BROOKLYN HORROR FILM FESTIVAL: Old Flame (2022)

Calvin (Andy Gershenzon) is away from his family at a college reunion, preparing a speech, when he meets Rachel (Rebeca Robles), who as we learn as the movie progresses is the great regret of his life. How deep and how wrong that regret is will come out as these two characters continue this conversation over the course of the evening, growing more and more uncomfortable and veering into so much more.

Ninety minutes, two actors, a lifetime of secrets. Director and writer Christopher Denham has put together quite the film here, one that demands that you stay with it at first. Yes, it’s a slow and at times even cliche-ridden conversation between two potential old friends. Yet you need to stay with it. You need to hide like a fly on the wall and see what happens next, because things — many things — happen.

The ending of it all comes as we constantly shift protagonist and antagonist, as the truth comes out, but come on. Once that dildo gets put on the table, we all know where it’s going.

BROOKLYN HORROR FILM FESTIVAL: Influencer (2022)

It’s easy to hate influencers. It’s simple to say social media has ruined everything. And yet, to look into oneself and the world and realize that these things just magnify how bad things are and therefore, it’s easy to blame the shiny and pretty people, because no society functions without a scapegoat.

Kurtis David Harder directed Spiral and this is worlds better than that film. Along with co-writer Tesh Gutti, he tells the story of Madison (Emily Tennant), a social influencer in Thailand who meets up with CW (Cassandra Naud), a woman with a huge birthmark on her face and creeping darkness in her soul. She brings Madison into her world, at first showing her how it’s more real than her reality to taking photos of every meal and every outfit. As Madison lies about how much she’s experiencing and pines for the end of her relationship to Ryan (Rory J. Saper), the man who got her into influencing in the first place, she’s kidnapped to CW’s special place on the island, a space that is as gorgeous as it is potentially deadly.

So yes, by all means hate on influencers, but do not miss this film, which just plain works.

 

BROOKLYN HORROR FILM FESTIVAL: Mother, May I? (2022)

Directed and written by Laurence Vannicelli — he also wrote Porno — the logline for this movie is frankly horrifying: “A man’s fiancée starts behaving like his recently deceased mother, leading him to confront his deepest traumas to free her from the bewildering possession.”

Emmett (Kyle Gallner) is the man, Anya (Holland Roden) is the woman and yes indeed, things do get strange. His mother was a famous therapist and her roleplaying session therapy is supposed to get him through this, but the mindgames between man and woman end up becoming man and woman and mom and oh man, that’s a menage a trois no one wants no matter what the Pornhub paradigm tells you.

If you looked at the woman you loved and she started smoking and dressing like your mom, would you stay? Doesn’t every man want to marry his mother? Well, maybe in theory. But is the solution to this story supernatural or just mental manipulation? Maybe heading back home and settling affairs isn’t really the best of ideas, but I say that with every horror movie, because going back home and being confronted by the loss of a parent is a harrowing thing so I can see why so many movies touch on it. This one does it right, does it strange and ends up being more than memorable.

BROOKLYN HORROR FILM FESTIVAL: Mother Superior (2022)

Sigrun (Isabella Händler) is working as a nurse for Baroness Heidenreich (Inge Maux), who is dealing with Parkinson’s disease. Why? Well, it turns out that the old woman at one time was the director of an Aryan maternity ward and she may be able to help Sigrun locate her real parents. She soon discovers a secret Third Reich archive but her file is the only one missing. That’s because the Baroness knows who she is — the Valkyrie name is part of why — and she wants Sigrun to join her feminist secret society, the very same one that tried to take power away from Hitler. Oh yeah — they’re also powered by the darkest of occult powers, ones that can show Sigrun exactly how her mother died.

The debut film of director and writer Marie Alice Wolfszahn, this is that most rare of movies: a feminist gothic that has a berserk jazz soundtrack and deals with “völkisch” occultism, one that draws on the pure Aryan blood of Germany, which, yeah, that last part of the sentence made me uncomfortable to write. It’s gorgeous, sure, but man, the imagery of Teutonic tribes hits a little strange in my mind. Maybe I’m just a little sensitive, what with all the all black American flags flying in my neighborhood.

That said — there’s a lot to think about in this film and plenty to stare at. Those dream sequences are something else.

BROOKLYN HORROR FILM FESTIVAL: Megalomaniac (2022)

Directed and written by Karim Ouelhaj, it’s about Martha (Eline Schumacher) and Félix (Benjamin Ramon), the children of the Butcher of Mons, a notorious Belgian serial killer from the 1990s. Martha lives a normal life while her brother has taken over the work of his father. But when she’s harassed and violently attacked at work, she finds herself in the same twisted mind of her father and brother.

Unable to get back at her accuser at work, Martha soon takes a woman hostage and chains her up, belittling the woman for her looks. Then, Felix joins her, pulling her further into his darkness. All of the pent-up hatred that she has for herself, all the pain and trauma of growing up the daughter of a killer, it all comes out as she attacks her victim.

Just let me warn you now: this is a dark watch, one that will upset nearly everyone who watches it and it doesn’t have the release valve of the slasher. It’s unrelenting blackness, a way too normal world filled with broken people perpetuating the cycle of abuse, violence and pain. I don’t usually give out trigger warnings, but trigger warning for everything.

THE BROOKLYN HORROR FILM FESTIVAL LINEUP!

The Brooklyn Horror Film Festival, presented by Shudder, is October 13-20 with screenings held at Nitehawk Cinema Williamsburg and Williamsburg Cinemas. Following last year’s return to theaters, BHFF is thrilled to present its most robust slate to date.

The festival will open with the Eva Green starring Nocebo, the latest psychological thriller from celebrated Irish filmmaker Lorcan Finnegan, best known for his 2019 Cannes selection Vivarium, starring Imogen Poots and Jesse Eisenberg, but better known to BHFF audiences for his feature debut Without Name, which swept the festival awards in 2016 taking Best Feature, Best Director, Best Cinematography and Best Editing.

There’s also the feature directorial debut from Laurence Vannicelli (co-writer of the hit 2021 BHFF horror comedy Porno), Mother, May I?, starring Dinner In America’s Kyle Gallner and MTV’s Teen Wolf’s Holland Roden; actor-turned-director Christopher Denham’s third feature Old Flame; Clubhouse-born supernatural horror anthology Sinphony, and the latest from Terence Krey (director of BHFF 2020’s An Unquiet Grave), Summoners, featuring Christine Nyland, McLean Peterson, and indie horror maverick Larry Fessenden.

Additional premiere highlights from the line-up are Satan’s Slaves 2: Communion, Joko Anwar’s follow-up to his 2017 hit Indonesian horror; Joe Begos’ holiday-horror Christmas Bloody Christmas; Andy Mitton’s acclaimed creeping COVID-19 chiller The Harbinger; Pete Ohs’ SXSW sensation supernatural stalker feature Jethica; Karim Ouelhaj’s multi-award winning Megalomanic; Daphné Baiwir’s King On Screendoc on the celebrated author; Kristoffer Borgli’s absurd pitch black Cannes satire Sick of Myself, breakout indie-horror directing duo Aaron Moorehead and Justin Benson’s latest, Something In the Dirt; Prime Video’s Run Sweetheart Run, with director Shana Feste and lead Ella Balinska in attendance, and Shudder’s newest addition to the popular found-footage franchise, V/H/S/99, hot off its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, and much more.

Rounding out the first wave is our first repertory program, The Gates Of Hell And Beyond: A Lucio Fulci Retrospective. The program includes eight classic Fulci titles, including the new 4K restoration of Fulci’s The Beyond, presented with a new score from original composer Fabio Frizzi, and is complemented by a special live event, presented by The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies, diving into the life and works spanning Fulci’s career. Plus there’s Cat In the Brain, a 35mm screening of City of the Living DeadDon’t Torture a DucklingThe House by the CemeteryManhattan BabyThe New York Ripper and Zombie.

That’s not all!

There’s also U.S. Premiere of the “straight cut” of Gaspar Noé’s Irreversible, also a highlight of the festival’s Fear In Focus: French Extremity sidebar, coinciding with the film’s 20th anniversary, and will spotlight Charlotte Le Bon’s supernatural coming-of-age feature debut Falcon Lake — hot off of its North American premiere at TIFF — as Centerpiece.

In addition, BHFF is proud to host a special event screening of the new genre anthology Give Me An A. Executive produced by Natasha Halevi, member of the celebrated female horror filmmaker group Fatale Collective, who premiered their own anthology, Bleed, at Brooklyn Horror in 2019, all proceeds from the screening will be donated to The New York Abortion Access Fund (NYAAF) to help provide access to reproductive services. Give Me an A was conceived following the devastating overturning of Roe v. Wade in America and features a star-studded cast that includes Alyssa Milano, Virginia Madsen, Gina Torres, Milana Vayntrub, Jennifer Holland, Sean Gunn, Molly C. Quinn, Jason George and Jackie Tohn and the screening will be followed by a moderated discussion on reproductive rights with attending filmmakers, producers, and cast.

Other movies that will be shown include Tubi’s reimagined Terror TrainInfluencer, the latest from BHFF 2019 alum Kurtis David Harder; and the hand-drawn animated horror The Weird Kidz, directed by Lucky McKee’s longtime editor Zach Passero.

Plus there’s the U.S. premiere of the new HD remaster of Fabrice Du Welz’s revered feature debut Calvaire and the complete Slayed program of LGBTQ+ horror, featuring Michelle Garza Cervera’s two-time Tribeca winning Huesera; Kyra Gardner’s Living With Chucky documentary; Carter Smith’s skin-crawling horror-thriller Swallowed; and a special screening of Brian Yuzna’s Society presented in conjunction with the book launch of It Came From The Closet, edited by Joe Vallese.

The complete shorts line-up for BHFF 2022, including two blocks of the festival’s signature, locally-made-horror Home Invasion section, rounds out the announcement alongside this year’s special events.

You can get your festival badges right here.

There’s so many more movies. To see the full schedule, click here.