Telluride Horror Show 2021: Day 2 - Sickle's Take

It's Day 2 of Telluride Horror Show! Today we were able to hit more feature films and we were better for it. This year has been jam-packed with great curated content and we'll go over what we saw on Day 2 below!

Offseason

We had some theories on the plot heading into THS and we were thankfully right. MINOR SPOILERS: Offseason was the Lovecraftian horror piece we were hoping for it to be. My best description of it is the film Dagon, but with far better acting and script, yet without the monstrous, mutated townsfolk. The film was a fantastic watch for fans of the subgenre, but it does have a relaxed pace that does require some patience.


The largest critique I have is the choice made for differentiating the townsfolk as the cult-ish community they are. The rather bland alteration of "clouded, white eyes" feels outdated and listless, lacking any ability to instill dread or intimidation. The brief moments that take the effects on the townsfolk further were much more impactful, and I wish they would have been able to be used with more frequency. Perhaps the limitations in the budget prevented much more extension of these effects, but I was nonetheless slightly disappointed there weren't more physical abnormalities teased or considered.


But besides that critique, I found the film to be impressively done. The directing, score, sound design, editing, and above all else, acting (especially from lead Jocelin Donahue) were top-notch. There is a committed build to the tension that begins to ratchet up early and at a reliable pace. The story reveals in a darkly beautiful way that keeps you immersed in the story unfolding. And as many films of a similar ilk rely on a powerful finale, this movie delivers with the perfect blend of self-awareness to the budget to keep it powerful without breaking the "realism" of the situation.


This movie is a great example of how to do Lovecraft right, especially on a budget that precludes the presence of detailed and realistic interpretations of monstrosities. I would recommend it for fans of the subgenre.


The Exorcism of God

We weren't sure what we were walking into when we sat down for this movie, which ended up being a pleasant surprise. To this point in my feature-length THS experience, I had seen more subtle and slow-burn horror, but this film changed that in a big way. Right from the beginning we are introduced to our protagonist through a jump-per-minute exorcism, and things only get crazier from there.


This movie takes the exorcist model and balances it between blatant homage to the classics like The Exorcist, and applies its own twists through the plot and in execution of the action. It is worth limiting spoilers in this case, but this movie takes the exorcism subgenre and plays around with the tropes throughout.


The end result is something that feels familiar but wholly original at the same time. While you can predict some scenes or recognize the idea, the next scene flips your preconceived notions or takes them to another extreme. The effects throughout are viscerally powerful and the conceptual choices at times are shocking to say the least. The pacing is superb, with things moving along at a rate that keeps you engaged without cheapening the story progression or character development.


The moral compass dances around like mercury on a smooth surface, but that adds to the flavor and the film's ability to linger on the mind after everything is over. While it feels like a shallow roller coaster ride for most the runtime, seemingly unafraid to be a bit campy when things are naturally playing out that way, there is a hidden depth to the concepts at play. There's plenty to talk about, and not just the irreverent content that catches you off-guard or the seemingly relentless scares.


With little expectation coming into this film, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it and was impacted by it. This film is certainly not for everyone, but it has plenty going for it to keep one's attention. It might be the most hardcore piece shown at THS this year (sans The Sadness), so it might be worth seeing for some on that thought alone.


"Dark Humours" Shorts Block

Kia Summer Sales Event

This short about a Juggalo couple having an existential discussion of their relationship using Kia car commercial tropes crosses a broad spectrum of humor that is quite funny and a really entertaining watch that could reach a much broader audience of fans outside of the horror arena.


Minimally Invasive

This short about the horrors of surgery escalates in all the right ways, but the payoff/punchline leaves a little to be desired. Perhaps with a tad more budget and/or a stronger commitment to practical effects, this otherwise great short could've been perfect.


Guts

This gory satire of office life is told through a man with his guts on the outside trying to get a promotion and survive the struggles of regular office life. From creator Chris McInroy, who is known for his over-the-top slapstick gore, this short delivers on the gross-out gags, producing some effective shock laughs along the way.


Beans

In a nondescript post-apocalyptic world, a man struggles to do what seems like a simple task trying to open a can of beans. Some slapstick violence ensues. This one is straightforward and not terribly surprising, but hilarious and enjoyable nonetheless.


Subscribe

The final girl in a slasher situation must look up how to load a revolver on YouTube, but the app's tropes cause problems in the process. There are a lot of horror satire shorts out there, and most of them are great. This one easily joins the pantheon, especially with its YouTube annoyances providing a little catharsis.


Special Delivery

A short, sweet, and to-the-point horror comedy about curiosity killing the cat at the hands of a mysterious box. It's hilarious and has just the right tinge of scifi/horror weirdness.


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