Like the rogue swell that shocks hapless surfers with its power, Telluride Horror Fest’s second wave has arrived in full force.
Only thissecond wave isn’t truly dangerous. But it seems it: Now in its 10th year, the horror fest’s subject matter remains resolutely obsessed with danger, death, hauntings (and also suspense, sci-fi and dark comedy). In short, the fest’s curation is diabolical — and impeccable. The second wave includes world-premiere short films, “highly-anticipated” genre films and even a charity benefit — proof that good and evil really do coexist (at least at the Horror Show).
Among the cinematic highlights: “Sweetheart,” 82-minutes of desert-island terror replete with a solitary, stranded female up against a malevolent force that stalks the jungle by — naturally — night. Creepy creature cred comes courtesy of Blumhouse: The production company has worked with horror masters M. Night Shyamalan, Mike Flanagan (“Ouija: Origin of Evil”), James Wan (“Saw”) and James DeMonaco, the brains behind the “Purge” franchise.
Also worth stalking: “Eli,” a psychological thriller about an 11-year-old hospitalized for an autoimmune disorder (the place becomes a haunted prison with no way out). The film, from the producers of “The Haunting of Hill House” and “Gerald’s Game,” stars Charlie Shotwell (“All the Money in the World”), Lili Taylor (so good in “The Conjuring” and “The Haunting”) and cas tmember Sadie Sink of the Netflix drama “Stranger Things.” Ciaran Foy (“Sinister 2,” “Citadel”) directs. The movie was purchased by Netflix from Paramount Players — a subsidiary of Paramount Pictures — which reportedly couldn’t figure out how to market it. “Eli” is scheduled to premiere on Netflix on Oct. 18.
Also worth seeking out is “Wounds,” for star Armie Hammer, for its premise — a cellphone that conveys malevolence via “disturbing texts and calls” (shades, perhaps, of the cursed videotape in the Japanese horror classic “Ringu”) — and for its award-winning British-Iranian writer-director, Babak Anvari (“Under the Shadow”).
In addition to 11 feature films, a total of 17 shorts also ride the Horror Show’s second wave, including the world premiere of “Bakemono,” co-directed by Sumire Takamatsu and Jorge Lucas. “Bakemono” takes place on Setsebun, a day known for casting out evil spirits in Japan (“But this family’s young daughter has other plans … ”). Octavian Kaul’s “Bump in the Night,” a Canadian super-short (it’s just seven minutes long) about a girl at home with “a merciless demon,” is another world premiere. (Quick! Who offs who?)
Keith Adams’ “chromoPHOBIA,” which limns the obsession of a clinical psychologist with her patient’s artwork, is based on a work of fiction by award-winning writer Brian Evenson. Nor are humans — even demonic ones — the only beings with the capacity to conjure scares (and take revenge) at Horror Show. In Mathieu Megemont’s “Diversion,” a small-town journalist, on his way to cover a story in the French countryside, “stops after running over a dog in the road … and finds himself trapped in the stories he usually writes.”
The tinier the fauna, the more pernicious (and delicious, at least when it comes to karmic kickback): in Alicia Eisen’s “Deady Freddy,” the protagonist gets a “chilling encore” after a life-well-lived: “he must live his life backwards through every bug he has ever killed.”
All that, and special events, including Creepy Campfire Tales, an ice scream social, a pig roast, “horror trivia,” “killer karaoke” and more at the Horror Show, which launches with a fundraiser at the Nugget Theater the evening of Oct. 10 that features screenings of “Spider Baby” and “Tammy and the T-Rex” in honor of horror icon Sid Haig who recently passed away. Proceeds benefit Scares That Cares, an all-volunteer organization “dedicated to assisting families facing medical hardships.” Call it Fright Makes Right.
For a complete schedule, visit telluridehorrorshow.com.