Horror movies are a Halloween favorite. And honestly, they’re usually terrible. Save a few classics like The Shining and The Blair Witch Project, video store shelves are riddled with titles like Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Saw, Saw II, Saw III, Saw IV, Saw V and Saw VI. Nobody is looking for insightful dialogue and character development in a horror film. Blood, guts and gore sells tickets.
St. Olaf’s Film Production Society (FPS) wanted to bring the blood, guts and gore to St. Olaf.
On Thursday, Oct. 29, FPS hosted the Halloworst film festival, an event that showcased student written and produced short horror films, appreciated for their poor dialogue and meager attempts to scare. The event attracted a small but lively crowd.
Kicking off the festival was a very short returning film called The Curse of the Procrastinator. Created in a dorm room, the movie portrayed a student who chose to procrastinate her work, as many students do, and was, I believe, turned into a sloth as a result. I wouldn’t consider this film scary as much as it was true. Points for relatability.
Another returning film and last year’s festival winner, Vend: A Short Horror Film, depicted a seemingly possessed vending machine that wreaked horror in the mind of a passing vendor. I really enjoyed the filmography of Vend. It was the most similar to horror movies seen, with shaky camera work and cuts to images of dolls, blood and other creepy things. Vend reminded me of certain scenes in The Shining, a horror movie classic. That’s either a big compliment to Vend or a terrible insult to Stanley Kubrick, but regardless, Vend was a good submission.
Siren, the third film, was the first with real characters and dialogue. The plot contained a lot of action and some suspense, all leading up to the discovery that a squirrel was the film’s antagonist. By the end, you almost cared about what happened to the main character. Almost.
The Night of That One Killing and Some Bloodshed was exactly what it’s title suggested. It truly embodied the disgusting predictability of horror movies. Two men were chased by a masked figure with a knife, and they were killed. Not much else to say.
By far the most disturbing film, and definitely my favorite, was the last one, The Handyman Cometh. This was the only film with a conceivable plot, cast of characters and recurring themes. The film’s antagonist, the “Handyman,” was bone chilling in a funny way, the kind of character you spend most of the time laughing at but you’re positive they’ll end up in your nightmares later. He wandered through Kittlesby Hall, through the Quad and into the Natural Lands, killing naive students who solicited his help with tools. A fumbling but loveable detective, the protagonist, put the pieces together and set out to catch the Handyman, only to find out in the end that it was his long lost wife and takes over her role as the killer. “Handyman” had an intricate plot and was well written, acted and edited. It was the closest to what one might consider a blockbuster horror movie.
Overall, all of the films submitted to the Halloworst film festival were terrible, so I suppose you’d call that a success. The event showed potential and, with a few more submissions, could prove to be a competitive stage for horror movie makers in the future.