The Chicago International Film Festival officially opens Thursday, October 10. And shortly after that, a slew of new horror films will become available for the first time to fright fans. And this year’s entries even have their own After Dark Competition, with films from all over the globe competing to be the scariest.
In years past, many notable frighteners have appeared at the CIFF months before getting their national release. “The ABC’s of Death”, which was one of the more provocative offerings at last year’s festival, didn’t enjoy a wide release in the USA until almost 6 months later (http://exm.nr/RRWNj3). This year’s slate includes a number of horror films from foreign countries, and it’s always questionable whether they’ll even be released here nationally, so the CIFF may be your only shot to see them.
Here are the titles in competition this year, and there are a number of showings of each throughout the next two weeks:
“Big Bad Wolves” (Israel)
When a schoolteacher suspected of a brutal child murder is released due to a police blunder, a renegade cop and the child's grieving father take the law into their own hands. The buzz on this one is that it goes even farther than the recent, similarly themed “Prisoners” and becomes a darkly funny dissertation on the whole idea of revenge. It’s playing Friday, October 11 and Monday, October 14.
The title character is a fugitive on the run who invades a suburban couple’s home and starts insinuating himself into their family. His intentions are hardly noble (he is a fugitive after all) and his tale promises some demonic thrills and chills. You have three days to catch this one: Saturday, October 12; Monday, October 21; and Wednesday, October 23.
“Cheap Thrills” (USA)
A wealthy couple offers two down-on-their-luck buddies money to perform risky dares for their amusement. The tasks grow more and more degrading for the two as the stakes of the game grow higher. It's a cat & mouse thriller that won the 2013 SXSW Audience Choice Award and can be seen three nights as well: Tuesday, October 15; Thursday, October 17; and Sunday, October 20.
A beautiful woman has a one-night stand with a stranger and fears that he gave her an STD, but what she discovers that she's contracted is far more horrifying. This is a gory one, similar in vein to David Cronenberg’s oeuvre, and if you’re after visceral horror that makes your skin crawl, this is the movie for you. See it with a date! (On second thought, nah.) It plays Friday, October 11 and Wednesday, October 16.
“Go Goa Gone” (India)
In case you can’t get enough of zombies, and they’ve seem to become quite the cottage industry these days, then this is the fest film for you. "Go Goa Gone" is being billed as a zom-rom-com showcasing the story of two guys who follow a beautiful woman to a remote island for vacation whereupon they discover the place has been overrun with zombies. It’s showing Wednesday, October 16 and Friday, October 18.
“Nothing Bad Can Happen” (Germany)
Tore, a Christian youth, moves in with a man he’s met by the side of the road named Beno. It isn’t long before his new friend starts testing Tore’s faith. Be aware that this one comes into the CIFF with a reputation for being extremely violent and even showing animal cruelty for dramatic purposes. It’s appearing at the festival on Wednesday, October 16 and Saturday, October 19.
A modern-day gladiator tournament pits young women against each other for the ‘entertainment’ of their unseen captors. The punishment of the losers is carried out upon their family members. Stunt woman/actress Zoe Bell, star of Quentin Tarantino’s segment of “Grindhouse”, is the lead here and that ensures the action will feel authentic and gritty. Catch this one Saturday, October 12 or Sunday, October 13. By the way, Bell and director Josh C. Waller are scheduled to attend the latter showing, perhaps for a Q & A afterwards.
“The Sacrement” (USA)
Ti West and Eli Roth, two of the new wave of horror filmmakers, join forces to bring us this story of some reporters who are covering the events at a Christian commune and the parish turns out to be truly terrifying. This is a ‘found footage’ film, similar to other entries from West who was one of the writer/directors of last year's "V/H/S' (http://exm.nr/17vCpNi). It’s showing only once, on Saturday, October 19, with Ti West scheduled to attend the premiere.
For all the details to these entries, including the theaters they'll be playing at and ticket information, go online to the Chicago International Film Festival site (http://bit.ly/19zUafy). October is the month of the festival and Halloween too of course, which gives Chicago horror fans an awful lot to scream about.