Popcorn Frights Film Festival - A Look Back At Its Seventh Edition

In it's seventh edition, Florida based Popcorn Frights Film Festival featured a stunning film lineup with record high attendance with audiences ready to scare eight full nights away.

Popcorn Frights Film Festival just concluded it's seventh festival year last week boasting a stunning lineup of world premieres and hitting a record-high of 10,000 attendees and viewers from across the United States for the hybrid viewing experience. The Florida-based festival featured eight nights of in-person and virtual screenings. It featured 68 films including 31 features and 37 shorts from 13 countries.

The festival began with a sold-out premiere of Searchlight Pictures' thriller The Night House directed by David Bruckner on August 12 and continued through the the following Thursday, August 19. We took our opportunity to see the film at our local ArcLight cinema over the weekend as we were enjoying the festivities virtually this year. We loved just about all of the virtual screenings for the films we selected this year. While the festival celebrated 26 World Premieres, virtually, we were able to attend nine of those events including:

The Accursed, a folk horror thriller staring Yancy Butler (Kick-Ass, Hard Target). This was the feature film debut for directors Kathryn Michelle and Elizabeta Vidovic.

Dashcam, a psychological thriller the feature film debut of director Christian Nilsson starring Larry Fessenden, Eric Tabach, Giorgia Whigham.

Dawn Breaks Behind The Eyes, a stunning German gothic and euro-horror love letter to giallo films directed by Kevin Kopacka and starring Anna Platen, Jeff Wilbusch and Frederik von Lüttichau. You can read our full Bloody Knife review of this psychedelic mind-bender.

It Came From Below, a claustrophobic cavern horror and the debut film from director Dan Allen who co-wrote the film with Sam Ashurst. Uncork’d Entertainment has announced they’ll be giving the creature feature a digital release on September 7th, 2021.

Night At The Eagle Inn, the festival's Special Jury Prize winner is the fourth feature length film directed by Erik Bloomquist. The film is headed to GRIMMFEST in the United Kingdom October 7-10, 2021 which will also include virtual screening options through Eventive.

Take Back The Night, the directorial debut from Gia Elliot and winner of the New Nightmare Prize for Best Debut Film. You can read our full Bloody Knife review of this riot girl creature feature. We loved it! Elliot's stunning supernatural debut stars horror film alumni and co-writer Emma Fitzpatrick.

Val, a gory horror-comedy directed by Aaron Fradkin starring John Kapelos (Academy award winner The Shape of Water, The Umbrella Academy), Kyle Howard (Orange County, Royal Pains) and SAG Award nominee Sufe Bradshaw (Veep, Murder Mystery). The film is expected to get a full release this fall.

The Welder, an unhinged thriller from director and co-writer David Liz starring Vincent De Paul, Roe Dunkley and Camila Rodríguez.

The Wild Man: Skunk Ape, a mockumentary creature feature set in Central Florida directed by Ryan Justice and starring Lauren Crandall, Julian Green and Mike Reed.

We're waiting in eager anticipation for updates on how to screen all of the films we missed at this year's festival. We'll be better prepared to budget our time the next time Popcorn Frights creeps up on us. The festival was an absolute blast!

With our virtual pass at the ready, we were able to dig our heels into several of the festival's offerings, but one film in particular stood out. Our favorite screening was actually the last film we managed attend on the festival's final day. We can't say enough good things about the neon horror gore parade that is Spanish language Slasher film, The Last Matinee (Al morir la matinée) directed by Maximiliano Contenti. You can enjoy our full spoiler free Bloody Knife review and view the film yourself following it's Digital HD and VOD release on Aug. 24th, 2021.

As it's seventh edition came to a close after an incredible week of hybrid horror programming the Popcorn Frights Film Festival award winners were announced. Every audience member in every one of the hybrid screenings was able to vote online during the festival, and for as many films as we wanted – but only once per film. We made sure to put in our votes for each film we got the opportunity to screen. The full list of prize winners includes:

Jury Prize for Best Feature Film: Superhost, directed by Brandon Christensen, this Shudder original stars Sara Canning (The Vampire Diaries), Barbara Crampton (Re-Animater, Jakob's Wife), Osric Chau (Supernatural), and Gracie Gillam (Fright Night). When accepting his award Christensen said, “In a time where our normal has been stripped away from us, Popcorn Frights gave us a glimpse of the old normal by hosting their festival last week. The Popcorn crew moved heaven and earth to have both virtual and in person screenings this year, and I was fortunate to have SUPERHOST world premiere with them. The screening was fantastic, and felt just like old times, and I’m incredibly honored to be awarded with the Jury Prize. With the release of the film coming up, I’m thrilled that I was able to show it off to Popcorn’s awesome crowd early and get a taste of what it used to be like to screen at a festival.”

Jury Prize for Best Short Film: Le Cri, directed by Charlotte Chouisnard, Ninon Dodemant, Baptiste Leclerc, Solène Michel, Justine Parasote and Anouk Segura-Diaz.

New Nightmare Prize for Best Debut Film: Take Back the Night, directed by Gia Elliot. Gia said the following in accepting the award: “Premiering my film in front of such a thoughtful audience at Popcorn Frights, and having it recognized with this award is an honor. And to every survivor out there – I believe you.”

Scariest Feature Film Prize: Howling Village, directed by Takashi Shimizu (Ju-On). The supernatural thriller is loosely based on a Japanese urban legend.

Scariest Short Film Prize: The Wheel, directed by Nikhil Bhagat.

Special Jury Prize: Night at the Eagle Inn, directed by Erik Bloomquist. This supernatural mystery stars Amelia Dudley, Taylor Turner, Beau Minniear and Greg Schweers in addition to the film's director who co-wrote the film with Carson Bloomquist.

Best Florida Feature Film: Offseason, directed by Mickey Keating (Darling, Psychopaths).

Best Florida Short Film: Tech Savvy, directed by Scott Vasey (Home For The Holidays).

Audience Award for Best Feature Film: Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched, directed by Kier-La Janisse. We find it pretty exciting this documentary feature dazzled audiences. We personally purchased virtual tickets to screen this film twice due to its run time being just over three-hours long. The in-depth history of folk horror was well worth it and you can review the films discussed on our Letterboxd list. This is the first time in Popcorn Frights’ history that a feature film directed by a woman has won the Audience Award.

Audience Award for Best Short Film: Every Time We Meet for Ice Cream Your Whole F*cking Face Explodes, directed by Anthony Cousins and starring Arden Michalec.

The Popcorn Frights Film Festival ran from August 12-19, 2021. For more festival information and announcements visit the website or follow @PopcornFrights on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram!