I’m on record as saying that there seem to be too many damn movie festivals these days, and that’s coming from someone who loves movie festivals. Mainstays like Sundance and SXSW co-exist alongside smaller, local fests in just about every city in America, and there’s barely a week in the calendar year without one or the other. They’ve become more ubiquitous than unique, and you’d think I would be the last person to celebrate yet another one being added to the mix.
But here I am. Celebrating.
The Stanley Film Fest is brand new this year, and it immediately gets right what so many others get wrong. Location. The horror film fest takes place entirely at the historic Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, CO, which in addition to being a beautiful yet creepy locale is also the hotel that inspired Stephen King’s “The Shining.”
Their inaugural fest promises to be a fantastically fun affair complete with parties, a horror-themed brunch, a ghost tour and more. Of course the most important element of a film fest is the film selection, and this one is no slouch. The opening and closing night films are Ethan Hawke’s new thriller The Purge and the Eli Roth vehicle Aftershock, respectively. In between are a lively mix of hotly anticipated follow ups from the directors of Rabies, Dead Snow and The Midnight Meat Train, thrilling changes of pace from Mark Duplass and Elijah Wood, a long overdue big screen showing of All the Boys Love Mandy Lane and more.
Keep reading for a look at the feature films playing at this year’s inaugural Stanley Film Fest, and stay tuned for my coverage early next month.
A trio of fun-loving tourists on their way to a music festival fall into the hands of two crazed brothers with sinister plans in this madcap comedy about trying to survive.
Modern horror maestro Eli Roth co-wrote, produces and stars as a mopey tourist whose wild vacation in Chile turns gruesome. Ravaged by a vicious earthquake, he and his friends desperately struggle to survive a living nightmare.
ALL THE BOYS LOVE MANDY LANE
Resurrected after a several year hiatus, this legendary splatter-fest is finally making its way back to the big screen. When the most sought after girl in school is invited to a weekend outing with friends on a secluded farm, a mysterious suitor begins to pick off the other boys one by one.
Winner of five British Academy Awards including Best Director and Best Actor, this creepy love letter to the classic “Giallo” period details the complications befalling a motion picture sound designer as he quietly descends into madness.
An obsessed cop, and the father of a victim take justice into their own hands when they capture a suspected killer of children. In their genre-bending follow-up to Israel’s first horror film Rabies, Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado explore an unimaginable terror.
Three childhood friends have their weekend getaway on a secluded island transformed into a brutal game of cat-and-mouse with a trio of trained predators. Katie Aselton (The Freebie, star of “The League”) directs from a script by husband Mark Duplass.
CABIN FEVER Presented by Eli Roth
The inaugural Stanley Film Festival Visionary award recipient Eli Roth will present his directorial debut. This modern horror classic centers on a group of college graduates who rent a cabin in the woods, only to fall victim to a flesh-eating virus.
Near the end of World War II, a platoon of Russian soldiers are given a secret mission that leads them into the lair of a Nazi mad scientist and his frightening creations in this cinematically inventive take on the monster movie.
Following treatment for violent spells, a young man returns home to his loving wife. But as his seizures intensify, it becomes clear something inside him is trying to get out. Part domestic drama, part sci-fi thriller, this ambitious micro-budget tragedy heralds the arrival of a bright new talent.
Argentine director Adrían García Bogliano (Cold Sweat, Penumbra) returns with a shockingly gory erotic horror film about a couple whose children mysteriously disappear while on vacation in Mexico.
A group of friends traveling together are lured to a house of evil run by an ageless matron and her bloodthirsty offspring. The rarely seen directorial debut of Indonesian horror-hounds The Mo Brothers delivers carnage in spades.
Elijah Wood shines in this remake of the horror classic about a psychotic stalker with a habit of scalping his objects of desire. Reimagined in mostly point-of-view shots, this revolutionary horror hit from Cannes is part camp, part art and all fear.
Gore master Ryûhei Kitamura (VERSUS, THE MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN) tells the story of a brutal gang of thieves who get more than they bargained when they attempt a typical highway robbery of what appears to be an average vacationing couple.
In 1980 Stanley Kubrick released his classic horror film, The Shining. Over 30 years later, viewers are still struggling to understand its hidden meanings. A wild exploration into the heart of obsession, this cinematic essay is one that you will want to see at The Stanley Hotel.
Ben Wheatley, director of the cult hit KILL LIST, returns with this hilarious horror comedy about a couple vacationing in rural England who can’t seem to shake the series of graphic deaths that follow them wherever they go.
In the near future, a daring new edict keeps the nation safe. Called simply The Purge, it is a 24 hour release from all laws. When vicious outsiders break into an innocent family’s home on the one night that crime is legal each year, everyone will find out how far they would go to protect themselves.
Director Calvin Lee Reeder (The Oregonian) utilizes his unique style of psychological horror and surrealism to adapt his acclaimed short about the man known only as “The Rambler” and his bizarre journey through the back roads of America.
When bullets start flying into an isolated tenement building, no one is safe from the faceless shooter who has trapped the residents there for reasons unknown. The traditional slasher film is taken to its extreme in this taut psychological thriller.
The latest installment to last year’s successful found-footage short anthology series aims higher, bigger and scarier with new visions from the deranged minds behind some of independent genre’s finest offerings (The Blair Witch Project, The Raid, Hobo with a Shotgun, You’re Next).
A hypnotic, erotic, and wildly thought-provoking cinematic odyssey into the unknown realms of the mind, this operatic sci-fi vision highlights the development of a strong psychic link between two patients in an experiment gone awry.
In the grand tradition of EVIL DEAD and it’s progeny, this tale of a group of vacationing friends who encounter an infectious creature from the unknown delivers on the gore in this impressively made low budget screamfest.
Stanley Film Fest runs May 2nd-5th, 2013.