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Tabloid Witch Awards

Weekly Universe




by Thomas M. Sipos, managing editor [September 30, 2023]




[]  For the 20th year in a row -- has it been 20 years?! -- the Hollywood Investigator is happy to announce the winners of its Tabloid Witch Awards horror film contest. Winning films came from Australia, Canada, France, Mexico, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

A total of 297 films were entered this year, with less than 7% walking away with an award. In selecting winners, films were assessed for originality, technical mastery, acting, thematic depth, aesthetics (how well the technical aspects supported the film's story, characters, and themes), and entertainment value.

This year we received a lot of religious horror films. I mean a lot. Devils, demons, possessions, exorcisms, ministers, priests, films set in churches, and even a scary angel. We also got a surprisingly large number of avant-garde (i.e., experimental) films. That's usually not a big category, but this year we got a lot. I mean a lot

Here now are 2023's Tabloid Witch Award winning films:


* Best Horror Feature: Ghosts of the Void


A newly homeless couple plan to spend a night in their car, amid a deserted park. They'll decide what to do in the morning. But the park holds unexpected terrors. They might not survive the night.

Although Ghosts of the Void offers some thrills, its strong point is social commentary. Tyler and Jen Wilson (Michael Reagan, Tedra Millan) are young, intelligent, and educated. Not the sort of people who expected to be homeless. But maybe they should have. Tyler had eschewed jobs because he was working on his novel, allowing Jen to support them both. Then she lost her job.

Are the Wilsons the victims of a bad economy or poor personal choices? Both, of course. The economy tanked Jen's job, and Tyler's poor choices provided no second income. (He also has a drinking problem, which doesn't help.) Either way, once you fall into poverty, the world becomes scary. People prey the poor. The poor hurt each other. Poverty makes people mean and ugly.



Ghosts of the Void is minimalist horror. Mostly it's two people in a car and a house; flashbacks depict the Wilsons at home before they lost it. Fortunately, Reagan and Millan not only offer excellent performances, they also share a strong chemistry as a couple. That's critical when it's mostly just them together on screen.

Production values are also first rate, though some aspects aren't too original. The menacing masked figures evoke The Purge, another horror film heavy on social themes.

Ghosts of the Void derives scares from the mysterious figures, but its real terrors are those of economic disenfranchisement. The film asks, has the American Dream died for the middle class, or was it always illusory?




* Best Horror Documentary: The Grotto of Death


Mexico has made some unique contributions to horror. Horror wrestling movies are one example. Micro comics another. As formulaic as Tales from the Crypt, but smaller than a Reader's Digest, micro comics were once a very big deal in Mexico. The Grotto of Death informs us that "At its peak in the 1970s, Mexico was the world's largest per capita producer of comics. Since then, the comics industry in Mexico has severely declined. Julio Camarena Perez was the highest paid artist published by Editorial Continente."

The Grotto of Death is both the title of this documentary and that of one of Perez's micro comics. While a narrator reads "The Grotto of Death," a moving camera and sound effects help "enliven" Perez's static drawings. An interview with Perez is intercut throughout the reading of the story.



Perez relates his apprenticeship as an artist. He regrets that artists never got to work with writers; the editors simply submitted the boxes with dialog and description to the artists. He laments that the Mexican comic book industry eventually shifted from horror, fantasy, and suspense, into soft and hardcore porn. He told his editors it would hurt sales, but the editors didn't listen.

The Grotto of Death ends by telling us that Perez, now in his 80s, is "one of the last links with this disappearing past." Which makes this documentary an important record of horror history. It's also well produced, creatively told, and (like a micro comic) is not overly long to the point of becoming repetitious or boring.

Directed by Christopher Sperandio, Brian Huberman & Augusto Mora


* Best Dramatic Horror Short: Get Away


Three young woman rent an isolated house in the desert. From the start, we know something bad will happen. Everyone knows. Upon seeing it, one of the women quips, "Murder house." She's not wary or afraid. She's thinks it's awesome. It's as if she knows she's in a horror film and is winking at the audience.

That in-joke becomes more literal as events unfold. There's nothing subtle about Get Away. The film is in-your-face horror laced with irony and self-referential humor. Foreboding events occur in quick succession. We're immediately told there's no cell phone service. Then the women find an old VCR. And a dusty VHS tape. Of an old horror movie. Surprise! -- the movie is set in the same house they've rented!



Get Away is no slow burn. Pacing is one of its many technical strengths. Other strengths include a script without padded dialog or boring busywork, talented actors who create engaging characters, scares and laughter, sharp cinematography, a sound design that tracks and enhances the horror, and slick visual effects.

Director Michael Gabriele (who co-wrote with Anthony Jefferson) is knowledgeable about horror film tropes. His story isn't too original. Nor are there any big social themes. But Get Away is both technically first rate across the board, and offers thrilling entertainment.




* Best Comedic Horror Short: Tridamos


Anna (Emmy Doody) is a young lady unlucky in love. Her friend Sofie (Eglantine Sans) resolves to help Anna find "the man of her dreams" by taking her to a witch's ceremony in the woods. All Anna need to is write down her nine "must have" qualities in a man. The witches do their part, producing a man who meets every qualification. But few women's wish lists are limited to only nine demands for a man, and Anna's disappointment is immediately evident.





Tridamos has no gore or scares. It's a gentle satire of an often discussed topic: the difficulties faced by modern women in finding Mr. Right. Is there really a shortage of eligible men? Or are woman simply too picky? Why is Anna hesitant when presented with her "ideal man" (Guillaume Allix)? Is it because of his demonic appearance, or because he's short? Will Anna swipe left or right? The ending is both cute and thought provoking.

Tridamos boasts first rate production values across the board. Cinematography, sound, music, acting are all first rate. Written and directed by Carnior (just one name) and shot in France, the land of romance.



* Best Avant-Garde Horror Film: Affliction


An adolescent girl (Sophia Dendy) suffers serious depression. She talks to two unseen entities, but we only hear her voice. A small, sympathetic entity "speaks" via subtitles. A large, overbearing entity "speaks" through growls and subtitles. I think the small entity is the girl's imaginary friend, and the latter is a monster in her closet? The girl also undergoes a lobotomy in a tool shed, but that doesn't make sense. Is that too in her imagination, or is it symbolic, or both?

Affliction is an experimental horror film. The unseen "actors," the different forms of "speaking," the surreal surgery, Dendy's mostly deadpan performance as she stares into space or at the moon. It's a weird film, but Affliction has a mesmerizing power that compels you to keep watching, to keep guessing, and to feel empathy for this troubled young woman. Affliction enables viewers to feel the horrors of depression and mental illness.




Like the best avant-garde films, Affliction is deeply personal. Filmmaker Gus R. Yeager says, "Having had experience battling against mental demons, I am all too familiar with the haunting, empty way the world can feel." I can imagine. Affliction effectively conveys feelings of emptiness, forlornness, and despair.

Yeager also says that he "wanted to experiment with the 'texture' of film as a medium with which to tell a story of a distorted reality." He succeeded there. Finally, he says he "hopes to make others question what is real -- or at least what the heck they just saw." He succeeded there as well. So what did we just see?

He says that Affliction is about "A young woman exploring a strange, distorted reality where nothing is certain -- not even existence itself. Told through the eyes of a younger and older sibling."

Oh, so the unseen entities were siblings? I didn't get that at all.

But is that the only correct interpretation? Or is avant-garde cinema, like abstract expressionist painting, something from which viewers can draw their own meanings? No, I don't think they are siblings. Some of the dialog wouldn't make sense (just as the surgery doesn't make sense). I still think these events are mostly in the girl's troubled mind. She might not even have siblings, for all I know. But either way, Affliction is a powering viewing experience.



* Best Animated Horror Film: El Padrastro (aka The Skin)


The Skin is a tale of self-mutilation, inspired by narcissism. A young man begins the morning with his usual exercise, shower, and self-admiration of his flawless physique. But this morning over breakfast, he notices a slight imperfection. A hangnail. This so outrages his devotion to perfection, he tears it out.

That only further mars his beautiful body. And so he continues tearing off the imperfections. For now, use your imagination as to how far he goes. The film won't let you. It pushes the envelope and shows you everything. This is not an easy film to watch.

That says a lot, considering that The Skin is animation, which usually distances the viewer from a sense of reality. The colors are vibrant (fantastical) rather than gritty (realistic). There is also much dark humor, yet another distancing device. None of which lessens The Skin's visceral, cringe-inducing power.


But it's not all laughs and gore. There is also a theme. Beauty is only skin deep, or, shallow people destroy themselves, or, well, something like that. Okay, those aren't original themes; you can find them in the Bible. But they're still valid and (in this age of social media) worth repeating. (Actually, when you think about it, the guy could have just used the filters on his Instagram or iPhone.)

Written and directed by Spanish film student Jose Casas.



* Best Trash Horror Film: The Old Man in the Rocking Chair


This film might be described as a "supernatural giallo trash horror parody." That's a mouthful, but all those ingredients simmer within this bloody stew. A killer in a trenchcoat and black gloves takes Polaroid photos of his victims. Murders are graphic, involve nudity, and are ludicrous to the point of hilarity. One victim struggles and screams even after her face (wrapped in a towel) has been stabbed multiple times. And just when you thought you only had to worry about the maniac, a demonic entity unexpectedly enters the fray.

Like much of Argento and Fulci's work, The Old Man in the Rocking Chair is a bit light on logic.

Writer/director Eric Yoder says his film is "based on the Italian giallo films of the 1970's." That's not quite accurate. Strictly speaking, giallo refers to stylized murder mysteries. Although Deep Red is clearly an influence, Yoder also draws upon Italian supernatural films extending into 1980s.



Horror fans will enjoy finding all the "Easter eggs" in Yoder's basket. His characters pay homage to Bava, Lenzi, Fulci, and Argento. Yoder even relies on fair use to borrow music from their films.

The production design, makeup and visual effects, and lighting are admirable. The dialog sounds dubbed, which heightens the sense that we're watching an Italian period piece. Inspector Lenzi's anachronistic ponytail is a weak point; the actor should have been required to cut his hair. But overall The Old Man in the Rocking Chair is a highly entertaining trashy parody of a bygone era.



* Best Horror Music Video: The Rose


My initial thought was that The Rose is about lost love, but singer/songwriter Michaela Betts says that her lyrics are about "lost childhood." Either way, it's a melancholy piece of music that evokes the gloomy poetry of Edgar Allan Poe.

Director Hilary Campilan visualizes the song's Poesque despair. A woman sings in a barren, wintry forest (old age) while a young girl (her youth) is preyed upon by wolves (the ravages of age). If that interpretation is off, no problem. The Rose is a powerful and provocative video that invites repeat viewing, mesmerizing with its beauty while inspiring us to meditate on its meaning.


The technical skills behind the video are also admirable. Campilan says her video was shot on an iPhone 13 and that her passion is "collaborating with dancers or musicians, to make short music videos, using AI as part of the creative process." I suspect she used a lot of that AI in post-production. I have an iPhone 13 Pro, and I couldn't have made The Rose.

Horror has many sounds. Past years' music video winners have included pop, parody, heavy metal, hip hop, and ballads. This year's winner is a hauntingly beautiful work of art. Websites exist for both Michaela Betts and Hilary Campilan.




* Honorable Mention


The Honorable Mention prizes, like the "Best ... Film" prizes, are shared by the film's writer and director.

Honorable Mentions go to films that didn't win in any specific category, but still deserve attention.


* Wake Up


Wake Up wastes no time on exposition; it opens with events already in progress. Scarlet (Bia Wong) is alone in her bedroom, talking on the phone to Meg (Josefine Winkler), discussing the murder of their friend. We infer her body was horribly mutilated. Scarlet suggests that Oliver is innocent of the crime.

The story that unfolds bears similarities to It Follows (but with a twist ending that leaves you wondering). Scarlet believes that she and her friends are being hunted by an entity that can resemble anyone. An entity that strikes while you're asleep, which is why Scarlett hasn't slept in days.

Wake Up is what I call minimalist horror. Some call it quiet horror. A few characters in an isolated location, a creepy atmosphere, limited gore, and a story where much is implied but little is seen. Quiet, creepy horror is not as easy to pull off as in-your-face shocks and gore, but writer/director J.G. Chiem does an admirable job of it.


The setting is somber, the rooms featuring muted earth tones and dim lighting. The absence of music and limited use of sound effects heightens our sense of isolation and dread. The dialog is sparse and matter-of-fact; no happy talk or wasted chitchat. The performances are serious and low-key, with moments of heightened tension.

All of this works together to focus our attention on minute details. That's important. Scarlet isn't sure when her friends are real, and when they're the entity in disguise. She's always alert for tiny tells. The quiet atmosphere, the low-key lighting and performances, the sparseness of dialog, all of it helps to focus her attention and ours, placing us in her situation. We empathize and feel her fear, rather than merely sympathizing from a distance.



* Contract


Brick Douglass (Jack Alejandro Young) is a hard-boiled private dick who takes possession cases. If you need some muscle to show a demon the door, just ask for Brick. (And you have to be pretty hard-boiled to carry a name like Brick.) As Brick puts is, "I been doing this shit a long time, bud." Which is why he thought his latest case would be easy. That was his first mistake.

Contract isn't the slickest entry this year, but it's one of the most entertaining. The acting is hammy and at times over-the-top. You get the sense the cast is having fun with their roles. The production values (e.g., lighting and make-up effects) are very good, though some scenes sound dubbed. Contract moves at a good pace and is never boring. The story is stupid, funny, trashy, and gory. Overall, Contract might be described as trash horror noir.




A caveat: Brick is portrayed as a world-weary, chain-smoking, hard-drinking gumshoe. But while some effort was made to give Young a haggard appearance, his teeth remain gleaming white. Not the teeth of a longtime chain-smoker. The makeup person might have yellowed Young's teeth.

Apart from performing in the lead role, Young wrote and directed, qualifying him as a true auteur. He also entered another film this year, Pseudo. Quite the opposite of Contract, Pseudo is dark, depressing, moody, poignantly affecting, a bit avant-garde and confusing, but also intriguing. But nowhere near as entertaining as Contract.



* Vital Instruments


Three robbers believe they have found the perfect hideout: an old, abandoned barn that they've staked out for several weeks. But on the night of their Big Robbery, when they escape to the barn, planning to lay low for a while, they find several women locked in cages. So much for the perfect hideout. Even worse, the women are not as innocent at they appear. It seems they're involved in some sort of religious cult. And then things get weird. Might it have something to so with ... Satan?

There's much to admire about Vital Instruments. (I assume the title is a reference to the women.) The acting, cinematography, sound, and editing are all first rate. But the film's most distinctive quality is its energy. Vital Instruments is no slow burn; it's a high-octane, roller coaster ride. From the moment the robbers enter the barn, the twists keep coming, surprise after surprise, with no time to catch your breath. A lean script without any padding, and tightly edited with jump cuts to keep the action moving.



Vital Instruments is religious horror, but without a feel-good message. This is dark horror. The only righteous character (we barely knew him) is killed early on. We're then left with the robbers (who are bad) vs. the women (who are Manson Family bad). This is one of those films where bad guys confront pure evil. A black and gray world. Quentin Tarantino territory. With all the extreme gory violence that implies. Like I said, dark horror.

Vital Instruments isn't a pleasant film. But it's classic cathartic horror. A thrill ride through the heart of darkness that leaves you feeling better for surviving it. Some of us call it entertainment.



* Additional Winners


Every year we see some bad actors, some mediocre actors, and some talented actors who do a professional job. Among the latter are those few who leave an impression. Who go beyond the job and create a character that lingers in our minds. This last quality is often the crucial difference between the winners and the merely talented.

Another consideration is aesthetics. Many films are technically slick. They are nicely lit, the sound clearly recorded. But if a film's technical choices also aesthetically support its story, characters, and themes, then so much the better.



Upon moving to a small rural community, Dave (Jeff Ayars) discovers a bizarre hole in a field. Whatever he lowers into it comes up transformed, not always for the better. Does it lead to Hell or to a reunion with his dead wife? Dave eventually lowers himself into the hole...

According to the filmmakers (Jason Egan, Michael Nash), Abaddon's Pit is about "the eternal struggle between the quest for truth versus blind faith."

Representing faith is Faith (Faith Kelly), but it would be unfair to call her blind. Even if the hole isn't "an abomination" for certain, there's enough evidence that it might be. If the chimp NASA sent into space in 1961 had returned freakishly mutated like the pig Dave lowers into the hole, NASA would have delayed sending men pending further experiments.

Faith pastors her own church. Films often portray Christian clergy as one dimensional, either hypocrites or boy scouts. Rarely are they the complex characters Robert Duvall played in The Apostle.

Faith isn't as big or complex a character as Duvall's, but Faith Kelly imbues Faith with texture and nuance. Her Faith bubbles with enthusiasm, sincerity, and concern for her flock. But she also has an edge, a subtle undercurrent that's grating and domineering, especially toward her hen-pecked husband (Lawrence Trailer). Yet even when her denunciation of the hole reaches fever pitch, she never turns villain by attacking Dave. She hates the sin, not the sinner.

Her church is a bit weird; despite referencing the Bible, Faith wears Wicker Man style deer antlers -- what's with that? But overall, she is a well-balanced, multi-dimensional, engaging character.

Faith Kelly wins for Best Dramatic Actress.



It's the zombie apocalypse! (Yes, they're still making zombie apocalypse films.) Not to worry. Dr. Brown is working on a cure in his lab. But then the zombies invade the building, trapping him in his lab. With a rat.

That's pretty much all of Trapped. Dr. Brown alone in his lab with a rat. Trapped in a lab while he struggles to survive, signal for help, seek food and water, stop the rat from stealing his food, and eventually making peace with the rat -- which surprisingly turns his bleak prospects into something hopeful.

Trapped is pretty much a one-man show, which places a heavy burden on David Sayers. Fortunately, Sayers imbues Dr. Brown with the emotional range and depth that makes him a compelling character to watch. He starts off as a surly boss, becomes increasingly testy and irritated by the rat, but when faced with death ... well, his change of heart toward the rat recalls Roy Batty's last moments in Blade Runner. Sayers performance carries the film.

David Sayers wins for Best Dramatic Actor.


Ona's tech company is about to release "the next level" of downloadable entertainment. A chip that is implanted in the brain, allowing the user to download and listen to music without ear buds. The chip is controlled (music selection, volume, etc.) from a wireless bracelet.

Ona believes in her product. The chip is implanted into her own brain before the product's launch. But a bug soon manifests. The music skips, repeating the same note loudly. Ona can't it turn off, can't lower the volume. And so begins her torment.

Sincopat hilariously satirizes tech culture's over-confidence in AI and transhumanism. Lead actress Nuria Florensa traces Ona's emotional breakdown. She is punchable smug early in the film, comparing herself to Steve Jobs. But as she tries to suppress her frustration at the never-ending musical beat, she spirals into desperation and panic. Watching her fall from grace is funny, but Florensa also manages to evoke our sympathy. Her final solution is sad, but also a relief.

Yet the product has hit the streets. Sales are brisk. Sincopat ends with the implication that the nightmare has only begun.

Nuria Florensa wins for Best Comedic Actress



Spencer (Dylan Wayne Lawrence) and Cameron (John Reddy) are a gay couple who've bought their first home. Their realtor (Kelli Maroney) explains that the previous owner died while making renovations. Among the items left behind is a baby carriage.

A carriage that moves. Apparently it's haunted by a ghost, or maybe it's demonically possessed, or, well, whatever its problem, it's damned annoying. Just a constant source of irritation, as far as our couple is concerned.

That's the comedic premise of The Haunted Baby Carriage from Hell. Neither Spencer or Cameron or any of their friends are frightened. However much the carriage tries to terrify, it's only seen as a nuisance.

Writer/director J.T. Seaton keeps the jokes flowing at a brisk pace. Scenes are colorful and brightly lit in a manner appropriate for comedies. At the film's core are actors Lawrence and Reddy.

Their characters are a classic odd couple. Spencer is dour and negative, complaining that the house is small, its walls are ugly. Cameron thinks the house is cute. Their comedic interplay and repartee makes for a funny and entertaining story. The actors also share a chemistry, lending the film a sense of believability despite its silly premise.

Twice before the Tabloid Witch has presented a shared acting award. Always it was for two actors in the same film whose performances were so intertwined, it was unfair to honor one without the other. This precedent holds true for Lawrence and Reddy.

Dylan Wayne Lawrence & John Reddy win for Best Comedic Actor.



A pair of young people attempt to conjure a demon for social media. Naturally, this being a horror film, things go terribly wrong. (Not that things usually go well when you conjure a demon.)

Depicting supernatural events are commonplace in horror films, making it difficult for jaded viewers to suspend their disbelief. It helps if a cinematographer can create an otherworldly atmosphere through his tools (e.g. Lost Souls -- check it out.)

Despite its ordinary dramatic premise, Noman holds our attention. This is partially because of its talented cast, but also because of the film's look. Much of Noman is awash in moody shades of yellow, orange, and red, creating the sort of eerie atmosphere that makes demons both more believable and more frightening.

These colors are partially justified by Amber's (Gabrielle Alexander) ceremonial candles, but are consistent through much of the film. Cinematographer Andres Grille also makes good use of rich, black shadows and silhouettes, such as when Amber is hiding in the closet from the demon she conjured. The brightly flashing red-and-blue police lights are also aesthetically used, creating an Argento-like surrealism that sets the tone for Amber's final revelation.

Andres Grille wins for Best Cinematography.

Sound effects can make the mundane scary. The same scene might be comedic or frightening, depending on background music, the presence of laugh tracks, or sound effects.

Get Away has a active soundtrack. From the three girls arrival at the cabin to their final "escape," sound effects aggressively interact with the events and images on screen, imparting a sense of foreboding to the mundane, changing pitch and volume as required to emotionally support the story. Sound effects play a significant role in making Get Away scary fun.

Nick Bozzone & Patrick Navarre
wins for Best Sound Design.


Sincopat begins on a happy note. Ona is serenely confidant about the upcoming release of her tech company's new product. The length of the shots are relatively long in the film's early scenes, reflecting Ona's comfortable situation and languid emotional state.

But as the story progresses, and the computer glitch wears down on Ona's psyche, she becomes ever more frustrated and hysterical. And her scenes are ever more fractured by brief shots and jump cuts, mirroring her desperation and difficulty concentrating. Shots of the people around her, who are trying (and failing) to help, are longer.

We admire editing that not only moves the story forward, but which also aesthetically supports the film's story, characters, and themes. Pol Diggler's editing (he also directed and co-wrote Sincopat) goes that extra mile.

Pol Diggler wins for Best Editing.



A woman drags a naked body into her bathroom. It might be dead or unconscious. She piles it atop another naked body. She encases them in her gooey saliva, much like a spider spinning a web. She covers the bodies in yarn. Her medicine cabinet is filled with insects and spiders which she uses to ... we can't really be sure, but it sure is creepy.

Cremance is a Mexican director who says his works "revolve around sexuality, analyzing how it's been historically portrayed in visual production, cinematography, fine arts and literature -- from chick flick to the eroticization of death in Romanticism -- and its influence in our contemporary appreciation, to determine how to use the preconceived images about the concepts of sex, love, fantasy and Erotism, its cultural and symbolic charge, to translate it in new readings and spaces of significance."

Yes, Aracne is avante-garde horror. And it does tap some powerful archetypes. Giant spiders are a common horror monster. So too beautiful temptresses who transform into spiders (e.g. Curse of the Black Widow, the "Black Widows" episode of Tales from the Darkside). Aracne exploits those fears -- and their sexual appeal -- without resorting to gore.

Cremance's imagery is potent and memorable. Kudos to Eyibra's choppy, chant-like music, but even more so to the production design's pale color scheme. This is a beige and white film, an art decor that evokes both death and a drainage of blood. (Spiders don't actually drink blood, but people think they do, and that's enough for an archetype.) Overall, Aracne is a discomfortingly alluring piece of avant-garde horror cinema.

Cremance wins for Best Production Design.



We love gray alien/UFO abduction films. Tell Him is the best of this year's entries. A wife confesses a secret about herself to her husband. A secret that affects their son. What might that be? Hint: This film is not about a pact with Satan, so no, the child is not the Antichrist. It is a film about gray aliens so the secret is ...

Tell Him is low on originality, but high on execution. Its abduction scene has all the expected tropes for fans of the subgenre. Mysterious blue lights in the sky. Electronic appliances going haywire. Levitating objects. And people morphing into gray aliens. (Yes, this film has hybrids.)

Lighting plays a big part in all this. So do visual effects. Tell Him's visual effects are up to X-Files standards. They're creepy and atmospheric -- realistic and believable, rather than cheesy and laughable. 

Shannon Ford Thompson wins for Best Visual Effects.


An angel commands the leader of a religious cult to build a suicide bomb for his young daughter to wear and detonate. But then her sister begins to doubt their faith.

Seraphim is a disturbing religious horror film because it raises uncomfortable questions. Throughout history, madmen and evil fanatics have killed and terrorized in the name of God. But what if such men aren't mad? And are they still evil if they're acting under the orders of an actual angel? But how can you tell if the angel is conveying commands from God? And if it is God's command, what then?

Although Western art, Hollywood films, and Hallmark cards usually portray angels as having, well, "angelic beauty," the Bible often describes them as terrifying to behold. When angels manifest in their true form, people fall trembling to their knees.

In Seraphim, we only see the angel's face at the end of the film, and only briefly. It's a face that's unsettling and memorable, yet also rooted in the Bible.

We won't show any clear closeups, so as not to spoil the surprise. Suffice to say that Kelton Ching wins for Best Make-Up Effects



Jane is an adaptation of Charlotte Perkins Gilman's 1890 short story, "The Yellow Wallpaper." Which makes it a period piece. This means that in addition to creating an emotional mood, the music must also succeed in evoking its era. Two jobs instead of one. An additional plus if the music is nice.

The music in Jane achieves all that. It's a beautiful, lush classical piece, with heavy emphasis on strings. The score sounds as if it were written in the 19th century, but surprisingly, it's an original composition written for the film. It grounds the story in its period milieu, while also expressing Jane's emotional yearnings for personal liberty and self-expression.

In one significant scene, Jane stares at the wallpaper, which comes alive. A woman emerges from it (Jane's alter ego? her id? her fantasies?), tells Jane that she is not sick, and engages her in a dance that frees Jane's repressed emotions. The dance, and its music, are key elements that move the story forward while aesthetically supporting the scene, characters, and themes.

Liz Huang & Brandon Smith win for Best Music Soundtrack.



* The Final Tally


* Best Horror Feature Film ........................... Jason Miller (Ghosts of the Void)

* Best Horror Documentary .......................... Christopher Sperandio, Brian Huberman & Augusto Mora (The Grotto of Death)

* Best Dramatic Horror Short Film ................ Michael Gabriele & Anthony Jefferson (Get Away)

* Best Comedic Horror Short Film ................ Carnior (Tridamos)

* Best Animated Horror Film ........................ Jose Casas & Adrian Navarro (El Padrastro)

* Best Avant-Garde Horror Film .................. Gus R. Yeager (Affliction)

* Best Trash Horror Film .............................. Eric Yoder (The Old Man in the Rocking Chair)

* Best Horror Music Video ........................... Hilary Campilan (The Rose)

* Best Dramatic Actress .............................. Faith Kelly (Abaddon's Pit)

* Best Dramatic Actor .................................. David Sayers (Trapped)

* Best Comedic Actress .............................. Nuria Florensa (Sincopat)

* Best Comedic Actor .................................. Dylan Wayne Lawrence & John Reddy (The Haunted Baby Carriage from Hell)

* Best Cinematography ................................ Andres Grille (Noman)

* Best Sound Design .................................... Nick Bozzone & Patrick Navarre (Get Away)

* Best Editing ................................................ Pol Diggler (Sincopat)

* Best Production Design ............................. Cremance (Aracne)

* Best Visual Effects ..................................... Shannon Ford Thompson (Tell Him)

* Best Make-Up Effects ................................ Kelton Ching (Seraphim)

* Best Music Soundtrack .............................. Liz Huang & Brandon Smith (Jane)

* Honorable Mention .................................... J.G. Cheim (Wake Up)

* Honorable Mention .................................... Jack Alejandro Young (Contract)

 * Honorable Mention .................................... Greg Kase, Lee Schatzman, Jesse Martin (Vital Instruments)



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