Fantasia International Film Festival 2017 Reviews: ‘Dead Shack’ and ‘Bitch’

DEAD SHACK

While staying at a run-down cabin in the woods during the weekend, three children must save their parents from the neighbor who intends to feed them to her un-dead family.

Dead Shack is a gore filled, one-liner extravaganza. Starting off with a bang and never letting up, this film is an ode to nosey teens everywhere who have had to fend for themselves by growing a pair/ perhaps being a tad too brazen. You’ll laugh, you’ll squirm, you’ll be really impressed by the performances. With some stunningly sweeping cinematography and cool 80’s electronic score, Dead Shack should not be missed. Good thing for the masses, it’s being released later this year! If you’re not at Fantasia 2017 for this afternoon’s screening, for now, you can check out the trailer below.

NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE

SCREENING TIMES

CREDITS

  • Directed by: Peter Ricq
  • Written by: Philippe Ivanusic, Davila LeBlanc, Peter Ricq
  • Cast: Lizzie Boys, Lauren Holly, Gabriel LaBelle, Matthew Nelson-Mahood, Donavon Stinson
  • Company: Raven Banner Entertainment Inc.

BITCH

The provocative tale of a woman (Marianna Palka) who snaps under crushing life pressures and assumes the psyche of a vicious dog. Her philandering, absentee husband (Jason Ritter) is forced to become reacquainted with his four children and sister-in-law (Jaime King) as they attempt to keep the family together during this bizarre crisis.

Bitch thrusts you into the mind of a stay-at-home Mom’s breaking point. Creative editing and brilliant storytelling allow the audience to enter into Mom’s psyche and understand why the story happens in the first place. Ritter‘s loathsome performance (a complete compliment) is an awesome foil to Palka‘s brave portrayal of the film’s titular role. Virtual high fives to our leading lady for writing and directing this spectacular movie, as well. This film has way more heart than one might think. It speaks to connection and who is truly the alpha in the household. As with Dead Shack, if you missed Bitch‘s screening at the fest, you’re in luck. The film is getting a wide release later this year!

CANADIAN PREMIERE
  • USA
  • 2017
  • 96 mins
  • English

SCREENING TIMES

CREDITS

  • Directed by: Marianna Palka
  • Written by: Marianna Palka
  • Cast: Jason Ritter, Jaime King, Marianna Palka
  • Company: MPI Media

OFFICIAL SELECTION: SUNDANCE 2017, BAMCINEMAFEST 2017, CHICAGO CRITICS FILM FESTIVAL 2017

Fantasia International Film Festival 2017 Review: ‘Le Manior’ (The Mansion) brings a the scares and the one liners.

LE MANOIR(“The Mansion”)When a group of 20 something friends plan a New Year’s Eve getaway at an old mansion, things get heated when accusations fly, drugs and alcohol are plenty, and there is no signal for phones or wifi. Oh, and did I mention they start dying one by one? While this may sound like you’ve already seen this movie a hundred times, don’t be fooled by the build up. Le Manoir is one hell of a unique dark comedy horror. This movie is what the Scary Movie franchise could have looked like if they were actually intending on genuinely scaring you. The dialogue is much less punny but seriously over the top. Think Evil Dead meets Scooby Doo in all the best ways possible (and you can add in Scream just for good measure). The cinematography is great and the impact of the music and sound editing is spot on. Not only that, but the cast is shockingly comprised of YouTube stars… and they’re fantastic! The chemistry is beyond and each holds their own and then some. I legitimately laughed out loud during the entire 96-minute run. I highly recommend you seek this film out at and after this year’s Fantasia Festival. Check out the trailer below.

NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE
  • France
  • 2017
  • 96 mins
  • French
  • English (subtitles)

SCREENING TIMES

CREDITS

  • Directed by: Tony T. Datis
  • Cast: Marc Jarousseau, Yvick Letexier, Nathalie Odzierejko, Ludovik Day, Jérôme Niel
  • Company: Gaumont

Fantasia International Film Festival 2017 Review: ‘The Honor Farm’ leaves an empty feeling.

THE HONOR FARM

INTERNATIONAL PREMIERE
  • USA
  • 2017
  • 75 mins
  • English

On prom night, a group of kids wander deep into the woods and come back changed forever.

I had very high hopes based upon the set up of The Honor Farm. It took the typical 30ish minutes to get to what seemed like the ramping up of a really great plot. Everyone is tripping on shrooms and walks into an abandoned prison farm, super cool, right? Rumor has it, two girls died there! Also intriguing, yes, yes, give me more. It’s dark, spooky, and covered in weird suggestive graffiti, this is looking like a blast. Unfortunately, this was not meant to be. While the shrooms do provide for some magical visual moments, the follow through was a letdown. There were several plotlines writer/director Karen Skloss could have expounded upon; satanic ritual, haunted location, séance, but not one of these was ever fully realized. The cinematography is absolutely beautiful, there’s no arguing that point. Unfortunately, the fear factor left me feeling unsatisfied. Even our leading lady expresses in the film, “I was hoping something real was going to happen to me tonight.” Me too, girlfriend, me too.

We’re wondering what you thought of The Honor Farm at this year’s Fantasia Film Fest! If you caught the film over the weekend or this afternoon, we’d love to hear your thoughts. For those not at the fest, you can start with the trailer and decide for yourselves. Check it out below.

CREDITS

  • Directed by: Karen Skloss
  • Written by: Karen Skloss, Jasmine Skloss Harrison, Jay Tonne, Jr.
  • Cast: Olivia Applegate, Katie Folger, Dora Madison, Will Brittain, Louis Hunter, Jonny Mars, Liam Aiken, Mackenzie Astin, Josephine McAdam, Christina Parrish, Michael Eric Reid
  • Company: Gravitas Ventures

Fantasia International Film Festival 2017 Review: ‘Killing Ground’ will swear you off camping for life.

KILLING GROUND

The disturbing horror, thriller follows a couple’s romantic camping trip that becomes a desperate fight for survival in this ultra-raw, unhinged kill ride. In need of a break from the pressures of their life in the city, Sam (Harriet Dyer) and Ian (Ian Meadows) head to a remote beach for a weekend getaway. When they come across an abandoned campsite, with no trace of its occupants, they’re concerned. When they discover a lone, traumatized child nearby, they’re scared. And when they encounter two local weirdos, they’re in for a hell of a bad time. Unfolding in an innovative, time-scrambling structure, Killing Ground delivers both nerve-shredding suspense and gut-punching realism.

KILLING GROUND marks the debut feature of writer/director Damien Power and stars Australian actors Aaron Pedersen (ABC’s “Jack Irish”), Ian Meadows (Network Ten’s “The Wrong Girl”), Harriet Dyer (Nine Network’s “Love Child”) and Aaron Glenane (Truth).

As a kid, I was an avid camper. After seeing Killing Ground, I may never go again. As a mother, thanks to this film, I’ll never, ever bring my children with me to a remote location where I am more than shouting distance away from lots and lots of other campers… with weapons. Killing Ground is a slow burn of menace that keeps you feeling uneasy and queasy it’s entire 93 min runtime. With a multiple narrative style, you already know something horrible is coming but you’re forced to sit through the time jumps just to get to certain doom. Anything with balls enough to put children in true, murderous harm’s way will get me every time now that I’m a parent. But you don’t have to have kids of your own to be deeply affected by the horrors on screen, you just have to have an ounce more heart than the film’s villains. While last week’s SOLD OUT screening at Fantasia Fest may have left many in the lurch, fear not. Killing Ground actually gets its theatrical and VOD release this week, July 21st. Check out the trailer below.

CANADIAN PREMIERE
  • USA
  • 2017
  • 89 mins
  • English

SCREENING TIMES

CREDITS

  • Directed by: Damien Power
  • Written by: Damien Power
  • Cast: Harriet Dyer, Aaron Glenane, Ian Meadows, Aaron Pederson
  • Company: IFC Midnight

Fantasia International Film Festival 2017 Review: ‘SUPER DARK TIMES’ is both a flashback and omen of horror.

SUPER DARK TIMES

Teenagers Zach and Josh have been best friends their whole lives, but when a gruesome accident leads to a cover-up, the secret drives a wedge between them and propels them down a rabbit hole of escalating paranoia and violence.

Set in the early 90’s, before Columbine was an event engrained in history, a child’s innocence was not as easily spoiled as the kids in Super Dark Times. As someone who grew up at the same time as the main characters, I can attest to the typical dangers that surrounded our childhood. We were affected by the national news when a child was kidnapped, but that was about it. On the first evening of this year’s Fantasia Film Festival, audiences will see a film so brilliantly composed from the colors and textures of the costumes and cinematography to the incredibly disturbing storyline from screenwriters Ben Collins, Luke Piotrowski. The power of an act of violence changes a person. Born from that awkward time in our lives comes the idea that fear can control the room, where the older/stronger kids ruled the proverbial schoolyards. Drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes made you popular and badass and oftentimes, intimidating. Super Dark Times taps into those ideals in that very specific time in history, and yet it has a creepy timeless factor once you understand the full plot. With elements of the surreal, you will find yourself asking who is showing us the truth at any given moment. Director Kevin Phillips takes us on a sickening journey, one that’s become all too familiar as the years have rolled by.

CANADIAN PREMIERE
  • USA
  • 2017
  • 102 mins
  • English
  • Directed by: Kevin Phillips
  • Written by: Ben Collins, Luke Piotrowski
  • Cast: Sawyer Barth, Owen Campbell, Elizabeth Cappuccino, Amy Hargreaves, Charlie Tahan, Max Talisman
  • Company: The Orchard