The 2017 Halloworst Film Festival, an annual event put on by the St. Olaf Film Production Society (FPS), had a dramatic increase in submissions from last year, from five to fifteen. There was also dramatic music, dramatic overacting and a few dramatic forced laughs from the audience. In fact the entire premise of Halloworst, a chance for students to create intentionally horrible short films in the spooky Halloween spirit, is pretty darn dramatic. That’s what makes it so fun.
The festival led off with “Paranormal Pooptivity,” a short by Grace Fogland ’19 and Jakob Otten ’19 about a series of spooky misadventures had by a young man just trying to leave his toilet stall. It was very creative, very odd and mildly amusing, setting the stage for the rest of the festival.
“SOUL FOOD” by Cookie Imperial ’19 gets the maximum points for effort. It was shot in Australia, featured a convoluted plot about dead triplet brothers and a demon from the underworld and had lots of fairly involved special effects.
“Don’t Feed the Birds” by Paige Dahlke ’18 made use of some nice horror-movie tropes of frightened-girl running-through-the-woods and a very creepy bird mask. “Reach,” created by several FPS members, was remarkable for its camerawork if not its premise. But both fell a little flat in the laughs department.
“Sample text” by Henry Miller ’20 and Jack Thull ’20 was a meditation on the truest campus horror of all: looming ignored tasks and procrastination. “new ghost” by Annika Saboe ’20 was cute and meta if a little stilted, and “Hallowmeme” by Carolyn Carpenter ’21 & Meredith Enersen ’21 featured strong acting and a weirdly compelling mysterious dancing pumpkin meme come to life. I, for one, was invested in the “Hallowmeme” story.
A few films were played for sheer absurdity, like “Time Cube” by Luke Fowler ’19 and Rexton Laird ’19. The best part was when actor Anders Mattson ’19 broke character and smirked at the ridiculous script he was clearly reading off of a cue card. “The Wirus” by Daniel Balle was another bizarre entry featuring the saga of a computer-generated virus and a heavy voiceover by “Herman ze German” which ended in several minutes of a German death metal song paired with Google image results for Germany. It was not remotely engaging, but did it serve as a kind of unintentional intermission that gave audience members a chance to recap and chat with their friends in the middle of the hour and a half long festival.
But the best films were ones where you could sense the careful attention and love of the art of filmmaking itself. “House” by Lucie Madec was hilarious, cutting between a typical black-and-white horror scene and the behind-the-scenes chaos: “Do better, people,” the director deadpans as the ghost fumbles its sheet. “It Grows! With Teeth and Eyes then Nose!” by Jack Schoephoerster ’19 was an homage to 1920’s silent films with impeccable attention to details, a keen sense of humor and a bit of legitimate creepiness. The simulation of a DVD menu screen and the “How to Bond With Your Stepson” book were particularly impressive touches. “The Monster of Mankind” by Jacob May ’21 was also a fun compilation of horror tropes, from the ditzy girl to the sacrificial hero to the enormous cheesy monster created by a mad scientist.
Josh Garver ’18 had no less than four submissions: “Found Footage” with an excellent twist on the found footage genre (“That was a pretty good murder, guys”), “RAZOR Trailer” and “RAZOR: ORIGINS” which might very well be the start of the next mindless horror franchise, and “The Night of That One Killing and Some Bloodshed RESTORED,” an updated project from last year with a very large, very bloody dagger.
The Halloworst Film Festival was creepy, kooky and proof of the growing popularity of the Film Production Society. The group meets every other Wednesday at 7 p.m. in BC 222.