Five american genre festivals are teaming up to provide a virtual film experience perfect for the Halloween season. Its name is Nightstream.
The festival runs from October 8 to 11, 2020 and will feature 41 features, 161 short films and a tremendous array of events that go from a trivia night to a virtual dinner with horror maestro Mick Garris. Virtual attendees will have access to their select films through October 14.
Proceeds from Nightstream will be shared among the participating filmmakers and artists, as well as charitable causes and local businesses associated with the festivals that joined together to create the event: the Boston Underground Film Festival, Brooklyn Horror Film Festival, North Bend Film Festival, The Overlook Film Festival and Popcorn Frights Film Festival.
What Nightstream is doing here is remarkable. They are trying to create a unique social experience that unites genre lovers through a fantastic lineup of films and a bunch of diverse and fun events. It sounds like a blast. With so much good stuff coming up in the festival, I’m going to pick some recommendations to help you prepare your schedule.
“Bleed With Me”
Director: Amelia Moses (Canada)
Amelia Moses is one of the most exciting and promising young directors out there. After her phenomenal short film “Undress Me”, she amps up the anxiety in her feature debut, “Bleed With Me”, a psychological film that explores the sinister side of affective relationships. Lee Marshall stars as Rowan, a vulnerable woman who gets invited to a winter getaway in a remote cabin by her friend Emily (Lauren Beatty). Rowan sees Emily as the perfect woman with the perfect relationship. But her adoration turns into paranoia when, during the night, she has very vivid dreams of Emily extracting her blood. Is it real? Or just machinations from her mind?
This is a meticulous film that takes its time to crawl under your skin. Moses plants paranoia inside your mind and plays with your fears using truly distressing sequences. It also features one of the most accurate depictions of sleep paralysis I have ever seen in any type of media.
After you watch “Bleed With Me”, make sure to read our interview with director Moses, where she talks about female representation, social anxiety and subversion in horror.
Director: John Hsu (Taiwan)
Based on an independent horror game, “Detention” is a supernatural psychological film set in 1962 Taiwan, an era known as “White Terror” due to the brutal suppression and murder of political dissidents. It follows two students that encounter gruesome ghosts and monsters in their search for their missing teacher.
“Detention” was nominated for 12 Golden Horse Awards (Chinese-language film awards) and won five; it also sweeped the Taipei Film Awards and has a 100% perfect score in Rotten Tomatoes.
“Dinner in America”
Director: Adam Rehmeier (USA)
A punk coming-of-age with a ton of attitude and a brilliant screenplay that combines chaos with tenderness, this is the story of Simon (Kyle Gallner), an unfiltered, no-nonsense drummer with a good heart that is on the run from the local police. Simon gets help from Patty (Emily Skeggs), a lovely young girl who is constantly getting bullied due to her slow personality. These two create a tremendous bond and run rampant across suburbia. An electric punk love letter that features a breakout performance from Gallner and one of the best original songs I’ve heard in ages.
Director: Devereux Milburn (USA)
During a road trip, a couple accept help from a mysterious old woman and her strange son. Soon after, all hell breaks loose as they descend into an unhinged nightmare. Everything I’ve heard about “Honeydew” points at an insane, memorable film that includes a very unexpected celebrity cameo. Plus, it features the acting debut of Sawyer Spielberg, son of the legendary director.
Director: Zoé Wittock (Belgium/France)
Jeanne, a shy amusement park worker, falls in love with a new attraction. Yes, you read that right. This is a unique and touching love story about self-assurance with surreal aesthetics that stars “Portrait of a Lady on Fire’”s Noémie Merlant. It received very positive reviews after its screenings at Sundance and Fantasia, and it looks like one of the most creative, singular experiences of the year.
“Leap of Faith: William Friedkin on ‘The Exorcist’”
Director: Alexandre O. Phillippe (USA / Spain)
This is a large, in-depth interview with “The Exorcist” director William Friedkin. Anecdotes, secrets, meanings, casting, music — it’s all in this fireside cinematographic essay about one of the scariest films of all time. A can’t-miss by horror lovers.
“Rated R Speakeasy’s Haunted Opening Night Party” (Event)
Rated R Speakeasy is a horror-themed bar and pop-up movie theater situated in California. Since we can’t go there, Nightstream is bringing their unique brand of entertainment to our living rooms with a virtual party that will feature DJ Jonah Ray, live acrobatics, dancing monsters and surprise guests. Gather up your horror-loving friends and enjoy this ride.
“The Returned” (Los que vuelven)
Director: Laura Casabé (Argentina)
A period folk horror film set in 1919 South America about a desperate wife that, after a third miscarriage, begs to a mythical Indigenous deity to resurrect his unborn. And, well, the unborn does return, but it’s not alone.
“The Returned” talks about the control of white men over the oppressed by depicting the past and present suffering of Indigenous people in the north of Argentina. A political allegory that explores motherhood and work exploitation through a mix of tension, reality and fantasy.
Director: Aneesh Chaganty (USA)
Sarah Paulson stars in this Hulu original film about Chloe (Kiera Allen), a wheelchair-bound teenager and the unnatural relationship with her controlling mother. Chloe’s existence is threatened when she begins to suspect her mother’s dark secrets. Described as Hitchcockian, this suspenseful thriller is directed by “Searching”’s Aneesh Chaganty, and it’s the opening film of Nightstream.
Director: Quinn Armstrong (USA)
For years, director Quinn Armstrong worked in domestic abuse shelters and knows that the system is not designed to help the victims. He uses that experience to craft a surprising film that starts out as an ‘80s police training VHS but soon turns into a fourth-wall breaking, dark exploration of domestic abuse. This is like nothing you have ever seen before: a unique mix of social commentary and dark humor that frightens you to the core due to the authentic handling of its subject matter.
“The Morbido Crypt’s Guide To Mexican Fantasy And Horror Cinema Presented by The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies” (Event)
Mexico’s contribution to horror extends beyond Guillermo del Toro’s work. Morbido Film Festival head programmer Abarham Castillo Flores leads this tour of Mexican genre cinema that will explore how the nation’s pre-Hispanic past became part of its cultural heritage. The conversation will delve into lucha libre cinema, the origins of horror and fantasy in Mexican horror and the rise in quality of recent films, among other themes. Learn about history and discover some badass Mexican horror flicks with this event.
You can see the full Nightstream lineup on their official site, and be sure to follow our coverage of the festival in the upcoming days. Follow Shuffle Online for all the Nightstream shenanigans on Twitter and Instagram!
Featured image credit: Nightstream
Ricardo is a Mexico City based bilingual writer, digital animation graduate and awards season nerd. He also enjoys pro wrestling, is a Paddington fan and is the founder of the film website “La Estatuilla.”