For the second year in a row, our favorite film festivals were presented to us in a streaming format (though some festivals had theatrical releases). This has allowed the Scariest Things to watch lots of horror from the comfort of our own homes, with some (mostly) pretty awesome content. We recap the best and the worst of the Summer Festivals from 2021.
★★★ out of ★★★★★ This frenetic independent chiller is a fun entry in the hotel-horror subgenre.
★★1/2 out of ★★★★★ Swedish puzzler The House at the End of the Forest serves up more head scratching than it does hand wringing.
★★★★ out of ★★★★★ The Last Matinee is a loving homage to film. More to the point it’s a loving homage and exploration of Argento, Fulchi, grindhouse cinema, slashers, grimy movie theaters, and quite possibly the great Lamberto Bava film Demons. Don’t be fooled though. While The Last Matinee pulls from many of the classics, it’s got its own unique style and flavor, and it’s cram-packed with EYEBALLS.
★★★1/2 out of ★★★★★ This sexy Russian thriller morphs into the supernatural when a youthful indiscretion comes back to haunt a young engaged couple. This movie packs a lot in: A false villain, a foolish internet posting, a love triangle, and a vengeful ghost. It doesn't always patch its plot holes, but it is entertaining. The Ex has gorgeous cinematography, and, did I mention it's sexy? I think I did.
★★★★ out of ★★★★★ A not-veiled at all analogy to sexual assault, Take Back the Night relects on the horrors of being attacked by a monster before, during, and after the event. This is a make-a-statement horror movie on a miniscule budget that is fighting well above its weight class, thanks to some standout acting performances and emotional resonance.
One of The Scariest Thing's favorite genre film festivals is Popcorn Frights, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. After a year where they couldn't have a live festival, things have now opened up. It's time to go back to the cinema in a big way!
★★ out of ★★★★★ Blood Conscious is a movie whose ambitions exceed the execution of the film. This cabin-in-the-woods thriller treads familiar territory and sets up some recognizable trope concepts but never really pays them off.
★★★★1/2 out of ★★★★★ Come for the promise of a devilishly sexy good time. Stay for some fantastic character arcs and hugely expressive acting performances. Val, which had its world premiere at Popcorn Frights is colorful, saucy, and snappy, with an undercurrent of something dark and ominous just underneath the surface.
★★ out of ★★★★★ Lace up your hiking boots and grab your headlamp for a journey underground in It Came From Below.
★★★ out of ★★★★★ After finding themselves upside-down in an ambulance, a group of paramedics, cops, and prisoner patients realize that they are the victims of an ambush, with the mysterious forces closing in around them. This siege thriller goes heavy with gore and extended exposition before settling in on a brutal and memorable final moment.
★★★★1/2 out of ★★★★★ Smash that Like Button! Two travel YouTubers on a mission to bolster their diminishing viewer interest visit a vacation rental cabin with an eccentric "superhost" who transforms from an off-putting oddball to imminent threat over their vacation stay. This movie has inertia like a locomotive covered in razor blades, with a near-perfect build of tension and release.
★★★★ out of ★★★★★ Fans of classic J Horror rejoice! Howling Village takes you back to the golden age and your guide is Horror master and Ju-on creator Takashi Shimizu.