Panic Fest 2024 Spoiler-Free Film Reviews: “The Ceremony Is About to Begin” and “The Hyperborean”

April 11, 2024

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 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.

The Ceremony Is About to Begin (2024)

Director Sean Nichols Lynch follows up his vampire comedy Red Snow (2021) with faux documentary horror The Ceremony Is About to Begin, which he cowrote with stars Chad Westbrook Hinds and John Laird. The film starts with black-and-white interview footage with former members of the Osiris Collective, a commune/cult based on ancient Egyptian culture, including each member taking on a name from that culture. The leader was a man named Father Osiris (Raul Delarosa), who disappeared mysteriously during a mountain hike with a new member who took the name Anubis (Hinds). Documentarian Keith Evans (Laird) has a very personal reason for wanting to interview the members of the Osiris Collective, as his ex-girlfriend Maddy (Michelle Westbrook Hinds) left him for the cult. Anubis, who took over leadership of the group and whose negative behaviors drove members away, invites Evans to the Collective grounds to conduct interviews. With the film having earlier changed to color, Evans finds himself in an increasingly dangerous situation. Lynch crafts a slow burner that allows viewers to get to know the main characters well before delivering a bonkers third act that takes The Ceremony Is About to Begin from psychological thriller and character study to quite unexpected terror territory. While the buildup may feel somewhat familiar to seasoned fear-fare fans with its spider-and-fly elements, that third act and the finale are unique enough for them to add it to their need-to-see lists, especially viewers who enjoy found-footage–style shockers and faux documentary horror fare. 


The Hyperborean (2024)

Aficionados of out-there cinema should find plenty to ponder about with Canadian science-fiction comedy The Hyperborean. Director Jesse Thomas Cook’s sees a family of eccentrics, made wealthy by the whiskey company it owns, dealing with multiple murders, extraterrestrials, and Arctic ice mummies. Hollis (Tony Burgess), the father of the family, was, according to daughter Diana (Liv Collins), “sucked up into the sky, and he popped.” The proceedings only get stranger from there. Cook, working from a clever screenplay by Tony Burgess, mines the absurdity for all its worth and in a deft manner, aided by a highly talented ensemble cast that also includes Justin Bott, Ry Barrett, and Jonathan Craig. Dysfunctional daffiness is in great supply in this marvelous looking, beautifully shot — by cinematographer Kenny MacLaughlin — skillfully helmed feature. Viewers who just give into the strangeness and go along for the absurd ride should find The Hyperborean well worth a watch or two.



The Ceremony Is About to Begin and The Hyperborean screened as part of Panic Fest 2024, which runs April 4–10 in Kansas City, MO. For more information, visit


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