We sent Rodney Wall to a preview of the Nickel’s Late Night Horror Show and he disappeared without a trace. Tracing his footsteps in the mud we found only some tufts of hair and this article scrawled on a sheet of looseleaf.
I love Horror movies.
When I was a kid they terrified me. The first time I saw Dracula on TV I spent more time hiding under a blanket than watching the movie. These days I can usually watch the whole thing , but that mix of fear and excitement is still there. So when The Scope asked me to sit down and preview the Late Night Horror Show from the upcoming Nickel Film Fest, I was happy to oblige.
There are four films being screened: How To Serve Your Fellow Man from Newfoundland director Lori McCarthy, May I Come In by Nathan Zimmerman of Ontario, Rogairi (Villains) by Tom Cosgrove of Ireland, and Moonlight In Your Blood by Newfoundlander Phillip David Hogan.
The first two are shorts that I would describe as failed comedies rather than horror films. Both feature a macabre premise (a cannibal chef in the first film, and a suicidal man trying to escape from a murderer in the other), but never attempt to frighten the audience. So when the jokes fall flat you're not left with much else.
The best of the bunch was Rogairi, a supernatural revenge movie set in 18th century Ireland. The film begins on a lonely road where we witness a murder. The villain in question, Charles Rotherham, wants to inherit the family estate from his wife, and is willing to kill anyone who gets in his way. At the brink of success, his plans are undone by a Celtic witch, who exacts a brutal retribution.
Everything about this film is solid. The costumes, the acting, the music – everything works in concert to convey a sense of creepy foreboding.
Although I could see where the story was going very early on, I thoroughly enjoyed the ride, and couldn't wait to see Rotherham meet his grisly end.
Much of the dialogue in the film is in Gaelic, adding a layer of otherworldliness.
Released last year, Rogairi recently won Best Short Film, and Best Actress (Fiona O'Shaughnessy) at the Chicago Horror Film Festival, (a bi-annual festival, now in it's seventh season).
I would recommend this film to anyone who enjoys a good old fashioned spook-fest.
The last film on the program is Moonlight in Your Blood. It tells the story of a young doctor who becomes obsessed with tasting, and later drinking, his girlfriend’s blood. Director David Hogan seems to be attempting to create a sort of psychological vampire film in the vein of George A. Romero's Martin, but never really pulls it off. There are a number of problems – the first and most serious one is the lack of convincing characters. I won’t try to claim that horror movies need fully fleshed-out characters to work, but if you're going to tell a story that relies so much on an underlying psychology, then we as an audience need to believe that the characters actually have psychologies. The characters here are one dimensional, and not particularly likable. Without any depth, what we're left with is a simple story of an abusive relationship, without any insight into the nature of that relationship. I found myself bored as the story meandered along and its violent conclusion became more and more inevitable. However, I admit I was shocked by the violence in the end, just not in a way I found enjoyable.
There were some good ideas floating around in this movie. The abusive relationship angle could have been interesting, and the blood drinking as addiction element could have worked, but they seemed squandered.
All in all, the Nickel’s horror night will feature a mixed bag, but I would recommend going just to see Rogairi. It's a real treat.
Show starts Thursday night,10:30pm at the LSPU Hall. Call 753-4531 for ticket info. For more information, check page 5 of our listings, or visit nickelfestival.com