Now in its ninth edition, New York’s top festival for quality horror from around the globe is back with a vengeance. This year’s fright fest includes 12 of the best new titles out there, including Sean Byrne’s eagerly anticipated follow-up to The Loved Ones, The Devil’s Candy,and the gut-wrenching Australian feral-dog thriller The Pack, plus horror movies of all stripes from Ireland, Denmark, Spain, and Turkey. Revival offerings include Juan Piquer Simón’s ’80s cult classics Pieces and Slugs, and in tribute to the dearly departed Christopher Lee, a 35mm screening of the Hammer gem The Gorgon. We will also be presenting evenings with Larry Fessenden, whose company Glass Eye Pix is celebrating its 30th anniversary, and Bernard Rose, whose new film, Frankenstein, a wildly original update set on the streets of L.A., closes this year’s festival with large doses of both heart and gore.
On Opening Night, we begin our journey into nightmare with Southbound, an anthology road film from some of the key players behind V/H/S, followed by a blow-out Halloween bash where prizes will be given for the best costume.
Programmed by Laura Kern, Rufus de Rham, and Gavin Smith.
Nick Robertson, Australia, 2015, DCP, 90m
Not to be confused with Robert Clouse’s 1977 when-animals-attack classic (which screened as part of last year’s Scary Movies), Nick Robertson’s directorial debut The Pack does feature killer canines, but their prey here is a family of four—already battling assorted harsh realities—who must rely on their own ingenuity to survive a night of sheer terror, as they are relentlessly stalked by ravenous dogs on their remote Australian farm. The film is horror of the most jarring, edge-of-your-seat kind, with the added bonus of a cast of characters actually worth rooting for.
Filled with really solid characters and performances, The Pack is not necessarily anything new in story. You will route for this family to not only save their land but survive the night in a violent attack from these very cunning and hyper-intelligent wild dogs. The practical effects are gruesome and well played. The plot ramps up as we slowly learn about each member through family dynamics and circumstance. You will not be indifferent to their survival and will find yourself on edge at each near miss. The Pack is worth seeing. Australian horror is getting better and better with recent hits like The Babadook and These Final Hours. The Pack does distinguish itself with great camera work, mixed with an intriguing combo or quick cuts and slow motion sequences. While it does take a good 30 minutes to really set up the plot properly, it’s worth the wait. Think CUJO but with more than one attacker minus the rabies, just evil. Using all the old horror tropes but with dogs as the villains, The Pack will not help anyone with Cynophbia.
THE DEVIL’S CANDY
Sean Byrne, USA, 2015, DCP, 90m
Six long years may have elapsed since Aussie writer-director Sean Byrne made The Loved Ones—the closing-night film of Scary Movies 4, and perhaps the most satisfying horror film of the last decade—but it will come to no genre fan’s surprise that his follow-up was more than worth the wait. As exquisitely crafted as his debut feature, The Devil’s Candy stars a captivatingly intense and nearly unrecognizable Ethan Embry as an artist struggling to support his devoted wife (Shiri Appleby) and preteen daughter (Kiara Glasco). But the real fight for survival begins when the tight-knit family moves into a new house, unaware that its previous occupant is a royally disturbed child-killer (Pruitt Taylor Vince) who wants his home back. And even worse, the devil’s demands that swirl around in the sick man’s head—muted only by heavy-metal music—also begin taking hold of the artist and his paintings. After witnessing this intensely emotional and haunting work, audiences too will struggle to shake those demonic voices.
I had to look twice, nay, three times to make sure I wasn’t seeing things. Ethan Embry is a ripped, rock god in this surprising feature. I cannot express how much adored this film. With a slight Amityville feel, the latin voices heard in this film will get under your skin immediately. Loaded with seriously sick tunes from bands like Metalica and Queens of the Stoneage, the music takes on a life of its own in The Devil’s Candy. The film has an 80’s throwback feel in approaching the death metal and satanic ritual link. Visually, one of the coolest flicks I’ve seen in a while, especially for a horror. High end effects are beautifully juxtaposed with unique painting as each are being assembled… or disassembled as it were. The entire cast is spot on awesome. The Devil’s Candy has gorgeous framing and jump scares galore. I HIGHLY recommend you catch this particular selection if horror is truly your genre of choice.
The festival starts today and runs through November 5th.
You can check out all the films at http://www.filmlinc.org/festivals/scary-movies-9/