in ,

Sunday Scaries: What Makes a Horror Movie Pop at a Film Festival?

The Sunday Scaries are upon us once again! Yes, as the weekend concludes, most of us feel an oncoming sense of anticipatory dread about the week ahead. Anxiety about work manifests itself into a feeling that’s known as the Sunday Scaries. However, we at Awards Radar are here to combat that, by taking back the name. Now, we want you think about a horror-centric piece on the site when you hear the term. So, let us continue on with another installment of the Awards Radar Sunday Scaries! Today, with some fall film festival travel coming up for me, I was wondering more about horror at the festivals…

Last week, I asked you all here about which film festival does horror the best. They all have it, be it the New York Film Festival, Telluride Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival, or Venice Film Festival, among the big ones. As I’m just a few short days away from heading to Telluride (where I got a minor horror fix last year with Bones & All), I’m wondering if they’ll have an interesting horror title there. If not, TIFF usually has some to offer. Why is this on my mind? Well, the genre just plays well in the festival environment.

Horror stands out at a festival. We’re often seeing awards contenders at a fest, so the change of pace is sometimes delightful. In between several Oscar hopefuls, getting to watch something a little leaner and a little meaner goes a long way. I consider it a palate cleanser and, oddly, a bit of sanity during a time when so much can just run together. When you see some cinematic terror, no matter what else you’re watching that day, you remember it.

Another aspect is just how necessity is the mother of invention. Most of the time, it’s not mainstream studio horror getting showcased. You’re seeing a lot of first films, which are calling cards for exciting new filmmakers. A fest without horror is one without creativity, which is why you almost never see one without some degree of them.

Sundance, at least at first glance, is the best at all of this. You’re seeing a lot of similar films, so when an interesting fright flick debuts, it gets noticed. Plus, the budgets tend to be low, as mentioned above, so creativity rules the day. Look at the success of The Blair Witch Project or especially Get Out for evidence of Sundance horror going far.

TIFF has its Midnight Madness section where horror gets to have its fun. There’s always a title or two there that offers up something unique, be it Pearl, Tusk, or a whole host of others over the years. I appreciate how Toronto has so many classy offerings, but here and there, something awesome and gnarly can mix it up for an audience.

Now, it can be anywhere, of course, where this happens. Maybe it’s my brain getting into festival mode, but I’m hoping at Telluride and TIFF (as well as NYFF in October) something in the scary movie realm strikes my fancy. For my money, it just makes a film festival all the better. Hence, why I was thinking about this just days out from my travels. The bad ones may test your patience, but the good ones are something bloody special, aren’t they?

Stay tuned for another Sunday Scaries installment next weekend!


Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments



Written by Joey Magidson

Interview: ‘Stranger Things’ Music Supervisor Nora Felder On The Music That Helped Forge Heroes

Interview: Blending Reality and Imagination in the World of ‘Wednesday’ with Visual Effects Producer Kent Johnson