By Sean Boelman
After two years of being part of the streaming co-op Nightstream due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Overlook Film Festival is finally getting to hold another in-person edition again in New Orleans, Louisiana. Considered one of the most haunted cities in the United States, the setting of the Big Easy is perfect to get together with horror fans to celebrate some of the most exciting new films in the genre.
We at disappointment media are excited to be covering this year’s festival on the ground in New Orleans, and we hope that you will be joining us! For those of you who are able to check out some films at the festival, we’ve had the chance to check out part of the lineup, and here are some spooky flicks we think you should check out.
For those looking to support independent cinema at the festival, Pete Ohs’s microbudget ghost movie Jethica is definitely worth checking out. Following a woman who is being followed by a ghostly stalker, this is basically a mumblecore movie with some horror elements. Having debuted in the fan-favorite SXSW Midnighters section earlier this year, the film is one of the most exciting independent genre discoveries on the festival circuit right now. The film’s budget is a measly $150,000, and Ohs makes the most of it, delivering a film that feels lovably rough-around-the-edges.
Thirty years in the making, Oscar-winning visual effects pioneer Phil Tippet is finally releasing his feature debut, Mad God, a wild stop-motion animation film that is a sight to behold. Completely free of dialogue, the film follows an assassin who heads deep into a labyrinthian city full of monsters. Genre cinephiles are absolutely going to geek out about getting to see this technical marvel, although it is certainly more of an atmospheric piece than based in a strong narrative. Shudder will be releasing the film later this month, but you shouldn’t miss the chance to see this one on the big screen if you can.
What would a great film festival be without some exciting World Premieres? One of the higher profile films premiering at the festival is Swallowed, a queer body horror film written and directed by Carter Smith (The Ruins). Starring relative newcomer Cooper Koch and Jose Colon, the film follows two friends who, on their last night together, end up getting wrapped up in a drug smuggling operation, causing what was supposed to be a night of fun to turn into a nightmare. It’s not what you would expect, but the many twists of the film will leave you feeling unsettled. Add in an unforgettable supporting turn from LGBTQ horror icon Mark Patton (A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge), and you have one film at the festival you don’t want to miss.
Who Invited Them
Another World Premiere at the festival that has more bubbling beneath the surface than it initially lets on, Who Invited Them is a darkly comedic thriller following two couples whose night begins to escalate into debauchery after a housewarming party. It’s the type of film that is best experienced blind apart from that basic premise, as it is fascinating to see things unfold over the course of the crazy night. And much of the film’s success can be attributed to the four leads — Ryan Hansen, Melissa Tang, Timothy Granaderos, and Avital Ash — who make the film tick.
While most of the films playing in this year’s lineup are American genre pictures, there are a few international highlights that festival-goers can check out. We recommend that you see Zalava, an Iranian film exploring superstition. Arsalan Amiri’s film won the prestigious FIPRESCI Prize at last year’s Venice International Film Festival, and that is certainly a feat for a genre film like this given that horror films are rarely recognized like that at a major festival. Even though this may not be a horror movie in a traditional sense, it’s possibly even more unsettling than the “scarier” movies at the festival.
The Overlook Film Festival runs from June 2-5 in New Orleans, LA.
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