On average, I attend three to four film festivals a year. Last year, the fledgling Cinepocalypse festival at the Music Box Theatre in Chicago had far and away the best films and was the most fun of any festival I attended. With the festival moving up from November to June this year, I have only had to wait seven months to get another jolt of disreputable genre cinema at my favorite theater in my favorite city. But there are certain films to which I’m especially looking forward. It should be interesting after the festival has concluded to see which of the following lived up to my heightened expectations.
I’ve been hearing about this one for several months. Our own Kristofer Jenson caught it at the Boston Underground Film Festival and loved it. I like my slasher horror to be served with tongue firmly in cheek, so a plot that finds punks from the city squaring off against the titular homicidal villain sounds like a blast. It helps that Chloe Levine—who was so good in one of my favorite films from last year, THE TRANSFIGURATION—stars. I’m on board with whatever it takes to make her a movie star.
Since I count Chicago as my hometown, I’ve been accused of subtly being a “homer” when recommending the work of filmmakers from Chicago/Northwest Indiana/Wisconsin. Nothing could be further from the truth. I’m not subtle about it at all. So while I may be close to burning out on horror films about evil clowns, GAGS gets my rooting interest for what sounds like a unique take on that trope, a filmmaking team based in Wisconsin, and a cast that includes Lauren Ashley Carter (who has practically become an indie horror icon in the last five years), Evan Gamble, and Aaron Christensen.
I loves me my Hong Kong gangster movie shoot ’em ups. With a plot that calls for a rogue cop to pursue a ruthless crime boss on a cruise ship, this sounds both goofy and awesome.
Writer/director Joel Potrykus and star Joshua Burge were responsible for BUZZARD, which made my Favorite Films of 2015 list. They are one of the only filmmaking teams I would trust to pull off a plot that has a slacker—on the eve of the anticipated Y2K disaster—not allowed to leave his couch until he beats a Pac-Man record set by real-life gamer villain Billy Mitchell. This promises to be the absurd, deadpan survival story I never knew I needed, but will gladly take.
I know nothing more about this one that what is in the Cinepocalypse description, but what is described sounds like it should be a total late night blast. Plus, I always enjoy seeing the great, under-used character actor M.C. Gainey get a plum role.
SUMMER OF ’84
On paper, the premise of a nostalgia-soaked mystery/horror flick about a kid who thinks the cop living next door is a serial killer sounds a little too clever for its own good. But when you factor in that the TURBO KID team of François Simard, Anouk Whissell, and Yoann-Karl Whissell are the filmmakers behind it, this one makes the jump to my must see list.
Is this the return to the type of satanic panic movies of the ’70s and ’80s that I have been waiting for? It certainly sounds like it could be. That alone is enough to get it added to this list.
While these are the films I’m most excited about going into the festival, odds are that I discover something I love that I had no idea existed once I sit down in the theater. Before last year’s Cinepocalypse, I had never heard of SNOWFLAKE and it turned out to be one of my favorite films from the festival. I am sure something similar will happen this year.
You can join me at Cinepocalypse 2018, at the Music Box Theatre in Chicago from June 21-28. Tickets and info on all the movies, special guests, and events can be found here on the Music Box site.
–Matt Wedge (@MovieNerdMatt)
Tags: Aaron Christensen, Anouk Whissell, Boogeyman Pop, Chicago, Chloe Levine, Cinepocalypse, Evan Gamble, François Simard, Gags, Joel Potrykus, Joshua Burge, Lauren Ashley Carter, Luciferina, M.C. Gainey, Music Box Theatre, Relaxer, Summer of '84, The Brink, The Ranger, Yoann-Karl Whissell