The Overlook Film Festival is about to start in New Orleans after taking a two-year pandemic hiatus. The festival is chock full of the special events (including what looks to be a citywide escape room game) and special screenings. It is going to be a terrifying and exciting weekend. Tickets are still available, and if you are in the NOLA area, I strongly urge you to check it out. From repertoire screenings of pre-code horror movies to live chats with directors this year’s Overlook is absolutely packed with stuff to do. With so many movies to pick from I struggled compiling a list of just five. Alas, that’s what they pay me for so here are the five movies that are “must sees” at the 2022 Overlook Film Festival.
5. Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon
Ana Lily Amirpour is back (A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night) with what promises to be a NOLA meets Alice in Wonderland fantasy thriller. Mona Lisa is a film that showcases the Big Easy. Kate Hudson and Craig Robinson round out a cast that promises to bring blockbuster appeal to the city. Kate Hudson is no stranger to American Gothic films set in the deep south (looking at you Skeleton Key), and if early looks indicate anything Hudson seems to be playing off type as a stripper/hustler who unexpectedly befriends Mona Lisa (Jeon Jong-seo) an escapee who happens to have special powers. Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon opens the festival and has various other screenings available throughout the weekend. More charming horror please!
4. The Black Phone
I mean its should be on everyone’s list. The Black Phone is the latest invention from writing duo C. Robert Cargill and Scott Derrickson, the pair that brought you Sinister and Dr. Strange. Ethan Hawke plays a sadistic killer who kidnaps young boys. Mason Thames plays the latest victim and upon being kidnapped and placed in Hawke’s basement he starts to get phone calls from a variety of Hawke’s past victims, on a phone that should not work. Hawke, Cargill And Derrickson’s presence alone makes this movie a must for genre fans. However, when you throw in that the screenplay is adapted from A Joe Hill story and all the elements are present to create an instant classic. The Black Phone will play at the final night of the festival to close it down.
3. Flux Gourmet
Peter Strickland welcomes us to a culinary institute that seems to be high on experimentation, revenge, and palace intrigue. Strickland’s unique ability to use environments to convey tension, fear, and atmosphere promises to amp up to a ten as this culinary institute seems to teach so much more than how to cook chicken cordon bleu. Strickland brings the same bizarre qualities he brought to our sense of sound in Berberian Sound Studio to the sense of taste with Flux Gourmet. A line from the trailer argues “It happens all the time, this kind of thing”. I think not. Peter Strickland does not happen all the time, and when he does his movies deserve to be seen in a theatre. IFC Midnight is distributing the film so look out for it on HULU in the coming months. Or better yet see it this weekend at The Overlook Film Festival.
2. Shaky Shivers
Shaky Shivers looks like it will be the Cinderella story from this year’s Overlook. With Stranger Things Volume Four coming out last week, 80’s nostalgia is back in vogue and Shaky Shivers seeks to capitalize on that momentum. Billed as a horror comedy that uses the typical setup of a cabin in the woods in an atypical fashion Shaky Shivers promises to be fill that Evil Dead itch. Set in the 1980’s the movie promises to be replete with haunted books, plenty of gore, and a curse unwittingly released upon our heroes, this one looks like a TON of fun. Written and directed by Sung Kang from The Fast and the Furious fame and starring VyVy Nguyen Shaky Shivers has the creative talent to be something. Moreover, with its use as the backwoods as a backdrop and with a cast rounded out by locals, there will be lots of folks in attendance that are rooting for it to be great. Count me as one of them.
The conceit is simple. A group of young men must swallow balloons full of an unknown drug to smuggle it across the border. What seems to start as a drug thriller quickly turns into a hallucinogenic nightmare using body horror as the guide. I was excited to catch the film, but after hearing from others that the movie is proudly a piece of Queer cinema that features graphic nudity and stomach-churning sequences that are not for the faint of heart, I am damn near giddy with excitement. It sounds like it could be Maria Full of Grace meets Videodrome. Color me interested.
These are just a taste of the movies offered this year. Each more intriguing than the next. If movies aren’t your thing than buy a pass and check out all the live events. From stories told by spooky authors to a screening of Haxan with a live score The Overlook has never been JUST movies. The events start tomorrow June 2nd and run through the evening on Saturday June 4th. If you do come out, meet me at One Eyed Jack’s for Halloween in June sponsored by The Overlook Film Festival on Saturday night. First rounds on me.
Tyler has been the editor in chief of Signal Horizon since its conception. He is also the Director of Monsters 101 at Truman State University a class that pairs horror movie criticism with survival skills to help middle and high school students learn critical thinking. When he is not watching, teaching or thinking about horror he is the Director of Debate and Forensics at a high school in Kansas City, Missouri.