In Anticipation of Husk: A Call to Action

On 28 January 2011, Husk, a refreshing paranormal slasher film (my early review), will finally see release through a festival-like screening program of After Dark Films. The details are still nebulous, but eight original horror films have been picked up for distribution at the end of the month. The films will only open in select markets and will probably be released like the company's annual Horrorfest. That means you might only get two or three chances to see Husk in theaters. While I had some major concerns about Husk at the early preview screening I saw, the new trailer leaves me confident in the film. The ridiculous opening bird attack has gone from craft birds on fishing line to cleverly edited CGI to be more startling and realistic. They also exaggerated the blood with a little digital painting as well; it's dark, sticky, and glossy versus the more stylized blood I originally saw. The constant mention of color correction from the screening (which scared me because of how beautiful the visuals were) seems to be limited to fixing a few day for night shots and darkening--but not destroying--the interesting use of amber and blue hues in the cinematography. Though the trailer doesn't spoil anything outright, it does reveal some of the more interesting visual motifs of the film. Take a look.

There are a few reasons to consider watching Husk. One, unless there were major shenanigans after the preview screening, it's a good film. There were some minor technical issues to fix and the trailer suggests that's all they changed. The story is interesting and betrays some key tropes of the slasher in rewarding ways. It is also the rare middle of nowhere horror that doesn't try to paint all rural communities as hotbeds of cannibalism, incest, and crazy people.

Two, it's being released by After Dark Films. This company is working hard to change the way films can be released in America. There are so many good films that never see theatrical distribution. They're dumped in the DVD graveyard and often cast off with clichés like "there's a reason it's straight to DVD," even when the quality is better than theatrically released films in the same genre. After Dark Films sets up nationwide festival screenings in select markets. That means they take over certain theaters for a weekend to air eight original films on a set schedule. You can buy individual tickets, day tickets, or full festival tickets.

Three, the company has consistently grown each year, adding more markets to its schedule, and Husk is part of its new initiative After Dark Originals. The company is stressing that this isn't a festival per say, but the simultaneous release of eight original horror films to select markets. They are working tirelessly to secure theaters for the releases and will put out a schedule as soon as they can. The biggest stumbling block is timing. The films are being released in two weeks and no one knows where they can be seen. About half of the trailers have taken off pretty well with Internet word of mouth, but that means nothing if After Dark cannot promote locations.

While I am stressing Husk because I have seen the film, there are seven other features that might be worth your attention. You can view summaries, promotional materials, and trailers on the After Dark Originals website. I know if I can, I will be driving to one of theaters to see a few of these films. Even if the After Dark Horrorfest films have been hit or miss in quality, they offer a great cross-section of the best of modern horror. The company has distributed foreign films, abandoned films, and independent films with a great marketing program to help find larger audiences for these features that would either never reach distribution or see poor DVD transfers on budget labels. If we don't support the kind of films we want to see produced and distributed, they're never going to be made. I encourage you, if you are a horror fan, to seek out these films on 28 January. What else are you going to watch? Another bad exorcism movie? If you can see Husk instead, I doubt you'll be disappointed