In January of 2020, Kansas City’s Panic Film Fest was one of the last in person events I attended before the world shut down. We could not have imagined, at that time, how different things would look as the months went on. Panic Fest, now in its 9th year, has been steadily growing not only in its film offerings, but also in adding live podcasts, discussions with filmmakers, and horror community/networking events. Obviously 2021 called for innovation for all film festivals, and Panic Fest is following suit. While there will be a limited number of in person screenings, most of the festival will be virtual this year. The true upside of this is that you don’t have to be in Kansas City to check out some great films and virtual events! This will also be my 9th year attending Panic Fest, and although it will be my first year attending from my couch, I am honored to be able to cover it for Modern Horrors! Let me tell you about some of the films I’m hoping to catch:

It’s a soaking wet day with rain pouring down and one of the best things to do is to go seek refuge in a great old cinema. There’s only one problem: A scary murderer is on the loose and he also has taken refuge there.

It’s a little hard to track down information on The Last Matinee as it seems to also be called Red Screening in some locations–and Al Morir La Matinee in Spanish. Set in Montevideo, Uruguay in 1993, this looks like Lamberto Bava’s Demons crossed with the “kids on bikes” vibe we’ve been seeing in a lot of nostalgia leaning films lately. I can’t wait to see how all of this comes together!

The Last Matinee has its US Premiere at Panic Film Fest 2021 online on Saturday April 10th at 12:45pm

Decades after the accidental drowning of her twin sister, a self-destructive young woman returns to her family home, finding herself drawn to an alternate dimension where her sister may still be alive.

Coming off of its world premiere at Sundance, this fantasy horror fever dream is filled with drippy pink goo and art film vibes. While this is Carlson Young’s first time directing a feature film, she has years of acting under her belt–including roles in genre favorites like True Blood and the Scream TV Series. Also, for those who enjoyed My Best Friend’s Wedding as much as I did…Dermot Mulroney is in this one too!

The Blazing World makes its Panic Film Fest 2021 online premiere on Sunday April 11th at 6:00pm

Without a trace, Susie Potter vanished from her home in the quiet town of Skidmore, Missouri. Ten years later, two reporters uncover a harrowing new detail, which leads them on an obsessive hunt for the truth through the dark labyrinth of rural northwest Missouri.

Below The Fold was set to be released in 2020 at the Kansas City FilmFest International, but the pandemic put that on hold. Although the story of Susie Potter is purely fictional, the real life town of Skidmore, Missouri is home to three grisly murders (two of which made me say “oh jesus!” outloud when I read about them) since 1981, and those dark vibes influenced writer/ director Clayton Scott who grew up nearby. Lead actors Sarah McGuire and Davis DeRock will also turn up in another film shot in Kansas City, and showing at Panic Fest 2021,The Stylist (reviewed on Modern Horrors and absolutely worth checking out).

Below The Fold has its World Premiere at Panic Film Fest 2021 theatrically on Thursday, April 15th 2021

A vacationing family turns the tables on a mass shooter who claims to be fighting demonic forces.

There is not yet a trailer for Blood Conscious, and honestly not a lot of details either, but the tagline “Everyone has their demons” has me intrigued. This could play out as actual demons, a killer in the midst of a delusion that tells him there are demons, or a commentary on how racism demonizes those that are seen as “other.” Maybe all three? I’m excited to see which direction it goes!

Blood Conscious has its North American Premiere at Panic Film Fest 2021 online on Thursday, April 15th 2021

Following the death of their mother, four estranged siblings find themselves fighting for their inheritance and their lives when an eccentric stranger arrives, claiming their famous haunted childhood home was left to her.

Who among us hasn’t glanced at a real estate listing of a favorite horror movie setting and hoped that whoever ends up with it will love it as much as we surely would? The Whooper Returns is set around the Schepp family siblings who have just inherited their childhood home that also happened to be the setting for a 1979 horror film. They have seriously underestimated the fandom around this film and how invested those fans might be in the fate of their home.

The Whooper Returns has its U.S. Premiere at Panic Film Fest 2021 online on Saturday, April 10th 2021

Panic Fest has always had a particularly well curated short film program and this year looks to be no exception. With over 40 films in 5 showcase blocks there will be more than six hours of short films to indulge in. It’s a monumental amount to try to highlight here, but even if you can only choose one or two of the showcases there’s a good chance you’ll leave with a few new favorites. These are a great way to get eyes on up and coming filmmakers and actors as they start their genre journeys.

While the virtual festival format offers a lot of versatility and flexibility as far as who can attend, the downside is the loss of the face to face lobby chats in between films. The Panic Fest team is attempting to fill that void by creating a virtual theater mingling experience on the Gather platform. This 8-bit online experience lets you feel like you’re walking through a video game while also giving you the opportunity to chat with other festival goers in large groups or more private rooms. With the use of video chat you’ll almost feel like you’re there!

Panic Film Fest runs virtually and in person from April 8 through April 18th, 2021. More information can be found at