Morbidly Beautiful

Your Home for Horror


Day 7 of the AxWound Film Fest brought something a bit different to the table by introducing the audience to the amazing Kindergeist podcast.

For day 7 of the content-rich AxWound Film Fest, we took a small break from the fest’s thrilling short horror content and instead got introduced to a very entertaining podcast — and one that immediately became a new favorite.

The KINDERGEIST PODCAST is a show where a niece and her auntie explore and discuss kid-friendly horror media through the lens of their differing perspectives.

It was spawned out of filmmaker Xanthe Pajarillo’s desire to share the wonderful world of horror with her 12-year-old niece, Zakia Ponce. Zakia got a taste of the genre through her obsession with The Vampire Diaries. Together, they watch and read horror media and have a discussion of its themes through the lens of their differing perspectives.

Zakia Ponce (Co-Host) is an eighth-grader from Los Angeles. Her passions are volleyball, journaling, reading, real estate, and entrepreneurism. The book Small Spaces by Katharine Arden and Netflix’s The Haunting of Bly Manor were her gateways into the horror genre. In her free time, she likes to browse through Zillow and listen to Lana del Rey.

Xanthe Pajarillo (Producer/Co-Host) is a horror director-writer and Air Force veteran from Germany and Virginia. She recently directed the 2021 Fangoria Chainsaw Awards hosted by David Dastmalchian with presenters Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Smith, Doug Jones, Keith David, and more… airing on Shudder. She holds an MFA in Film and Television Production from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts and a BFA in Photography and Media from CalArts.

Xanthe’s incredible short film Aubergine — about a young girl coping with depression whose best friend is a ghost named Aubergine — screened at this year’s AxWound, and you can check out our coverage here.

Fest attendees were treated to an exclusive live episode of the podcast where we got to both see and hear the hosts talking about the world of HorrorTok (Horror TikTok). Xanthe curated a collection of entertaining clips, while we got to see young Zakia react live. Some of her facial expressions and genuine reactions were hilarious and endearing, making the episode so much fun.

Watching the onscreen chemistry between an aunt and the thirteen-year-old niece who clearly loves and admires her was truly heartwarming. 

I know first-hand what it’s like to share my love and passion of the genre with people in my life who I love and who are very important to me, and there’s nothing better in the world.

As someone who considers horror a very significant part of my life — and someone who advocates for horror as a true artistic medium that is both important and deserving of much more appreciation — it is so inspiring to see the younger generation embrace the genre with such enthusiasm.

(Watching Xanthe introduce her young niece to horror reminded me of our writer Jamie Alvey’s excellent series Girls Guide to Horror which curates the best of the genre for an audience that is so often neglected and overlooked.)

Following the podcast, Zakia and Xanthe joined AxWound Film Festival founder and programmer Hannah Forman for a video Q&A where they discussed the show, their love of horror, the influence and importance of TikTok as a filmmaking medium, mental health, gun violence, social media, and more. I’m pretty obsessed with how smart and well-adjusted Zakia is.

Kindergeist is available on Apple/Google Podcasts & Spotify. It launched at the end of September 2021, so it’s super easy to get caught up with all the episodes that have aired to date.

The FIRST EVER Kindergeist episode was around the topic “Is Horror Appropriate For Kids?” It’s incredibly fascinating. The duo discusses the horror of growing up Gen Z, mental illness, Zoom middle school, and Zaki’as parenting advice.

I encourage you to listen, even if you don’t have kids (but especially if you do). It has quickly made its way to the top of my must-listen list. 

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