Photo provided by Dead North. The Dead North Film Festival 2019 poster.

Top Dead North films as selected by a news zombie
By Brett McGarry

The Unloving – A true psychological thriller from Ben McGregor, the film slowly exposes a terrible incident between a father and son on a hunting trip. The film is told through the twisted perspective of the father, revealing the story scene by scene was unlike any other. This leaves the viewer wondering not only what will happen next, but what happened to begin with which makes for one of the most unnerving and captivating experiences all weekend.

The Changeling – The visual effects of The Changeling by David Hamelin and Neil Macdonald of Whitehorse were unmatched at this year’s festival. Their ability to create an unnamed and ethereal demon so vividly put the film a league above the rest. The film had the strongest overall finished product, from visual effects to sound design to actors’ performances and camera work. It’s not surprising this film was selected to screen at Cannes Film Festival.

Trash – The Iqaluit film by Suzanne Etheridge takes a horrific event in it’s own, seemingly never ending dump fires in the city and turns it into an unnamed city stalking villain. The cinematography is outstanding. The barren winter landscape combined with the creative use of sound design with the nursery rhyme ‘Ring around the Rosie’ creates a very eerie atmosphere. Trash also featured the best monster of the festival with a strong underlying message of taking care of your garbage.

Unzipped – This was the festival’s most surreal film from Heather Heinrichs. This is the tale of a woman who finds a magical portal in several trees, taking her down the rabbit hole of increasingly disturbing worlds. Though the film has somewhat disjointed narrative, it creates a feeling of psychotic panic as the surrounding world closes in on the main character. The set design and use of unique costumes felt like a trip to a Northern circus from hell.

Iceworm – Jonathan Klynkramer’s film about an old worm entity that emerges from uncovered skeleton remains did one of the best jobs in the festival of showing instead of telling. The reverse-delay effect applied to all of the vocals and music created a bone chilling, dialogue free atmosphere as the grotesque worm comes to life, claiming it’s victims. It was one of few films that introduced genuinely gross visuals and villains.

Reviews by me, an unqualified film critic, in no particular order
By Meaghan Richens

This weekend was the annual Dead North Film Festival and I was lucky enough to attend the circumpolar cinema spectacle for the first time. After the three-hour super screening on Sunday night, I walked away impressed by the sheer variety in films and the talent from filmmakers of all levels across the Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut.

Long Story Short: The Mad Trapper, a Drunk History-style retelling of the tale of Albert Johnson was definitely my favourite film of the night. This was basically a Northern Heritage Minute: hilarious, mostly historically accurate and should be shown in schools across Canada for educational purposes.

Wholesome flicks Flight of the Tentacle and Snack Time were both produced by the middle school class at Kaw Tay Whee School in Dettah. The films saw the return of Frostbite, a furry but lovable monster which recently won Most Promising Debut at The Blood in the Snow Canadian Film Festival. This promising group of young filmmakers now have two more awards under their belt for best marketing and best youth film.

The Surprise Party by Inuvik’s Dez Loreen was another stand-out for me, a dark comedy in which a protagonist accidentally sets off a series of murders. I’m not doing it justice here, but it’s funnier than it sounds.

Iqaluit-based film Trash by Suzanne Etheridge also made my personal top five. The film took home the award for Best Villain and it’s easy to see why. A garbage gremlin born out of dump fires snatching up dogs and children is enough to scare anyone into taking care of their trash, before it takes care of them.

While I can’t list all of them here, teams across Northern Canada worked hard on 40 Dead North films, that much was obvious. The festival is a creative, scary and fun way to showcase the North and I’m already looking forward to next year!

For more Dead North coverage, check out the Zombear Award winners below.


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