Call me biased but Celluloid Screams is and will remain a highlight of the festival year for me. Not only am I lucky enough to have it on my doorstep but it is an incredible festival that is consistent in delivering a line-up that never fails to impress. This year was no exception. So welcome to our coverage of the 2014 festival.
After morning broke on Friday 24th October my excitement levels were immediately at their peak as tonight would be the Opening Gala evening of Celluloid Screams. Arriving at The Showroom cinema around 5pm it was great to see the bar was already buzzing with people who were clearly excited for the weekend ahead. But soon enough it was time to collect our festival passes and then head into the auditorium to take our seats ready for the first film to begin.
Rob Nevitt the Festival Director took to the stage around 7pm to welcome everyone to the festival and a jet-lagged Adam Brooks, Conor Sweeney and Matthew Kennedy, three members of the Canadian film collective Astron 6 to the stage to open the festival and introduce their latest film THE EDITOR. However, before The Editor a short film directed by Marc Martínez Jordán called TIMOTHY was shown.
As a short, Timothy is an incredibly creepy film about a a boy called Simon who has to deal with his bully of a babysitter. On the same night, Simon recieves an unexpected visitor in the form of his favourite tv show character and it soon becomes a visit he will never forget. Beautifully shot and sinisterly twisted, Marc Martínez Jordán does a grand job with this short which received a well earned round of applause from the crowd by the time the credits begun to roll.
But finally, it was time for us to experience Astron-6‘s highly anticipated follow-up to their earlier cult hits Manborg and Father’s Day. THE EDITOR is directed by Adam Brooks and Matthew Kennedy who also star in the film alongside Conor Sweeney (who co-wrote the film), Paz de la Huerta, Udo Kier, Laurence R. Harvey and American Mary‘s Tristan Risk.
The Editor is both a homage to and satire of the Italian Giallo and tells the story of a longtime film editor Ciso (Brooks). When someone starts killing the cast and crew of the film he is editing, Ciso becomes the prime suspect in the crimes and is forced to prove his innocence whilst trying to evade the accusations of police detective Peter Porfiry (Kennedy) who is hot on his trail.
With its intentional use of dubbing and over the top gore effects, The Editor certainly captures the spirit of Giallo and features plenty of references that will raise a few smiles amongst hardcore fans. It also marks a real stop forward for Astron-6 as this film is incredibly polished and is so bad it’s absolutely fantastic to watch. However, for those of you (like me) that don’t know much about Giallo can sit back and still enjoy the film because it remains incredibly entertaining which is why we give the film two massive thumbs up.
Following the film Rob returned to the stage to host a Q&A with Adam Brooks, Connor Sweeney and Matthew Kennedy. The crowd clearly enjoyed the film as the guys were met with an almost deafening applause when they climbed to the stage. Questions about how the film came to light, their inspirations and their venture into crowd funding to raise money for the film. Overall, The Editor was fantastic and made for a perfect opening to the festival.
The second feature of the evening was Gerard Johnstone‘s Kiwi horror comedy HOUSEBOUND. Starring Morgana O’Reilly and Rima Te Wiata, Housebound is the story of Kylie Bucknell who is force to return to her parents house when she is put on home detention. Fed up by her situation Kylie is quick to act out against her well-intentioned mother Miriam who is convinced their home is haunted. However, when she bares witness to the unsettling whispers & strange bumps in the night, Kylie begins to think that the house might just be possessed by a hostile spirit.
Combining the dark comedy elements of The Loved Ones and the shocking freaky moments of The People Under the Stairs, Johnstone has crafted an immensely entertaining horror film that balances its comedy and horror elements superbly. The crowd reacted positively, there were plenty of laughs and even a few screams which is not suprrising as Housebound is a film that knows how to engage its audience. However, the success of the film would be nothing without the solid performances from Morgana O’Reilly and Rima Te Wiata who play their parts brilliantly.
Shown before Housebound was THE MUCK, a short directed by Tony Wash. Originally entered into the ABCs of Death 2‘s 26th Director competition, the short follows a woman as she returns home from a strenuous workout with the intention of enjoying a relaxing bath. However things don’t go quite to plan as things get… well mucky! In its six minutes running time Wash has created a short that looks fantastic on screen and is complimented by an enjoyable 80s synth soundtrack.
The third and final film of the night was CREEP which is a superb thriller from director Patrick Brice. However, before that was shown it was time for the audience to experience two more shorts. The first short was THE GAS MAN which is directed by Matt Palmer and is fourteen minutes of pure terror as a woman is left to defend herself when she is terrorised by a man who shows up at her property to read her gas meter. It’s very bleak, very scary and superbly directed by Palmer who had me on the edge of my seat by the time the end credits of the short played.
The second short was called DEAD HEARTS and is directed by Stephen W. Martin which serves as a whimsical bedtime story delivered in the style of Wes Anderson. Telling the story of a young mortician who falls in love with a girl from his class in school and soon finds out that not even death can stand in the way of true love. This was very kooky and sweet short that was funny that helped to lighten the mood.
After the shorts it was time to experience CREEP, a film that I have been wanting to watch since this Summer so I was delighted that it had been selected as part of this years Celluloid Screams line-up. In the film a videographer (played by Brice) agrees to travel to a cabin in a remote mountain town to meet Josef (played by Mark Duplass) in order to film what he does in a typical day. At first things seem heartfelt and inoocent until it comes clear that Josef is not the man he claims to be.
Just like it’s name Creep is a film that is incredibly creepy and unbearably tense. Both Brice and Duplass deliver outstanding performances and both men make the film feel real and actually scary. Without giving too much away this film serves as a warning and permeates a sense of overpowering dread that will make you think twice about answering public ads. I thoroughly enjoyed this film and found it an incredibly tense experience which makes me excited for the next instalment of the planned Creep trilogy.
So with the day come to a close it was time to nip into the bar to enjoy a drink or two with the last few remaining festival guests before heading home to get some rest before starting day two of Celluloid Screams.