Local filmmakers serve up Halloween frights

Horror film festival premieres on the scariest day of the year.

Dylan Murphy

Local filmmaker Mike Hickey seems to end up in a cemetary every Halloween. His short film That Halloween premieres this weekend. Dylan Murphy/Kicker

Halloween may be the season of scares, but for a collection of local filmmakers, this Halloween is the season of dreams coming true.

Mike Hickey is the writer and director of That Halloween, an independent horror film that is making its local theatrical and television debut this Halloween weekend. Hickey has been involved in the local film industry for about 10 years but That Halloween is his first feature film. Getting to make it, he says, is a dream come true.

“If it never happens again, if I never get to write and direct another movie, this ticked off a lot of things I wanted to do as a bucket-list project,” said Hickey. “This was very much a dream project and while there are certainly bigger dreams too, other places I want to go with (my career), this film was a chance to flex those muscles and showcase where those dreams are pointed, I think that was important.”

Hickey describes That Halloween as a story which chronicles that one Halloween night every town has, the one night that generates the tales of haunted houses and supernatural happenings, but it is also a bit of a coming-of-age story.

Every young kid, says Hickey, recalls that moment when they outgrow trick-or-treating but are not able to hang out with the older crowd. They are left wondering how to spend that “wonderful night of magic and spooky whimsy.

“I’ve been that kid from the time I was about 12, right up to today, I’m still figuring out what the best thing to do on Halloween night is” he said.

The film made its world premiere at the Sleepy Hollow Film Festival in Sleepy Hallow, New York on Oct. 15. While Sleepy Hollow is not as world-renown as other independent film festivals like the Toronto International Film Festival, the fact the horror showcase wanted his film is a source of pride.

“My love of Halloween stems from watching The Legend of Sleepy Hollow as a kid. So, to have the film festival in that town accept the movie, it was a stamp of approval that I desperately wanted and needed, and it really meant a lot to me,” Hickey said.

A new local film festival

Locally, That Halloween is debuting at the first ever Fog Fest, a one-night-only film festival showcasing local independent horror films. Shane Mills is a member of a production crew called Grind Mind, and Fog Fest was partially his brainchild.

“It basically came from having a film we needed to show locally, having friends who also had films, and the one positive of the recent downfall of the theater experience, which was that the rates to rent Cineplex weren’t too high” said Mills.

The demand for tickets to Fog Fest has been so overwhelming that Mills and crew have added a second showing. More so than just a demand from local fans, Mills sees the festival as a way to raise awareness that other burgeoning filmmakers can realize their dreams just as he and Mike Hickey have done.

The two-hour Fog Fest is set for tonight at 7:30 with a second showing at 9:30.

“We all started our filmmaking careers with zero experience, so anything we can do to help other creators kind of became our mission … Mike was one of the first guys who helped us out when we got going, so to have his film debut at our festival feels kind of full circle.”

A limited number of tickets for Fog Fest are still available, and for those that can’t make it, That Halloween will be airing on Super Channel Fuse Sunday, Halloween night, at 10:30 pm.

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