Aliens, Cryptids, and Cults Invade Wisconsin’s MidWest WeirdFest

Wisconsin’s MidWest WeirdFest has announced the full lineup for its March 4-6 run this year, and it’s a doozy! Along with three films previously reviewed on The Scariest Things — It Hatched, Woodland Grey, and The Last Frankenstein — the fest offers up a treasure trove of cinematic strangeness. The official press announcement follows.

MidWest WeirdFest announces its full program for 2022 today. The 6th annual film festival – a cinematic celebration of of all things fantastic, frightening, paranormal, and just plain weird – takes place March 4-6, 2022 at the Micon Downtown Cinema in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

Among the fest’s fantastic line-up of horror, sci-fi, underground and documentary cinema, are a number of films world premiering at the event. One of these is HAIR-TRIGGER, a genre-bending crime caper come rural horror movie.

“HAIR-TRIGGER is truly a product of the region,” says the feature film’s director Steven G. Warkel. “Our cast and crew along with the settings of the film are deeply rooted in the midwest. It’s something that we’re proud of. So I couldn’t be more eager for the world premiere of our crazy horror thriller mash-up to be at a festival that is defined by what our film is all about. And I can’t wait to keep the audience at our premiere screening on the edge of their seats, and to see what else the festival has to offer. All I know is that you won’t want to miss any of it.”

Scary DVDs! Woo!

HAIR-TRIGGER is just one of the fantastic feature films that the festival is announcing as part of its 2022 program for the first time today, along with over fifty short films.

This final wave of feature programming includes:

AND THE BOYS STRUCK GOLD (dir: Jim Murtagh) When Jim loses his bar job he has no choice but to move back to his hometown. Upon his return he learns the father of a childhood friend has gone missing. With nothing but free time, a fascination with conspiracies, and his own spiraling mental state, Jim enlists the help of his 16 year old cousin, Colly, to solve the mystery. AND THE BOYS STRUCK GOLD evokes the same type of starry-eyed quirkiness as Wes Anderson’s BOTTLE ROCKET and the brewing mystery of Rian Johnson’s neo-noir debut BRICK. It weaves a cinematic space inhabited with offbeat but lovable characters, moving within a universe not unlike our own, but one over-flowing with mystery and wonder.  

CRABS! (dir: Pierce M. Berolzheimer) When a horde of mutated horseshoe crabs descends on a sleepy costal town on Prom Night, it’s up to wheelchair bound Philip McCalister and a rag tag band of locals to save the world! Loaded with laughs, gore, and weirdness CRABS! is the perfect opening night film for the 6th annual MidWest WeirdFest.

THE FALL OF USHER (dir: Brian Cunningham) A young man caring for his terminally ill father gets pulled into a maelstrom of murder, madness and the macabre. Based on the works of Edgar Allan Poe, THE FALL OF USHER evokes an oppressive and terrifying atmosphere, and delivers a series of twists and emotional punches that are still felt long after the final credits roll.

gIVE (dir: Steve Dayton) One father fights his way through pain, grief, and complete lost to free himself from his demons and discover the place between selfishness and selflessness. The film “gIVE” provides a look into how we move on from tragedy. Don’t miss a special screening of this moving and often harrowing film, with local Eau Claire based director Steve Dayton presenting.

HAIR-TRIGGER (dir: S.G. Warkel) A young woman is recruited to join a group of novice criminals in an effort to rob a jewelry store. However after a sudden change of plans, she along with the rest of the group find themselves laying low in the middle of nowhere. Chaos and confusion set in as they find out they may not be alone… Picture THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE re-imagined by Quentin Tarantino, and you might come close to getting a sense of this cool-talking hoodlums vs axe-murdering hillbillies mash-up.

IT HATCHED (dir: Elvar Gunnarsson) The film follows the couple Mira & Pétur, as they journey from Nashville, Tennessee to Iceland. There they plan on opening a guesthouse in a remote fjord. Their plans are soon altered when an ancient Icelandic demon starts harassing them with vivid night terrors. What follows is a chain of events that include Pétur facing dementia, Mira laying an infant-sized egg, and them both squaring up against the tall task of… parenting. IT HATCHED weaves a masterful claustrophobic and nightmarish – if at times hilarious – spell.

planet b234 (dir: Keelie Sheridan) Jorge, a father thousands of miles away from his son, creates an alternate world – planet b234 – where he can cope with the anxiety, depression, and desperation of being separated from one’s child. Geographical barriers are no match for Jorge’s fertile imagination, but it comes at the cost of his sanity and the very relationship for which he’s fighting. The directorial debut of Keelie Sheridan, planet b234 is a stunning low-fi, sci-fi gem. It resonates with emotional potency and showcases a pitch-perfect performance from the film’s co-writer and star Jorge Luna.

REED’S POINT (dir: Dale Fabrigar) A vehicle crash in the Pine Barrens leads to one teen passenger going missing. Her disappearance raises conspiracy theories about the infamous Jersey Devil legend. On the anniversary of the crash, Sarah Franklin, convinced that her cousin Kelsey is alive, returns to the crash site with Kelsey’s boyfriend, Alex, to investigate.  Their search spirals out of control as Sarah and Alex are confronted by the true horror that lurks in the woods. REED’S POINT is a captivating and terrifying thrill ride, loaded with edge-of-your-seat twists and scares.  

Feature films previously announced as official selections of the 6th annual MidWest WeirdFest include:

ALIEN ABDUCTION: ANSWERS (dir: John Yost) A documentary that traces one man’s journey to come to grips with a shocking alien encounter from his childhood. The film features best-selling author and alien abduction luminary Whitley Strieber. It world premieres at MidWest WeirdFest.

THE GIRL IN THE STRAW HAT (dir: David James Schultz) A young couple in a deteriorating relationship find themselves led down a dangerous, obsessive path of self-discovery at the hands of a New Age doctor with mysterious intentions.

THE LAST FRANKENSTEIN (dir: David Weaver)  Dr. Jason Frankenstein, the last of his family, travels down a blood-soaked path as he creates a living being from the bodies of the dead.

LIGHTSHIPS (dir: John Harrigan) Eve awakes in an unstaffed medical facility, awaiting diagnosis for a mystery illness.  But an alien world at the edge of Eve’s dreams begins to bleed through, compelling her to write the transmissions down.

LUNAMANCER (dir: Noah Mucci) Dr. Issac Blake returns to post-industrial upstate New York after sensing a psychic break with his estranged twin sister. Her disappearance is linked to a Lunamancer: someone who is able to draw power from the moon to shift reality.

THE HISTORY OF METAL AND HORROR (dir: Mike Schiff) A captivating documentary that explores the conjoined history of heavy metal and horror films. Hosted by Michael Berryman, and featuring Alice Cooper, Rob Zombie, Kirk Hammett, John Carpenter, Tom Savini, Dave Mustaine, and many more genre luminaries.  

NIGHT CALLER (dir: Chad Ferrin)  A telephone psychic is pulled into a complex web of mystery after receiving a call from a serial killer.  It’s a brutal slasher flick, which riffs on classic works from Hitchcock, through Argento and Ferrara, to the broader 70s crime genre.

WOODLAND GREY (dir: Adam Reider) A man living alone in the deep woods finds a hiker, unconscious and laying on the forest floor.  After being nursed back to health, the hiker makes a discovery: A crudely built shed behind the man’s home. When she opens it, she unleashes a terrifying force.

The full line-up of visiting filmmakers will be announced in the coming weeks.

MidWest WeirdFest’s full 2022 program and schedule can be viewed here:

Tickets to all films, along with discounted festival passes, are available to purchase here:

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