Righty, I've been at Fantastic Fest this last week I saw the following movies:
Closer To God
Low budget horror based on Frankenstein about a scientist who creates the first ever cloned baby, about the world's reaction to that news and a dark secret from his past. The cinematography looks cheap (badly framed shots quite often) but it has a creepy "creature" which they wisely keep in the shadows for much of it. The story goes in pretty much exactly the direction you expect but there's one good "oh, bloody hell!" moment in it.
As Seen By The Rest
Imagine Rashomon as a Bollywood movie, except make it a million hours long and ensure by not showing the central "event" until the end that you don't give a shit about it. Ugh. Sapped my will.
Dead Snow 2: Red vs Dead
Black-comedy-horror sequel about Nazi zombies rising from the snow to kill scores of people in occasionally hilariously manners, and the only man who can stop them thanks to his grafted-on Nazi zombie arm which has a mind of its own. Very funny, especially if you add beer.
Jacky in the Kingdom of Women
Absurdist French satire set in a country where women are in charge and men are completely subservient to them and they treat horses as dieties. Very funny indeed.
Low-budget Spanish horror about a woman who is entrusted with a child by her upstairs neighbour in an otherwise almost empty tenement block, and there's something "off" about the kid. Really effectively scary using darkness and occasional jump-scares extremely well. From the writer of The Orphanage.
*** & 1/2
Over Your Dead Body (Kuime)
Takashi Miike's horror film about a play within a film, the plot of which begins to infect the lives of the actors in the play. Lots of very effective imagery and beautifully staged. Doesn't quite add up to a satisfying whole, though.
Free Fall (Szabadesés)
Bizarre almost-anthology about an old Hungarian lady who throws herself off the top of her apartment block and the lives of her neighbours. Extremely odd, occasionally funny, frequently weird.
Whispers Behind The Wall
German TV-movie about a student who moves into an apartment owned by an artist who he then forms an unhealthy relationship with and the mystery of what happened to the apartment's previous occupant. Very enjoyable although quite predictable in its last act.
Australian horror about a single mother who receives a book called the Babadook - a creature which lives in the shadows. Read no more and just watch it when you can.
**** & 1/2
In Order of Disappearance (Kraftidioten)
Norwegian black comedy about a snow plow driver (Stellan Skarsgård) who goes on a revenge killing spree after the death of his son and how it escalates wildly. Very good fun, balancing laughs and violence well. Reminiscent of "Fuck Up".
Bros Before Hos
Poor-taste comedy from the people who made New Kids Turbo and New Kids Nitro. Funny, although almost totally reliant on extreme bad taste for its laughs, and a female lead who exists just to serve the needs of the plot (and arguable, the men in the film). Hard to wholeheartedly recommend.
** & 1/2
Future Shock: The Story of 2000 AD
Does what it says on the tin, and if you're a fan of the comic book it's a really enjoyable talking-head documentary.
Another documentary about Richard Stanley's (Hardware) attempt to make The Island Of Dr. Moreau (1996) and how everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. A very funny look at how disfunctional Hollywood productions can be, especially if you have Marlon Brando and Val Kilmer on the set.
Blacky comic horror-mystery about a man accused of murdering his girlfriend who, one day, grows horns which compel everyone to tell him their innermost thoughts, and which gives him the power to make them abide by his will. The film which finally allowed me to see Daniel Radcliffe not as Harry Potter.
The Treatment (De Behandeling)
Super-grim detective thriller about a detective tracking down a paedophile. Extremely polished and played well here, but I can't help but feel that it felt like 99% of the dark and gritty UK procedurals like Waking The Dead, etc.
Tale of The Princess Kaguya
Ghibli's latest about a bamboo harvester who discovers a magical baby one day who he thinks it destined to grow into a princess. I don't mind admitting that it made me blub incredibly manly tears.
Darkness by Day (El día trajo la oscuridad)
Atmospheric Argentinian horror about a woman who has to take care of a relative in an isolated house in the countryside. Steeped with dread, I really dug this but I was very much in the minority, I believe.
Kinda like Inception done on the cheap. Except I don't think even the film-makers know what's reality in it and what isn't. Very poor.
Brutal horror (with moments of humour) about a scout troop which camps somewhere it really shouldn't have. It's a bit like The Hills Have Eyes meets High Tension and Home Alone, if that makes any sense.
Antonio Banderas is an insurance adjuster for a robotics company in the future. The human race is in decline due to atmospheric changes brought on by solar activity and the world is reliant on robots called Pilgrim 7000s to help prolong their existance. Thoughtful sci-fi which goes exactly where you think it will, but is enjoyable none-the-less despite languid pacing in some sections. The robot design is great and they're largely done via puppetry with only a bit of CG, which is cool.
Third in the found-footage horror anthology series. All you need to know is that it has two really great segments, one okay segment and an intriguing (if over-cooked) wraparound which then flubs the ending. The best segment is by Nacho Vigolondo (Timecrimes) and is a belter about a man who invents a machine to connect to an alternate dimension.
A comedy-horror (in that order) from New Zealand about an unlikable girl sentenced to house arrest with her mother and step-father for 8 months. Oh, and the house might be haunted. Some cheesy jump-scares, some brilliant ones and a lot of laughs.
Man From Reno
A Japanese detective novel author teams up with an aging Sheriff to solve a mystery in San Francisco. To say more would be to spoil it. Very slow burn, so don't go in expecting action.
Keanu Reeves is wronged by the son of a Russian crime family and then he kills them all. Mostly with guns.
A Californian goes to Italy to run away from the police and there he meets a girl. Then it gets weird. Funny, romantic and occasionally squishy, like most movies it's best to not know about the movie's details so you can enjoy the "WTF?!" moment when they play out on screen. I have no doubt that the trailers will end up spoiling this one in order to make sure it attracts the kind of genre audience which it would appeal to.
Local God (Dios Local)
Three band members go into a cave to record a video and while there discover a weird idol, then things get scary. Tonally and thematically it feels like Silent Hill, but it's way better than the Silent Hill movies with occasionally amazing visuals. Really unsettling.
A horror which is nightmarish in the truest sense of the word and feels like the establishment of an inexplicable new urban myth in the vein of Slenderman. Low budget but with a brilliant central idea which is exploited fully. Weirdly, the soundtrack was by the guy who did the Fez soundtrack and in some parts of the movie it really distractingly sounds like that, but it doesn't really detract from what is a brilliant little movie which would have totally been fucked up if a Hollywood studio had made it.
**** & 1/2
The Incident (El Incidente)
Two seperate groups are caught in infinite spacial loops for a very long time in a movie which cleverly makes you feel like the same thing is happening to you by being bloody interminable. There's a neat twist but it should have been an episode of the Twilight Zone and not a 100 minute movie. And it really doesn't know when to end. And the foley is terrible.
Let Us Prey
A mysterious stranger turns up at a small town police station which is inexplicably full of murderers and then a predictable series of events play out in a wholly average movie which wastes Liam Cunningham's talents.
** & 1/2
Goodnight Mommy (Ich seh, Ich seh)
A pair of twins think that their mother - who is recovering from plastic surgery on her face - might not really be their mother. A really rather unsettling horror with some squirm-inducing moments. Very good! Don't read much more about it as you might come across spoilers.
*** & 1/2
Jake Gyllenhall plays a sociopathic nightcrawler (an independant video papparazzi who captures footage of accidents and crime) and is just bloody brilliant. It's an amazing, disquieting, hilarious performance in a frequently tense film. The last movie of the festival and probably the best. Go see!