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Screaming Again: Celluloid Screams 2021

Celluloid Screams 2021 [Source Twitter]

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.

My Festival Pass // Credit: Joshua Greally

Reviews

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 out of 5 stars (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 out of 5 stars (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 out of 5 stars (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 out of 5 stars (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 out of 5 stars (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 out of 5 stars (3 / 5) 

The UK premiere of When I Consume You at Celluloid Screams // Credit: Joshua Greally
The UK premiere of When I Consume You // Credit: Joshua Greally

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 out of 5 stars (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 out of 5 stars (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 out of 5 stars (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 out of 5 stars (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 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

Antlers opening Celluloid Screams 2021 // Credit: Joshua Greally
Antlers opening Celluloid Screams 2021 // Credit: Joshua Greally

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 out of 5 stars (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 out of 5 stars (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 out of 5 stars (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 out of 5 stars (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 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Mad God becomes my favourite film of 2021 // Credit: Joshua Greally

Little Shop of Horrors (Director’s Cut): One of the best movie musicals ever. 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

Shorts

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.

Conclusion

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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Posted by
Josh Greally

Writer and filmmaker from Chesterfield. I have a masters in directing film and television and have written film reviews for several smaller sites in the past. Films are my life, but I also enjoy writing, reading, listening to music and debating.