With the first annual Brooklyn Horror Film Fest complete, we look at some of the highlights from the burgeoning festival
New York saw the emergence of a new film festival catered specifically to horror needs this past weekend, with the results being rather encouraging. The Brooklyn Horror Film Festival ran from October 14-16, showcasing over a dozen features and a wealth of shorts from filmmakers from across the globe (as well as a healthy featuring of Brooklyn’s own) . The programming and events clearly display a passion for horror with a few more eclectic selections on the docket rather than indulging in mainstream horror. On top of that, other events like scary story competitions told around a campfire, intense horror trivia, and other occasions to reward the audience were embraced in the sort of way that’s only possible at a smaller festival of this nature. With the dedication and response that BHFF saw in their inaugural year, hopefully this festival will become a tradition that only comes back stronger and more aggressive, like some killer zombie. Until then, here are 20 cool things that were seen at this year’s film fest, as well as a primer for what to get excited about next year.
- Dani Mari and Johnny Butler’s live performance of their music videos inspired by Dario Argento’s “Three Mothers Trilogy,” “Sighs,” “Darkness,” and “Tears.” At one point during this performance someone decked out in ghoulish make-up and attired discreetly handed me a key, adding further layers to this intense performance
- Grady Hendrix’s 100% true one-man show, Summerland Lost, which involves drunken Victorian teens teaming up with Ben Franklin’s ghost to answer the questions of the afterlife. Hendrix is a masterful storyteller that bounds around in the genre with an invigorated delight
- The deranged mindfuckery, masterful subtle storytelling, and “monster” work in Robert Kotecki’s short, Tilly
- Jacqueline Castel’s beautiful ode to John Carpenter (who happens to score this short, as well as make a cameo) in the ‘80s slasher throwback, The Puppet Man
- Jackson Stewart’s Beyond the Gates’ and the film’s love for “VCR board game” horror, with this almost feeling like a “Horror Jumanji” or an adult version of Are You Afraid of the Dark?. Not to mention, the film’s copious amounts of practical gore and head explosions.
- The “Ghosts We’ve Known Storytelling Competition,” which led to some genuinely unnerving scary stories told around a campfire in the back of an occult book store, all while being judged by a practicing witch
- The WTF madness that is the monster/sexually explicit love story in Brian Lonano’s Gwilliam
- The mere premise of Erlingur Thoroddsen’s Child Eater, where a killer eats its victims’ eyes with the hopes that it will repair its own vision
- The psychological horror of Shaun Robert Smith’s Broken, the sheer gauntlet that Evie (Morjana Alaoui of Martyrs fame) goes through, and its absolute bonkers ending
- The Ghoulies-esque monsters that populate Bobby Miller’s creative, humorous, The Master Cleanse
- The intense head trip that is Lorcan Finnegan’s lost-in-the-woods, Without Name, and its bookending segments that are without dialogue and instead invest in tone
- The sheer concept of Fabien Delage’s documentary, Fury of the Demon, which investigates one of the most controversial early pieces of film of all time. A deeply interesting doc topic on how a film can spontaneously incite rage
- The twist and ending note that Kaitlin Tinker’s short, The Man Who Caught A Mermaid, goes out on, not to mention the general look they use for mermaids, transforming them into something scary
- The strong, disturbing coda in Nathan Ambrosioni’s (who’s only seventeen!) Therapy, which presents a horde of broken women who are just shells, crawling and staring aimlessly
- Helen ripping open her infected stitches in Cody Calahan’s Let Her Out, only to find a finger within her arm. Not to mention the ridiculous final transformation Helen goes through where she essentially turns herself inside out.
- David Otte and Vance Tucker’s ability to turn an electric toothbrush into a terrifying, foreboding object, in their short, The Toothbrush
- Joshua Erkman’s The Sound of the Blue, Green, and Red short that uses visuals and sensory assaults (that practically give you a seizure) to get its message across, rather than dialogue
- The final, perfect beat of Heather Taylor’s short, Stitched, and Deborah Green’s glowing performance that sells the whole thing
- The premiere of Mattie Do’s Dearest Sister, the 13th feature to ever come out of Laos, and Do as the country’s only voice in horror
- Adrien Grenier having a seizure in the middle of having sex, causing his partner to reach orgasm, in Richard Bates, Jr.’s bold Trash Fire
Hopefully next year’s Brooklyn Horror Film Festival will have even more impressive highlights to offer!