Friday, April 10, 2009

A Night of Horror International Film Festival Diary, Entry # 5

The last event of the festival, featuring Toby Wilkins’ feature film Splinter and the awards ceremony, was on April 3rd, Friday.

Splinter was one of the best films I watched in the festival, and was duly awarded with Best Feature Film and Best Feature Film special effects. It told the story of two young couples, Seth and Polly, who want to spend their anniversary camping in the woods, and Deke and Lacey, who, take Seth and Polly as their hostages along with their car in their attempt to avoid going to prison. When they stop at a gas station to refill their tank and stomachs, they come face to face with a monster unlike any we’ve seen. A parasite that spreads via its splinters and takes over bodies of its victims, only to break their bones inside and control them like puppets in its search for food. In the tradition of films like Dawn of the Dead, Splinter then becomes a film, in which a group of unlikely people take shelter within the confinements of a small space, and unite against the threat that surrounds them.

As Stephen King says in Danse Macabre, “humor and horror lie side by side, and to deny one is to deny the other.” Splinter became a festival favourite with its comic moments as well as gory scenes. The response of the audience to such scenes as an arm amputation with a box cutter knife and a concrete brick was, to say the least, joyously disgusted. The fact that its original monster concept, with echoes of John Carpenter’s The Thing, was mostly created with practical effects rather than CGI made the film all the more real and stronger. Director Toby Wilkins, knowing well that mediocre computer generated effects act to a horror film’s disadvantage chose to employ practical ones as much as possible and the result is a film that resonates with An American Werewolf in London with its transformation scenes (rather than, say, An American Werewolf in Paris).

For more information on Splinter and to see the trailer, visit the website

The screening was followed by the awards ceremony, and festival organizers, judges, and previous award winners presented this year’s competitors with their specially designed A Night of Horror Awards. As I mentioned earlier Splinter got the best feature film award along with best special effects. The best Australian feature award went to I Know How Many Runs You Scored Last Summer, which I had unfortunately missed. Three of my favourite short films in the festival, Treevenge, AM 1200 and A Break in the Monotony all returned with awards. In an example of terribly irresponsible journalism, I neglected to take notes of all the winners; however, such categories as Non-English feature film, Independent Spirit, Australian Independent Spirit made it possible for almost everyone to get an award, I should say! Joking aside, the Festival should be applauded for its recognition of Independent filmmaking, and providing a venue for independent horror cinema in Australia.

All in all, the festival gave us a wonderful couple of weeks of horror, thrills, laughter, tears – in short, a bloody good time, and I guess I’m not alone in wishing them a long life and prosperity.

Next: Macabresque gets lost in the dungeons of academia…

No comments: