April 19, 2023

Written by Joseph Perry

Joseph Perry is the Film Festival Editor for Horror Fuel; all film festival related queries and announcements should be sent to him at [email protected]. He is a contributing writer for the "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" and “Drive-In Asylum” print magazines and the websites Gruesome Magazine, Diabolique Magazine, The Scariest Things, B&S About Movies, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Uphill Both Ways" pop culture nostalgia podcast and also writes for its website. Joseph occasionally proudly co-writes articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right. A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.

Black Mold

Writer/director John Pata’s Black Mold fairly drips with dread as Brooke (Agnes Albright) and Tanner (Andrew Bailes) — a pair of photographer friends who shoot decrepit, abandoned buildings — find themselves trapped in one such structure by a homeless man (Jeremy Holm) who resembles Brooke’s deceased father. Is it the titular rot that begins to affect the pair’s thinking or supernatural reasons? This is one of the questions posed in the film, and one thing is for certain — there’s psychological horror aplenty on tap. Albright gives a grounded performance as a young woman harboring darkness from her childhood, and Holm gives a solid performance as an enigmatic, paranoid, threatening figure, while Bailes gives a performance that must be seen to be appreciated. It’s an intriguing one that borders at times on scenery chewing without quite crossing the line, and at others as a realistic portrayal of a supportive friend. Tiffany Jasinski’s set design is remarkable — you can almost smell the oppressive atmosphere of the enigmatic building. Robert Patrick Stern’s cinematography captures the proceedings marvelously. Pata leaves some loose threads but the final 15 minutes or so provide a heck of a payoff. Black Mold is an eerie chiller that will draw viewers in with its creepy settings and puzzle pieces along with its mesmerizing visuals. 

Blue Hour: The Disappearance of Nick Brandreth

In found footage science fiction mystery Blue Hour: The Disappearance of Nick Brandreth, documentary filmmaker Olivia Brandreth (Morgan DeTogne) turns her attention to the unsolved disappearance of her father Nick, which happened when she was a child. The official police ruling was suicide, but several factors make that an unbelievable outcome. As Olivia and her crew members investigate, they find themselves going down a rabbit hole that leads to photographs of cloaked men in the woods where Nick disappeared who seem to be guarding a door unattached to any structure. Writer/director Dan Bowhers does a super job using a faux documentary approach to slowly unravel the enigmatic elements of the story. Some of the actors are more believable than others when it comes to being interview subjects, but DeTogne keeps things realistically grounded in her performance. Real-life Nick Brandreth — who is very much alive — helped participate in the authentic feeling of the film by providing memories, photographs, and home movie footage. Aficionados of unsolved true crime mysteries, lo-fi science fiction, and Fortean phenomena should all find plenty to enjoy with Blue Hour: The Disappearance of Nick Brandreth.

You can view the trailer at https://vimeo.com/800353385

Black Mold and Blue Hour: The Disappearance of Nick Brandreth screen as part of Panic Fest 2023, which takes place in person from April 13–19, 2023 in Kansas City, Missouri, and which offers a virtual fest from April 14–23.


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