was disturbing as I’m actually terrified of being strangled! Interesting to see strangulations during the Christmas season. There is some fun, dark humor about women driving on a first date and the illusion of control. A total argument about going on blind dates with other people you don’t know makes for a funny short.
The Greasy Strangler
This is a movie that makes no attempt to take itself seriously. The gross gags are over the top, and the two main leads are like something out of a comedic cable access show. Even the minor characters are hilariously ridiculous. As for the horror violence, even the killings are overly comedic in their depiction. This movie is hilariously funny and for all the insanely wrong reasons!!! It would actually work better as a short film, or a series of vignettes instead of a feature, but it left so many people in the audience exclaiming, “WHAT THE F**K???”
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