Telluride Horror Show 2021: Day 1 - Sickle's Take

IT'S FINALLY HERE. We are in Telluride...IN PERSON...for the Telluride Horror Show! The first day we were able to catch some great feature films and shorts! Here's Sickle's take on Day 1. Can't wait to get into the meat of THS tomorrow!


The Feast

Not to be confused with the over-the-top gorefest horror-comedy Feast (not that you would at this point anyways), this Welsh horror film is far more subtle and dignified in its story. The film follows a rich family in the countryside that is preparing for a dinner with the help of a hired hand. As the day moves into the evening, the wrinkles of each family member begin to show and the hired hand may be more than she appears.


This movie is the definition of a slow-burn. But unlike other slow-burns, the final act lacks the energy that often defines the climax of similar films. Despite an ever-growing dread and disturbingly violent moments, the painstakingly gradual reveal and lack of vivacity in the climax leads to something that feels more like a dark fantasy piece than something that is pure horror.


But, you may find that difficult to conclude, because the plot is not bland and the violence is visceral and impactful. The film takes its macabre moments very seriously and very literally despite the ambiguous and fantastical elements that hover in the background of the story. There was no spared expense on the practical effects.


And the plot carries with it some valuable lessons. It's important to treat everyone with respect and you shouldn't consider or treat anyone as if they are below you. And also, quit screwing over mother nature. Plus, don't forget the seven deadly sins, everyone! These lessons sit at the forefront of the film's effective acting and directing.


Yes, The Feast is a slow-burn, and it stays at that level throughout the runtime even as the blood begins to spew forth. But it is also a well-executed and violent dark fantasy that has substance and depth behind its characters. It is worth a watch, but it is perhaps best to digest when well-rested and nothing else on your mind.

"Here Be Monsters" Shorts Block

The Tenant

This tight-knit and haunting short follows a woman who awakens to what essentially equates to never-ending "dead leg". When a stranger approaches her and tells her something sinister is afoot, she needs to listen before something awful happens. The building of tension and fun ending is exactly what you want out of a scare-based short. This short is a perfect example of how to achieve your scary horror short.


The Wheel

This short follows a woman who opens a gift from her husband while he is out of town. At night, the antique appears to house more than just a music box. This was another one of those perfectly executed horror shorts that gave vibes of James Wan. The single-shot takes that traverse the house with our lead boast fantastic technique and the scares are top-notch. Not to mention the lead acting is very well done. Almost guaranteed this will be one of the best shorts of the festival when all is said and done.


A Shadow in the Darkness

This shorts block was incredibly strong, so it's not necessarily a claim that a short wasn't worth watching simply because it is "weaker" than the others. The production value on this one, that seems to be following a man trying to fight some kind of entity from possessing his wife, is well done, but there is a bit too much ambiguity in what exactly is happening and the ending is a bit too abrupt. I could've used a bit more to an otherwise great short.


Smile

I am a big fan of horror stories that work as parallels to humanity. I may be projecting, but Smile felt like a powerful metaphor for depression. A young woman is struggling with her own mental anguish along with some kind of entity that seems to be haunting her, ultimately culminating in a truly powerful scare. This was the kind of short that gets you in the theater and lingers with you afterward. This block began and ended on horrific notes. One of the best, most well-rounded blocks we have ever seen.



Check in tomorrow for more coverage of THS! We can't wait for more!