After skipping last year’s Celluloid Screams because of Covid-19 worries, I was itching to return. And finally, last week I sat down in Sheffield’s Showroom Cinema alongside many horror fans to enjoy 4 days of horror film screenings. What an experience.
We of course had some nice extras to enjoy as well. Including horror merchandise stalls. And some in-person and online Q&As with filmmaking professionals.
But, how good was this year’s film line-up? Like in 2019 I managed to watch everything. To my delight, there were even some classic horror film screenings. However, this year I was also impressed by several short films. So, today along with reviewing and ranking every programmed feature film (in 30 words or less) I will also recommend 5 shorts to watch. Let’s begin.
Tin Can: What could have been a thought-provoking Cronenberg-esque body horror is hampered by hollow characterisation, overdone cinematography, and dire pacing. Unfortunately, this can’s contents are rotten. (1.5 / 5)
The Deep House: This well-shot film with initially great atmosphere becomes unintentionally hilarious once supernatural elements are introduced. When combined with abysmal exposition and performances The Deep House sinks completely. (2 / 5)
The Advent Calendar: Get past the ableist messaging (the protagonist is a wheelchair user whose sole goal is to walk again to have a “normal” life) and the story is competent but repetitive. (2.5 / 5)
Ultrasound: Full of twists and high aspirations. But the human anchors get lost in the confusing plot. Ultimately, this sound feels like background noise. (2.5 / 5)
Hellbender: Teen angst and witchcraft is well-trodden ground for coming-of-age stories. Unfortunately, this movie brings little to the table beyond some ok performances. (2.5 / 5)
When I Consume You: This film juggles multiple genres, from supernatural horror to borderline sports movie. Sadly, this mashup lessens the impact of the film’s addiction theme. Which needed a consistent tone. (3 / 5)
Offseason: Despite some hokey delivery and the unfolding cosmic horror being kneecapped by overexplaining everything the atmospheric sound design and visuals make this Lovecraft/Fulci tribute worthwhile. (3 / 5)
Event Horizon: Event Horizon has much to love. Like the set design, witty dialogue, and good performances. That said it never achieves greatness thanks to the ever-present obnoxious stingers and stock characters. (3 / 5)
We Need To Do Something: A single location film carried by dialogue, the central players, and a few standout set-pieces. Sometimes that’s all you need to do for a good time. (3 / 5)
Lamb: Is this film about humanity’s relationship to nature, or just the struggles of raising a human-lamb hybrid? Either way, the film remains oddly engrossing despite its slow pace. (3 / 5)
Antlers: Clunky exposition, a superfluous child character, and native American mythology appropriation aside, this sharp folk horror shines through its central performances (especially Jeremy T. Thomas), heavy story, and grisly violence. (3.5 / 5)
A Banquet: Using food as a metaphor for rebellion this mothers and daughters tale effectively explores how terrifying it is being a parent and knowing your child won’t always need you. (3.5 / 5)
Titane: Julia Ducournau’s latest is vicious, well-crafted, and perhaps overly daring. But the story is sometimes hard to engage with emotionally. Still, the audience saw it as the festival’s best film (3.5 / 5)
Broadcast Signal Intrusion: An eerie conspiracy thriller. It works more emotionally than logically but it builds a fantastic air of paranoia. And Harry Shum Jr. is impeccable. (3.5 / 5)
Nocturna: Intrusive music notwithstanding this film deals with ageing and dementia in an amazingly unique genre-defying way. And Pepe Soriano gave the festival’s best performance. (4 / 5)
Mad God: My favourite movie so far this year. An insanely bleak post-apocalypse film that mixes stop-motion and live-action with little dialogue or conventional structure. It’s an incredible trip. (4 / 5)
Little Shop of Horrors (Director’s Cut): One of the best movie musicals ever. (4.5 / 5)
Of the short films screened at Celluloid Screams here are five you must see.
FREYA & Please Hold: Both disturbingly relevant shorts about how the system can use technology to control women’s reproductive rights and oppress the marginalised.
Guts: An over-the-top silly comedy that really runs with its ridiculous premise – a man with his guts on the outside of his stomach. Creating hilarious results.
The Moogai: Undoubtedly the festival’s scariest short. Creating an unrelentingly tense atmosphere through showing very little of the monster and the lead couple give some great performances.
You’re Dead Hélène: This year’s Short Film Jury Award winner is all-around great. It deals with the pain of letting go of love; is scary, funny and heart-warming.
That wraps up 2021 at Celluloid Screams. While some films worked better than others it was simply a pleasure to attend the festival again and hopefully you all found some films to watch. See you next year Celluloid Screams.
Also Read: Online Film Festivals Are Here To Stay
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