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January 31, 2022

A Binge too Far #21: Fright Nights: Horrorant 6 Film Festival report

6th Horrorant International Film Festival, 2019, poster

I am a 35-year-old film journalist madly in love with a 6-year-old festival (wait a minute, what did your perverted mind thought?). Said film festival is none other than Horrorant from Greece, which this year took place simultaneously in both Athens and Thessaloniki, from the 9th to the 15th of May 2019, kick-starting its festivities with a cosplay event.


In terms of screenings, the opening ceremony featured Mon Mon Mon Monsters (2017), i.e. last year’s winner of the best film prize.


The competition panorama was compiled of several great features, including Freaks (2018), Anya (2018), Long Lost (2018), Two Times You (2018), Albatroz (2019), Scopophilia (2018), Every Time I Die (2019), The Tenants (2018), Kill Ben Lyk (2018), The Spell (2018), Finale (2018), Carga (2018), Go Home (2018), Werewolf (2018), Pledge (2018), Last Sunrise (2019), Romina (2018), Alive (2018), The Soul Conductor (2018), I’ll Take Your Dead (2018), After The Lethargy (2018), The Last Serb In Croatia (2019), Abrakadabra (2018), Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018), Dead End (2018), Dukun (2018), Long Lost (2018), and Blood Fest (2018).


Famous for its retrospectives, Horrorant this year also provided the aegis for the ‘3X3 Latin’ special, in which the talents of South American filmmakers were explored, and included screenings of Sonno Profondo (2013), Trauma (2017), Sendero (2015), Perfidia (2014), Luna De Miel (2015), Perdidos (2014), and Francesca (2015).


But Horrorant is also known for featuring in its program some of the very best short films currently on the festival circuit, and this year audiences had the opportunity to catch up with Clickbait (2018), Stray (2018), Escalada (2018), Muffin (2017), Met@slash (2018), It Follows (2018), Amme (2018), Mum I’m Scared (2018), Piggy (2018), Apollyon (2019), A Doll Distorted (2018), Blackout (2019), Lura (2018), Mask of Sanity (2018), The Last Well (2018), Anacronte (2018), Glitch (2018), My Brother Juan (2019), Claudia (2018), My First Time (2018), Beyond Money (2018), Forgive Me (2019), Η Ερήμωση (2019), Antxoni (2018), Sin Ti (2018), Do you Want me to Kiss you this Time? (2018), and Brainrain (2018).


Once again Horrorant was packed with guest filmmakers from all over the world that either provided master-classes or informative and entertaining Q&A sessions.


The Reviews


Yours truly was once again the Head of the Awards Jury, and watched all films in the competition block, and here’s selected reviews.


After the Lethargy (2018)

After The Lethargy


Upon receiving a dodgy alien conspiracy DVD and during the writing of a book on that particular subject, the female lead Sara Hamilton (Andrea Guasch) travels to a U.F.O. hot spot, where she is introduced to the local weirdoes (including a ranger and a repairman), until she will come face to face with a well-made CGI creature. In the meanwhile, a police investigation is taking place in the broader area, after the surfacing of some dead bodies, but things may not be what they seem to be.


Writer/director Marc Carrete (ASMODEXIA [2014]) takes his time to build up the tension, and that makes its third act even more exciting, when all hell breaks loose, and a combination of CGI and practical effects, as well as a few twists in the plot result in a very worthy viewing. Although it is apparent that the film was made with limited means, the filmmakers made the most of them.


The film premiered at South America’s prestigious Fantaspoa International Fantastic Film Festival, and has played many more festivals since, nominated for several awards and actually winning some of them.


2018, Spain

DIRECTOR: Marc Carrete


The Spell (2019) poster

The Spell


Director Amit Dubey’s second feature comes from Cambodia (it must be the first film from that country that I get to see), and it is reminiscent of other Asian ghost films. The plot revolves around a young couple which is moving to a new secluded villa, where they will come face to face with supernatural terror, in the form of a ghost. Instead of leaving, they decide to stay and fight evil. Will they make it? You should watch the film yourself and find out, as loads of scares ensue, both of the jump variety and otherwise.


Sure, the story is not the film’s strongest asset as we have seen all of the above plenty of times already, but the visuals are impressive. The film benefits from Jeremiah Overman’s stunning cinematography and the glorious widescreen version is a work of art, really. I’m glad I caught up with it at Horrorant Film Festival, where the world-wide premiere took place.


2019, Cambodia

DIRECTOR: Amit Dubey


Freaks (2018) poster



Chloe (child TV actress Lexy Kolker) is a young peculiar girl, that upon escaping her weird father’s (Emile Hirsch, who also started as a TV actor, but has now graduated to features) custody, she finds solace at the hands of Mr. Snowcone (Bruce Dern, no introduction needed), an ice-cream man that may or may be not her grandfather and who helps her bring out her super powers.


Written and directed by the dynamic duo of Zach Lipovsky and Adam B. Stein (a television specialist), this is thematically weird and visually creepy, and you can’t really go wrong with aspects like those. Premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival, Freaks then went on to perform very well at several festivals all around the world, nominated for several awards and even winning quite a few of them.


2018, Canada/USA

DIRECTORS: Zach Lipovsky, Adam B. Stein


Puppet Master: The Littlest...

Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich


Imposing a twist on the Puppet Master franchise’s (1989 – present) story, this kind of mainstream and quite high profile reboot from directors Sonny Laguna and Tommy Wiklund has a decayed Andre Toulon (Udo Kier, no introduction needed) as a homophobic Nazi, who created the famous puppets as the ultimate evil spy killing machines back in the day of the Reich. Fast forward to the present day, and Carol Doreski (Barbara Crampton, again no introduction needed), a guide at a tourist resort at the infamous murders of Toulon’s puppets murders, loses control of the situation, when said puppets are unleashed and start murdering gypsies, Jews, etc. Panic ensues and many cast members face inevitable gory deaths.


Wildly entertaining, this is actually the franchise’s bloodiest entry yet (and I imagine that it will be difficult for anyone to top this in the near future, although a ‘To be continued…’ title card in the end is promising). It is also featuring slick cinematography (the kind that the franchise never had the luck to feature previously) and the best score the puppets ever had in their background (it was composed by Lucio Fulci darling Fabio Frizzi). The puppets are amazing as well (and it is quite the innovation seeing them here as the bad guys, an idea so great it surprising it wasn’t developed earlier by Charles Band, who is an executive producer here), but the real winner is the stellar cast, and I am not talking only about the two mega-stars mentioned above; it just seemed that every cast decision works in spades here.


I believe that this is the best Puppet Master film we have seen so far, but even you don’t agree, fear not, as it has been said that this reboot will run independently from Full Moon’s series canon, so in the near future you will have two celluloid universes to choose from. Why not indulge in both?


2018, UK/USA

DIRECTORS: Sonny Laguna, Tommy Wiklund


The Awards


Best ‘Competition’ Film: Pledge

Best ‘Panorama’ Film: Last Sunrise

2nd Best ‘Panorama’ Film: Kill Ben Lyk

Best Director: Adrian Panek (Werewolf)

Best Screenplay: Luna Gualano & Emiliano Rubbi (Go Home)

Best Male Lead: Bruce Dern (Freaks)

Best Female Lead: Anne Bergfeld (Finale)

Best Cinematography: Yuri Bekhterev (The Soul Conductor)

Best Special Effects: Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich

Special Mention: Nicolás Onetti for his contribution in the giallo revival.

Best Foreign Short: BrainRain

Best Greek Short: BlackOut




This event report was written almost three years ago, but somehow managed to remain on shelf for far too long, now that Horrorant is about to come back from the dead (or rather, the pandemic), I think that the timing is perfect for its publication.

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