Tomorrow is the official kick-off of the Sundance Film Festival! That means you should get ready for a fresh round of groundbreaking, artistic, and unsettling indie horror films.
Sundance is the largest independent film festival in the United States and one of the beacons for upcoming independent horror films. Among the slate of prestigious arthouse flicks and top-tier foreign films, Sundance makes room for imaginative and innovative horror and genre films. Being the largest independent film festival in America and one of the most important film festivals in the world, Sundance provides invaluable exposure for horror films that buck the studio system and push the envelope.
All of which is great news for horror fans of all stripes.
As a horror fan, I live and die for visually striking, beautiful horror films. It doesn’t matter what subgenre of horror it is or how gory it is—I love beautiful horror. The more provocative, the better. I can’t look away from a film like Suspiria or The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. I wouldn’t even if I could because I love the delicious contrast between watching something scary when it’s in a bold, ornate, artistic cinematic language.
Many horror films don’t bother with a strong, unifying visual concepts, so I find it refreshing when a film achieves a distinct cinematic style and tone. It’s even better when that distinct cinematic style transforms the horrors on screen into something gorgeous and compelling.
A beautiful horror film is special. A keen grasp of color and form and composition add layers of understanding to the story. An inspired eye deepens my apprehension, heightens my terror, and distills my horrific realizations into an unforgettable viewing experience. A beautiful horror film makes me wish I’d taken more film classes in college.A beautiful horror film scratches its way into my brain where it makes a permanent home.
A little while ago, I shared a list of my favorite beautiful horror films. The list included classic horror films with almost universally praised aesthetics, like The Shining or Let the Right One In. Lately, I’ve decided the time has come to publish an additional list including more of those visually magnificent films I love so much.
For this list, I’ve put together an eclectic group of beautiful horror films ranging from a noir-inspired B-movie to a French horror classic to last year’s prettiest and most disappointing movie. Here they are, in chronological order, resplendent and unsettling.
The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) continues the 2017 film festival season in style! And with tons of horror movies!
Thank God! I was getting a little parched with the paltry (though potent) slates of horror movies at Cannes and Venice.
Honestly, it’s not a surprise that TIFF has much more horror than the other festivals. TIFF has always been a little more…risky than some of the more prestigious festivals. Not that TIFF isn’t prestigious–it regularly attracts top-level talent and Oscar contenders. It’s just that TIFF is a little more daring. A little more willing to recognize the worth and artistic accomplishments of genre films.
As Vox put it, “Cannes films often skew toward more rarefied and international films, while at Toronto…you can find bigger crowdpleasers that might also find more money at the box office and wind up bigger awards-season contenders…TIFF sets the pace for the year’s awards chatter.”
And just to underscore the point, TIFF regularly hits homeruns, especially in horror. TIFF has debuted such horror films as Dario Argento’s Opera in 1989, Peter Jackson’s Braindead in 1992, The Grudge in 2002, Hostel in 2005, Inside (À l’intérieur) in 2007, 2008’s The Loved Ones, Black Swan in 2009, The Lords of Salem in 2012, Emilie in 2015, and Raw in 2016, where multiple people passed out during the screening.
Thus, without further adieu, let’s get to TIFF 2017’s horror movies!
1977 was a damn good year for cinema with the release of modern film classics like Star Wars, Saturday Night Fever, Annie Hall, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. It was also an inspired year for horror, with The Hills Have Eyes, Eraserhead, Rabid, and, of course, Dario Argento’s masterpiece, Suspiria. One of the most iconic horror films ever, Suspiria enjoyed the 40th anniversary of its world premiere a few months ago. Just a few days ago, it enjoyed the 40th anniversary of its American release.
Suspiria is one of my favorite horror movies. Full stop. Not only is it violent and horrifying, it’s freakin’ gorgeous. Gory and unsettling, its visuals are beautiful and opulent. Suspiria is a true experience, more than a straightforward movie-watching experience. Like the giallo movies from which Suspiria is descended, the film explores the stunning effect of horrific violence rendered cinematic. Of all the giallo films, Suspiria achieves a rare kind of horror movie sublimity, slipping into your subconscious like a long, thin blade. Continue reading
As part of my ongoing series, Horror at Film Festivals, let’s take a trip down under to Australia for the Melbourne International Film Festival. The world isn’t just about Cannes and Sundance, now is it?
The Melbourne International Film Festival is chock full of horror spanning a wide range of tastes from the gory to the eerie to the downright weird. From August 3rd to August 20th, the film industry will gather in Melbourne to toast the latest crop of inventive and important films, and horror films part of the schedule.
As a festival, the Melbourne International Film Festival aims to show the global audience all manner of “curated and unforgettable screen experiences.” The major Australian film festival, the Melbourne International Film Festival is also one of the oldest film festivals in the world, showcasing films since 1952. It has a decidedly different flavor to its film lineup, focusing on daring, a little risky, slightly off-kilter independent films.
To that end, the Melbourne International Film Festival has showcased works by horror icons Dario Argento, David Cronenberg, and David Lynch, among many. More recently, the Melbourne International Film Festival screened such horror films as Housebound, Train to Busan, and What We Do in the Shadows.
The lineup for 2017 is exciting! Melbourne International Film Festival has one of the most extensive slates of indie horror I’ve seen at a major festival. I can’t wait until I can see these in America!
I won’t lie, I was ready to be disappointed by Alien: Covenant.
When I finally walked into it, I did so with low expectations and gratitude that my ticket was free. An ardent fan of both Alien and Aliens, I’m still sore about how disappointing Prometheus turned out to be. I was hopeful that Alien: Covenant would be different, but I wasn’t going to hold my breath. I thought I’d learned my lesson about managing expectations.
So imagine my surprise and delight when Alien: Covenant turned out to be thrilling, scary, and downright thoughtful. Alien: Covenant, thankfully, broke new ground instead of rehashing Prometheus and took meaningful steps towards giving us the same kind of gruesome and disturbing space horror epics we all know and love.
The Tribeca Film Festival starts tomorrow! The film festival circuit is in full swing and Tribeca is the latest prestigious stop. And I’m going to tell you all about the featured horror films.
Tribeca may not be Cannes, but in its relatively short existence, Tribeca has proven itself a formidable and important film festival. Founded in 2002 by producer Jane Rosenthal, renowned actor Robert De Niro, and real estate mogul Craig Hatkoff, Tribeca has made a name for itself as a festival dedicated to presenting discerning and innovative filmmaking. More than the Cannes Film Festival or the Toronto International Film Festival, Tribeca is about independent films over “prestige studio movies.”
This year, there’s a great mix of various horror subgenres, from serial killer movies to artistic slashers to psychological horror, with loads of films falling between those categories or smashing through them. I have a feeling that some of these feature and short films will go on to generate plenty of buzz. Hopefully, we will see general releases of some of these. I’m particularly excited about Hounds of Love, Psychopaths, and Retouch.
Spring Break in Texas means a lot of things, like South Padre Island, Mustang Island, and South by South West!
I have many a fond memory of my time as a college student in Austin, Texas, too poor and too uncool to go to the exclusive, VIP SXSW events and having to settle for free events and waiting in line for screenings and concerts. Most of the time, I could only ever get into the musical events. I dreamed of the day I could afford a VIP pass to the SXSW Film Festival, especially because of all the freakin’ amazing SXSW horror movies there. So many great horror films premiered at SXSW! To name a few of those SXSW horror films, take French-extremism horror film Them, Lake Mungo, Insidious, and The Cabin in the Woods, to name a few.
Sadly, I’m still not in a place where I can take off a whole week to go party in Austin. Someday, I’ll get there. But until then, here’s a list of SXSW horror movies that are premiering this year! I’ve included a synopsis and a trailer if available. Enjoy!
*Beware, here be spoilers*
The tense political environment right now has me thinking a lot about my identity as an American. I was born and raised here. I’m fairly patriotic. I studied the law and our nation’s history in part to better understand the rules that underlie our Americanness.
And when I think of myself as an American, I think about our rights and the defense of our liberties. I think of working together with those who have different viewpoints. I think of respect and tolerance, because Americans are supposed to hold those values in esteem. I also think, “It’s easy to be American when things are going well.”
What happens if this all falls apart?
We Americans treasure our autonomy. Look at the Bill of Rights. Look at the Constitution. These are the rules by which the government protects our rights and with which the people limit the government. We have all said we agree to abide by this rulebook to preserve everyone’s pursuit of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness (within reason). Do we mean it?