Nightstream 2020 review: ‘An Unquiet Grave’ digs deep into grief.

A year after losing his wife in a car crash, Jamie convinces her sister, Ava, to return with him to the site of the accident and help him perform a strange ritual. But as the night wears on, it becomes clear that he has darker intentions.

As someone who understands grief, An Unquiet Grave hit me on a much deeper level. But, on the other hand, as a horror and occult fan, I understand that bringing back the dead never goes as planned. Would I wish nothing more than to bring back my loved one? Yes. Do I understand what a terrible fucking idea it would be to attempt such a thing? Also, Yes. The same cannot be said about our leading man, Jaimie. He misses his wife so much he’s willing to lie to her twin sister in order to feel her again. Poor Ava is in the dark in more ways than one. She is not going to sit idly by in any form or fashion.

In the beginning, the outstanding atmospheric score lulls you into a sense of safety all while letting you know something is amiss. As the film progresses, it is its own character, always lurking, and most certainly representing what we cannot see. The majority of the film takes place in the dark, which in itself leads to unsettling thoughts. I was constantly seeking things just out of frame or in the background. Bravo to the sound editors, as well. I got goosebumps with each deliberately placed effect. Jacob A. Ware is phenomenal as Jaime. You absolutely understand where he is coming from but ultimately are equal parts terrified of him and furious with him. Christine Nyland, who also co-wrote the script with director Terence Krey, gives a breathtaking performance. Her emotional nuance from beat to beat is stunning. She and Ware are brilliantly paired. There is the perfect amount of uncomfortable tension, making An Unquiet Grave a visceral watch. Krey has cultivated the complexities of grief in a truly upsetting but engrossing film. It will stick with Nighstream 2020 audiences for longer than they’re comfortable with.

AN UNQUIET GRAVE

World Premiere
USA | 2020 | 72 Min.
Dir. Terence Krey

Nightstream 2020 review: ‘Dinner in America’ is the tits.

A punk rocker arsonist on the run (Kyle Gallner, Veronica Mars) and his number one fan embark on a series of misadventures through suburbia, finding unexpected love along the way in this absolutely electric, thoroughly anarchic, misfit stoner rom-com you didn’t know you needed.

You are all the way into this film from the opening shot. It is unapologetically in your face and does not let up. The cast is phenomenal. Performances are just shy of over the top and that’s why they are so damn good. The soundtrack is unreal with a bass that gets pounded into your psyche and it’s magic. The plot takes a hard left turn 40 minutes in and it is glorious. Writer/director Adam Carter Rehmeier has a cult classic on his hands. I’m calling it now. Dinner In America is a punk rock joyride you will not see coming.

Kyle Fucking Gallner. Ladies and gentlemen, he plays one of the most engaging assholes of all time. I could not take my eyes off of him. His intense aggression pushes the bonkers narrative forward like a freight train. His dialogue is incredibly offensive yet you’re so intrigued by what motivates him. He is smooth as hell and there’s so much more going on than meets the eye. Emily Skeggs is the perfect foil for him. She is quirky and amazing. She challenges Simon’s preconceived notions of power and relationships. It’s a dynamite performance. They are perhaps the most unlikely pair and yet they are sweetly perfect.

There is a surprising commentary about being an individual. It’s absolutely beautiful. Dinner In America is a real standout in this year’s Nightstream 2020. When the music takes over, you completely give in. I will be singing “Watermelon” forever. It’s different, it’s cool, it’s kick-ass. You’ll love it. I can easily say it’s in my Top 10 list for the year.

DINNER IN AMERICA

United States | 2020 | 106 Min.
Dir. Adam Carter Rehmeier

NightStream 2020 capsule review: ‘Lucky’ is biting social commentary in horror form.

A suburban woman fights to be believed as she finds herself stalked by a threatening figure who returns to her house night after night. When she can’t get help from those around her, she is forced to take matters into her own hands.

Nightstream 2020 audiences have undoubtedly heard about Lucky by now. Absolutely killing to on the festival circuit under the keen direction from Natasha Kermani it is not to be missed. Screenwriter/star Brea Grant has crafted a whip-smart script that is both a clever takedown of patriarchal bullshit and a scary as hell genre film. She is outstanding, essentially playing every woman ever. It’s perfectly timed in a week when “I’m Speaking” is being emblazoned onto merch thanks to Kamala Harris. The terror comes from the fact that it is more a woman’s reality than it is fiction. With great fight choreography and engrossing editing, Lucky is the feminist horror anthem we need right now. You’ll want to go back and watch it over and over to catch all the nuance. It’s simply fantastic and that has nothing to do with luck.

U.S. Premiere
United States | 2020 | 81 Min.
Dir. Natasha Kermani

A Shudder Original Film

Nightstream 2020 review: ‘Bloody Hell’ is delicious horror you can sink your teeth into.

In this relentlessly energetic, pitch-black horror-comedy, an ex-bank robber fleeing the country after a video of him goes viral, heads to Helsinki only to find there’s something in store for him there that is much more difficult to escape.

After 8 years in prison, and in an attempt to escape his newfound public notoriety, Rex flees to Finland. But the locals have something else in mind for him. Kidnapped from the airport, he is strung up in a basement like a piece of meat. Why is he there? What the hell is coming next? Is now the best time to start a relationship? What’s for dinner?

The action is relentless. The editing is pure awesome. The bizarre clues left along the way like breadcrumbs are genius. Ben O’Toole as Rex is outstanding. He gets to play multiple roles in this fast-paced, post heist thrill ride. We get a peek of what’s inside his head as his inner thoughts manifest as an entirely different side of his personality. It’s a brilliant, award-worthy performance.

The script is hilarious and ridiculously intriguing. It will be impossible to get bored as the plot goes barreling along. The crazy just keeps coming and it’s highlighted by a great score and absolutely nuts practical fx. Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum, I smell the beginnings of some franchise fun. Bloody Hell is a genre-bending descent into weird and wonderful. For Nightstream 2020 audiences, it’s a perfect fit.

North American Premiere
Australia, USA | 2020 | 95 Min.
Dir. Alister Grierson