By MICHAEL GINGOLD
The 2021 edition of the Southeast U.S.’ largest genre festival has a wide assortment of movies screening for nationwide on-line audiences, alongside its in-theater program.
Joining the first announced wave of Popcorn Frights’ fear fare (see details here) are the following films:
THE ACCURSED (World Premiere; United States, 2021, 86 Min., Dir. Elizabeta Vidovic and Kathryn Michelle): Inspired by Eastern European folklore, this shocking thriller stars Yancy Butler (KICK-ASS, HARD TARGET) as a matriarch who spends 20 years suppressing a maleficent curse that was placed upon her bloodline, only to have a family member knowingly release it forcing her to kill or to be killed.
APPS (North American Premiere; Chile-Argentina, 2021, 94 Min., Dirs. Sandra Arriagada, Camilo León, Lucio Rojas, José Zúñiga and Samot Marquez): An anthology of four short but terrifying tales of the macabre told with great style and pulpy, grisly thrills.
BLOOD CONSCIOUS (Florida Premiere; United States, 2021, 81 Min., Dir. Timothy Covell): This shocking tale reflecting racial and social tensions of our time centers on vacationers who turn the tables on an unhinged killer who claims to be fighting demonic forces.
DASHCAM (World Premiere; United States, 2021, 81 Min., Dir. Christian Nilsson): This stunning psychological thriller follows a video editor at a local news channel who is inadvertently sent secret dashcam video evidence that points to a possible conspiracy and government cover-up.
DAWN BREAKS BEHIND THE EYES (pictured above; World Premiere; Germany, 2021, 72 Min., Dir. Kevin Kopacka): Equally mesmerizing and erotic, this Eurohorror-inspired tale centers on a couple who spend eternity in a castle until their reality starts to shift and unimaginable horrors ensue, deteriorating their fading sanity.
THE EX (North American Premiere; Russia, 2021, 87 Min., Dir. Evgeniy Puzyrevskiy): The screws are tightened in this wickedly entertaining, juicy supernatural thriller about the vengeful spirit of an ex-girlfriend who makes life hell for the man who scorned her.
THE HISTORY OF METAL AND HORROR (World Premiere; United States, 2021, 100 Min., Dir. Mike Schiff): Filled with countless clips and entertaining moments, THE HISTORY OF METAL AND HORROR is a nostalgia trip through some of the most iconic horror films via the perspective of visionary artists in both the metal and horror worlds, including John Carpenter, Tom Savini, Gunnar Hansen and Sid Haig, as well as musicians such as Kirk Hammett, Rob Zombie, Dave Mustaine, Alice Cooper and many more.
HOUSE AT THE END OF THE FOREST (Florida Premiere; Sweden, 2021, 84 Min., Dir. Jonathan Katzeff): In this boundary-pushing frightening tale, a traumatized woman who was previously a victim of a brutal attack by a stranger is stalked by a killer in her summer cabin.
HOWLING VILLAGE (U.S. Premiere; Japan, 2020, 108 Min., Dir. Takashi Shimizu): Best known as the creator of the Japanese JU-ON series and the GRUDGE franchise, Takashi Shimizu returns with this new nightmare about a village at the end of a forgotten tunnel from which no one has ever returned alive.
IT CAME FROM BELOW (World Premiere; United Kingdom, 2021, 81 Min., Dir. Dan Allen): In this riveting, claustrophobic nail-biter, a caving expedition goes horribly wrong as the explorers become trapped and ultimately discover that they are not the only dwellers of these ominous caverns.
KEEPING COMPANY (East Coast Premiere; United States, 2021, 82 Min., Dir. Josh Wallace): This bloody, brutal, breakneck, black-hearted treat follows a fateful chain of events that begins to unravel after two brash insurance salesmen go knocking on the wrong door and find themselves trapped in the basement of a stranger, who is actually a cold-blooded serial killer.
LAIR (East Coast Premiere; United States, 2021, 95 Min., Dir. Adam Ethan Crow): In this chilling story of terror, murder and unknown evil, a fractured family is forced to face their demons as they unwittingly become embroiled in a man’s attempt to prove the existence of the supernatural in order to overturn a friend’s murder conviction.
THE LAST MATINEE (Florida Premiere; Uruguay, 2021, 88 Min., Dir. Maximiliano Contenti): Set in Montevideo, Uruguay, this ultraviolent neo-giallo slasher follows a serial killer who slashes up an audience one by one during the final showing of a horror film in a small downtown cinema.
NIGHT AT THE EAGLE INN (World Premiere; United States, 2021, 70 Min., Dir. Erik Bloomquist): Fraternal twins embark on a pilgrimage to a remote inn to investigate the last known whereabouts of their father, who mysteriously disappeared the night they were born–their exploration leading to shocking revelations as the property’s dark secrets ensnare them in a hellish labyrinth they must escape before dawn.
STOKER HILLS (North American Premiere; United States, 2021, 91 Min., Dir. Benjamin Louis): Three students filming a horror movie stumble upon something much worse, and their only hope for survival is two detectives who find the camera that was left behind.
TIN CAN (U.S. Premiere; Canada, 2020, 104 Min., Dir. Seth A. Smith): As the world faces a deadly plague, a frontline parasitologist is imprisoned in a life-suspension chamber. To escape, she must destroy the last of her kind.
VAL (World Premiere; United States, 2021, 90 Min., Dir. Aaron Fradkin): A criminal on the run breaks into the home of a high-class escort, only to discover that you get more than you bargain for with Val–short for “Valefar”–a demon who offers to make all his problems disappear if he agrees to follow her rules.
THE WILD MAN (World Premiere; United States, 2021, 95 Min., Dir. Ryan Justice): In this Florida mock-doc, a young student journalist and her friends travel to a small town in Central Florida to collect documentary footage about the Skunk Ape (a.k.a. The Wild Man or Bigfoot), a legendary local monster who they believe is behind the disappearance of many young women.
WOODLANDS DARK AND DAYS BEWITCHED (East Coast Premiere; United States, 2021, 194 Min., Dir. Kier-La Janisse): Filled with thoughtful commentary, lush visuals, and myriad perspectives, this landmark film is the first feature-length documentary on the history of folk horror and a resplendent treasure for horror lovers.
THE YELLOW WALLPAPER (East Coast Premiere; United States-Ireland, 2021, 99 Min., Dir. Kevin Pontuti): This dark, visually rich and disturbing contemporary adaptation of the well-known and controversial Gothic feminist horror story is a chilling and boldly original vision of a woman suffering from hysteria.
There will also be virtual reality experiences, short films and more; for more details, head over to Popcorn Frights’ official website.