If you're going to craft a good horror story, a gloomy climate almost always helps. The Overlook Hotel in The Shining probably wouldn't be as scary without that isolating snow storm. Nor would Edgar Allen Poe's House of Usher seem as foreboding surrounded by palm trees inside of all the miasmic fog.
So can a top-notch horror movie ever be set in sunny South Florida?
Igor Shteyrenberg hopes so. In fact, he can hardly wait.
"I would absolutely, positively welcome our local filmmakers to tackle that," he says enthusiastically. "I would love to help promote ANY film made locally and bring it to the big screen."
This week, 32-year-old Shteyrenberg and fellow horror film buff Marc Ferman, 42, bring their Popcorn Frights Film Festival back to Miami for its second edition. Billed as South Florida's first -- and only -- horror genre film fest, the nearly week-long Popcorn Frights will premiere 17 features and 17 short films from around the world.<
The two founders of Popcorn Frights feel that unlike Hollywood's predictable reliance on jump scares, gross-outs and gore, independent filmmakers' inventive ways of tapping into "cultural myths" have been delivering genuine scares in recent years.
"Limited resources bring out the best of someone's creativity. And these filmmakers are the new vanguard," says Shteyrenberg.
This year's Popcorn Frights kicks off with an opening night double-feature screening Fear, Inc., about a horror fan in search of the ultimate scare who gets more than he bargained for; and The Blackcoat’s Daughter, starring Kiernan Shipka (Mad Men) and Emma Roberts (American Horror Story), about two students in an all-girl prep school who find themselves stalked by . . . something.
Shteyrenberg's own cinematic palate was refined pretty early on by some vintage horror; he grew up watching Alfred Hitchcock's TV show and the films of John Carpenter.
And in the course of scouring the globe for top-flight frights, how much ribbing does he get for being an "Igor"?
Shteyrenberg's ear-to-ear smile says it all. "I think it's a perfect compliment," he says.
IF YOU GO:
POPCORN FRIGHTS FILM FESTIVAL
O Cinema Wynwood
90 NW 29th St, Miami, FL 33127
Phone: (305) 571-9970