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 and part 2 HERE.
DAY 3 (continued)
I followed up The Dark on day 3 with the quiet thriller, The Boat. Buzz has been pretty strong for this one as of late. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from I heard was a haunted boat movie played totally straight. It works very effectively, actually. We follow one man as he boards a mysteriously abandoned boat that seems to have it out for him in every way possible. After losing his small boat, the larger haunted vessel tries killing him. What works so well about this movie is that every threat is a plausible accident. It’s only when the threats keep piling up that the evil of the boat becomes apparent. The lead also has a weird, Christine-like hypnotic pull back to the boat every time he escapes. The Boat is a top notch edge of your seat thriller. It’s a bit sparse, but I was never bored. Actor Joe Azzopardi makes for a great lead as well. Definitely recommend. 3.5/5
The only movie of the whole festival that I straight up didn’t like was Heretiks. After a rollicking start before the credits, I thought we were in for a real treat here, but after we get into the story, it becomes apparent that this film is a disaster. It’s not all bad right away, though. Persephone is accused of being a witch. Instead of being sentenced to death, she is taken in by the mother superior (played by Clare Higgins of Hellraiser) of a nunnery. Persephone is going to be become a nun whether she likes it or not. Personally, I’d rather die if that was my other option. So I was already feeling the horror. Then, after some really bad CGI effects and some confusing plot points, the film lost me. Basically, Gothic spooky satanic things start popping up and it has all the soon to be nuns freaked out by it. This one just lost me halfway through, and I just really didn’t like it. There isn’t a lot redeeming qualities to this one. I wanted to like it, but just nothing really stuck for me. 1.5/5
TIGERS ARE NOT AFRAID
This was a nice palate cleanser after Heretiks. Tigers is a Guillermo del Toro-style adult fairy tale about kids surviving in the absolute worst situation created by the cartels during the drug war in Mexico. The lead boy actor in this film is, no hyperbole, the best actor in the whole fest. This young actor brought such dimension, such tragedy to his role in the film that I was gobsmacked by him. In fact, the acting all around by all the kids in the film is top notch. These kids, much like the kids in Anna and the Apocalypse, are poised to be stars. In Anna, the kids were natural born performers. Here, the kids bring such a grounded reality to the proceedings. See this one for the acting alone, it’ll floor you. 4.5/5
Possum is another slow burn thriller in this fest’s lineup. Sean Harris from the last couple Mission Impossible movies stars as a puppeteer navigating his life with his cruel stepfather and his spider puppet that has a spell on him. Harris spends most of the duration of this movie trying to get go of the hold the puppet has on him by burning it. He just can’t let go, and more secrets of his past come to light as the movie moves along. Everything that has to do with that spider puppet is terrifying. We see some dream sequences that bring the thing to life in some terrifying ways. This is another sparse film, but it’s oddly hypnotic. I was genuinely uncomfortable for the whole time. I do recommend this film to anyone who likes a character-driven downward spiral story. Possum is available tomorrow (November 2nd) on VOD from Dark Sky Films. 3/5
THE CLEANING LADY
The movie that closed out the fest is the new film from Jon Knautz, the director of Jack Brooks Monster Slayer, a film I really enjoyed. The Cleaning Lady is a pretty standard let a weirdo into your life and they do weird shit to you and your loved ones style plot. What makes this one stand apart is how far they push it. This is a really gross movie. The gore and slime factor is at a high, and plus there’s a child prostitution subplot thrown in there to make the viewer feel extra icky. I have to give the movie props for really going there and pushing the audience’s buttons. The story is, however, as standard as the plot description. The runtime moves along nicely. As gnarly as the movie is, I had a good time being grossed out. The star and Co writer Alexis Kendra, along with the director were in attendance for a Q&A after the film. They talked about some of the real life experiences that inspired the film and how they were encouraged to make the film as sick as possible. A grimey 3.5/5
Top 5 of the Telluride Horror Show:
5 – Tigers Are Not Afraid
4 – Cam
3 – The Dark
2 – Anna and the Apocalypse
1 – Mega Time Squad
Overall, I have nothing but love for this fest. I look forward to seeing what Telluride Horror Show puts together for 2019. I’m sure what ever it may be, it will be face-melting. I had the best time checking out this wall to wall festival of horrors. I can’t recommend it enough if you’re a horror fan. It’s definitely worth the travel.