October 24th, 2020
I recently had the distinct pleasure of attending a virtual film festival and I have to say that I really enjoyed it much more than I expected to. HorrOrigins Film Festival is an exciting new independent genre film festival that focuses on discovering & premiering independent screenwriters & filmmakers in the town deemed HOLLYWOOD of the SOUTH, located in Atlanta, GA.
HorrOrigins is founded by Brandon Waites. Brandon is the co-founder of the Hollywood filmmaking & screenwriting platform The Film Empire. The Film Empire hosts contests that allow filmmakers & screenwriters the opportunity to meet industry mentors. You can check out more at www.thefilmempire.com
The 2020 HorrOrigins film festival was originally supposed to be a live event held in Atlanta, however due to the Covid 19 pandemic, the festival was ultimately streamed live online. The live streaming did have some minor issues requiring the event’s organizers to scramble to fix them in real-time. Overall however I think most people were quite pleased. In the future, perhaps the films could be temporarily available to stream on-demand so that attendees wouldn’t be forced to miss the films due to a trip to the kitchen or restroom for example.
The festival was held over a three-day period October 15th-18th 2020, and I was simply unable to take in the entire thing, unfortunately. I did however catch a number of short films as well as a couple of full-length films over 2 days. Films were broadcast live to all attendees at the same time online. Films were grouped into one of fourteen different blocks of time. Each block was roughly two hours in length. Each block then contained as few as one feature-length film while other blocks contained multiple short films or a combination of short and feature-length. Each film was given a 1-minute intermission before the next film began playing in the block.
Despite not being able to see all of the available films, I did see several, and many were outstanding films. I would like to take a few minutes of your time to describe my thoughts on a few of those films here. I will rate each on a 5-star scale according to my own standards of what I like in horror cinema. I’m sure there were great ones I will be leaving out, but only because I was unable to catch them all.
The Return Duration: 01:30:09 4 / 5 stars Sci-Fi/ Paranormal
Description: After the death of his father, a brilliant college student returns to his family home where he learns that the horrors from his childhood aren’t as dead and gone as he once thought.
Thoughts: I really enjoyed this film and I could absolutely see it playing on the Sci-Fi Channel, Shudder Channel, etc. Directed by BJ Verot, and starring Richard Harmon, Sarah Thompson, and Echo Porisky. All the actors did a fine job, and I especially loved Echo Porisky’s performance as Jordan Hasbury. Her on-screen chemistry with Richard Harmon combined with the outstanding timing of her lines made her stand out to me as a viewer. The film’s plot twisted and turned and ended in a place completely different than I expected. IMDB link here.
Concealer Duration: 00:11:12 4 / 5 stars Comedy/Thriller
Description: When Ivy agrees to let her old friend Bless treat her to a spa day, she soon learns that Bless has joined a cosmetics MLM. CONCEALER is a hilariously horrifying and uncomfortable take on what happens when our friends fall prey to multi-level marketing schemes.
Thoughts: This film was very funny a maintained a distinct feeling of dread. The creators did an outstanding job of using their shooting location and available lighting to its full potential. Written, directed, and starring Kristine Gerolaga. Kristine is without a doubt destined for great things to come. Visit her website here for more info.
Hatchlings: Duration: 00:12:39 4 / 5 stars Sci-Fi/Horror
Description: Mary Burch is in the fantasy business. A night spent in her house is a night spent with your deepest desire in the flesh. And in the year 1972, when so many loved ones are overseas, missing, or worse, business at the Burch House is booming. Unfortunately for Mary’s customers however, nights end while desires only grow stronger, and before long visitors are sacrificing their very souls to stay in Mary’s macabre bordello of dreams. Meanwhile, the house continues to feed, until the wall between fantasy and reality finally cracks.
Thoughts: Directed by Catherine E. Jones, Hatchlings was beautifully filmed, Hatchlings is a period piece that flows incredibly from beginning to end. In my opinion, the creators crafted an ethereal and dreamlike film that captures your attention from beginning to end. IMDB link here.
Asking For A Friend: Duration: 00:24:54 5 / 5 stars Comedy/Horror
Blake and Q are childhood best friends, roommates, and well – soulmates. After a long day trying to maintain her #girlboss status at work, Blake’s one-track mind is solely set on the nachos Q has promised to make for dinner. In addition to the nachos, however, Q has also unexpectedly managed to kill someone in their apartment. Through a series of heavily graphic and hilarious situations, the girls tap into their inner serial killers and decide to handle the body themselves. Their naiveté and inexperience leads to a weekend full of accidental drugs, Saran Wrap, and body that, for whatever reason, will not stop bleeding. So hypothetically speaking – how do you get rid of a body? Asking for a friend.
Thoughts: In my opinion, director Kelsey Bollig and actresses Victoria Lacoste and Jacqueline Bell hit the proverbial ball out of the park with this short. The storyline flows perfectly, the comedic timing and chemistry between the main characters feel natural and real. I especially loved how Bollig was able to perfectly combine realistic looking gore with comedic and dramatic elements all at once. Bravo ladies! I can’t wait to see more. IMDB link here.
Snake Dick: Duration: 00:07:48 4 / 5 stars Campy Action/Horror
Description: Jill’s got the snake. Julia’s got the flute. Alone, they have nothing. But together, they have a secret weapon to fight the darkness…
Thoughts: Snake Dick was short but packed a great punch in the guts! (puns intended). This was a fun short film that is unashamedly pro-female and very tongue-in-cheek. Director David Mahmoudieh delivered a visually crisp and wonderfully filmed short that reminded me very much of one of the fictional grindhouse movies appearing in some of Quentin Tarantino’s movies. IMDB link here.
Changeling: Duration: 00:09:30 4 / 5 stars Horror/Sci-Fi/Art
Description: A new mother becomes increasingly mesmerized and appalled by the strange transformations happening around her baby. She instinctively hides them, unaware they are building towards a final metamorphosis – hers.
Thoughts: This was another of several short films that were beautifully executed and flowed quite well. Although Changeling is more of what I would consider as an “artsy” type of short, which isn’t really my forte’, I still thought it was extremely well done. Director Faye Jackson deserves to be recognized as very deserving of her place amongst her competitors. IMDB link here.
Duérmete Niño: Duration: 00:09:30 5 / 5 stars Horror/Foreign
Description: On an unsettling night in the 1940s, Alma, a religious mother of newborn twins, is constantly awakened by the disturbing sound of her crying babies. Using a new radio monitor to check on them from her bedroom, Alma encounters a series of unsettling events that might jeopardize even her own beliefs.
Thoughts: The translation for Duérmete Niño is Rockaby Baby. Director Freddy Chávez Olmos has created a short film that completely transports the viewer into the bedroom of a sleep-deprived mother anxious over the safety of her babies. Actress Piercey Dalton does a fantastic job at conveying the fine line between exhaustion and madness that many parents of newborns experience and she does so with almost no dialogue. This short film made me an instant fan of the director and I personally can’t wait to see what he does next! Superb filmmaking in my opinion. More info here.
Attrition: Duration: 00:22:34 ? / 5 stars War/Supernatural
Description: Supernatural drama set in the British trenches of WW1. Along with the rest of his platoon, young Private Edwin Childs fears imminent German gas attacks. As the dreaded attack begins, how much will Edwin give of himself in the ultimate act of compassion towards his fellow men?
Thoughts: Everything I was able to see of Attrition was absolutely fantastic. The cinematography, the audio, and the sound were all very well done. Sadly, there was an issue with the screener copy we were watching as it streamed, so I was only able to watch the first several minutes. That being said, I am really looking forward to seeing it in full, and I think you’ll agree. IMDB link here.
Sleep Tight: Duration: 00:11:27 4 / 5 stars Horror
Description: Preston’s adoptive parents Daniel and Kate think that he is just going through a phase, but Kate fears it may be more because of Preston’s haunted past. Are the monsters in Preston’s closet his past coming back to haunt him? Or is it just another kid with an overactive imagination? One thing is for sure, it’s going to be a night everyone will remember…
Thoughts: I absolutely loved this one. Directed by Michael Seabolt, Sleep Tight embodied exactly what I was hoping to see when I signed on to watch the HorrOrigins festival. Seabolt did a great job of increasing the feeling of building the feeling of tension and dread that we all felt as kids, wondering what dangers lurked in the dark recesses of our closets. IMDB link here.
Shadow At The Door: Duration: 00:03:42 4 / 5 stars Supernatural
Description: In Roshni Bhatia’s short film, Shadow at the Door, a troubled young woman searches for an intruder in her home unaware that what she’s really looking for may be something she refuses to see.
Thoughts: Roshni Bhatia has several short films that she’s done, and I really enjoyed her work in this one. She was able to effectively develop a palpable sense of dread in just a couple of short minutes. Her use of lighting, sound, and sweeping camera shots was excellent in my opinion. IMDB link here.
Ian McGee. Gen X. Equal parts Man-Child/Cuddly Bear/Fierce defender of the weak. Dad and Husband. Lover of movies, music, jokes, food, good booze, and great conversation. Hello to any and all of my fellow horror movie aficionados out there on the ol’ inter-webs.