HIFF 2022: Last Radio Call, Anacoreta, and Teine Sā – The Ancient Ones

Last Radio Call

Do as I say, and not as I do. By that I mean, go and see Last Radio Call in a theater – hopefully packed with fellow Indy festival supporters – and not on an iPad or iPhone. Because, as with many great horror films, the scares within the film are so visceral, designed to prompt a reaction, that they’re best to be experienced with a crowd of people. The film is styled in the same vein as The Blair Witch Project or Paranormal Activity in parts, in that it’s sold as a real documentary of events after David, the police officer husband of Sarah (Sarah Froelich) goes missing in an abandoned hospital. The film gets off to a fantastically orchestrated start by showing David’s bodycam footage, and writer/director Isaac Rodriguez knows how to effectively stage these moments for maximum scares – or, at the very least, creep factor. But it’s in the non-bodycam moments that Last Radio Call loses its magic, unfortunately. The performances across the board aren’t great, and the film uses Native American mysticism as a crutch to explain away what’s happening. But, for a short (76 minutes) micro-budget horror film, it gets the job done and would likely be improved by being surrounded by a room full of warm bodies.

Buy virtual and in-person tickets here.


Another Heartland Horror film in the found footage sub-genre, Anacoreta provides a few worthwhile ideas but not enough scares. A group of friends goes for a getaway in a family member’s remote cabin and decide to film their exploits as a kind of horror film. The “director” Jeremy (Jeremy Schuetze, also the director and co-writer of the film proper) exerts a weird level of control over the whole proceedings, dictating what can and cannot be discussed, when his friends – and his girlfriend Antonia (Antonia Thomas), who’s meeting them for the first time – just want to chill and unwind for a few days. There’s an understated angle to Anacoreta that works quite well; that is, nearly everyone on screen has aspirations to be an actor or filmmaker in their real lives. So how much of what we’re seeing is real, and how much is a performance? This plays into the scares a few times, and each of the cast members gives natural, grounded performances. There’s a lot of potential in a premise like this for some visceral thrills, but where that falls short, you may enjoy Anacoreta on its own as a piece of filmmaking regardless.

Buy virtual and in-person tickets here.

Teine Sā

When was the last time you watched a horror film from New Zealand? Teine Sā arrives as an anthology film based around ancient spirits of vengeance from New Zealand’s legends. Each of the short films revolves around characters of varying backgrounds and experiences and time frames, but each essentially ends in a similar manner. In the first, we meet a young, vain model/artist who uses her grandmother’s traditional shawl for her own selfish needs in an art exhibit. It’s not long before the spirits that be show her the error of her ways, and it goes without saying that the results are bloody. One segment sees a creepy tech bro release a private sex tape and refuse to shut it down, despite the woman’s desperate pleas. Each segment comes from a different director, which allows their own voices and styles to come through effectively. None of the stories are particularly frightening, but they produce the desired effect, which is a feeling of righteousness at seeing scumbags (usually men) receive their due comeuppances at the hands of those they’ve wronged (usually women).

Buy virtual and in-person tickets here.

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