All the Horror, All the Fun: A Weekend Spent Shrieking at Shriekfest

This past weekend the 15th annual Shriekfest was held in Los Angeles, CA, at Raleigh Studios. Hosted by the wonderful Denise Gossett, (Shriekfest’s organizer and founder) a smorgasbord of terror played across the screen to a roomful of eager filmmakers, press, and fans, all of who were there to see some damn good films and celebrate their art.

And Shriekfest did not disappoint…

The opening night party at Bar Sinister on Thursday was a blast and gave everyone a chance to mingle with new folks while reconnecting with others—I may not be an L.A. native, but having just been to the fantastic Horrible Imaginings Film Festival in San Diego, even I recognized some familiar faces. The DJ tore through a great mix of iconic horror scores like the heavy 80s dance tune “Trioxin” from Return of the Living Dead to the crunchy guitars of the Danzig-era Misfits. Complete with the bar’s décor it made for a great way to ring in the Halloween season and to kick off the festival.

Friday night belonged to the features. The films were 6:15 (Dir. Ben Samuels), The Answer (Dir. Iqbal Ahmed) and Chatter (Dir. Matthew Solomon). All three were very diverse and brought their own unique vision and style to the audience. However, while the first two definitely stood out, the most intriguing to me was Chatter, a supernatural film that played with the idea of government monitoring and the dread one can feel when they’re helpless to protect those closest to them.

Saturday through Sunday was a mix of shorts and features and there are only a few things I love more in life than sitting in a darkened theater surrounded by dozens of horror fans. There was a kinetic energy that permeated the room to create a unique, collective experience.

And there was no shortage of this energy throughout the weekend. As I sat in my cushy seat, juggling coffee and snacks, I was blown away by the range of talent on the screen. From the Clive Barker-esque “The Outer Darkness” (Dir. Ben Franklin and Anthony Melton) to the subtle and tension-laced “In the Night” (Dir. Joshua Erkman) and “No Service” (Dir. Kholi Hicks)—the latter of which proves you don’t need buckets of blood or a plethora of jump scares to be effective—I found myself thrilled about the originality I was seeing.

In terms of weekend features, I fell in love with The Divine Tragedies (Dir. Jose Prendes) and Clinger (Michael Steves)—full-scale reviews forthcoming, but suffice to say these two films brought the house down. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to stick around for the Sunday evening roster, which was a bummer, but I left Shriekfest not only feeling great, but happy that I was able to be a part of this festival.

Obviously, there were films I loved and others that I didn’t, which is always the case when you have so many movies at your fingertips. Nonetheless, Shriekfest was a blend of fantasy, science-fiction, and horror. It’s clear that Denise Gossett and her crew are not only a talented bunch of folks, but that everyone involved has a love for the genre, which made for a fantastic experience that I can’t wait to have again.



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