As movie goers prepare for the season’s holiday offerings, horror fans buckle up for a round of Canadian talent at this year’s Blood in the Snow Film Festival.
The festival, founded by Kelly Michael Stewart, features the cream of the genre crop. Blood in the Snow’s selections range from unsettling slow burns to the visually grotesque. It’s a competently passionate showcase that gives indie filmmakers a fantastic opportunity to premiere their work, and hands audiences a rare chance to see these film on the big screen.
This year, the Blood in the Snow Film Festival takes place at Toronto’s Carlton Cinema and begins on November 28 and ends on November 30. Wylie Writes’ coverage commences with reviews of what movie goers will see on opening night.
Serpent’s Lullaby (DIR. Patricia Chica)
What starts out as a dialled down Lady Gaga music video turns into a poignant piece of unseen sorrow.
Jenimay Walker plays the role of a woman with a secret and a need. The unnamed woman once lived a faultless life, but a sudden quake inflicted a doom to her most cherished love. Now, she covers up and wishes for a return of that previous life – knowing perfectly well that future isn’t in her cards.
Walker’s performance begins as a gaudy act with long, dark costuming and a scowl that carries jealousy towards those whom she glances at. But then, Serpent’s Lullaby allows the actress to be candid and open her sincerity and pain towards the audience. Patricia Chica’s direction follows suit.
Charles Hall’s screenplay is a slow burn of sorts. Even then, the script’s connection to the audience is slow to the uptake. The final moments of Serpent’s Lullaby is where the audience will be turned around and intrigued.
It’s risky for Serpent’s Lullaby to wait as long as it does to reveal; especially considering its duration. But when it does explain through an unforgettable finale, movie goers will want to watch the short film again within a matter of minutes.
Berkshire County (DIR. Audrey Cummings)
Kylie Winters attends a terrible school where awful students pick on her. She becomes the butt of a widespread joke when a private, explicit video leaks online. The teenagers – all of whom look too old to play students – react in gawky, unrealistic ways that only exist in the movies. I tried to ignore this detail about the bullies, but its a loud interruption away from the story.
Kylie is crushed and would prefer not to babysit a couple of kids on Halloween. Alas, the bashful teen bears down and heads over to the luxurious abode that, you guessed it, only exist in the movies.
When the parents leave and the children hit the hay, Kylie is randomly targeted and tormented by a small group of unknown masked individuals. The night only gets worse from there.
You’ve seen movies like Berkshire County before. Whether its in a literal horror fashion (When a Stranger Calls) or in a self-refential sense (Adam Wingard’s You’re Next). The animal masks the invaders wear REALLY remind us of Wingard’s twisted flick. However, Audrey Cummings avoids laziness because Berkshire County has moxie; a full dedication to the formula and the genre.
I get a feeling Cummings knows her film treads common turf, which triggers the filmmaker to show extra care towards her scares. All of which are effective, jumpy, and full of unease.
Alysa King makes for a valiant protagonist as Kylie. She’s tantalizing through her propriety and compelling when she gains more grounded strength. Her fearful portrayals are a little overacted, but then again, she’s been slightly misdirected by Cummings. It’s hard to take Kylie seriously as she awkwardly crouches and scuttles from one tight situation to another.
Berkshire County is an average thriller. It may not be one for the books, but the flick shows competence on various levels and effortlessly shows other filmmakers that it’s possible to make satisfying lemonade out of clichéd lemons.
The Toronto premiere of Serpent’s Lullaby and the Canadian premiere of Berkshire County screen on:
Friday, November 28 at 7:00 p.m. and 9:45 p.m. @ Carlton Cinema
Click here to buy tickets!
Click here to visit the official Blood in the Snow website!