Watching the vegetarian-turned-cannibal in the French horror film Raw gnaw on her sister’s finger like it’s a chicken wing is cringe-worthy whether or not you speak French. That sort of thing doesn’t exactly get lost in translation. Gruesome is gruesome.
The movie created a buzz among critics and audiences and is one of a handful of recent foreign horror flicks that give Michael Favata, founder of Negative Fest — which includes films from 15-plus countries and takes place June 15 and 16 at Lake Worth’s Movies of Lake Worth theater — hope that there is growing interest in the genre.
“For a long time it was very slow. North America was more likely to get a remake of a foreign horror film instead of a wider release of the original version,” Favata says, citing REC, The Ring, and Let the Right One In as examples. “I believe that's starting to change thanks to multiple streaming services. People have slowly gotten used to subtitled or dubbed films.”
Negative Fest’s international slate includes Germany’s near-future fairy tale Snowflake, about an aspiring screenwriter’s violent film script coming to life, and Chile’s disturbing Trauma, which follows four women terrorized by a father and son with Pinochet-era ties. Headlining the first night will be a 35th-anniversary screening of Canada’s Videodrome, starring James Woods back when he was still mildly likable.
Favata thinks that most horror-film festivals go heavy on U.S. movies and that this international angle is what separates his inaugural fest from others like it. In addition to feature films, Negative Fest is also offering short-film categories such as Female Filmmakers, Florida Filmmakers, Student Films, and even Music Videos. Favata takes pride in providing lesser-known films and directors with the platform they might not have had otherwise.
Thanks to his monthly Palm Beach County Grindhouse Series at Movies of Lake Worth, which specializes in cult horror films, Favata has gotten to know South Florida’s horror community well. He believes horror is thriving and points to the fact that so many South Florida counties have their own monthly horror-film series.
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“Our audience for the Palm Beach County Grindhouse Series is fantastic,” Favata says. “It's gotten to the point where people will show up no matter what the month's movie is. It's like a horror family.”
But what about those who aren’t part of this Addams Family? What can they expect when attending their first horror-film festival?
“There's something special about watching horror and genre films with an audience that's primarily die-hard fans,” Favata says. “You laugh together, you groan together, and you get grossed-out together. If you're a first-timer, I'd say get some rest, stock up on snacks from concessions, and get ready to watch a lot of horror.”
Negative Fest. 8 p.m. to midnight Friday, June 15, and 3 to 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. to midnight Saturday, June 16, at Movies of Lake Worth, 7380 Lake Worth Rd., Lake Worth; 561-968-4545; negativefest.com. Tickets cost $13 per block or $30 for an all-access pass.