Screamfest, America’s largest and longest-running horror film festival, premieres and showcases independent horror projects. This year’s event ran from October 11 – 20 at the historic TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.
As first-time Screamfest attendees, here’s what we thought about the festival overall. (You can read our reviews and reactions to the films we saw here.)
What’s great about Screamfest
Shorts are often overlooked at festivals (unless you’re attending a festival specifically created for shorts), but the ones at Screamfest really helped make the event for me. While the features proved a bit of a mixed bag, I felt like every short I saw ranged from “pretty good” to “really great.” I really enjoyed watching the ones I got to see, and I like that these creators got to share their work on the big screen.
Highlighting international films
Another great thing about Screamfest is how it highlights films from international creators that might not otherwise get the same attention in the US. Most of my favorite features from the festival ended up being international films.
Filmmaker and cast Q&As
One of the biggest draws to seeing a movie at Screamfest is that they nearly all include a Q&A with the cast and creative team following the screening. It’s a great way to shine the spotlight on the people responsible for the project while giving horror fans the chance to learn more about the process of filmmaking.
Legacy horror content
Though largely dedicated to showcasing new features and shorts, Screamfest also included a few fun legacy screenings. We saw The Lost Boys with star Jason Patric, who headed a Q&A after the film. Fans could also hit up a free 30th-anniversary screening of Candyman.
What needs improvement
I know the TCL Chinese Theatre is a Hollywood staple with a ton of history… But frankly, it’s not the best place in town to watch a movie. At least, not in the TCL Chinese 6 Theatres, which is essentially a sub-par AMC located in the shopping mall next to the actual historic Chinese Theatre – which is where Screamfest hosted its films.
In many of the theaters, it feels like there are only one or two rows of seats which provide a good viewing experience. And to top it off, the seats themselves are massively uncomfortable. It was unpleasant to sit through one film in them, let alone multiple films a day for nearly two weeks straight. In a town like LA, there’s no shortage of incredible (and historically significant) theaters. I would love to see Screamfest try out a new venue next year.
Since Screamfest is a film festival, multiple different movies play on the same day. You’ll never be able to catch them all because inevitably there will be some overlap. Still, I wish the schedule had been adjusted slightly to allow for more double-feature viewings. On most days, films started at 7:30 pm and 9:30 pm; with the Q&As, this often didn’t leave you enough time to catch a 9:30 screening if you attended one at 7:30. Even stretching things out an extra 30 minutes (more 7pm and 9:30pm screenings) would allow people to see more films that interest them.
Should you attend Screamfest?
All in all, Screamfest offers a great way to see independent horror projects (including international films) on the big screen. And if you see something you love, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to talk directly with the creative team behind the film, either at the official Q&A or by catching them in the lobby after the screening. Screamfest is also one of the few festivals which allows you to purchase both festival passes and tickets for individual screenings. So, if you’re only interested in a couple films, you can just get tickets to those screenings. If you’re a horror fan, Screamfest is definitely worth checking out.