Interview with Festival Director Eric Morgret (Crypticon Seattle Horror Film Festival))

In 2017 Crypticon Seattle was picked as the Best Convention in Seattle by the readers of The Seattle Weekly. Crypticon Seattle, the convention is in its 11th year and Crypticon Seattle Film Festival is in its 7th year. Crypticon Seattle is the convention celebrating the Pacific Northwest’s Darker Side. Three days of your favorite actors, authors, and artists, along with tons of new people and things you never knew existed. But we are so much more than a tidal wave of blood, guts, and scares.

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Matthew Toffolo: What is your Film Festival succeeding at doing for filmmakers?

Eric Morgret: We provide a fun event with an amazing convention around it. It is a little different than most festivals. We are in a hotel and don’t have a full theater set-up. We do however love the films and are always adding things every year to make the event better for filmmakers. Adding, meet and greets and special events. We have a couple of big things being added this year that have not been announced yet.

Crypticon has stars in attendance some filmmaker have deals made at the convention. With shorts and features we show a year later, it’s been fun to watch.

2) What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2018)?

We are adding a few new elements that will enhance the experience substantially. Most are filmmakers only so I can’t announce them here. We are working hard to make the film room feel more like a theater and have some changes that should help that.

You will have your film shown with a post-screening Q&A; we have convention parties going over the weekend, with a huge vendors room, panels to attend, classes, contests, and huge events. We will have filmmaking training classes and more.

3) What are the qualifications for the selected films?

We are looking for the story and something a little different. We like quality filmmaking chops, but we do love to show low-budget shorts and some have low-value production values.

First and foremost is the story and something interesting to show.

4) Do you think that some films really don’t get a fair shake from film festivals? And if so, why?

Sure that does happen. I am sure we have been guilty of this as well, but we try very hard not to be. We view all submissions; this does not always happen at every festival. In the end, festivals are run by people, we do mistakes, and we have huge differences of opinion. What one festival thinks is the most brilliant thing they have other seen another festival with thinking it’s terrible and would never show it. This can feel like your not being treated fairly; I don’t think it’s done intentionally. Since I also am a filmmaker and work hard to get my films shown, I know how this can feel. In the end, it is still people running the event, and they aren’t ever perfect.

5) What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

We love horror movies! We love to represent the films and shorts you may not see otherwise. The world is stuffed with ways to watch movies, festivals like Crypticon Seattle and BoneBat Film Festival are here to help you dig through the noise.

6) How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

It’s a great service! I think we were the 4th festival to sign up for them a few years back and since day one they have been responsive and helpful with any questions we have had. They also work hard to improve the service and are always adding useful services and tools.

7) Where do you see the festival by 2023?

More fun, more expansive, crazier, and all around full of awesome filmmakers and film fans!

8) What film have you seen the most times in your life?

One? Hmmm, how about a few. Horror is my favorite genre but I love all films. The movie that changed the way I watch movies was Amadeus. No idea how many times I’ve seen that movie. A few heavy hitters in horror that I’ve watched a ton: Carpenter’s The Thing, Hellraiser, Re-animiter, Hammer’s Dracula. Recent films: Blade Runner 2049, It Follows, The Autopsy of Jane Doe, and so many more…

9) In one sentence, what makes a great film?

Tell a good story, and tell it in your original creative voice.

10) How is the film scene in your city?

Growing! I started my first festival almost ten years ago, and the local submissions were few and far between. In 2017 we had enough quality NW shorts to have a Northwest Filmmakers showcase. It lasted an hour. This year we have 2 hours of shorts and two features for our NW Filmmakers Showcase. It’s exciting to see what is going on around here from Seattle to Portland to Boise our NW filmmakers are stepping up and making great movies!

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Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every single month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 3 times a month. Go to http://www.wildsoundfestival.com for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

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Film Review: STUDDED NIGHTMARE, (Canada, Horror)

Played at the HORROR FEEDBACK Film Festival in October 2017 to rave reviews.

Review by Kierston Drier

 

A true horror film which delivers in every classic sense, STUDDED NIGHTMARE recounts the tale of a couple who rehome a chair that belonged to a man who used it to hang himself. The chair seems innocent enough, but when used by the new owners it plagues them with horrific images and terrifying thoughts. Despite their attempts to get rid of their new item, it mysterious draws them back to it. But with each use of the chair, their visions get more extreme and their behaviors more deadly.

 

Terrifying and dramatic, this is a true horror- it delivers on shock, suspense and gore. Sharp, intense and undeniably creepy, it’s a stomach-churning story to thrill any horror-loving fan.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

Film Review: LIZ DRIVES, (Australia, Horror)

Played at the HORROR FEEDBACK Film Festival in October 2017 to rave reviews.

Review by Kierston Drier

An eight-minute gut-punch of a horror-thriller, LIZ DRIVES, is an Australian film by director Mia’Kate Russel. Liz drives with her sister (and a nurse) to a tense reunion with their mother when they pull over to get gum in a near-deserted road. But Liz’s sister is stopped by a distressed looking man who ushers her quickly into his car. Horrified as she watched the action play out from a distance, Liz sees a bloodied and screaming woman in the backseat of the man’s car- before he gets her sister in the vehicle and speeds off. Horrified Liz follows, but the car chase turns deadly when the other car veers off to avoid her and crashes.

When Liz rushes to the crashed vehicle, she finds the driver dead- along with her sister and the other woman in the back seat. The scene also reveals the other woman holding a screaming newborn. What Liz believed to be an abduction from afar, may very well have been her sister offering to help a terrified man trying to find assistance for his partner in labor.

 

This piece is a thriller on the surface- the fear and terror of the basic set up are palpable and tense. The gore associated with horror films is also present. But what is really terrifying isn’t the surface level plot- it is the implication. Real horror comes from the realization that our main characters assumptions of the situation may have lead to the untimely death of the young family.

Horror is born out of the gut-wrenching knowledge that the small infant screaming at the end of the film is now without parents- and Liz herself has a tense relationship with her own mother. Horror is created not by what has happened- but what will happen now. Liz has lost her sister, but she is also responsible for it. More subtly, there is a social message behind this piece. The main male character is a minority actor, and all other performers appear to be caucasian. All performances are excellent.  This specific choice in casting is notable as it cannot be divided from the ultimate message of the film. What appeared to Liz to be the abduction of a caucasian woman by a minority man, was, in reality, a young family. There are multiple levels of horror to LIZ DRIVES, which make is highly sophisticated for a film so short and so simple.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

Film Review: ANTICA, (Canada, Horror/Thriller)

Played at the HORROR FEEDBACK Film Festival in October 2017 to rave reviews.

Review by Kierston Drier

A slow burn of a horror film that takes its time to build suspense and heart-racing panic. ANTICA follows the journey of one, solitary man working a night shift where everything is slowly going wrong. Minor workplace injuries and misfortunes build tension as our hero gradually realises something isn’t right. As he continues his shift in an otherwise empty warehouse he begins to realize he might not be alone. What ensues is a creeping, tantalizing and utterly uncomfortably series of events that bring our hero to the terrifying realization that he may not be the only one skulking around on the job.

 

What is truly fascinating about this horror-thriller work, is that creates fear, unease and anxiety with no words, and only one performer. The editing, sound, lighting, and setting create the uncanniness that drives the terror for the audience just as much as the excellent performance by our hero. Another fantastic element of this film is the inversion of the classic horror tropes. So often our horror film sets up a scenario with beautiful but naive youngster heading off on a misguided adventure with ill-thought-out plans and a failure to read the warning signs. ANTICA doesn’t take this route at all- our hero is a middle-aged everyman, in a familiar setting and going about a well-known routine. It is more horrifying when one is endangered in the place they know than when they wander into the unknown and discover danger there.

 

ANTICA takes its time to terrify you, but it is well worth the wait.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

Film Review: SPEECHLESS, (USA, Horror/Thriller)

Played at the HORROR FEEDBACK Film Festival in October 2017 to rave reviews.

Review by Kierston Drier

 

We have all feared monsters in our closets as children. But what if the monster does not live in your closet- but outside your door, forever waiting to get in. SPEECHLESS tells the story of a young boy writing notes and passing them under the doorway from his room to the hallway- and getting answered back my a monster clawing to get in. Yet when the door finally opens, it is his mother who opens the door and refuses to believe his tales. Not only that but she chides him for his inability to grow up and stop being afraid of fairytales. Monsters, it seems, come in all sorts of shapes and sizes.

 

SPEECHLESS has two areas of interest- one is its effective use of sound. From the scratching of the crayon on the paper, our hero uses to communicate- to the lack of noise he makes when he finally confronts the monster- the sound is a spine-tingling presence in the work. The other area of note is the subversion of the classic trope of the monster being in the child’s’ closet. Instead, this monster roams free outside the child’s’ bedroom- conceivably in the hall. Instead of the monster being trapped in the closet- the child is trapped in their bedroom. The inversion of the classic trope creates a new sense of panic for our hero, who has literally no way to escape his fate.

 

SPEECHLESS is a simple but incredibly effective horror film- for it generates fear on multiple levels- fear of the unknown, fear of the known, fear of not being believed- fear of sound and fear of silence. A chilling and thrilling short indeed.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video

Film Review: GIRL #2 (USA, Horror/Comedy)

Played at the HORROR FEEDBACK Film Festival in October 2017 to rave reviews.

Review by Kierston Drier

One of the hardest areas of genre blending is terror and delight. Unlike romance and comedy or science-fiction and mystery, comedic-horror has an incredibly tight margin for error. Slightly too much in one direction and you have an awkward or unbalanced film. GIRL #2, directed by David Jeffery, is an example of a perfectly orchestrated success of these two styles. GIRL #2 follows two girls trapped in their sorority house while a crazed murderer follows them. Several of their friends fall victim to him and when the girls barricade themselves in a room for safety, the debate who will be able to get away. The tables turn in the debate when the girls get into a fight over who will have time to escape the villain- because based on horror cliche, the most attractive girl will likely get killed first.

 

Hilarious in its absurdity, GIRL #2 hits a tone similar to known horror-satire CABIN IN THE WOODS, because it delivers the classic horror tropes while also making fun of its own genre. A rollercoaster blood-and-thrill start to the short makes the comic turn all the most delightful as the subversion of expectations is take to a raucous extreme. GIRL #2 will surely please comedy lovers and thrill seekers alike.

 

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video

Movie Review: DRAWN TO FEAR (2016)

  MOVIE POSTERDRAWN TO FEAR, 7min, USA, Horror
Directed by Daniel Robinette

A single woman named Hope has procured a rare book under strange circumstances. Little does she know that the book has a life of it’s own – drawing out the fears of those who possess it. Hope struggles to figure out the meaning of the book before it’s too late.

Seen at the August 2016 HORROR/THRILLER FEEDBACK Film Festival in Toronto.

Movie Review by Kierston Drier

Drawn to Fear directed by Daniel Robinette, must be applauded at its excellent execution of story in the confines of the horror genre. Without being overtly cliche it manages to hit every cultural touchstone of the genre while still creating a story that is compelling, functional and utterly terrifying.

A young woman finds herself alone in her home and comes upon a mysterious book, whose terrifying pages predict her next few moments. Our hero, in a stroke of brilliance unbecoming of most young women trapped in horror films, calls the police only to have her phone call get dropped (no shocker).

A harsher critic of this film may point out that the plot could be considered aimless- we know nothing of what the book is, how it got there or why it has picked this unfortunate woman.

She appears to be, almost systematically, haunted by creatures, visions, and horrors of ever-escalating terror as the film progresses- with no real goal as to what they want from her.

This can easily be seen as a plot fault, as the audience is unsatisfied, since they do not know what the hero has done to instigate this supernatural attack.

However, this reviewer prefers to see Robinettes’ piece as a short that pays homage to the classic conventions of the genre. The piece creates a short, powerful, nail biting account of a standard the-bad-guys-are-coming-for-you tale. It also works in more than a few nods to the tropes and archetypes of horror and suspense. The Ingenue, the empty house, the unknown force, the hopelessness of unfounded escape- are the conventions that root horror films. It is the meat and potatoes, the traditional comfort food of what is “scary”. In this way, Drawn to Fear is a perfect appetizer of what supernatural horror brings to the cinematic table.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the short film: