Dr. Lauren McIntyre is a horror obsessive, tattoo connoisseur, natural Goth and cat wrangler. Lauren has spent the last few days trying not to spontaneously combust in the 30+ degree heat. Say hi to her on Twitter: @noddinggoth
Darren Gaskell is a horror obsessive and “enthusiastic” karaoke performer. Darren has spent the last couple of weeks learning the German version of a Eurovision Song Contest winner. Say hi to him on Twitter: @darren_gaskell
*** WARNING: THERE ARE SPOILERS AHEAD AND THE ODD SWEARY BIT ***
For the second time in as many months, Dr. Lauren and Darren made the long trek to their respective sofas for another packed day of films and shorts courtesy of the lovely Mitch Harrod, Soho Horror Festival’s programmer and all-round horror hero. June 27th 2020 saw the Pride Edition of the SoHome Horror Festival, a culmination of Mitch’s long-held dream to bring exclusively queer horror content to as wide an audience as possible.
Darren: So we’re going to deal with most of the short films in another piece but here we’re going to look at the Queer Fears Showcase, which was a block of shorts on its own and then we’re going to talk about Nick Vince and the excerpts from his show I Am Monsters. Showcase first. Three shorts, beginning with…
CONVERSION THERAPIST (dir. Bears Rebecca Fonte)
Darren: This is a short by Bears Rebecca Fonte about a man who’s kidnapped and then put through a series of trials in an attempt to make him admit that he’s not the religious pillar of society that he’s made himself out to be.
Dr. Lauren: Yes.
Darren: Probably my favourite short of the day.
Dr. Lauren: Really? Of everything?
Darren: Of everything, yes. It bridged the gap between putting a serious message across but doing it in an entertaining and quite gory way to bring the horror fans on board as well.
Dr. Lauren: I thought it was very good. It wasn’t my favourite but it was right up there, it was excellent. Well written, like you said it got a serious message across. Performances were all pretty decent, special effects were fine as well.
Darren: Yeah. With short films special effects might go by the wayside a bit but it does get pretty gory in places.
Dr. Lauren: It does. The joke about the circular saw I really enjoyed.
Darren: That is a good joke. As to the short, it doesn’t hit you over the head. It points up something very serious which I’m sure has happened to far too many people but it does manage to put that point across without being too preachy. It uses horror to transmit a very powerful message but you’re not left like you feel you’ve been lectured to.
Dr. Lauren: It treads a fine line. With the subject matter and what happens in the story it could have gone super serious and really grim or it could have gone the other way and ended up being a bit silly. It did retain a fun element but like you said it still managed to put a serious point across. I think it did really well treading that line.
Darren: Very clever way of doing it. The worst thing it could have done was to come across as being trite and that would have completely negated what it was trying to put across. Really skilfully done and left me with all of the feels I needed. It left me entertained, educated and slightly angry as well, which is a good place to be. You needed to feel some level of anger but you also wanted some catharsis at the end, you so wanted the bad guy to get his comeuppance.
Dr. Lauren: Conversion therapy is something that’s very real and hideous.
Darren: Both of those.
Dr. Lauren: I thought it was a very good short.
Darren: I’m very interested to see what the director and the performers do next.
Dr. Lauren: We should mention the performance of Evelyn Jake. I thought they absolutely ran away with it.
Darren: Oh yes, we should. Astonishing performance. Amazing.
INNOCENT BOY (dir. Brock Cravy)
Darren: Innocent Boy, which is….er….what the hell was going on here?
Dr. Lauren: You know what? I was so confused about what was happening in it that I actually Googled it. I read the synopsis and I did still not get what was going on or if I was supposed to be enjoying it.
Darren: It looks great and there are some extremely disturbing moments in it but I came out of thinking “What the hell did I just watch?”.
Dr. Lauren: Do you want me to tell you what it’s about?
Darren: Go on. Please do. This is a learning experience.
Dr. Lauren; Okay. The building they’re in is a brothel that’s run by a madam who is the person wearing all the feathers. The people working in the brothel are addicted to the madam’s breast milk.
Darren: Rrrrright. I’d got the brothel bit and I’d got the bit where you see the madam feeding someone…
Dr. Lauren: That was gross.
Darren: Yeah, it was quite disgusting. On one level I got that but doesn’t someone smash her head in with an iron at one point?
Dr. Lauren: Yeah.
Darren: So I was wondering if it was some kind of rebellion at being trapped in that place but it turned out not to be and….
Dr. Lauren: The whole dynamic of the brothel is thrown out of whack when the cowboy guy turns up.
Darren: Right. Okay. I do feel slightly thick for not getting some of that but I really did not get some of that.
Dr. Lauren: Neither did I.
Darren: I got some really cool visuals and then some disgusting things happening. Which for me isn’t necessarily a bad thing at all but for me the style far outweighed the substance in it.
Dr. Lauren: Yeah, I got the same feeling.
Darren: It loved the look of it.
Dr. Lauren: I felt like it was trying to be a lot cleverer than it actually was and just ended up confusing.
Darren: Yeah. I don’t mind when projects try to reach beyond what you would normally get in a horror short but to me it felt like a collection of striking images with no real connecting tissue.
Dr. Lauren: I get that. If anybody reading this disagrees and got loads out of it and they understood it more than we did then please get in touch with us.
Darren: We might very well be talking shit. To anybody who did get all of it that’s wonderful and I’m glad for those who did love it. I was bewildered, basically, by this one.
Dr. Lauren: I was definitely like “What the hell have I just watched?”.
Darren: I’m tempted to watch it again but even forearmed with the knowledge of it if I have a feeling I would still sit there thinking “What’s going on?”.
Dr. Lauren: I’ve read a few reviews of it and it seems as though people either love it or hate it. I’ve seen a couple of 5 star reviews and a couple of 1 star reviews which basically say “What the fuck is this?”.
Darren: I can see why. Having said that, I neither loved it nor hated it. There’s lots to commend it in terms of the way it looks but story wise it was too thin for me, it was a serious of things happening with no real explanation.
Dr. Lauren: Sorry.
LABRYS (dir. BJ Colangelo)
Darren: Finally, in the Queers Fears Showcase block, BJ Colangelo’s Labrys.
Dr. Lauren: I really liked this!
Darren: This is a good one. It’s about a date between two women in a bar which goes to an unexpectedly interesting place.
Dr. Lauren: Cheesy Fries Man!
Darren: Yes, Cheesy Fries Man. It starts off with this date that’s hijacked by a drunken idiot but it all works itself out in a somewhat unexpected way. I mean, I knew something was coming but I didn’t know that was coming.
Dr. Lauren: There’s probably not a vast amount to say about this because it wasn’t very long and I don’t want to spoil it but what it does is very effective, it’s very well done and it’s quite satisfying as well.
Darren: It’s got an ending which was along the lines of what I was hoping. I was quite surprised when the credits rolled because I thought there’d be slightly more of a post-payoff scene but no, it’s pretty much straight out of there. There are a couple of lines of dialogue over the credits but it’s done, it’s out of there. Short, snappy, pretty good. I enjoyed it.
Dr. Lauren: Yeah, me too.
Darren: Nice work, BJ Colangelo.
I AM MONSTERS (excerpt)
Darren: So, there was a bit of a chat with Nicholas Vince.
Dr. Lauren: Nicholas Vince, the nicest man in horror.
Darren: Yes. There’s something very calming about listening to Nick Vince. Everything seems less stressful when he’s talking.
Dr. Lauren: Are you saying that he should record a series of meditation tapes?
Darren: I’m wondering if he should go into the ASMR business. Maybe we should suggest that to him. Anyway, there was a bit of a chat about what he’s been doing, what he’s doing right now, what his future plans are and then there was an excerpt from his one-man show I Am Monsters.
Dr. Lauren: Which has played in America, right? And it’s done a short run in London.
Darren: And it’s going to play again in the future. Which is good because it means I can try to see it this time. I intended to see it when it was playing in London and I just couldn’t get there.
Dr. Lauren: Just for the benefit of anyone who doesn’t know who Nicholas Vince is, well, if you don’t….
Darren: Call yourself a horror fan? Just kidding. Well, kind of.
Dr. Lauren: Famously known for playing Chatterer in Hellraiser but also played Kinski in Nightbreed. Book Of Monsters is probably the most notable one he’s done in recent times but he’s been in a bunch of shorts by people we know and he’s made a couple of shorts himself.
Darren: Can’t really say too much about the I Am Monsters excerpt because if you’re going to see it we don’t want to be spoiling too much of what he’s going to talk about.
Dr. Lauren: It’s basically about his life and his experiences in the horror industry.
Darren: He talks about his experiences as an out, gay man and talks about those very eloquently and with a lot of feeling about, for instance, the march against Clause 28. It’s not bashing you over the head with it but it’s put across on a very personal level and it’s quite affecting. It’s not wagging a finger at you and shouting in your face about this is how it was. It’s quiet and considered which makes it more powerful. There’s certainly a lot of feeling and sadness and a little anger but it’s told in a very considered, humorous and engaging way.
Dr. Lauren: As a surprise, we also got to see his new short film.
Darren: We did.
NECESSARY EVILS (dir. Nicholas Vince)
Darren: This short was made a couple of years back, I think. t hasn’t seen the official light of day just yet but apparently it’s going to very soon.
Dr. Lauren: It’s produced by Celtic Badger Media. Paddy Murphy et al.
Darren: This is about a particular branch of the British military.
Dr. Lauren: It’s obviously quite low-budget but that’s not to its detriment. They have a really interesting concept and I think there’s enough for a feature there.
Darren: There is. The idea is intriguing and expandable enough to go to feature length. There’s a clear idea about what’s going on but there’s much more room to take it wherever it could go.
Dr. Lauren: It reminded me a bit of Patrick Rea’s short.
Darren: Spiritual Practice?
Dr. Lauren: Yes, it reminded me of that as you were given the beginning of a story and then it finished but you were wanting to see what happened next.
Darren: There’s some effects work in it. It’s not hugely complicated and there’s not going to be spectacular stuff because of the budget but that doesn’t get in the way at all because the idea is everything here. That’s what sells it. The bit of bloodletting you do see is not the reason for the short to exist, it’s more about what’s being put across and what they’re trying to suggest is going on. I’m with you, this could easily stretch to a feature because the idea is so good.
Dr. Lauren: It’s also interesting to see Nick’s work behind the camera as well. I’m aware of his previous short The Night Whispered but I haven’t seen that yet. It’s interesting to see him in a directorial capacity rather than playing a creature.
Darren: It’s one to check out if you can see the short but it’s probably one that they should get on the crowdfunding circuit.
Dr. Lauren: Ah! They definitely should get it on the crowdfunding circuit, I think it’d go down really well.
Darren: It’s a good idea with legs and it’s clearly in the horror genre.
A huge thank you to Mitch Harrod for inviting us into the Soho Horror Family, for giving us a festival unlike any other and for encouraging us to write about it. We love you lots. Dr. L & D xxx
The Soho Horror Festival website can be found here: https://www.sohohorrorfest.com/
You can find out more about the festival, what’s played there previously and you can even donate if you want to.
SoHome Pride Edition merchandise can be found here: https://www.redbubble.com/shop/ap/50326395?fbclid=IwAR2GTjuoIi0UnrTICNIs9m6t6DHnarOTQyoGquyB-z_ZWVopWJY9KkLgAFc
All profits from the SoHome Pride Edition merchandise will be donated to Black Pride UK, an organisation that provides education, support and community outreach to black, asian and minority ethnic individuals.