"Popcorn Frights" co-founders and co-directors Marc Ferman and Igor Shteyrenberg are at it again with the third edition, set to screen at O Cinema Wynwood Aug. 11 thru 17.
(This is a preview story from their June announcement)
The first thing that jumps out, amid the lurid subject matter and the promise of gory mayhem, chased down with buckets of blood, is brevity. Of the nine features announced on Monday, the longest one clocks in at just 96 minutes. It's a refreshing change of pace from the draining bloat of tentpole releases currently jostling for multiplex real estate this summer.
“Short” remains the name of the game when it comes to the festival's new sidebar championing the Sunshine State's filmmaking talent. Titled “Homegrown: 100% Pure Squeezed Florida Horror,” the sampling thus far consists of five shorts, including the Florida premiere of “Primal Scream,” a documentary/fiction hybrid from Rodney Ascher, the acclaimed director of the doc “Room 237.”
I've actually seen one of this year's “Homegrown” selections, and it's fabulous. “Buzzcut,” the brainchild of South Florida-based helmers Jon Rhoads and Mike Marrero, is a ferocious nine-minute treat that's ostensibly about a lesbian who's just looking to get a haircut so her fickle girlfriend will put out. The filmmakers give the fast-paced proceedings a diabolical apocalyptic spin that's also pretty darn funny.
When asked how he feels about “Buzzcut” making the cut for "Popcorn Frights," Rhoads tells me, “It makes you feel special to be a part of a well-curated festival, so yeah, it's an honor.”
Ferman and Shteyrenberg are throwing us quite the curve ball by screening, not one, but three opening night selections. One of them is the U.S.-Canadian production “Tragedy Girls,” which follows the titular characters as they force a serial killer to show them the ropes so they can become horror legends. And famous. Because we all want to experience our 15 minutes, even wannabe assassins.
Scanning through the remaining eight features teased out earlier, I'm rather looking forward to “Mayhem,” which promises to make fun of corporate culture by showing what happens when a virus that erases impulse control breaks out at a law office. Sounds like just another day in Miami, but consider me intrigued.
I'm also getting some good vibes from the plot of “Still/Born,” about a sinister force that threatens the surviving child of a woman who lost one of her twins during childbirth. The thriller co-stars Michael Ironside, so it already has something in its favor.
Perhaps even more intriguing is the buzzy “Game of Death,” in which seven suburban Millennials discover their own lives are at stake when the board game they're playing starts snuffing them out if they do not follow the rules. The film, which had its world premiere at South by Southwest in Austin earlier this year, posits a Darwinian scenario that promises gruesome sights and a large body count, always a good thing when Millennials' lives are on the line on screen.
For the rest of Third Popcorn Frights' lineup, go to www.popcornfrights.com/film-lineup/.