Brooklyn Horror Film Festival Sets the Tone for a Scary Halloween


Many New Yorkers dub our city the center of the universe, and it is easy to see why. For one instance, our metropolis contains some of the largest film festivals, including the Tribeca Film Festival and the New York Film Festival. However, there are others that are still in their infancy and despite their fledgling status they rival the aforementioned festivals with passion and creative appeal. Centered right in this very borough, the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival kicked off its fourth year in October with its star power, great scary flicks, and reinventions of old masterpieces. From October 17th until October 24th, horror aficionados were able to embrace the spooky spirit of Halloween with debuting films like the North American Premier of The Beach House, or celebrating remastered classics such as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari all taking places in various Brooklyn cinemas.

Daniel Isn’t Real

Daniel Isn’t Real was this year’s centerpiece, which was well deserved. Following a young man named Luke (played by Miles Robbins) and his apparent imaginary friend Daniel (Patrick Schwarzenegger), who has inexplicably reappeared amidst his young adult life. This film is a masterpiece in horror cinema and social satire. With predecessors such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre alluding to themes of Veganism, Daniel Isn’t Real likewise similarly toes the line on topics such as mental illness without rubbing the audience’s nose in what exact conclusion to draw. We can create our own connections based on how we relate to this sensitive subject matter during a thrill ride that boasts unnerving scenes draped in beautiful lighting and lovingly decorated sets. Director Adam Egypt Mortimer and writer Brian Deleeuw show us a man struggling with life until he starts taking advice from Daniel, who is invisible to everyone aside from our protagonist. Things start looking up for Luke that is until Daniel’s advice gradually takes a turn for the macabre. Even more disturbing, Luke starts losing control over himself, and what he drops Daniel picks up. Is Daniel Real? Watch and find out.

After the screening at Long Island University’s Kumble Theater on October 18th, director Adam Egypt Mortimer and star, Miles Robbins spoke to the audience about the film, which was mode-rated by Heather Buckley, the Producer of the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival.

Adam Egypt Mortimer first discovered “In This Way I was Saved” by Brian Deleeuw about eight years ago, and asked the author if they could work on making it into a film. Together they created Daniel Isn’t Real. The spark that first interested Mortimer to create this film made him think that it was going to be similar to Pan’s Labyrinth, but he then divulged deeper into the character’s emotional state and discovered a better way to focus the film. “The more we worked on the film we realized what this film is really about is that we all have dark voices inside of us that confuse us when we try to be good people. I think that is something we can all relate to,” he told the audience.

Lead actor, Miles Robbins first auditioned for the role of Daniel. However, Mortimer felt that since Robins was able to portray the dichotomy between Luke and Daniel that he would be better at playing the lead protagonist. “For me, Daniel represented all of the bad things that a young man thinks he is supposed to be, which was what first attracted me to that character. I think that there is a certain element of finding strength through power in that, but it ultimately is a flawed mechanic. I really like this because Luke is a venerable man,” Robbins said.

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

When we think of film festivals, we think of the new, the up-and-coming, and the yet to be released. But what about the ones that paved the way? Approaching its centennial anniversary, the silent classic The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari was honored with a rendition of newly comprised and live musical accompaniment by The Flushing Remonstrance, a duo specializing in supplementing music for classical movies. This new, live, soundtrack was almost ethereal in nature and made viewers feel as though they were floating along with the feature in a near dreamlike state. In any other case it would be a critique to call a horror film relaxing, yet in this case it worked well with the piece’s surreal, expressionistic set dressing. Let’s hope the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival rescores more classic pictures with live performances in the coming years.


Grindhouse cinema is surely not for everyone, and neither is V.F.W. This was the festival’s closing feature, screening directly prior to the after party celebrating all of the week’s events. Harking back to grimy exploitation features from the early 70s to the late 80s, V.F.W is director Joe Begoes’ love letter to all the gore and foul language that he grew up in, he even went as far as adding artificial grain to each and every scene in an attempt to recreate the distinct visuals of 35mm film.

Once the screening culminated at the NiteHawk Cinema on October 24th, members of the cast, Linnea Wilson, Stephen Lang, Tom Williamson, Director Joe Begoes, composer Steve Moore, and writer Max Brallier joined a brief panel to discuss what it took to make this 1980s dystopian tale with Fangoria Editor-in-Chief Phil Nobile Jr.

Stephen Lang shared his take on making VFW, by stating “The script that Max Brallier wrote was a beautifully rendered example of a B-movie script. When I read the script, I liked it very much and I thought there is an opportunity here to subvert because you are dealing with issues that are impactful and significant. We had a great cast and what we really wanted to do was subvert the genre a little bit, and in so doing we dragged this B-movie into the B+, A- territory (We can’t take it to A+ territory because then we torpedo the genre). I absolutely loved this movie for the joy and the humanity, and the heart of it.”

Photos by Dean Moses