By Jonathan Lawrence
CALGARY — What’s better than relaxing at home with a late-night flick? Not much, right? What’s better than relaxing at a bar with a late-night horror flick? Some would argue a good night’s sleep, but for those that love a good thrill – especially with complimentary popcorn – ought to come down to the Ship & Anchor on August 14th for a free screening of 2012’s cutting-edge horror film V/H/S, a fan-favourite of that year’s Late Show Series.
The fun doesn’t stop there. The Calgary International Film Festival, or CIFF, will be announcing their 2016 Late Show Series lineup. This series ranges from science-fiction to horror, carefully chosen based on their unique ability to creep out, suspend, thrill, and disturb. The Late Show series is one of many categories that CIFF showcases, along with Canadian, American and International Cinema, Music on Screen, Documentaries, and Shorts to name a few.
V/H/S is an anthology-style horror film created by the people behind the horror genre website Bloody Disgusting. This might be the first website, to my knowledge, that has made a film. Either way, V/H/S was written and produced by horror enthusiasts who are aware of the genre’s clichés and trappings, so expect some twists you haven’t seen before. Each short film in the anthology works as its own separate story with its own individual director, yet they collectively share the same found-footage style to give it a coherent feeling overall. Of course, they each feature grisly murders and other unmentionable content.
Why is antiquated technology always associated with bad things in horror films? Typewriters have gotten a bad rap ever since The Shining, and VHS tapes are no exception. Nobody in those films ever pops in a dusty unlabeled videotape to find grainy re-runs of America’s Funniest Home Videos. So in V/H/S, when a group of misfits is hired by a suspicious third party to break into a desolate house to recover a sole videotape, the group inevitably discovers walls of cassettes each filled with more horrifying footage than the last. Even the creeps who record this stuff should have an innocent wedding tape lying around, no?
Last year’s Late Show Series included Cop Car, Bite, Deathgasm, Green Room, The House on Pine Street, They Look Like People, and Yakuza Apocalypse. From the titles alone, you can get an idea for the types of films the Late Shows Series likes to focus on. And hopefully when the new lineup is announced on August 14th, people will have several more reasons to raise their eyebrows in intrigue.
Those films aren’t simply chosen by their peculiar titles, however. They are carefully selected by CIFF lead programmer Brenda Lieberman and her team, which are specifically directed toward Calgary audiences. Lieberman has even developed a following of film enthusiasts that are able to stay updated on the top films, both mainstream and otherwise because of her film expertise.
The success of previous Late Shows, in addition to the quickly growing attendance rates of both CIFF and CUFF are a strong reminder that Alberta, and Calgary in particular, have not only the numbers, but the artistic sensibilities to be able to continue these kind of events and push the envelope with film events even further.
The Calgary International Film Festival announces its Late Show Series for 2016 with a screening of past selection V/H/S at the Ship & Anchor on August 14th. CIFF runs September 21st to October 2nd.AB, Alberta, Calgary International Film Festival, CIFF, CIFF 2016, Late Show Series, Ship & Anchor, V/H/S