If you happen to find yourself in the New York City area this week and like to get scurr’d, one of the most exciting new genre festivals in the US, the Brooklyn Horror Festival, is coming up and is definitely worth your time. After only three years, Brooklyn has established itself as one of the premiere launching pads for horror in North America, joining Fantastic Fest, Montreal’s Fantasia Festival, Toronto’s After Dark Festival, and the Midnight Madness Programme at the Toronto International Film Festival.
This year’s lineup for Brooklyn is especially good, with one of my most anticipated films in the genre kicking off the festival; Yann Gonzalez’s KNIFE+HEART, starring Vanessa Paradis as a gay porn producer whose actors start to turn up dead. The neon 80’s Brian De Palma aesthetic is just garish enough to amplify the dread on offer here, and the soundtrack looks like it absolutely bangs.
On the slate of high-profile horror this year is the universally-acclaimed debut from German director Tilman Singer, LUZ. A love letter to 1970’s Fulci films, the tale of two women who wreak havoc on one horrific night has been garnering praise from every festival it’s played so far and is one of the most anticipated screenings in the BHFF lineup.
Music video director Nicolas Pensce’s PIERCING, his second feature after the drop-dead stunner THE EYES OF MY MOTHER, is also on the menu for Brooklyn horror fans. A film whose premise is as dark as it gets, dealing with a father who has an uncontrollable urge to stab his infant child with an icepick, this is sure to produce some squirms in the Brooklyn audience, especially the mums and dads.
New York-based director Yedidya Gorsetman’s EMPATHY INC is a black-and-white underground sci-fi horror with a Black Mirror/Twilight Zone vibe. Putting a new spin on the perils of virtual reality, this is one of the most unique entries in the Brooklyn lineup, and one that I’m really looking forward to.
A.T. White’s STARFISH is a genre-spanning mixtape in film form that spins a small tale about grief into something much higher-concept. After a year in arthouse horror that included things like Madeline’s Madeline, I’m ready for something truly innovative from White’s first feature.
Brazil’s Guto Parente brings a pitch-black blood-soaked consumerist satire to Brooklyn with CANNIBAL CLUB. This tale of a wealthy couple with a taste for human meat should satiate the appetites of any politically-active filmgoer in this North American Premiere.
Closing out the Brooklyn lineup is THE RUSALKA – the sophomore feature from Perry Blackshear, of THEY LOOK LIKE PEOPLE fame. The Rusalka’s story about a drowned woman who haunts the woods could be one of the sleeper hits of a year that is packed with amazing horror offerings.
It’s hard to believe, but this only begins to scratch the surface of what the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival has to offer this year. Films from STARFISH to WOLFMAN’S GOT NARDS to EMPATHY INC are an example of the amazing spectrum of horror in 2018, and kudos to the programmers for the BHFF for putting it all on display. In addition to all the new stuff, Brooklyn’s programmers pay homage to horror’s roots with screenings of Canadian favourite MY BLOODY VALENTINE, and classic slashers like SLEEPAWAY CAMP and BLOOD HARVEST. You’ll also find events like a live recording of Amanda McLoughlin and Julia Schifini’s popular SPIRITS podcast, a RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD drinking game, and most interestingly to me, the premiere of a new documentary called ANTRUM: The Deadliest Film Ever Made, about the infamous 70’s horror whose screenings have proven to be mysteriously harmful to its attendees that is bookended with a screening of the film itself.
You can grab tickets to the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival right here, but if you can’t attend in person, Biff Bam Pop will be there to take in-depth looks at the best of the lineup, so watch this space!