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Horrible Imaginings Film Festival Day 3 #hiffsd

horrible-imaginings-1The ‪Friday night portion of the festival started off significantly different than the first two nights. Starting ‪at 5:00 PM at the Museum of Man in Balboa Park was a VIP Cannibal Exhibit. The idea of cannibalism as a subject for a museum did initially strike us as odd, but the exhibit was both educational, and surprisingly, not disgusting. In fact it does cover much of how cannibalism dates back in European culture, to classic literature, even in to modern day pop culture!

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This was followed ‪at 6:00 with Anthropophagia Panel with the short films: Survivor Type and Earworm. Anthropophagia is really about cannabilism, and Miguel brought this subject to the film festival after watching a Joe D’Amato Italian exploitation film called Anthropophagous.

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Panel included talk about the history’s of cannibalism along with Survivor Type film director Billy Hanson.

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Survivor Type

A found footage film of a survivor from a shipwreck. There is a terrible sense of unease already generated as the fear of a man forcing to eat his own flesh mounts with each passing moment. Through the found footage we get to know this one character more and more, which only increases the horror of his need to survive. The film also has a certain visceral nature to it that borders on the gruesome. The lead actor’s performance is brilliant as are the special effects because the self-amputation looks quite real. First movie during the festival that actually caused me to look away. It was that disturbing. Movies about cannabilsm are one thing, but eating one’s self to survive is probably the single most horrific thing to endure. What sells this short is the brilliant performance of the lead actor Gideon Emery. Even his cries as he self-amputates, while not really showing anything, clearly illustrates what is happening to his character. Pure theater of the mind!

Earworm

A lonely man keeps waking up as a song burns in his mind relentlessly to where he can’t sleep. He quite literally has a worm in his ear in his head. This is one of those short films that plays on over the top gross humor that crosses over into comedy. Makes you wonder what is going on when you can’t get that tune out of your head.

FEATURE FILM

In the Dark (Dark Exorcism)

Skeptical grad student, Veronica Carpenter, interviews renowned paranormal specialist, Dr. Lois Kearne, for her thesis on the benefits of her supernatural research in regards to modern psychology, and joins her on a field study trip to a Brooklyn daily home supposedly “besieged by evil spirits.” The subgenre of exorcisms have become a staple in horror since William Friedkin’s classic The Exorcist.

Story about demonic possessions and hauntings, initially told through recollection and observation. Nice way to introduce a creepy and almost scary element. It’s almost Lovecraftian in nature in that we see how people are affected by pure evil. After a fashion it almost becomes a retelling of Friedkins’s The Exorcist, but without the big Hollywood production effects. Given that this is an independent film, where it lacks in big budget special effects, it more than makes up in brilliant acting from each of the movie’s lead actors, especially from Grace Folsom as the possessed Bethany Mills. The film does end up falling back on some cheesy effects during the exorcism, but the element of maternal love was a beautiful surprise and was brilliantly executed by Catherine Cobb Ryan as Bethany’s mother. It made for a nice touch regarding exorcism. However, the ending with Veronica was disturbing. That was something that I personally did not like as it was quite dark in tone.

The film was followed by a Q & A panel with lead actress Grace Folsom.

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FEATURE FILM (with shorts)

Hada

Monsters in closets and under beds are a classic nightmare for children. This film, especially with its young actor, Fernando Boza, does such a good job it can even make for strong nightmares for adults!. There were plenty of edits with ugly monsters popping out as a scare factor. Very good job!!!

Mute

Gross film about a man who cuts people’s tongues out. Very little visual aspect, but relies on strong acting. Story’s has no purpose. It’s just there. It is apparently an ode to Nordic Horror. Very well shot, but very little story.

Sendero (Path)

Film takes some time to ramp up, though the opening felt more telenovela in its over the top drama. Once the opening credits are run it moves slowly, introducing us to each of the players in this group of friends as they vacation together. It has that  “students lost in the wild and being stalked” feel to it at first, but once it goes bad it goes bad fast.

All about the psychological horror of abduction and what it can do to you. The basis of the story is on human trafficking, but to audiences who may not be fully educated on the subject this element of the story could be lost on them. Instead, what we get is a film that is ripe with interesting characters, both innocent and not QUITE so innocent. Even characters we believe to be villainous are victims in their own way. It’s smartly paced film with fully realized characters, and while some of the violence may be extreme, the story gets so intense that some of the violence is actually greeted with laughter by the audience.

While this day’s part of the festival was educational, it was personally a stretch. Part of this touches on a side of evil, both personified and human, that can be disturbing to watch, and the subject of cannibalism is clearly a social taboo that can be quite unpleasant to watch.

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