Summer Summer Summertime

Los Angeles…a city full of sun, sand, palm trees and horror (no, I’m not talking about all of the plastic surgery).  It’s the 2011 Los Angeles Film Festival, produced by Film Independent, a non-profit organization assisting independent filmmakers and the independent film community, and presented by the Los Angeles Times.  Started by festival director Gary Essert in 1971, the festival screens more than 100 films at the Regal Cinemas in the L.A. LIVE complex (plus a few other venues) in downtown Los Angeles over the course of 10 days (June 16-26 2011).  The focus of the festival is on indie, classic, documentary, feature, international and short films plus music videos in just about every genre.  Also on the schedule are premieres, panels, seminars and programs like the Filmmaker Retreat which was hosted in 2010 by Academy Award-winning director Kathryn Bigelow of The Hurt Locker.  In the end, ten awards are presented at the LA Film Fest with an attendance of about 90,000+ people.

Here are the films on Horror Haven’s festival radar…

Another Earth (USA/2011/92 mins – Science Fiction and Fantasy)  Starring William Mapother, Brit Marling, Jordan Baker, Robin Lord Taylor and Flint Beverage.  Screenplay by Mike Cahill and Brit Marling.  Produced by Mike Cahill, Hunter Gray, Brit Marling and Nicholas Shumaker.  Directed by Mike Cahill.

Synopsis:  On the eve of an epic global discovery – a second Earth glowing in the sky – two strangers, John (Mapother) and Rhoda (Marling), collide in a tragedy that forever changes their lives.  Four years later the two, both shadows of their former selves, slowly come together as an unlikely couple.  But looming almost as largely as the distant new Earth are the harsh realities of truth, guilt, and the complexities of forgiveness.  In this stunning collaboration, director Mike Cahill and mesmerizing actress/co-writer Brit Marling present the rare, successful hybrid of high-concept science fiction film and scrappy independent, fearlessly asking of their audience “What would you do if you met another you?”

Screenings:  June 23rd at 7:20p at Regal Cinemas L.A. LIVE 8 and June 25th at 1:10p at Regal Cinemas L.A. LIVE 11

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (USA/2011/100 mins – Cult & Horror)  Starring Guy Pearce, Katie Holmes, Bailee Madison and Jack Thompson.  Screenplay by Guillermo del Toro and Matthew Robbins.  Produced by Guillermo del Toro and Mark Johnson.  Directed by Troy Nixey.

Synopsis:  Sent to live with her dad (Pearce) and his new girlfriend (Holmes) in the creepy old mansion they’re renovating, little Sally (Madison) makes friends with the only people who seem to understand her – the mysterious creatures whispering to her from underneath the house.  Soon, Sally finds her new friends, who are now hiding behind the walls and underneath her bed, are not as friendly as they first appeared to be.  From director Troy Nixey and screenwriter/producer Guillermo del Toro comes this fabulous frightfest that reminds us – the audience, not poor Sally – how much fun it is to be scared, even when we’re alone…at night…in the dark.

Screening:  June 26th at 7:30p at Regal Cinemas L.A. LIVE 1

Entrance (USA/2011/83 mins – Cult & Horror)  Starring Suziey Block, Bennett Jones, Florence Hartigan, Josh Grote, Liesel Kopp, Morgan Phalen, Jonathan Margolis, Tim Wilson, Karen Gorham, Karen Baird, Farley Burge, Patrick McPheron and Peter Wulff.  Screenplay by Karen Gorham, Dallas Hallam, Patrick Horvath and Michelle Margolis.  Produced by Dallas Hallam, Patrick Horvath, Michelle Margolis, Karen Gorham and Suziey Block.  Directed by Dallas Hallam and Patrick Horvath.

Synopsis:  When Suziey (Block), a beautiful Silverlake hipster, mysteriously loses her beloved dog, a creeping anxiety begins to set in and she decides she’s had enough of L.A..  But on the night of her going-away party, Suziey finds out that leaving might not be so easy.  A remarkably deft blending of genres, this character-study-meets-horror-flick is a true East Side collaboration.  Suziey the Silverlake barista really is Suziey the Silverlake barista (and a gifted actress) and the rambling hillside home she inhabits onscreen was director Dallas Hallam’s rental during shooting.  But what’s most remarkable about Hallam and Patrick Horvath’s directorial debut is the unshakable sense of dread it evokes.  Be warned–you may not sleep so well once you’ve experienced Entrance.

Screenings:  June 24th at 10:10p at Regal Cinemas L.A. LIVE 11 and June 25th at 4:00p at Downtown Independent

Haunters [original title: Choneung ryukja] (Korea/2010/114 mins – Cult & Horror)  Starring Gang Dong-won, Ko Soo,Enes Kaya, Abu Dodd, Jung Eunchae, Byeon Hie-bong and Yang Kyung-mo.  Screenplay by Kim Min-suk.  Produced by Eugene Lee.  Directed by Kim Min-suk.

Synopsis:  A psychic sociopath who can control people with his eyes is hunted by the one man able to resist his evil gaze in this thriller directed by the writer of The Good, the Bad and the Weird.

Screening:  June 20th at 10:00p at Regal Cinemas L.A. LIVE 9

The Innkeepers (USA/2011/102 mins – Cult & Horror)  Starring Sara Paxton, Pat Healy and Kelly McGillis.  Screenplay by Ti West.  Produced by Derek Curl, Larry Fessenden,Peter Phok and Ti West.  Directed by Ti West.

Synopsis:  Wonderfully toying with audience expectations, writer-director Ti West takes a slowburn approach to this ghostly blend of humor, suspense and scares.  Quietly building the anticipation of frights to come, West and his cast disarm the audience with casual jokes and friendly banter even as the elements of the terrifying climax are put into place.  During the final working weekend of a supposedly haunted New England inn, two lackadaisical desk clerks-cum-ghost hunters, armed with only a portable cassette deck and a couple of flashlights, search for proof of the supernatural.  Of course, the problem is sometimes the thing you’re looking for finds you first.

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