Thursday, December 12, 2013
By DENNIS PERKINS
In its third year, the all-Maine horror anthology series "Damnationland" (moving to its luxurious new digs at the State Theatre at 8 p.m. Friday; tickets are $10) continues to attract the best in Maine filmmakers, all dedicated to nothing less than scaring your pants clean off.
COMING TO LOCAL SCREENS
NICKELODEON CINEMA, Portland
Thursday: "Hypnagogic." More Maine-made horrors from the local filmmakers at Neo Phoenix Studios, this psychological horror flick follows the twisted journey of a young woman who, consumed with guilt after the death of her mother, starts seeing things. Are they demons or just the product of her disordered mind? Prime yourself for "Damnationland" with even more Maine terror.
SPACE GALLERY, Portland
Sunday: "Crazy Wisdom." Documentary about the life, teachings and titular "crazy wisdom" of Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche, whose influence was instrumental in bringing Tibetan Buddhism to the West. Co-presented by the Maine Buddhist Gathering.
Any self-respecting Maine horror (or film) fan will be at the State, but thanks to this year's co-producers David Meiklejohn and Eddy Bolz, the Press Herald has the exclusive preview of all this year's five participating horror shorts. My (brief, SPOILER-free) reviews are as follows:
"Raw Footage": Director Kyle Rankin's entry involves an incident between two groups of hikers -- one male, one female -- in the bright sunlight of Topanga Canyon (Rankin's current stomping grounds). Raw, well-acted and toying with the gender politics of the genre (and the audience's willingness to confront some genuinely upsetting stuff), this one is guaranteed to leave an unpleasant taste in viewers' mouths and engender some serious debate. No doubt as Rankin intended. Think: "The Blair Witch Project," "Hard Candy."
"Carrying Place": Filmed by the Sisters Grumbling (Amy and Megan) in crisp black and white, this period-piece Maine folk tale has the authentic flavor and effective final sting of a good Stephen King short story. A hardbitten elderly couple (an excellent Deborah Paley and Michael Howard) sit and bicker in their farmhouse kitchen. Gradually, flashes of otherworldly visions intrude on the everyday chatter, building into unsettling nightmare territory. Handsome and professional. Think: "Pet Sematary," "In Dreams."
"Parallaxis": It's end of the world, and a young couple (Crystal Vaccaro and Kris Stratos, expressing much with little) retreat to a remote lakeshore cabin to escape societal chaos in the wake of a global catastrophe. Their hopes of hiding out until things settle down (or of just waiting out the end) quickly and unnervingly deteriorate into madness and violence in this effective, disturbing and stunningly shot short from Regina Bartholomew. Think: "The Signal," "AntiChrist."
"Raid of the Vomit-Blood Fiends": A married couple of the 1 percent sit down to dinner, berate their servant, mock the poor and disenfranchised and then ... things happen in this short, gory, ghoulish horror comedy from director R.J. Wilson. Horror reference points: Monty Python's Mr. Creosote and the Republican convention.
"Merrow": Director Allen Baldwin spins a lyrical yet disturbing tale of obsessive love between a man and the mysterious young woman he discovers on a Maine beach. Haunting narration, subtly startling effects and a great, evocative ending. Horror reference points: H.P. Lovecraft, the dark side of an '80s fantasy love story I can't name without spoiling things.
Local. Challenging. Disturbing. Frightening.
Dennis Perkins is a Portland freelance writer.