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Boston Underground Film Festival Preview: Obsession, Dysfunction, and the Supernatural Highlight This Year’s Selections

Horror hounds and lovers of offbeat cinema have plenty to drool over regarding the films selected for the 22nd annual Boston Underground Film Festival. The fest returns to Harvard Square, bringing with it five days of mind-blowing cinema to the Brattle Theatre from March 25th through the 29th. This year’s program features, according to BUFF’s press release, “a whole lot of unholy obsession, objectophilia, WTF thrillers, genre-spinning slashers, familial dysfunction, queer clairvoyance, and more!”

Among the scare fare on display at BUFF will be U.K. writer-director Rose Glass’ gut-punch feature debut Saint Maud, a chilling and boldly original vision of faith, madness, and salvation in a fallen world. BUFF hosts the Boston premiere of this highly anticipated upcoming A24 release, with director Glass in attendance for a post-screening Q&A. 

Saint Maud

The fest’s thematic strand of unholy obsession continues with the world premiere of the 2K restoration of Philip Ridley’s 1995 awe-inspiring The Passion of Darkly Noon, courtesy of the American Genre Film Archive and Arrow Films. With Cage-Rage all the rage, don’t miss the chance to indulge in a little big-screen Fras-Rage as Brendan Fraser tackles the titular role of an ex-cultist burning with desire for the sultry, maybe-a-witch/maybe-not-a-witch Callie (Ashley Judd).

Holy Trinity

Writer/director/star Molly Hewitt’s candy-colored dynamo debut Holy Trinity follows an aerosol-huffing, sex-positive, queer dominatrix who develops an ability to commune with the dead and must contend with the spiritual and existential consequences that result.

Obsession transmogrifies into objectophilia in Quentin Dupieux’s (Rubber) darkly funny Deerskin, which finds Georges (played by Academy Award winner Jean Dujardin) in a bizarre midlife morass of masculinity-gone-real-wrong as his vintage deerskin jacket compels him to take up a life of crime and artifice. Co-star Adèle Haenel (Portrait of a Lady on Fire) becomes an unlikely collaborator and documentarian of Georges’ unhinged, leather-driven pursuits. 

BUFF is also exceedingly proud to host the World Premiere of BUFF alum Nicholas Payne Santos’ New England-set It Cuts Deep, a whipsmart horror-comedy about a man’s fear of marriage and kids, also with director and talent in attendance.

Lucky

Plenty more is in store for fright-fare fanatics in this year’s lineup, including Tetsuya Nakashima’s (The World of Kanako) head-spinning supernatural bogeyman banger It Comes; the East Coast Premiere of Natasha Kermani’s bloody and biting feminist frightfest Lucky  (with director Kermani in attendance!); The Deeper You Dig, an unsettling supernatural tale in which a mother, her daughter and a stranger’s lives collide in the aftermath of a roadside accident; and this year’s midnight Secret Screening is guaranteed to be one of the year’s best films ever. 

And if all of that wasn’t enough, be sure to check out “ A Little Faith is a Dangerous Thing: Inspired by Saint Maud,” a special repertory series that explores the dangers of faith — either too much or not enough. Psycho killers, Satanic possessions, biblical disasters, cult freakouts, witchcraft, even the Antichrist himself — this series has it all and is presented in association with A24 and the Brattle Theatre during the week before BUFF22 (March 18–24).

Limited festival passes are only available via BUFF’s Kickstarter, which runs until March 13th. Tickets will be on sale at www.brattlefilm.org and www.bostonunderground.org on March 9th at 2pm.

BOSTON UNDERGROUND 2020:

DEERSKIN – Boston Premiere

Quentin Dupieux | France | 2019

A man’s obsession with his designer deerskin jacket causes him to blow his life savings and turn to crime.

Deerskin

DINNER IN AMERICA – East Coast Premiere

Adam Rehmeier | USA | 2020

An on-the-lam punk rocker and a young woman obsessed with his band unexpectedly fall in love and go on an epic journey together through America’s decaying Midwestern suburbs.

FILMS IN THE LIVING ROOM – Work-in-Progress

David Kleiler Jr. | USA | 2020

A documentary about New England independent film luminary, and BUFF founder, the late David Kleiler. 

HOLY TRINITY – Boston Premiere

Molly Hewitt | USA | 2019

A queer dominatrix named Trinity huffs the contents of a magic aerosol can and develops the ability to talk to the dead.

IT COMES – New England Premiere

Tetsuya Nakashima | Japan | 2018

One day, a visitor leaves Hideki a memo of his unborn daughter’s name “Chisa”. Two years later, Hideki’s house is attacked by a sinister presence. To protect his family, Hideki asks for help to perform a ritual to break an unknown spell.

It Cuts Deep

IT CUTS DEEP – World Premiere

Nicholas Payne Santos | USA | 2020

While on Christmas vacation, a young couple contemplates their future together. Ashley is interested in getting married and having kids which terrifies Sam. When the more attractive and paternal Nolan enters the picture, Sam’s life spirals out of control as Ashley questions their relationship. Chaos reigns as Sam desperately clings to Ashley while fending off the threatening Nolan.

JESUS SHOWS YOU THE WAY TO THE HIGHWAY – New England Premiere

Miguel Llansó | Spain/Estonia/Ethiopia/Latvia/Romania | 2019

CIA Agents Palmer and Gagano are tasked with the mission of destroying a computer virus called “Soviet Union”. They enter the system using VR but the mission turns into a trap.

JUMBO – East Coast Premiere

Zoé Wittock | France/Belgium/Luxembourg | 2020

Jeanne, a shy young woman, works in an amusement park. Fascinated with carousels, she still lives at home with her mother. That’s when Jeanne meets Jumbo, the park’s new flagship attraction.

LUCKY – East Coast Premiere

Natasha Kermani | USA | 2020

A suburban woman fights to be believed as she finds herself stalked by a threatening figure who returns to her house night after night. When she can’t get help from those around her, she is forced to take matters into her own hands.

SAINT MAUD – Boston Premiere

Rose Glass | UK | 2019

The debut film from writer-director Rose Glass, Saint Maud is a chilling and boldly original vision of faith, madness, and salvation in a fallen world. Maud, a newly devout hospice nurse, becomes obsessed with saving her dying patient’s soul — but sinister forces, and her own sinful past, threaten to put an end to her holy calling.

SHARK WEEK – International Premiere

Bri Proke | USA | 2020

Lonely burnout Bill Berney loses his dog, and skateboards around the city trying to find him. Throughout this sweaty summer day, Bill is repeatedly confronted with his past, and those involved in it.

The Deeper You Dig

THE DEEPER YOU DIG – East Coast Premiere

John Adams, Toby Poser | USA | 2019

In the aftermath of a roadside accident, the line between the living and the dead collapses for a mother, a daughter and a stranger.

THE PASSION OF DARKLY NOON – World Premiere 2K Restoration

Philip Ridley | UK/Germany/Belgium | 1995

Darkly Noon (Brendan Fraser) is the sole survivor of a military-style attack on an isolated religious community. Stumbling through a forest in a daze, he is rescued by the free-spirited and enigmatic Callie (Ashley Judd). Darkly finds himself feeling strange new desires for Callie as she nurses him back to health… only to watch her jump into the arms of her returning non-speaking lover Clay (Viggo Mortensen). Lost in the woods with only his fundamentalist upbringing to make sense of his unrequited passions, Darkly soon descends into an explosive and lethal rage.

THE WITCHES – 30th Anniversary

Nicholas Roeg | UK | 1990

A young boy stumbles onto a witch convention and must stop them, even after he has been turned into a mouse.

Joseph Perry
Joseph Perry fell in love with horror films as a preschooler when he first saw the Gill-Man swim across the TV screen in "The Creature from The Black Lagoon" and Mothra battle Godzilla in "Godzilla Vs. The Thing.” His education in fright fare continued with TV series such as "The Twilight Zone" and "Outer Limits," along with legendary northern California horror host Bob Wilkins’ "Creature Features." His love for silver age and golden age comic books, including horror titles from Gold Key, Dell, and Marvel started around age 5. He is a contributing writer for "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" print magazine and the websites Gruesome Magazine, Diabolique Magazine, Ghastly Grinning, The Scariest Things, Horror Fuel, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Decades of Horror: The Classic Era" and "Uphill Both Ways" podcasts. Joseph has also written for “Scream” magazine, "Filmfax" magazine, “SQ Horror” magazine, and the websites That's Not Current an HorrorNews.net. He occasionally proudly co-writes articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right. A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.
Joseph Perry
Joseph Perry fell in love with horror films as a preschooler when he first saw the Gill-Man swim across the TV screen in "The Creature from The Black Lagoon" and Mothra battle Godzilla in "Godzilla Vs. The Thing.” His education in fright fare continued with TV series such as "The Twilight Zone" and "Outer Limits," along with legendary northern California horror host Bob Wilkins’ "Creature Features." His love for silver age and golden age comic books, including horror titles from Gold Key, Dell, and Marvel started around age 5. He is a contributing writer for "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" print magazine and the websites Gruesome Magazine, Diabolique Magazine, Ghastly Grinning, The Scariest Things, Horror Fuel, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Decades of Horror: The Classic Era" and "Uphill Both Ways" podcasts. Joseph has also written for “Scream” magazine, "Filmfax" magazine, “SQ Horror” magazine, and the websites That's Not Current an HorrorNews.net. He occasionally proudly co-writes articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right. A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.