Final Girls Berlin 2021 review: ‘Time Of Moulting’ (Fellwechselzeit) will take patience.

TIME OF MOULTING

In a small town in 1970s West Germany, Stephanie is an intelligent and lively child living an insular life with her parents. She senses that something is wrong in her family, something that cannot be put into words, and she pushes against it where she can. Unspoken maladies lurk beneath the surface of everyday life and insidiously seeps into who she is. Neither she nor her parents have contact with others, and she falls into a symbiotic relationship with her mentally unstable mother Sybille. Sybille has never really left her own childhood behind and lives a life amidst objects and shadows of the past. Stephanie’s father offers neither support, love, nor normalcy. Stephanie withdraws more and more into herself and the passing years bring only ageing, but no future with them. Stephanie flees early from her life’s narrowness and hopelessness into an inner world of dark fantasies, which are nourished by traces of the past. Fellwechselzeit is a heavily atmospheric and harrowing portrait of the ways in which oppressive and repressed family dynamics can influence and infect the lives of younger generations– not tangible, not namable, but inexorable. Inner abysses form the only escape route for an undernourished soul.

You have to stick with filmmaker Sabrina Mertens‘ style choice here. TIME OF MOULTING is one of the most intentional slow-burn films establishing the cyclical nature of mental illness I’ve ever seen outside of a documentary. As the camera sits and watches these drawn-out, often silent scenes, we get a small peek inside the world of a family that has chosen isolation. The film does a 10-year time jump only to find our young protagonist worse off than before. She has been simmering in the childhood of her mother and is acting out with self-harm and increasingly violent drawings and fantasies. This film is not for everyone. You have to have the patience to make it to the end. The visual impact of Time of Moulting is massive. We hear over and over that the family cat has urinated on the furniture. We see each room accumulate more garbage/objects. Stephanie’s fascination with her grandfather’s slaughterhouse tools will make you so uncomfortable you will feel it on your bones. Performances are outstanding. This film challenges the audience to its breaking point.

DIRECTED BY SABRINA MERTENS, GERMANY, 2020

Starring Zelda Espenschied and Miriam Schiweck

Final Girls Berlin 2021 review: ‘DARKNESS’ will make your skin crawl.

DARKNESS

Stella, 17-year-old, and her younger sisters, Luce and Aria, are locked inside their house with bars on the windows. Outside is the Apocalypse: two-thirds of humanity is dead since sunlight has become too strong and only men can go outside. Their claustrophobic life is brightened up by some special games, such as the air party. But their father gets angry: he would like them to completely erase the past. The girls stay locked in their house, alone, with no food until things begin to break down and puncture the delicate shell of their cloistered existence.

Eerily the perfect film at this moment in our history, three girls wait in locked down isolation as their father scavenges for food in an uninhabitable world outside. The sisters pass the time with make-believe skits, attending to a strict schedule that revolves around their hyper-aggressive dad and reminiscing about their dead mother. But something else is very wrong here. Very, very wrong. Due to the current global pandemic, a phrase I am still not used to writing 11 months in, Darkness will resonate on a personal level, especially for parents. The film also has a similar circumstantial setup as ONLY one of my favorite films from Tribeca Film Festival 2019. But perhaps ends up more reminiscent of a certain M. Night Shyamalan film. All three young actresses giving stunning performances and they have a great screenplay to work with. If I’m being nitpicky, the runtime could be cut by 10-15 minutes as Stella pushes past her physical boundaries. The camera work puts you in the shoes of the sisters. Sometimes claustrophobic, other times disorienting. The full picture slowly reveals itself to be far more disturbing than you might think. There are clues sprinkled throughout but at the heart of it, Darkness is about emotional manipulation and physical abuse. It’s absolutely chilling. This film would easily garner a larger audience on any of the genre centric platforms. I’m excited to see where it ends up landing.

DIRECTED BY EMANUELA ROSI, ITALY, 2019

Starring Denise Tantucci, Valerio Binasco, Gaia Bocci, Olimpia Tosatto
German Premiere

Sundance 2021 review: ‘Luzzu’ shines in its authenticity.

LUZZU

Jesmark, a Maltese fisherman, contends with a newfound leak in his wooden luzzu boat. Barely getting by, he sees his livelihood—and a family tradition from generations before him—imperiled by diminishing harvests, a ruthless fishing industry, and a stagnating ecosystem. Desperate to provide for his wife and their newborn son, whose growth impediment requires treatment, Jesmark gradually slips into an illicit black-market fishing operation.

I have actually spent a few days on the island of Malta. When I met my husband he told me that his heritage was Scottish, Irish, and Maltese. I honestly had no idea what he was talking about. I’m half Italian and was completely unaware of the small, bustling island off the coast of Italy. Even with my little experience in the area, I can attest to the authenticity you get in LUZZU. Pre-pandemic, it was filled with tourists taking ferry boats from Sicily or to the smaller island of Gozo, where they actually filmed some of Game Of Thrones. It boasts crystal blue waters and ancient architecture. It also contains kind, hardworking locals that have been thriving in the fishing industry for a long, long, time. Now, things are changing and everyone is being forced to adapt. LUZZU takes all that local beauty and then gives us a weighty story we can sink our teeth into.

Jes is down on his luck in every way possible. He’s not catching anything that he can sell. His new son is not growing as he should. His mother-in-law doesn’t respect him. Jes dives headfirst into the black market fishing industry. While he fixes his luzzu (which is his wooden fishing boat) by hand, he snatches up any side hustle that comes his way. It’s heartwrenching to watch him struggle. You just want him to make it. As the danger grows, so do the emotional consequences.

Alex Camilleri- Maltese America filmmaker of LUZZU

To think this cast isn’t filled with professional actors is mind-blowing. They are beyond phenomenal. Jesmark Scicluna as Jes will tear at your soul. He leaves his heart in the ocean along with his family’s history. Combined with the handheld camerawork, Luzzu is immediately grounded and compelling. It puts us right alongside Jes. This story is universally relatable as the stress and anxiety that comes with being a parent, especially one with special needs, is oftentimes overwhelming. Add in circumstances beyond your control and you will do anything to protect them. The issues of identity are far more than surface level. The ending may destroy you. It felt devastating but incredibly honest. Sundance audiences will respect writer/director Alex Camilleri‘s choice to be bold in his storytelling. I cannot wait to see what comes next, especially since his upcoming film will also be set in Malta. If Luzzu is any indication, we’re just getting started.

Sundance 2021 review: ‘The Pink Cloud’ is closer to reality than fiction.

The Pink Cloud

Giovana and Yago are strangers who share a spark after meeting at a party. When a deadly cloud mysteriously takes over their city, they are forced to seek shelter with only each other for company. As months pass and the planet settles into an extended quarantine, their world shrinks, and they are forced to come to terms with an accelerated timeline for their relationship. With all their other interactions governed by screens, and with the strain of isolation setting in, Giovana and Yago struggle to reinvent themselves and reconcile the differences that threaten to tear them apart.

The film opens with a disclaimer that catches you off guard. Pretty quickly you realize it’s not a ploy, it’s necessary. The parallel to our current global situation is astounding. It’s as if the writer/director Iuli Gerbase got a glimpse into the future. It’s confounding.

This is a relationship film in lockdown circumstances. Yago and Giovana experience all the normal stresses of dating in a compressed timeline. Children or no children, work/life balance, philosophy, regrets, keeping it fresh. There’s humor in the darkness, but the darkness is much deeper.

The visual juxtaposition of how beautiful the clouds are and the fact that they’re deadly is not missed. The montages of how they pass the time are fantastic. Technology, like our present real-life, makes almost all things possible from learning and entertainment. But, obviously, the downside of social media comes into play. From conspiracy theories and depression, it’s all there. The Pink Cloud is frighteningly familiar and yet completely unique. Sometimes it’s just all too much. This film isn’t shy and I respect that. This is one of my favorite films from this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

 

Sundance 2021 review: ‘Prime Time’ is a ceaselessly thrilling lesson in media manipulation.

PRIME TIME

New Year’s Eve 1999. Twenty-year-old Sebastian, armed with a gun, hijacks a TV studio and takes two hostages—a famous TV presenter and a security guard. His plan? No one seems to know, including Sebastian himself. His demand to deliver his message, whatever that may be, via live broadcast is repeatedly thwarted by an uncertain police force and an egotistical network chairman. As the night wears on, Sebastian and the hostages bond in unexpected ways, while those in power fumble to restore order.

Who is manipulating who? The immediate idea that this situation can be directed is stunning. Producer Laura is like Oz. She initially sees and hears everything that’s happening from the booth. But she only controls as much as Sebastian reveals in slow spurts. Once the police arrive, all hell breaks loose. Can the hostage negotiators find out what Sebastian wants? It will be a long New Year’s Eve. Prime Time is remarkably compelling. There is no time to take a breath as the mystery unfolds in real-time. The handheld camerawork adds to the chaotic nature. But the real drama lies within the “Why?” Sebastian’s backstory is devastating. Performances are phenomenal from the entire cast. We live in their fear and their ceaseless frustration. Bartosz Bielenia will blow you away.

The juxtaposition of what all other networks are airing during this incident is rattling. No one, outside the studio, knows what is occurring. Everyone is nonchalant or celebratory so when the danger escalates, seeing the calm on ancillary characters is unnerving. It’s fantastic. This script manages to tackle class structure and emotional trauma, with media profits as the underlying force of everything that goes awry in Sebastian’s “plan”. Prime Time does an incredible job of keeping you on the hook until the screen goes black. In a present era where every second of media is either controlled or completely reckless, Prime Time taps into every viewer’s own fear of being lied to. Sundance audiences will love this film.

You can purchase access to PRIME TIME’s second showing by clicking here!

Review: ‘Identifying Features’ is devastating and captivating.

IDENTIFYING FEATURES

Directed by Fernanda Valadez
Written by Fernanda Valadez & Astrid Rondero
Middle-aged Magdalena (Mercedes Hernandez) has lost contact with her son after he took off with a friend from their town of Guanajuato to cross the border into the U.S., hopeful to find work. Desperate to find out what happened to him—and to know whether or not he’s even alive—she embarks on an ever-expanding and increasingly dangerous journey to discover the truth. At the same time, a young man named Miguel (David Illescas) has returned to Mexico after being deported from the U.S., and eventually, his path converges with Magdalena’s. From this simple but urgent premise, director Fernanda Valadez has crafted a lyrical, suspenseful slow burn, equally constructed of moments of beauty and horror, and which leads to a startling, shattering conclusion. Winner of the World Cinema Dramatic Audience and Screenplay Awards at the Sundance Film Festival.
Every once in a blue moon a film comes along that pushes you past your own emotional boundaries. The heaviness of the stories in Identifying Features swallows you whole. You are forced to confront the realities that are far too often swept under the political rug here in the US and are dreaded in Mexico. With a score that vibrates your already unsettled soul, the handheld cinematography puts you in the shoes of any one of these individuals getting shoved back across the border… And those who don’t ever make it. The alternating scenes from a mother to a son build up a visceral tension to an ending that is beyond shocking. The intimacy of the sound editing and long lingering beautifully shot close-ups force you to remain engaged no matter how badly you’d like to look away. Identifying Features is brilliant in its unyielding honesty. You will sink so far into the depths of these families’ grief, digging out will take more time than you’ll realize. It’s nothing short of captivating.
This film is now playing in virtual cinemas. Click here to find a Kino Marquee virtual cinema supporting a theater near you.
Mexico /In Spanish with English subtitles / 94 min

Review: ‘Girl With No Mouth’ has so much to say.

GIRL WITH NO MOUTH

In Girl With No Mouth, a group of children who suffer from deformities due to a toxic explosion, embark on an adventure in a war-torn post-apocalyptic region. The Turkish production comes from Can Evrenol, director of the successful TIFF Midnight Madness selection Baskin, and the horror film Housewife (currently available on Shudder).

This beautifully shot film tells the tale of a ragtag group of deformed children running from the evil Corporation responsible for their plight. Each is missing a key feature on their face, making for creative ways to communicate with one another. Captain finds Peri (our titular character) after she has fled her corrupt uncle’s clutches. With her father murdered and her uncle tracking her down to kill her, she escapes alongside her newfound friends. Captain is without eyes, Yusuf is missing his nose, and little Badger has no ears. This band of “Pirates” protects each other in search of sanctuary. Peace is coming, which means The Corporation must find any remaining children and destroy “the evidence” of wrongdoing.

Each child brings a different strength to their journey. Captain is a master tracker and relies on his heightened hearing to map. Peri uses science. Yusuf cooks and Badger scavenges. They happen upon an adult who is not a complete psychopath. The widow of the man responsible for all the agony caused by The Corporation. With her help and Peri’s engineering, can our group reach safety in time? The script is carefully crafted by director Can Evrenol and Kutay Ucun. There is undoubtedly a Peter Pan and The Lost Boys vibe to it. Add the tragic post-apocalyptic aspect and it goes from enchanting to unbelievably thrilling. You would never think this is the kind of film that would come from the director of Baskin. I’m so happy this film is now on people’s radars. I think it truly extraordinary.

This cast is outstanding. Their chemistry is pure magic. The film’s cinematography is simply stunning combined with a fantastic script, Girl With No Mouth is a captivating take of resilience and guts. You will be rooting for these kids. Their ingenuity and spirit are what hold you tightly to your seat. The finale strikes a gorgeous balance between heartbreaking and triumphant. Girl With No Mouth speaks volumes in a year where death and capitalism reign supreme. This film will have you cheering out loud at your screen. Do not sleep on this one.

 Girl With No Mouth is due to release on Blu-Ray, DVD and VOD across North America on December 8th via Indiecan Entertainment

 

INDIECAN ENTERTAINMENT focuses on independent, low-budget films. As a distributor, Avi Federgreen follows the same principle that earned him his reputation as a filmmaker; bringing audiences films they want to watch. Aside from the traditional distribution route, INDIECAN leans heavily on digital delivery. INDIECAN helps films find more opportunities with audiences through TV, Netflix, iTunes, websites, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media platforms. The jarvee provide the best tools to improve the growth of your social media platform.  INDIECAN’s vision is to not only support Canadian production but to encourage the viewing of quality independent films by North American audiences. Indiecanent.com

Review: ‘Parallel’ is thrilling genre greatness.

A group of friends stumble upon a mirror that serves as a portal to a “multiverse”, but soon discover that importing knowledge from the other side in order to better their lives brings increasingly dangerous consequences.

Rarely, does a film get me to holler, “Oh, Shit!” in the first few minutes. Parallel had me on my toes from start to finish. The early dialogue is a framework for what’s the come. It’s a smart script that challenges the audience’s moral compass, easily asking, “What would you do?” As a Doctor Who superfan and Back to the Future franchise nerd, I’ve seen multiverse storylines again and again. Parallel sets itself apart in every way possible. What could possibly backfire by messing with an alternate timeline? Nothing is that easy. The action starts right away. You understand the dynamics of this group, each serving a purpose. Ambition, self-worth, regret, sadness, and sheer curiosity all drive our leads to do things they wouldn’t normally dream of. I loved that the focus is no solely on one person. It lends depth to this sci-fi screenplay. A genre that is often heavy-handed in cliche when it comes to an ensemble piece.

The camera work is decisively cool and the subtle lighting change when they enter the parallel world is key. The truly minimal CG is pretty spectacular. The visual reminder that the mirror is but a reflection of the outside is featured prominently throughout. The cast has genuine chemistry based on their backgrounds. They walk the perfect balance of guarded when necessary and enamored with their past dynamics. It feels like a choose your own adventure but with the highest of consequences. Director Isaac Ezban (who ingeniously slips in a nod to his brilliant film The Similars), teamed with writer Scott Blaszak, has curated a complex script that begs you to sit up and pay attention. If you don’t you’ll be lost in the chaos. The only thing missing is another film. I want an origin film. I need to know more. Parallel is easily the beginning of an entire sci-fi franchise. It’s a genre standout in a year filled with fantastic content. My heart was pumping from the very beginning and did not let up until it blacked out to roll credits. You’re constantly waiting for something to go awry. It’s phenomenally unnerving.

Available In Select Theaters & On Demand December 11, 2020

 

 

Review: ‘WEREWOLF’ is terrifying and profound.

In Werewolf, children liberated from a Nazi concentration camp have to overcome hunger, thirst, and vicious attack dogs in an abandoned mansion surround by the forest.

Werewolf is incredible from the very first frame. The fear is visceral in the visual presentation but especially in the performances from a cast of children. This is a new version of Lord Of The Flies as a group of Holocaust survivors lies in wait as they are stalked by attack dogs, and even one of their own. Hormones, trauma, hunger, and anger, all drive this riveting plot forward. It is easy to root for these kids. As a Mom, it made my heart race at every turn. I was sweating watching their ingenuity. Survival is not guaranteed especially when the threat comes from within. It was profound watching these young actors, at times, become as wild as the dogs they feared. Other scenes momentarily allowed them to be children again. This ensemble casts’ chemistry will blow you away. Adrian Panek has given us a thrilling gem. The writing is intelligent and enthralling. Your heart will be in your throat from beginning to end.

Adrian Panek’s intense WWII survival horror/thriller Werewolf is due to release on Blu-Ray, DVD, and VOD across North America on December 1st via Indiecan Entertainment.

ON BLU-RAY, DIGITAL AND DVD DECEMBER 1, 2020

The intense Polish film was an official selection of Fantastic Fest (where it was nominated for Best Picture) among many other fests, has won 11 festival awards worldwide, and been nominated for 14 more.

Review: ‘Thirst’ sinks its teeth into cult status.


The addict Hulda is arrested and accused of murdering her brother. After she is let go because of insufficient evidence, she meets Hjörtur, a thousand-year-old gay vampire. Together they fight a cult while being investigated by a rogue detective.

Gloriously gory and unapologetically in your face, vampire horror-comedy Thirst is a movie about a girl and her unlikely gay best friend. Poor Hulda just wants to stop being blamed for a bunch of murders and find someone to care about her for the right reasons. Poor Hjörtur just wants to play with his food, and as The Prince of Darkness, he can damn well do what he pleases. The performances are wildly funny and the chemistry between Hjörtur Sævar Steinason and Hulda Lind Kristinsdóttir is simply electric. The visual gags, quite literally, are unforgettable. The overt sexualization of the men is genius. If you know nothing going in, you know everything soon enough.

It could have been made by the same filmmakers as genre film fest favorite Fried Barry. The colors, the camera work, the visual mindfuckery. They are cut from the same weird and wonderful cloth. In Thirst, the amount of practical fx and blood are equal parts laughable and joyous. Genre fans will literally cheer. The relationship between Hulda and Hjörtur is what stays with me 12 hours after viewing. You could write an entire television series on their dynamic and I would be there to watch it. The climax of the film is nothing short of a spectacular splatterfest. Combined with the over the top power ballads(which I’m pretty sure is my favorite aspect), this is sure to reach cult status. Stick around once the credits start to roll. Your ears and eyes won’t be sorry.

Direct from a well-received festival run, where it played such fests as ScreamFest 2020, London FrightFest, and Out On Film, Thirst comes to DVD and Digital 12/1 from Uncork’d Entertainment.

From directors Steinþór Hróar Steinþórsson, Gaukur Úlfars comes a high-energy thrill fest with some of the most creative films to grace a screen in years. Hjörtur Sævar Steinason, Jens Jensson, Hulda Lind Kristinsdóttir, Ester Sveinbjarnardóttir, Birgitta Sigursteinsdóttir, and Birna Halldórsdóttir star.

Direct from a well-received festival run, where it played such fests as ScreamFest 2020, London FrightFest, and Out On Film, Thirst comes to DVD and Digital 12/1 from Uncork’d Entertainment.

Interview: André Øvredal for his latest film ‘Mortal’

From acclaimed filmmaker André Øvredal (The Autopsy Of Jane Doe, Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark), MORTAL stars Nat Wolff (The Fault In Our Stars) as a young man discovering he has God-like powers based on ancient Norwegian mythology.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Our amazing colleague and friend Matthew Schuchman had the opportunity to sit down with director André Øvredal to talk all things Mortal. Here is their interview. Find out how long André took to make the film, how Nat Wolff was cast, and what it’s like to compete with big-budget studio films like Marvel. If you’re a fan of his work, you’ll get a quick peek into André’s creative and humble energy.

Saban Films releases MORTAL today in theaters and On-Demand

WATCH THE TRAILER:

Release dateNovember 6, 2020 (USA)
NorwegianTorden
LanguagesNorwegian, English

 

Review: Shut up, sit down, and watch ‘The Antenna’

In a dystopian Turkey, the Government installs new networks throughout the country to monitor information. The installation goes wrong in a crumbling apartment complex and Mehmet (Ihsan Önal), the building intendant, will have to confront the evil entity behind the inexplicable transmissions that threaten the residents.

Unsettling, oftentimes ear-piercing sound editing mixed with a 1984-esque storyline makes The Antenna an eerie watch. Set in an unnamed city in Turkey, this film is clearly an allegory for the current (yet timeless) right-wing propaganda spreading like a disease throughout today’s politics. Oppression is the name of the game. The government is installing new tv antennas so that hourly bulletins can more easily be broadcast to citizens. Accompanied by an evil black sludge coming from the new installation that seeps into the pores of high-rise tenants. Once they come in contact with it, their indoctrination is viscerally permanent. The Antenna represents the death of free speech.

The attention to detail in editing (both audio and visual), close-up shots, are all carefully crafted to induce madness in the residents and the viewer. The inspiration writer/director Orçun Behram has taken from Cronenberg and Ben Wheatley is unmistakable. I don’t know how this film was made on a $200, 000 budget. I am genuinely impressed. The Antenna is a highly stylized dystopian horror that will excite genre fans. Its smart script and dark as hell visuals are a real meal unto themselves. I will be waiting with bated breath for whatever comes next from Orçun Behram. You can watch the film in Virtual Cinemas this Friday, October 2nd, and On-Demand/VOD October 20th. Check out the trailer for some more insight.

THE ANTENNA

OPENING IN VIRTUAL THEATERS FRIDAY, OCTOBER 2  WITH A NORTH AMERICAN VOD RELEASE TO FOLLOW ON OCTOBER 20  ON ALL MAJOR PLATFORMS.

 VIRTUAL THEATERS (October 2)-Including: Los Angeles (Laemmle), New York and major cities (Alamo On Demand) and Philadelphia (Film Society).

VOD (US & Canada) (October 20): Including: iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Xbox, Vudu, Dish Network and all major cable providers.

DIRECTED & WRITTEN BY: Orçun Behram

CAST:  Ihsan Önal, Gül Arici, Levent Ünsal, Isil Zeynep, Murat Saglam, Elif Çakman, Mert Toprak Yadigar and Eda Öze .

RT: 115 minutes; Color; Language: Turkish with English subtitles; Rating: Not Rated (Horror)

 Distributed in North America by: Dark Star Pictures

Fantasia 2020 review: ‘Fried Barry’ is twisted commentary of the dark side of humanity.

Fried Barry is about an abusive drug addict who gets abducted by aliens. An alien then takes his form on a jaunt through Cape Town. Spectacularly edited from the opening to the end credits, Fried Barry is a drugged induced terror trip. The imagery is stunning, using color like a character of its own. The score and sound design by Haezer is menacing and intense. This is genre madness at its finest. This is why Fantasia 2020 audiences show up.

Do not watch this film while high. It’s fucked up enough as it is. Writer/director/producer Ryan Kruger does not need you to tell him you had a complete and total mental breakdown while watching. Or perhaps that would be a compliment. Our leading, Gary Green is unreal as a man clearly effed up by aliens. His physical performance is so bizarre it’s perfection. The film is a study in human behavior from an outside perspective. It’s an actor’s dream. Green’s work is award-worthy. With very little dialogue on his end, Kruger’s screenplay allows for him to be totally weird but somehow completely believable in experiencing the complexities of the human race. Sex, drugs, people talking at one another rather than listening pretty much sums it up.

Halfway through it goes from strange to utterly dark, but you’re so far down the rabbit hole it only makes sense. There is a childlike innocence to Green at this point that will freak you out. A sick turn in the plot will throw you for yet another loop. Fried Barry‘s unpredictability is what makes it so arresting. It’s not the alien that’s frightening, it’s people.

To find out more about Fantasia 2020 and how to watch Fried Barry

Fantasia 2020 review: ‘Yummy’ is a gory treat.

The young woman wants a breast reduction. … Wandering through an abandoned ward the boyfriend stumbles upon a young woman, gagged and strapped to an operating table; she is the result of an experimental rejuvenation treatment.

All guts, all glory in this splatterfest zombie comedy. Fantasia 2020’s audiences will know what kind of film they’re in for by the tagline alone: “Facelifts, Boobjobs… and Zombies”. Yummy is a hilarious look at vanity through the zombie lense. I especially liked the when the female doctor traverses across a plank in what might be referred to as “f*ck me” heels. I’d love to know how many gallons of fake blood they had on set. I’m a sucker for great practical FX, so the added element of blood hitting the camera clutch. If 3D was still a popular fad, Yummy would be a perfect choice. The rest of the gag-inducing makeup will not be missed. My best guess would be Kensington Gore recipe… because, not poisonous and all. There are scenes that will make you wince because they are that gross. But that’s what we show up for.

Performances are all incredible. Everyone has the perfect balance of whatever personality trait needs to be pushed just a touch too far. While it does feel about 15 minutes too long, the kills keep coming and they’re entertaining as hell. Writers Lars Damoiseaux (who also directs) and Eveline Hagenbeek give us a ton to hold onto. Like many zombie films, it highlights ingenuity. But there is a lot more going on. Yummy dives into misogyny and the patriarchy, by both men and women. But I will say that when the worst offending characters get what’s coming to them your smirk will widen. Not only do we have that aspect, but we also have a genuine love story. On that note, major props for choices made in ending this film. Perhaps the ultimate moral of the story, you’re beautiful just the way you are? But it’s a zombie movie so who needs a moral, anyhow.

Find out more about Fantasia 2020 and how you can watch Yummy

Fantasia 2020 review: ‘SLEEP’ is a waking nightmare.

Marlene, a woman plagued by horrific dreams, suffers a breakdown in a remote village. As her daughter Mona follows, she comes upon a well-kept family secret and an old curse that ultimately threatens her life – a never-ending nightmare.

I can finally relax my entire body after watching Fantasia 2020’s Sleep. The mystery that unfolds has such a tight grip that I was tense from head to toe with anxiety, much in the same physical manner as our matriarch Marlene. Two brilliant women inhabit the roles of mother-daughter team, Marlene and Mona. Sandra Hüller, from what should have been 2017 Oscar winner for Best Foreign Language Film, TONI ERDMANN) and Gro Swantje Kohlhof, ( Nothing Bad Can Happen –  one of the most unsettling films I’ve ever seen and written about) make for an intriguing balance on screen. For what little interaction they actually have from scene to scene, you genuinely believe they are connected.

The scares are intensely scored and intriguingly edited. The script by Thomas Friedrich is weird from the beginning. The performances have this unnerving, larger than life essence to them. You can feel something is very off about everything and everyone. Overly excited, excessively nice and informative, to unusually angry for no apparent reason. Sleep is like a living, breathing panic attack. The cinematic dynamics are stunning. The plot feels a little like a twisted hereditary version of Nightmare on Elm Street. But then you have a bloodline double entendre thrown in. It’s quite complex but extremely entertaining. As someone who has had reoccurring dreams her entire life, Michael Venus ‘ direction of SLEEP disturbed me to no end. And if you’re anything like me, you will continue to question what is real long after the credits roll.

To find out more about Fantasia 2020 and how to watch SLEEP click here

Fantasia 2020: Everyone’s a critic in feminist horror ‘The Columnist’

Columnist and author Femke is flooded with anonymous nasty messages and death threats on social media. One day she has enough and decides to take revenge.

When praise is what fills your void in a world where trolls thrive, The Columnist is perfect genre therapy. Fantasia’s own pool of critics and filmmakers alike will go mad for this film for innumerable reasons. Femke is exhausted by vile comments on social media. She obsessed over them. When she decides to do something about it, her newfound violent tendencies unlock her writer’s block. But, it only lasts one article at a time. Under pressure to write a book, this becomes a real problem for Femke. It’s the performance from Katja Herbers that makes this already brilliant script from Daan Windhorst even cooler. Its dark humor could not be more satisfying. Herbers’ delivery is so casual and effortless. Truly award-worthy stuff. I think my favorite thing might be what she decides to take as a trophy. It’s the most appropriate choice that may as well be phallic. Perfection. The Columnist is the definition of feminist horror.

I have to point out a key piece to the script. The tweets and comments are heavily right-wing conspiratorial. They read like they’ve been created by a bot or as if they’re right out of the Qanon playbook; crazy and completely horrible. As a female writer, this film was far more enjoyable than perhaps my male colleagues might have found it. Is this secretly my fantasy? I’ll never tell. Words hurt. Criticism of any kind can be brutal. (And I also get the irony of that statement considering what I write.) But, the best unsolicited advice I can offer after watching The Columnist: Maybe don’t track down ppl hiding behind a small screen and murder them? Although it does make for one compelling film. “Write what you know.” So to speak.

 

NETHERLANDS  /  2020  /  84 MINS  /  OV DUTCH  /  SUBTITLES : ENGLISH
GENRE: Horror

 

Find out more about Fantasia 2020 and purchase tickets for The Columnist

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Fantasia International Film Festival 2020 is here!!!

If you did not sing the title of this article, then shame, shame, I know your name. It is no secret that Fantasia International Film Festival is my favorite of the entire year. While this year the fest is strictly virtual (because that’s the responsible thing to do), there are a plethora of amazing films to check out from the comfort of your own couch. Fantasia is always a sure bet for the films that will be talked about nonstop all year. Since we’re all stuck inside we might as well escape the scary reality with some scary unreality. Throw in the weird and wonderful and you’ve got yourself an annual good time.

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Here are just a few titles that should pique your interest, people.

MORGANA

How does one woman go from lonely housewife to Feminist pornstar? Morgana is an extraordinary documentary about sex positivity, self-worth, mental illness, and new beginnings. Stunningly visual and creatively edited, Morgana will knock your socks off… and maybe more. *Wink, wink. You can find our coverage of the film here.

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MINOR PREMISE

Attempting to surpass his father’s legacy, a reclusive neuroscientist becomes entangled in his own experiment, pitting ten fragments of his consciousness against each other.

 

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THE BLOCK ISLAND SOUND

Something terrifying is happening off the coast of Block Island. A strange force is thriving, influencing residents and wildlife alike. Birds are dropping out of the sky. Some people have been dropping too, into inexplicable emotional collapse. Harry Lynch (Chris Sheffield, THE STANFORD PRISON EXPERIMENT) has always been a bit of an outsider in town. Now, he watches in dread as his father (Neville Archambault, 13 CAMERAS) grows increasingly forgetful and confused. And angry. Very, very angry. His sister Audry (Michaela McManus, THE VILLAGE), whose work in marine biology will soon prove invaluable, returns to town with her daughter and immediately sees what Harry sees. Her explorations into the increasingly grisly wildlife phenomena intersect with the triggers of her father’s actions, leading them all towards chilling revelations that no one is prepared for. Revelations that will affect her family in unimaginable ways.

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BLEED WITH ME

With BLEED WITH ME, her feature debut, director Amelia Moses invites us on an intimate cabin trip where boundaries and relationships collapse. Rowan (Lee Marshall), a shy and awkward young woman, struggles to integrate herself on a weekend getaway with her best friend, Emily (Lauren Beatty) and her unfriendly boyfriend, Brendan (Aris Tyros). Feeling like a third wheel, she drinks to calm her nerves, pushing her body and mind deep into a hazy trance, where she begins to witness nightmarish late-night visions that make her feel increasingly unwelcome, unsure and unstable. A slow-burn thriller with arresting visuals, BLEED WITH ME, captures a vulnerability and discomfort as it explores issues related to self-harm and social isolation. Set against a wintry backdrop, BLEED WITH ME uses the limits of a small budget to its full potential.

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YUMMY

The young woman wants a breast reduction. … Wandering through an abandoned ward the boyfriend stumbles upon a young woman, gagged and strapped to an operating table; she is the result of an experimental rejuvenation treatment.

 

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THE MORTUARY COLLECTION

A kid is being interviewed for a job at the local mortician’s office and is asked to tell his scariest stories. What results is a collection of 4 of the scariest stories ever told spanning into 4 decades starting from the 50s to the 80s.

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LUCKY

Luck doesn’t seem to be with self-help author May Ryer (Brea Grant) lately. Her books aren’t selling like they used to, and one night, a masked intruder breaks into the house she shares with her husband Ted (Dhruv Uday Singh). To make matters worse, Ted seems strangely unconcerned about the incident, talking about it in matter-of-fact terms as if it’s just something to be accepted, and an investigating cop actually says they’re lucky things didn’t go worse. Then things do become worse as the attacker appears again… and again… and again, continuing to terrorize May no matter how valiantly she fights back. He seems to have supernatural properties, and when May seeks help, she’s met with indifference and condescension. One of her books is called Problem Solving for Staying Alive, and now she’s faced with a dilemma that seems to have no solution, and that may indeed claim her life.

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Shorts Programs

Do not miss out on the amazing short film programs. I am always partial to the Born Of Woman section, myself.

 

Fantasia 2020 officially opened last night.
You can purchase tickets and check out the amazing lineup of films and events at https://fantasiafestival.com/en/

 

 

Review: ‘Sputnik’ is stomach churning, sci-fi glory.

SPUTNIK

Due to her controversial methods, young doctor Tatiana Yurievna (Oksana Akinshina, Lilya 4-Ever) is on the precipice of losing her medical license. Her career may not be over, though. After she’s recruited by the military, Tatiana is brought to a secure science research facility to assess a very special case, that of Konstantin Sergeyevich (Pyotr Fyodorov, The Darkest Hour), a cosmonaut who survived a mysterious space accident and has returned to Earth with a unique condition: there’s something living inside of him that only shows itself late at night. The military has nefarious plans for it. Tatiana wants to stop it from killing Konstantin. And the creature itself thrives on destruction.

This intensely dark and visually frightening sci-fi film will get under your skin and stay there. The lighting choices alone, the perpetually dark and ominous choices will throw you into a state of disorientation from the very beginning. Practical effects, mixed with stunning CGI and creature design make for an enthralling watch. Performances are so strong you will be audibly rooting for our leads. As the tension builds, so does your heart rate. Oksana Akinshina as Tatiana Yurievna is a force to be reckoned with. Her measured tenacity, boldness, and bravery jump off the screen. As the sole female, her energy is what drives this film to success. Pyotr Fyodorov as Konstantin is an entirely different animal (no pun intended). His physical and emotional arch are the perfect foil for Akinshina. The emotional energy displayed onscreen will drain you as much as it must have Fyodorov Even with a runtime of nearly 2 hrs, Sputnik keeps you on the edge of your seat wondering how it will end. So, pop some popcorn, turn down the lights, and get ready for a spine chilling tale from a secret Russian location. Sputnik will make you look differently at the stars.

Release Details: SPUTNIK opens today, Friday, August 14th, in select theaters, digital platforms, and cable VOD, courtesy of IFC Midnight.  https://www.sputnik.movie/

Director: Egor Abramenko (THE PASSENGER)
Writers: Oleg Malovichko, Andrei Zolotarev
Cast: Oksana Akinshina (LILYA 4-EVER), Pyotr Fyodorov (THE DARKEST HOUR), Fedor Bondarchuk (9TH COMPANY)
Runtime: 107 Minutes
Distributor: IFC Midnight

Review: Shudder original ‘The Pool’ dives head first into the deep end.

A young couple find themselves trapped in a 20’-deep swimming pool with no way out—and that’s only the beginning of their problems. Starring Theeradej Wongpuapan, Ratnamon Ratchiratham, directed by Ping Lumpraploeng.

Relentlessly unnerving, The Pool takes a seemingly simple premise and turns it into an elaborate horror movie. From one moment to the next, this story keeps you on the edge of your seat and rooting for our leading man. Theeradej Wongpuapan must have been so physically drained after each takes, not to mention emotionally. The script highlights how desperation leads to ingenuity. Minus the holier than thou moment around abortion and the sometimes silly looking CGI, The Pool is successful because it’s so frustrating. It’s like watching a slow form of brutal torture, but undeniably entertaining torture. Some moments will be difficult to watch. They may break you. But, damn, this script is strong as hell. I don’t remember the last time I literally gripped the couch and was sweating near the end of a film. This is a film that I grant full permission to yell at the screen. I have no doubt writer-director Ping Lumpraploeng would approve. The visual starkness of (essentially a unit set) that occurs for the majority of the film is in high contrast to the dreamy opening shots that will make you gasp. This allows us to delve into the mindset of the characters, it heightens the panic. The Pool is incredibly unique. Great writing and exceptional performances keep it afloat.

The Pool is now available on SHUDDER

 

Review: ‘Disclosure’ is an emotional nail biter that warrants discussion.

From writer/director Michael Bentham, a film that hammers home the notion that “there are two sides to every story, and then there is the truth.” DISCLOSURE follows two couples who go to war over an allegation of child-on-child abuse. Australian documentary maker Emily, and her journalist husband, Danny, are reeling from an allegation of abuse their 4-year-old daughter Natasha has made against a local politician’s 9-year-old son, Ethan. Ethan’s parents, Joel and Bek, arrive unannounced at Emily and Danny’s house intent on convincing the couple that Natasha’s allegation is a fabrication. Accusations, arguments, and the ultimate search for leverage turn their civil conversation into a vicious confrontation.

Couple Vs couple tangling over abuse allegations between their children is one of the most visceral watches of the year, especially as a parent and former teacher myself. Disclosure boasts glorious performances and incredibly effective editing. Geraldine Hakewill, Mark Leonard Winter, Tom Wren, and Matilda Ridgway are simply outstanding and the use of a stationary camera allows the focus to remain on the nuanced beats within each scene. Long takes add to the tension and push a voyeuristic, “How long have you been standing there?” type of position for the audience. The dialogue is so weighty that you cannot separate your feelings from the characters. That’s great storytelling. We also explore the dynamics of gender roles, political fallout, past trauma, and marriage. One of the most intriguing is the way men communicate and the way women do. The avoidance, passive-aggressiveness, versus directness, is fascinating. At one point all bets are off and these couples will do anything to protect both their children and their own self-interest. Whose side will you be on? The fact that this is based upon a true story makes the entire thing all the more horrific. This is a lose-lose scenario no one wants to be a part of, but it does beg a larger discussion in the #MeeToo era: believing victims, victim shaming, trauma treatment, and all that comes with it. Writer-Director Michael Bentham gives us a bold film that deserves your attention. The film makes its North American debut tomorrow. Take a look at the trailer for a peek at what the audience is in store for.

DISCLOSURE arrives on VOD on 6/30 and DVD  7/7