Last weekend I attended the Mile High Horror Film Festival (MHHFF), Denver’s premier attraction for those looking to see the best and brightest in horror cinema. Luckily for me, this year boasted some significantly scary offerings.
In its fifth year, Mile High Horror Film Festival has come into its own. Hosted by the Alamo Drafthouse, horror fans can have their fill of food and drinks while watching the screenings. There are also several opportunities to get done up in monster makeup, meet character actors—like this year’s Tony Todd of Candyman—and catch the Enigma’s vaudevillian sideshow act. The festival is very well managed. Even when there is a snag in programming or some unforeseen problem, the festival volunteers are there to help. Putting on a festival is a lot of work, and the tireless volunteers at MHHFF make sure the event goes off without a hitch each year. The festival is a fun fall tradition that will hopefully have great longevity.
Now for a roundup of the movies. The festival hosts both shorts and feature films. Some of them were great and some were, well…less so. But all of the movies were worth the price of admission in terms of originality and novelty.
1. Boxroom– This short was pretty gross, but delightfully so. It is basically a story about a boys coming of age. But mostly it’s about the giant vagina that lives in the wall of his room. Definitely a must see. Boxroom Trailer
2. The Banishing– What looks to be a typical séance plot, takes a turn for the strange. The twist is not unexpected, but it still packs a punch.
3. The Body– Starring Alfie Allen (Theon Greyjoy from Game of Thrones), this short is about a serial killer out and about on Halloween. He hides in plain site by carrying his latest victim around with him to a Halloween party. Hijinks ensue.
4. Late For Meeting– I don’t know what this is. But it’s amazing. And so funny. Watch it now.
5. Prospect– This film was so beautifully shot. The cinematography was absolutely amazing. The lush visuals transport viewers to another world and make the familiar unfamiliar. This was a sci-fi short and didn’t really have anything to do with horror but it was fantastic just the same.
BEST FEATURE FILMS
1. Housebound– This romp from New Zealand serves up both scares and hilarity. The story centers around a girl named Kylie who is convicted of a crime and sentenced to house arrest in her mother’s house. Her bumbling mother, however, is the least of her worries. Kylie begins to believe that her house is haunted. Ultimately, though, something much more sinister is going on in her mother’s house.
2. Blood Punch– While not quite a horror film, Blood Punch was a slow burning thriller which also had some laughs. It is the story of a love triangle gone wrong again and again and again. Although there was a bit of a Groundhog Day aspect to the movie, which can be a cop out for writers, the writers in this case used this device quite deftly in crafting the story. The acting in this film was phenomenal, especially when one considers the low standard acting which pervades the horror genre. The actors are, in fact, from the Power Rangers Series, which is filmed in New Zealand. It seems that the director, Madellaine Paxson, struck gold with these children’s program actors. Her debut film shows marvelous potential for future work.
1. Xmoor– This film was a complete bait and switch. The movie was billed as one about big cats roaming the moors, preying upon innocent passers-by. It ended up being a typical serial-killer-in-the-woods movie. It would have been more interesting if it were actually about big cats. The film completely lacked suspense and had few redeeming qualities. I’m glad this was shown at the Alamo Drafthouse, because a few beers were necessary to tolerate this movie.
2. VHS Viral– This one was really sad for me because I love VHS and was one of the few who didn’t hate the second VHS incarnation. However, this one was heinous. The overarching plot had nothing to do with any of the vignettes. It was absolutely nonsensical. Some of the vignettes were funny, but it didn’t deliver any actual scares, cheap or otherwise. This one was a complete dud and it pains me to say it.
All in all it was an amazing weekend and a very fun festival. I look forward to next year!