Spring was too sleepy to cap a day of movies. I found myself fighting to stay awake or interested.
Day 2 of the Telluride Horror Show started off light with the choice between a block of comical horror shorts or Bag Boy Lover Boy. Bag Boy Lover Boy’s audience received the film enthusiastically, but I couldn’t have been more satisfied with the “Horror, Ha Ha!” shorts, which were largely fun with a few recognizable stars, such as Amanda Seyfried (“Dog Food”) and John Hannah (“Get Some”).
• “The Hitchhiker” is a charming film noir spoof of The Twilight Zone about a woman setting out from New York to become famous in Los Angeles, chock-full of great one-liners and comebacks that successfully play off irrational mid-20th and current century stereotypes.
• “Found” is an unimaginative attempt at satirizing found footage horror films via a promotional video by the fictitious Found Footage Institute. Rather than mocking the overcooked subgenre, “Found” simply adds a camera to jibes at common horror film principles (i.e. bring your camera, forget your food!).
• Evoking the whimsical styles of Wes Anderson and Bryan Fuller, “Dead Hearts” is a delightful, dark romantic comedy about a couple that discovered and recovers true love on Halloween.
• While drawing some laughs, “Pet Peeve” came across as a complaint about industry practices and not a film intended for an audience’s entertainment.
• “Zominic” is a charming commercial about the parenting demands of a demonic baby.
• “Get Some” is a hilarious spin on reality TV shows in which Hunter, the show’s host, takes a guest and film crew on a thrilling real-life werewolf hunt.
• In “Dog Food,” an animal rights duo, one of which is a vegetarian, learns not to mess with a butcher’s dog.
• Tables are turned on a serial killer of “bad” girls—and principles of horror are turned on their heads—by a woman who seeks to become one in “Slut.”
These films were followed by the option of Ejecta or Backwater. Backwater felt like three separate stories transitioned by two surprises, because the pace changed after each surprise and the previous story reached a conclusion as it transitioned into the next. The first “story,” which involves a couple exploring the woods, could have been covered in five minutes but took up nearly one third of the film. By minute 15 I was wishing I had chosen something else. Once past that hump, and despite “surprises” that were obvious due to otherwise inexplicable character behavior, the movie turned exciting during the last 60 minutes.
Next, participants could choose between Closer to God and Gravy. From audience responses, both were excellent films. Yet, Closer to God stood out as the strongest film of the festival. Inspired by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Closer to God is a thoughtful movie following the consequences of an ambitious scientist’s successful attempts to create human clones.
The fourth set of movies consisted of a choice between Among the Living or The Houses October Built. While Houses is chilling—for an example check out images of the living doll—it was frustratingly difficult to determine if the main characters were seriously in danger or simply getting what they sought and paid for, a sense of danger, which kept the film from being scary. Outside of the documentary footage, statistics, and newsreels of haunted house attraction tragedies, the film had the feel of Rob Zombie’s House of 1,000 Corpses without the gore.
The second night closed with the choice of “Fear Itself” shorts or Spring, a romantic horror-comedy. While initially diverting through strings of quips, Spring was too sleepy to cap a day of movies. I found myself fighting to stay awake or interested.
More details on Closer to God and its director, The Houses October Built cast Q&A, and Spring to follow. | Ashby Walters