GRIMMFEST 2022 review: Ramiro Blas wins Best Actor for ‘THE PASSENGER’

THE PASSENGER

Notable framing and beautiful aerial shots get us settled into an eclectic mix of folks on a journey in Blasco’s vintage van he calls Nessa. Young Marta, her mother Lidia, and religious but progressive Mariela are not exactly enjoying the ride. Blasco is a brash misogynistic conspiracy theorist. After spotting something strange on the side of the road, an accident transforms the group quite literally. What stalks them is gruesome and otherworldly.

The camera work from Ignacio Aguilar gets exponentially cooler as the chaos ensues. Fantastic editing and sound design add to the gloriously gory SFX makeup. It must have been one of the most gag-worthy sets to work on. I almost lost my lunch during one closeup.

The Passenger’s cast blew me away. Each actor brings something unique to the film. Actress Cristina Akcázar launches an outrageous physical performance filled with violent movements and wild energy.

Paula Gallego plays Marta and brings everything we need from sass to “final girl” greatness. Her chemistry with Ramiro Blas takes you by surprise. It is one hell of a pairing. Speaking of Ramiro Blas, as Blasco, he manages to be slimy and loveable all at once. There’s a reason he won The Grimm Reaper award for Best Actor. You’ll love to hate him and hate and love him.

The Passenger brings the best tropes of creature feature films. The final shot is slow-clap-worthy goodness. GRIMMFEST 2022 audiences and beyond will lap this up while simultaneously gagging.


GRIMMFEST 2022 review: Here’s a warning, DO NOT eat while watching ‘FEED ME’

FEED ME

GRIMMFEST 2022 film FEED ME is perhaps the most fucked up buddy comedy of all time. Let me clarify. Somehow, after the death of his wife, falling into a deep depression, and enduring relentless night terrors, Jed finds himself agreeing to die at the hands of a cannibal named Lionel. Jed is trapped by enigmatic visions of his wife and by Lionel’s flippant whims. 

The production team deserves all the awards for their sets and costumes. If The Saw Franchise and Texas Chainsaw Massacre had a baby set, it would be that of Lionel’s house. It’s the filthiest, most bizarre thing. Looking in every direction makes you gag and/or want to book a tetanus shot. The attention to detail is chef’s kiss.

I cannot be the first person to say that Lionel is essentially a cannibalistic version of Ted Lasso. Not only does Neal Ward sound like him, but he could be related to Jason Sudeikis. His comic timing and wildly weird behavior make FEED ME as successful as it is. Whereas Christopher Mulvin, as Jed, plays the straight man, tortured physically and haunted psychologically. They balance each other. 

FEED ME is infinitely unpredictable and isn’t that what we want in a year where horror has been on everyone’s lips? This film is deranged. Writer-director Adam Leader and Richard Oakes leave the audience simultaneously gagging and begging for more. 

  • Year:
    2022
  • Runtime:
    96 minutes
  • Language:
    English
  • Country:
    United Kingdom
  • Premiere:
    UK Premiere
  • Rating:
    18
  • Director:
    Adam Leader, Richard Oakes
  • Screenwriter:
    Adam Leader, Richard Oakes
  • Cast:
    Christopher Mulvin, Neal Ward, Hannah Al Rashid, Samantha Loxley


GRIMMFEST 2022 capsule review: ‘MALIBU HORROR STORY’ – righting past wrongs with social relevance and revenge.

MALIBU HORROR STORY

In GRIMMFEST 2022 feature Malibu Horror Story, a young filmmaking team and series runners for a paranormal investigative show attempt to solve a seven-year-old mystery of four missing teens. A social commentary on colonialism, Malibu Horror Story is revenge horror goodness, chock full of intrigue, Native American culture, and spiritual portals.

With a little bit of The Blair Witch Project vibe, writer-director Scott Sloane takes on exploitation in a unique and relevant way. Performances are solid across the board. The first half of the film is tightly structured. While the second half is a touch predictable, it is still fun, filled with gore and revenge. If you’re a ghost hunter/paranormal/ true crime/ horror nerd like me, you will appreciate the legit editing. Special shout out to the incessantly creepy contortionist work. Bravo.


  • Year:
    2021
  • Runtime:
    85 minutes
  • Language:
    English
  • Country:
    United States
  • Premiere:
    International premiere
  • Rating:
    15
  • Director:
    Scott Slone
  • Screenwriter:
    Scott Slone
  • Producer:
    Dustin Harris, Scott Slone
  • Executive Producer:
    Henri M. Kessler, Brandon Edgley, Ricardo Emanuel Gonzalez
  • Cast:
    Tommy Cramer, Dylan Sprayberry, Jacob Hughes

GRIMMFEST 2022 review: ‘MOON GARDEN’ gave me goosebumps.

MOON GARDEN

One of the most extraordinary and exciting cinematic experiences of the year, GRIMMFEST audiences got a taste of the uniqueness of Moon Garden. A five-year-old girl’s trauma manifests as bizarre and visceral images as she sits in a coma. The audience hears the real-time action as the doctors and her parents navigate their tumultuous relationship. Guided by her parents’ voices, Emma attempts to escape her mysterious prison world, wading through creatures of good and evil. Moon Garden is an industrial steampunk fairy tale that is relentlessly haunting and undeniably riveting.

Moon Garden is character and world-building at its best. Fascinating and terrifying all at once, we are right alongside Emma in this frightening in-between existence. A bit of Return To Oz with a touch of Pan’s Labyrinth, the magic of Moon Garden grows with each passing second. The editing is stunning. In addition to the monstrous action, writer-director Ryan Stevens Harris incorporates memories, giving Emma the tools to survive in her strange surroundings. It’s a beguiling screenplay tackling love and fear.

Haven Lee Harris plays Emma with authentic fear and wonder. She is darling. As a mother of two children around her age, Moon Garden made my palms sweat. My pulse elevated, and I simply could not take my eyes off the screen. Harris is nothing short of captivating. I cannot wait to see what she does next. What a star!

Ryan Stevens Harris cleverly utilizes cinematic homage and fantasy to express childhood trauma. This gothic fairytale surprises at every turn. It is undoubtedly one of my favorite films of the year.

 

  • Year:
    2022
  • Runtime:
    95 minutes
  • Language:
    English
  • Country:
    United States
  • Premiere:
    International premiere
  • Rating:
    12A
  • Director:
    Ryan Stevens Harris
  • Screenwriter:
    Ryan Stevens Harris

GRIMMFEST 2022 review: Neil LaBute lets his thirsty dialogue lead the way in ‘House Of Darkness’

HOUSE OF DARKNESS

Hap meets Mina at a bar, offers her a ride home, and finds himself invited into her country estate for a nightcap. Along with some sexually loaded cat-and-mouse play, there’s more to this potential one-night stand, and it’s killer. If Bram Stoker wrote a #MeToo version of Dracula, you’d have something like Neil LaBute‘s House Of Darkness.

All the Easter eggs are there for literary fans. The costumes and production design scream at the audience. My suspicions were confirmed as soon as Mina introduced herself. Along comes Lucy. That was the final nail in the coffin for me, pun intended. Hap Jackson, if you reach, is the inverse initials for Jonathan Harper.

Kate Bosworth is powerful. Dressed in a long white lace dress, flowing blonde locks, and a choked to-boot, her elegance pours off the screen. A feminist owning her sexuality, Mina is never afraid to speak plainly. Bosworth is always controlling the scene. Gia Crovatin plays Lucy with a similarly straightforward presence. Each performance is a slightly nuanced take on the other but in the same family.

Justin Long hails supreme as Hap. The middle management everyman looking to get laid and fumbling in the presence of a beautiful woman is a universal story. Witnessing him struggle to keep up with Bosworth keeps the audience engaged, waiting for the other shoe to drop. Long’s effortless charm slowly wanes as the plot rolls along. As Hap gets more intoxicated, so to does his misogynistic inner thoughts. LaBute is famous for writing meaty female roles and exposing the darkness in men. Long devours this role at every turn. With a resume including films like Jeepers Creepers, Tusk, After Life, Barbarian, and Drag Me To Hell, there is a reason he’s constantly working. He’s a damn genre darling.

House of Darkness works for those who come to terms with that LaBute knows you know how this story ends. The fun comes in the complexity of his dark humor, his delicious dialogue, and Bosworth and Long playing a table tennis match in which he has no idea he’s losing. The audience is in on the joke, and that’s where the fun lives.


Showings – select to order tickets:
  • Year:
    2022
  • Runtime:
    88 minutes
  • Language:
    English
  • Country:
    United States
  • Premiere:
    International Premiere
  • Rating:
    15
  • Director:
    Neil LaBute
  • Screenwriter:
    Neil LaBute
  • Producer:
    Daryl Freimark, Tim Harms, Shaun Sanghani, Shelley D. Needham
  • Cast:
    Justin Long, Kate Bosworth, Gia Crovatin
  • Cinematographer:
    Daniel Katz
  • Editor:

    David Hyatt