Friday, November 1, 2019

Twin Cities Horror Festival VIII - Day Four

Incarnate by Special When Lit
Photo by Dan Norman
Today, our takes on Twin Cities Horror Fest are bookended by a lot of love, and a little bit of vexation.

Just to recap: Why We Love TCHFDay OneDay Two, Day Three, and our TCHF archives.

First, the LOVE. Can we just talk about what a gift Dan Norman is to the Twin Cities Theater Community? Go to the Twin Cities Horror Festival page and check out the photo slide show.  We can jabber on about TCHF, but Dan Norman's photos capture theater magic so beautifully that seeing the slideshow gives you a better sense of the wonders of TCHF than we ever could. We were fortunate enough to be in the audience when he was taking photographs--so subtly that you'd never notice if you weren't looking. But I was fascinated by trying to see the show as he sees it. His work is stunning and we're lucky to have him in the Twin Cities.

Sunday. DAY FOUR.

Charcoal Moon
Rogues Gallery Arts

Charcoal Moon by Rogues Gallery Arts
Photo by Dan Norman
Another space story! Compared to Geminae, this is a large-scale production. Filmed segments show communications from Earth and serve as exposition for this story of three spacecraft sent to a distant moon to recover a valuable energy-producing element. I liked that the goal of the mission is clear, and the competition between vessels heightens the tension. When the first ship reaches its destination, they drop out of contact with Earth, and the next ship needs to find out what happened. The interaction of the astronauts was good, but the video sometimes felt like filler. The danger and tension worked, though, and the ending was satisfying.

Special When Lit
Incarnate by Special When Lit
Photo by Dan Norman
Incarnate is an immersive experience, placing the audience in the congregation of a nature-based religious organization. If you're thinking it sounds like a cult, you're right. Of course, things are not as peaceful and loving as they seem, though there's still some shock value to the denouement. Our group was uncomfortable with the interactive element, which encourages the audience to sing and pray with the group. Even as an infrequent churchgoer, that was more than I wanted to commit to the experience. I'd just rather watch them from afar instead of feeling complicit in their actions. That said, this was one of the most visceral experiences at the Festival. Lauren Anderson is great as a church leader, and the cast members really commit to their religious fervor. Nissa Nordland Morgan, who is also the writer, is very convincing acolyte, and her fervent exclamations of "Joyful Harvest!" will stay with me.

Horror Show Hot Dog - Night Two
(Read more about HSHD here.)

Night Two featured: Rewind (dir. Ruben Perez), a film about a college girl which was reminiscent of The House of the Devil; Peephole (dir. Enrique Escamilla), which is about unsavory events glimpsed through an apartment door's peephole and is the reason I mistrust my car's backup camera; Together (dir. Ryan Oksenberg), a fantastically acted and compelling film about a clean-up crew and family secrets; Water Horse (dir. Sara Wisner and Sean Temple), which was very much style over substance; and Midnight (dir. Katie Bonham), a haunting and isolating film with parallel narratives taking place in the same space.

Bug Girl
LIZ Howls

A brilliant shadow puppet show, meticulously created and executed, with an intrepid young heroine at its heart. It's short, only about 40 minutes, but that felt just right. The program mentions future installments. We say, bring them on, Bug Girl!

Bug Girl by LIZ Howls
Photo by Dan Norman
Now for the vexation part. After three days and nine shows of unbelievably responsive and attentive audiences, the theatergoers at Incarnate appeared to have lost their damn minds. We were surrounded by people who were discussing the show at full conversation volume, and two of the talkers actually took out their phones and took pictures and recorded some of the show. I mean, WHAT? We sat behind Dan Norman, who was taking pictures for the festival with his fancy cameras and it was less distracting than these two. Sometimes people are the worst.