Fest News: Overlook 2019 Part 2 – What’s Not To Love?

As I said in Part 1 of my Overlook wrap-up, this fest had a whole lot going on, and every bit of it was something I wish I could have experienced. But alas, it was not to be. A combination of So Much Awesome and me being way dehydrated/wiped (why Part 1 was something I dearly wanted to write up) meant that I didn’t catch as much as I’d have liked. However, I did get to experience quite a lot, and I’m gonna share that with you. Right now.

Part 2: My Overlook 2019 Thoughts And Stuff

  • So Glad I Hit Town On Thursday – I debated skipping the Opening Night film, The Dead Don’t Die. Not that I didn’t want to see it, I really did. I’m cheap. But I decided to go for the full experience, and I’m glad I did. While I decided to crash after the Opening Night film – I’m just not cool enough to ride a night-time double feature after waking up at 2am – it was worth it to ease into the Overlook vibe.
  • Opening Night With “The Dead Don’t Die”Die was a quirky love letter to the zombie genre, filled with tongue-in-cheek performances and just enough fourth-wall breaking to let you know this is gonna be fun rather than frightening. Not everyone will stay put as this slow-burn satirical horror comedy unspools… But those that do will have a helluva good time.
  • Press Event: Haunted History Tour – the Overlook staff were kind enough to schedule a NOLA tour for us pressy types, filled with tales of blood, ghosts and guts. (Seriously. Organs a-poppin’!) We heard about “The Singing Rain”, the LaLaurie Mansion (brought to 21st Century life in American Horror Story), ghostly children, gutted boyfriends, pirates, and so much more. Two hours of gleefully horrific stories, plus a pit-stop at a haunted bar. I loved every sweaty moment.
  • One Cut of the Dead – After destroying a muffaletta, hydrating up, and taking a well-deserved catnap, I wandered over to catch this buzzy award-magnet of a zombie flick. And while I want to describe every moment of this film, it’s really best experienced when you go in blind. Let’s just say it’s about a film crew that are making a zombie movie in an area where zombies may have actually appeared. Basically. Crazy, creepy and filled with twists you’ll love, Dead is worth seeking out. Plus, it’s the only use of “Chekhov’s POM in existence.
  • The Vast of Night – Put American Graffiti, War of the Worlds and The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street in a blender, and you’ll have this low-budget film from first-time director Andrew Patterson. While I enjoyed the Cold War vibe of this Sci-Fi thriller, I just couldn’t get into it. The sound made trying to hear dialogue incredibly difficult for me, and the speed at which the performers delivered 99% of their lines made it that much harder. After a while, I shrugged at the missed exposition and bonding moments with these characters, and just sat in my seat and shivered ’til the end. Lots of folks loved this film though, and it grabbed awards at this fest. I’ll hold my final thoughts ’til I can watch it again…with decent voice volume and a snuggly blanket to curl up in.
  • Swamp Thing – I love me some Swampy, so I was looking forward to this screening of the first two episodes of the new DC Universe show. And it’s a whole lot of campy fun! Sure, it’s a bit more serious than the 1982 Wes Craven joint starring Adrienne Barbeau, but the cast gives it their all and the plot hews closely to Moore’s take, with “The Green” and Swampy’s non-human state. I’m guessing there will be more about his origins, his connection to Alec Holland, and his feelings towards Abby Arcane as the show progresses. These two episodes have me wanting more.
  • “Depraved” – Larry Fessenden is quickly becoming the 21st Century’s Dick Miller; I love seeing him pop up in films. He had a role in The Dead Don’t Die, but with Depraved he takes directorial duties. Depraved is an interesting twist on the Frankenstein legend, with Alex Breaux delivering a hauntingly bittersweet performance as Adam, the reassembled human. There are several great ideas here, and a kickass climax. It could have used a bit less polish and flash, and instead gone a gorier and/or much more introspective route. (I’d have loved a heavier lean-in on “mad scientist” Henry’s psychological trauma, and gf/psychiatrist Liz’s attempts at mediation.) But damn if it isn’t a fun ride, flashes of lightning and all.
  • Virtual Reality – Yes, a film festival is where you go see films. But Overlook has some great VR and immersive games on offer, and getting into ’em is worth the time spent. I tried out an episode of Campfire Creepers, a fun “what’s in the woods” horror tale that used the VR experience wonderfully. I found myself spinning around in my chair, so I could get a good look at every tidbit director Alexandre Aja put on screen. The climax hit a bit too fast for my liking – I’d have loved the reveal to have been a wee bit more drawn out so I could really savor it – but I’ve gotta admit I’m now officially hooked on horror VR. Gimme more, please.d

tl;dr? I’d happily go to Overlook over and over again. Next time I’ll heed my own hard-earned advice, and in doing so get myself to more films and even more VR. The Overlook managed to deliver lots of spooky fun, and I got to meet lots of fellow horrorhounds. All this and pralines? What’s not to love, indeed?

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