We have just completed the first day of the Telluride Horror Show and it was a fantastic lineup of scary, provocative, and outright material. But let's not spend too much time hyping and get right to the reviews! (As many films play at the same time as others, Efrit and I have two separate reviews, so be sure to check his out!)
Here Alone follows a woman who tries to survive in a post-apocalyptic environment in which a zombie-like outbreak has devastated humanity. Her solitary lifestyle is eventually interrupted in a way that challenges her perspective on the situation.
Zombie movies are not in short supply. There is nothing new under the sun...In many ways that applies to movies in general, horror movies specifically, and zombie movies especially. So Here Alone is already at a disadvantage of delivering anything new or original.
However, Here Alone finds a niche that, while being explored in other films, touched on drama otherwise untapped. The film can easily be argued as a drama that has horror elements applied as a vehicle to push its values. And those values are family dynamics and the oppression of guilt. Its legitimate voice of guilt as a prison is personified by the flesh-eating creatures that haunt the outskirts of the woods and script. The zombies are a secondary element, so much so that the film treats them more like a faceless force of the plot than a definitive trope of horror. Because of the balanced treatment, their absence isn't left wanting, but their moments onscreen are more powerful for it.
Here Alone sports powerful performances, impactful perspectives on guilt, and even a zombie that looks oddly like Dustin Hoffman. The mood of the film feels brutal at times, and while this persists through to the credits, it makes the film feel all the more real and unrelenting.
The Windmill follows a group of tourists as they venture through the windmills of Holland. During their trip, their bus breaks down and all Hell literally breaks loose upon their discovery of a windmill otherwise nonexistent on any map.
Perhaps the most purely entertaining of the films in the festival, The Windmill boasts an original premise and introduces us to a villain worthy of sequels. The film establishes traditional strengths while managing to retain thought-provoking concepts on sin and redemption, innocence and guilt, juxtaposed to remorse and forgiveness.
Our gnarly antagonist deserves recognition for being perhaps the most original horror villain since the Creeper (Jeepers Creepers), in regards to design, backstory, and motif. It has been a long time since I've appreciated a scythe-wielding icon, and that is a true crime, especially considering the historic quality the weapon boasts.
Faith-based principals impact my heart when used to open discussions of morality, and this film does just that with manifestations of sin and literal consequences. It takes on this heavy content with light-hearted humor and classic horror takes blended together, making this film a unique and enjoyable horror film and an absolute highlight of the festival.
Squirm Shorts (Highlights)
A Reasonable Request
This hilariously disgusting discussion that takes place at a diner between a father and his estranged son is simply eye-wateringly funny if you can have some thick skin for the material. While any legitimate metaphors escape me, I found the piece to be highly entertaining.
When Susurrus Stirs
This body horror short was exactly that. It certainly delivered on that front while narrating with some darkly poetic wordsmithing. The verbose montage of the grotesque escalates to the point of a disturbingly violent climax that left most everyone in the theater either writhing in their seats or bellowing moans of disgust. It succeeded in its goal.
I have to say that I was in tears watching this short. And as embarrassed as I am to say this short about a kidnapped man being subjected to an unorthodox experiment brought me to tears of laughter, I admit that it did so. However, I can't in good conscience recommend this short, or any short from the Squirm block, to any friend or family member for fear of desertion.
Check back in tomorrow for Saturday's films!