Fantastic film festivals during the month of October really must appease the gods, old and new, because they are just the perfect primer for the most wonderful time of your year, Halloween.
Celluloid Screams: Sheffield Horror Film Festival returns to Showroom Cinema for its eighth edition, with a weekend packed full of the best new and classic horror, from Friday October 21st through Sunday the 23rd.
As always, the festival has a terrific selection of titles this year. They have The Void, from Canadian throwback kings Steve Kostanski and Jeremy Gillespie, kicking off the festival. Mattie Do's Dearest Sister, Billy O'Brien's I Am Not A Serial Killer, and Kurasowa Kiyoshi's Creepy are personal recommendations from the list below. Then there is Julia Ducournau's cannibal coming of age flick Raw, which just proved that not eveyone here in Toronto had 'the stomache' for it during its World Premiere. Raw will close the festival. Followed by a quick run out for a vindaloo I suspect?
Also, there is the very, very cool All-Nighter program Vamires and Werewolves featuring An American Werewolf in London, The Lost Boys, Teen Wolf and From Dusk til Dawn. You will find the rest of the program in the full schedule below. Have fun!
FRIDAY 21 OCTOBER
OPENING GALA: THE VOID - 7.00pm
Director: Steven Kostanski & Jeremy Gillespie | Canada | 2016 | 1hr 30 mins
Our eighth edition kicks off in fine style with Steven Kostanski and Jeremy Gillespie’s eagerly anticipated creature feature. When small town police officer Daniel Carter (Aaron Poole) encounters a bloodied man on the road in the middle of nowhere, he takes him to the nearest hospital for treatment. When they arrive, however, the hospital is strangely quiet and is soon surrounded by a group of mysterious cloaked figures, trapping the patients and staff inside as they begin to undergo a monstrous transformation…
The Void’s directors require very little introduction. As two fifths of Canadian genre heroes Astron-6, Steven Kostanski and Jeremy Gillespie have been jointly responsible for CS favourites Manborg, Father’s Day and The Editor, but their latest film is altogether more serious in tone, with subtle stylistic nods to early John Carpenter and phenomenal practical effects.
Screening with IMITATIONS + OVERTIME
ANTIBIRTH - 9:30pm
Director: Danny Perez | USA | 2016 | 94 mins
Trailer dweller Lou and her best friend Sadie spend most of their nights steeped in a murky haze of pot smoke and booze-filled TV-watching sessions, venturing out on occasion to party in a desolate community full of drug-addled ex-Marines and other miscreants of society. After an otherwise normal night of self-destructive behaviour, Lou awakens with symptoms of a bizarre illness and psychosomatic visions that she can’t seem to shake. Unfazed, she continues with her hard-living ways, but it becomes clear that something otherworldly has infected her body, and try as she might, it refuses to be ignored.
Drawing on his background in experimental film and video, director Danny Perez has created an unpredictable and hallucinatory nightmare that will take you on a demented journey into the unknown.
Screening with MADRE DE DIOS + MINDLESS
CAT SICK BLUES (UK PREMIERE) - Midnight
Director: David Jackson | Australia | 2015 | 101 mins
If you saw the short film incarnation of Cat Sick Blues at Celluloid Screams 2013, you’d be forgiven for thinking that you’re mentally prepared for the feature version… think again… After the death of his cat, introverted loner Ted suffers a breakdown and convinces himself that in order to bring his beloved kitty back from the dead, he needs nine human lives to sacrifice. Equipped with a cat costume complete with a mask and razor-sharp claws, Ted embarks on a savage rampage across the city, whilst developing a doomed romance with Claire, a young woman he meets at a group for recently bereaved pet owners.
Though absolutely not for the faint hearted, Cat Sick Blues is a one-of-a-kind disturbing gem the likes of which you’ve never seen before.
Screening with GWILLIAM + DO YOU SEE WHAT I SEE?
SATURDAY 22 OCTOBER
WHAT WE BECOME (SORGENFRI) - 10.00am
Director: Bo Mikkelsen | Denmark | 2015 | 85 mins
A viral outbreak hits the Danish suburbs in Bo Mikkelsen’s compelling slow-burner. The Johannson family’s idyllic summer is brought to a sudden halt when a particularly aggressive and virulent strain of flu takes hold.
As the death toll rises, the authorities begin sealing off the neighborhood and the residents are soon forcibly sealed into their houses to contain the infection. Faced with an uncertain fate and convinced that they’re being lied to, teenager Gustav breaks out of their quarantine to discover the terrifying truth about the situation…
Laced with fear and paranoia, this tense pandemic thriller places an ordinary family in the middle of a dystopian nightmare where nothing is certain and no one can be trusted.
Screening with DAWN OF THE DEAF + KADDISH
THE DEVIL’S CANDY - 12.10pm
Director: Sean Byrne | USA | 2015 | 90 mins
When they snap up a spacious mansion in rural Texas at a bargain price, struggling artist Jesse (Cheap Thrills’ Ethan Embry) his wife Astrid (Shiri Appleby) and their daughter Zooey (Kiara Glasco) believe their domestic dreams have come true. Soon, however, the peace is shattered when evil forces begin to emerge from within the house influencing Jesse’s mental state as well as his artistic expression. As family relationships become strained, a mentally disturbed former resident returns to “reclaim” his home and will stop at nothing to do it.
Six years after exploding onto the international horror scene with his debut feature The Loved Ones, Director Sean Byrne returns with this heavy metal-infused tale that combines possession, haunted house shocks and serial killer chills.
Screening with ARCANA + DEATH METAL
CREEPY - 2.20pm
Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa | Japan | 2016 | 130 mins
Returning to the genre that made him a cult favourite over the last two decades, director Kiyoshi Kurosawa (Pulse, Cure) is back with Creepy, a masterclass of slow-burn dread and psychological chills.
After sustaining a serious injury at the hands of a deranged killer, police detective Takakura quits the force, moves to a quiet country village and takes a job teaching criminal psychology in the altogether safer confines of the local university. The idyllic lifestyle that he craves is thrown into chaos, however, when Takakura begins to suspect that his new neighbour is a psychopath responsible for a series of unsolved murders and he is soon drawn into a paranoid nightmare that threatens to destroy his entire life.
Screening with STITCHED UP
YOGA HOSERS - 4.50pm
Director: Kevin Smith | USA | 2016 | 88 mins
In the second film in his planned True North trilogy, director Kevin Smith reunites with cast members from walrus shocker Tusk for a tale of teenage angst and a battle with sinister pork products.
15 year old store clerks Colleen and Colleen (Harley Quinn Smith & Lily-Rose Depp) spend their time dealing with difficult customers at the Eh-2-Zed convenience store and jamming with their band in the back room, but everything changes when they’re invited to a senior high school party. The excitement is shortlived, however, when an ancient evil emerges from deep within the earth unleashing an army of little monsters in the form of nazi bratwurst that threaten the world as we know it, not to mention the duo’s party plans… If you think this all sounds a little ridiculous, you’d be dead right, but you should expect nothing less from a film described by its director as “Clueless meets Critters.”
Screening with THE BABYSITTER MURDERS + MUNCHIES
I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER - 7.40pm
Director: Billy O’Brien | Ireland/USA | 2016 | 105 minutes
A Midwestern town is plagued by a series of murders and a young amateur sleuth is determined to unmask the killer, in this adaptation of the cult novel by Dan Wells.
Sixteen year old John Cleaver (Max Records) is not your average teenager; obsessed with serial killers and monsters and wrangling with his own psychopathic feelings, John keeps his urges at bay through regular sessions with his therapist, his close friendship with elderly neighbour Mr Crowley (Christopher Lloyd) and lending his mother a hand at the family undertakers business. But when their community becomes gripped with a series of grisly, seemingly connected murders, John can’t help but be drawn into staging his own investigation, using his sociopathic tendencies to connect and come face to face with the monster that haunts their small town.
CELLULOID SCREAMS SECRET FILM - 10.00pm
Once again, our annual mystery film takes its place, waiting to reveal itself to you, our unsuspecting audience. You’ll only find out what it is as it’s about to begin.
Screening with WHEN SUSURRUS STIRS
CELLULOID SCREAMS ‘VAMPIRES vs WEREWOLVES’ ALLNIGHTER - Midnight
AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON
Director: John Landis | United Kingdom | 1981 | 97 mins
THE LOST BOYS
Director: Joel Schumacher | USA | 1987 | 97 mins
Director: Rod Daniel | USA | 1985 | 92 mins
FROM DUSK TILL DAWN
Director: Robert Rodriguez | USA | 1996 | 108 mins
Screening from an original 35mm Print.
SUNDAY 23 OCTOBER
WE GO ON - 11.00am
Director: Jesse Holland, Andy Mitton | USA | 2016 | 90 mins
Miles Grissom is plagued with a crippling fear of death, so much so that he is willing to pay $30,000 to anyone who can categorically prove the existence of the afterlife. Whether it’s a ghost, a near death experience or a proven past-life memory, Miles simply wants proof. His classified ad elicits thousands of responses, most of which are fakes, but Miles receives three replies that might just be the genuine article. The answer to his question, however, may be more than he bargained for.
Proof if it was ever needed that low-budget ingenuity beats bombastic jump scares and identikit plotting hands down, We Go On is a fascinating exploration of the supernatural that never fails to enthral and terrify from beginning to end.
Screening with KING RIPPLE + KOOKIE
TRASH FIRE - 1.30pm
Director: Richard Bates Jr. | USA | 2016 | 93 mins
Owen (Entourage’s Adrian Grenier) and Isabel (Angela Trimbur) are a couple in turmoil. Their relationship is characterised by barbed sarcasm and barely-contained contempt, mainly on the part of Owen, who suffers from severe intimacy and trust issues relating to a horrific family tragedy from his childhood. Their situation reaches breaking point when Isabel becomes pregnant and in a last-ditch attempt to encourage Owen to step up and become a family man, she suggests that they should visit his surviving relatives to bury the hatchet once and for all. However, this impromptu family reunion unearths dark family secrets that could destroy them all.
The films of Richard Bates Jr. have been a regular fixture at Celluloid Screams since the festival’s first edition and with Trash Fire we see him deliver his most accomplished film to date: a jet-black horror comedy with venomous dialogue and jaw-dropping shock moments that will jolt even the most jaded viewer into submission.
Screening with THE DISAPPEARANCE OF WILLIE BINGHAM + THE SUNKEN CONVENT
DEAREST SISTER - 4.00pm
Director: Mattie Do | Laos/Estonia/France | 2016 | 101 mins
A young village girl travels to the Lao capital, Vientiane, to care for her rich cousin who has lost her sight. Upon arrival, she is treated with hostility by the house’s servants and is entranced by the material wealth that is all around her. Most disturbing of all, her cousin’s blindness has given her an ability to commune with the dead, resulting in a series of mysterious and terrifying encounters that also pose a moral conundrum for those involved.
Director Mattie Do is Laos’ only female filmmaker, and is also the country’s only horror filmmaker. Add to this that Dearest Sister is only the 13th film to have ever been made in Laos, where film production infrastructure is non-existent, and a unique picture begins to emerge. Such accolades are already noteworthy, but the fact that Mattie’s unique cinematic voice is evident in all aspects of this, her second feature, cements her status as a significant filmmaking talent to watch.
Screening with THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WITCHING HOUR
PET - 7.10pm
Director: Carles Torrens | USA/Spain | 2016 | 90 mins
Security guard Seth (Dominic Monaghan) lives an isolated existence working in an animal shelter, and after a chance meeting with old flame Holly (Ksenia Solo) he thinks he’s found his ideal woman. As Seth becomes more obsessed with Holly and his attempts to woo her fail, he takes the extreme step to imprison her in a cage in the basement of the shelter in order to give their new relationship a chance. At this point, many other films would tread the all-too-familiar narrative path of victim vs captor, but Pet throws its audience into a series of twists and turns in a plot that is both a compelling exploration of loneliness and relationships as well being a darker-than-dark romantic comedy (of sorts) that sets it apart from your average psychological thriller.
Screening with INK, COCKS & ROCK’N’ROLL
CLOSING GALA: RAW - 9.30pm
Director: Julia Ducournau | France/Belgium | 2016 | 98 mins
Brace yourselves for a ferocious, gruesome coming-of-age tale and THE breakout horror film of the year.
Everyone in Justine's family is a vet, not to mention a staunch vegetarian. At 16, she’s a brilliant and promising student but when she enrols at veterinary school, she enters a decadent, merciless and dangerously seductive world. During the first week of hazing rituals, desperate to fit in whatever the cost, she strays from her family principles when she eats raw meat for the first time. Justine will soon face the terrible and unexpected consequences of her actions when her true self begins to emerge…
After witnessing the shockwaves caused by Julia Ducournau’s phenomenal debut feature at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, we knew there was only one film that could close Celluloid Screams 2016.
Screening with MERIDIANS