Here’s my personal summary of the Ramaskrik Horror film festival at Oppdal this year. I’ve been to Ramaskrik once before, but only for a short stop of one day. That was a very positive experience, so this year I wanted to go for the full festival.
Day 1: Thursday
The first day of the festival starts off with the Ramaskrik horror train from Oslo to Oppdal. The festival has teamed up with the railways to provide a special experience for those of us traveling by train. There’s around ten people or so that shows up, and we’re greeted by a friendly hostess, a goodie bag, and a short quiz to get things started. The train trip is quite long, so it’s a very nice initiative to get people to meet and socialize before the festival. It doesn’t take long for the nerdy film references and trivia to flow rather freely throughout the train cafeteria.
Also the festival hotel has taken it’s task seriously. Upon exiting the elevator on our floor I was greeted with the decoration seen above.
we arrived just in time for the opening film Shut In from the US. Quite a good film in my opinion. It’s a home-invasion style film with some interesting twists to the story. Director Adam Schindler and producer Erik Olsen was present and answered questions from the audience at the end of the film.
Next up was Lost after Dark. This is a high school gang meets canibal in a cabin in the woods type horror film. Didn’t quite make it for me. It’s all been done too many times before, and it does not bring anything new to the table.
Day 2: Friday
A few beers, and some sleep later I was ready for the first film on day two. Berkshire County dissapears a bit into the masses for me. It’s well made, and has some good moments, but in the end got too predictable and I’m left with an impression of “I’ve seen this way too many times before.”
Second film of the day was Jeruzalem. Backpackers, google glass, religious differences and demons in a good mix. The old city of Jerusalem lends itself well to this kind of story, although I have a feeling the movie could have taken a different direction about halfway through and been a better movie by doing so. Still, this was an enjoyable film, and quite worth watching in my opinion.
Children of the Night (aka Limbo) wasn’t too well liked by a the audience. Personally I did like it, though. We join a journalist as she travels to a boarding school/nursery for children with a rare disease somewhere in the Argentinian outback. Naturally the schools children has some dark secrets. The film is a tad long, builds up slowly, and is a rather amateurish production. In my opinion it has a lot of charm, the story is quite original and is well told. If you’re not put off by what it lacks in production, I think this is an original film with a lot of mellow humour.
Another film I liked quite well was Inner Demon. It is well made, and I especially liked depth and character given to the depiction of the “bad guys.” It’s not a very original film in any ways, but had an intensity and a focus that made it interesting still. Director Ursula Dabrowsky and main actress Sarah Jeavons was present and answered questions after the screening.
Director Corin Hardy was also present to talk about his film The Hallow. This was a very enjoyable film, I think. It’s a classic monster movie, but incorporates irish myths in a good way and has some beautiful filming. I also liked that the monsters are played by real actors, and not done using CGI.
After five movies in a row there was time for something to eat and a small break before ending the day with German Angst. An anthology of three short films from Jörg Buttgereit, Michael Kosakowsky and Andreas Marschall. By far the highlight for this day, and possibly the best film of the entire festival. This is grim, german social realism mixed with the ugly and dark sides of human nature. Highly recommended!
Day 3: Saturday
Saturday kicks off with Crimson Peak at 10 O’clock in the morning. This is by far the most mainstream film presented at the festival, but it’s still worth watching. Aestethically very nice and with a decent story this is a good chill without ever getting too scary.
Next up was Deathgasm, a hilarious movie from the world of heavy metal. It makes a lot of fun about Metal, as well as the prejudice against the genres. As a metalhead myself I enjoyed this film immensely. If you like the films by Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright, or heavy metal of any sort you will feel right at home in this one. Highly recommended!
Grendel is a Norwegian amateur film where we follow a film crew on a production on an island that has some dark secrets. The film has some good parts, but is way too long. If you’re interested in amateur film, this may be worth a look, but otherwise I think this may be too amateur for most viewers.
The Spanish production Shrew’s nest on the other hand was a very nice surprise. Great performances by the actors, very nice filming, and tight and good storytelling makes this film work very well. A very good movie you definitely should watch!
After a short break with some food, it was time to dress up with warm clothes and head out into the woods for a special screening of the brand new Villmark 2 (Asylum). This was a cool thing organised by the festival and some local companies. Quite atmospheric, and the film was very good too! Classic suspence, but with a good story set in an old asylum for treatment of tuberkolosis in Norway. The hospital is real, and is known to have housed some rather grim experiments on it’s patients in the time after World War II. This is incorporated into the story, and gives it a good shin of realism while the story itself is of course fictional. Well worth watching, even if you have to see it indoors.
There was one more screening this night that I had planned to see, but my head was quite full so I instead headed back to the hotel bar and some beers instead.
Day 4: Sunday
Sunday brought three more films. Spring is something as rare as a romantic horror thriller. Beautifully made, an enjoyable story and with good actors. I liked this one a lot!
Another very enjoyable film was the Austrian Good Night Mommy. Very dark story even if mostly shot in full daylight. As with German Angst, this is a film that can be uncomfortable to watch, and that’s probably the exact reason you should. A good, original story and great storytelling makes this film a true gem.
Last film of the festival for me was the US film Cooties. Clearly the worst film of the festival. A lot of people spoke warmly about it, but I think it failed both as a horror film and as a comedy. You can safely skip this one.
Short films and work in progress
Throughout the festival there was also quite a number of short films and work in progress screenings shown in connection with the feature films. Here’s a summary of the ones I saw:
Canis: The stop motion with quite rough puppets works very well to build up a dark and depressing setting and a good story. The story is told without any dialogue, and the soundtrack really accentuates the grim atmosphere. Clearly the best soundtrack of the entire festival. Very nice!
One-Minute Time Machine: A fun film where a nerd with a one-minute time machine tries to hit on a girl that appears to be a scientist interested in time travel. Fun and original story!
The Fjords - All In: A music video with a lot of nostalgia and nerdy retro aestethics. If you can remember the video game consoles of the mid 80’s you will enjoy this one. Very nice!
Noe som skjedde på veien: A hilarious short film about a car thief that get’s more than bargained for when stealing a car. I liked this one a lot!
Sister Hell: A nun joins the devil to pursue a life in freedom. Well made and with good effects.
Huset/The House (WIP): Director Reinert Kiil presented his coming film “Huset” (NOR) aka “The House” (ENG). We got to see some clips and the trailer for the film. He talked about the film and the process, and composer Kim Berg talked about the music. This looks like a very promising film to be released in february 2016. I’m definitely looking forward to this.
Disappearing Darlings (WIP): A short film noir set in the world of insects. Animated using a live animation technique, that gives some of the qualities from stop motion but with actual live performances. This looks like a promising film that’s both ambitious and looks like it will be fun to watch.
16 feature films, 5 shorts and two work in progress presentations was what I managed during these four days. There was more films I could have seen, but priorities and the need for some breaks dictated otherwise. I also skipped films that I have seen before (The Babadook) or don’t care about (the american remake of Martyrs.)
I’m really positively surprised about the quality of the films on the festival. The various horror genres is not always known for great production and acting. I enjoy films that may be lacking in these departments, but on this festival pretty much all the films had great production, good filming and good to great acting.
All in all a great weekend, great films, cool people and a lot of fun. There’s a good chance you will find me there next year too!
Photos in order: