Fantasia International Film Festival 2019 review: ‘Ode To Nothing’ is everything a cinephile wants.

Synopsis:

“Sonya, an old maid is about to give up on herself until one day, she meets a corpse in her family’s embalming business that changes her life.”

Another North American premiere at Fantasia International Film Festival 2019 is that of Ode To Nothing. The slow burn of creepy factor launches this film into skin-crawling territory. The setting alone is horror movie gold. A family mortuary? Besides My Girl, when does anything fun and happy occur? Hell, even with a mostly delightful plot, the end of My Girl still makes me bawl my eyes out every damn time I watch it! “He needs his glasses! He can’t see without his glasses!” *Cue ugly cry* Anyhow, Ode To Nothing takes the family business and infuses humor as it transitions to the unsettling. As Sonya runs the business, the mystery body becomes her confidant. The reality of her loneliness becomes next level when she takes this unknown woman’s body and treats it as her own personal best friend. I don’t know if it’s sadder or more upsetting. Imagine you find a lost dog and take it in and begin to love it. You treat it like it’s your own knowing full well that at anytime the owner could show up to claim their dog. Now replace the dog in that scenario with a dead body. Yeah, it’s just as weird as you’re picturing. The audience is unsure if it’s supposed to laugh at the lunacy or cringe at fact that both father and daughter act like this is totally normal. Therein lies the brilliance of Ode To Nothing. The film’s framing feels reminiscent of a vacation slide. We often peer through a window, a door, or watch a scene in the reflection of the mirror. It’s simply beautiful. The dialogue is unexpected in its intimacy. If you can separate yourself from the odd, the number of monologues that Marietta Subong has are stunningly performed and wonderfully honest. As the body decays, this family’s life blossoms. Ode To Nothing is something special in its eccentricity.

Fantasia International Film Festival 2019 review: DREADOUT plays well on the big screen.

Jessica, Beni, Dian, Alex, Erik, and Linda want to increase their popularity through recording their adventures to upload to their social media accounts. They chose to go to an abandoned apartment famous for its awesomeness. Linda manages to persuade Kang Heri, security guard, to enter the apartment. Linda and friends found one apartment unit which is given a police line. Encouraged by curiosity, they brake down the door of the apartment unit. When they are researching the room, they find an old parchment, which only Linda could read. After Linda reads the writing on the parchment, suddenly a portal open. Inadvertently Linda and her friends have opened the door to the magical world and anger the portal guardian supernatural creatures.

Those crazy teenagers. Always opening the gates to other worlds. DREADOUT had its North American premiere last night at Fantasia International Film Festival 2019 and audiences were not disappointed. The film begins with all the buildup of suspense and visual feel of playing the DreadOut video games. The framing feels sharp and the character dynamics are as fresh as Cabin In The Woods. As the audience peers through the cell phone lense of the group’s live stream, it has an amazing effect on how the lighting is filtered and you find yourself glancing at the viewership every so often. But mostly, it forces your attention to the mysterious surroundings even more intensely. This is simply the introduction to this film’s plot. 30 mins in, some creative and fresh hell awaits our ingenue Linda (Caitlin Halderman). She must explore her new otherworldly environment and figure out why she’s there and how to escape. The film’s location bounces between realms keeping the audience on its toes and the pace moving. The sets are incredibly intricate and the film really never ceases to entertain. Now, I’ve never played the game but it is reminiscent of Silent Hill and I have played that for years. The best shots recall first player gameplay with pointed POV camera work that’s impossible to miss. I do wish that had not completely disappeared. If I’m being honest, I could have used a bit more otherworldly background, perhaps flashes just as the gang is discovering the storyline. As someone who has not played the game, I feel like this was a missed opportunity.  As a whole, I was fully engrossed. DREADOUT has all the elements of a great horror adventure. Genre fans should be nothing but pleased.

DREADOUT