10 years is a long time to do anything. Whether it is a relationship or a hobby 10 years is not only an investment but a commitment. So for the last 10 years, Miguel Rodriguez has committed himself to not only showing an audience horror but bringing us the best of the best to his festival, Horrible Imaginings 2019. Through my two days of attendance, I cannot count on one hand five films that I didn’t care for. It is clear that this is a man who loves horror and sharing it with fans alike.
I have experienced a good share of movie marathons but never a festival let alone one horror focused, so Horrible Imaginings 2019 was going to be my first. I showed up over an hour early Saturday morning and inquired to Miguel about my pass. This gentleman not only whipped up a pass in a flash but treated me like he had known me for years. When I asked him about the previous night he spoke about it with a passion that you don’t see often enough. Just from our short interaction, it was clear that Miguel was going to be a wonderful host for my next two days.
Saturday kicked off with the Shock to the System block. Described by Miguel as “anxieties that spring from the cultural mores and constructs that form the bases of our society”. Needless to say, this was a very intense block with real-world horrors on the screen. The stand out for me was Off Fleek, a short from the UK that shows the damage that cyberbullying does to a girl’s self-image in horrific detail. Though many were heavy in showing our world in an ugly light, all were executed with true artistry.
We were treated to a short break, but not enough for the audience to catch their breath. We began with the first feature, Teddy Grennan’s Swing Low. The story where a photographer must retell her brutal tale of escaping her captors. After that was a long dinner break leading into Julian Richards’ Reborn. Watching a sixteen-year-old with electrokinesis killing “bad” people was a nice dose of levity to end the day on.
With a welcoming good morning from Miguel, I was back in the mix for Sunday. The Monsters, SciFi, and the Beyond block, while terrifying in its own way, was more traditional horror. This was the short film block I was the most excited for and it did not disappoint. My personal favorite was Oscar’s Bell, a man has to protect his sleeping son while camping from an unseen threat. It may have been my pick but I can’t stress enough how strong all these shorts were.
Sunday’s feature block was what originally caught my attention for the festival as a whole and I was incredibly excited. Antrum: The Deadliest Film Ever Made was intriguing and left me wanting so much more. Meanwhile, you could say Keola Racela’s film Porno let it all hang out, and was just a blast to behold. Finally with the awards handed out and the audience given a kind thank you, the Horrible Imaginings 10th Festival was over. On my way out I thanked Miguel for a wonderful time and said I would see him at the next festival.
As Miguel mentioned in his closing remarks, what we all saw this weekend was only 6% of the films submitted. He saw to it that we were treated to only the most fun and artistic shorts with no filler what so ever. If you could promise me that every film festival was this welcoming and carefully curated, there would hardly be a festival I would miss. This was a fantastic experience that was only made possible through Miguel and the Frida theater striving to make the best festival they could. If you find yourself in southern California and Miguel Rodriguez is hosting an event, let alone Horrible Imaginings, I couldn’t recommend it enough.