Tribeca 2024 Capsule Reviews: From Folkloric ‘The Damned’ to Surreal Psychotronic ‘She Loved Blossoms More’

The latest edition of the Tribeca Film Festival draws to a close in New York City, leaving another strong year for new genre premieres, retrospectives, and events in its wake.

Tribeca 2024 unveiled the new premiere of  Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala’s ultra-bleak The Devil’s Bath, raucous slasher AMFAD: All My Friends Are Dead, goopy sci-fi horror comedy The A-Frame, and dusty neo-noir horror A Desert to name a few of the genre offerings this year. But the fest’s genre offerings don’t stop with Midnight programming, a section dedicated to horror and high-energy genre fare. 

Here’s a round-up of brief thoughts and capsule reviews of Tribeca’s narrative features that either toe-dip or crash into horror in surprising ways.

The Damned

The Damned Joe Cole and Odessa Young

Director Thordur Palsson, who co-wrote the screenplay with Jamie Hannigan (“The Woman in the Wall”), combines 19th-century survival thrills with atmospheric supernatural chills set in an Icelandic fishing village. Palsson drops viewers into a seemingly ongoing story, where the especially harsh winter conditions have left the handful of residents in a heightened state of desperation and without a leader. When a strange foreign ship sinks just off the coast, it forces the village to make an impossible choice, with widow Eva (Odessa Young, Assassination Nation) the ultimate decider on whether to save the boat’s crew or survive the brutal season. The villagers are wracked with guilt over their choice, but when strange fates begin to befall them, they wonder if the folkloric Draugr has come to haunt them.

The stunning Icelandic landscapes and unforgiving winter conditions infuse The Damned with a rich abundance of atmosphere and production value. It goes far in a lean feature that doles out character details sporadically for the sake of breeding paranoia within the group’s ranks. Supporting players like “Game of Thrones” actor Rory McCann and Joe Cole (“Gangs of London”) bring the appropriate level of freakout fear and despair, but the narrative structure makes it tricky to find rooting interest here. Palsson employs restraint with the folkloric elements, opting instead to lean into the ambiguities of superstition. While that means it builds to an appropriate final moments, it’s light on impact.

The Damned plays like a well-crafted cautionary campfire tale, unsettling and intriguing in vision but one that’s light on details and rooting interest.



The desire for peace, quiet, and sleep transforms into a tension-fraught nightmare in Restless, the feature debut from writer/director Jed Hart. Empty nester Nicky (Lyndsey Marshal) loves her quiet, mundane routine. So much so that she doesn’t take it well when a new neighbor, Deano (Aston McAuley), shatters her peace with constant hard partying. Early attempts to lower the volume are met with open hostility, and the more Nicky loses her patience, the worse things get. The more tensions mount between the neighbors, the more Nicky and Deano seem destined for confrontation to end in violence.

Hart captures Nicky’s unraveling psychological state to a palpable degree. The sleep deprivation and gas lighting yield nail-biting suspense that only grows more unnerving as Deano’s cruelty increases. Marshal earns easy rooting interest, not just for Nicky’s earnest personality but as a relatable milquetoast type that makes for a perfect audience proxy in this familiar scenario. Hart injects plenty of psych-outs and nightmare sequences to further escalate suspense, but there’s a dark sense of humor to it all. It’s an intense thriller grafted onto a mundane comedy with inventive results. In other words, Nicky finds the perfect solution to her unrelenting nightmare, one that ends Restless on a perfect punchline; but don’t expect this pitch-black thriller riff to veer too far into gritty territory. This is a cozy thriller nestled in the suburbs with an atypical protagonist.

It may not veer too far into genre, but the exercise in tension building and playful sense of humor make it winsome all the same.

She Loved Blossoms More

Tribeca Film Festival 2024 - She Loved Blossoms More

A journey through grief transforms into a psychotropic, psychedelic voyage through alternate realities in director/co-writer Yannis Veslemes‘s surreal genre-defier. Three Greek brothers (Aris Balis, Panos Papadopoulos, and Julio Katsis) build and experiment with a unique time machine in the hopes of bringing their mother back from the dead. The brothers have practically hermited themselves away with their grief as they experiment with various flora and fauna to test their machine, though it manifests in ways that are as different as their personalities. It’s those warring personalities and the inclusion of hedonism and mind-altering substances that send the men on a bizarre, reality-altering odyssey.

Veslemes, who co-wrote with Dimitris Emmanouilidis, forgoes conventional narratives in favor of a tactile mood piece that leans into the psychotronic. The debut filmmaker delivers a collision of DIY techniques that transforms She Loved Blossoms More into an arresting, vibrant realm of practical effects-driven creatures and ruined experiments. There’s an emphasis on the surreal here as the brothers drift through time and reality, often to comical effect. But that also means that it’s the type of weird cinema that demands you get on its peculiar wavelength; there’s not much in the way of story or characters to grab hold of here. It’s a sumptuous visual feast that hones in on the strangeness of mourning, nothing more or less.


Valucanizadora Tribeca film festival 2024

The latest from writer/director Joel Potrykus (Relaxer, The Alchemist Cookbook) isn’t horror at all, but it is a heavy metal genre-shifter worth checking out. Vulcanizadora revists characters introduced in Potrykus’s Buzzard: Marty Jackitansky (Joshua Burge) and Derek Skiba (Potrykus). The pair feel trapped in time, or adolescence, to be more specific, as they embark on a camping trip in the Michigan woods. For a while, it’s all good fun as Derek amuses himself with the wilderness or glow sticks. But the more their journey wears on, the clearer it becomes that their plan is poised to derail with disastrous results.

Potrykus’s latest begins as a darkly funny heavy metal comedy that deftly shifts into a poignant existential drama, stitched together by a shocking act that toe-dips ever so briefly into horror. Shot on film, Vulcanizadora impresses in the way it explores heady questions through light banter or darkly funny gags before pulling the rug out from under you. Two ill-equipped friends trapped in place by societal expectations give way to something far more somber and bleak. Potrykus helms with edgy style, but it’s his and Burge’s transformative performances that carry this unconventional gem.

The Weekend

The Weekend

Meeting the in-laws is always intense, and Nigerian thriller The Weekend takes it to an all-new disturbing level. Nikiya (Uzoamaka Aniunoh) realizes that she’s yet to meet the family of her longtime beau and now fiance, Luc (Bucci Franklin). Luc tries to dissuade her; he’s not spoken to his family in years. Nikiya demands to meet her future in-laws, though, and the lovebirds set off to his hometown village for a weekend trip. While Nikiya is warmly greeted by Luc’s sister Kama (Meg Otanwa) and parents Meki (Keppy Ekpeyong Bassey) and Omicha (Gloria Anozie-Young), the telltale signs something is amiss come straightaway. Nikiya begins to wonder if meeting the in-laws was worth it when things escalate.

Director Daniel Emeke Oriahi, working from a script by Egbemawei Dimiyei Sammy, Vanessa Kanu, and Freddie O. Anyaegbunam Jr., keeps the momentum going at a steady clip as he puts Nikiya in a slow simmering kettle. Ominous signs give way to horror in inventive ways here, introducing a new spin on a niche subgenre of horror. Oriahi effectively ensures you can’t quite guess where The Weekend is headed, taking sharp story turns and detours along the way. The horror itself is approached with a commendable restraint that lets its performers do the heavy lifting. The Weekend isn’t without rough edges, like poor sound mixing issues, but Aniunoh and Franklin get put through the emotional wringer as the plausible but ill-fated lovebirds facing the worst. It makes for a breezy, engaging, and unconventional horror-thriller.

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