Between the ghost stories, the vast, mysterious woods and one perennially popular master of horror writing, Maine is a pretty creepy place. So when Maine filmmakers Eddy Bolz and Allen Baldwin wanted to put together a special mini film festival, they figured Halloween would be the perfect time to do it.
The second annual Damnationland Film Festival — five short horror films made by Maine filmmakers — premieres this weekend and runs through next weekend in eight theaters across the state. A special screening in Bangor also will feature a screening of the hit comedy-horror film “Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil.” For a Maine-made Halloween experience, it’s the whole bag of candy.
“It’s not straightforward horror, in the way people think of most horror movies,” said Bolz, a Portland resident who also has been involved in the 48 Hour Film Festival in Portland. “We have documentary filmmakers and people who make music videos and feature films, but no one that’s traditionally a horror filmmaker. These aren’t straight-ahead splatterfests. They’re very unique.”
Baldwin, who last year released the film “Up Up Down Down,” which screened at the KahBang film festival in Bangor, said the fact that the films in Damnationland aren’t made by horror filmmakers makes them appealing to a broader audience.
“The tone is bleaker, and frankly, scarier in a way,” said Baldwin. “Horror as a genre has a series of tropes, and its own built-in vocabulary and method of telling a story. It’s been really interesting watching these filmmakers learn, in their own way, how to speak that language.”
Each of the five films included in this year’s festival run between 10 and 20 minutes. The first is “Are You the Walkers?” directed by Derek Kimball of Portland, an instructor at Maine Media Workshops in Rockport and director of acclaimed short film “The Bully.” The film tells a traditional supernatural folk tale with a story involving two friends at a diverting point in their relationship, an isolated cabin in the woods, a blizzard and a mysterious voice constantly calling out to them.
Film two is “Forgiveness,” directed by David Meiklejohn of Portland, who also directed the touching, hilarious documentary “My Heart Is An Idiot.” In the film, a vengeful spy survives an assassination attempt and takes revenge on the man that tried to kill her. The spy is played by Aly Spaltro, aka popular Maine songwriter Lady Lamb the Beekeeper.
The third film is “Keeper’s Refrain,” directed by Ben Kahn and Jayson Lobozzo, who shot their film at the lighthouse on Seguin Island near Popham Beach. It’s based on the legendary account of a mid-19th century lighthouse keeper and his wife and is about the tedium and isolation of living and working on a remote island in Maine, as well as a husband’s last great effort to change the course of his marriage.
The final two films are “Telephoto,” directed by Portland-based filmmaker Jeff Griecci, about a photographer who sees something she’s not supposed to, and “American Waste,” by Cape Elizabeth filmmaker and visual artist Mike Hadley, who has created a disturbingly beautiful animated film about everyday horror.
“I’d say that anyone that’s a fan of movies that are just creepy, or unsettling, or suspenseful, will enjoy this,” said Baldwin. “If you like ‘The Twilight Zone’ or Hitchcock, then this is your thing. It’s definitely good Halloween viewing.”
Auburn — Flagship Cinemas, 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 27; 7 and 9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28; 7 and 9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 29.
Bangor — River City Cinema at Union Street Brick Church, 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct 28.
Belfast — The Colonial Theatre, 9 p.m. Saturday, Oct 22.
Bridgton — The Magic Lantern, 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28; 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 29, with cash bar.
Brunswick — The Frontier Cinema, 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 29.
Orono — Spotlight Cinemas, 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 27.
Rockland — The Strand, 10 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 29; 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 30.
Waterville — Railroad Square Cinema, 9:15 p.m. Friday, Oct 28; 9:15 pm Saturday, Oct. 29.