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COMFORT ZONE

Five horror festivals join forces for Nightstream

The Boston Underground Film Festival combines programming with counterparts in other cities to produce a new virtual horror fest.

Sarah Paulson, with Kiera Allen, stars as Mother/Diane in "Run."
Sarah Paulson, with Kiera Allen, stars as Mother/Diane in "Run."Allen Fraser

Make a spooky date with your sofa; the virtual film festival Nightstream arrives Oct. 8-11. In a five-way partnership, Boston Underground Film Festival collaborated with the Brooklyn Horror, North Bend, The Overlook, and Popcorn Frights Film Festivals for four nights of genre-bending horror screenings, premieres, and interactive events.

After canceling the 22nd iteration of their annual festival because of COVID-19, BUFF’s artistic director Kevin Monahan and programming director Nicole McControversy, were excited for a new opportunity to digitally showcase their selections.

“A fair chunk of our programming was salvaged for this, including all of our shorts programs,” says McControversy, who is based in London. “Four of the features in our original March lineup made the cut.” Both BUFF’s 2020 opening and closing films, “Dinner in America” and “Jumbo,” joined Nightstream’s lineup.

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The festival, which will screen more than 40 features and more than 160 shorts, opens with Hulu original, “Run,” starring Sarah Paulson (“She’s basically a horror goddess,” says McControversy), a thriller about a possibly nefarious mother-daughter relationship, directed by Aneesh Chaganty (“Searching”). Also noteworthy: Ryûhei Kitamura’s action-thriller “The Doorman,” Cape Cod native Nicholas Payne Santos’s “It Cuts Deep,” and closing flick, “Mandibles,” by Quentin Dupieux. Nightstream will also feature masterclasses with Nia DaCosta (“Candyman”), Mary Harron (“American Psycho”), and “A Quiet Place” screenwriters, Scott Beck and Bryan Woods.

Renowned horror filmmaker Mick Garris is the festival honoree, joining attendees and surprise guests for a special virtual event.

“It’s based on the ‘Masters of Horrors’ concept, when great directors of horror, like John Carpenter, Wes Craven, Tobe Hooper, would gather for private dinners,” said Monahan from his home in Somerville. “It’s one of those legendary things we’ve all heard of, but unless you were one of them, you couldn’t go.”

Attendees will also have the option to join live trivia and virtual happy hours dubbed “Evening Rituals,” with special hosts including actors Elijah Wood and Larry Fessenden. They can also explore and interact with the festival space and fellow guests via a VR tool called Gather, complete with its own virtual bar.

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“It was very important to maintain a sense of community among our audience,” says Monahan. “We’re trying to replicate the best we can. It’s very 8-bit.”

“Like Zoom meets an ’80s RPG video game,” says McControversy. Buy badges, starting at $25 for five screenings, at nightstream.org.