| Unfortunately I missed Saturdays sessions which included the first short film session Monster Mash-up, the Chilean zombie feature Descendents, the first-ever 3D screening for the festival Hybrid 3D and the Troma inspired Blood Junkie. D’oh.
Arriving late I missed the second short film session, the Lovecraft themed Lovecraftian Lunacy. However, I was there for the next two sessions, two vastly different films at opposite ends of the horror canon.
The Last Lovecraft: Relic of Cthulhu (Dir: Henry Saine/USA/2009)
I must confess that I’m not the biggest fan of horror-comedy hybrids, finding them somewhat forced. There is a fine line that exists between horror and comedy, meaning that the film has to tread carefully between open parody or bad toilet humour. That said, The Last Lovecraft: Relic of Cthulhu works well and is clearly influenced by the Joss Whedon school of screenwriting and slacker comedies. The other factor that works in favour of The Last Lovecraft is that it was made by people who clearly understand and respect the Lovecraft mythos.
Revolving around office loser Jeff and his best friend, things start going strange when Jeff discovers that he is the last living relative of H. P. Lovecraft. As such a descendant, he is entrusted with the knowledge that not only were Lovercraft’s writings based on fact, but that he now has to protect mankind from the unleashing of the Dark One. With clever use of animation and special effects, this works well as a buddy comedy with a Lovecraftian backdrop. A definite crowd-pleaser, but I found it a bit too knowing. Mind you, I definitely prefer my horror on the dark side, and my comedy even blacker, so I would argue that I’m not the best person to judge.
An official selection for the well-renowned Toronto After Dark film Festival, if something more light-hearted and entertaining is what you are after, then you would not go too far wrong seeking this one out this one.
The Afflicted (Dir: Jason Stoddard/USA/2010)
This is definitely more in keeping with my sensibilities, although what that says about me I don’t want to dwell on too much. Contrasting completely with the preceding session comes this grim family horror-drama. Before the main feature though, we had the short film The Burial Party, a tense black and white feature based around a game of Russian Roulette. Those of you familiar with the French film 13 Tzameti would have a fair idea of what to expect. This short focuses more on the audience than the tension of being involved in such a game, without revealing much and it left me flat at the end of it.
The Afflicted is supposedly based on true events, recounting the destruction of a southern US family through the eyes of one of the daughters. Events commence when the father attempts to leave his wife, increasingly under the sway of an evangelical Christian television preacher, his three daughters and son. The father meets a tragic end at the hands of his wife, a death she conceals by stating that he ran off with another woman. The mother, with a mixture of perverted Old Testament belief and paranoia, begins to take out her frenzied hallucinatory actions on her children. Thus begins a downward spiral of humiliation, degradation and violence.
This is a grim picture, and no one comes out of this well. The Afflicted is not for the faint of heart, and testament to the tragedy of so many families. More often than not, horror is found in the neglected house at the end of the street.
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