On the weekend of October 12-14, I descended into the Colorado Rockies into Telluride to cover the Telluride Horror Show 2018. The output of the festival’s programmers is continually impressive. With this year’s fest, they’ve topped themselves yet again. Telluride Horror Show is one of my favorite genre fests I’ve had the pleasure of attending. No hyperbole, this is bar none one of the strongest genre fest around. Not only is the town one of the most picturesque places in America, it also wholeheartedly embraces the horror community for the weekend. I got to watch 15 different programs this year, 14 features and one shorts block. I’ll break down each film and event by day that I attended. Read part 1 of my coverage HERE.
DAY 2 (continued)
THE DEAD CENTER
The Dead Center is the first dramatic horror film I saw at the festival. It stars Primer’s Shane Carruth giving a great performance as medical professional dealing with a patient who was supposed to be dead. Dead Center is a pretty tense little thriller, but is a bit bare bones to sustain the run time. The movie ends in a pretty destructive and memorable way, but the rest of the movie just kind of slogs along. Dead Center is not a bad movie by any stretch of the imagination. It’s just down-the-middle okay. The screening featured a Q&A with director Billy Senese that was very enlightening on the state of medical industries. 3/5
A pig roast followed up this film’s screening.
Talk about another bare bones movie that has trouble sustaining it’s run time, The Head runs at a scant 72 minutes and feels a bit too stretched thin. The Head follows a viking who collects the heads of all kinds of demons and monsters that he slay who seeks revenge after the creature who killed his daughter. After slaying the beast, it’s head is brought back to life and seeks it’s own revenge. The film does definitely feature an incredibly fun premise and some top notch creature effects, but the full movie could have been condensed to a really satisfying short. Instead, in its feature form, there are long stretches of walking and brooding. All of the creature slaying takes place off screen as well, but that detail does actually work in the movie’s favor. The filmmakers were in attendance to introduce the film. They mentioned they had a bare bones crew, and it really is impressive what they were able to pull off. 3/5
I opted out of checking out the repertory screening of KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE since I had just seen it again recently. Director Stephen Chiodo (and a Killer Klown) was in attendance for the screening of the film.
I could not wait to see this one that has been tearing up the festival circuit. It did not disappoint at all. While not my favorite of the fest, Cam was my favorite film (of 6) I saw on day 2. Cam provides a no nonsense look at world the cam model industry while serving as a microcosm for the horrors of being a woman in today’s society. I was on the edge of my seat for most of the film’s runtime. This is the definition of a white knuckle thriller. The film really does open up a frank discussion about the sex industry. I really liked the choice to film the movie almost entirely in neon as well. It wasn’t obnoxious about that at all either. It was just very aesthetically pleasing. I wholeheartedly recommend this film when it comes to Netflix in 2019. The film’s screening was followed by a Q&A with the writer and co-author of the film, Isa Mazzei, who continued the frank discussion about working in the sex industry since she herself is a former cam model. That gives the film a certain authenticity that doesn’t feel as forced if it were a Hollywood production. 5/5
LORDS OF CHAOS
Probably the most anticipated screening of the Telluride Horror Show was that of the now already infamous film Lords of Chaos. This is the story about the real life band Mayhem and the suicides, murders, church burnings, and cannibalism followed the band throughout their active years. One of the reasons this film became so infamous is because of the nature in which the gore in the murder and suicides is presented in the film. Much like Green Room before it, the gore is presented with a quietness and a stillness. The camera’s unflinching, careful precision of the death scenes make them seem documentary-like bringing an extra layer of reality to the already based on true events proceedings. This truth is stranger than fiction tale does unfortunately succumb to the trappings of all Hollywood biopics. It decides to focus on one person’s story and the friendships within the group instead of looking at the bigger picture and the mystique of the band Mayhem and black metal in general. It was a nice touch, however, to paint the members of the band as well adjusted white kids from good homes that seem to fall into the world of black metal and death only for attention. I really enjoyed the film, but I wish it didn’t feel so biopic-y. The film would have felt more dangerous if it opened the world up a bit more for the film. 4/5
The Dark is the story of an undead pre-teen girl coming to the rescue of a scarred, kidnapped young boy and her efforts to keep him safe from the elements within the woods that she inhabits. Obvious comparisons can be made to Let the Right One In with this film, but that would sort of lessen the impact of how good this film is. The Dark is another favorite film of the year for me. I loved how patient this film was. This is another slow burn film much like Dead Center and The Head that I discussed earlier. However, where I felt those two were stretching their concepts a bit thin, The Dark thrives in its stillness. We get enough moments of horror in the murder scenes and in the young girl’s flashbacks that tell the story of how an abusive stepfather led to her untimely death and eventual return from the grave. It’s the quiet moments that let the story breathe and let you fall in love with the film. Ultimately, The Dark is a story about the unwavering bond of friendship and about what brings misfits together in the first place. I can’t sing this one’s praises enough. 5/5
Keep your eyes on Horror Society to see Part 3 of 3 of my coverage.