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A Night of Horror International Film Festival

  • Film, Film festivals
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A dark veiled woman in funeral garb reaches out menacingly with a stormy sky behind her
Photograph: Supplied/A Night of HorrorTerrifying film Sunod

Time Out says

Get ready to shiver as A Night of Horror returns to screen all the screams

Just in time for Halloween comes A Night of Horror International Film Festival, Australia’s premiere showcase of fright flicks. Now in its 13th year – how ominous! – they spooky movies have pivoted to online, which means horror fans around the country can catch all the best and most menacingly macabre movies from the comfort of their own inner sanctums.

Running from October 18-31 (yes, that is definitely more than one night), this year’s program boasts 13 (there’s that number again) Australian and international premieres. Australian horror-comedy My Cherry Pie is the opening night trick or treat from directing team Addison Heath and Jasmine Jakupi. A deliberately OTT tribute to the ‘80s VHS era, the film features three criminals on the lam (Sotiris Tzelios, Dylan Heath and Tim Jason Wicks) who run afoul of a serial killer in the back blocks of rural Victoria, with all the guts and gore that portends.

Cross-cultural horror The Unsettling comes to us courtesy of Anglo-Ghanian writer and director Harry Owens. It tells the tale of a Ghanian couple in Los Angeles (Zephani Idoko and Bambadjan Bamba) who find themselves under attack by a malevolent, unseen presence. It draws on West African cultural traditions and folklore to present a vein of horror new to many Western audiences.

The debut feature from actor and director Keene McRae, Shot in the Dark is an unsettling neo-noir that digs up secrets from the past and drags them into the light, as a serial killer preys on an insular small town. The pandemic makes its mark with Red River Road, which came to life after filmmaker Paul Schuyler’s planned production was shut down, forcing him to cast his own wife and kids in this constrained tale of a family of four trying to stave off a malign virus that spreads through technology and destroys its victims’ ability to perceive reality. Austrian film Masking Threshold is a similar chamber piece, as an unnamed man in his home laboratory (star and director Johannes Grenzfurthner) attempts to cure his debilitating hearing impairment, only for his experiments to lead him down a dark and horrifying path. Anyone hearing The Fly buzzing in the ear here?

Festival alumni Carlo Ledesma delivers call centre-set horror Sunod (Followed), set in his Filipino homeland. The found footage subgenre gets an airing with Day of Disappearance, which chronicles the lead up to a YouTuber’s vanishing via excerpts from his popular channel. Director Ian Grant has crafted a slow burn mystery that has drawn comparisons with The Blair Witch Project. Fans of the classics can get their fix with The Turn of the Screw, a new adaptation of the beloved Henry James ghost story. A minimalist, metatextual take on the material, Greer Philips plays an actor cast in the lead role of a stage adaptation of James’ story, only to discover that the theatre the troupe is rehearsing in is haunted.

Also on the slate are paranormal investigation thriller Lair, Chilean haunted house flick La Casa, German millennials-go-mad satire Struwwelerror, and Austrian reality show/folk horror mashup Memory. You’ll also be able to check out three streams of short films for those who prefer their horror bite-sized. Plus, for emerging horror auteurs, Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead and Nekrotronic director Kiah Roache-Turner will be hosting Squibs, Screams, and Monsters, a live workshop on the joys of DIY horror filmmaking.

Tickets are $12.00 a movie, with Squibs, Screams, and Monsters going for $20.00 – that’s a frighteningly good price for all the scares you could want this Halloween season.

Love film? Check out our wrap of all the fests you need to see.


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