The Frightening Ass Film Fest, a.k.a. FAFF, is celebrating its 10th edition this year. An offshoot of the Chattanooga Film Festival, it takes place online from October 30 – November 1. All Access badges are just $25, and they grant you entry to an impressive vault of horror features, short films, and special events. You can purchase passes at their official website.
I'm covering the festival this year. This page will be updated daily with capsule reviews of the titles I screen, so keep checking back!
My first FAFF screening was The Horror Crowd, a documentary by Ruben Pla. Via interviews with some of the top names in indie horror, the film looks at the camaraderie that exists within the horror filmmaking community. Among the interviewees are Darren Lynn Bousman (Saw II, III and IV), actress Lyn Shaye (Insidious), Blumhouse VP of Feature Film Development Ryan Turek, and actress/director Brea Grant (12 Hour Shift). The Horror Crowd is a little haphazard in its structure, but hearing so many notable names of the genre discuss their craft is undeniably entertaining.
Afterward, I checked out a couple short films. From Camera to Console: Ghostbusters is a half-hour look at the various ways the Ghostbusters franchise has been transferred to the video game format. There's more emphasis on the games than on the movie itself. Nevertheless, the look at how game developers attempted to capture the appeal of the comedy classic is interesting.
My favorite screening of the day was the short Momma, Don't Go, a 5-minute chiller about a mother and daughter attempting to survive a home invasion. The story has a great twist, along with a shocking ending. Director Rafael De Leon, Jr. wrings a lot of tension out of a brief running time. This one is a don't-miss.
Cyst is a very icky horror-comedy, with emphasis on the ick. It's about a physician named Dr. Guy (George Hardy) who specializes in removing large cysts. He's invented a machine to assist him that, unfortunately for nurse/guinea pig Patricia (Eva Habermann), didn't work so well the first time he tried it. Now with some modifications, Dr. Guy seeks to try it again and hopefully get a patent. Instead, he turns a small growth on a guy's back into a giant cyst monster that runs amok in the office. If the idea of stuff oozing out of people's bodies grosses you out, prepare to squirm. The excellent practical effects are pleasingly gross, as is the monster once he's full grown. Cyst has a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor befitting of its premise, plus a supporting performance from The Room's Greg Sestero. It's the kind of cuckoo-nutty horror movie that I always have fun watching.
Meanwhile, Hail to the Deadites is director Steve Villeneuve's tribute to hardcore fans of Sam Raimi's Evil Dead trilogy. We meet people who have collected props and memorabilia, a couple who gets engaged at a horror convention, and a young man with a dream of meeting star Bruce Campbell. Actors from all three Evil Dead pictures, including Campbell, are interviewed about the reaction they get from the public. Hail to the Deadites digs into what these films (and a spinoff Starz TV series) have meant to a lot of people. Presumably because of issues getting the rights to film clips, Villeneuve cleverly uses awesome fan-made videos to illustrate the series' appeal.
Also screening at FAFF is Amy Seimetz's She Dies Tomorrow, a psychological chiller in which a woman (Kate Lyn Sheil) inexplicably believes she's living her last day on Earth. Her paranoia transfers to a friend (Jane Adams), who then passes it to other people, and so on. This is a great big anxiety attack of a movie, stylishly made and with a hint of dark humor running down the center. You can read my full length review of it right here.
On the shorts side, I caught two films that handle a similar premise in very different ways. Kyle C. Mumford's The Door is about a woman (Rachael Emrich) who goes to her family's cabin following the death of her twin sister. She discovers a mysterious, tiny door in the bedroom – one that grows each time she encounters it. Keaton Smith's Abbygail Was Here also has a woman (Madeleine Knight) alone in a strange house. Rather than a door, she rummages around until stumbling upon a locked safe. Both movies hinge on what the women find, yet their tones and the ways they generate eeriness are different. The former does it through a pervasive sense of mystery; the latter, in part, through symbolism. Viewing them back-to-back was a cool way of studying how different filmmakers can take the same general idea and spin something original from it.
The Frightening Ass Film Fest had a very impressive selection of entries. I highly recommend it in 2021 for anyone who couldn't virtually attend it this year.