From the culmination of Universal’s classic monsters to the various horror sub-genres spawned throughout the years, one thing is evident… Horror, to steal a line from a horror icon, “IT’S ALIVE”! Cheesiness aside, this was far more evident after attending this years horror, thriller, and sci-fi Film Festival Shriekfest. Horror is not only alive and well… it’s thriving.
From the very first moments of the opening night party held at Boardners in Hollywood through the final words spoken at the awards ceremony, Shriekfest was nothing less of impressive. The blood, sweat and tears of the Fest’s creator Denise Gossett was evident literally and metaphorically. You could see the passion infused into the bones of this event and made it that much more personal. Respect is something not easily thrown around these days, but was in abundance at the fest. Everyone respected each other’s craft and each movie was given the recognition deserved.
We here at Truly Disturbing did get a chance to catch a couple of films which just so happened to snag a few awards which we’ll get into later. I’ll briefly describe the film and give my opinion.
First movie up is the supernatural horror film titled “REVENANT” directed by Derek Cole and starring Stephen Twardokus and Liesel Kopp. The movie takes place in a house that is notorious for hosting the murders committed by the Patriach of the family upon his wife and kids. The main character, a writer, decides to get his creative juices flowing by moving into the infamous haunted house in hopes to inspire his new novel about the house and its murderous exploits. As the writer digs deeper to re-hash the events of that night he finds out first hand what happens when you mess with the supernatural. Overall I do have to say that a lot of key moments managed to catch me jumping, but there were few and far less in between. The film took on the slow burn effect that Paranormal Activity made famous and by the time the scares came it made them seem forced. Although forced there are several sequences that stand out including an interaction between the ghost of the father and the main character which happens at the end of the film. This sequence was by far the best in every sense. The score was hard hitting to match the mayhem that unfolded on the screen and overall made it a very satisfying ending . I’m curious to see if this scene was somehow influenced by Sam Raimi because it screamed out “EVIL DEAD”. Overall I’d say the film was a great effort that benefitted from a spectacular end sequence. Good Job to Derek Cole and company.
Second Film up is the Sci-Fi thriller “FOUND IN TIME” directed by Arthur Vincie and starring Macleod Andrews, Mina Vesper Gokal, Kelly Sullivan, & Derek Morgan. The film follows a young psychic by the name of Chris who is having trouble keeping his time travel under wraps. It is referred as Slipping time and doggonit Vincie films this with style. The film is extremely well done! The cinematography is pitch perfect, and the acting was across the board spot on. The film was filmed with an Aronofsky touch but had the feel of Christopher Nolan’s Memento. Because of the erratic nature of the main characters time slipping the non-linear narrative approach added to the overall effect of the film and to me made this hands down the best movie of the festival. The writing was phenomenal and the story was as intriguing as they come. If at all possible I recommend that people go and check out this film because it’ll have you thinking about it long after you’ve left the theatre.
Third Film was “IT’S IN THE BLOOD” Directed by Scooter Downey and starring Lance Henriksen, Sean Elliot, Rose Sirnas, and Jimmy Gonzales. The latter of the actors here isn’t mentioned as one of the starring characters, but after watching this movie you can’t help but want to place him at the head of that list. Jimmy Gonzales turns in a performance that is creepy to the bone and is just the type of character we like here at the Truly Disturbing family. The movie itself is about a father and son who become stranded in the wild and must overcome the elements to survive. The only difference is… that the elements include a tall shadowy figure that is out for their blood. The relationship between the father and son is strained by some serious past experiences, and you feel it every moment the duo grace the screen. The chemistry is brilliant between Henriksen and Elliott and both actors turn in an emotionally driven performance that will have you gripping till the end. Now… As mentioned earlier Jimmy Gonzales gives a performance that is extremely chilling and in an effort to not give too much away all I have to say is that his acting does not disappoint. Overall the writing was great, the pacing was flawless, the look and feel was cinematic, and the acting was awesome! Scooter is a director to look out for because he’ll be around for a while.
The fourth and final film we got to check out was a… bare with me here… disaster/creature/psychological horror film titled “NAILBITER” Directed by Patrick Rea. It stars Joicie Appell, Emily Boresow, Jason Coffman, and Michelle Davidson. This film takes place in Kansas and picks up with a mother and her 3 daughters on their way to pick up their returning father/husband/soldier boy from the airport. On the way there the girls find themselves caught in the middle of a tornado. The 3 make their way to a cellar of what seems to be an abandoned house. What unfolds from here on out is something that is better seen then spoiled. I’ll say this about Nailbiter… it is ambitious in it’s scope and delivers some really amazing visual effects, but with that said I have a few issues. There were some major plot holes in the story itself, but most were forgivable just based off the who gives a crap attitude of this film. The film was a homage to not only disaster films, but creature horror and psychological films alike. The look of this film felt very cinematic and was very well executed. The one major plus in acting was the performance turned in by Joicie Appell which was nothing short of awesome! She was funny, creepy, and tonally perfect. Overall the movie was entertaining to the max and makes Joicie look like one of the sweetest evil old ladies around.
Overall the movies we viewed were all amazing in their own right and every artist in the festival should be proud of themselves. This was also the sentiment of Festival creator Denise, however the time every one of the artists packed into the Raleigh Studios screening room had been waiting for had come. The Awards show was quick, but didn’t focus on the glits and glamour just the bare bones of horror. The awards handed out and it’s corresponding winners were as follows:
- Best Horror Film- “NAILBITER” Directed by Patrick Rea
- Best SciFi Film- “FOUND IN TIME” Directed by Arthur Vincie
- Best Thriller Film- “IT’S IN THE BLOOD” Directed by Scooter Downey
- Best Super Short Film- “THE SLEEPOVER” Directed by Chris Cullari
- Best Horror Short Film- “BLACKOUT” Directed by James Bushe
- Best SciFi Short Film- “A LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS” Directed by Fed Wetherbee
- Best Horror Feature Screenplay- “NEVERMORE” Written by David Beran
- Best SciFi Feature Screenplay- “WHEN THE SLEEPER WAKES” Written by James Vanfleet
- Best Short Screenplay- “THE LAST RUNG” Written by Matt Mintz
- Best Original Song- “PUSH ‘EM DOWN” by Matt Mintz and The Ghosts of Electricity
- Screenplay that passes The *Bechdel Test: “WITH CHILD” Written by Jeff Kacmarynski
*In case you’re wondering The Bechdel Test was an award given out for a scene that takes place between two women in a movie without the discussion of a man.
Overall the festival was awesome and the event was organized well. Thank you very much to Denise Gossett and Shriekfest for allowing us to attend the festival! Be sure to check out their website here for information from submitting films to festival overviews.
You can also read up on the films that were presented at the festival and view the accompanying trailers. As always for any information in all things horror check back here at Truly Disturbing for your fix. See you later horror fiends!
Like what you see? Be sure to also visit Pissed Off Geek too for more news and reviews with a horrific edge. To stay up to date with the latest horror news and reviews from the site be sure to "like" Truly Disturbings's Facebook page and following us on Twitter!