What the Fest 2019 recap: 3 don’t miss horror movies


What the Fest 2019 film festival in New York City celebrates a love of genre films. The second annual event, held at the IFC Center honored weirdness in movies, and highlighted small, stellar indie projects. Here are three highly recommended horror movies from What the Fest 2019 to keep on your radar.

What the Fest is a great event that honors the hard work of indie filmmakers. Here is our list of 3 must see horror films from the festival. Watch if you dare!

Body at Brighton Rock

Roxanne Benjamin’s directorial debut which screened at What the Fest 2019 can be classified as psychological, nature horror. Similar to Jaws, in this film it’s what isn’t seen that scares you the most.

In a panel during the festival, Benjamin described Body at Brighton Rock as being for “teenage girls who fall down and say f*** a lot.” The movie is also inspired in part by a love of young adult mystery novels; something that’s clear from the tone and aesthetic.

Naive Wendy works at Brighton Rock National Park with her more experienced friends. When she offers to swap shifts as a favor, she finds herself on rough terrain, setting up safety signs. An easy assignment so what could go wrong?

Answer, everything. She quickly takes a wrong turn and winds up lost inside the park. Things get even scarier when she stumbles upon a mysterious dead body. After learning she must secure the area, and wait until morning for rescuers, Wendy is left to face not only the body, and approaching nightfall, but her own deepest and darkest fears.

Her short journey alone in the wilderness will include both real, and psychological horrors. Using survival skills, and any smarts she can muster, Wendy vows to make it through the night unscathed. But ultimately, this is a story about facing yourself more than any real enemies.


Darlin’s presence at What the Fest 2019 marks another debut feature by a female director. Pollyanna McIntosh’s take on the expanding story of the horror film, The Woman. A role that she herself originated.

The 2011 film tells the story of a feral woman, kidnapped by a crazed father and kept captive in a shed only feet from his family home. Though he attempts to viciously tame her, she eventually escapes. Leaving bodies in her path, she reclaims her independence, and disappears back into the woods. But not before taking the fractured family’s young daughter with her.

McIntosh’s 2019 sequel picks up eight years later. Darlin’ has been raised in the woods and is now also feral. But after discovering she’s pregnant, she’s left at a Catholic girls school and assimilates back into normal life. A normalcy she barely recalls except for one remaining artifact from the past. A charm bracelet which reads Darlin’.

Though now fully functioning, that feral side still resides deep within. Once the woman starts looking for the girl she raised (and her granddaughter) the carnage begins again, as do Darlin’s own tendencies. The delivery might be brutal at times but the underlying themes in Darlin’ are ones that resonate in real life. Devotion, love and fighting for family.


Larry Fessenden’s Mary Shelly inspired film Depraved opened What the Fest 2019 this year. The movie is a modern take on the Frankenstein story told in a nostalgic New York setting. It focuses on Henry, a former war doctor who has invented a way to seemingly revive the dead. At first, the doctor’s intentions seem purely to save lives and help people. However, this quickly crosses over into more disturbing and dangerous territory.

With the help of his ruthless friend Polidori, (Josh Leonard), and using cadaver limbs, they successfully produce Adam. A monster created from a murder victim. Soon, Henry’s transformation into full ‘mad scientist’ begins. But his need to possess the monster is overshadowed by Adam’s own deep desires for personal growth.

Like any film where an inventor becomes obsessed with his creation, that creation will always evolve. Yet, unlike similar themes found in Her, or Ex Machina, this figure is less cunning, or determined, and more tragic than anything else.

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The Frankenstein tale is one that’s been told before, but Fessenden’s gritty New York look and cinematic take allow it to stand on its own.

What do you think of these three horror movies? Have you seen any or do you plan to? Let us know in the comments!