The month of October is upon us, and what does October famously bring along? Yes, the Daylight Saving Time too, but that’s not exactly what I meant – I’m more leaning towards that celebration which always takes place on the last day of the second month of autumn – Halloween. It’s as mainstream as it gets, it’s a reason for Poundland stores to hold the Christmas decorations off the shelves for a wee bit longer, and instead display fake pumpkins, dead leaves ornaments and the same three or four costumes year in, year out. Filmwise, this month is recognisable for the highest concentration of horror films throughout the year – it’s the time of the year when we usually get Paranormal Activity N+1, at least one remake, as well as a few original titles.
While most of the horror blockbusters released in this period are clearly made with the sole purpose of profits by tapping into all the buzz in mind, there are quite a few exceptions. Horror films made with love and finesse, not merely to refill some coffers. If you’ve got such a project lined up, or if you’d merely like to take a look at a few indie horror titles, the following festivals are the places to check out. So, in order of the event dates:
1. Fantastisk Filmfestival (28 September – 7 October 2017) – Lund, Sweden
In case you find yourself in Lund these days (or in the vicinity, really, both Malmo and Copenhagen are within a stone’s throw away), you might want to check out the last few days of this festival. Delving deep into the horror genre, but also into sci-fi and fantasy, this is the Swedish festival to go to in case you fancy a scare or two.
2. International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia (5-15 October 2017) – Sitges, Catalunya
If you can’t make it in time for our previous listing, here’s a festival that starts today, and lasts for 10 whole days. Taking place in a coastal city just 35 km south of Barcelona, the festival screens its best selections in the horror and fantasy genre, and awards the best of the bunch.
3. Screamfest Horror Film Festival (10-19 October) – Hollywood, US
Their mission statement reads: ‘Discovering the new blood of horror and honoring the masters’. Screamfest describes itself as the largest and longest-running horror film festival in the US, and past editions have been graced by the presence of established names such as Sean Penn, James Franco and Slash. They have just released their official lineup for this year’s edition yesterday, so make sure you take a look!
4. British Horror Film Festival (21 October 2017) – London, UK
Many prestigious premieres take place in the prestigious Empire Cinema in Leicester Square, London – the very same backdrop used for this horror festival. Already in its eight year of activity, the packed screenings are a certain guarantee of exposure, reviews and buzz around the selected films. Check out the lineups, and maybe give it a go next year.
5. The New York City Horror Film Festival (26-29 October 2017) – New York, US
For the couple of days leading up to the one and only Halloween, we’ve got The New York City Horror Film Festival, which, for the 15th year running, organises a memorable schedule that seeks both to celebrate undying classics, as well as showcase the talent of newer filmmakers who have recently explored the genre with resounding success.
6. Bloody Horror International Film Festival (12 November 2017) – Ottawa, Canada
Here we have a recently launched festival, but one that is looking very promising already. Submission prices are very accessible, and on top of that, they have recently partnered up with The 15 Second Horror Film Challenge – what’s not to like about filming a 15 second horror project of your own, and seeing how it might stack up in terms of scariness against other productions of a similar length?
7. Raindance (19-30 September 2018) – London, UK
The bad news is that you’ve just missed this year’s edition: it ended just a few days ago. The good thing is that there’s always another edition to look forward to, especially since Raindance is one of the top horror festivals in the world. Associated with premieres for genre classics such as The Blair Witch Project, the festival attracts around 16,000 visitors including 500 industry professionals into London’s West End each year, and represents a fantastic opportunity for viewing masters at work and networking in order to gain valuable insight and experience.