Nashville Film Festival 2015: Days 1 - 3
The Nashville Film Festival started in 1969, and after four and a half decades, has grown into an impressive event with international appeal. I was invited to participate this year as a member of the jury for the Graveyard Shift competition of horror films, including nine features and twelve shorts. The Brooks Institute named this one of the Top 5 film festivals in the US, and I can see why.
Another (screened with the short films Grave Shivers and The Peripheral)
Opening night for the horror titles was the disturbing thriller Another (80 minutes), written and directed by Jason Bogmacki. The film stars Paulie Rojas (The Witches of Oz) as Jordyn, a beautiful woman haunted by demonic visions. She uncovers a family secret that endangers not only her own life, but those she holds closest. The demonic woman that plagues her mind is played by upcoming genre staple Maria Olsen (Trophy Heads). Bognacki served as his own cinematographer and proves himself quite the artist with many a gorgeous sequence. The film has yet to score distribution, but check out the official website or visit their Facebook page.
Preceding the feature were two short films, Grave Shivers (14 minutes), written and directed by Brent Sims, and The Peripheral (12 minutes), written and directed by J.T. Seaton. Shivers is a fast-paced anthology with three tales of terror that cover a lot of ground in such a small amount of time. Peripheral stars Lynn Lowry (The Crazies) as a psychiatrist whose patient's visions appear contagious.
Grave Shivers | The Peripheral
Ladies of the House (screened with the short film FestEvil)
On the second night of the Graveyard Shift competition, viewers were invited to spend some time with the Ladies of the House (93 minutes). Director John Stuart Wildman's dark fable about a birthday celebration gone tragically wrong was co-written by Wildman and Justina Walford. The plot focuses on three young men, Derek, Jacob and Kai, having fun at a strip club only to make the poor decision to follow one of the dancers home for a private party. Things quickly spiral out of control and the guys find themselves trapped in a nightmare scenario without hope of exit.
Ladies of the House features strong performances from stars Melodie Sisk, Farah White and Brina Palencia. Adult film star Michelle Sinclair (aka Belladonna) is particularly impressive as the doomed Ginger, target of the unwanted attention of the aggressive celebrants. The film has not yet received distribution, but be sure to visit their Facebook page for updates and check out the trailer below.
Paul Taylor's short film FestEvil (17 minutes) preceded the feature. Ben and Clare, a happy couple attending a music fest, are shocked to find their tent marked with the ominous message "We are watching". The message is ignored but the threat is not empty, as a group of masked strangers soon appears and bad things happen to good people. The piece is well-written and nicely paced without overstaying its welcome.
Cub (screened with the short film Milk!)
One of my favorite films from the competition is the creepy slasher-in-the-woods flick Cub (84 minutes). Director Jonas Govaerts makes his feature debut with this Belgian horror about a group of cub scouts being stalked by something sinister. There is a local campfire story about a feral boy named Kai, who lives in the woods searching for trespassers. When young Sam claims to have seen Kai, everyone assumes he is trying for attention and mocks him. Unfortunately, Sam is not making things up and there really is something hunting them. The story is familiar, but the script brings some fresh spins to the material. Co-written by Govaerts and Roel Mondelaers, Cub remains a step ahead of audiences until the brutal conclusion. The film has been picked up for distribution by Artsploitation Films and will see a domestic release in June.
Ben Mallaby's black comedy Milk! (10 minutes) played before Cub and offered a light-hearted look at the desperate lengths people will go in order to maintain their daily routine. Paul F. Taylor and Toby Williams star as two men in need of milk for their morning breakfast. They are determined not to leave the house and pursue a series of increasingly painful methods to acquire their refreshing beverage of choice.
That wraps the first installment on my time watching horror movies in Tennessee. Keep on the lookout for part two in my series of reflections on the 2015 Nashville Film Festival.
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