By MICHAEL GINGOLD
The Florida showcase for fear fare is returning to in-theater screenings with an impressive lineup.
Popcorn Frights runs August 12-19, and will include both film showings at the Silverspot Cinema in Coconut Creek, FL (with safety protocols in place) and virtual screenings. The first round of titles has been released, including five world-premiering movies and an opening-night presentation of THE NIGHT HOUSE (pictured), the new chiller from director David Bruckner, starring Rebecca Hall as a woman discovering the dark secrets of her recently deceased husband. The other features are:
THE BETA TEST (Southeast U.S. Premiere; United States, 2021, 90 Min., Dir. Jim Cummings): Indie auteur Cummings stars as an engaged Hollywood agent who receives a mysterious letter for an anonymous sexual encounter and becomes ensnared in a sinister world of lying, infidelity, and digital data in this gleefully over-the-top dark comedy.
CRYPTOZOO (South Florida Premiere; United States, 2021, 95 Min., Dir. Dash Shaw): In this richly drawn hallucinatory animated thriller, Cryptozookeepers try to capture a dream-eating hybrid creature of legend, and start wondering if they should display these beasts or keep them hidden and unknown.
DITCHED (World Premiere; Canada, 2021, 90 Min., Dir. Christopher Donaldson): After a routine prison transfer crashes in the forest, a young Inuit paramedic finds herself surrounded by murderers with a mere 100 feet to climb out of a ditch to escape.
OFFSEASON (Southeast US Premiere; United States, 2021, 83 Min., Dir. Mickey Keating): Anchored by a mesmerizing performance by Jocelin Donahue (THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL), this Southern Gothic horror story follows a woman who travels to a desolate Florida island town after receiving a mysterious letter and soon becomes trapped in an unending nightmare. (See review here)
PRETTY BOY (World Premiere; United States, 2021, 97 Min., Dir. Marcel Walz): In this gloriously melodramatic suspense slasher, a masked killer named Pretty Boy takes a blind woman from her home in the Hollywood hills and crashes a Valentine’s Day party where the bloodshed continues as he runs amok with his butcher’s knife.
SUPERHOST (World Premiere; United States, 2021, 83 Min., Dir. Brandon Christensen): Sara Canning, Osric Chau, Gracie Gillam and Barbara Crampton star in this wickedly twisted chamber piece about two travel vloggers who check into a vacation rental with a host that will do anything for a good review.
TAKE BACK THE NIGHT (World Premiere; United States, 2021, 90 Min., Dir. Gia Elliot): Finding herself the victim of a violent monster attack, a young woman launches a vigilante campaign to hunt the beast that tried to kill her, even though her family, friends, and authorities question the authenticity of her account in this biting social critiques and downright gripping horror thrill ride.
WE NEED TO DO SOMETHING (Southeast U.S. Premiere; United States, 2021, 97 Min., Dir. Sean King O’Grady): With a tornado on the way, a dysfunctional family (Pat Healy, Vinessa Shaw and Sierra McCormick) takes shelter in their bathroom, only to end up trapped. As hours turn to days, it’s clear something even deadlier is at play beyond the walls, toying with them.
THE WELDER (World Premiere; United States, 2021, 90 Min., Dir. David Liz): In this ambitious and unsettling Florida-set horror film, a young couple travels to the Everglades for a vacation that they hope will bring them closer together. But what at first appears to be a seemingly pastoral paradise soon transforms into a sinister, dread-soaked nightmare as a vicious madman terrorizes them for his demented experiments.
There will also be a 35th-anniversary screening of FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VI: JASON LIVES, a Homegrown: 100% Pure Fresh Squeezed Florida Horror short-film showcase and more. Check out the festival’s official website here.