Film Festival season continues with the venerated and show-stopping Venice International Film Festival. The Venice International Film Festival is the oldest film festival in the world, founded in 1932. Venice reigns alongside the Cannes Film Festival and the Berlin International Film Festival as the three most important film festivals in the world. Kings are made, stars are born, and buzz-worthy films live or die by the reaction they garner at Venice.

As one of the most important film festivals in the world, Venice has done its fair share to elevate horror films of artistic merit and critical acclaim. The very first film ever screened at Venice in 1932 was Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, directed by Rouben Mamoulian. In more recent years, Venice showcased Survival of the Dead (2009), Black Swan (2010), Under the Skin (2013), and The Bad Batch (2016).

And this year, Venice has two of the most highly anticipated horror movies on its slate – Darren Aronofsky’s mother! and Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water. It doesn’t get much more art-house horror than these two, and I am dying of anticipation.


These films are the heavy-hitters, the award hopefuls, the ones that shoot for the stars. “The Jury for the Venezia 74 Competition will award the following official prizes: Golden Lion for Best Film; Silver Lion – Grand Jury Prize; Silver Lion for Best Director; Coppa Volpi for Best Actor; Coppa Volpi for Best Actress; Award for Best Screenplay; the Special Jury Prize and “Marcello Mastroianni” Award for Best New Young Actor or Actress.”


“A couple’s relationship is tested when uninvited guests arrive at their home, disrupting their tranquil existence. From filmmaker Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan, Requiem for a Dream), mother! stars Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer in this riveting psychological thriller about love, devotion and sacrifice.”

Yesssss, Darren Aronofsky is back with another psychological horror-thriller full of shady characters and a young ingenue sliding into madness.  I enjoyed Black Swan tremendously. While we don’t know too much about this secretive film, the fact that it’s got this cast and that trailer and Requiem for a Dream messed me up for days means that mother! surely won’t disappoint.

There aren’t many reviews out yet, but mother! will be released in the states on September 15, 2017, so we won’t have to wait long to see it! To tide you over, Aronofsky held a top secret screening for a small audience. Anthony Bourdain, who was in attendance for some reason, said the film would, “Upset the fuck out of people.” Horror writer Mylo Carbia proclaimed that mother! would be “the most controversial film since “A Clockwork Orange.” Which is saying a lot!


The Shape of Water

“Elisa is a mute, isolated woman who works in a hidden, high-security government laboratory. Her life changes forever when she discovers a secret, classified experiment that involves a mysterious creature.”

Guillermo del Toro films are always an event! Even Crimson Peak, which had some serious flaws, was a cinematic experience. Films like the Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth are a unique, profound mix of dark fairy tales and eerie, ethereal horror. The Shape of Water seems to promise much of the same, putting a fantastic, forlorn, and romantic spin on del Toro started in Hellboy.

Variety loved the film, saying in their Venice review that The Shape of Water is, “A ravishing, eccentric auteur’s imagining, spilling artistry, empathy and sensuality from every open pore…offer[ing] more straight-up movie for your money than just about any Hollywood studio offering this year.”


How excited are you for these movies? Who is your favorite director of the two? Leave your responses in the comments!