‘TIGER STRIPES’ (2024) A biting film about girlhood

darkstarlogo

TIGER STRIPES

Cannes Film Festival Critics’ Week Grand Prize Award Winner

Tiger Stripes poster

Zaffan is the first girl to get her period at her school. Her condition, deemed dirty, ignites jealousy in her friend circle, leading to severe bullying from her middle school peers. Perpetuated by ignorant folklore and fear, the shaming comes from home and school. 

tiger stripes 2Girls are not held in the highest regard, and the slightest infraction or break from compliance is frowned upon. Zaffan dares to be an individual. The consequence of her behavior arrives in punishment with harmful words and physical abuse. Enter an opportunistic scam artist, and things get worse. Her unrelenting trauma triggers a fight response. Zaffan’s physical and emotional changes gradually manifest themselves into a dazzling creature of revenge.

TigerStripes-jpgZafreen Zairizai is extraordinary as Zaffan. It is a fearless and emotionally wrought performance that is undeniably award-worthy. TIGER STRIPES takes a satisfying page from Frankenstein and perhaps a clever nod to The Crucible. TIGER STRIPES is like a live-action horror version of Disney Pixar’s TURNING RED. It is a fantastical allegory for girlhood and feminist power.

Tiger Stripes Trailer:

In Select Theaters June 14, 2024



NEW YORK 6/14

Cinema Village / 22 East 12th Street


LOS ANGELES 6/21

Lumiere Music Hall / 9036 Wilshire Blvd


Synopsis

The first amongst her friends to hit puberty, Zaffan, 12, discovers a terrifying secret about her body. Ostracised by her community, Zaffan fights back, learning that to be free she must embrace the body she feared, emerging as a proud, strong woman.



Directed by:
Amanda Nell Eu



Cast:

Zafreen Zairizal
Deena Ezral
Piqa
Shaheizy Sam
June Lojong
Khairunazwan Rodzy
Fatimah Abu Bakar

About Dark Star Pictures

Dark Star Pictures is a new-age North American distribution company, focused on bringing unique and targeted content to audiences across the country. We are committed to releasing auteur-driven, original cinema in the theatrical, digital and home video space.

For more horror films, click here!

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: ‘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: ‘The Strange Case of Jacky Caillou’ is a genre-defying tale.

The Strange Case of Jacky Caillou

When Jacky’s grandmother, a renowned healer, suddenly passes away and a particularly compelling young woman with a mysterious rash arrives on his doorstep, he has no choice but to stay and try to help. As her condition worsens, it becomes clear that she’s afflicted with no ordinary illness. She’s transforming into something dangerous before his eyes, but he’s already in too deep to abandon her.

Writer-director Lucas Delangle and co-writer Olivier Strauss place Jacky in an environment that might feel stifling for a young man with dreams outside his genetic talents. His grandmother nurtures his gift of healing, understanding that he must fully embrace himself before sharing his abilities with the masses. Jacky finds himself torn between love and the greater good. The Strange Case of Jacky Caillou is a surprising film that twists and turns in the most unexpected ways. It is rare to find something this unique. 

Thomas Parigi‘s performance transfixes. His ability to hold the audience in the palm of his hands, quite literally in this case, has the viewer waiting with bated breath for his next move. Parigi is a musician. His Soundcloud is as mesmerizing as his performance in the film. This debut role should garner him the attention he deserves. Parigi pulls you into this one-of-a-kind folklore horror dealing with loss, love, self-confidence, and generational embracement. The Strange Case of Jacky Caillou is an undisputable gem.


IN THEATERS (LA, NY) APRIL 7
ON DVD AND DIGITAL APRIL 11

Director: Lucas Delangle
Cast: Thomas Parigi, Edwige Blondiau, Lou Lampros, Jean-Louise Coulloc’h
Screenplay: Lucas Delangle, Olivier Strauss

Review: Casper Van Dien runs a tight ship in Corey Deshon’s ‘DAUGHTER’

DAUGHTER

SYNOPSIS: A young woman is kidnapped and inducted into a bizarre family as their new surrogate daughter. As she navigates through this twisted dynamic, awful secrets about the past are revealed, leading to even darker implications about the future.


(L-R) Elyse Dinh as Mother, Casper Van Dien as Father, and Ian Alexander as Brother in the thriller film, DAUGHTER, a Dark Star Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Dark Star Pictures

Shot on 16mm film, DAUGHTER comes alive with a timeless 70s exploration horror look. Told in chapters, this slow-burn thriller raises questions about captivity, indoctrination, and freedom of thought. It will make you shiver.

Elyse Dinh tackles the role of “Mother.” She is the stabilizer in the family dynamic. Dinh’s chemistry with Vivien Ngô keeps you watching. Ian Alexander, whom I adored in The OA, plays “Son.” Alexander fully embodies whatever character they play, and this is no exception. There is solid potential for more of this character in the future.

Casper Van Dien is “Father.” He is unsettling from the beginning. A looming figure, he makes your skin crawl. Vivien Ngô plays “Daughter” with the complexity needed to sustain the pace. The audience is along for the ride on her shoulders. She had me constantly wondering what move might come next in the bizarre game of chess. It is a captivating turn.

The sixth chapter is a complete visual departure from the rest of the film. It’s explosive. With a beginning and ending that feels like an homage to Tobe Hooper‘s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the long-awaited finale of DAUGHTER feels spot on. Any other choice would have felt like a cop-out. DAUGHTER has the makings of a franchise if writer-director Corey Deshon can quicken the pace with this first film as canon.


Dark Star Pictures will release the thriller film DAUGHTER in select theaters, on Digital and On Demand on February 10, 2023

The thriller DAUGHTER stars an ensemble cast of Casper Van Dien (Starship Troopers), Elyse Dinh (Spider-Man 2), Vivien Ngô (“Queen Sugar”), and Ian Alexander (“Star Trek: Discovery”). The film is written and directed by Corey Deshon (“A Million Little Things”).


DIRECTOR’S STATEMENT

From the wars we fight over our conflicting worldviews, the insane mental gymnastics we conjure in order to justify them, and the insignificance of truth in the absence of freedom, comes DAUGHTER. Shot on 16mm film with a predominantly Vietnamese cast, DAUGHTER is a uniquely diverse and genre-bending tale in the vein of Dogtoothmeets 10 Cloverfield Lane.

Inspired by feminist existentialist philosopher Simone De Beauvoir’s “The Ethics of Ambiguity,” this film is a meditation on the morality and ethics of freedom and creative expression within an oppressed system. Through this surrealist psychodrama, we seek to explore the questions, “Can one truly be free if they do not will the freedom of others? “and, “If that freedom must come at a moral cost, who is going to pay?”


IN THEATERS: February 10, 2023
ON DIGITAL AND ON DEMAND: February 10, 2023
ON DVD: May 9, 2023
DIRECTOR: Corey Deshon
WRITER: Corey Deshon
CAST: Casper Van Dien, Elyse Dinh, Vivien Ngô, and Ian Alexander   
RATING: Not Rated
RUN TIME: 95 minutes
GENRE: Thriller
DISTRIBUTOR: Dark Star Pictures




Review: Terrifying tots take aim at Mommy’s new boyfriend in ‘Ankle Biters’.

ANKLE BITERS

Sean, a pro hockey enforcer, has fallen in love with Laura, a widowed mother of four young daughters. When Laura’s children mistake an act of lovemaking as an attack, they plot to protect their mother at all costs and with horrific results.


Are you fighting DUI charges in Wyoming and want a bit of crime and comedy on screen? Well, here is one. Poor Sean and Laura just wanted a little bit of rough sex, but his soon-to-be stepkids are seriously killing the vibe. Thinking the bruises on their mother’s body are from abuse, four menacing little monsters take matters into their own hands.  Ankle Biters, a new Canadian horror-comedy, lands somewhere between The Bad Seed (1956) and The Crush (1993). “What are little girls made of? Sugar and spice, and everything nice; That’s what little girls are made of.” Maybe, not so much. 

Sean was an extremely violent hockey player, so perhaps this is merely a case of karma by kids? Zion Forrest Lee plays Sean with an overly friendly stepdad vibe. It falls somewhere between sweet and super creepy. The appearance from Colin Mochrie, as Detective Morton, made me laugh out loud. It makes the last third of the film brilliant.

Genre fans, let me introduce Rosalee, Violet, Lily Gail, and Dahlia Reid. These sinister sisters are bonafide stars. Their genetically boosted chemistry is the stuff of movie magic. They are downright frightening, giving us four fearless performances. They scared me, and I’m a mom and former teacher! Sheer perfection. 

The camera work often hovers on the girls’ level. Panning closeups in slow motion add to the eerie feeling you get from this gruesome foursome. It’s a carefully thought-out choice. While the pacing drags a touch, overall, it’s a dark and wild ride. The climax boasts some of the most gagworthy FX. I even screamed out loud at the same time as Sean. The final scenes completely caught me off guard. Well played, Ankle Biters. Well played. 


ON DEMAND/DVD NOVEMBER 16


Director: Bennet De Brabandere

Cast: Zion Forrest Lee, Marianthi Evans, Lily Gail Reid, Violet Reid, Rosalee Reid, Dahlia Reid


 

Review: ‘That Cold Dead Look In Your Eyes’ is genre-destroying madness.

Synopsis

Leonard is about to lose his girlfriend, home, and job. Upon that, he’s having strange hallucinations. Is it stress or an after effect of new technology installed all over the city? He must figure it out or he’ll be trapped in this nightmare forever.


I got the email and all I saw was the director’s name. You had me at Onur Tukel, send me the film. If you aren’t familiar with the genre of weird and wonderful that Tukel has put forth into the world of cinema, you’re seriously missing out. From titles like Applesauce to Black Magic for White Boys, if you ever think you know where one of his scripts is headed, you’re sorely mistaken. Enter his newest creation, That Cold Dead Look In Your Eyes.

Leonard blew up his life by cheating on his girlfriend. She is kicking him out. In the meantime, her photographer father that she so clearly adores is visiting at an inopportune time, leaving Leonard to play an awkward host. Dennis is loathsome. He regards himself very highly and cares little for the opinion of others. He’s brash and his attitude seems to be contagious. Leonard is spiraling in every aspect of life. His cooking skills are garbage, he’s running out of money, what’s left of his personal space has been invaded. The entire film seems to be one bashing extravaganza of Leonard, or is it? There is a sadness that consumes him. Maybe it’s the strange new technology that begins appearing around the city. There’s a 5G joke in here, perhaps, and it isn’t subtle. 

Franck Raharinosy as Leonard is just as helpless as you need him to be. Put this man out of his misery in some form or fashion. That’s probably the oddest compliment I could give him. He plays such a convincing sad sack of a man, you feel bad for him. Alan Ceppos is magnificent in his ability to make you cringe. He just doesn’t give a f*ck, for lack of eloquence. This is a performance akin to watching a car crash. You want to look away but you cannot. You are transfixed by Ceppos’ nonchalance. He’s unreal.

The decision to use color for the past and black and white for the present threw me. It became a revelatory choice. Unsurprising for Tukel, whose films tend to center on relationships. You’ll always be taken aback by whatever comes out of his brain next. Tukel can make the mundane hilarious. In Cold Dead Look, we get everything from gaslighting to buffoonery, cruelty to madness, and depression with a side of hideous hallucinations. The film feels like one lengthy Twilight Zone episode in French. Do I have any inkling of what the hell happened once the credits rolled? No, I do not. But, That Cold Dead Look In Your Eyes is unlike anything you’ve seen before, while simultaneously, very obviously being an Onur Tukel film.


The newest film from acclaimed director Onur Tukel (Catfight, Summer of Blood), and featuring Nora Arnezeder (Army of the DeadUpcoming series “The Offer”) and Max Casella (“The Sopranos”, The Tender Bar), THAT COLD DEAD LOOK IN YOUR EYES will release On Demand 11/9.


Review: ‘The Last Matinee’ is a bloodsoaked love letter to genre fans

The Last Matinee

SYNOPSIS: The audience attending the last showing of a horror film in a small downtown cinema are terrorized by a murderer who begins to pick them off, one by one. The only person to notice that something strange is going on is the projectionist’s daughter.


I had to Google the film while watching to make sure it wasn’t a restoration. Every single aspect, from the costumes to the sets, to the audio editing screams a genuine 80s slasher. The Last Matinee is created as the perfect piece of genre nostalgia. Horror fans should keep their eyes peeled for Easter eggs and cinematic homages. The kills get progressively more gruesome. I’m particularly fond of #2. Undoubtedly Giallo inspired from the black gloves, the faceless killer, to the candy-red lighting and gore, The Last Matinee is a goddamn bloody treat. Don’t get too attached to anyone. No one is safe. The practical FX are so good, I almost lost my lunch. That rarely happens to me. I’ve watched so much horror that I’ve become a bit numb. This got me looking away wondering if I need to press pause just in case. The synopsis pretty much tells you everything you need to know, so do yourself a solid with this one. Turn off your brain and turn on your love of horror. Make some popcorn and settle in for the night. I hope you survive.


The Uruguay-Argentinian horror film THE LAST MATINEE is available TODAY on VOD, Digital, and DVD courtesy of Dark Star Pictures and Bloody Disgusting.


Directed by Maxi Contenti (Muñeco viviente VNeptunia) from a script by Manuel Facal (High Five, Fiesta Nibiru) and Contenti, the film stars Luciana Grasso (El Secreto de Julia), Ricardo Islas (El Que No Corre VuelaBailiwick), Julieta SpinelliFranco Duran and Pedro Duarte.


Review: ‘DEMENTIA PART II’ is gag-inducing awesomeness.

DEMENTIA II

SYNOPSIS: Wendell (Matt Mercer) receives a threatening phone call from his parole officer Reggie (Graham Skipper)… if he doesn’t find a job immediately, he will face serious legal repercussions.  Wendell wrangles some home maintenance work for a seemingly benign older woman, Suzanne (Suzanne Voss), who persists in giving him increasingly absurd tasks to complete around the house.  As the workday progresses, Wendell is thrown into an ever-escalating nightmare, and comes face to face with an unexpected evil.  Suzanne hides a dark secret.  And it’s up to Wendell and Suzanne’s daughter, Sheila (Najarra Townsend) to put an end to her madness.

Wendell is an ex-con whose parole officer enjoys berating him over the phone. When a new handyman job brings him to the door of Suzanne, a quirky woman with dementia, he’s in for more than unclogging her pipes. The set-up gets weirder and weirder. Secrets and lies live in this house, but not for long. Wendell’s path to freedom is dean on arrival. Do not get comfortable for a single minute of Dementia Part II.

Graham Skipper plays such an asshole. It’s incredible to watch. Najarra Townsend, who was phenomenal in The Stylist, plays a completely different role here as Suzanne’s “daughter” and a total badass. Matt Mercer holds his own in every scene with Voss. That’s saying A LOT. He is the audience. His reactions to his wacky predicament walk the line of humane and hustler. Suzanne Voss‘s ability to seamlessly switch beats, sometimes in the same is a thing to behold. From helpless to maniacal, enraptured to enraged, and everywhere in between is a masterclass in purposeful performance. Having watched a loved one deteriorate from dementia, it’s frightening and heartbreaking. At times it’s an out-of-body experience for all parties. Voss is fearless. I’m formally requesting a Part III with Voss.

Shout out to Matt Mercer and Mike Testin for normalizing a runtime of 1 hour and 5 minutes. Good storytelling doesn’t need to be overstuffed with unnecessary nonsense. The dark comedy of Dementia Part II mixed with the very serious underlying mental health issues makes this film ripe for midnight screenings. I can already hear the audience yelling out Wendell’s many alternative names, making lewd gestures with pipes, and throwing $100 bills at the screen. You cannot go wrong with its vomit-inducing practical fx and outstanding performances from the entire cast.

Dark Star Pictures and Bloody Disgusting will release the midnight horror film DEMENTIA PART II in theaters on May 21, 2021, and on VOD, Digital HD, and DVD on June 1, 2021.

Review: ‘Dirty God’ has power in performances and writing.

In Dirty God, a young mother from London must pick up the pieces in the aftermath of an acid attack that leaves her with disastrous scarring. Living in a looks-obsessed world, and without that as her currency, Jane must move on with her new life, personal difficulties, and the unfortunate occurrences of everyday humiliation.

Vicky Knight as Jade is a revelation. Her expression of physical and emotional pain in all its nuance makes Dirty God as successful as it is. She just wants a bit of normalcy. From the fear her own daughter displays, to the reaction of peers, to confronting her ex and attacker in court, to feel loved, the daily battle screams from the screen. One of the most impactful scenes comes when she purchases a burka. Hiding the majority of her body gives her the confidence to act with freedom. It’s an exhilarating scene to experience with her. The emotional scars are as relevant as the physical ones. Knight, who was burnt as a child in real life, can represent the undercounted number of women that have been attacked in this manner.

Jade attempts to connect with others online. Those scenes are incredibly profound in the grand scheme of her arch. The most difficult thing is watching people treat Jade in a subhuman manner. It’s positively atrocious. The entire conversation around the importance of appearance in society, ableist behavior, and kindness, in general, is one for the ages. Dirty God is inspired and important viewing where the human divide and vitriol are so wide and prevalent. It’s an awesome statement on bullying and an even bigger one for self-esteem.

OPENING IN SELECT THEATERS ON NOVEMBER 13

 Laemmle link: https://linktr.ee/dirtygodfilm

AVAILABLE ON DIGITAL PLATFORMS ON DECEMBER 15th

Dark Star Pictures will release DIRTY GOD with a virtual release through Laemmle Theaters in LA, Gateway Film Center (Virtual) in Columbus, and more theaters to be announced on November 13, 2020. The film will also be made available on digital platforms such as iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Fandango Now, Direct TV, and through local cable providers on December 15, 2020. The film has a running time of 104 minutes and will not be rated by the MPAA.

 

Review: ‘Koko-Di Koko-Da’ is a frightening grief allegory.

KOKO-DI KOKO-DA

Elin and Tobias are a happily married couple who regularly vacation with their young daughter. The family is on a dreamy holiday when an innocuous case of food poisoning derails their plans and forever alters the course of their lives.

Three years later, the once loving couple is on the road again to go camping, looking for one last chance to go back to the way things used to be. But what once was is lost, and our characters instead find themselves having to relive the same nightmarish events, as that day and the horrors it brings repeat themselves infinitely. Together, they must overcome their trauma, reconcile with their past and fight for their lives. Over, and over, and over again.

Easily one of the most out there films of 2020, Koko-Di Koko-Da is a twisted version of Groundhog Day meets The Babadook. Things aren’t going to fix themselves in any manner. Communication is everything. This is the weird parallel message of this film. I’m not sure what’s more disturbing, the fact that that these two are doomed to be slaughtered by crazies over and over or that their anger, resentment, and sadness have manifested into the death of their relationship literally and metaphorically. Koko-di Koko-da undoubtedly eludes to the cyclical nature of grief.

Performances from Leif Edlund and Ylva Gallon manage anchor this story in a harsh reality amidst the madness. They will have you yelling at the screen but also rooting for them to escape their endless nightmare. A white cat appears as a warning. I believe it represents their daughter from the beyond the grave screaming, “Fix this or this is the eternity you’ve chosen!” The bizarre but strikingly beautiful nature of the film does not end there. The shadow puppet scenes are morbid magic. The clues and visual storytelling are laid out to counter the terror perfectly. Without a doubt, Koko-di Koko-da is one of the most unique films of 2020.

KOKO-DI KOKO-DA

Director – Johannes Nyholm (THE GIANT)

Cast – Peter Belli, Leif Edlund, Ylva Gallon, Katarina Jackobson, Brandy Litmanen

 VIRTUAL THEATERS (November 6)-Including: Los Angeles and New York (Laemmle Theaters) and major cities including: Philadelphia (Film Society), Cleveland (Cinematheque), Columbus (Gateway Film Center) and Durham (Carolina Theater) and more to follow.
Link to buy tickets: https://linktr.ee/KokoDiKokoDa

VOD (US & Canada) (December 8): Including: Apple TV/ iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Xbox, Vudu, You Tube, Fandango Now, Dish Network and all major cable providers (Including: Comcast/Xfinity, Spectrum, Cox and Verizon Fios)

Official Selection: Sundance Film Festival, Rotterdam Film Festival, Seattle Film Festival, Karlovy Vary Film Festival, Fantasia Film Festival 2019 (WINNER! AQCC-Camera Lucida Prize), and Fantastic Fest 2019

Review: ‘Entwined’ is a dark and intoxicating fairy tale.

Panos, a city doctor, relocates to a remote Greek village to offer his services to the underserved community. It’s love at first sight when he sees Danae, who lives in isolation and with a mysterious skin condition. Determined to cure her, Panos will soon discover Danae is not the helpless princess he thought she was, and time is of the essence for both of them.

With a haunting score, Entwined is often the most effective when you have you don’t know what’s happening. Danae keeps you under her spell with her childlike innocence and otherworldly dialogue. Is she a princess held captive and pure from outside influence? She is positively enchanting. For Panos, that’s precisely the problem. In his attempt to be her hero, he falls victim to the mystery in the forest. Speaking of the woods, they are an entire character in Entwined. As is the ever-burning fire in Danae’s isolated cabin. But is he truly trapped?

Performances are lovely. Anastasia Rafaella Konidi’s work lies somewhere between an 11-year-old girl and a centuries-old seductress. Prometheus Aleifer is everything we need him to be. He is brave, soft, and swept away by the mystery of this young woman. Director Minos Nikolakakis uses a mix of mythology and horror folklore to capture the audience. The cinematography and sound editing add to both the menace and beauty. Bravo to the makeup team for creating such horrifically beautiful pieces that cover Anastasia Rafaella Konidi‘s body. The script’s cyclical nature will both frustrate and fascinate, most likely as intended. Entwined is aptly named. This will become more apparent as you watch. While I was able to predict a major plot point, I did not mind it. The ending was a complete surprise. You, too, will fall under the spell of this irresistible film.

ENTWINED 

OPENING IN VIRTUAL THEATERS FRIDAY, AUGUST 28 WITH A NORTH AMERICAN VOD RELEASE TO FOLLOW ON SEPTEMBER 8 ON ALL MAJOR PLATFORMS.

VIRTUAL THEATERS (August 28)-Including: Los Angeles (Laemmle), New York (Alamo On Demand), Philadelphia (Philadelphia Film Society) and major cities.

VOD (US & Canada) (September 8): Including: iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Xbox, Vudu,  Direct TV, Dish Network and all major cable providers.

*****Official Selection: Toronto International Film Festival and many more.******

DIRECTOR: Minos Nikolakakis

WRITTEN BY: Minos Nikolakakis, John De Holland

CAST: Prometheus Aleifer, Anastasia Rafaella Konidi and John De Holland 

Panos (Prometheus Aleifer), a city doctor, relocates his practice to a remote village and quickly falls for Danae (Anastasia Rafaella Konidi), who lives in isolation with a mysterious skin condition. Determined to find Danae a cure, Panos learns of her dark secret and that all is not what it seems.

RT: 89 minutes; Color; Language: Greek with English subtitles; Rating: Not Rated (Horror/ Fantasy)

Distributed in North America by: Dark Star Pictures

Review: ‘The Prey’ survives cliché.

Undercover Chinese cop Xin (newcomer Gu Shangwei), is on a secret international mission when a surprise raid puts him in a remote Cambodian jungle prison that plays by its own rules. Ruthless warden (Vithaya Pansringarm of ONLY GOD FORGIVES ) sells prisoners as human prey for rich hunters looking for thrills in the jungle. 

After years of hunting down ruthless criminals, Xin suddenly finds himself running for his life. If Xin manages to survive this sadistic game, he’ll walk out of the jungle the same way he came in: as a free man. If Xin fails, he’s just another hunting trophy.

The Prey starts off with a bang, literally. Frankly, the action does not let up from there. I was instantly cheering for our leading man. An audible, “Oh Hell, Yes!” could be heard from me less than 10 minutes in. We’ve all read The Most Dangerous Game, and there are innumerable film versions. The Prey takes a fresh look at the story. Filmed from inside a corrupt Cambodian prison to the surrounding jungle, you’ll find yourself really “feeling” Xin’s (Gu Shangwei) pain, both emotionally and physically. There’s particularly sick humor to the performance of the Warden (Vithaya Pansringarm) that is akin to Ready Or Not. Performances all around are undeniably stellar. One issue that seemed unnecessary was a subplot that dealt with mental illness. It didn’t make much sense to the overall storytelling and in the end, felt silly. On the upside, the action and violence are unrelenting. The fight choreography was wildly entertaining. You will not have time to get bored watching The Prey.  What else could action fans want? Not much.

THE PREY

OPENING IN VIRTUAL THEATERS FRIDAY, AUGUST 21 WITH A NORTH AMERICAN (US & CANADA) VOD RELEASE TO FOLLOW ON AUGUST 25 ON ALL MAJOR PLATFORMS.

VIRTUAL THEATERS (August 21)-Including: Los Angeles (Laemmle), New York (Alamo On Demand) and major cities.

VOD (August 25): Including: iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Xbox, Vudu,  Direct TV, Dish Network and all major cable providers.

 

*****Official Selection: Busan International Film Festival, Sitges Film Festival, BFI London Film Festival,  Fantasia Film Festival.*****

DIRECTOR: Jimmy Henderson (JAILBREAK)

WRITTEN BY: Jimmy Henderson, Michael Hodgson, Kai Miller

CAST: Byron Bishop, Sahajak Boonthanakit, Nophand Boonyai, Vithaya Pansringarm (ONLY GOD FORGIVES), Gu Shangwei

Loosely based on Richard Connell’s story of survival and adventure The Most Dangerous Game,  THE PREY comes from writer/director Jimmy Henderson and the team behind genre festival hit JAILBREAK.