Grimmfest (2021) review: ‘Night at the Eagle Inn’ is written by genre fans, for genre fans.

NIGHT AT THE EAGLE INN

Fraternal twins spend a hellish night at the remote inn their father disappeared from the night they were born.


Coming to the place where your parents both died the night you were born seems like a normal and healthy thing to do, right? An aging hotel, clearly in need of some more inhabitants, but we’ll get to that later, as twins Sarah and Spencer yearn for answers. Greeted by an unusually overzealous Night Manager and later, meeting up with the only other staff member, the two fight boredom and an eventual holy terror in this fateful place.

The imagery is thoroughly eerie. Did you ever get that uncomfortable, icky feeling watching something? Well, Night At The Eagle In serves that up in spades. Get ready for mentions and/or homages to PoltergeistThe ShiningThe Twilight ZoneMisery, and more. It’s a film by genre fans, for genre fans. 

Greg Schweers plays The Night Manager of Eagle Inn with a quirky quaintness that evolves into something terrifying. He’s so cheerful in his menace he makes your skin crawl. Amelia Dudley and Taylor Turner have great chemistry together. Their banter feels familiar and familial. The twin act works. The audience is invested in these two.

Beau Minniear, as Dean, has a charm that grows exponentially as the story progresses. He’s the only guide Sara and Spencer have through the chaos. But, can he be trusted? Minnear’s energy is steady, and he owns each frame he appears in. The script allows him to play comedy and crazy. He’s a total star.

The emotional abuse and torture these two experience flows off the screen. Writers Carson Bloomquist and Erik Bloomquist, who also directs, give us a tight 70 minutes that could easily be a Creepshow episode. (Shudder, take notice.) The final reveal is fantastic. Stick around for the credits, why don’t you? The film might as well be titled Hotel California because *spoiler alert*

You can check out any time you like,
But you can never leave!



  • Director:
    Erik Bloomquist
  • Screenwriter:
    Erik Bloomquist, Carson Bloomquist
  • Producer:
    Erik Bloomquist, Carson Bloomquist
  • Cast:
    Amelia Dudley, Taylor Turner, Greg Schweers, Beau Minniear, Erik Bloomquist
  • Cinematographer:
    Thomson Nguyen
  • Editor:

    Erik Bloomquist, Carson Bloomquist


Grimmfest (2021) review: ‘The Guest Room’ (AKA La Stanza) checks in with trauma.

THE GUEST ROOM

The morning Stella decides to take her own life, a stranger knocks at her door claiming he has booked the guest room for the night. Surprised but charmed by this man who seems to know her very well, Stella decides to let him in. But when Sandro, the man who broke Stella’s heart, joins them at home, this odd situation turns immediately into chaos.


From the very first frame, the audience is consumed by whatever darkness resides in these walls. The colors and set scream haunted house. The score is a thrilling combination of beauty and ear-piercing madness. The camera work adds an extra layer of eeriness. This unexpected guest knows too much. What could he want? Who is he? Pay close attention.

Stella is played by Camilla Filippi with a pang of sadness and desperation that engulfs the viewer. Something is amiss. As details slowly emerge, her energy shifts with every beat. She’s simply captivating. Guido Caprino, as Guilio, the mysterious guest, walks a fine line between suave and scary. His agenda is unclear, and his entire aura is intrusive. Caprino’s intensity grows exponentially as the story progresses. It’s one hell of a performance.

The Guest Room is emotional torture porn and a terrifying, genre-bending story of redemption. I’ve never seen anything like this film before. As a mother, it affected me on another level. It’s surprisingly profound. Stefano Lodovichi has given GRIMMFEST audiences something truly breathtaking and unique.




  • Director:
    Stefano Lodovichi
  • Screenwriter:
    Stefano Lodovichi, Francesco Agostini, Filippo Gili
  • Producer:
    Andrea Occhipinti
  • Cast:
    Guido Caprino, Camilla Filippi, Edoardo Pesce
  • Cinematographer:
    Timoty Aliprandi
  • Editor:
    Roberto Di Tanna


Grimmfest (2021) capsule review: ‘The Spore’ floats by with gag-worthy gore.

THE SPORE

The lives of ten strangers intersect through a terrifying chain of events as a mutating fungus begins to spread through a small town wiping out everyone that comes into contact with it.


With undeniable Cabin Fever vibes meeting the reality of this very real global pandemic, THE SPORE is B horror moving making at its finest. Minutes in, I registered my elevated pulse and the first jump scare was a classic. THE SPORE gets everything right. Dreaming In Neon‘s new wave heavy score is ominous and spine-tingling. A great deal of the early terror comes in the form of radio broadcasts, allowing the audience to create their own fear response. Writer-director-editor D.M. Cunningham created a celebratory schlockfest for GRIMMFEST 21 audiences. If I’m being nitpicky, the voice actress who plays the radio reporter at the beginning of the film sounds less like an actual reporter and more like an audiobook actress. That familiar cadence of someone in the field is missing. To be frank, a majority of the acting is B horror quality. In no way does this lessen the overall entertainment value of The Spore. I was constantly yelling at the screen, “Aww, come on! Don’t do that!” The cinematography is fantastic. The makeup and practical FX are gag-worthy. This is one of the best aspects of the film. Huge high fives to the team for giving me plenty of gross goodies to look at.



  • Director:
    D.M Cunningham
  • Screenwriter:
    D.M Cunningham
  • Producer:
    D.M Cunningham, Tara Cunningham, Brian Hillard, Keith Golinksi
  • Cast:
    Haley Heslip, Peter Tell, Jackson Ezinga, Jeannie Jefferies
  • Cinematographer:
    Keith Golinksi
  • Editor:
    D.M Cunningham


Grimmfest (2021) review: ‘Alone With You’ is a startling debut for Emily Bennett and Justin Brooks.

ALONE WITH YOU

While waiting for her girlfriend to return home for their anniversary, Charlie Crane discovers she’s trapped inside her apartment and begins a frantic fight for survival as nightmarish visions descend and a voice in the wall guides her towards a way out.


Emily Bennett understands how to accentuate a feeling of claustrophobia. Stuck in a wildly angled apartment, brimming with eccentric kitsch, Charlie awaits the arrival of her girlfriend behind a front door that won’t open. As time passes, confusion arises. Simone should be home by now. Charlie hears voices, doesn’t know what time it is, and things seem to move on their own. Reality shifts under her, and things get worse by the minute.

The success of Alone With You lies within the minute details. Keep a sharp eye on every frame. The script is dizzying. The longer Charlie is trapped, the more overwhelming the story becomes as memories flood in. There is a jump scare so fantastically timed that I stumbled backward and gasped. And the transition that follows makes things all the more intriguing. Barbara Crampton plays Charlie’s mother. She’s a conservative woman who doesn’t want to accept her daughter. Although Crampton only appears in two scenes, she owns them. She’s a legend. She never fails to amaze.

Dora Madison, as Thea, is fantastic. She’s got this crunchy, stoner vibe. The way she holds the phone during her video calls with Charlie is incredible. It adds to the realism of her party friend vibe. Madison’s laid-back attitude counters Bennett perfectly. Emma Myles, who you’ll recognize from Orange Is The New Black, plays Simone. She’s the photographer girlfriend of Charlie. The script allows her to play both soft and hard moments, and she kills it.

Emily Bennett and Justin Brooks have written one hell of an arch for Charlie. You can see the sanity slowly drain from her eyes. It takes a lot of energy to be in every single scene. She knocks it out of the park. Alone With You keeps you on your toes, constantly second-guessing what might be happening. So much of the terror relies on sound. This only makes Bennett’s performance more impressive. The mystery and horror thrill you until the very last frame. It’s one hell of a debut.



  • Director:
    Emily Bennett, Justin Brooks
  • Screenwriter:
    Emily Bennett, Justin Brooks
  • Producer:
    Andrew Corkin
  • Cast:
    Emily Bennett, Barbara Crampton, Dora Madison, Emma Myles, Meghan Lane


Grimmfest (2021) capsule review: ‘Seagull’ captivates with deep trauma.

SEAGULL

After 8 years survival on a beach, Rose returns to her home town to settle unfinished business.


A portrait of mental health, gaslighting, and abuse, Seagull exposes one family’s dark secrets. The script is a slow-burn mystery with a creative, physical manifestation of grief and betrayal. Rose has exiled herself for eight years; her family disowned her. As the plot reveals itself, this dysfunctional family unit must confront its part. While I predicted the overall arc, this does not lessen the emotional impact of writer-director Peter Blach‘s choices. The best performances come from Gabrielle Sheppard as Rose and Adam Radcliffe as Geoff. Sheppard gives power to Rose. Her vulnerability and strength shine off the screen. With James Abbott and Blach’s script, Radcliffe is allowed to play the entire spectrum of emotions. He is terrifying. The cinematography by Rami Bartholdy is breathtaking. The film gets under your skin and lingers there. Seagull has an ending so satisfying, Grimmfest audiences will get their catharsis, and in true genre fashion.




Grimmfest (2021) review: ‘Shot In The Dark’ has a brilliant and bloody storytelling structure.

SHOT IN THE DARK

Two years ago, William Langston made a mistake that would affect the course of his life. Now, with a killer loose in his home town and his circle of friends falling away one at a time, William faces his greatest fears as well as his own mortality.


Shot In The Dark is emotional and physical torture porn driven by incel behavior and extreme toxic masculinity. But, it’s also a relationship film. Keene McRae and Lane Thomas’ screenplay slowly gives you insight into William’s circle of friends and how their social dynamics have decayed over time. The small-town mayhem takes a personal turn very early on. While some minute details still left me with questions, I was captivated by the script’s structure.

Austen Hubert plays the role of Josh Ferrel. He gives a nuanced performance. Christine Donlon, as Lili, hits you right in the heart. She’s charming and earnest. You are invested in the relationship between William and Lili. Kristoffer McMillan, as William, is a fully fleshed-out, honorable man. This character is the life-breath of this film. Depression has consumed him, and that darkness becomes his fatal flaw. His tragic backstory is the catalyst for a psychopath. McMillan, who is also a co-writer, owns every frame.

GRIMMFEST 2021 audiences will be taken aback by this film, no doubt about it. The ending will shock and infuriate you. Shot In The Dark is a hell of a feature debut for Keene McRae. With a script like this, we’ll all be clambering for whatever comes next.


[Available October 15, 2021, 1:30 – 11:30 PM] Watch now online…


Grimmfest (2021) review: ‘We’re All Going To The World’s Fair’ showcases the terror of living online.

WE’RE ALL GOING TO THE WORLD’S FAIR

I want to go to the World’s Fair. I want to go to the World’s Fair. I want to go to the World’s Fair.” Say it three times into your computer camera. Prick your finger, draw some blood and smear it on the screen. Now press play on the video. They say that once you’ve seen it, the changes begin… In a small town, a shy and isolated teenage girl becomes immersed in an online role-playing game.


Voyeuristic intimacy meets horror internet challenge We’re All Going To The World’s Fair speaks directly to the danger of the YouTube generation. Casey is a loner who seeks refuge online. When she takes an internet challenge, something that has had real-life, deadly consequences in recent years, her small world gets vastly stranger. We’re All Going To The World’s Fair tackles many weighty subjects; loneliness, depression, mental illness, identity, and gullibility. There’s the parent/child dynamic that, when present, is filled with fear and emotional abuse. 

Michael J Rogers plays JLB with majorly creepy vibes. From his voice to his subtle physicality, Rogers embodies a chilling persona. The viewer is left to interpret his intentions. It is a disturbing performance. Anna Cobb‘s feature debut is a powerhouse. What a fearless and natural performance. She exudes innocent charm. She’s a loner, clearly not by choice. Once the challenge creeps into her psyche, this becomes something altogether different. Wow does not even begin to describe the arc, both physically and emotionally. It’s a stunning turn.

Writer-director-editor Jane Schoenbrun paints a bleak picture of Casey’s hometown. Long takes, some through Casey’s laptop and others handheld give the film a gritty feel. The lengthy scenes put so much of the film’s success directly onto Anna Cobb’s shoulders. She has a massive responsibility to fill the screen, and she pulls it off like gangbusters. A bonus, the soundtrack is cool as hell. The ending is ambiguous. Something about it is perfectly unsettling. 


[Available October 16, 2021, 1:30 – 11:30 PM] Watch now online…


Grimmfest (2021) review: ‘Night Drive’ shifts into an entirely new gear.

NIGHT DRIVE

A ride share driver’s life is turned upside down after an unexpected series of misfortunes.


Russel drives for Jaunt, an Uber-like app, shuttling people of all types all over L.A. After a young female passenger named Charlotte requests an added stop, Russel becomes caught up in a plot no one would see coming. This seemingly mundane premise spirals into shocking chaos that never ends. It’s an awesome commentary on how power changes the human soul. The chemistry between Sophie Dalah and AJ Bowen is electric. Their witty repartee and Charlotte’s penchant for danger keep the stakes and excitement high. With films like The Toll, Spree, and The Stranger, rideshare horror is an ever-expanding subgenre. Meghan Leon and Bradford Baruh share directing and producing credits. Baruh also plays the role of DP. Leon adds editor to her resume in addition to screenwriter. This script takes us on one wild ride. What feels like a set-up we’re getting used to becomes a (SPOILER ALERT) neo-noir sci-fi! It’s such an incredible payoff for an already tight 80 minutes. When are we going to normalize shorter runtimes with outstanding storytelling? Night Drive sets a strong precedent. Do I smell franchise potential? I could get revved up for that.



[Available October 16, 2021, 1:30 – 11:30 PM] Watch now online…


GRIMMFEST turns lucky 13 for this year’s hybrid addition. Here are some of the films we’re screaming about.

GRIMMFEST 2021

It’s no secret that the most buzz-worthy films come through only a handful of genre festivals. GRIMMFEST is on that shortlist. The festival turns a lucky 13 this year and it’s ready to rock audiences’ socks with a plethora of titles for every single viewer. After being completely virtual last year, a hybrid platform is back in action with a mix of in-person screenings from October 7th to 10th and online from October 14th to 17th. I can say that this year’s lineup is filled with everything from gore to absurdity, thrills to purest moments of wow. These are the films that will be on everyone’s lips. You can find out about tickets and schedules at https://grimmfest.com/

Do yourself a favor and mark your calendars now. There’s a lot to see.


THE BETA TEST

A Hollywood agent, engaged to be married in a few weeks, receives a mysterious letter inviting him for an anonymous sexual encounter and thus becomes ensnared in a sinister world of lying, infidelity, and digital data.

This genre-shattering film takes aim at Hollywood, toxic masculinity, horror, satire, all with co-writer-director Jim Cummings playing a sharp lead. His last film, The Wolf Of Snow Hollow, has a legit cult following now. Cummings has a distinct voice and I cannot wait to see if The Beta Test becomes another calling card on his resume.


THE RIGHTEOUS

A burdened man feels the wrath of a vengeful God after he and his wife are visited by a mysterious stranger…

There is something so striking about modern black & white cinematography. in The Righteous, writer-director Mark O’Brien also stars as the mysterious stranger in question. This horror film is filled with symbolism and will give any god-fearing viewer the vapers.


WHEN THE SCREAMING STARTS

When the Screaming Starts is a comedy-horror mockumentary about an inept, aspiring serial killer at the beginning of his “career” and a fledgling filmmaker willing to do anything to achieve his ambition.

A little bit of Vicious Fun meets Satanic Panic, I cannot wait to laugh and gag. Horror and comedy pair so well together and since everyone is a true-crime connoisseur who thinks they could commit the perfect murder, I am delighted to consume this one.


THE SPORE

The lives of ten strangers intersect through a terrifying chain of events as a mutating fungus begins to spread through a small town wiping out everyone that comes into contact with it.

Will this film be a little too close to home considering we’re still experiencing a global pandemic? I guess we’ll find out when we’re forced to look through the lens of writer-director D.M Cunningham.


HOTEL POSEIDON

Dave inherited the dingy and dilapidated Hotel Poseidon from his late father. He lives there and works as manager, and rarely seems to leave the place. The days and nights all bleed together. His existence is a hopeless one. When a young woman knocks at the hotel’s doors one night looking for a room, and his best friend shows up wanting to throw a party in the backroom, Dave’s world starts to spiral out of control, and his sense of reality starts to be shaken by recurring nightmares.

I have seen the title sequence for this film and it is hands down one of the coolest in all of cinematic history. I said what I said. If the rest of the film lives up to the initial visual, Hotel Poseidon will wow Grimmfest audiences.


ALONE WITH YOU

As a young woman painstakingly prepares a romantic homecoming for her girlfriend, their apartment begins to feel more like a tomb when voices, shadows, and hallucinations reveal a truth she has been unwilling to face.

Listen, you tell me Barbara Crampton is in a film and I’m watching it. Add on Emily Bennett who was fantastic in King Of Knives last year and I’m sold. Not only does she star, but she co-wrote and co-directed the film. Give me an all-female horror film every day of the year.



FULL VIRTUAL FESTIVAL LINE UP:

● FOR ROGER (Aaron Bartuska, USA)

● FATHER OF FLIES (Ben Charles-Edwards UK / USA)

● SLAPFACE (Jeremiah Kipp, USA)

● THE NIGHTS BELONG TO THE MONSTERS (Sebastian Perillo, Argentina)

● HAPPY TIMES (Michael Mayer, Israel / USA)

● NIGHT AT THE EAGLE INN (Erik Bloomquist, USA)

● VAL (Aaron Fradkin, USA, 77 min)

● THE SPORE (D.M. Cunningham, USA)

● THE PIZZAGATE MASSACRE (John Valley, USA)

● MOTHERLY (Craig David Wallace, Canada)

● SHOT IN THE DARK (Keene McRae, USA)

● NIGHT DRIVE (Brad Baruh, USA)

● MIDNIGHT (Oh-seung Kwon, South Korea)

● FACELESS (Marcel Sarmiento, USA)

● WE’RE ALL GOING TO THE WORLD’S FAIR (Jane Schoenbrun, USA)

● THE FREE FALL (Adam Stillwell, USA)

● ON THE THIRD DAY (Daniel de la Vega, Argentina)

● THE GUEST ROOM (Stefano Lodovichi, Italy)

● HOTEL POSEIDON (Stefan Lernous, Belgium)

● FORGIVENESS (Alex Kahuam, Mexico)

● TWO WITCHES (Pierre Tsigaridis, USA)

● KING KNIGHT (Richard Bates Jnr, USA)

● TARUMAMA / LLANTO MALDITO (Andres Beltran, Colombia)

● THE RIGHTEOUS (Mark O’Brien, Canada)


 

Passes and tickets can be purchased from www.grimmfest.com.