Tuesday, April 6, 2021

10 Movies I'm Excited to See at Panic Fest

 by Patrick Bromley

One of my most anticipated film fests of the year is going virtual!
Among the very, very few good things to come out of ALL THIS HAPPENING in the last year is the rise of virtual film festivals, allowing movie fans all over the world to attend fests they might otherwise have no chance to attend. One of the fests I've wanted to attend -- and came close to going last year, held just before the pandemic hit -- is Panic Fest in Kansas City, Missouri. While there will still be an in-person festival this year (with COVID restrictions and guidelines), the good people at Panic Fest have also introduced a virtual component that will allow anyone to check out their impressive slate of features, shorts, and programming, including live podcasts from Screen Drafts, Nightmare on Film Street, and our friends at both Colors of the Dark and Nightmare Junkhead.

I've already seen three of the films playing the fest this year -- Jakob's Wife, The Stylist, and Censor, all of which come highly recommended. Here are some more movies I'm anticipating, in almost no particular order:

1. Prisoners of the Ghostland (dir. Sion Sono)

This played at Sundance in January but I wasn't able to secure a ticket. I know the reviews were very, very mixed -- even my own Horror BFF Heather Wixson wasn't crazy about it -- but it's Nicolas Cage in a Sion Sono movie, so it's my most anticipated movie of the festival. Update: The festival website informs me there will be no virtual screening of this movie, so I'm out of luck again. Oh well.

Here's the plot summary from the Panic Fest site:

A notorious criminal must break an evil curse in order to rescue an abducted girl who has mysteriously disappeared.

2. Red Snow (dir. Sean Nichols Lynch)

I know nothing about this movie except the plot summary, but that's enough for me.

A struggling vampire romance novelist must defend herself against real-life vampires during Christmas in Lake Tahoe.

Vampires in the snow? Sign me up.

3. Vicious Fun (dir. Cody Calahan)

Between the fact that the main character is dressed like Marty McFly and works as a critic for a horror magazine, this one promises a lot to love. 

Joel, a caustic 1980s film critic for a national horror magazine, finds himself unwittingly trapped in a self-help group for serial killers. With no other choice, Joel attempts to blend in or risk becoming the next victim.

4. Blood Conscious (dir. Timothy Covell)
A vacationing family turns the tables on a mass shooter who claims to be fighting demonic forces.

The news of the last 20 years has me ready for a movie in which a mass shooter gets what's coming. Hopefully that's what this is.

5. Benny Loves You (dir. Karl Holt)
This one sold me from the picture accompanying the description. I want to watch that little doll fuck some people up.

Jack is desperately trying for a new start in life, but when he throws away his childhood bear Benny, it's a move that can only end in death.

6. The Last Matinee (dir. Maximiliano Contenti)
It's a soaking wet day with rain pouring down and one of the best things to do is to go seek refuge in a great old cinema. There's only one problem: A scary murderer is on the loose and he also has taken refuge there.

I love horror movies set in movie theaters -- or any kind of theater, really (see StageFright and Stage Fright) -- so I'm totally on board for this one.

7. Honeydew (dir. Devereux Milburn)
I'm hearing really good things about this one, but I'm also hearing that I should know next to nothing going in. This plot summary is as much as I want to find out:

Strange cravings and hallucinations befall a young couple after seeking shelter in the home of an aging farmer and her peculiar son.

8. The Blazing World (dir. Carlson Young)
This is another one that sold me based on the image. The plot synopsis sounds interesting, too, but it's really that Lynchian picture that has me excited to see it. It also sounds a little like Censor.

Decades after the accidental drowning of her twin sister, a self-destructive young woman returns to her family home, finding herself drawn to an alternate dimension where her sister may still be alive.

9. The Djinn (dir. David Charbonier, Justin Powell)
For Adam Riske.

A mute boy is trapped in his apartment with a sinister monster when he makes a wish to fulfill his heart's greatest desire.

10. She Watches From the Woods (dir. Beau Ballinger)
A troubled artist with a dark past attempts to make peace with her dying mother while investigating the mysterious death of her teenage sister.

Another movie I know nothing about, but it has a great title and a compelling log line. Like a lot of movies playing this year's fest, it also boasts a runtime of about 80 minutes, so it's sure to not overstay its welcome. 

This year's fest runs April 8 - 18. To learn more about this year's Panic Fest or to buy tickets, check here.

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