With gore and gags, Another Hole in the Head cuts through season’s treacle

Take shelter from holiday schlock with irreverent film fest's 17th edition—in streamable form. Plus: Czech gem Ikarie XB-1



DECEMBER 9, 2020

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We may be halfway between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but if many film fans had their way it would be Halloween year-round, programming-wise. To them, treacly, Hallmark-style holiday romcoms are a more horrifying prospect than actual horror movies. Riding to the rescue amidst the sugary tsunami of Yuletide entertainment is Another Hole in the Head, whose 17th annual edition is, natch, online-only this year. (More info here.)

This genre film fest runs Fri/11-Sun/27, running amuck right through Baby Jesus’ b-day. Though most of that program is available for streaming throughout HoleHead’s span, some individual titles are limited in terms of time or geographic access. Amon

g the few such is one of the schedule’s best chillers, Terence Kray’s An Unquiet Grave, which will be made accessible only on December 24. It’s an admirably spare, eerie tale in which the widowed husband (Jacob A. Ware) and twin sister (Christine Nyland) of a woman killed in a car crash attempt to bring her back from the dead a year later. If horror movies have taught us anything, it is that this sort of thing is never, ever a good idea. Shot in upstate NY, Grave is very small (those two actors comprise the entire cast) and simple, but it has creepy conviction to spare.

Other variably ghoulish and supernatural features among HoleHead’s 40-plus features (not counting the over 250 shorts) run an international gamut, representing the UK (Daytime Nightmare), Croatia (F20), Bolivia (Invention of Nature), Canada (Parallel Minds, The Return), France (The Explorer), New Zealand (a fresh spin on Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw), and Malaysia (Brave). One recommendable import is Kim Young-hoon’s accomplished debut feature Beasts Clawing at Straws, a Pulp Fiction-y jigsaw of South Korean criminal intrigue, with mordant humor if less garrulous snark than the Tarantino model.