Monday, November 26, 2007

Bring on the Blood: Review of the 2007 New York City Horror Film Festival

(Top: still from Jack Ketchum's The Girl Next Door. Bottom: still from Uwe Boll's Seed.)

This is an excerpt for a review I did on the 2007 NYC Horror Film Festival. You can read the full review on the Indypendent site.

by Frank Reynoso

Cold, sporadic rain didn’t deter ardent fans from making the pilgrimage to NYU for the sixth annual New York City Horror Film Festival. The five-day extravaganza, like a Mexican Day of the Dead celebration in celluloid, brimmed with as many laughs as gasps. Festival directors Michael Hein and Anthony Pepe selected excellent films that showed the breadth of an often pigeonholed genre. A broad range of works from Australia, California, Germany, Indonesia and New York drew as diverse a crowd of supporters.

Despite scholarly attention and critical success, horror is viewed by many as little more than porn: sadistic and voyeuristic schlock for degenerates. This year’s fest presented a thriving genre that’s often thought stagnant and juvenile and rampant with clich├ęs and predictable narratives. I had shared that opinion but this fest showed me that horror is alive and kicking.

Standout films included Richard Gale’s crowd-pleasing Criticized (which won the award for best short), a black comedy about an unhinged filmmaker who abducts and tortures a prominent critic who trashed his film. A period piece set in Texas, Chickenf├╝t is a funny and touching short about the torment of a German exchange student who gets revenge on his bullies; his fate spawns an urban legend. Matthew Byrne directed the eerie and pensive Southern gothic tale The Wake. The mostly pantomimed film follows a middle-aged woman who binds a boy, hangs a cabbage above his face, and starves him. Quiet and revealing, the story plunges into a surreal ending. The Fifth is a tightly written and acted absurd comedy about five suburban men gathering for their regular poker game, which is annoyingly interrupted by one man’s job as a serial killer. The claustrophobic short Of Darkness, by Gary Irwin, is a modern Lovecraftian tale about a group of suburban boys who unlock an incomprehensible evil contained within an ancient book.

[Read full review...]

© Frank Reynosos, Nov. 2007, All Rights Reserved

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