If you're a horror fan that lives anywhere near Brooklyn, you're probably aware of the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival. You've probably kept up with the festival's initial announcements, including its impressive first wave of films. But of course, every first wave must necessarily be followed by a second, and the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival has got the goods.
But don't take my word for it. Here it is straight from the press release's mouth:
Hot off the heels of its first wave announcement, which included Opening Night Film THE BEACH HOUSE and DANIEL ISN’T REAL as Centerpiece, the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival, which will return for its fourth edition from October 17–24, has unveiled the rest of its jam-packed 2019 slate of diverse feature premieres and over 40 short films.
Ready to end the festival’s week with multiple literal bangs, BHFF will host director Joe Begos for the New York Premiere of his new raucous, Fangoria-backed siege knockout VFW as its Closing Night Film. The screening will be held at the Nitehawk Cinema in Prospect Park, BK, with Begos in attendance, followed by the Fangoria Closing Night Party.
Elsewhere in BHFF’s second wave, zombie cinema receives a powerful and politically charged twist in Jeff Barnaby’s BLOOD QUANTUM, coming off its buzzed-about debut as TIFF’s Midnight Madness Opening Night selection. Brooklyn Horror’s signature “Head Trip” feature section, dedicated to films that subvert horror tropes in unique and challenging ways, will be home to IFC Films’ fascinating gem SWALLOW, as well as provocative international genre film additions from Poland and Uruguay.
Popular BHFF touchstone section Home Invasion, where local filmmakers’ latest horror works are put on full display, has expanded to include three features, proudly presenting the world premiere of a special making-of documentary for Larry Fessenden’s DEPRAVED, and 12 shorts.
On top of returning short blocks Nightmare Fuel, Head Trip and Creeping Terror BHFF is thrilled to announce the evolution of our Slayed program, once reserved for the best new LGBTQ horror shorts and now encompassing features as well. The section includes Kurtis David Harder’s FrightFest breakout SPIRAL for its North American Premiere and Emily Harris’ haunting Sheridan Le Fanu adaptation CARMILLA.
Here’s the full breakdown of BHFF 2019’s second wave features and all five short film blocks:
New York Premiere
USA | 2019 | 92 Min | Dir. Joe Begos
A tight-knit group of grizzled military veterans (played by a formidable cast of genre fan favorites, including Stephen Lang, William Sadler and Fred Williamson) just want to have a laidback night of hard boozing inside their VFW digs. Too bad for them, though, that a gang of punk drug dealers and supercharged addicts have other plans for their unsuspecting elders. Coming off of his excellent descent-into-hell eye-opener BLISS, horror grime master Joe Begos puts his bold stamp on the good old-fashioned “siege movie” with this gore-drenched and delightfully sleazy adrenaline rush.
Director Joe Begos in attendance.
Canada | 2019 | 96 Min | Dir. Jeff Barnaby
In the midst of a zombie outbreak, all hope seems lost, but there’s one glimmer of salvation: A small Indigenous community populated by folks who are somehow immune to whatever is turning people into undead flesh-eaters. Having been marginalized and persecuted for their entire lives, though, the lucky, and still healthy, residents see an opportunity to both keep themselves alive and pay back those who’ve wronged them by keeping their community’s entry ways closed. And with that, Canadian filmmaker Jeff Barnaby has conceived one of the cleverest uses of the socially potent zombie template, carrying the torch for the late George A. Romero in the process—not to mention Tom Savini, thanks to an excess of viscera.
Mystery Of The Night
Philippines | 2019 | 105 Min | Dir. Adolfo Alix, Jr.
In the colonial Philippines of the 1900s, a young woman who’s been raised by creatures in the woods meets, and falls in love with, a man from town. Soon enough, though, her new romance goes sour, prompting her to make him pay in ways you’ll need to see to believe. Cloaked in a hypnotic ambiance from its opening frame, Adolfo Alix Jr.’s MYSTERY OF THE NIGHT takes its time building up character and conflict before erupting with a dynamite supernatural payoff that’s shockingly primal. Behold one of 2019’s most unique horror gems.
In The Quarry
East Coast Premiere
Uruguay | 2018 | 82 Min | Dir. Bernardo and Rafael Antonaccio
Excited to introduce her new boyfriend to her longtime friends, Alicia sets up a hangout session at an abandoned quarry near her hometown. At first, it’s all good times, with food and drinks abound, but as the day progresses, secrets are revealed and bonds are broken. And before the day is over, lives will be lost. Uruguayan filmmakers Bernardo and Rafael Antonaccio mine pure darkness and unpredictable brutality from their characters’ frayed dynamics in this tense and excellently acted riff on naturalistic heart-of-darkness genre fare the likes of Polanski’s KNIFE IN THE WATER.
East Coast Premiere
Poland | 2019 | 108 Min | Dir. Jagoda Szelc
Waking up to discover their bus driver gone, a group of hospitality majors arrive at a hotel in the middle of nowhere. The take-no-shit hotel manager greets them with the first lesson of their internship—no one cares what your name is. This loss of identity is followed by menial cleaning tasks and as one night bleeds into the next, the students begin to explore the dark recesses of the hotel. Mythic and tantalizing, Director Jagoda Szelc's sophomore feature channels the waywardness and palpable rage of youth.
USA | 2019 | 94 Min | Dir. Carlo Mirabella-Davis
Pregnant housewife Hunter (Haley Bennett) suddenly develops a case of pica—a psychological disorder involving the desire to consume inedible objects. The more her husband and his family try to stop her compulsions, the gruesomely deeper she falls into this harmful obsession until her perfect home becomes a patriarchal prison. Carlo Mirabella-Davis' metaphorically rich feature debut is a body horror film that feels utterly essential from its timely commentary down to Bennett's jaw-dropping lead performance.
Director Carlo Mirabella-Davis in attendance.
This Is Our Home
USA | 2019 | 73 Min | Dir. Omri Dorani
Shaking off a tense roadside encounter with some strangers, Reina and her boyfriend, Cory, arrive at her childhood home. The quarreling couple are attempting to overcome a difficult decision that has put a deep strain on their relationship: the abortion of their first child. Late that night, there's a knock at the door. It's a young boy claiming to be their son. Disturbingly batshit in its exploration of unresolved grief and regret, THIS IS OUR HOME begs to be discussed and deciphered.
Director Omri Dorani, actress/producer Simone Pellicano and producer Jeff Ayars in attendance.
North American Premiere
Canada | 2019 | 87 Min | Dir. Kurtis David Harder
To get away from the city life, same-sex couple Malik and Aaron and their teen daughter, Kayla, move to a small suburban town in the mid-’90s. Unfortunately, they're greeted right away with homophobic threats. When Malik witnesses a strange gathering in the neighbor's house, he starts to fear for their lives. A queer horror game-changer, SPIRAL uses the genre to call out the deep-rooted fear of the other in America and expose the cycle of hate as the most corruptible, ancient evil of all.
Director Kurtis David Harder in attendance.
United Kingdom | 2019 | 95 Min | Dir. Emily Harris
Fifteen-year-old Lara has no freedom in her overbearing family’s stately manor, which makes her budding sexual curiosities all the tougher to navigate. One day, a carriage accident near their property leads to enigmatic teenager Carmilla taking up residence inside her home to recover, sparking a friendship that grows into something more passionate. Lara’s family, meanwhile, suspects there’s something inhuman about Carmilla. Adapting Sheridan Le Fanu’s classic vampire novella, which predates Bram Stoker’s DRACULA by nearly three decades, British filmmaker Emily Harris delivers an elegant and moody Gothic romance that isn’t afraid to let the blood flow.
Slayed!: LGBTQ Horror Shorts (co-presented by NewFest)
It’s an exciting time for queer horror, which is in the midst of a powerful renaissance. Look no further than these varied queer stories, covering issues like safe sex, religious persecution, identity confusion and closeted fears all through the genre’s lens.
Jeremiah, dir. Kenya Gillespie (USA), Stigma, dir. David Velduque (Spain), The Original, dir. Michelle Garza Cervera (United Kingdom), Penance, dir. Kayden Phoenix (USA), Bathroom Troll, dir. Aaron Immediato (USA), Docking, dir. Trevor Anderson (Canada), Switch, dir. Marion Renard (Belgium)
Fessenden’s Depraved: Making Frankenstein in a Brooklyn Loft
USA | 2019 | 75 Min | Dir. Larry Fessenden
With the release of Larry Fessenden’s DEPRAVED, horror fans have finally seen a new film from one of New York City’s, let alone that of the horror genre as a whole, most influential indie filmmaking legends, his first since 2013’s BENEATH. But for Fessenden himself, the journey to get his audacious and Brooklyn-set modernization of Mary Shelley’s FRANKENSTEIN made has taken much longer and proven the values of both dedication and determination. In this feature-length documentary, Fessenden offers an intimate look at bringing his most ambitious passion project yet to life. It’s an all-access dive into one of 2019’s best horror films, and BHFF will have Fessenden himself on hand to break DEPRAVED’s production story down even further. Frankly, it doesn’t get more authentically “Brooklyn Horror” than this.
Director Larry Fessenden in attendance.
East Coast Premiere
USA | 2019 | 99 Min | Dir. Frank Sabatella
Stan, Roxy and Dommer are lifelong friends whose bond is being tested by the ever-taxing rigors of high school. For Stan and Dommer, in particular, the daily bullying they encounter comes in second only to watching Roxy’s popularity grow, and, in turn, her closeness to them dissipate. But there’s an unexpected possible solution to their problems in Stan’s backyard: a nondescript-looking toolshed, which houses something inhuman. Centered around the unlikeliest of villains, Frank Sabatella’s THE SHED takes what could have been a gore-drenched monster movie romp and layers it with potent coming-of-age anxiety and youth-in-crisis urgency. Don’t worry, though: There’s still carnage aplenty.
Director Frank Sabatella in attendance.
East Coast Premiere
USA | 2019 | 95 Min | Dir. Dean Kapsalis
High school English teacher Holly (Azura Skye) has always taken the stress and thanklessness of motherhood in stride, but a dark secret weighs heavily on her. The sudden appearance of a mouse and a betrayal by her self-absorbed husband send her spiraling down into catastrophe as she wreaks total havoc on her life. THE SWERVE is an epic, tenacious showcase for Skye, who shreds through the screen flailing for a lifeline in director Dean Kapsalis emotionally crushing feature debut.
Director Dean Kapsalis in attendance.
Home Invasion: Shorts
New York City's genre filmmaking talent is put on full display in our annual short film showcase built to equally impress and scare, this time featuring twisted meet-cutes, sadistic bakers and insatiable demons.
Deja Vu, dir. Cameron Strittmatter, LVRS, dir. Emily Bennett, Laundry Night, dir. A.K. Espada, Bakemono, dir. Sumire Takamatsu and Jorge Lucas, Brain Jail, dir. Carleton Ranney, The Muffin Man, dir. Ethan Blum, Let Me Play, dir. Andrew Bell, The Taxidermist, dir. Natalie Johnson, Ed, dir. Robbie Lemieux, Horizontal Fall, dir. Tin Lee, Deep Tissue, dir. Meredith Alloway, The Rat, dir. Carlen May-Mann
We dare you to try your best to sleep comfortably after watching these scare-fueled shorts, which run the gamut from insatiable cannibals to dating app ghouls, relentless serial killers and occult-signaled demons.
Skin of Man, dir. Jimmy Joe Roche (USA), In Sound, We Live Forever, dir. Joshua Guiliano (USA), Inferno, dir. Bishal Dutta (USA), The Vicious, dir. Trevor Dillon, Ian Hock (USA), Megan, 26, dir. Brea Grant (USA), Midnight Talk, dir. Raffael Oliveri (Australia), Fatale Collective: Bleed, dir. Lola Blanc, Linda Chen, Natasha Halevi, Danin Jacquay, Francesca Maldonado, Megan Rosati (USA), Caw, dir. Laura Sanchez Acosta (Argentina)
Conventions are shattered throughout this subversive and genre-bending collection of shorts, which push horror in wild new directions that include nihilistic poultry conspiracies, homicidal zoo animals, real world tragedies and psychedelic freak-outs.
Please Speak Continuously and Describe Your Experiences as They Come to You, dir. Brandon Cronenberg (Canada), Bad Seed, dir. Guilherme Daniel (Portugal), MJ, dir. Jamie Delaney (United Kingdom), Lili, dir. Yfke Van Berckalaer (Netherlands), The Video Store Commercial, dir. Cody Kennedy, Tim Rutherford (Canada), Valerio’s Day Out, dir. Michael Arcos (USA), The Obliteration of Chickens, dir. Izzy Lee (USA), The Haunted Swordsman, dir. Kevin McTurk (USA), Girl in the Hallway, dir. Valerie Barnhart (Canada)
For those with patience, the rewards are unforgettably horrific in this group of longer, more meticulous scare products that tap into deadly family traditions, unique vampire lore, urban legends and more.
Other Side of the Box, dir. Caleb J. Phillips (USA), Grief, dir. Brock Bodell, Daniel R. Perry (USA), The Burden, dir. Nico Van den Brink (Netherlands), Suicide by Sunlight, dir. Nikyata Jusu (USA), The Boogeywoman, dir. Erica Scoggins (USA)
As a native Minnesotan with no designs on heading east any time soon, I'm particularly jealous of this festival's collection of queer horror shorts, and that Larry Fessenden documentary makes me wish I could be there just for the opportunity to see Fessenden in person.
But what about you, Brooklynite BMD readers? You excited for this? Be sure to head to the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival website to look at the rest of the lineup and set your festival plans in motion.