Nightmares Film Festival has unveiled the anticipated lineup for its “Masquerade” digital showcase. For those who look closer, the 2020 edition also revealed a long-hoped-for secret achievement for fans of the festival to unlock: seeing every film in the program.
Keeping with tradition, the 2020 Nightmares program is overflowing with the unique mix of returning horror favorites, powerful new voices and boundary-pushing stories FilmFreeway’s top-ranked genre festival has become known for. This year’s festival delivers 140 shorts, table reads from some of the 26 screenplay finalists and Q&As into its five on-demand days.
It packs in 18 feature films, including period horror The Reckoning, from Neil Marshall (The Descent, Hellboy), a harrowing revenge story of an accused witch told against the backdrop of the Black Plague; an all-new 4K restoration of The Legend of Boggy Creek, a docu-horror classic often credited for inspiring the found footage subgenre; and the world premiere of What Happens Next Will Scare You, the follow-up from the team behind the beloved indie WNUF Halloween Special. It also features Hail to the Deadites, a doc on Evil Dead fandom, and the North American premiere of Meander, a claustrophobic terrorizer that’s like Cube meets Saw.
And it jams in daily workshops from genre makers like Aaron Koontz (Scare Package, The Pale Door), Natalie Erica James (Relic), Brandon Christensen (Still/Born, Z) and Jason Trost (The FP) — some of whom are bringing first-look footage from their newest films.
That densely packed program is one of the signatures of the Nightmares in-person experience, where seeing everything in two simultaneous auditoriums is impossible by design and fans lovingly called “The Sleepless” spend four days marathoning the morning-to-morning schedule.
“We pride ourselves on presenting an industry-leading program every year that is also a unique experience, where each audience member must make choices to create their own personal lineup,” said festival co-founder and programmer Jason Tostevin. “You can’t see everything here, which makes what you do see more personal and encourages you to seek out films and filmmakers afterward, which extends that fest feeling for months.”
But this year, with the temporary transition to a digital event to avoid COVID risks, there’s a whole new way to experience Nightmares. For the first time in its history, participants will have the ability to watch the entire NFF lineup.
“We’ve curated the same extraordinary set of films and screenplays we would have if we were gathering in person,” said NFF co-founder and Gateway Film Center president Chris Hamel. “What will be extra fun this year is for fans to explore every nook and cranny of that program, and see connections and themes they might not have noticed without the extra time.”
Will that change Tostevin and Hamel’s approach to the in-person event when it returns? “Well, we’ve talked about letting up a little bit for more breaks and socializing, but part of the fun of Nightmares will always be a commitment,” Tostevin said.
NFF: Masquerade will be presented on secure streaming platform Eventive, where films will be available on demand from Oct. 21 to 25 to all North American viewers. Virtual attendees can pay as they go to watch individual blocks — say, a feature with a short film, or a set of themed shorts — or can buy a festival pass that gives them access to the entire program.
Passes for NFF: Masquerade are on sale now at NightmaresFest.com, where a complete list of this year’s program is also available.