Review: THE VISITOR’s core mythology overcomes challenging script.

Have you ever heard that joke about the old man facing the end of days? He’s given multiple escalating opportunities to escape (in the version I’ve heard, potential rescuers come by first with a car, then a boat, then a helicopter) Through it all, the old man stays steadfast in his belief that God will save him. When he inevitably perishes, he confronts God and demands to know why his faith wasn’t rewarded. God laughs and says, “You idiot! I tried to send you a car, a boat, and a helicopter!”

Justin P. Lange‘s The Visitor is an immensely enjoyable horror film populated by a protagonist who has certainly never heard this joke. Things pretty quickly go amiss when Robert (Finn Jones) relocates from London to his wife’s small town. While settling into her childhood home, Robert finds a mysterious portrait in her attic. It is of a man referred to only as “The Visitor”, and he bears a striking resemblance to Robert.

While Maia (Jessica McNamee) laughs this off as a coincidence, this and other factors about town set Robert on edge. Jones does a good job of telegraphing Robert’s slowly deepening dread, but he’s fighting a losing battle against the film’s script. Things are obviously amiss in this town. Everyone is way too friendly, and certainly too grateful that Robert and Maia have moved back to town. I thought of Jordan Peele’s superb Get Out, where the protagonist similarly squirms against the discomfort of his circumstances. In that film, the audience was made to question their instinctual doubts and allegiances. Here, the red flags are far less subtle.

There is still much to like in The Visitor. The core performances are uniformly strong. Jones and McNamee have nice unforced chemistry, and I wished the film had given us more time with them. It is effectively paced (86 minutes!) and contains several genuinely frightful and inventive scares. I especially loved the way the film leveraged the biblical plagues without feeling the need for too much supporting exposition.

While I found some of The Visitor’s narrative beats obvious, I also found the core mythology of The Visitor somewhat irresistible. It could offer franchise potential. If someone is willing to paint another portrait, I’d be willing to take another look.


Paramount Home Entertainment will release the psychological horror/thriller filmTHE VISITOR on Digital and On Demand on October 7, 2022 and it will stream on EPIX in December 2022. The film is part of the Blumhouse Television and EPIX deal to produce eight original films together. Building on Blumhouse Television’s success with the Welcome to the Blumhouse movies slate for Amazon and Into the Dark anthology series for Hulu, the deal is the first-of-its-kind for EPIX, which is adding films to its growing slate of premium original content.

THE VISITOR stars Finn Jones (“Game of Thrones”), Jessica McNamee (Mortal Kombat), Dane Rhodes (Where the Crawdads Sing) and Donna Biscoe (“Saints & Sinners”). The film was written by Adam Mason (Songbird) & Simon Boyes (Songbird) and directed by Justin P. Lange (The Seventh Day). The film was Executive Produced by Bradley Pilz, Greg Gilreath, Adam Hendricks, Jeremy Gold, Chris McCumber, David Grove Churchill Viste and Jason Blum.


Review: ‘MK Ultra’ is a Dark Moody Dreamscape  


Mind control. CIA operatives. Clandestine government operations. MK Ultra has it all in this slow-burning thriller written and directed by former intelligence officer Joseph Sorrentino. The film artfully explores a real CIA program that ran illegal human experiments on American citizens on the fringes of 1960s society. Hoping to discover a way to weaken individuals during interrogations, the CIA administered a range of drugs like LSD, hoping to find a way to secure confessions through brainwashing and psychological torture. Are these MK Ultra experiences cutting-edge science? Or needless unethical torture? Where is the line? Who gets to make the call? 

 Highly stylized and set in a moody mid-century dreamscape, the filmmakers tell an intriguing story that raises questions of medical ethics, informed consent, and the responsibility of a government to its citizens. Notably, the film weaves fascinating facts about the program into the darkly compelling narrative through a series of voiceover explainers that may have felt choppy or disjointed with a less skilled hand. Here, the background and context of the program within US history are spliced in seamlessly through beautiful cinematography and creative accents that keep the film from coming off as merely a documentary. Impactful performance across the board– and by Jen Richards in particular– raise the stakes to a startling crescendo in its final act.

Cinedigm To Release The Mind-Bending Thriller,
MK ULTRA
In Theaters & On Demand October 7

 Starring Anson Mount, Jaime Ray Newman, Jason Patric, Jen Richards
Alon Aboutboul and David Jensen
Written and Directed by Ex-Intelligence Officer Joseph Sorrentino


Based on the infamous CIA drug experiments from the early 1960s, this psychological thriller follows a brilliant psychiatrist (Anson Mount) who unknowingly becomes entangled with a dangerous government entity fixated on mind control.

Under Project MK Ultra, the CIA ran an illegal human experimentation program intended to develop procedures and identify drugs such as LSD that could be used in interrogations to weaken individuals and force confessions through brainwashing and psychological torture.


Tallgrass Film Fest 2022 short film review: ‘In the Mountains’ is a wacky, animated nightmare.

IN THE MOUNTAINS

2D charcoal and pen animation and an ominous score (in fact, my six-year-old son heard it in the background and exclaimed, “That’s so scary!”) IN THE MOUNTAINS quickly lays a foundation of terror. After our couple goes for a hike and discovers footprints, among other items, at the peak, they realize they are not alone in the wilderness. What they come across in a cave changes the trajectory from uncomfortable to full-on punk horror. That’s the only way I can describe it. IN THE MOUNTAINS compresses a feature to its essential elements in the darkest way possible. Writer-director Wally Chung also lends his voice to the project. You’ll be thinking about this short long after its five-minute runtime. 


  • Year:
    2022
  • Runtime:
    5 minutes
  • Language:
    English
  • Country:
    USA
  • Rating:
    Mature
  • Director:
    Wally Chung
  • Producer:
    Wally Chung


October Programming on MUBI – thrills and chills for everyone.

October Programming on MUBI

Includes exclusive streaming premiere of Martine Syms’ art-school satire The African Desperate, Julie Ha and Eugene Yi’s rousing documentary Free Chol Soo Lee, Lucile Hadzihalilovic’s Lynchian horror, Earwig

Plus a month-long Halloween programming with George A. Romero, Michio Yamamato’s Bloodthirsty Trilogy, and more!

EXCLUSIVELY ON MUBI

Tuesday, October 4

Invisible Demons, directed by Rahul Jain

[Viewfinders] A visually immersive exploration of the global threat of climate change, Invisible Demons (Cannes ‘21) is the stunning sophomore film from filmmaker Rahul Jain. Told through striking images and eye-opening accounts from everyday citizens, Jain delivers a visceral journey through the stories of just a few of Delhi’s 30 million inhabitants fighting to survive, as he offers a deeply experiential and new perspective on the clear and present climate reality. A MUBI Release.

 

Friday, October 7

Free Chol Soo Lee, directed by Julie Ha and Eugene Yi

[Viewfinder] A highlight of this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Free Chol Soo Lee finds award-winning journalists Julie Ha and Eugene Yi excavating the largely unknown yet essential history of the case of Chol Soo Lee, a 20-year-old Korean immigrant who, in the 1970s, was racially profiled and convicted of a Chinatown gang murder in San Francisco. A stirring testament to the power of local journalists and the collective political action, this breathtaking true story ignited an unprecedented push for social action that would unite Asian Americans and inspire a new generation of activists, and serves as an urgent reminder that his legacy is more relevant than ever. A MUBI Release. 

Wednesday, October 12

Rosa Rosae. A Spanish Civil War Elegy, directed by Carlos Saura

[Brief Encounters] Legendary Spanish filmmaker Carlos Saura (Cria Cuervos) recovers and manipulates more than thirty images, drawings and photographs to recreate the Spanish Civil War in his new animated short Rosa Rosae: A Spanish Civil War Elegy (2021). The montage of images set to the music of singer-songwriter José Antonio Labordeta pays tribute to those childhoods stolen by the Spanish Civil War, reflecting the horrors of universal warfare and resonating with the urgent topic of conflict in today’s world. A MUBI Release. 

 

Saturday, October 15

Earwig, directed by Lucile Hadzihalilovic

[MUBI Spotlight] Loosely adapted from Brian Catling’s novella of the same name, Lucile Hadžihalilović (EvolutionInnocence) conjures a surrealist Lynchian nightmare in her first English-language feature Earwig – a macabre tale of a young girl with melting teeth and her cadaverous caretaker who molds and refits her dentures each day. Sumptuously-produced and fitted with a hypnotic soundtrack by Augustin Viard (in collaboration with Nicolas Becker & Warren Ellis), Hadžihalilović’s latest beguilingly hermetic world captures the same elusive and hallucinatory fixations on isolation and the horrors of adolescence as her previous work.

 

Friday, October 21

The African Desperate, directed by Martine Syms

[Debuts] The electrifying feature debut from renowned artist Martine Syms, The African Desperate (2022) brings her razor-sharp satire and vivid aesthetic invention to a riotous coming-of-age comedy. Tracking one very long day for Palace Bryant (an expertly deadpan Diamond Stingily), a newly minted MFA grad whose final 24 hours in art school become a real trip, the result is a shocking original vision that becomes a hazy, hilarious, and hallucinatory night-long odyssey, stumbling from academic critiques to backseat hookups while revealing Martine as a major new voice in American independent filmmaking. A MUBI release. 

 

Wednesday, October 26

Spectre: Sanity, Madness and The Family, directed by Jean-Baptiste de Laubier

[Debuts] The debut feature from music producer and longtime Céline Sciamma collaborator Jean-Baptiste de Laubier (Para One), Spectre: Sanity, Madness and the Family (2021), is an intimate docudrama inspired by De Laubier’s own family history. Following the youngest son of a large family whose childhood was dominated by intense spiritual fervor, who receives a mysterious package from his sister that leads to the awakening of long dormant memories, this kaleidoscopic work mixes real and fictional archival footage with a mesmerizing electro soundtrack to reveal the power of buried personal histories. A MUBI Release. 

Thrills, Chills and Exquisite Horrors

This Halloween, MUBI presents Thrills, Chills and Exquisite Horrors, a new series covering the vast range of genre cinema, from classic films to recent arthouse sensations and everything in between. From gothic frights in James Whale’s essential classic The Old Dark House, to the matriarchal anxiety of Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala’s and Austrian sensation Goodnight Mommy, and the haunting technological paranoia of Japanese master Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s cult classic, Pulse, these gems provide an opportunity to come together and celebrate the autumnal ritual of coming together to enjoy the many thrills that the cinema can offer us.

Goodnight Mommy (Veronika Franz, Severin Fiala, 2014) – October 1

Pulse (Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2001) – October 5

When a Stranger Calls (Fred Walton, 1979) – October 13

The Old Dark House (James Whale, 1932) – October 23

Deep Red (Dario Argento, 1975) – October 31

George A. Romero: Double of the Dead

Legendary horror master George A. Romero returns to MUBI with a gruesome double feature with a generous amount of blood, guts, and sociopolitical allegory to satisfy any zombie movie cravings. From the final two chapters of Romero’s epic five-decade long Dead series: the “found-footage” shot Diary of the Dead (2007) is riddled with media anxieties as a group of film students document their way through a zombie apocalypse, while Survival of the Dead (2009) chronicles two families warring over whether the dead and the living can coexist. 

Diary of the Dead (2007) – October 5 

Survival of the Dead (2009) – October 30

From the Land of Fire and Ice: An Icelandic Double Bill

This October, as the days grow shorter and the air grows colder, MUBI presents a double feature celebrating some of the very best of contemporary Icelandic cinema, which has recently experienced a resurgence of sorts in the international festival circuit. In Rams (Prix Un Certain Regard, Cannes ‘15), Grímur Hákonarson crafts a hilarious and heartbreaking portrait of two warring brothers whose lifelong animosity explodes when confronted with a new disease on their farm, while in Hlynur Palmason’s critically acclaimed A White, White Day, an off duty sheriff begins to suspect a local neighbor of having an affair with his recently deceased wife which spirals into obsession in this singular story of grief, revenge and unconditional love.

Rams (Grímur Háknarson, 2015) – October 9

A White, White Day (Hlynur Palmason, 2019) – October 10

Fears and Fangs in Japan: Michio Yamamoto’s Bloodthirsty Trilogy

To celebrate the Halloween spirit, this October MUBI presents Michio Yamanto’s aptly titled Bloodthirsty Trilogy. Presented here are three tails sure to delight, with The Vampire Doll, which follows a woman and her boyfriend in search of her missing brother in a creepy mansion with a dark history, Lake of Dracula, which finds a young woman’s adolescent nightmares revealing a hellish prophecy, and Evil of Dracula, which sees Yamamato relocating his vampiric frights into an all girls school. Inspired by the British and American gothic horror films of the 1960s, this series represents Toho’s answer to Hammer Studios, with an emphasis on atmospheric thrills and chills that help bridge the gap between gothic classics and Japanese genre cinema.

 

The Vampire Doll (1970) – October 11

The Lake of Dracula (1971) – October 20

Evil of Dracula (1974) – October 27

Artist Focus: Morgan Quaintance

British experimental artist, critic, and writer Morgan Quaintance explores cinema as collective memory. Through his texturally rich short films, Quaintance focuses on hidden or forgotten history through the reconstruction of archival materials, moving image, photographs, written text and disconnected sounds. This month MUBI presents a double bill of his most recent work: Surviving You, Always (2020), contrasting the proposed metaphysical highs of psychedelic drugs versus the harsh actualities of concrete metropolitan life in 1990s London, and A Human Certainty (2021), playfully following the neurotic ramblings of a death-obsessed romantic in the throes of post-breakup blues.

 

A Human Certainty (2021) – October 24

Surviving You, Always (2020) – October 25

Glitch Zone: Films by Martine Syms

To celebrate the release of The African Desperate, Martine Syms’ acclaimed feature debut, this month MUBI spotlights two essential shorts from one of the most exciting new voices in filmmaking. Part of her ongoing series She MadBitch Zone takes us to an empowerment program for teenage girls founded by supermodel and business mogul Tyra Banks, while Soliloquy finds the artist delivering a scathing anti-capitalist manifesto that touches on questions the possibility of change in a society dominated by social media.

She Mad: Bitch Zone (2020) – October 17

Soliloquy (2021) – October 19 

The African Desperate (2022) – October 21

I Don’t Like You Either: A Pialat Retrospective

This month, MUBI continues its ongoing retrospective of misunderstood French master Maurice Pialat with Van Gogh, his bruising and deeply felt portrait of the esteemed Dutch painter. Pialat’s work is marked by a sense of realism that locates them somewhere between his compatriot, Jean Renoir, and the working-class naturalism of Ken Loach, which lends a sense of authenticity to this singular portrait of an artist that emphasizes the everyday labor of the craftsman over the final work. 

Van Gogh (1991) – October 2

Now streaming

Loulou (1980) – September 10 

The Mouth Agape (1974) – September 21

Under the Sun of Satan (1987) – September 27

 Complete list of films premiering on MUBI this month:

October 1 – Goodnight Mommy, directed by Severin Fiala, Veronika Franz | Thrills, Chills and Exquisite Horrors

October 2 – Van Gogh, directed by Maurice Pialat | I Don’t Like You Either: A Maurice Pialat Retrospective

October 3 – The Great Buster: A Celebration, directed by Peter Bogdanovich | Portrait of the Artist

October 4 – Invisible Demons, directed by Rahul Jain | Viewfinders

October 5 – Pulse, directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa | Thrills, Chills and Exquisite Horrors

October 6 – Diary of the Dead, directed by George A. Romero | George A. Romero: Double of the Dead

October 7 – Free Chol Soo Lee, directed by Eugene Yi, Julie Ha | Viewfinder

October 8 – Tucker & Dale vs Evil, directed by Eli Craig

October 9 – Rams, directed by Grímur Hákonarson | From the Land of Fire and Ice: An Icelandic Double Bill

October 10 – A White, White Day, directed by Hlynur Palmason | From the Land of Fire and Ice: An Icelandic Double Bill

October 11 – The Vampire Doll, directed by Michio Yamamoto | Fears and Fangs in Japan: Michio Yamamoto’s Bloodthirsty Trilogy

October 12 – Rosa Rosae. A Spanish Civil War Elegy, directed by Carlos Saura | Brief Encounters

October 13 – When a Stranger Calls, directed by Fred Walton | Thrills, Chills and Exquisite Horrors

October 14 – Center Stage, directed by Stanley Kwan

October 15 – Earwig, directed by Lucile Hadzihalilovic | MUBI Spotlight

October 17 – She Mad: Bitch Zone, directed by Martine Syms | Martine Syms: Short Films

October 18 – The Gold-Laden Sheep & the Sacred Mountain, directed by Ridham Janve

October 19 – Soliloquy, directed by Martine Syms | Martine Syms: Short Films

October 20 – Lake of Dracula, directed by Michio Yamamoto | Fears and Fangs in Japan: Michio Yamamoto’s Bloodthirsty Trilogy

October 21 – The African Desperate, directed by Martine Syms | Debuts

October 23 – The Old Dark House, directed by James Whale | Thrills, Chills and Exquisite Horrors

October 24 – A Human Certainty, directed by Morgan Quaintance | Artist Focus: Morgan Quaintance

October 25 – Surviving You, Always, directed by Morgan Quaintance | Artist Focus: Morgan Quaintance

October 26 – Spectre: Sanity, Madness and The Family, directed by Jean-Baptiste de Laubier | Debuts

October 27 – Evil of Dracula, directed by Michio Yamamoto | Fears and Fangs in Japan: Michio Yamamoto’s Bloodthirsty Trilogy

October 28 – The Commune, directed by Thomas Vinterberg

October 29 – Dear Diary, directed by Nanni Moretti

October 30 – Survival of the Dead, directed by George A. Romero | George A. Romero: Double of the Dead

October 31 – Deep Red, directed by Dario Argento | Thrills, Chills and Exquisite Horrors


MUBI is a streaming service, a film distributor and a production company. But mostly, MUBI is a place to discover beautiful, interesting, incredible cinema. A new hand-picked film arrives on MUBI every single day. Cinema from all over the globe, from all kinds of directors. From brand new work by emerging filmmakers, to modern masterpieces from today’s greatest icons. All carefully chosen by MUBI’s curators. MUBI also produces and distributes ambitious new films, which members can watch exclusively on the platform. MUBI is the biggest community of film lovers, available across 190 countries, with more than 10 million members around the world. Subscription plans are $10.99 a month or $83.88 for 12 months. MUBI is available on the web, Roku devices, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, LG and Samsung Smart TVs, as well as on mobile devices including iPad, iPhone and Android.

mubi.com


 

Review: ‘PIGGY’ tests morality with bloody brilliant performances and writing.

PIGGY


Morally ambiguous and brilliant, PIGGY has been making the festival rounds this year to much acclaim. Writer-director Carlota Pereda uses the backdrop of teenage bullying and dials it up to the nth degree with murder, mayhem, and lies.

The script is relentlessly chilling. Because the audience has more information than anyone else, it feels as though the characters are sitting ducks. We are right alongside Sara as she witnesses her tormentors thrown into the back of a serial killer’s van. She says nothing, both out of fear and perhaps relief. Those that have ever been on the receiving end of horrible words and despicable actions will undoubtedly wince throughout the film.

PIGGY also speaks to the weight of parental support. We find Sara’s mother to be a nagging, uncaring shrew, while her father pays attention to her with genuine love. Her woes are exacerbated by her parents owning the local butcher shop, leading vile peers to dub her “Piggy.” One of the girls, Claudia, has a deeper connection to Sara based on her delay tactics in teasing and a matching bracelet with Sara.

The stakes in the film get higher and higher as the police, the chatty locals, and Sara’s conscience drives her to the breaking point. But that’s not all that weighs on Sara’s mind. PIGGY keeps you on your toes, constantly challenging your morality. Lead actress Laura Galán gives a star-making performance. You can see the wheels turning in each deliberate beat. Raw and thoroughly vulnerable, it is one hell of a turn. PIGGY had my heart in my throat from start to finish. Audiences are in for some hard questions and emotional torture.


Release Dates: 
October 7, 2022 (Exclusively in Alamo Drafthouse Theaters)
October 14, 2022 (Theatrical/VOD)

Directed by Carlota Pereda
Cast: Laura Galán, Richard Holmes, Carmen Machi, Irene Ferreiro, Camille Aguilar, Claudia Salas, Pilar Castro
Runtime: 90 mins
Genre: Horror/Thriller
Distributor: Magnet Releasing


Tallgrass Film Festival 2022 short review: Fingers crossed, ‘Slasher Squad’ is just the beginning.

SLASHER SQUAD

Short film Slasher Squad features picture-perfect animation akin to hyper-realistic mocap games like Uncharted and The Last of Us. Some of the details look so real I did a double take more than once. The story revolves around our female protagonist hearing the news about a serial killer on the loose. After checking the locks and hopping in the shower, we see she’s not alone. 

The ending of the film is a double twist. The first had me yelling at the screen. The second was so shocking I audibly exclaimed, “Okay, that’s AWESOME.” Writer-director-producers Nathan Stone and Stuart Campbell manage to world build in under 4 minutes! Adelaide Kane, whom I adored in Reign, plays our lead, Amber. Sean Tinnion‘s original score is unmissable. Slasher Squad is a perfect treatment, ripe for whatever forms they want to expand it in, be it a game, series, or feature. I would watch the hell out of this team’s creative endeavors. 


  • Year:
    2022
  • Runtime:
    5 minutes
  • Language:
    English
  • Country:
    Australia
  • Premiere:
    Kansas
  • Rating:
    13+
  • Director:
    Nathan Stone & Stuart Campbell
  • Producer:
    Nathan Stone & Stuart Campbell


Tallgrass Film Festival 2022 review: Death complicates friendship in ‘THE CIVIL DEAD’

THE CIVIL DEAD

The indie film that’s been killing it on the festival circuit, Clay Tatum’s The Civil Dead, sets friendship and tomfoolery against the everyday moments. All Clay wants to do is chill out when his wife leaves for a week. But an old friend mysteriously appears out of nowhere, complicating both relationships. You see, one of them is dead.

You immediately fantasize about all the fun things you would do together. There’s an undeniably brilliant poker scene. But things get weird, and Clay has second thoughts about helping Whit for eternity. The chemistry between Whitmer Thomas and director Clay Tatum is otherworldly. Pun intended. They make awkward endearing.

The script, penned by our two leads, might seem straightforward at first but do not get comfortable with the buddy comedy genre. The Civil Dead goes in a direction I did not see coming, though, in retrospect, I should have. From hilarious to shockingly dark, the film tackles loneliness in a brutally honest way. This one is going to haunt you in the best way possible.


DIRECTOR:
CLAY TATUM

WRITTEN BY:
CLAY TATUM
WHITMER THOMAS

EXEC PROD:
KASANDRA BARUCH
MIKE MARASCO

PRODUCED BY:
KASANDRA BARUCH
MIKE MARASCO
CLAY TATUM
WHITMER THOMAS

DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY:
JOSHUA HILL

MUSIC BY:
MAX WHIPPLE

103 mins


Fantastic Fest 2022 review: ‘BRUTAL SEASON’ brings unresolved trauma and mystery in this theatrically immersive film.

BRUTAL SEASON

It’s the summer of 1948 in Redhook, Brooklyn, and the Trouth family exists in quiet peace until Louis Jr. appears after years away. Old wounds have festered, and now he’s back for revenge. Guilt is his weapon. Well, that and a unique knife with a Turkish inscription belonging to younger brother Charles. BRUTAL SEASON is like an immersive theater experience on film. This slow-burn thriller is not what I expected, in all the right ways.

Performances across the board are stellar. One is particularly inescapable. The subtle manipulation Houston Settle brings into the fray, you know he’s up to no good. Jr.’s bitterness is palpable. His passive-aggressive nature turns vicious. 

The lighting is extraordinary. The sound editing, filled with waterway traffic, barking dogs, and seagulls, serves as a constant din in the background. It’s impeccable. Andrew Burke‘s oboe and trumpet-heavy score bring a tense noir feeling.

There’s no denying that BRUTALSEASON has a similar energy to Death Of A Salesman. The narration harkens back to Our Town. Writer-director Gavin Fields brings an ambiguity that strings you along until the end. I’d love to see this performed live and feel the vibration from these actors pouring off the stage. BRUTAL SEASON is a welcome addition to this year’s Fantastic Fest 2022. It’s a standout for theatre lovers. 


You can still catch BRUTAL SEASON at FF@Home!


Fantastic Fest 2022 review: ‘EVERYONE WILL BURN’ melds religion and revenge for one hell of a reckoning.

EVERYONE WILL BURN

María José has lost her will to live following the tragic death of her son and the constant reminders of her cruel small town. When the mysterious little Lucía appears out of nowhere, calling her “Mommy,” María José initiates a reckoning fit for the gods or maybe the devil.

The townspeople are religious fanatics, believing María José triggered the apocalypse years ago with the birth of her son. Exacerbated by nosy neighbors, weak church figureheads, and zealots with a modicum of power, fear takes hold when little Lucía appears to use supernatural powers in gruesome acts of revenge. Everyone Will Burn culminates in a violent confrontation that’s intensely rewarding as a genre fan. Do not move a muscle when the credits roll. The best moment is yet to come.

Macarena Gómez brings a manic energy to the films. Warranted by the emotional torture of everyone in her life, her deliberate descent into pure red hot chaos is glorious. As Lucía, Sofía García skillfully walks the line between vulnerable and terrifying. She is nothing short of captivating. Her chemistry with Macarena Gómez is perfection.

Bravo to the costume and lighting teams. The no holds bar fight choreography is shocking and applause-worthy. EVERYONE WILL BURN harkens back to classic European horror and still manages to remain fresh and fantastic.


 

  • Year:
    2021
  • Runtime:
    120 minutes
  • Language:
    Spanish
  • Country:
    Spain
  • Premiere:
    North American
  • Director:
    David Hebrero
Release date: November 11, 2021 (Spain)


Fantastic Fest 2022 review: ‘UNIDENTIFIED OBJECTS’ stays grounded with compelling performances from Matthew August Jeffers and Sarah Hay.

UNIDENTIFIED OBJECTS

Winona knocks on Peter’s door, begging to borrow his car. With the promise of cash and the passenger seat to Canada, this unlikely duo goes on a trip of self-discovery involving aliens and personal redemption. A road movie that’s as universal as it is unique, UNIDENTIFIED OBJECTS sticks the landing. 

Sarah Hay plays Winona with a free-spirited urgency that is entirely endearing. She pulls you into her sphere with an indescribably genuine allure. Her chemistry with co-star Matthew Jeffers makes for a ceaselessly engrossing watch. They share an intimate vulnerability that creeps up on you.

Matthew August Jeffers couldn’t be funnier as Peter. I had a permanent smirk pasted on my face listening to his natural delivery of dark, acerbic wit. His curmudgeonly aura is merely a facade for unresolved trauma. A few LP actors come to mind off the top of my head. Honestly only two; Warwick Davis and Peter Dinklage. Jeffers enters the arena with ease. The nuance we witness as he plays Peter is a star-making turn.

The script tackles guilt, a longing for acceptance, prejudice, and a willingness to take a chance. The otherworldly score by Sebastián Zeluta is hypnotic. It’s a touch transcendent. The handheld camera work, particularly during emotionally wrought scenes between our two leads, is a specific and keenly impactful choice. It also highlights the progressing surreal chaos occurring along Peter’s journey.

Fantastic Fest 2022 is the perfect platform for UNIDENTIFIED OBJECTS. Writer-director Juan Felipe Zeluta and co-writer Leland Frankel creatively capture the longing of two seemingly different people brought together by universal circumstance. Pun intended.


Review: IFC film ‘VESPER’ is an exquisite sci-fi tale of morality and mortality.

VESPER

Alone in a cruel near-future world, 13-year-old Vesper experiments with what’s left of her surroundings to nourish her and her paralyzed father. Abandoned by her mother, Vesper keeps Darius’ body alive with her bio-hacking skills and uploads his full consciousness into a small droid. While she and others suffer immensely, the wealthy exist in private, enclosed spaces called “Citadels.” They produce seeds that the remaining poor vie for to survive in the harsh environment. After someone sabotages their generator, she reaches out to her Uncle, the leader of a group that cultivates children’s blood for seed trade. When Vesper discovers a young woman from the nearby Citadel passed out in the woods, she imagines a way out. VESPER is a gorgeous film about control and climate change wrapped in a glorious sci-fi narrative.

Richard Brake‘s performance is predominantly a voiceover. The enveloping tone of his vocals is perfection. But, the expression in his eyes speaks volumes. Eddie Marsan as Uncle Jonas is spectacularly vile. As his “survival at all costs” attitude becomes increasingly disturbing, Marsan nails the villain role.

Rosy McEwan plays Camellia with a complex mix of yearning and practicality. She is a slick foil for Vesper. McEwan’s grace and control are all the more stunning when given the opportunity to break. Our titular role comes to life with the sensational performance of Raffiella Chapman. Her raw vulnerability jumps off the screen. There is no denying she is a star. Her ability to carry this film from beginning to end is a wonder.

Captivating production design from Ramūnas Rastaukas and Raimondas Dicius lures you into a bleak but visually curious existence. The costumes are unlike anything I’ve seen before. Dan Levy‘s score is ethereal and hypnotic. The script by Brian Clark and directors Bruno Samper and Kristina Buozyte is endlessly intriguing. There is never a dull moment in Vesper’s nearly 2-hour run. Each scene provides an opportunity to expand the canon of this story. The metaphor of Vesper’s creations and her place in the world is beautiful. I could easily see this developed into an entire franchise. Overflowing with nuance, it is a mesmerizing sci-fi film that grabs you by the conscience. A stark and endlessly creative warning about Earth’s near-future mortality, Vesper is easily one of the best films of the year.


 

US Release Date: September 30, 2022

Starring: Eddie Marsan, Raffiella Chapman, Rosy McEwen

Director: Bruno Samper

Fantastic Fest 2022 review: ‘THE ANTARES PARADOX’ pits family and faith against the universe.

THE ANTARES PARADOX

Fantastic Fest 2022 feature from Luis Tinoco, The Antares Paradox, brings together science, space, and knowledge enthusiasts. The plot revolves around Alexandra as she works the late shift at a radio telescope lab. With looming familial obligations, an absent co-worker, and the storm of the year swirling around outside, a strong signal begins transmitting to her antenna. With only two hours to confirm 20 years of research, Alex must race against the clock, the weather, other scientists who eschew her work, and her conscience.

Leading lady Andrea Trepat captures your attention from the very beginning. She has the task of carrying this film on her shoulders, as other actors appear only via video call or voice. She nails it. Anyone with a loved one who works unconventional hours understands the emotional complexity of ambition. It often comes at a great sacrifice of relationships. It is the risk we take in search of an unknown reward. In The Antares Paradox, Alex dreams of proving there is life beyond our universe. Her father understood this, even if no one else ever did.

Writer-director Luis Tinoco worked extensively with José Luis Crespo (Quantum Fracture), a YouTuber and science communicator with millions of followers. The script, while technical, is laid out concisely and understandably for all audiences. The entire film takes place in one location. The film’s sumptuous score from Arnau Bataller is perfect.

Between family, faith, and space, Tinoco’s script challenges our morality and keeps us intrigued with wonder. It is a gorgeous entry that will leave audiences spellbound.


  • Year:
    2022
  • Runtime:
    96 minutes
  • Language:
    Spanish
  • Country:
    Spain
  • Premiere:
    World
  • Director:
    Luis Tinoco Pineda
 
 
 

Fantastic Fest 2022 capsule review: Martika Ramirez Escobar brings every writer’s fantasies to life in ‘LEONOR WILL NEVER DIE’

LEONOR WILL NEVER DIE

Fiction and reality blur when retired filmmaker Leonor falls into a coma after a television lands on her head, compelling her to become the action hero of her unfinished screenplay.

As a writer, this script is essentially a dream, pun intended. Leading lady Sheila Francisco is an absolute joy to watch, and her energetic narration/script reading is a blast. In her coma, she is living inside her story. The recreations of 80s action films are astounding, from the perfectly hokey score to the fight sequences. The visual jump from these to real life and then to memories keeps you on your toes. The semi-autobiographical nature of Leonor’s writing makes for a haunting, present circumstance. The nonchalance in which her son and ex-husband converse with their lost loved one is bizarre. But that’s only half of the wackiness that ensues. Leonor Will Never Die is weird meta fun. You cannot help but adore the heart behind it.


 
 
A film by Martika Ramirez Escobar
Philippines / Filipino / 2022 / 99 minutes
 
Cast: Sheila Francisco, Bong Cabrera, Rocky Salumbides, Anthony Falcon.
LEONOR WILL NEVER DIE Screening Schedule
 
Festival Screening
Sat, Sep 24th, 1:50 PM @ Theater 1 
Sat, Sep 24th, 1:50 PM @ Theater 5 
 
 
Festival Screening
Wed, Sep 28th, 11:30 AM @ Theater 3 
Wed, Sep 28th, 11:30 AM @ Theater 4 
Wed, Sep 28th, 11:30 AM @ Theater 7

Fantastic Fest 2022 review: ‘MISSING (Sagasu /さがす)’ is one of the year’s best genre films.

MISSING

This wild multiple narrative film tells the story of Kaede, her father’s disappearance, and the serial killer she’s determined to hunt down. MISSING is one story told from three different angles.

Performances from the entire cast are spectacular. There is not a loose thread in the bunch. Here is where things get tricky. To tell you more about the plot defeats the purpose. You need to go into with as little information as possible. The complexity of MISSING is relentless. Do not get comfortable with what you think you know. Writer-director Shinzô Katayama and co-writers Kazuhisa Kodera and Ryô Takada bring twist after twist. I stopped counting at a certain point. The final scene is a mindblowing metaphor for everything we witness in two hours. Wow doesn’t even begin to cover it. Fantastic Fest 2022 audiences are in for one of the year’s best features.


Dark Star and Bloody Disgusting plan a US theatrical release for MISSING on November 4, 2022, an On Demand release on November 18, 2022, and the Blu Ray release for the film to follow on December 6, 2022.

(US Premiere, 124 min)

Directed by: Shinzô Katayama

Starring: Aoi Ito, Hiroya Shimizu, Misato Morita, Jirô Satô 

Japan, 2021 (In Japanese with English Subtitles)

 

FF 2022 OFFICIAL SCREENINGS

All screenings are at The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, South Lamar, Austin.

Location: 1120 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704

 

Thu, Sep 22nd, 8:30 PM @ Theater 2

Thu, Sep 22nd, 8:30 PM @ Theater 3

Wed, Sep 28th, 11:00 AM @ Theater 5

Wed, Sep 28th, 11:00 AM @ Theater 6

FF 2022 PAGE:

https://2022.fantasticfest.com/films/62fbbf1dd0f21300854b372b


After working as an assistant director for Japanese films, including Nobuhiro Yamashita’s works, filmmaker ShinzôKatayama crossed paths with Bong Joon-Ho while shooting “TOKYO!” (2008) and served as his assistant director on “Mother” (2009). In 2019, his debut feature, “Siblings of the Cape” was selected by numerous domestic and international film festivals. He now is one of the most promising, emerging directors in Japan, and his second feature, MISSING (“Sagasu /さがす”) will be his commercial film debut.


 

Review: Writer-director Valerie Buhagiar brings the enchanting tale of ‘CARMEN’ to life with help from Natascha McElhone.

CARMEN

In a small Mediterranean village, Carmen has looked after her brother, the local priest, for her entire life. When the Church abandons Carmen, she is mistaken for the new priest. Carmen begins to see the world, and herself, in a new light.


A tongue-in-cheek story of sacrifice and reward inspired by actual events, CARMEN finds Natascha McElhone recapturing the youth she lost to familial duty and heartache. After a life spent taking care of her brother, the local priest in Malta, his death pushes Carmen, quite literally, out the door.

Carmen’s years of demure nature allow her to become a ghost, eavesdropping on the townsfolk that ignored her. With the unlikely help of a pigeon, Carmen takes control of the very church that kicked her to the curb, fooling the locals for personal entertainment. But, her mischievous advice from the confessional booth changes everything.

Natascha McElhone is elegant and effortlessly charming. CARMEN is essentially a later coming-of-age tale. McElhone’s wide-eyed exploration of life is enchanting, funny, and honest. Shot on the beautiful island of Malta, which if you’ve never been, I suggest you visit. The script’s structure utilizes flashbacks of Carmen’s elusive backstory. Writer-director Valerie Buhagiar brings unbridled joy and hidden complexity to audiences. CARMEN is a delight.


CARMEN will be released in the US Theatrically in major cities and on VOD in the US and Canada on Friday, September 23.

Director: Valerie Buhagiar

Starring: Natascha McElhone, Michaela Farrugia, Steven Love.

 

Theaters include:

NEW YORK – Cinema Village

LOS ANGELES – Laemmle Monica

With exclusive engagements in Chicago, Detroit, San Francisco (Bay Area), Columbus and more.

 

VOD Platforms include:

US: Apple TV/iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu, XFinity Cable, and more.


 

Review: ‘The Justice of Bunny King’ is a tale of morality, redemption, and unconditional love.

Bunny King (Essie Davis, THE BABADOOK), a headstrong mother of two with a sketchy past, earns her keep by washing windows at traffic lights. Using her razor-sharp wit to charm money from gridlocked motorists, she saves every cent to get back the custody of her kids. After promising her daughter a birthday party, Bunny must fight the social services and break the rules to keep her word, but in doing so risks losing her children altogether. Accompanied by her niece Tonya (Thomasin McKenzie, Film Independent Spirit Award nominee, LEAVE NO TRACE, LAST NIGHT IN SOHO), a fierce teenager running away from home, Bunny is in a race against the clock and headed towards an epic showdown with the authorities.


Essie Davis helms this tale of morality, redemption, and love. Davis’ no holds bar performance of raw reactive emotion will have you on your feet. You cannot help but root for Bunny. Every opportunity comes with an unexpected challenge, but Davis’ slick attitude and ingenuity keep the audience in the palm of her hand. Bunny’s backstory is heartbreaking. The weight of her unresolved trauma is in every breath. It’s a stunning turn.

The Justice of Bunny King pits a broken system against a desperate mother. Boasting a heart-pounding climax, The Justice of Bunny King is an intriguing dive into survival and unrelenting determination.

Opens in Theaters September 23rd

Director: Gaysorn Thavat
Story By: Gregory David King, Gaysorn Thavat, Sophie Henderson
Writer: Sophie Henderson
Producer: Emma Slade
Director of Photography: Ginny Loane
Editor: Cushla Dillon

Country: New Zealand
Genre: Drama
TRT: 101 minutes


 

Official trailer drop: A bloody cool concept, ‘SAWED OFF’ arrives on digital and DVD October 11th.

SAWED OFF is coming to digital and DVD on October 11th. The synopsis reads as follows “In the vein of “THE EVIL DEAD meets GROUNDHOG DAY,” the movie centers on two hunters, friends for years and vying for the affections of the same woman, who find themselves on cursed land and keep killing each other and coming back to life.” From what I can make out from the trailer, the concept is really cool. Whether it translates into production remains to be seen. Color me intrigued. Stay tuned for coverage.

Uncork’d Entertainment has acquired SAWED OFF, a new supernatural horror feature based on a comic anthology story and starring Eva Hamilton (RUIN ME, DEATH KISS), Jody Barton (UGLY SWEATER PARTY), and Trae Ireland (13/13/13).

Hunter Johnson (IRRATIONAL FEAR) produces and directs.  The screenplay is by Barton, Johnson, and Chuck Wagner, based on Wagner’s Eclipse Comics story “Bag Limit,” published in TALES OF TERROR in 1986.

SAWED OFF will be released on digital platforms and on DVD on October 11.


Based on a true story about CIA mind-control experiments, see the trailer for ‘MK ULTRA,’ coming to theaters and On Demand October 7th.

MK ULTRA

Based on the infamous CIA drug experiments from the early 1960s, this psychological thriller follows a brilliant psychiatrist (Anson Mount) who unknowingly becomes entangled with a dangerous government entity fixated on mind control.

Under Project MK Ultra, the CIA ran an illegal human experimentation program intended to develop procedures and identify drugs such as LSD that could be used in interrogations to weaken individuals and force confessions through brainwashing and psychological torture.

Starring Anson Mount, Jaime Ray Newman, Jason Patric, Jen Richards
Alon Aboutboul and David Jensen

Written and Directed by Ex-Intelligence Officer Joseph Sorrentino

Cinedigm To Release The Mind-Bending Thriller,
MK ULTRA
In Theaters & On Demand October 7 


Documentary Review: ‘WE ARE ART – Through the Eyes of Annalaura’ finds emotional catharsis in creation.

We Are Art – Through the Eyes of Annalaura

Filmed on location in Naples, Italy, We Are Art Through the Eyes of Annalaura was written, produced and directed by acclaimed artist Annalaura di Luggo, in collaboration with production supervisor and creative consultant Stanley Isaacs, and is an inspirational story of creativity, second chances and new beginnings. The documentary feature depicts Annalaura’s journey as she undertakes her most artistic challenge, creating Colloculi, an immersive, multi-media, interactive art installation constructed in the shape of a Giant Eye made of recycled aluminum, symbolizing environmental rebirth and recycling. She incorporates her artistic visualization of the lives of four young people who, in their own way, found a spiritual path out of the darkness into the light and reclaimed their self-esteem and found new value in life.


From concept to fruition, Italian artist Annalaura di Luggo takes inspiration for a multimedia art installation from the Bruegel painting, “The Blind Leading The Blind.” She intends to not only is to inspire but include the viewer in the experience of the piece. They are the fourth layer. WE ARE ART- Through The Eyes of Annalaura is a whirlwind journey through redemption and creation.

The casting process for the four individuals Annalaura wants to include in the project gives the audience a taste of the local Naples community. Each person has a story, a work of art unto themselves. Pino grew up surrounded by drugs, violence, and neglect. His future goal is to avoid a similar path as his parents and thrive through education. Noemi approaches the world through experiences, sports, and animals. Born blind, she longs to break any preconceived notion the world might have about her and to live as fully as any sighted person. Her description of what color is to her is awe-inspiring.

Youssouf arrived on the shores of Naples in a rubber dinghy from the Ivory Coast in 2016. Alone and with nothing to his name, he endured discrimination, educated himself, and began to work. Engaged and with a child, his goal is to be present for her. Adopted at the age of five from Moscow, Larissa found herself bullied for her appearance, leading her to abuse alcohol. Resiliency and self-love push her forward in life.

Like any artist, Annalaura possesses eccentric energy. Her mind is in constant creative mode. Each media artist she approaches finds themselves immediately sucked into her vortex of ideas and enthusiasm. Beyond that first impression, her genuine care for Pino, Noemi, Youssouf, and Karissa is clear as day. Their work together becomes a therapy session melded into Annalaura’s final creation. Her profound words for her subjects will take the viewer aback.

WE ARE ART escapes pretentiousness by keeping the audience involved in each intimate and intentional step. There are a staggering amount of minds and hands touching this project. “Colloculi,” the final work of art, is dazzling, simultaneously speaking to the uniqueness of each life and the universal nature of humanity. Annalaura di Luggo should be proud. Bravo.


Opening At The Laemmle Monica In Los Angeles On September 16
And The Village East In New York September 23

 

Q&A to follow after both Opening Nights

Written & Directed By

Annalaura di Luggo


Review: ‘THE SILENT TWINS’ is an imaginative interpretation of The Gibbons’ sisters haunting history.

THE SILENT TWINS

The real-life story of twin sisters June and Jennifer Gibbons continuously confounds psychologists and curious onlookers alike. As young girls from Barbados whose father transferred for work, they were the only Black family in their Wales neighborhood. The girls experienced insurmountable isolation and bullying. As a result, they turned inward, refusing to speak to anyone other than each other, and exhibited succinct behavior, almost catatonic at times. With each passing year, The Gibbons sisters enigmatic relationship wreaked havoc on their families, communities, and each other. The Silent Twins creatively illustrate their experiences. Theirs is a story that baffles the world.

The only time they spoke aloud was in their bedroom, as they created magnificent plays, poems, and short stories. The Silent Twins utilizes mixed media stop motion animation to illustrate the girls’ elaborate writing. When you hear their diary entries, you soon realize their astonishing level of intellect.

Following their dismissal from school, the girls enter a specialized education program (which later proved useless), followed by separate residential schools. June struggles to adjust due to the separation, becoming despondent. Once reunited, things regress to the status quo in their childhood bedroom for the next few years.

The dynamic between the two is clear; Jennifer exerts all power over June. Adolescent jealousy brings a new level of vengeful animosity to Jennifer and June’s relationship. Jennifer’s infatuation with an influential bad boy brings drugs and pyromania into their lives. The consequences of these behaviors lead them to their eleven-year admission to Broadmoor Hospital. The publication of June’s book further drives their competitive nature.

*SPOILER ALERT* If you’d like to stay in the dark about the story, skip the following paragraph!!

The Gibbons made a pact in childhood stating that if one of them died, the other should begin to speak and live a “normal life.” On the day of their release from Broadmoor, Jennifer passes away in the transport van. While the circumstances did not sit well with anyone, her autopsy would later reveal a case of undiagnosed myocarditis. Rather than sink into grief, the death of Jennifer frees June from a lifelong emotional and physical prison.

** Continue below…

Performances from Letitia Wright and Tamara Larance will blow you away. Their vocal specificity is imperative to understanding the real-life twins’ dialect and speech patterns. Their volatile chemistry jumps off the screen. Each actress has their time to shine.

Prior knowledge of this bizarre case proved to be a blessing and a curse. A few things felt stylistically superfluous, especially a runtime of nearly 2 hours. I almost wish this haunting tale were a touch more straightforward. The stop-motion sequences are such a powerful device that the added songs and whimsical choreography appear overkill. I’m unsure if The Silent Twins works as a whole. Perhaps, a viewer with zero previous understanding of The Gibbons’ strange existence might come to a different conclusion. If you fall into that category, I recommend going into the film blind. Either way, director Agnieszka Smoczynska displays a unique vision of two mind-boggling women.


Silence was their bond. Imagination set them free.

Letitia Wright and Tamara Lawrance star in #TheSilentTwins, only in theaters September 16.


A version of this review first appeared on AWFJ.org. To read more insights from the amazing women in the alliance, click here!