Does Jack Torrance (a.k.a. Nicholson) saying, “Here’s Johnny!” still give you chills? Then the inaugural Overlook Film Festival at Timberline Lodge—featuring 37 horror flicks over four days (April 27–30)—will mean either cinematic fascination or night sweats. Or maybe both.
Remember the eerie aerial shot at the beginning of The Shining? Remote hotel on a snowy mountain, dark and discordant music forebodingly chopping along in the background? That spooky stage-setting scene for Stanley Kubrick's 1980 cult classic was filmed at none other than Mt Hood’s Timberline Lodge (the movie’s Overlook Hotel—where all the gory action takes place). Nearly 40 years later, Timberline’s legacy will live on at what the festival’s co-directors, Michael Lerman and Landon Zakheim, call “a horror summer camp.”
If bonding over zombie madness and slasher gore from a headlamp-lit bunker sounds like your jam, recruit six friends and buy an Overlook Film Festival Camper Package (it’s the only lodging still available at Timberline, but there are plenty of other options nearby). Or take part in the live events: a radio play called Tales From Beyond the Pale acted out onstage by professionals and festival guests, and a mysterious immersive horror game that unfolds for badge-holders over the weekend.
Of their desire to bring works from artists in 16 different countries to the festival’s two screens, Lerman says: “We wanted to put a horror festival together, at The Shining hotel, where we could create an intimate and inspirational environment.”
But creepy kumbaya campouts aren’t the only thing on offer: individual movie tickets are also available. “There’s definitely a range [of scare-level], and something for everyone who’s interested in dipping their toe into the horror world,” Zakheim says—a family screening of local animation studio Laika's Paranorman, for example. “You definitely do not have to be a hardcore horror buff to enjoy the festival,” Lerman adds. “We’ve worked really hard to have something for everyone.”
It’s true. Even to someone who, as a kid, pretended to be asleep through their first scary movie, there are some enticing films on the line-up. Read on for a shortlist of the flicks we’re most excited about.
Murder, deceit, sex, and commentaries on social and gender hierarchies run through this shrewd adaptation of Russian writer Nikolai Leskov’s 1865 novella Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District. First premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, UK director William Oldroyd’s innovative period piece follows teen bride Katherine from forced nuptials to a much older man, to a passionate love affair, to the eventual making of a bona fide femme fatale.
Amat Escalante, who won best director at Cannes in 2013, pulled inspiration for his new film from a hate crime in his hometown of Guanajuato, Mexico. Family values, male chauvinism, homophobia, and hypocrisy are put under the microscope here. In a series of oddities, a mysterious stranger lures a dysfunctional young couple into the woods, with an otherworldly creature the possible answer to their problems.
Why are humans both fascinated with and deeply disturbed by the things that frighten us most? Rodney Ascher—whose acclaimed documentary Room 237 explored the creation of The Shining—aims to find out. His world premiere genre-bending documentary/horror examines the real-life pop culture that left dark impressions on people as children. Sound like a terrifying therapy session? Maybe. But then, that’s horror.
Three years ago, Ana Lily Amirpour boldly entered the world of horror with A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, the world’s first Iranian vampire Western. Her sophomore effort keeps to the genre-ambiguous, following a social outcast through post-apocalyptic Texas. Festival organizers call it an “acid trip full of iconic imagery and evocative sequences.”
This brand-new festival has also created its own award category: the Master of Horror. Their first-ever recipient is, as Zakheim puts it, “the godfather of independent film,” Roger Corman. A producer and director of over 300 films—Little Shop of Horrors being one—Corman’s stylistic influence extends to the likes of Quentin Tarantino and Eli Roth. A Saturday night Q & A with the Lifetime Achievement Academy Award winner will be followed by a screening of one of his classics.
Thu-Sun, April 27–30, Timberline Lodge, prices vary (see website for details)