Halloween might be over, but that doesn’t mean the spook-a-doodles have to end. Just in time for the first snowfall of the season, the Blood In The Snow Film Festival presents the lineup for their annual showcase of horror and science fiction films, with a particular focus on Canadian cinema and one of the best short film lineups around. The 8th instalment of the festival once again takes over Toronto’s historic unofficial home for genre cinema, The Royal, from November 21 to the 26th. Here’s what’s on offer for this year’s lineup:
SHE NEVER DIED
Taking over the directorial duties from Jason Krawczyk, BitS alum Audrey Cummings (2014’s Berkshire County) helms this sequel to Krawczyk’s He Never Died (2015), starring Henry Rollins. This bloody story of a social outcast (Olunike Adeliyi) who is cursed with immortality and an unending hunger for bone marrow seems to nail its tone even better than the moody original and should provide a shocking surprise or two for the BitS audience.
THE NIGHTS BEFORE CHRISTMAS
With the holidays approaching, so does a nonstop parade of holiday films. You can expect Rudolph, Frosty, and any number of elves to be featured, but I can pretty much guarantee that Paul Tanter and Simon Phillips’ The Nights Before Christmas will be the only one featuring a couple of serial murderers cosplaying as Mr and Mrs Claus. Gather up the kids and spice up the egg nog for this Christmas horror outing.
A woman goes to check on her suicidal brother, only to find clones of his body all over his apartment and an asshole on the wall that births a new one each time he successfully kills himself. Building on this absurd premise and a truckload of gross-out imagery to deliver a timely and emotional statement on mental health, filmmakers Chris Bavota and Lee Paula Springer are sure to catch the BitS audience by surprise with this one.
Though it might seem a little out of place in this lineup, Alexandre Franchi’s Happy Face might just warm your heart when you least expect it. When a young man(Robin L’Houmeau) joins a support group for disfigured individuals in order to connect with his mother, he finds friendship and a new outlook on both his and his mother’s situation. The only real horror here might be that people who look different are cruelly ostracized from society, but the excellent cast, many of whom are living with a disfigurement, lifts the project to a sweet resolution.
Drawing on vibes from films like The Babadook, The Omen, and Daniel Isn’t Real, writer/director Brandon Christensen and Colin Minihan (What Keeps You Alive) bring the story of a child’s antagonistic imaginary friend to the screen. Electric performances and some genuinely jarring twists make this one an unmissable selection in the BitS lineup.
Opening the festival with a loving homage to classic horror, Lisa Ovies’s Puppet Killer tells the story of a young child who experiences horrific trauma and grows up to embody his lovable hand puppet while committing heinous murders, as you do. If you’ve ever wanted to take a knife to a Tickle-Me-Elmo (and who hasn’t?), this might be the BitS selection for you. Keep an eye out for BBP favourite Gigi Saul Guerrero in a supporting role!
An unhinged billionaire invites the crew from a new werewolf video game to his mansion for a launch party when bodies start piling up. There’s more than a little mystery here and an awesome cast as well. Fans of You’re Next and Ready or Not will find lots to love from Matt Campagna’s new film.
Tighten up those tinfoil hats for Erin Berry’s film about a conspiracy vlogger who takes a deep dive down the rabbit hole when she uncovers information about a secret spy agency called Majestic-12 (majic), created to investigate UFO activity in the wake of the Roswell incident in the 1940’s. This is a film that benefits from a close watch, because there’s a ton of clues to Majic’s twist interspersed throughout, with a very solid payoff at the end.
One of the things I love about Blood in the Snow is it’s commitment to nurturing new voices, particularly Canadian ones, in horror via their Shorts program. There are two films in the ‘Emerging Screams’ showcase that I’d like to call attention to, but there’s a ton of other great shorts to choose from, including at least one before each feature at the festival.
The Kaw Tay Whee School students from the First Nations community of Dettah, in the Northwest Territories premiered their first film, Frostbite, at Blood In The Snow 2018 and took home a ‘Most Promising Debut’ award. Well, one year later and those rugrats are back with another short film called Snack Time, which brings the horrors of Kindergarten to life.
A woman travels from Victorian England, supposedly fleeing Jack The Ripper, when she lands on Newfoundland’s shore. Meeting a local who is ‘between residences’, she enchants him back to her place with sinister intentions. Ben Noah’s short features literal buckets of blood and is gorgeously shot. This is BitS’s first film from Newfoundland, so show it some love.
In addition to all these films, Blood In The Snow also has another instalment of its Deadly Exposure program, targeted to indie filmmakers of all kinds. Industry workshops and panel talks with established and upcoming genre talents reinforce the festival’s commitment to local productions and new blood in the horror and science fiction genres. With panels about everything from the intricacies of drone photography to a talk with Lindsay Somers, the industry’s first on-set ‘intimacy coordinator’, there’s lots to sink your sharpened little teeth into. You can check out the industry programming and pass information at this link
The Blood In The Snow Film Festival runs from November 21-26 from the Royal Cinema in Toronto. You can get ticket and scheduling information at the Blood In The Snow website.