‘Liminal’ Salem Horror Fest 2024 Review: The South Is Scary

The new horror documentary Liminal follows Dash Kwiatkowski, who is making the argument that the paranormal is a queer space. They, along with their team members Rosa Escandón and Rockette Fox, set out for the south to explore the link between the queer and the supernatural. Rosa was a skeptic before she met Dash and realized she had some previous psychic experiences. Fox is the witchy friend who is a bit more versed in the paranormal. Here, the group’s investigations into the legend of The Bell Witch in Adams, Tennessee, become the primary focus. However, it isn’t just the urban legend they’re investigating. One of the more intriguing avenues the film explores is the LGBTQIA+ community in rural areas. 

Because the film is made to support Dash’s argument that “strangeness and queerness are linked intrinsically,” we get to meet so many queer people in this area entrenched in the supernatural. Not only does Liminal allow them to discuss the history of their small town, and express their own spiritual beliefs, but quite a few of them also seem to be part of the synchronicities that have led Dash to this case. The coincidences, and the way strangers seem to be in conversation through the team, will make even a professional skeptic do a double take. Nearly every individual interviewed becomes a bigger piece of this puzzle than anticipated.

Also Read: ‘Purgatory Jack’ Salem Horror Fest 2024 Review: An Overambitious Look At The Afterlife

One of the other things I enjoy about this film is that the trio takes the time to explain what’s going on. I like knowing why they are doing whatever they’re doing and the logic behind it. Before investigating a haunted museum, they pull tarot cards for a reading before giving card descriptions and meanings. In the same space, they decide there is enough supernatural energy to try the Estes Method. They explain that it’s a sensory deprivation method used to isolate a team member and communicate with the dead. I love that they take a few beats to explain things to ensure we’re all following along with them. This prevents us from whipping out our phones to Google new terms and missing something. 

Using the Estes Method, the team encounters two different spirits who will only communicate through Dash. One is dubbed Gay Director Ghost and seems playful as they check out the theatre area of the building. Another seems more sinister and leaves Dash feeling uneasy. I also find this ghost encounter interesting. The entity seems to misread Dash, who is trans and non-binary, as someone who would enjoy misogynistic games with Fox and Rosa. He has Dash tell their teammates to get on the ground while giving Dash hints of shitty male energy. I wish this had been explored more because it raises interesting questions about how the old, and gleefully problematic, interpret the gender binary. When the documentary headed to the rural south, we expected the microaggressions to come from the living. So, this was a surprise and has stuck with me since I watched it the first time. 

Also Read: ‘Indika’ Review: A Bleak and Bizarre World Worth Exploring

Liminal is a different kind of ghost-hunting situation than many of us are used to. The crew doesn’t pretend to have all the answers, nor do they play to the cameras for laughs. Our trio is legitimately excited but frightened during certain unexplainable situations. They also share that they phone friends when they’re in over their heads. This continues to make the audience feel included as no one is “on” and trying to coin a catchphrase or become a meme. This also makes everything that happens in the woods towards the end more unnerving. 

While this project is targeted more towards the believers and curious, the investigators are not above poking holes in their own experiences. For instance, when too many snakes show up to ruin Fox’s ritual in the woods, the team is ready to go. They admit that it was copperhead mating season but also discuss how the snakes seemed to wish them ill. Another thing the snake situation drives home is that the trio is a democracy, and they take care of each other. Everyone explains what they were feeling and why they made the call to pull the plug. I love these moments because they remind us that this is three friends on an adventure instead of a one-person quest with sidekicks. It also shows a sense of organization and communication that many of us long for in our everyday lives. 

Liminal feels like a pilot for a show that I’d like to continue watching. There’s even a post-credits Zoom where Dash and Rosa discuss where they went wrong in their investigation and where they should go next. This glimpse into this world is unsettling and interesting enough that I would watch a few more episodes. 

Liminal had its East Coast Premiere at Salem Horror Festival 2024.

Have you already watched Liminal? Are these also your favorite new paranormal investigators? Then let’s chat @misssharai

  • Liminal
3.5

Summary

Liminal is just eerie and interesting enough to leave you wanting more time with this trio of paranormal investigators as they prove that the supernatural is a queer space.

Share: 
Tags:

Categorized:

Sign up for The Harbinger a Dread Central Newsletter