Blood, Guts and Other Takeaways from the First Demonic Brilliance Film Fest

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We watched all 32 horror films included in this year’s Demonic Brilliance Film Festival and here’s what we learned.

Grid City Magazine Staff 
A scene from John Blizzard’s film, Cabby.

Horror is a genre rich in tropes and clichés, arguably more than any other popular film genre. But it’s how these recurring and often formulaic approaches to storytelling are reinvented that make horror flicks so fun to explore. Often messy, and at times downright foolish, a festival of demented short films available to screen at your leisure is as close to irresistible as one could imagine. So, over the past weekend, we asked some of our friends and supporters to share their thoughts on this year’s Demonic Brilliance Film Festival. 

Here are some takeaways:

Horror Works on all Budgets 

This first edition of the DBFF included a huge range of films, from slasher to stalker and all points in between. With an average length of somewhere around 5-6 minutes (with a few exceptions closer to a half hour and one just 15 seconds long!), the films presented this year included everything from one-person productions to larger more traditional cast and crew setups. When viewed as part of a full evening binge, none of the 32 films presented felt out of place, proving horror’s admirable versatility. 

Humour Has its Place 

It’s all about balance. Especially when it comes to exploring our fears. There has always been a lot to laugh at when it comes to horror movies. For a time, the pursuit of realism in horror was fueled in part by a desire to leave audiences with no opportunity to crack a smile. Shivers and white knuckles only. Thankfully, humour usually conquers all, or at least makes its presence known, now more than ever. That was certainly the case with a few of the films on offer at this year’s DBFF. After having your senses assaulted, a good laugh is always welcome. Balance achieved! 

The Sound of Guts 

Hitckcock’s famous “melon stabbing” used to create the sounds for the shower scene in Psycho has inspired countless filmmakers to seek and produce their own disgusting sound effects in their endless pursuit of realism. And while not every film in this year’s DBFF featured pulsating guts and entrails, some of them did, and the sounds were all disturbing. No doubt, some horror buffs approach these sound effects with training and expectation, giving out their silent yays or nays with each passing scene. But for a general audience, it’s all gross. So, mission accomplished? 

The Rules Still Apply 

No matter what the genre is, the basic rules of filmmaking still apply. Sound, lighting, acting and story all combine to bring a film to life. This year’s lineup certainly brought forth a full range of filmmaking experience with some films looking like they were conceived and filmed in a single day and others looking Netflix ready. While not overly distracting, sound and acting proved to be the two most challenging aspects for many of this year’s participating filmmakers. That said, the quality of sound and acting are probably among the biggest weak points for any no/low budget film. Quality ain’t cheap. Still, despite the occasional poor quality film, kudos must be given to the DBFF selection committee for including such a wide range of films, validating accomplished filmmakers and encouraging new ones. After all, it’s all in good fun. 


From our experience, the inaugural DBFF was a big success. The range of films highlighted so many different takes on fear, it was as entertaining an experience as it was an educational one. Festival founder and organizer Jared Carney and his modest team deserve some serious high-fives for pulling this off. Already looking forward to next year. 


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