Review: Dark Star’s genre-bending ‘TROPIC’ shoots for the stars. Now on VOD & DVD

TROPIC

Twin brothers Tristan and Làzaro are aspiring astronauts. During a late-night swim, Tristan becomes infected with a mysterious physical and mental ailment when a bright green asteroid plummets into the water. Lazaro must understand his brother’s drastic changes as he tries to maintain an elite physical and psychological state.

Marta Nieto plays the twin’s mother, Mayra. Her performance is like a gut punch. Writers nail the invisible labor and isolation in motherhood and its inevitable breaking point. Nieto lives in the skin of Mayra and earns a standing ovation. Pablo Cobo and Loius Peres are magnificent. Cobo’s brooding anger equally matches his deep adoration for his twin. His performance as Làzaro is an emotional roller coaster, riddled with survivor’s guilt. Peres leans into palpable fear and trauma, giving audiences a complete 180 in physicality. TROPIC’s costume and makeup departments lend a hand here as they switch gears for Tristan from tailored clothes to ill-fitting outfits, as well as his elaborate facial fx. He is spectacular.

As a special needs parent, this is a brutal but honest watch. Feeling “othered” as an individual and a family is viscerally devastating. The cinematography, particularly the underwater footage, is mesmerizing. The sci-fi elements combined with a perfect synth score create a timeless feel. TROPIC defies a single genre category. The volatility of this unique story is riveting, but its gravity lies within its intimacy.


TROPIC.
Following its world premiere at Fantastic Fest, in competition play at Sitges, and theatrical release earlier this month, the film hits VOD and DVD on December 19.

Distribution Company: Dark Star Pictures
Theatrical Release Date: December 1, 2023
VOD/DVD Release Date: December 19, 2023
Director: Edouard Salier
Writers: Edouard Salier, Mauricio Carrasco
Starring: Pablo Cobo, Louis Peres, Marta Nieto
Synopsis: Lázaro and Tristán (19), twin brothers and best friends are training together for the Astronaut Academy entrance tests. One day, Tristán is contaminated with some mysterious residue which makes him monstrous physically and weakened mentally. This disaster forces Lázaro to let go of how he remembers his brother and learn to love him as he is now, in a world where there is no room for monsters.


Review: ‘THE ELDERLY’ is clever social commentary wrapped in a terrifying horror film.

THE ELDERLY

Following the sudden suicide of his wife, Manuel begins acting violently strange. Soon a series of paranormal events has all of the local elderly behaving oddly. They all seem to know something the young do not – paired with a lust for blood.

From the directing duo of the gooeytastic Spanish horror film The Passenger, Raúl Cerezo and Fernando González Gómez serve audiences their latest original story, THE ELDERLY.

Family tension grows after the unexpected suicide of the family matriarch. Manuel begrudgingly moves in with his son, granddaughter, and bitter daughter-in-law. As the temperatures outside rise, so does the mind-boggling behavior of Manuel and the rest of the octogenarian population.

Ignacio Aguilar‘s cinematography is breathtaking. Closeups, panning, overhead shots, each take meticulously planned for maximum impact. The visual trickery is out of this world. The score is unsettling, with its string-heavy intensity mixed with hauntingly written love standards.

A shockingly violent moment halfway through jolts an audience now accustomed to the eerie din of quietly disturbing imagery. The Elderly shines in the power of visual suggestion, shadow play, reflections, and long lingering takes.

The slow-burn film boasts a brutal and traumatizing, no-holds-bar climax. Otherworldly communication connects to climbing temperatures. The hotter the temp, the more intense the violence. The Elderly taps into the idea of the older generation feeling unheard and dismissed. It also utilizes classic supernatural tropes, adding one shocking last frame.


Distribution Company: Dark Star Pictures 
Theatrical Release Date: October 13, 2023
VOD & Blu-Ray Release Date: October 31, 2023
Directors: Raúl Cerezo, Fernando González Gómez
Writers: Raúl Cerezo, Javier Trigales, Rubén Sánchez Trigos

Runtime: 95 Minutes
Starring: Zorion Eguileor, Gustavo Salmerón, Paula Gallego, Irene Anula, Juan Acedo, Ángela Gamonal

Review: Demian Rugna’s jaw-dropping ‘WHEN EVIL LURKS’ is extreme horror that will wreck you.

presents

When brothers Pedro (Ezequiel Rodríguez) and Jimmy (Demián Salomón) discover that a demonic infection has been festering in a nearby farmhouse — its very proximity poisoning the local livestock — they attempt to evict the victim from their land. Failing to adhere to the proper rites of exorcism, their reckless actions inadvertently trigger an epidemic of possessions across their rural community. Now they must outrun an encroaching evil as it corrupts and mutilates everyone it is exposed to, and enlist the aid of a wizened “cleaner,” who holds the only tools that can stop this supernatural plague.

A wildly original take on the possession film, When Evil Lurks is a shocking supernatural thriller from Argentine master of horror, writer-director Demián Rugna (Terrified).

Folk horror goes hard in this tale of possession and superstition. Writer-director Demian Rugna‘s WHEN EVIL LURKS pits fear and skepticism against an unrelenting demonic force. That’s only the beginning.

The script reveals itself in bits and pieces, with the plot having ties to some apocalyptic lore affecting entire towns. We learn of a set of rules that are cannon to this happening from generations preceding our main characters. Take David Robert Mitchell’s IT FOLLOWS, add a page out of Stephen King‘s IT, and you’ll begin to understand what you’re dealing with. Somehow, WHEN EVIL LURKS is nastier and even more shocking. The script also suggests that cities were targets first, but there is also an implication that class is somehow involved. There are also what amounts to slayers, a select group of people who confront the evil known as “Cleaners.” There is so much meat on the bone in this script that despite the urge to hide your eyes, it compels you to watch it unfold.

One standout performance comes from Emilio Vodanovich as Jari, Pedro’s autistic son. As a mother of a child on the spectrum, I genuinely believed they had cast an actor with autism. It is a startling performance. Demian Soloman gives Jimi an authentic heart. A lot is going on behind those eyes. Ezequiel Rodríguez has your heart in your throat from beginning to end. His portrayal of Pedro runs the emotional gambit. He nails it. Rugna gives Jimi and Pedro enough depth and trauma that Soloman and Rodríguez could pull off a sequel in a heartbeat.

Pablo Fuu‘s music is brilliantly disturbing, particularly in the repeated hard rock guitar riff. Holy Special FX, Batman! WHEN EVIL LURKS pulls no punches with the visual ick. Marcos Berta‘s work is gag-inducing and diabolical. It makes you angry and nauseous. The dialogue is often vile and biting but entirely hypnotizing as you discover more. The brutality grows from one scene to the next. WHEN EVIL LURKS is easily one of the most deranged films of the year. Rugna has broken all the rules. There is no coming back from this one.

IFC Films will release in theaters nationwide this Friday
Find a theater near you
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Available to stream on Shudder on October 27th




Director: Demián Rugna

Screenwriter: Demián Rugna

Starring: Ezequiel Rodríguez, Demián Salomón, Silvina Sabater, Virginia Garofalo, Paula Rubinsztein, Luis Dziembrowski

Producers: Fernando Diaz, Roxana Ramos

Executive Producers: Fernando Diaz, Roxana Ramos, Samuel Zimmerman, Emily Gotto

Cinematographer: Mariano Suarez

Editor: Lionel Cornistein

Composer: Pablo Fuu

Language: Spanish

Country of Origin: Argentina

Running Time: 99 minutes


About the Director

Born in Haedo, Buenos Aires, Argentina, director and screenwriter Demián Rugna specializes in fantasy and horror films. After making numerous short films in the horror genre and a large number of original scripts, he’s directed several feature films including The Last Gateway, Cursed Bastards! and You Don’t Know Who You’re Talking To. His fourth film, Terrified, was multi-awarded, sold to platforms all over the world, and was the most successful horror film at the box office in Argentina. Recently, he participated in an anthology film called Satanic Hispanics. His 5th feature film, When Evil Lurks, will premiere at the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival and be released this Fall.


 

Fantastic Fest 2023 capsule review: ‘The Other Laurens’ brims with mystery and mayhem

THE OTHER LAURENS

Beginning in Shakespearean fashion, the chaos and bait-and-switch screenplay of Claude Schmitz‘s THE OTHER LAURENS earns your attention. Private investigator, Gabriel gets contacted by his niece to look into the recent death of her father and Gabriel’s estranged twin brother, François.

THE OTHER LAURENS is a whirlwind of mafialike underworld, bikers as protective soldiers, drug trafficking, double dealings, and bombastic characters. The script’s dramatic complexity gets a momentary reprieve from the two local detectives and their witty banter.

Loise Leroy wows in her feature debut as Jade. The emotional turmoil she endures puts Leroy through the wringer, and she handles it like a pro. She is a star. Olivier Rabourdin plays dual roles as Gabriel and François. His ability to shape-shift will captivate you. THE OTHER LAURENS is an epic film, brimming with twists and turns, and is a real stand-out from Fantastic Fest 2023.


Director: Claude Schmitz
Writer: Claude Schmitz and Kostia Testut
Starring: Olivier Rabourdin, Louise Leroy, Kate Moran 
Producers: Jérémy Forni, Benoit Roland
Co-Producers: Valérie Berelmont, David Claikens, Tanguy Dekeyser, Phillipe Logie, Alex Verbaere  

Year: 2023
Runtime: 117 minutes
Language: French, English, Spanish
Country: Belgium, France
Premiere: North American


 

Fantastic Fest 2023 review: Nicholas Tomnay’s delicious treat ‘WHAT YOU WISH FOR’ is a twisted tale of wealth, power, and consequence.

WHAT YOU WISH FOR

Writer-director Nicholas Tomnay takes us on a journey of twisted morality. Down on his luck, chef Ryan steps into the life of his schoolmate and cooks for a small group of ultra-wealthy diners. The experience is nothing like he imagined.

Nick Stahl plays Ryan, a chef running from his gambling debts. When he assumes the identity of his former culinary schoolmate, he must outpace the threats at home while managing the expectations of “playing” Jack. Questions of morality loom large. You’ll root for a man bending the rules to survive.

Nick Stahl has been on my radar my entire life. We are the same age, and as a cinephile from the womb, I’ve followed his career from The Man Without a Face to Disturbing Behavior and, more recently, Hunter Hunter and What Josiah Saw. To me, he’s a genre staple. WHAT YOU WISH FOR is another strong role choice for Stahl. His ability to command each frame, often without dialogue, draws you into his world.

Tomnay gives the audience plenty of intrigue from beginning to end, slowly building tension, never quite letting up until the last frame. And boy, it’s a doozy. I cannot say much more. I don’t wish to spoil the film. Trust me when I say it’s a delicious entry into the dark comedic world. It is, as they say, Chef’s Kiss.


WHAT YOU WISH FOR is written and directed by Nicholas Tomnay. The film is produced by Nicholas Tomnay, Francesca Silvestri & Kevin Chinoy.


 

Fantastic Fest 2023 documentary review: ‘SPOOKTACULAR!’ tells the tale of the first horror theme park, and it’s scary good.

SPOOKTACULAR!

Executive produced by Tom Savini, Fantastic Fest 2023 doc SPOOKTACULAR! by filmmaker Quinn Monahan takes us back to a place I never knew existed. Now that it’s gone, I’m incredibly jealous. It’s time to tell the tale of Spooky World.

1991, in the middle of a Massachusetts cornfield, open every day in October, Dave Bertolino‘s Spooky World was a horror con and a theme park. It was the first dedicated haunted attraction, paving the way for every modern-day, big-name fright night across the country. Built on a dollar and a dream, Spooky World grew more popular and went through numerous iterations. As one of the first featured guests, Tom Savini’s direct influence on Spookyworld shifted from a homegrown haunted hayride to a proper frightening experience within a year, with Tom building his own branded Haunted House. The busier the park, the more elaborate and inventive Bertolino had to become.

The townspeople of Berlin had a fantastic relationship with Bertolino. Bringing jobs, money, and recognition to a sleepy farming town. But, not everyone was thrilled with the boundary-pushing additions, playing politics and making Bertilino’s job harder. That’s not to say that his antics and ideas came without skepticism from within.

The editing by Stefan Avalos and Bill Tartaglia is a wonder. The film uses archival footage, sit-down interviews, and home videos from the opening nights and beyond. David Bertolino’s inspiration came from Vincent Price and his showmanship, and Monahan, Avalos, and Tartaglia use numerous clips from his films as transition pieces. It’s delightful.

Growing up in northern Connecticut, I cannot believe I never ventured up the Spooky World as a self-proclaimed Halloween addict and horror fanatic. I’m thankful the park ever existed, and its humble and exciting existence spread like wildfire so that global genre fans could care and scare together.

 

Fantastic Fest 2023 review: ‘THE WAIT’ is a solid entry in the Western-horror subgenre.

THE WAIT (La Espera)

Eladio has been hired to watch over the hunting grounds of Don Francisco’s estate, somewhere in rural Spain. The estate is divided into ten hunting stands, spaced far enough apart to avoid incidents. After three years of service, Don Carlos — Don Francisco’s second in command — offers him a bribe to add an additional three stands to the property. Eladio initially hesitates, but his wife eventually convinces him to take the money. Eladio’s greed has unfortunate consequences that drag his entire family to perdition.

Opportunity, loyalty, guilt, and greed drive THE WAIT (La Espera) headlong into tragedy. F. Javier Gutierrez‘s 2023 Fantastic Fest film takes our protagonist on a torturous journey into madness. To save his flailing marriage, Eladio agrees to take cash under the table to break the rules. The consequences are deadly. When the drink takes over his existence, visions and strange occurrences send him on a wild goose chase for redemption and salvation.

Striking sun-baked cinematography juxtaposed with nightmare scenarios makes for a visually splendid treat for genre fans. The first third of the film lies firmly in the classic Western genre. The sudden flip into supernatural horror is jarring, but our leading man, Victor Clavijo, has you tied in knots on his emotional journey and the mystery at hand. One nightmarish torment scene boasts fantastic practical and Special FX makeup. The mystery grows steadily. The motive is a slow burn, though it does pay off. THE WAIT (La Espera) is a solid folk horror entry and an even more niche win for the Western horror subgenre.


 

The Wait (La Espera): 99 minutes / Spain

Spanish w/ English subtitles


 

Fantastic Fest 2023 review: Jamie Childs’ action-packed feature debut ‘JACKDAW’ makes you beg for a franchise

JACKDAW

A former motocross champion and army veteran is now caring for his younger brother. Broke, he agrees to do an open water pick up of a mysterious illegal package in the North Sea. A resulting double cross and his brother’s disappearance set him and his old bike on a violent nocturnal odyssey through England’s northern rust belt.


Nonstop action and chases from sea to land, dirt bike to horseback, JACKDAW begins with an intensity that only lets up for moments of character-building and levity. The cinematography is eye-catching. The neon and strobe-soaked lighting choices heighten the already heart-pounding action. Watching it feels akin to an immersive video game or graphic novel.

Leon Harrop is sensational during his little screen time as Jack’s brother, Simon. He is a real pro. As a Whovian, I was delighted to see Jenna Coleman as an absolute badass and Jack’s ex. With a more overtly sexy vibe than Coleman’s Clara days, I loved her almost downplayed performance, as it humanized what could have been a caricature. Joe Blakemore gives Silas a manic energy, just over the top enough to blow you away with his choices.

Thomas Turgoose is the perfect foil for Jackson-Cohen. Playing Craig, he earns lovable sidekick status with a classic jokester attitude. You immediately fall in love with him. Oliver Jackson-Cohen is an unstoppable force. He owns every frame with quiet intensity and effortlessly cool. He continues his leading man status as Jack. You cannot take your eyes off him.

The twists keep coming. Writer-director Jaime Childs implies a lot. The backstory must be juicy if this is how these characters interact with each other. JACKDAW is entertaining as hell, giving us enough meat on the bone to make audiences beg for a prequel and a sequel. More, more, more!



Director: Jamie Childs
Producers: Jamie Childs, Kate Glover, Callum Grant, Sébastien Raybaud
Starring: Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Rory McCann, Jenna Coleman, Vivienne Acheampong



JACKDAW
Fantastic Fest Screening Details

Friday, September 22nd from 5:20 PM to 6:57 PM at Alamo Drafthouse
(Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar, 1120 S Lamar Blvd)

Wednesday, September 27th from 5:00 PM to 6:37 PM at Alamo Drafthouse
(Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar, 1120 S Lamar Blvd)


 

Review: ‘KING ON SCREEN’ is a treat for all horror fans.

KING ON SCREEN

King On Screen Poster


Filmmaker Daphné Baiwir taps into our love of horror through the lens and pages of Stephen King. Her new documentary KING ON SCREEN gives audiences all the insider goodies, things we heard through the grapevine and never before explored details from relationships with King and some of our favorite filmmakers who dared to translate his words for cinephiles.

The number of King’s books that jumped from page to screen is astounding. As a kid in the 80s, like many of the filmmakers in the doc, I grew up seeing King’s books on my family’s shelf but immersed myself in the films first. The kids in Stand By Me and IT became my peers. I rented The Shining, Creepshow, and Pet Sementary ad nauseum. By the time 1996 rolled around, I remembered the glee I experienced when I discovered The Green Mile in the grocery store checkout aisle.

While we don’t hear from King directly, we see stills and videos of Stephen on the sets of his adaptations. Filmmakers like Greg Nicotero, Mike Flanagan, David Carson, Taylor Hackford, Tom Holland, John Harrison, Mick Garris, and Frank Darabont share how King’s books inspired their work. They speak to the overwhelming readability of small-town horror. King singlehandedly made Maine an unlikely horror destination. I love that everyone addresses The Shining controversy. Behind-the-scenes footage and anecdotes explain the breakdown between the book and the film. Kubrick obliterates Jack Torrance’s humanity that fans of the book (King, most of all) hate.

King’s deep dive into the political landscape has always existed. The film explores his ability to explore universal truths, whether religion, race, or greed, and make characters lovable or loathsome based on their moral compass. In the same way, we joke about The Simpsons‘ writers predicting the future, Stephen King uses the global landscape to create villains and heroes that shake us to our core. Translating that from page to screen sometimes takes a slight adjustment. The best filmmakers always ask Steve first.

For horror fans, KING ON SCREEN is like a kid coming home with a Halloween candy haul that would put you in a coma. For fans of his books, it’s like changing costumes and going out for round two. It’s delicious fun, no matter how cliche you might find the Easter egg-filled bookend scenes. They play like a Where’s Waldo for readers and genre fans alike. (I loved it.) So, turn the lights down and make popcorn. KING ON SCREEN scares up our nostalgia and celebrates a storytelling master.

 

The horror documentary KING ON SCREEN will be in Theaters on August 11th

and available On Demand and Blu-Ray on September 8th.

 

The film is directed by Daphné Baiwir (Deauville and the American dream) and features interviews with Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, The Walking Dead), Mick Garris (The Stand, Sleepwalkers), Mike Flanagan (“Midnight Mass,” Doctor Sleep), Tom Holland (The Langoliers, Chucky), Vincenzo Natali (Cube, In the Tall Grass), Greg Nicotero (“The Walking Dead,” “Creepshow”), Mark L. Lester (Commando, Firestarter), Taylor Hackford (Dolores Claiborne, Ray), Dee Wallace (E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Cujo), Tim Curry (Congo, The Rocky Horror Picture Show) and James Caan (The Godfather, Misery).


 

Review: Festival favorite ‘A LIFE ON THE FARM’ is a weirdly moo-ving doc. Yup.

A LIFE ON THE FARM

Somerset, England, and a mysterious VHS tape of a local farmer named Charles Carson. A LIFE ON THE FARM is a documentary feature that has had genre festivals buzzing since last year. Well, the chickens have come to roost, as they say, because the film finally arrives in theaters. You are not ready.

Carson’s tape provides viewers with so much unwanted information and detail. Most notably, a distasteful closeup of a bovine afterbirth and a dead cat. That is only the first taste of weirdness, as images get much darker the longer you watch. Carson’s nonchalant attitude toward everything on the farm feels jarring. His nervous laughter echoes throughout the film and viewers are disturbed. A LIFE ON THE FARM is one of the most bizarre home movies ever discovered. It feels wrong to watch, and yet you cannot look away!

Director Oscar Harding happened upon the tape as a child but had only had the pleasure of watching until his father hit stop on the VCR. It isn’t until the VHS reemerges in his adulthood that he feels compelled to dig deeper into the man beyond the vast amount of background provided by Charles along the way.

Carson’s neighbors and fans of the tape share their confusion, fascination, and shock at the tape’s contents, but I stopped in my tracks and took a step back when I realized the deeper meaning behind Charles’s actions. The films are part of his coping mechanism for loneliness, loss of purpose, grief, and, eventually, dementia. Friends honor Carson’s memory with understanding and respect for his complicated circumstances.

A new chapter to the mystery of Charles Carson occurred in 1996 when a new video appeared on YouTube. Harding and his peers are astounded by the short film’s artistry, story, and editing. Carson’s view of mortality is astonishing. A LIFE ON THE FARM is a creepy, enchanting, unusual, and extraordinary chronicling of a particular life.


** Theatrical tour at Alamo Drafthouse theaters throughout the US
starts April 13th (schedule below); both films available On Demand May 9th **


Fan Favorites from Fantastic Fest 2022, CHOP & STEELE, and A LIFE ON THE FARM will be screened as a double feature, with a theatrical rollout starting on April 13th at Alamo Drafthouse theaters throughout the country. The above special screenings will all precede live comedy shows with Found Footage Festival founders Joe Pickett and Nick Prueher, as well as filmmaker Q&As for A LIFE ON THE FARM in select cities. This double feature will screen as part of the theater chain’s fan-favorite “Fantastic Fest Presents” series and will expand further with additional shows in the weeks following.


 

Review: SCREAMBOX original documentary ‘LIVING WITH CHUCKY’ is killer family fun.

Screenwriter Don Mancini, writer-director Tom Holland, SFX artist Tony Gardner, and producer David Kirschner brought a possessed doll to life in 1988. In Kara Elise Gardner‘s new documentary, horror actors and CHILD’S PLAY creators comment on the horror industry and the franchise’s specific epicness. LIVING WITH CHUCKY celebrates the genre and its fans. 

Brad Dourif plays Charles Lee Ray, aka Chucky. Dourif’s legendary voiceover work will go down in horror history, making ears perk up and fans smirk. He explains his adoration for Chucky but that his experience comes with the isolation of the recording booth. Thank goodness he never gave up on fans. Chucky would not be the same without his frightening and hilarious intonation.

Alex Vincent, the original Andy, speaks to his experience at ages six and seven. Everyone boasts of his maturity and the professionalism he displayed on set. Jennifer Tilly plays Tiffany, aka Bride of Chucky. When Tilly came into the franchise, it revitalized the humor as a straighter foil for Dourif’s maniacal Chucky. The creation of her character is cinematic genius involving the Bride of Frankenstein and a bathtub. Dourif raves about her ability to improvise. 

SFX artist Tony Gardner explains the difficulty in reproducing Chucky, Tiffany, and creating Glen/Glenda for Seed of Chucky. Billy Boyd is Glen/Glenda. He remembers his favorite kill with a famous franchise fan and camp master, John Waters. Don Mancini brings in a wider queer audience with this film but also gets meta with the on-screen death of Gardner. 

For Curse of Chucky, Brad’s daughter Fiona Dourif played the film’s final girl, Nica. The script returns to a scarier horror, swinging away from the camp of Bride and Seed. Nica was in a wheelchair, a representation that remains rare on film. Cult of Chucky brings back Alex Vincent and a handful of familiar faces over the years. This film is a full-circle moment for the entire Child’s Play franchise.

Brad and Fiona Dourif, Boyd, Vincent, John Waters, Abigail Breslin, Lin Shaye, Marlon Wayans, Christine Elise, and Elle Lorraine discuss the grounded reaction of working with practical fx. We get to see the technical wonder of iconic scenes through behind-the-scenes footage and storytelling from those on set. 

As a Child’s Play fan, transition scenes show you every minute detail of creating a single Chucky doll, and popping in each physical piece of media one at a time is fascinating. Everyone comments on the difficulty of movie-making and maintaining family life. The franchise structure is a unique chance to reconnect with people from year to year. They become your support system while away from your biological crew. Director Kyra Elise Gardner brings her second family into the limelight. LIVING WITH CHUCKY allows fans to celebrate one of their horror legends and those responsible for his status. It’s killer fun. 


US VOD PLATFORMS (April 4)
Amazon, Apple, Google Play, VUDU, Hoopla, Xbox, SCREAMBOX, and more.
(SCREAMBOX is available to stream on iOS, Android, Prime Video, YouTube TV, Comcast, Cox, and screambox.com)

CANADA VOD PLATFORMS (April 4)
Apple, Google Play, Xbox, and more.

The LIVING WITH CHUCKY Collector’s Edition Blu-ray will also be released on April 18 and available in the US & Canada.
Special features include: Exclusive artwork by Creepy Duck, Candid Conversations, Favorite Death Scenes, Strange Families and Director’s Commentary.


SCREAMBOX, which is powered by Bloody Disgusting, features a broad mix of content for casual and die-hard horror fans alike. The service is refreshed monthly with content from the Company’s extensive genre library with films and episodes delivering every type of terror imaginable — Supernatural, Slashers, Zombies and more. SCREAMBOX currently features classic horror films like Slumber Party Massacre and the original House on Haunted Hill, the blockbuster indie horror films The Outwaters and Terrifier 2 as well as horror series such as “The Island” and “Master of Horror.” Documentaries Pennywise: The Story of It & Unearthed & Untold: The Path to Pet Sematary are also currently available. SCREAMBOX  is available to stream on iOS, Android, Prime Video, YouTube TV, Comcast, Cox and screambox.com 

ABOUT CINEDIGM  

For more than 20 years, Cinedigm (NASDAQ: CIDM) has led the digital transformation of the entertainment industry. Today, Cinedigm entertains consumers around the globe by providing premium feature film and television series, enthusiast streaming channels and technology services to the world’s largest media, retail and technology companies. As a leader in the rapidly evolving streaming ecosystem, Cinedigm continues its legacy as an innovator through its adoption of next-generation technologies, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, through its proprietary, highly-scalable Matchpoint™ technology platform. For more information, visit  cinedigm.com. 

Fantastic Fest 2022 review: ‘GIVE ME AN A’ for autonomy, damnit.

GIVE ME AN A

A wild ride of an anthology reacting to the overturning of Roe v Wade through horror, dark comedy, and sci-fi. Created by an all-female filmmaking team, this 17-segment series focuses on the visceral gut reactions of each filmmaker to expand conversations about women’s reproductive rights and the importance of bodily autonomy and also addresses the issues of a democracy that does not protect the needs of the majority of the population.


A kickass self-aware cheer squad presents this all-female-created feminist horror anthology. Each of the shorts is introduced by a call and response board, football game style, featuring the title on one and writer(s)-director(s) on the other. This phenomenal group of films made me want to scream, “Hell yeah!” But it also scared the shit out of me.

The Voiceless
A terrifying body horror short is a supernatural and bloody physical manifestation of body autonomy.

DTF
A dating app couple has a straightforward conversation but during foreplay. Hilariously respectful and legal chat about consent and expectation. This one turns the tables on reality.

Good Girl
This short is a direct takedown of religious indoctrination that women exist to produce children. It features Catholic school girls in a warped version of sex education class.

Our Precious Babies
This laugh-out-loud short, backed up by a laugh track, is a sitcom version of a fertility facility. It speaks to the extremism since the overturning of Roe and what could be coming next.

The Walk
A young woman attempts to make it to the front door of an abortion clinic only to be swarmed by frenzied protestors.

Medi-Evil
The cultivation of women’s bodies like that of a beehive was a visceral and disturbing watch. It made me squirm.

Sweetie
This complex short tackles the familial fallout and generational effects of forced birth.

Abigail
Alyssa Milano plays Abigail Adams reading her letters to her husband and his colonial cronies. Who knew she was such an eloquent badass?!

Plan C
This one is a mock commercial for government-approved birth control. It’s a real nightmare that simultaneously tackles abuse. Molly C. Quinn is riveting.

Hold Please
A secret support group for women I wish existed in real life. It’s a visual and emotional powerhouse.

God’s Plan
A pregnant woman is pulled over and threatened with a ticket. The dialogue is ripped from the headlines.

Crone
A woman harassed in her car has vengeful fantasies. Or maybe they’re flashbacks.

Crucible
Reality competition show spoof. Jackie Tohn hosts a show the men are less than thrilled about the “prize.” This is a vicious reality check, and I want to watch this show. Who’s your Daddy?

The Last Store
Ten years into the future, Gina Torres stars as a store owner with a particular set of skills, hounded by a local cop. It made my palms sweat.

Traditional
This sci-fi short brings conspiracy theories surrounding IVF to gestation.

GIVE ME AN A: The Cheerleaders
Writer-director-creator Natasha Halevi leaves us with the film’s creative finale, featuring our beloved cheer squad (oh, and some dudes.) A choreographed dance from Stephanie Landwehr is deliciously sinful.

directors

Natasha Halevi, Meg Swertlow, Bonnie Discepolo, Danin Jacquay, Erica May Wright, Monica Moore-Suriyage, Caitlin Hargraves, Megan Rosati, Hannah Alline, Avital Ash, Mary C. Russell, Valerie Finkel, Loren Escandon, Francesca Maldonado, Kelly Nygaard


 

 

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


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.


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.


 

ICYMI: Fantastic Fest 2022’s massive full lineup includes, ‘SMILE,’ ‘WOUNDED FAWN,’ ‘TRIANGLE OF SADNESS,’ & ‘BLOOD RELATIVES’

FANTASTIC FEST ANNOUNCES A COLOSSAL 2022 LINEUP

There’s only one place where you’ll find killer teddy bears, man-eating sharks, elderly zombies, cocktail-serving robots, and Park Chan-wook… all under one roof. That’s right, the world-famous genre festival Fantastic Fest is back for its seventeenth edition featuring 21 World Premieres, 14 North American Premieres, and 21 U.S Premieres. The festival will once again take over the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar in Austin, TX from September 22nd – 29th and on the web via a virtual FF@Home experience from September 29th – October 4th.

“It’s been far too long since we’ve all been able to gather together and celebrate film the Fantastic Fest way,” says Festival Director Lisa Dreyer. “We’ve really put our all into crafting an extraordinary week, from the exceptional programming that spans exciting discoveries to highly-anticipated features, to our signature events that will inject a much-needed dose of fun into 2022.”

Badges are available now at FantasticFest.com.


The opening night film for Fantastic Fest 2022 is the world premiere of Paramount Pictures’ SMILE, the intensely creepy debut feature from Parker Finn that’ll have even the seasoned FF crowd gripping their armrests in genuine fright.

This year’s edition of Fantastic Fest will also honor a legendary genre filmmaker and show his latest masterpiece. Park Chan-wook, the South Korean director of OLDBOY, SNOWPIERCER, and THE HANDMAIDEN has been defining (and defying) genre films for decades, and his latest work – MUBI’s DECISION TO LEAVE – is a stunning achievement. In conjunction with the U.S. Premiere of his new film, Park Chan-wook will be present at Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar to accept a lifetime achievement award from Fantastic Fest in celebration of his mind-bending, artfully-crafted body of work.

The closing night film at Fantastic Fest 2022 will be director Ruben Östlund’s Palme d’Or-winning pitch black comedy from Neon, TRIANGLE OF SADNESS. The latest Drafthouse Recommends selection, TRIANGLE OF SADNESS is an outrageously funny and audacious social satire, with a second act that could have been engineered in a lab specifically to delight Fantastic Fest audiences. It’s a joyful romp that’ll serve as a fitting capper to the fest, and the perfect segue to closing night festivities.

Other major studio films include two Searchlight films perfectly tuned to the Fantastic Fest palate – the U.S. Premiere of THE MENU, a sharp satire about a destination-dining experience with unexpected surprises, and the U.S. Premiere of director Martin McDonagh’s THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN, chronicling the dissolution of a friendship that escalates with shocking consequences.

A24 brings us the North American premiere of MEDUSA DELUXE, a murder mystery set in the world of competitive hairdressing, MGM and Distributor United Artist Releasing’s BONES AND ALL, from director Luca Guadagnino and starring Taylor Russell, Timothée Chalamet, Michael Stuhlbarg, André Holland, Chloë Sevigny, David Gordon-Green, Jessica Harper, Jake Horowitz and Mark Rylance, and the U.S. premiere of Miramax’s SICK, the latest slasher from John Hyams.



Other World Premieres include:


Noah Segan’s directorial debut, BLOOD RELATIVES, a father-daughter vampire comedy.
Dark Side of the Ring co-creator Jason Eisener’s KIDS VS. ALIENS, which sees a group of friends face off against evil space invaders.
An anthology horror film featuring many Fantastic Fest alumni, SATANIC HISPANICS, from Epic Pictures.


“Fantastic Fest has always been the purest expression of Alamo Drafthouse Cinema’s founding principle: share the joy of cinema with people you love,” says Fantastic Fest founder Tim League. “I am beyond proud of the team for forging one of, if not the all-time best, Fantastic Fest experiences ever. This is my favorite week of the year, and I cannot wait to share it with all of you.”


The Parties
For the first time since 2019, Fantastic Fest’s legendary parties and events are back.

A special performance in The Highball from the experiential sonic sorcerers Itchy-O while they’re in Austin for a show at the Far Out Lounge.
Hailing all the way from Vienna, Roboexotica makes its Texas-debut at the Fantastic Fest opening night party, bringing their famous cocktail-concocting robots to astonish and amuse.
Podcast recordings and live events on The Highball stage with Leonard Maltin, Scripts Gone Wild, The Kingcast and Screen Drafts.
Joe Pickett and Nick Prueher of The Found Footage Festival fame will perform a live show after their documentary CHOP & STEELE.
And finally, Fantastic Fest essentials like 100 Best Kills, the Fantastic Feud and the Fantastic Debates will return at this year’s festival.


FF@Home
For the second year in a row, Fantastic Fest will be a hybrid festival that offers in-person and virtual screenings. The Burnt Ends lineup will headline the online festival, with programming that seeks to champion eccentric and obscure indie cinema. Two in-person screenings will introduce audiences at South Lamar to the new series: THE PEOPLE’S JOKER and ALL JACKED UP AND FULL OF WORMS, both with filmmakers in attendance. The rest of this virtual lineup will be announced at a later date, featuring a selection of films from this year’s in person fest and will also include virtual exclusives such as a retrospective of cult DIY filmmakers Matt Farley and Charles Roxburgh’s MOTERN MEDIA movies.

 


Shark Attack & AGFA Takeover

This year’s sidebar is dedicated to the man-eater from the deep blue sea. Centered around the North American Premiere of FF alumni Ludovic and Zoran Boukherma’s YEAR OF THE SHARK, Fantastic Fest programmers dug deep to bring audiences the most entertaining shark movies from around the world. Many of them have never before screened in the USA and are now available thanks to our friends at AGFA.


The shark sidebar features TINTORERA! (Mexico) — which will be shown on 35mm from a print coming directly from Quentin Tarantino’s vault — as well as AATANK (India), GAMERA VS ZIGRA (Japan), MAKO: THE JAWS OF DEATH (USA), and 12 DAYS OF TERROR (USA).


We are thrilled to present 85 feature film titles and episodics, as well as a variety of short film selections to be announced at a later date — all showcasing World, North American, U.S. and Regional Premieres. See below for the full lineup of feature film programming at this year’s festival.


FESTIVAL FILM LINEUP BELOW:



12 DAYS OF TERROR

USA, 2004

Retrospective, 95 min

Director – Jack Sholder

In attendance – Director Jack Sholder

During the record-breaking summer heat of 1916, beachgoers on the Jersey shore are threatened by a shark that has developed a taste for human flesh.



AATANK

India, 1996

North American Premiere, 113 min

Directors – Prem Lalwani & Desh Mukherjee

A gangster’s hunt for black pearls sparks a series of vicious shark attacks. No diver, boat, or helicopter is safe in this B-grade Bollywood oddity.



ALL JACKED UP AND FULL OF WORMS (Burnt Ends Selection) *Previous coverage here*

USA, 2022

Texas Premiere, 72 min

Director – Alex Phillips

In attendance – Director Alex Phillips

A psychedelic journey of self-discovery leads to romance when a man shares his addiction to psychotropic worms… and Chicago will never be the same.



AMAZING ELISA

Spain, 2022

World Premiere, 104 min

Director – Sadrac Gonzalez-Perellon

In attendance – Director Sadrac Gonzalez-Perellon

In the aftermath of a horrific accident, Elisa believes that she’s been given super powers and will stop at nothing to avenge her mother’s death.



THE ANTARES PARADOX

Spain, 2022

World Premiere, 96 min

Director – Luis Tinoco Pineda

In attendance – Director Luis Tinoco Pineda

An astrophysicist working for the SETI project risks her career and family to verify an extraterrestrial radio signal before her access is cut off.



ATTACHMENT (see our previous coverage)

Denmark, 2022

Texas Premiere, 105 min

Director – Gabriel Bier Gislason

In attendance – Director Gabriel Bier Gislason

Maja and Leah’s relationship is off to a great start, but they face two perilous threats: the whims of a Jewish demon and Leah’s overbearing mother. Read More →