The upcoming 2018 Windy City Horrorama is already on the radar of thrill seekers, horror lovers, and DIY-film enthusiasts.
However, international-film lovers should pay attention as well. Besides five Chicago-made films and a host of other gory US-made features and shorts, this year’s Horrorama is packed with seven of the hottest genre films on the global scene.
Reel Chicago spoke with co-founders/directors Alex Vazquez and Matt Storc about the international films screening at the Horrorama.
Storc is a writer / director who also works as a staff writer and the Chicago Events Coordinator for horrorsociety.com. Vazquez is the programmer for the Chicago International Film Fest (CIFF)’s After Dark screenings.
When speaking of the difference between CIFF and the Horrorama, Vazquez gleefully states that for the Horrorama, “we could bring in some freakier stuff. We don’t know what the reaction is going to be, but we like it! These (films) deserve to be shown on a screen.”
On how the Horrorama became an international fest, Storc responds, “Internationally, I am always keeping an eye out for what’s coming out of different countries outside the US. It’s coming from all over right now.” Storc attributes this to the fact that film production is now more accessible than ever.
One of the star films at the fest is South Africa’s Number 37. Originally a 2015 short film, this Afrikaans-language feature has been buzzing in the Western Hemisphere since being nominated for the Gamechanger Award at South by Southwest 2018.
Storc emphasizes that Number 37 is “raw and white-knuckle. You are on the edge of your seat for almost the entire runtime.”
Number 37 jumps between the crime and horror genres as it flaunts the influence of Hitchcock’s Rear Window. The plot is sparked when the paraplegic protagonist entertains himself by spying on his neighbors with binoculars. Vazquez labels it “a classic Hitchcockian thriller.”
The English-language French film, Hostile, is Mathieu Turi’s directorial-feature debut. Turi has worked as an assistant director on massive projects, such as Inglorious Basterds, The ABCs of Death, 3 Days to Kill, Lucy, and Our Kind of Traitor.
Hostile follows Juliette (played by Brittany Ashworth) in a post-apocalyptic world, and Storc reveals that “it is a monster movie, but it’s not like any other monster movie you’ve seen.”
Storc and Vazquez sought Hostile out due to its festival buzz, and Storc says “I was actually immediately attracted to the fact that Javier Botet was in it.”
Botet is famous for his roles as a creature actor in It, Slender Man, Insidious: The Last Key, The Revenant, and more than 60 other films.
On the surface, the black and white Portuguese film, The Forest of Lost Souls (A Floresta das Almas Perdidas) looks like a traditional international film. Writer / director José Pedro Lopes’ debut feature follows a middle aged man and a young woman into a popular suicide location in the forest.
However, Vazquez reveals that from there, “it does not go in a way that you’d expect. The movie does such a great job navigating this turn and taking you on a ride.”
Lost Souls won Best Director at the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival 2017 and Best Film at the Bilbao Fantasy Film Festival 2017.
Directed by Nabwana I.G.G., the amazingly violent Bad Black embodies all of the reasons why the Wakaliga neighborhood of Kampala, Uganda, has been nicknamed Wakaliwood. It won Best Feature at the Austin Fantastic Fest 2016.
Referring to the prolific I.G.G. (who has directed approximately 50 films), the DIY-loving Vazquez remarks, “This guy just pulls together whatever he has lying around and creates this… beautiful expression of himself and his community.”
Vazquez admits that it takes some time to adjust to the beyond-unique style of I.G.G.’s films, but “when you do, it’s like you never want to watch movies another way again.”
As for the international shorts, Storc reflects, “We took a lot of time and a lot of brain racking to pair the shorts with the features.”
Québec’s Studded Nightmare is shown with Jason Goes to Hell: the Final Friday, Brazil’s Sol is with The Forest of Lost Souls, and France’s Ultraviolet is screened with Dead Ant.
As for being hours away from the start of the Horrorama, Matt Storc says that the “nerve shredding is moving away and going into full-on excitement mode.”
When discussing the long process of watching all of the submitted films to the fest, Storc reflects, “it is so worth it … the first thing you want to do when you hit that gold — besides watch it, enjoy it, and dig in — you have to share it!”
The gold Vazquez and Storc struck will be screening at the Davis Theater in Lincoln Square from April 27th through April 29th.
For more information about the Windy City Horrorama and screen times, click here.
Contact Joey Filer at Joey@reelchicago.com or follow him on Twitter @FilerJoey.