Missed Part 1? Find it here!
In addition to featuring tons of award winning shorts, Mile High Horror Festival also gives horror fans a chance to see new independent genre films. I saw three new films, as well as two classics with Q&As from stars and filmmakers.
My All-Access Pass afforded me the opportunity to attend to incredible screenings. On the first night, I was able to see a special 40th anniversary screening of The Exorcist. Linda Blair was in attendance for a Q&A before the film and, although I had heard most of the stories she told before, it was cool just to be in the same room with her. She donated her appearance fee to help local flood victims and spent several hours meeting fans and taking pictures. The real treat was getting to watch the film with an impeccable sound system. I also got to see the 35th anniversary screening of Dawn of the Dead, preceded by a Q&A with special effects artist Tom Savini and star Ken Foree. They were very open to answering questions and seemed excited to be there, which made watching the movie all the more fun. They’re both extremely gracious to their fans and spent the entire weekend talking to attendees and signing autographs. If you’re local and planning to attend next year, I highly recommend getting the all access pass. Pass holders got first choice of films, priority seating, and priority access for autographs – well worth the money if you’ll be there all weekend. Alamo Drafthouse was awesome as well; the servers remained energetic and upbeat throughout the weekend and remembered returning attendees. Several of my servers even offered free refills throughout the weekend that carried over from movie to movie. I’m really hoping that they have the festival there again next year!
Now, for the part you’ve been waiting for – the movies! I saw three new features – Haunter, Para Elisa, and We Are What We Are.
Directed by Vincenzo Natali
Lisa Johnson (Breslin) and her family repeat the same day over and over again. While her family is oblivious, Lisa is quite aware of what’s going on and senses real danger when a pale stranger (McHattie) that only she can see begins to appear. Lisa gets the feeling that she’s not alone and discovers evidence of horrible doings in her home’s past.
Haunter is a minor ghost story that borrows heavily from its predecessors. The first third brings some interesting things to the table, and I really enjoyed the 80s aesthetic, but the film seems to fall apart a bit at the end. The movie relies heavily on jump scares punctuated by loud audio cues and lots of CGI, but there’s only a few real frightening scenes. It’s worth a Netflix or VOD watch, if you’re looking for a milder horror film. Haunter will have a limited VOD release on October 18th.
Para Elisa (2013)
Directed by Juanra Fernandez
Ana (Casamiquela) is determined to raise enough money to go on her senior trip. After quarelling with her boyfriend Alex (Caba), she agrees to go to a job interview for a nanny position in a grand old apartment building across from an ornate cathedral. Ana gets more than she bargained for when her prospective employer (Gavasa) traps her in the apartment as a plaything for her demented daughter Elisa (Turpin). It will take everything Ana has to try to escape.
This film was vastly different than what I was expecting; I pictured something closer to The Turn of the Screw. The creep factor is high with this one and Turpin turns in a harrowing performance as the violent and weirdly childlike Elisa. It’s visceral without being overly gory and, like many foreign horror flicks, vastly different than anything that would play in American theaters. Para Elisa doesn’t currently have a US release date, but is playing a number of festivals.
We Are What We Are (2013)
Directed by Jim Mickle
The Parkers – Frank, Alyce, Iris, Rose, and Rory – are a devoutly religious and somewhat eccentric family living in a rural town besieged by a raging flood. Alyce is killed when a medical condition causes her to pass out and drown, leaving the responsibility of providing for the family to the oldest daughter, Iris (Childers). But, the Parkers have a dark secret that dates back to Frank’s early ancestors, one which the rising flood waters threaten to reveal to the entire town.
This film is more of reimagining than a remake of the Mexican film Somos Lo Que Hay. I hadn’t seen the original, but from everything I’ve read, this movie is very different (other than having the same base premise). We Are What We Are is dark and moody; a slow burn all the way to the incredibly shocking climax. The atmosphere is helped by the near constant rain and the tortured performances of its stellar cast. Everyone is amazing, but I was particularly impressed by Parks’ understated portrayal of the grieving Doc Barrow. The soundtrack is killer, as well. This film is a must see for horror fans and likely to become a classic in its own right. It had a limited release on September 27th, but will hopefully be available on VOD soon.