The bitter cold of Toronto on November 22 was no match for the heat generated by the festival’s scorching line-up as the Blood in the Snow Film Festival went into its third day. The festival’s sizzling line-up included some of the most anticipated indie films of the year. The convention, which has become a beacon for fans of horror in Canada, maintained its momentum by showing a variety of films that both respected the conventions of the genre and defied expectations.
Once again, our hardworking team was present to take in the varied selection of terrifying presentations that day three had to offer. The day showed a kaleidoscope of horror that spanned from the deeply psychological to the supernaturally weird, illustrating that Canadian horror refuses to be pigeonholed in any one particular category.
In this third day of our recap, we take a closer look at the films that sent shivers down spines and prompted heated discussions among audience members. The festival never wavered in its commitment to promoting cutting-edge work within specific genres of cinema. The thought-provoking plotlines and visually stunning effects presented on the third day of the conference completely blew us away. We can’t wait to share these with you.
In-depth coverage of Blood in the Snow 2023, showcasing ground-breaking material from Canada’s rising horror scene, will continue to be brought to you right here. The third day of the festival continued the trend of bold films that have established it as an essential forum for the presentation of the genre’s rich diversity.
The Heart of Ravenscrag – Blood in the Snow
Blood in the Snow 2023: ‘The Heart of Ravenscrag’ Packs Intrigue Into Every Moody Frame
The 2-minute proof of concept short “The Heart of Ravenscrag” screened at Blood in the Snow 2023, demonstrating immense world-building potential even in its bite-sized runtime. Director Dale Hildebrand immediately pulls us into a richly atmospheric medieval setting as the titular castle withstands a lengthy enemy siege, only to find the true threat may already be inside their stronghold.
Though compact, “The Heart of Ravenscrag” feels remarkably immersive thanks to its stunning cinematography and production design. Hildebrand conjures a palpable aura of mystery and menace within the stone confines, achieved through artful smoke, lighting and intentional framing. You can vividly imagine a larger story unfolding in these walls.
While the brief synopsis intriguingly hints at unexpected internal threats, Hildebrand wisely leaves the details ambiguous, allowing the tone and visual language to hook interest first and foremost. And on that front, this proof of concept triumphs in spades.
Evocative language describes shadows growing “like a cancer from the heart,” as we glide through narrow corridors into the throne room, soaking up the feudal ambience. Hildebrand’s compositional choices lend grandeur while highlighting unseen dangers lurking in every corner.
For those craving more after two hypnotic minutes, the director notes his team utilized innovative techniques to achieve the photorealistic period aesthetic on a limited budget. One eagerly awaits the potential full expansion of this ominous realm and the mysteries held within its fortified walls. For now, let “The Heart of Ravenscrag” work its moody medieval magic, certain to leave intrigued viewers wanting more.
Red Iron Road
Blood in the Snow 2023: ‘Red Iron Road – In the Heat‘ Spins Yuletide Dread into a Thrilling Web of Pagan Lore and Brutality
The award-winning 17-minute animated thriller “Red Iron Road: In the Heat” screened at Blood in the Snow 2023, serving up a captivatingly bizarre and macabre take on the bloody pagan origins of Father Frost and Christmas itself. Directing duo Sam Chou and Ellery VanDooyeweert adapt a chilling 2008 short story from “Queen of Russian Horror” Anna Starobinets, bringing this twisted folklore to haunting life through striking 2D animation.
We open on detectives interrogating a disheveled man disguised as Santa Claus over an unspeakable crime. But as more sinister details emerge, it becomes clear our shackled Kris Kringle harbors disturbing secrets tied to the investigators’ own dark pasts. What proceeds is a winding descent into long-buried legend and brutality, as we rewind to this Santa stand-in’s humble beginnings and the barbaric rituals that transformed him into something far more frightening than Old Saint Nick.
Chou and VanDooyeweert masterfully walk the line between stark procedural thriller and surreal pagan nightmare, seamlessly shifting between austere interrogation rooms, frozen Siberian wilderness, and the candlelit catacombs of an ancient sacrificial tradition. Smooth camera movements glide through it all with a hypnotic grace that compounds the tension.
Of course, the visuals would be nothing without an intricate plot that subverts expectations at every snow-blanketed turn. Just when you think you’ve grasped the scope of the horror, these directors reveal bone-chilling connections and sinister implications you never saw slithering beneath the surface, adorned in occult iconography.
By the end, “Red Iron Road – In the Heat” leaves heads spinning with its innovative and uncompromising brand of yuletide terror. For fans of subversive myth-making and disturbing animated odysseys into lakes of blood beneath the Christmas tree, this Santa slasher stands out from the festive holiday crowd. Let it thaw hearts and preconceptions with a fresh blizzard of folklore chill.
Tiger by the Tail
Blood in the Snow 2023: ‘Tiger by the Tail‘ Sinks its Claws Into Seedly 70s Sleaze and Doesn’t Let Go
The gloriously gritty proof of concept short “Tiger by the Tail” gives us a glimpse of its grimy grindhouse potential in a brisk 15 minute runtime. Directed with stylish flair by Sharai Rewels, this teaser throws us into the sordid New York City disco scene of 1979, where two strip club boss babes accidentally unleash chaos when their club gets flooded with bad drugs.
From its opening shots, “Tiger by the Tail” absolutely nails the lurid atmosphere and aesthetic of 70s exploitation cinema. As described, protagonists Cadence and Rex go from ruling the city’s strip club scene to fleeing for their lives as murder and paranoia consume their dysfunctional little empire in a drug-fueled rampage.
Before we know it, the pair are hiding out in a podunk West Virginia dive bar named Snake Charmers, evading both the law and their own lethal associates. But these glammed-up big city divas refuse to stay down for long, as Cadence and Rex quickly resort to their conniving ways to claw their way back on top, morals be damned.
With its brazenly over-the-top attitude and glitzy visual pop, “Tiger by the Tail” seems poised to bite down on all the most tantalizingly tawdry tropes in the grindhouse playbook if given the chance to fully pounce. I’m already craving more coked-out kitsch carnage and outrageous escapades from this criminal couple, who Reywels directs with slick stylistic confidence even in short form.
For now, let the jaw-dropping final moment of “Tiger by the Tail” leave your jaws dropped in gleeful anticipation. With its bold spirit and bloody charm offensive, this little land-shark of a short looks primed to fully maul our senses given the feature-length room to roar. Consider this proof of concept an utter triumph.
Walking Supply (2023)
“Walking Supply” – A Bone-Chilling Survival Nightmare
As the winter chill of 2023 crept through the audience at the Blood in the Snow Film Festival, a different kind of cold settled in our bones with the screening of “Walking Supply.” This 90-minute feature film, directed by a visionary filmmaker, captures the sheer desperation and horror of survival against the most unforgiving of adversaries: human nature.
From the outset, “Walking Supply” presents itself as more than just a simple tale of escape and survival. Set against the bleak and unforgiving backdrop of Siberia, the film follows Henry (James McDougall), Kurt (Douglas Nyback), and Anthony (Joel Labelle) as they flee a Soviet labor camp, only to find themselves ensnared in a psychological and physical battle that would test the limits of their humanity.
The film opens with a hauntingly beautiful yet desolate landscape that immediately sets the tone for the ordeal to come. The cinematography is stark and impactful, drawing the viewer into the isolation and hopelessness that the characters face. It’s a visual narrative that speaks volumes, even before the first line of dialogue is uttered.
James McDougall’s portrayal of Henry is both poignant and powerful, leaving the audience on edge as his character’s realization dawns that he might be nothing more to his companions than a walking supply of sustenance. McDougall delivers a raw and vulnerable performance that is both sympathetic and unsettling.
Douglas Nyback and Joel Labelle, as Kurt and Anthony, respectively, provide gripping portrayals of men driven to the brink. Their characters embody the complexity of survival instincts, and the moral ambiguity of their choices offers a disturbing reflection on what people are capable of when pushed to extremes.
The pacing of “Walking Supply” is deliberate, with tension building steadily as the trio’s journey progresses. The director skillfully weaves an atmosphere of dread and foreboding, allowing the horror to simmer and intensify to an almost unbearable degree. It’s a slow burn that pays off with an emotional impact that is both shocking and thought-provoking.
The soundtrack complements the film’s tone perfectly, with a score that is both subtle and haunting, enhancing the sense of isolation and impending doom. The sound design is meticulous, with every crunch of snow and whisper of wind pulling the viewer deeper into the experience.
Inspired by true events, “Walking Supply” is not just a tale of survival, but an exploration of the darkest corners of the human soul. It asks the audience to contemplate the harrowing question: How far would you go to get home? This philosophical underpinning is what elevates the narrative from a mere horror flick to a profound study in human desperation and depravity.
The script is tight, allowing for the story to unfold organically without unnecessary exposition. The dialogue is sparse, which fittingly reflects the barren Siberian landscape and the sheer exhaustion of the characters. Every word spoken carries weight, and the silences in between are deafening, filled with unspoken fears and suspicions.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of “Walking Supply” is its ability to maintain a sense of realism amidst the horror. There are no supernatural elements here, no monsters lurking in the shadows—only the very real monster that resides within when civilization is stripped away, and survival is the only goal. This grounding in reality makes the film all the more terrifying.
“Walking Supply” is a standout piece in the horror genre, exemplary of what can be achieved when a film focuses on the psychological terror of the human condition. It’s a film that is both horrifying and deeply human, a chilling reminder of the extremes to which we can be pushed.
Wrapping up Day 3 of Blood in the Snow 2023
Day 3 of the Blood in the Snow Film Festival was filled with an exciting lineup of films that showcased the diverse talents of independent filmmakers. Here are the films that were shown on the third day of the festival:
- The Heart of Ravenscrag – Dale Hildebrand
- Old Chain – Emanuel Foucault
- Night Drives: The Silence of the Library – Jono Hunter
- Old Flames – Fugitives
- Hellbound Taxi – Brendan Fell
- BrawlStars: Where the Wild Things Were – John White
- Red Iron Road: In the Heat – Sam Chou
- Space Disco – Walter Sawan
- Safron – Vanessa Magic
- Red Iron Road: Lord – Aljosha Kilmov, Hirofumi Nakada
- Tiger by The Tail – Sharai Rewels
- Walking Supply – Derek Barnes
- No More Time – Peter Szabo
These films offered a wide range of genres, styles, and themes, from horror and sci-fi. Each film showed the unique vision and creativity of its filmmaker, and the audience was treated to a diverse and engaging lineup of films.
Day 3 of the Blood in the Snow Film Festival was a success, offering a thrilling and entertaining experience for film lovers and showcasing the talents of independent filmmakers from Canada and beyond.