One of my favorite things about Twin Cities Film Fest is that it always takes place close to Halloween, so it’s the perfect time to check out independent horror movies I might not have heard of otherwise. While there aren’t quite as many this year as there have been in previous years (thanks, Covid), there are still some great ones to check out.
Even if you’re still trying to avoid large social gatherings, there are several films, including a couple I recently watched, that are available for streaming.
Night at the Eagle Inn
Director: Erik Bloomquist
My first film was Night at the Eagle Inn, in which twins Sarah (Amelia Dudley) and Spencer (Taylor Turner) visit the mysterious and secluded hotel in Vermont where they were born, their mother died, and their father disappeared 24 years earlier. While horror stories taking place in hotels is nothing new (this one even has one fun homage to The Shining), it’s still a great setting if it’s well done, and fortunately for this movie, it is. There’s plenty of suspense and genuine scares without any need for special effects, proving that simple horror tropes can be effective when done well.
Both the score and set design are excellent. The lead actors have great sibling chemistry, and Beau Minniear as Dean, the handyman, gives a really fun performance, especially toward the end. My one gripe is that some of the dialogue between the siblings, especially when they meet the eccentric night manager (Greg Schweers) comes across as awkward and unbelievable at times. Overall, though, this is an incredibly enjoyable horror movie.
The Curse of Raven Heights
Director: Blair Smith
My second film was The Curse of Raven Heights, which follows a widowed father, Kyle (Paul Economon), and his young daughters Robin (Sally-Anne Hunt) and Angela (Hannah Rae Theisen) as they travel to the home of his deceased Aunt Ginny to settle her affairs. They soon discover that Ginny and her sister were part of a coven, and a tragic event may have set in motion a curse affecting the family generations later. While this film isn’t quite as solid as the previous one- the writing is a little unevenly paced, and they try to fit a bit too much into its hour and twenty minute run time- there’s still a lot to enjoy.
It’s beautifully shot, the score is lovely, and the family dynamic between the father and daughters is really nice. Some of the performances are a little melodramatic, but it mostly works with the tone of the movie. While the writing is a little messy at times, this is still an engaging, unique horror film.
Night at the Eagle Inn has screened at TCFF on Saturday, October 23rd at 9:30 PM and The Curse of Raven Heights is screening on Friday, October 29th at 9:30 PM, or you can stream either of them on twincitiesfilmfest.org.
To learn more about TCFF or get tickets visit twincitiesfilmfest.org