Check out our first report on the Telluride Horror Show!
The Shorts, Round 1
Here's a quick note on some of our favorite horror shorts from the first day:
- Canis - A dark tale of a boy's journey into manhood in a post-apocalyptic world populated by zombified dogs and feral people. Equal parts disturbing and satisfying.
- Supervenus - A morbid image of the objectification of women. It was funny on its shell, but thought-provoking and inspired at its core.
- Pandas - An obscenely humorous take on evolution and humanity's attempt to quell extinction unbeknownst of natural selection.
- Timber - Equal parts save the trees PSA and Alfred Packer satire.
The Hallow Review
There have already been rumblings with this movie being the scariest film in a decade. This statement always disappoints, usually followed with disappointments in the overall quality of the film. In this case, The Hallow wasn’t the scariest thing we’ve seen in 10 years, but it was an exceptional horror film and one of the best creature features in years, perhaps in a decade.
Set in the forests of Ireland, our protagonist couple and their baby are attempting to live a quiet life after the husband moves them to the rural location to continue is research on the surrounding woodlands. The chaos ensues when a dark force from the forest begins wreaking havoc on the family.
Since this is an early-bird viewing we were graced with, for your sake we will limit the description of the plot and try to stick to the cold, hard facts. The film was like a blend of several films, yet managing to out-pace them all in direction, acting, and effects. It was like the setting of From the Dark, the dark mysticism of Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, body horror reminiscent of District 9, and the “creature” blueprint from Splinter, cooked in a stew that produced a meal far tastier than the sum of its proverbial parts.
Sure, 2 of the 4 movies mentioned above were mediocre at best (Splinter is a superlative creature feature that should be seen), but this film, while firing synapses recalling scenes from the Dark films, was superior in every way in which the predecessors failed. It properly balanced the creature’s presence and visibility, used the prowess of its ensemble to hold tension, and found a satisfying blend of jump scares and unsettling ambiance.
The film see-sawed the line between the mythical and the biologically fantastic, leaving a viewer with a predisposition to one or the other to conclude for themselves what was happening. It led Efrit and I to some thick discussion afterwards, which is a sign of a good film when it is less about plot holes and more about how the movie affected you.
While it is unclear at this juncture what kind of distribution The Hallow is going to get, it deserves more than simply a wait-around-for-Netflix viewing. Do what you can to see this film in a respectable medium.
Horror Qualifier: 7/10
Horror Quality: 7/10
Film Quality: 7/10
The Witching Hour and Howl
As we sat down for Howl, our last film of the night, we were treated with a wonderful short film before the main feature. The short film was entitled The Witching Hour directed by Carl Firth. In this small romp into the supernatural we see exactly what happens when the clock hit midnight. Dangerous creatures, armature witches and strange event all take place when the Witching Hour begins and Sickle and I were impressed with this short.
Once our journey through the witching hour was finished we started the main feature. The preview for Howl had us ready for a late night werewolf kill fest; however, the film attempted and slightly fell short trying to be more than that. We start off following our hero who is a train guard who is doing overtime on a red eye train. The movie shambles along slowly as all the characters on the train are introduced and then the trains comes to a screeching halt and the first kill happens, not as gruesome as I desired but we kept kept chugging along. Then the movies slows down again when the characters argue about what to do and suddenly someone is ripped through a window and torn to shreds, which was a better kill than the first and we get a first good glimpse of the monster!
If you could not tell the movie starts to follow a pattern. We ended up feeling like the moves was much longer than it needed to be in order to accomplish what the preview and synopsis evoked in our minds. The reasons seems to stem from the movie trying to develop the characters. I can hardly fault a movie for trying to get me to care about the people in it; however, if it forces the film to feel long and drawn out it is hard for me to see the point.
The shining light of this film was when the werewolves (I think that is what they were) were finally revealed. These creatures were great! They looked amazing when the film was using practice effects and the new take on what a werewolf can look like definitely made the film stand out in its own way. Also they had this really creepy effect in the film that I personally loved. The movie takes place in a very dark setting. As is such the creatures eyes sometimes were the only think you could see. As a demon I respect a good set of shiny peepers, it is by far one of the creepiest things you can do to people to make their terrified of you.
So while the Howl was paced very strangely, the film’s creatures very much make up for the confusing push for character development. In many ways this film’s pacing very much reflected the plot, like a train getting caught in the wilderness, sometimes this movie had to fix its fuel lines to get started again. If I did not make enough train references for you I am sorry you missed you stop….ok that was really bad. I would recommend howl if you would like to see a really interesting take on were wolves and can put up with bad attempts at character interaction.
Horror Qualifier: 7/10
Horror Quality: 7/10
Film Quality: 4/10