The Brooklyn Horror Film Festival returns to indoor cinemas this year with an outstanding lineup of fright fare from October 14–21, 2021. With more than a dozen features and a half-dozen short-film blocks featuring fright fare from around the globe, the fest promises to deliver shudders and shrieks aplenty. Following is the official press announcement.
The Brooklyn Horror Film Festival will once again hold an in-person festival for their sixth edition, with screenings for the 2021 fest to take place in North Brooklyn at Nitehawk Cinema Williamsburg, Williamsburg Cinemas, and Stuart Cinema from October 14-21. With a line-up of 14 features and 6 short blocks, including premieres from around the world and our signature focus on New York-made horror and LGBTQ+ curation. In addition to the in-person film festival, Brooklyn Horror will once again collaborate with the Boston Underground Film Festival, North Bend Film Festival and Overlook Film Festival for the virtual-only event NIGHTSTREAM, taking place October 7-13, 2021, with program announcements to come shortly.
On the heels of their world premieres at TIFF, BHFF 2021 will open with the sensational South African chiller GOOD MADAM (MLUNGU WAM) and honor celebrated French filmmaker Lucile Hadžihalilović’s latest, EARWIG, as centerpiece film. The closing night film of Brooklyn Horror will be Rob Jabbaz’s abrasive and acclaimed Taiwanese zombie horror THE SADNESS, an instant breakout on the festival circuit and an award-winning feature debut for Jabbaz.
This year’s co-presentation with New York queer film festival NewFest include Slayed, our annual showcase of LGBTQ+ short films, as well as the U.S Premiere of Edoardo Vitaletti’s impressive queer horror-drama feature debut THE LAST THING MARY SAW. The festival will host two exciting World Premieres in its sixth edition; Alfonso Cortés-Cavanillas’ COVID-set psychological doppelganger cyber thriller EGO, and Adam Randall’s Netflix Original vampire action thriller NIGHT TEETH, featuring Megan Fox and Euphoria’s Sydney Sweeney. Continuing Brooklyn Horror’s celebration of local voices in filmmaking, the festival will feature two blocks of our celebrated HOME INVASION shorts from NYC filmmakers, in addition to feature film WHEN I CONSUME YOU, the latest from Brooklyn-based director Perry Blackshear, screening in the festival’s main competition.
As part of our ongoing commitment to the health and safety of our guests, the 2021 festival has adopted the following policies and procedures in response to COVID-19:
- All attendees will be required to show proof of full vaccination and a valid ID – your last vaccination must have occurred at least 14 days prior to the first screening you attend.
- All attendees will be required to wear masks indoors, including during film screenings unless eating or drinking.
- Festival staff will conduct temperature checks at the door.
- There will be no parties, mixers, or live events.
OPENING NIGHT FILM
GOOD MADAM (MLUNGU WAM)
South Africa | 2021 | 92 Min. | Dir. Jenna Cato Bass
Tsidi, a single mother grieving over her beloved grandmother’s death, moves back into her childhood home in the well-off suburbs of Cape Town with her young daughter. It’s there where her estranged mother still lives, working diligently as the caretaker for her white, bedridden “Madam,” Diane. Tensions mount as Tsidi becomes increasingly critical of her mother’s unwavering obedience towards Madam and odd happenings begin to emanate around the house, at first mere changes in everyone’s personalities but gradually evolving into supernatural dangers. Keeping horror’s tradition as film’s great social commentary genre alive, Jenna Cato Bass examines the lingering pains and nightmares of South Africa’s apartheid through a psychological horror lens, and the results are excellent.
United Kingdom, France, Belgium | 2021 | 114 Min. | Dir. Lucile Hadžihalilović
The 20th century. Somewhere, Europe. Inside a darkly lit apartment, a man tends to a seemingly normal 10-year-old girl with ice cubes for teeth. Told that his boarding of the girl is over, he’s ordered to bring her to a new location, but along the way they encounter a woman with an ax to grind. That’s where any plot synopsis for Lucile Hadžihalilović’s beguiling, ornate and wholly unclassifiable film should end—part of its charm is sheer unpredictability. The one easily understood element, though, is that, like her previous films (Innocence, Evolution), Earwig provides the kind of stunning unease that only Hadžihalilović can deliver.
CLOSING NIGHT FILM
East Coast Premiere
Taiwan | 2021 | 99 Min. | Dir. Rob Jabbaz
In eerily prescient pandemic time Taiwan, the Alvin Virus is seemingly in retreat when it suddenly mutates and explodes. As the infected become depraved lunatics, acting out their sickest and most violent desires, a young couple caught in the infernal crossfire are hurtled into an unimaginable fight for survival. With The Sadness, director Rob Jabbaz takes a blood-and-puss-filled syringe to the zombie genre, injecting it with relentless visions of murderous carnage and sexual savagery. You’ve been warned.
MAIN FEATURE SLATE
AFTER BLUE (DIRTY PARADISE)
France | 2021 | 130 Min. | Dir. Bertrand Mandico
Set in an acid-trip-like future, on the exclusively women-inhabited planet known as After Blue, a hairdresser’s teenage daughter unwittingly empowers a long-dormant witch (of sorts, as nothing is only one thing in this film’s world) to revive the bloody nihilism of her past. In order to restore their good names, mother and daughter must navigate through a surrealist, fever-dream-minded landscape to track the evil woman down and eliminate her. As crazy as that synopsis sounds, singular French auteur Bertrand Mandico’s (The Wild Boys, BHFF 2019 selection Apocalypse After) genre-flipping and visually stunning film itself is ten times crazier, covering horror, sci-fi, western, and erotica all with excellent precision, often simultaneously. An Altered Innocence release.
Spain | 2021 | 93 Min. | Dir. Alfonso Cortés-Cavanillas
Stuck alone inside her apartment due to COVID, a young woman decides to pass the time clicking through a dating site. It doesn’t take long before she makes an odd and uncomfortable discovery: A woman who looks exactly like her, and who is interested in more than just a romantic connection—she wants her full life and identity. With its trippy doppelganger vibes that bring to mind Brooklyn Horror 2018 selection Cam but heightening them with a meaner edge and a hypnotic dread, Alfonso Cortés-Cavanillas’s Ego turns quarantining into psychological hell.
United Kingdom | 2021 | 93 Min. | Dir. Lee Haven Jones
A luxurious dinner party inside a lush house in the Welsh countryside is doomed upon the arrival of the family’s mysterious new hired helper with a dark agenda of her own. Gorgeously shot and viciously cruel, award-winning director Lee Haven Jones’ transfixing knockout marries angry eco-horror with a brutal classism takedown, resulting in a first-class modern folk nightmare. It’s nirvana for arthouse horror lovers. An IFC Midnight release.
THE LAST THING MARY SAW
USA | 2021 | 89 Min. | Dir. Edoardo Vitaletti
Co-Presented by NewFest
In mid-1800s New York, Mary has to keep her romance with her family’s maid, Eleanor, hidden, as it goes against every belief that her intensely religious family holds dear. Despite their efforts, they’re caught, and the consequences that befall Mary go beyond just the Lord’s ways—they tap into evil as well. Ornate in its period-specific production and basking in its slow-burn creepiness, first-time filmmaker Edoardo Vitaletti’s impressive debut explores the darker sides of faith-gone-wrong fanaticism with precision and a sneakily malignant force. A Shudder Original Film.
France | 2019 | 51 Min. | Dir. Gaspar Noé
On the set of the fictional witchcraft horror film, God’s Work, starring Charlotte Gainsbourg (playing herself), acclaimed French actress Béatrice Dalle (also as herself) bears witness to an assortment of on-set pandemonium as the production goes haywire. Made as an aggressively extended commercial for Yves Saint Laurent, iconoclastic master Gaspar Noé’s vibrant and assaultive mockumentary distills his wildest directorial flourishes (think Enter the Void and Climax, specifically) into a 50-minute shock to the system.
NELLY RAPP – MONSTER AGENT
North American Premiere
Sweden | 2020 | 92 Min. | Dir. Amanda Adolfsson
Nelly isn’t like the other kids in her middle school class. To start, she’s a horror junkie, unlike most of her friends, but taking things even further into the abnormal, her family has a long history of keeping people safe from vampires, zombies and other ghouls. As the young Nelly excitedly tries to carry on tradition she’s forced to come of age in the wildest of ways. A charming horror-comedy that’s both hilarious and heartfelt, Amanda Adolfsson’s family-friendly gem winks at genre touchstones like Universal Monsters while still forming its own delightfully playful identity. It’s monster-heavy fun for all ages. A Janson Media release.
USA | 2021 | 107 Min. | Dir. Adam Randall
When college student Benny gets to cover his older brother’s chauffeur duties, he anticipated a fun night of driving rich folks around Los Angeles. But the two young women he picks have something else in mind. As it turns out, they’re high-society vampires looking for fresh kills. Fast-paced, slick and sharp, Adam Randall’s follow-up to his 2019 SXSW-premiering horror mystery I See You is a highly entertaining piece of bloodsucker pop cinema, complete with memorable appearances from Megan Fox and Euphoria’s Sydney Sweeney. A Netflix Original Film.
WHAT JOSIAH SAW
USA | 2021 | 120 Min. | Dir. Vincent Grashaw
A mother’s death hangs over her children’s lives in this haunting, Southern Gothic tale. As the story unfolds through four chapters, we’re introduced to the vastly different lives of a group of adult siblings from the codependent relationship between Thomas and his abusive father Josiah, to the criminal life of Eli and Mary, whose main concern is adopting a child of her own. Each new section brings a shift in genre while always maintaining a dark and foreboding tone culminating in a shocking reunion at their childhood farmhouse.
WHEN I CONSUME YOU
USA | 2021 | 92 Min. | Dir. Perry Blackshear
Wilson Shaw (Evan Dumouchel) and his sister Daphne (Libby Ewing) have suffered through disappointment after disappointment for their entire lives. Only during the final throes of their misery do they discover a malevolent entity has been behind their misfortune all along, and the siblings set out to eradicate it from their bloodline once and for all. With his third feature, following the acclaimed They Look Like People and The Siren (BHFF 2018 Closing Night), Perry Blackshear gathers the same great core acting trio of his previous films plus the excellent Ewing to tell his darkest story yet— one of fierce love and loyalty in the face of ultimate evil.
SESSION 9 – 20th Anniversary Screening
USA | 2001 | 100 Min. | Dir. Brad Anderson
Twenty years ago, director Brad Anderson and a top-notch group of character actors turned Massachusetts’ storied and creepy-as-hell Danvers State Mental Hospital into the setting for Session 9, one of the horror genre’s all-time bleakest and most psychologically terrifying films— no hyperbole at all. It’s the story of an asbestos clean-up crew’s descent into madness and destruction at the hands of the hospital’s supernatural powers, and it’s lost none of its stunning ability to burrow into its viewer’s minds— and, most importantly, scare the hell out of them. Join Brooklyn Horror for a special 20th anniversary screening, including an exclusive virtual Q&A with director/co-writer Brad Anderson and actor/co-writer Stephen Gevedon.
TROUBLE EVERY DAY – 20th Anniversary Screening
France, Germany, Japan | 2001 | 101 Min. | Dir. Claire Denis
With an extended intro by Dr. Kate Robertson, author of Devil’s Advocates: Trouble Every Day.
In Claire Denis’ polarizing sixth feature film, two researchers— Shane and Core— are afflicted by an unnatural and uncontrollable hunger produced by a plant they discovered on a research expedition. Visiting Paris on his honeymoon, Shane searches for Core’s husband Leo, who led the study, hoping for a cure for the vicious desire that threatens to consume him. A slow build-up of dread culminates in two acts of horrific violence which situate the film in the New French Extremity and a long tradition of transgressive cinema. Twenty years after its premiere at Cannes, the still-divisive film has retained the unnerving ability to get under the skin, offering a visceral and unforgettable cinematic experience.
The Thing That Ate the Birds, dir. Sophie Mair, Dan Gitsham (UK); Ignore It, dir. Samuel Evenson (USA); Cutter, dir. Dan Repp, Lindsay Young (USA); Weee Wooo, dir. Charlie McWade (USA); This is Our Home, dir. AK Espada (USA); Ouzo and Blackcurrant, dir. Nat Luurtsema ((UK); Brackish, dir. Christa Boarini (USA); La Oscuridad, dir. Jorge Sistos Moreno (USA, Mexico)
Vengeful spirits, both human and inhuman, populate this collection of meticulously crafted and scare-driven shorts, whose cumulative effect is sure to leave you shook.
Lips, dir. Nicole Tegelaar (Netherlands, Belgium); The Departure, dir. Nico van den Brink (Netherlands); A Tale Best Forgotten, dir. Tomas Stark (Sweden); Sudden Light, dir. Sophie Littman (UK); Tropaion, dir. Kjersti Helen Rasmussen (Norway); The Faraway Man, dir. Megan Gilbert, Jill Hogan (USA); Man or Tree, dir. Varun Raman, Tom Hancock (UK); Playing With Spiders, dir. Rylan Rafferty (USA); A Puff Before Dying, dir. Mike Pinkney, Michael Reich (USA)
Brooklyn Horror’s tradition of finding films that challenge horror’s norms and preconceptions continues with this unclassifiable group of unnerving, thought-provoking, and at times uproarious shorts.
SLAYED LGBTQ+ Horror Shorts
Co-Presented by NewFest
The Things We Do When We’re Alone, dir. Matthew Lynn (USA); New Flesh for the Old Ceremony, dir. Elizabeth Rakhilkina (USA); Forgive Us, dir. D.W. Hodges (USA); The Cruise, dir. Richard Louprasong (USA); The Cost of Living, dir. Alice Trueman (UK); Family, dir. Mark Pariselli (Canada); Itsy Bitsy Spider, dir. Brodi-jo Scalise (Canada)
As queer horror’s impact on the pop culture landscape increases, Brooklyn Horror once again heralds the year’s best new LGBTQ+ genre shorts, including unflinching looks at serial killers, malevolent ghosts, and supernatural self-discovery.
FEAR IN FOCUS: AUSTRALIAN SHORTS
Sleep Talker, dir. Carl Firth; Inferno, dir. Katherine Chediak Putnam; Drip, dir. Sidney Fenton; The Moogai, dir. Jon Bell; Golem, dir. Ryan Cauchi; Sweet Mary, Where Did You Go?, dir. Michael Anthony Kratochvil; Sushi-Noh, dir. Jayden Rathsam Hua
The spotlight falls on Australia for this special shorts program sure to get-down-under your skin featuring haunted homes, a relentless child-stealing spirit, and immortal death bringers.
HOME INVASION SHORTS PROGRAM #1
Atrophy, dir. Nick Hartanto, Sam Roden; Polybius, dir. Alex Rouleau; There’s Something in the Silence, dir. Mike Castro; Still Together, dir. Christopher Piazza; Lucky Feet 2000, dir. Mary Dauterman; #NOFILTER, dir. Nathan Crooker; Scavenger, dir. Ben Sottak; Penumbra, dir. Daniel Byers; The Lovers, dir. Avra Fox-Lerner
Home Invasion is back with a double dose of exceptional work from NYC filmmakers. You’ll find digital hauntings, mannequins come to life and a gooey salon in this program designed to transport you out of this world, kicking and screaming.
HOME INVASION SHORTS PROGRAM #2
The Cell-Tale Heart, dir. Jess Jacklin; Hazel, dir. Jordan Doig; Twin, dir. Daniel Daly; Other Bodies, dir. Alyssa Loh; Gold, dir. Gi Gonzales; Someone’s In Here, dir. Ben Kitnick; Bed, dir. Emily Bennett; Where No One Will Find Her, dir. Ahnmin Lee; Andronicus, dir. Mark H. Rapaport
Our second local shorts program will chill you to the bone with tales that fall within the realm of real-life horror including a sick game of death, a bad romance, and a therapy session gone so, so wrong.
Anthony Scott Burns, (Filmmaker, Come True)
Ariel Fisher (Managing Editor, FANGORIA)
Justine Peres Smith (Programmer, Fantasia International Film Festival)
Chelsea Lupkin (Senior Programmer, Short of the Week)
Prince Jackson (“Knight Light” Podcast Host, Bloody Disgusting Network)
Yfke van Berckelaer (BHFF Alumni Filmmaker, Lili)
BHFF would like to thank their 2021 Sponsors:
IFC Midnight, Metrograph Pictures, So What? Press, Horror Pack, Wicked Cat Clothing