Pop the popcorn and get ready for a seriously fun time as we dive into the films of 2023’s Popcorn Frights Film Festival! After the jump, check out our full coverage, including Dark Windows, Puzzle Box, and Saint Drogo.



Dark Windows has a setup typical of the slasher subgenre. Take a group of teens, trap them at a remote destination with minimal cell service, then unleash a crazed murderer to dispatch them one by one. Where this film differs from the others is in its scripting from screenwriter Ulvrik Kraft. In the aftermath of a terrible car accident that leaves sweet Ali dead, the three remaining friends are all haunted by her passing, none moreso than Tilly (Anna Bullard). To get their mind off things, they take a trip deep out into the wilderness to party hard at an isolated family summerhouse. Tilly appears to be the only one still genuinely in her feelings about Ali, and so it becomes obvious early on who our lead will be. Was there more to the accident than meets the eye? With such a tiny roster of potential victims and no actual kills occurring until the final few minutes, Dark Windows expects patience from the audience with its slow-burn style. The ambition to do something different is commendable, but the spotty acting and frustrating climax stifle the excitement.


Full review at the link.


Full review at the link.


As any found footage fanatic can attest, there is simply no denying that the amount of absolute garbage flooding this thriving subgenre far outweighs the gems. Nevertheless, almost any time I see one listed amongst a festival lineup, it becomes a must-see. Writer/director/producer/editor/cinematographer Jack Dignan certainly brings a singular vision to his Aussie mystery thriller, Puzzle Box. In the hopes of rehabilitation “the old fashioned way,” drug addict Kait (Kaitlyn Boye) and her determined sister, Olivia (Laneikka Denne), head deep into the woods. Olivia sports a camera in the hopes to document her sister’s journey of recovery. With a brisk runtime, one would hope there would be minimal fat on this movie’s proverbial bones. Unfortunately, it takes little time to devolve into the same old, same old. Power abruptly goes out. Kait suffers withdrawals, and the sisters are left stumbling around in the dark. Much running around and screaming ensues, coupled with long stretches of nothing each time the camera lays static. Puzzle Box owes much to The Blair Witch Project, going so far as having an identical scene of crying to the camera full of regrets. Too bad it exercises none of the same calculated restraint.


In what has to be one of the strangest films I have seen this year, writer/director/starring duo Michael J. Ahern and Brandon Perras-Sanchez turn in their take on queer cult horror. Titled Saint Drogo, the movie follows gay couple Caleb (Perras-Sanchez) and Adrian (Ahern) as they head off to Provincetown, Cape Cod in a last-ditch effort to inject life back into their dying relationship. Adrian, who has just started at a new job, constantly feels stifled by Caleb’s aimlessness. The two have completely different friend groups, and very little in common in terms of their interests. That kind of begs the question as to why these two people are together in the first place. If they don’t care about their relationship, why should we as an audience? Caleb, haunted by recurring visions, becomes convinced that his ex, who works in Provincetown, may be in some serious trouble. As the duo realize the ex has gone missing, Saint Drogo devolves into a series of explicit sex scenes and nonsensical metaphors. The practical gore effects are certainly quite good, especially for a low budget affair. For what is basically Eyes Wide Shut for the gays, I hoped for better.


Full review at the link.


Full review at the link.

For more information about Popcorn Frights Film Festival, please head over to the official website.

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