Cinephiles who love horror from the gothic to the ghoulish and beyond will want to have a look at Screamfest® Horror Film Festival’s first-wave offerings. The fest, which runs October 10 through 19 in Los Angeles, promises an amazing array of independent fear fare. Following is the official press announcement.
Screamfest® Horror Film Festival, the largest and longest-running horror film festival in the United States, today announced its first-wave lineup of competitive features and shorts for its 23rd edition. Running October 10 through 19 at the TCL Chinese Theater, Screamfest® welcomes horror cinephiles to experience twisted tales and frightening films together on the big screen. Tickets will be on sale soon and can be purchased via the festival website: https://screamfestla.com/
Considered the “Sundance of Horror,” Screamfest® is proud to showcase new work from independent filmmakers from across the globe. This past year the festival screened the following films, which acquired distribution including KillHer, Sung Kang’s Shaky Shivers, 8 Found Dead, and Goldsmith.
The festival will kick off on October 10th with a screening of Utopia and Sumerian’s DIVINITY, which was one of the most talked about films at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. Written and directed by Eddie Alcazar and executive produced by Steven Soderbergh, DIVINITY stars Stephen Dorff, Moises Arias, Jason Genao, Michael O’Hearn, Karrueche Tran and Emily Willis, with Scott Bakula and Bella Thorne. Set in an otherworldly human existence, DIVINITY follows scientist Sterling Pierce (Scott Bakula) who dedicated his life to the quest for immortality, slowly creating the building blocks of a groundbreaking serum named “Divinity.” Jaxxon Pierce (Stephen Dorff), his son, now controls and manufactures his father’s once-benevolent dream. When two mysterious brothers (Moises Arias and Jason Genao) arrive with a plan to abduct the mogul, and with the help of a seductive woman named Nikita (Karrueche Tran), they will be set on a path hurtling toward true immortality.
“For over 20 years, Screamfest has brought the best independent horror and genre films to our thriving Los Angeles film community. This October, we are excited to continue our legacy of presenting our audiences with high-caliber festival frights kicking off with the thrilling DIVINITY by visionary Eddie Alcazar,” stated festival founder Rachel Belofsky.
Another highlight of the lineup is Howdy, Neighbor! featuring former Disney Channel stars Debby Ryan, Matthew Scott Montgomery, and Alyson Stoner. Directed by Allisyn Snyder, this LGBTQ+ horror film follows a former child actor, Benjamin Caldwell (Matthew Scott Montgomery), who is recognized by his new neighbor. When the lines between friend and fan become blurred, Benjamin’s number one fan quickly transforms into his number one nightmare.
World Premieres at this year’s festival include Alone Together, from director William Kresch about a couple who flee a pandemic-ravaged city to a remote cabin to encounter a vengeful spirit, Lord of Misrule, a pagan horror story from director William Brent Bell (The Devil Inside, The Boy) set in a rural English village, where a child goes missing and The Piper, directed by Erlingur Thoroddsen about a young composer who is tasked with finishing her late mentor’s concert but discovers that playing music will summon deadly consequences.
Making their North American debuts is the dark satire on contemporary Russian culture and global capitalism Empire V, directed by Victor Ginzburg, which is banned in its home country. The Well, a neo-gothic horror set in Italy about a young American (Lauren LaVera of Terrifier II) working on the restoration of a fire-damaged painting for an aging Duchess (Claudia Gerini of The Passion of Christ), and the psychological thriller Loop Track from New Zealand, written and directed by Thomas Sainsbury, about a man on the verge of a nervous breakdown who retreats to the bush, only to encounter other explorers. Additional titles include Mimi the Prince of Darkness, about a shy 18-year-old boy Mimi (Domenico Cuom) who is abandoned by his family because of his deformed feet, and the Japanese psycho fantasy My Mother’s Eyes by director Takeshi Kushida, about a mother and daughter who share a single vision of the universe through the use of a new, futuristic contact lens device with a built-in camera inserted into the eyes and set up with VR Goggle
West Coast Premieres at the festival include the upcoming Spanish film The Wait directed by F. Javier Gutiérrez which has been listed as one of ‘The 14 Most Anticipated Horror Movies of Fall 2023’ in Time Magazine. This sinister folk horror tragedy follows Eladio (Victor Clavijo), a hunting estate keeper, who takes a bribe from a veteran hunter. Additional West Coast Premieres include the blood curdling horror The Puppetman by Brandon Christensen about a convicted killer who claims to be possessed, Faceless After Dark, the killer clown horror film by director Raymond Wood, and The Deep Dark, the unnerving Mathieu Turi film about a group of miners who find themselves trapped in a coal mine and discover they are not alone.
Highlights from this year’s shorts program include Rezar by Carlos Garcia (Forbes 30 Under 30), Robbie Ain’t Right No More starring Madeleine McGraw (Black Phone), Abominations by Mike Fontaine (Academy Award Nominee for ‘The Batman’) Wake starring Elliot Fletcher, Thin Skinned by Richard Kind and Joe DeRosa, and The Green Ribbon produced by Heather Matarazzo.
Formed in August 2001 by film producer Rachel Belofsky, Screamfest® Horror Film Festival is a female-run 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that gives filmmakers and screenwriters in the horror and science fiction genres a venue to have their work showcased in the film industry.
Please find the 2023 Screamfest® feature line-up below:
Divinity (US, 2023 ) – LA Premiere
Directed by Eddie Alcazar
Written by Eddie Alcazar
Produced by Eddie Alcazar, Raphael Gindre, Javier Lovato, Steven Soderbergh, Johnny Starke
Cast:Bella Thorne, Stephen Dorff, Caylee Cowan, Scott Bakula, Moises Arias,
Karrueche Tran, Michael O’Hearn, Emily Willis
Centers on two mysterious brothers, who abduct a mogul during his quest for immortality. Meanwhile, a seductive woman helps them launch a journey of self-discovery.
Alone Together (US, 2023) – World Premiere
Directed by William Kresch
Written by William Kresch, AV Bach
Produced by Eric Reitz, DeAnna Wright
Cast: DeAnna Wright, Matthew Kresch
After fleeing their pandemic-ravaged city for the safety of a remote family cabin, a physically and emotionally abused woman and her volatile boyfriend are forced to face the vengeful spirit that haunts it—and each other.
The Deep Dark (2023, France) – West Coast Premiere
Directed by Mathieu Turi
Written by Mathieu Turi
Produced by Eric Gendarme, Thomas Lubeau, Samuel Le Bihan
Cast: Samuel Le Bihan, Jean-Hugues Anglade, Diego Martin, Amir El Kacem, Thomas Soliveres, Marc Riso, Bruno Sanches, Phillippe Torreton
1956, northern France. When a group of miners find themselves trapped in the depths of a coal mine, they quickly realize that they are not the only ones.
Eight Eyes (US, 2023) – US Premiere
Directed by Austin Jennings
Written by Austin Jennings, Matt Frink
Produced by Justin A. Martell, Matt Manjourides
Cast: Emily Sweet, Bradford Thomas, Bruno Veljanovski
A mysterious local crashes a couple’s vacation through the former Yugoslavia, pulling them deeper into his web of psychic rituals.
Empire V (2023) – US Premiere
Directed by Victor Ginzburg
Written by Victor Ginzburg, Victor Pelevin
Produced by Victor Ginzburg, Andrei Trubitsyn, Maria Kapralova, James Steel, Alexei Tylevich
Cast: Pavel Tabakov, Miron Fyodorov, Taya Radchenko, Vera Alentova
Set in modern-day Moscow, “Empire V” is a metaphysical vampire story and a reflection of a world ruled by the cult of beauty, money, and blood. A dark satire on contemporary Russian culture and global capitalism. A universal coming-of-age story of an average young man challenged by a Faustian gift of power and knowledge, forced to make his way in a post-moral world.
Based on a novel by Russia’s leading contemporary writer Victor Pelevin.
Faceless After Dark (US, 2023) – West Coast Premiere
Directed by Raymond Wood
Written by Jenna Kanell, Todd Jacobs
Produced by Jenna Kanell, Randall Blizzard
Cast: Jenna Kanell, Danny Kang, Danielle Lyn, Michael Aaron Milligan, Jason MacDonald, Catherine Corcoran
Following her breakout success as the star of a killer clown horror flick, Bowie now finds herself struggling to capitalize on its success. But when she is suddenly held hostage by an unhinged fan posing as that same killer clown, horror becomes her reality as she fights to survive the night and escape before he completes his sinister plan to recreate the film’s fatal plot.
Howdy, Neighbor! (US,2023) – LA Premiere
Directed by Allisyn Snyder
Written by Matthew Scott Montgomery
Produced by Dylan Snyder, Charles M. Barsamian Esq.
Cast: Debby Ryan, Matthew Scott Montgomery, Alyson Stoner, Grant Jordan, Sterling Sulieman, Adam Faison, Tim Bagley, Greer Grammer, Kevin Chamberlin
When former child actor, Benjamin (Matthew Scott Montgomery), is recognized by his new neighbor (Grant Jordan), the lines between friend and fan become blurred, turning his number one fan into his number one nightmare. With no help from law enforcement, Benjamin begins investigating the oddly familiar man with his best friend Harley (Debby Ryan).
Loop Track (New Zealand, 2023) – North American Premiere
Directed by Thomas Sainsbury
Written by Thomas Sainsbury
Produced by Gabriel Lunte, Jonathan Potton, Milon Tesiram
Cast: Thomas Sainsbury, Hayden J. Weal, Tawanda Manyimo, Kate Simmonds, Noa Campbell, Bianca Seinafo, Gaby Solomona
A man on the verge of a nervous breakdown retreats to the bush, only to encounter other trampers—and someone or something else entirely—in this psychological thriller.
Lord of Misrule (UK, 2023) – World Premiere
Directed by William Brent Bell (The Devil Inside, The Boy)
Written by Tom de Ville
Produced by William Brent Bell, Nik Bower, Deepak Nayar, Jason Newmark, Laurie Cook, James Tomlinson, Alison Brister
Cast: Tuppence Middleton, Ralph Ineson, Matt Stokoe, Evie Templeton
LORD OF MISRULE is a pagan horror story set in a rural English village, where Rebecca Holland has recently taken over the parish church. When her young daughter goes missing at a winter festival, villagers and local police join in the desperate search. However, the closer they edge towards finding the girl, the more secrets emerge from the town’s dark past; soon Rebecca must decide just how much she is willing to sacrifice to rescue her daughter from the grip of evil.
Masacre en Teques (Mexico, 2023) – International Premiere
Directed by Rodrigo Hernandez Cruz
Written by Rodrigo Hernandez Cruz, Solrac Niram, Alfredo Mendoza
Produced by Rodrigo Hernandez Cruz
Cast: Tatiana Del Real, Florencia Rios, Danae Reynaud, Juan Ugarte, Jerry Velazquez, Francisco de la Reguera, Ramon Medina
Mimi the Prince of Darkness (Italy, 2023) – North American Premiere
Directed by Brando De Sica
Written by Ugo Chiti, Brando De Sica, Irene Pollini Giolai
Produced by Marco Cohen, Benedetto Habib, Fabrizio Donvito, Daniel Campos Pavoncelli
Cast: Domenico Cuomo, Sara Ciocca, Mimmo Borrelli, Giuseppe Brunetti, Abril Zamora, Dino Porzio, Daniele Vicorito
Mimì is an orphaned teenager born with deformed feet who works at a pizzeria in Naples. One fateful day, he meets Carmilla, a young girl convinced she is a descendant of Count Dracula. Together, they decide to escape the cynical and violent world they live in.
Monolith (Australia, 2023) – LA premiere
Directed by Matt Vesely
Written by Lucy Campbell
Produced by Bettina Hamilton
Cast: Lily Sullivan
A headstrong journalist whose investigative podcast uncovers a strange artifact, an alien conspiracy, and lies at the heart of her own story.
My Mother’s Eye (Japan, 2023) – North American Premiere
Directed by Takeshi Kushida
Written by Takeshi Kushida
Produced by Shin Nishimura, Yosuke Sato
Cast: Akane Ono, Mone Shitara, Takuma Izumi, Shusaku Uchida
A mother and daughter share a single vision of the universe through the use of a new,
futuristic contact lens device with a built-in camera inserted into the eyes and set up together with VR Goggles. This is a psycho-fantasy that weaves together the lives of the mother and daughter with their shared vision as they ultimately find a true bond while transcending the boundaries of body and mind.
Onyx the Fortuitous and the Talisman of Souls (US, 2023) – Cineverse/Bloody Disgusting Special Screening
Directed by Andrew Bowser
Written by Andrew Bowser
Produced by Andrew Bowser, Michael Mobley
Cast: Andrew Bowser, Olivia Taylor Dudley, Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton, Rivkah Reyes, Terrence “TC” Carson, Arden Myrin, Melanie Chandra
The story follows fledgling occultist Marcus J. Trillbury (Onyx) as he attends a once-in-a-lifetime ritual at his idol Bartok the Great’s dark mansion. Once there, Marcus meets a group of other occultists and they are led in a series of rituals meant to “better them.” But as terrible things begin to happen, it soon becomes clear that Bartok’s intentions are more nefarious. As Onyx and his new friends battle to keep their souls, a question of great destiny looms over Onyx’s head: is he doomed to be a nobody or will he rise to defeat Bartok and save his friends from damnation? The film is based on director Andrew Bowser’s viral character of the same name, Onyx, who has racked up over 300 million views online and has over 1 million TikTok followers.
Pandemonium (France, 2023) – US Premiere
Directed by Quarxx
Written by Quarxx
Produced by Isabelle Guenezan, Sandra Ianigro, Martine Melloul
Cast: Hugo Dillon, Arben Bajraktaraj, Manon Maindivide, Ophélia Kolb, Sidwell Weber, Carl Laforêt
Following a car accident Nathan realizes he is dead. He will discover Hell and encounter the sufferings of the tormented souls that he will meet there. Will he be able to escape?
The Piper (UK, 2023 ) – World Premiere
Directed by Erlingur Thoroddsen
Written by Erlingur Thoroddsen
Produced by Tanner Mobley, Bernard Kira, Les Weldon, Jeffrey Greenstein, Jonathan Yunger, Yariv Lerner, Avi Lerner (EP), Boaz Davidson (EP), Trevor Short (EP)
Cast: Charlotte Hope, Julian Sands, Aoibhe O’Flanagan, Oliver Savell, Kate Nicols, Philipp Christopher, Alexis Rodney, Louise Gold, Pippa Winslow
A young composer is given the opportunity of a lifetime when she is tasked with finishing her late mentor’s concerto. But she soon discovers that playing the music summons deadly consequences, leading her to uncover the disturbing origins of the melody and the evil force it has awakened… The Pied Piper.
The Puppetman (US, 2023 ) – West Coast Premiere
Directed by Brandon Christensen
Written by Brandon Christensen, Ryan Christensen
Produced by Matt Manjourides, Justin Martell
Cast: Alyson Gorske, Kio Cyr, Michael Pare, Anna Telfer
The Puppetman, a convicted killer on death row, always maintained his innocence and that it was an evil force controlling his body as he slaughtered his victims. Now Michal, the killer’s daughter, begins to suspect that there may be some truth to her father’s claim when those around her begin to die in brutal ways. She must try and break the curse of The Puppetman before all her loved ones are killed.
The Wait (Spain, 2023) – West Coast Premiere
Directed by F. Javier Gutiérrez
Written by F. Javier Gutiérrez
Produced by Antonio Perez Perez, Adrian Guerra, F. Javier Gutiérrez,
Cast: Victor Clavijo, Ruth Diaz, Pedro Casablanc
Eladio, a hunting estate keeper, takes a bribe from a veteran hunter. Weeks later, his whole life falls apart. What looked like the opportunity of a lifetime turns into a macabre descent to hell, where Eladio will test his boundaries.
The Well (Italy, 2023)– North America Premiere
Directed by Federico Zampaglione
Written by Federico Zampaglione and Stefano Masi
Produced by Stefano Masi
Cast: Lauren Lavera, Claudia Gerini
When novice art restorer Lisa Gray goes to a small Italian village to bring a medieval painting back to its former glory after fire damage, little does she know she is placing her life in danger from an evil curse of myth and brutal pain.
You’ll Never Find Me (Australia, 2023) – Premiere
Directed by Josiah Allen, Indianna Bell
Written by Indianna Bell
Produced by Josiah Allen, Indianna Bell, Jordan Cowan, Christine Williams
Cast: Brendan Rock, Jordan Cowan, Elena Carapetis
A sharp and twisted thriller featuring outstanding central performances from Jordan Cowan & Brendan Rock. An isolated man living in the back of a desolate caravan park is visited by a desperate young woman seeking shelter from a violent storm. As the savage storm worsens, these solitary souls begin to feel threatened- but who should be afraid? A bold directorial debut from the filmmaking duo Josiah Allen & Indianna Bell.
What You Wish For (US, 2023) – LA premiere
Writer/Directed by Nicholas Tomnay
Produced by Nicholas Tomnay, Kevin Chinoy, Francesca Silvestri
Starring: Nick Stahl, Tasmin Topolski, Randy Vasquez, Penelope Mitchell
A chef with gambling problems flees to the Latin American villa of an old friend who appears to be living an extraordinary life. Envy soon turns to greed and then to something more unsettling for the chef when he assumes his friend’s life and discovers the truth.
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