Maple Ridge–shot horror-comedy Dead Shack is one of VIFF’s best surprises

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      Peter Ricq was dreaming about his first movie when the Georgia Straight interviewed his band, HUMANS, way back in 2010. Seven years later, Dead Shack arrives as one of the Vancouver International Film Festival’s best surprises, a self-aware horror-comedy that smuggles its modern sensibility into a lovingly retro splatter flick, like Superbad smashing into an Evil Dead universe. Thanks to Ricq’s assured guidance and a seriously talented cast—Lauren Holly (Motive) is the film’s leathered-up killer, while an inspired Donavon Stinson (Call Me Fitz) as a stoner dad simply kills, period—Dead Shack is relentless in its bid to entertain. Fans will trade quotes for years to come.

      “I do art to entertain people. That’s my foremost goal; when I do paintings, music, or TV, I just want people to have fun,” Ricq tells the Straight, explaining that it took a number of overambitious false starts before he arrived at the idea for his Maple Ridge–shot debut (featuring “about 85 percent” practical effects, exploding heads included, horror geeks). “I watched the Fright Night remake and it just reminded me how much I liked those old horror movies from the ’80s,” he says. “ ‘Oh, yeah, I can actually make that for cheap! What the fuck am I doing trying to make these $80-million movies?’ ”

      Of course, it isn’t like Ricq sat around for seven years not making a film. In 2016 he published his graphic novel Once Our Land, while HUMANS released its first album the year prior (and will perform its Dead Shack soundtrack at Fortune Sound Club on October 4, in the VIFF Live! series). Along with Dead Shack scripters Phil Ivanusic-Vallee and Davila LeBlanc, Ricq is also the creator of the award-winning animated series The League of Super Evil, and he’s a similarly decorated videomaker. With all that, and despite interest from L.A., he isn’t about to abandon his turf. “I’d have to start over,” he says. “And I don’t really feel the need to do that. There’s so much talent here.”

      Dead Shack screens at the Rio Theatre on September 29 and October 5.