Forever Sleepless: Day Four of Nightmares Film Festival 2022

The final day of Nightmares Film Festival in Columbus, Ohio is always a bittersweet one, but faces of friends—both old and new—still fill out Gateway Film Center all day as the festivities continue. You might think that the programming would slow down on the final day, especially with it being a Sunday.

That would be a mistake on your part!

Dueling blocks still ran for eight straight hours, serving up three stellar blocks of short films (shoutout again to Victim No. 6!), as well as six feature films. The first movie of the day was the zombified action horror romp Johnny Z, which hailed from Night of Something Strange filmmaker Jonathan Straiton. Next came a wild double-feature of Sophia Cacciola & Michael J. Epstein’s horror comedy The Once and Future Smash and a restoration of the related 1970 cult hit, August Kane’s End Zone 2.

The final three features of the festival spanned multiple subgenres. Ryan Stevens Harris’ dark fantasy drama Moon Garden delighted attendees with its unique and hand-crafted visuals. Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead did what they do best with their latest comedic sci-fi horror drama, Something in the Dirt. Last, but certainly not least, came Victor Bonacore‘s unhinged post-apocalyptic exploitation bonanza Thrust!.

Speaking with other attendees after the screenings made it clear that even the films I didn’t see were just as spectacular as the ones I did. The only thing more delightful about rolling into the start of a film festival with a list of titles to see is leaving it days later with another list just as long of films to seek out that you missed. I’ve got homework to do and I’ll be doing it for months to come as these flicks eventually all arrive before your eyes.

Those who frequent Nightmares Film Festival are collectively known as the “Sleepless“. It’s a term born of the simple fact that, when the festival launched in 2016, it tended to run from 9am until 2am (if not 4am) most days. Basically, in order to experience even half of the programming that Nightmares had to offer, one had to become “sleepless”. A cine-fied zombie, shambling about the Gateway between films, food, and conversation, day in and out. Exhausting? Yes. But totally worth it.

COVID sort of nipped those early morning (and some of the super late) screenings in the bud when Nightmares return last year. We sleepless are a bit less sleepless these days, but Nightmares hasn’t lost a single step amidst the change. This year’s programming was just as impeccable as ever, so much so that—as I stated above—one long’s to catch up with the features and shorts that they missed along the way. Our hunger for Nightmares is Sleepless and our pursuit of it is, well…Endless. For as the final day of one festival ends, another will begin in a year’s time.

I’d like to thank co-founders Jason Tostevin and Chris Hamel for once again putting together another absolute smash of a film festival and— of course—for inviting myself and Dread Central to be a part of it all. I’m already looking forward to next year’s festival! Here’s hoping some of you decide to #ComePlayWithUs next October at Nightmares Film Festival 2023!



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