Panic Film Festival crowns best student horror film on campus

Creative, unique, chilling. These words best describe the student made horror films that were showcased at the sixth annual Panic Film Festival Saturday afternoon.

The Marano Campus Center auditorium was filled by students and faculty members who witnessed the short films that were shot, edited and submitted within a 48-hour time frame. Best known for its hectic nature Panic once again demanded students to get creative and to think outside the box. This year, Panic was given a fresh batch of 15 short horror themed films. Here are the award winners from Saturday’s screening:

•Best Story:
Josh Jarvi for “Foreclosure”

•Best Horror Film:
Tommy Cavanaugh for “Below”

•Best Utilization of Requirements: Eian Gordon for “Below”

•Best Performance(s)/James Franco Pineapple Express Award: Michael Calobrisi as “Mike” and Jesse Malone as “Jesse” in “The Kegorcist”

•Audience Choice:
“Worm” by The Argonauts (Jared Gould and Tyler Yastrub)

•Third Place for Best Picture:
“Bewildered” by Ryan O’Grady and Marissa Miksad

•Second Place for Best Picture: “Worm” by The Argonauts (Jared Gould and Tyler Yastrub)

•Best Picture:
“The Kegorcist” by Max Hlat, Jesse Malone, Michael Calobrisi, Nick Loper and Danielle Gillett

One of the noticeable trends out of this year’s festival was the number of films that steered towards the comedic side of the horror genre. The prime example came in Panic’s best picture winner, “The Kegorcist,” where two stoner best friends have to deal with a haunted keg of beer in hilarious fashion. The film’s sophomoric but clever wit and unorthodox ways was extremely well-received by judges and the audience, netting the on-screen duo of Michael Calobrisi and Jesse Malone the award for best performance. “The Kegorcist’s” best picture win came a complete surprise to everyone, even to the cast and crew of the short film.

“I just can’t believe it, this is so surreal,” Calobrisi said. “We really didn’t expect to win anything, we just made the film. Filming this was a lot of fun, we had a lot of laughs on the way.”

Calobrisi and Malone’s performances were so critically acclaimed, that the real-life friends were both given a specialized award from the festival’s judges. The award were two pineapples, stylized with sunglasses and was dubbed “The James Franco Pineapple Express Award.”

“I think the award is sick,” Malone said. “It’s really awesome that they enjoyed the film that much that they felt the need to give us our own special award. I won’t forget this one.”

Where films like “The Kegorcist” and “Worm” leaned more to the comedic nature that horror films possess, there were others that were committed to being unique horror films. The incorporation of classic horror film elements from frightening thrills and eerie concepts allowed a good chunk out of the 15 film submissions to stand out. Whether it’s the never ending murderous cycle of a real estate agent in “For Rent,” the demented taboos a man dreams of with three women in “I Do,” or the creepy, uncomfortable, slow-paced experimental film “Bewildered,” certain projects celebrated the art of the horror film genre. However none stood out as much as the terrifying, chilling tale of a woman battling her inner demons in the best horror film and best utilization of requirements winner, “Below.”

“We really didn’t try to be scary,” Tommy Cavanaugh, co-director of “Below,” said. “The sub-text of the film’s premise was what we wanted to emphasize most. As the film progresses, our protagonist sinks deeper into her emotional instability which is evident by the fact that she starts the film on the top floor of her house and ends in the basement.”

From an old-fashioned horror film like “Below” to a stoner comedy in “The Kegorcist,” this year’s Panic Film Festival is a testament to the versatility and imagination Oswego State’s student filmmakers possess. All of the 15 films were flawed in their own ways, but all is forgiven when one considers the ambition behind every single film and how outside of the box they dared to be. As a result, Panic’s best picture winner “The Kegorcist” will represent Oswego State in the inaugural SUNY Wide 48 Hour Film Festival, involving five fellow SUNY schools. But if Panic is any indication, everyone involved is a winner in their own way.