30 September 2014

13 SINS [/Slash Filmfestival 2014]

13 SINS

German Title:
13 Sins - Spiel des Todes

USA, 2014
Director: Daniel Stamm

7/10








This was shown as Special Surprise Screening to the few peeps who supported the Festival through crowdfunding (like me), and fortunately, it was way, way better than last year's special surprise "Raze" (ugh).

"13 Sins" is a remake of the 2006 Thai flick "13: Game of Death" (which I haven't seen yet), written and directed by German filmmaker Daniel Stamm ("The Last Exorcism"), co-written by David Birke ("Gacy"). The movie follows Elliott,
a troubled salesman who get a mysterious call by a seemingly cheerful guy who invites him to participate in a game that promises large quantities of money for completing 13 tasks. What starts out harmless with eating a fly or scaring a child, soon gets more and more extreme, eventually driving Elliott into
a horrifying frenzy...


Contrary to my rather low expectations, "13 Sins" turned out to be a smart, superbly quick-paced and surprisingly extremely diverting psychological thriller in the vein of "Cheap Thrills", "The Game" and "Saw", that starts out with a whimper and ends up with a bang. Certain tasks are hilariously gross, like the one where he needs to bring a dead body to a café in a slightly "Weekend at Bernie's"-way, others are simply brutal, like the "Saw"-esque severed arm scene or the "Ghost Ship"-like decapitation massacre.

You noticed all the references to other films? Yup, "13 Sins" is far from being original which is definitely its biggest flaw, next to the too-over-the-top ending and the unnecessary epilogue. Aside from that, there's not much too complain. Stamm's direction is very solid, the cast is fun (Mark Webber, Ron Perlman, Devon Graye), the plot twists and turns are all fun, and I love the annoyingly effective use of the "Entry of the Gladiatiors" ringtone, as well as the short
text tone that rings out whenever money gets transferred to Elliott's
bank account. Splendid!

29 September 2014

THE TORTURE CLUB [/Slash Filmfestival 2014]

THE TORTURE CLUB

Original Title:
Chotto kawaii aian meiden

Japan, 2014
Director: Kôta Yoshida

3/10








A Japanese softporn semi-comedy about a sado-maso club at a prestigious private school where hot schoolgirls torturing themselves with all kinds of s&m gear, super-sharp objects, hot wax, insects and what not - sounds fun, right? Sadly, the newest feature of softcore director Kôta Yoshida ("Yuriko's Aroma") is a tame and way-too-slow borefest, hardly hot and much too predictable.

Yes, it's nice to look at Japanese schoolgirls with super-naked bodies, but it obviously doesn't help when that's the only 'good' thing about this film. It's all too dull, too unexciting and eventually too tedious to get any kind of excitement out of it, or like my blog buddy Lena mentioned: "They shoud have shown a real porn flick instead of this." :)


The 'forbidden lesbian love' between the club leader and the new girl is in some kinda way pretty sweet, but it's also hardly believable and at times unintentionally hilarious. The acting is meh, the dialogue is stilted, and the comic strawberries that pop up when we get to see too much vagina... OH REALLY??
It's not a torture sitting through "The Torture Club", but if you expect sensual erotica or sexy porn action, this is definitely NOT your movie.

KILLERS [/Slash Filmfestival 2014]

KILLERS

Indonesia / Japan, 2014
Directors: Timo Tjahjanto & Kimo Stamboel

6/10











Indonesian filmmaker Timo Tjahjanto, best known for his insanely amazing segments in "V/H/S 2" ("Safe Haven") and "The ABCs of Death" ("L is for Libido"), teamed up again with his filmmaking partner Kimo Stamboel ("Macabre") to create the unoriginally titled "Killers", an epic story of two gruesome killers who connect over the internet and start to compete against each other.

The unpleasant opening made me think that this goes into a disturbing torture/violence-direction. To my surprise, "Killers" ends up being more of a stylish and highly ambitious psycho-thriller full of unexpected drama AND awesome comedic elements (the trunk scene is simply hilarious). Yet, just like other Indonesian films ("The Raid 2" or "Macabre"), it was simply too long and too tedious for my taste, because for every breathtakingly action-packed and/or suspenseful scene, I had to 'suffer' through a dull and/or way-too-slow scene that annoyed me quite a bit.


Nevertheless, it's a solid flick with great acting by Kazuki Kitamura ("Yakuza: Like a Dragon"), Oka Antara and "The Raid"-star Ray Sahetapy. Gore and make-up effects look stunning, nearly all of the very well chosen settings and locations look terrific, and Gunnar Nimpuno's cinematography is absolutely magnificent. Don't get fooled by, and forgive me my rather mediocre rating. If you're a fan of Indonesian cinema, this is definitely a must-see! I'm sure you all like it more than me
(just like "The Raid 2"...).

Wiki ~ Imdb

THE MIDNIGHT AFTER [/Slash Filmfestival 2014]

THE MIDNIGHT AFTER

Original Title:
Na yeh ling san, ngo joa seung liu
Wong Gok hoi wong dai bou dik hung Van

Hong Kong / China, 2014
Director: Fruit Chan

5/10








Fruit Chan, the man behind the 2004 masterpiece "Dumplings" and the 2009 turd "Don't Look Up", is back with "The Midnight After", a promising but ultimately disappointing semi-post-apocalpytic horror-comedy, based on the web novel "Lost on a Red Minibus to Taipo" by a writer called Mr. Pizza(!), following the passengers of a minibus who suddenly find themselves in a desolate version of Hong Kong. They seek refuge in a restaurant, trying to find out what happened: a virus outbreak? a nuclear disaster? or did they end up in a parallel dimension?

The Langoliers-meets-The-Quiet-Earth premise is fantastic and due to a wonderfully entertaining first half, a bunch of hilariously amusing characters (troublesome junkie, annoying esoteric insurance broker, badass bus driver...) and Chan's top-notch rather over-the-top and direction, I had a terrific time seeing eerie gas-mask-wearing people popping up, teenagers explode or turn to stone,
or that one weird nerd doing some kinda live-action music video of David Bowie's "Space Oddity".


Unfortunately, in the second half, the whole thing gets completely downhill. Even though it all seem to build up to a great finale with a satisfying denouement, "The Midnight After" actually goes nowhere. None of the questions get answered, none of the mysteries get solved, nothing gets explained. More and more weird and freaky incidents happen, but none of them make any sense. Parts of "Space Oddity" getting played over and over for no apparent reason. The fact that the second half's pacing is completely all over the place doesn't help either. Several scenes like the red rain or the rapist-punishment are interesting and very well developed, but... at this point, I simply couldn't get back into enjoyment-mode and ended up frustrated and dissatisfied. A mess that could/should have been so much better. Bummer.
  

ALLELUIA [/Slash Filmfestival 2014]

ALLELUIA

Belgium / France, 2014
Director: Fabrice Du Welz

7/10











6 years after his last film "Vinyan", Belgian one-of-a-kind director
Fabrice Du Welz, best known for the disturbing "Calvaire", is finally back with another rather stand-out film that differs so strongly from his previous films, it was quite a gobsmacking experience, even though I didn't like it as much as his previous efforts.

Based on the case of the American serial killer couple "The Lonely Hearts Killers (1947-1949), Du Welz and screenwriters Vincent Tavier ("Man Bites Dog") & Romain Protat ("Calvaire") created an artsy thriller-drama somewhere between "Hail" and "Natural Born Killers", following jealousy-driven single mother Gloria who falls in love with gigolo, an unholy fusion that unleashes
a force of envy, hatred and murder.


Shot in gritty, grainy 16mm, "Alleluia" looks quite like nothing I've seen before, thanks to Du Welz' affinity for unsettling close-ups and super-striking images that will burn into your retina forever (especially the fascinating bonfire dance), as well as to the amazing camera work by Manuel Dacosse ("The Strange Colour of your Body's Tears", "Amer").

Laurent Lucas ("In My Skin") delivers one of his most intense performances ever, it's a pleasure seeing Lola Dueñas ("Volver") going bathsit insane, singing and sawing off a victim's foot at the same time, and Hélena Noguerra... holy hell, this woman is hot.
Unfortunately, the pacing is often really weird, which results into many dull and annoyingly tedious moments. Other than that, it's great to have this Belgian filmmaking genius back. Hope to see more from him soon!

26 September 2014

BURYING THE EX [/Slash Filmfestival 2014]

BURYING THE EX

USA, 2014
Director: Joe Dante

8/10












What? Another rom-zom-com? Do we really need any more romantic zomedies? Yes, we do, at least this one because it was made by Sante Dante, and because it's funny as hell. This year's second /Slash surprise film was "Burying The Ex", Joe Dante's first feature film since 2009 ("The Hole"), a refreshingly old-fashioned low-budget comedy, based on a script and a short film of the same name by Alan Trezza, following a die-hard horror fan whose girlfriend gets killed in a freak accident, but comes back from the dead because true love lasts beyond death...

If you expect this to be innovative or ground-breaking, go away. Dante didn't wanna change the world or revolutionize the zombie genre, he just wanted to make a movie that gives the viewer a fun and entertaining time - and in my case, he fully succeeded. My expectations were low because Dante's output of the last 15 years was rather mediocre, but "Burying The Ex" is definitely a wonderful return to his former glory.


It's a lovely and highly diverting film, a bit in the vein of "A Little Bit Zombie". Surprisingly rather quick-paced, full of nods and references to, as well as clips from the horror cinema of the 40s, 50s & 60s ("The Gore Gore Girls", "Night of the Living Dead", "I Walked with a Zombie"...), and so packed with ridiculous one-liners and silly puns, I giggled like a schoolgirl ("You're dead to me." / "There's a freaking Tim Burton movie in your living room!" / a Christian rock band called
"The Christian Slaters"...)
.

The chemistry between the four main characters is terrific and they all deliver very fine performances: Anton Yelchin as micro-scooter-driving horror addict, Oliver Cooper as his uber-hilarious half-bro, Ashley Greene as his undead ex-gf and hottie Alexandra Daddario as owner of a horror-themed ice cream parlour. The zombie make-up looks cool, the practical effects are all superb, and hey: even at the age of 86(!), Dante-regular Dick Miller is still alive and kicking, delivering a superb performance as grumpy cop.

Aside from the movie's slight made-for-TV look and a few bad-looking CGI effects, there's nothing to complain about. "Burying the Ex" is Sante Dante at his best. Ex-cellent! ;)

OCULUS [/Slash Filmfestival 2014]

OCULUS

USA, 2013
Director: Mike Flanagan

6/10











"Oculus" is the long-awaited but ultimately rather disappointing follow-up to the insanely sccary "Absentia", based on director Mike Flanagan's very own 2006 short film "Oculus: The Man with the Plan". It's not a bad movie, well-developed and very Stephen-King-esque ("The Reaper's Image" anyone?), but compared to the incredible scariness of "Absentia", it's rather lackluster and doesn't exactly deliver. Eventually, it just gets in line with other mediocre
mirror-themed horror films like "Mirror Mirror (1990)", "Amityville: A New Generation (1993)" or "Mirrors (2008)".

The basic story (woman tries to destroy an evil and almost invincible mirror that killed her parents) and the concept of telling two stories set in two time periods at the same time, those things worked me for very, very well. Flanagan's direction feels tight and the screenplay, co-written by Jeff Howard, is pretty neat. There's a decent amount of tension and eerieness, at least in the first half of the film, a top-notch cast (Karen Gillan, Katee Sackhoff, Brenton Thwaites) 
and some really fantastic editing.


Unfortunately, the second half tries too hard to combine both stories, instead of focusing on some serious scares and appropriate, intriguing pacing, ultimately resulting in annoying boredom, many dull and boring scenes, and a highly predictable, immensely disappointing ending. Also, the bass-laden music by The Newton Brothers ("Wasting Away") is way too repetitive, and the movie's entire look is too polished, too uninspired for my taste. Hope Flanagan's upcoming "Somnia" will be a whole lot better than this!

25 September 2014

THE BABADOOK [/Slash Filmfestival 2014]

THE BABADOOK

Australia, 2014
Director: Jennifer Kent

9/10











The very first time I heard about a movie called "The Babadook", I was really, really intrigued. There's something dark, something abysmal about this word... a word that sounds funny and scary at the same time. Of course, "The Babadook" isn't just a word, it's the name of an uncanny monster with a hat and long fingers with sharp fingernails (Freddy's cousin?), the eponymous 'hero' of a children's book that turns the life of a single mother and her son into a freaking nightmare, seemingly without escape...

Australian actress Jennifer Kent took her directorial debut short film "Monster" and blew it up to a frightening monster of a movie, full of chilling thrills and shocking scares, centered around a mysterious creature you can't get rid of, because (just like in that ol' Morrissey song) 'the more you ignore him, the closer it gets'. It doesn't help much that the two main characters live in the darkest, scariest and most miserable-looking house I've seen in quite some time.


Accompanied by a strong score (Jed Kurzel, "The Snowtown Murders") and the intimidating camera work by Polish cinematographer Radoslaw Ladczuk ("You Are God"), Kent leads her actors into a frightening downward spiral that gets grimmer and grimmer with every single second. What starts out a social drama about loneliness and the burden of motherhood, soon descends into an oppressive phantasmagoria of nightmarish drawings and unsettling shadows, deafeningly loud noises and inexplicable incidents.

Essie Davis is simply fantastic as desperate mother who slowly transforms into a completely helpless wreck. Similarly impresive: young actor Noah Wiseman as frightened, but also surprisingly courageous boy who tries his best to deal with the horrors of the Babadook and the madness of her mother. Also very worth mentioning: the "Babadook" book which looks so unbelievably awesome... [Insert "Shut up and take my Money" meme-pic here]. Babadook-tacular!

THE CANAL [/Slash Filmfestival 2014]

THE CANAL

Ireland, 2014
Director: Ivan Kavanagh

7/10












Regarding "The Canal", the newest feature of Irish director / writer Ivan Kavanagh, there were seemingly only two kinds of people among the /Slash crowd: the ones who enjoyed it and the ones who hated it. I was one of the people who enjoyed it, even though I can perfectly understand everyone who thought it was terrible.

The story of a film archivist who slowly loses his mind after his wife got thrown into a nearby canal, is not without its flaws. In fact, it's flawed as hell. There's too much weird and unexplained shit going on, too many open and unanswered questions, too many things and incidents that just don't make sense - and the ending is (in some kinda way) so fucking bonkers, it's ridiculous.


Nevertheless, due to Kavanagh's strong direction, an amazing amount of brooding suspense and breathtaking tension, as well as a fantastic overload of stylish and strikingly haunting images of canal landscapes, shadowy figures in the dark, underground tunnels and the most frightening public toilet since "Candyman", all the flaws didn't matter much because it's all so gripping and scary, kinda like similarly weird movies á la "Babycall" or "Magic Magic".

The acting is terrific, especially Rupert Evans as husband at the brink of insanity, the strangely gorgeous Antonia Campbell-Hughes as his compassionate working partner and the super-cute Calum Heath as his son. Highly recommended if you enjoyed the above-mentioned films, as well as other Irish creepfests like "Citadel" or "Wake Wood".

STARRY EYES [/Slash Filmfestival 2014]

STARRY EYES

USA, 2014
Directors: Dennis Widmyer & Kevin Kolsch

4/10











"Starry Eyes", the second full-length feature of Dennis Widmyer and Kevin Kolsch, has basically all the key ingredients for a good horror movie: a great plot (young and unexperienced actress sells her soul to a mysterious film producer which transforms her into a murderous creature), an excellent cast (Alex Essoe, Pat Healy, Noah Segan, and a super-scary Maria Olsen), an absolutely incredible electro-score by Jonathan Snipes ("Room 237") and shitloads of super-striking, super-eerie images.

Unfortunately, halfway into the movie, the directors / writers decided to ignore the fabulous buildup with all its weird mysteries and uncanny characters, and turned the haunting anti-Tinseltown-scarefest into a dull and rather idiotic piece of stupidity, packed to the brim with laughable satanism elements, unnecessarily brutal kills, boredom, vomit and an ending that is so lame and predictable,
it's just sad.


All the beautiful blood, the frightening look of Alex Essoe, or "Big Taters", the hilarious restaurant of Healy's cheesy character... it's all wasted on a movie that tries way too hard to be original and different from other films. Like my blog buddy Lena said, it could have been so awesome if made in a "Cheap Thrills"-kinda way, but with all the shit about [SPOILERS!] satanic cults and rebirth... nah, that didn't work for me at all.

24 September 2014

GOODNIGHT MOMMY (Ich seh, ich seh) [/Slash Filmfestival 2014]

GOODNIGHT MOMMY

Original Title:
Ich seh, ich seh

Austria, 2014
Directors: Severin Fiala & Veronika Franz

10/10








This was the first of three /Slash surprise films this year, and...
holy mother's day, it blew me away as much as the 2011 surprise film: "Ich seh, ich seh" (= I see, I see - German name of the ever-popular guessing game "I spy with my little eye"), internationally titled as "Goodnight Mommy" (which somehow fits a little bit better IMO), the second full-length feature of Severin Fiala ("Kern") and Veronika Franz, better known as wife and filmmaking collaborator of Austrian director Ulrich Seidl ("Dog Days").

"Goodnight Mommy" is one of the most shocking films I've seen in recent years, a disturbing and highly unsettling horror drama taking place in a solitary house somewhere in the most lonesome corners of Lower Austria where two 9-year-old twin boys have to deal with a person that pretends to be her mother (who just had a cosmetic surgery), but seems to be someone completely different, someone mean and evil, always hidden behind a grotesque-looking mask of bandages.


As if Michael Haneke and Ulrich Seidl made a rural reimagining of "Martyrs", mixed with elements of "Home Alone", M. Night Shyamalan's early works, the gripping arthouse cinema of Jonathan Glazer and the uninhibited realism
of 90s / early 00s Claude Chabrol, as well as small amounts of mystery sci-fi, backwoods horror and post-apocalyptic terror, centered around themes like motherly love, fear of the unknown, identity loss and lunacy.

It's an absolutely outstanding movie, from the mysterious and inscrutable opening, to the eerie and intimidating semi-transformation of the mother, to the unexpected counterpunch of the kids which is rather entertaining in the beginning, but gets more and more shocking, more and more frightening with every single minute, right until the breathtaking and brutally depressing ending which throws a plot twist into our faces, that may be well-trodden, but has never been more gobsmacking, more agitating than here.


Franz and Fiala's direction is so clever, intense and powerful, I was a complete wreck when the credits rolled, soaked with sweat and out of breath. Along with the astonishing cinematography of Martin Gschlacht (responsible for the camera work in "Forever Never Anywhere" and "The Wall", two of the best Austrian movies of the last 10 years), the marvellous editing of Michael Palm ("Silent Resident") and the staggering music of Olga Neuwirth ("Kill Daddy Good Night"), the two directors created a sinister cinematic puzzle, shuffling around the marvellous performances of, and the impressive chemistry between child actors Elias & Lukas Schwarz and the wonderful Susanne Wuest ("Antares"), unorthodox, inexorable and merciless. Simply a masterpiece. I'm still shocked!

R100 [/Slash Filmfestival 2014]

R100

Japan, 2013
Director: Hitoshi Matsumoto

6,5/10











Not as fucked up and entertaining as I expected but still fun enough to give fans of crazy Japanese shit a silly good time. "R100", the fourth feature of Hitoshi Matsumoto, master of baloney comedies like "Big Man Japan" or "Scabbard Samurai", delves into the ordinary life of an office worker that gets turned upside down completely after he joins a mysterious sado-maso club called "Bondage" (membership: one year, no cancellation). From now on, he gets followed (and tortured) by dominas and dominatrixes everywhere he goes...

"R100" starts out very, very slow, at times tedious and even boring. Aside from several occassional moments of insanity (one leather girl squishes his food in a Sushi restaurant, another one tries to drown him in a fountain), the movie plods along at snail's pace and doesn't seem to know where to head, where to go.


Then in the second half, the whole thing suddenly speeds up and gets wilder, weirder and wackier with every single minute. Super-bizarre s&m-attacks by the "Queen of Saliva" and other almost surreal-looking dominatrixes, meta-sequences of film-producers and age-old directors talking about earthquakes and absurd plot twists, the arrival of the kick-ass CEO (played by the gorgeous and immensely tall Lindsay Kay Hayward), a climax that is crammed with excellent over-the-top action and the most hilarious use of Beethoven's "Ode To Joy" in movie history.

Overall: too long, too flawed, but still a must-see for fans of everything Japan.

AFFLICTED [/Slash Filmfestival 2013]

AFFLICTED

Working Title:
Ends of the Earth

Canada / USA, 2013
Directors: Derek Lee & Clif Prowse

6/10








A cool story and a great concept, both botched by a few ridiculous and inexplicable filmmaker decisions. That's the best way to describe "Afflicted", the debut feature of Derek Lee & Clif Prowse, a mockumentary-like found footage flick about two friends on a trip of a lifetime, travelling all around the world. In Europe, one of them gets bitten by a mysterious woman who infects him with a virus that quickly turns him into a bloodhungry creature with superhuman powers.

"Afflicted" starts out really excellent and extremely energetic, thanks to the two highly sympathetic main characters (played by the directors themselves), stunning camera work, super-quick pacing, splendid editing and some bafflingly outstanding effects that made me go "What the fuck? How did they do that?" more than once. It's also packed with lots of shocking jump scares, disgustingly awesome scenes of violence and gruesomeness, and many ace moments that reminded me
a lot of "Chronicle".


Unfortunately, one of the two main characters gets killed in the second half, and from this moment on, the movie goes completely downhill. Various characters doing many bizarre and really dumb things, there's gaping plot holes, frustrating and/or pointless scenes and sequences of utter stupidity, as well as many silly and implausible plot points that just made no sense. The ending is okay, but far from being satisfactory. Bummer, this could have so much better. "Afflicted" left me afflicted with chagrin.

23 September 2014

HONEYMOON [/Slash Filmfestival 2014]

HONEYMOON

USA, 2014
Director: Leigh Janiak

3/10











I have a hard time understanding why this got so much praise from critics all over the world. "Honeymoon", the feature debut of Leigh Janiak, is the umpteenth variation of classic sci-fi tropes like 'pod people', 'doppelganger' or 'replicant snatching' à la "Invasion of the Body Snatchers", "The Broken", or "The Stepford Wives", mixed with some generic 80s/90s alien abduction stuff, about a newly-wed couple's honeymoon that becomes a nightmare after the wife runs off into the forests and returns slightly altered...

Aside from being set in a really secluded location and focusing more on questions like "What makes a person a person / a human a human / your partner your partner?" and "Can we ever really know someone?", 
"Honeymoon" adds absolutely nothing to the bodysnatcher / alien abduction sub-genre, ending up as bland, unoriginal and predictable borefest that wasn't able to thrill or scare me at all.


The movie could have worked a whole lot better without any explanation, leaving it open to the viewer if there's some otherworldly beings are involved in it or not - but from that one scene [SPOILER!] where we get to see mysterious lights 'scanning' the wife in the beginning, I knew exactly where this was going to, and unsurprisingly, it did turn out exactly the way I imagined it.

The chemistry between Rose Leslie and Harry Treadaway is powerful and believable, Heather McIntosh's ("Compliance") score is eerie as hell, and several scenes were pretty cool, like the bedroom body-horror shock (that reminded me a lot of Richard Powell's "Familiar") or the [SPOILER!] somehow "Funny Games"-like ending (or should is say Honey Games? ;-))),
but all in all, I wasn't able to enjoy "Honeymoon" at all. I suggest to watch John Portanova's slightly similar "The Device" instead, not a great movie either, but definitely better than this.

WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS [/Slash Filmfestival 2014]

WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS

German Title:
5 Zimmer, Küche, Sarg

New Zealand, 2014
Directors: Jemaine Clement & Taika Waititi

9/10








This year, you just can't go wrong with New Zealand. Next to the amazing "Housebound" (Review here), this is this year's other horror-comedy higlight from the land of the Kiwi: "What We Do In The Shadows", the very first directorial full feature collaboration between Oscar-nominated director / writer / actor Taika Waititi ("Two Cars, One Night") and actor / writer / composer Jemaine Clement ("Flight of the Conchords").

"What We Do In The Shadows" is a mockumentary about 4 vampires living together in a flat in Wellington. They're all several centuries old, they all lived the bloodsucker-life to its fullest - and they all have problems with life in the 21st century. How to dress properly when you can't see your own reflection in the mirror, how to get into popular nightclubs when you always have to be invited to get in, how to deal with the mess you made when you hit the victim's main artery, how to get in contact with other vampires via internet, how to deal with Wellington werewolves, how to deal with Twilight jokes etc. etc.


It's a simple concept that could have been easily ruined, but Clement and Waititi managed to turn it into an extraordinary piece of awesomeness, delivering a comedy full of brilliant humor, hilarious gags and genius jokes, as well as lots of heart and soul. Yes, those 4 vampires are all rather silly, slightly clumsy and a bit outdated, but instead of just making fun of them, the directors gladly focused on their 'humaneness' too, showing that even though they're cold and undead, they still have feelings and emotions, often feeling alone, mourning after long lost friends, still feeling afraid of vampire hunters or the sunlight.

The entire cast is pitch-perfect: Waititi as nitpicky German dandy-vampire Viago, Clement as age-old badass bloodsucker Vladislav, Jonathan Brugh as cool and slightly rebellious throat-biter Deacon, and Ben Fransham as Nosferatu-like creature living in the basement. In addition, there's wonderful perormances by Stuart Rutherford as virginal computer programmer and Jackie van Beek as Deacon's servant. Editing and camera work are excellent, music is splendid, direction is amazing. Fangtastic fun!

22 September 2014

KNIGHTS OF BADASSDOM [/Slash Filmfestival 2014]

KNIGHTS OF BADASSDOM

USA, 2013
Director: Joe Lynch

5/10











As a non-fan of all things medieval and LARPing, I already knew that I wouldn't like this movie. What surprised me was the fact that all of my /Slash friends (Cornholio, Kalafudra, Flo, Jue & Bee Zebra) and many other /Slashers thought the same of it: "Knights of Badassdom" is a highly flawed, very mediocre and easily forgettable fantasy-comedy about a group of LARPers at a dungeons-and-dragons-like event who accidentally invoke an age-old bloodthirsty Succubus.

What starts out as entertaining and pretty promising funfest, eventually ends up as horridly convoluted mess, thanks to one-hit-wonder Joe Lynch's ("Wrong Turn 2") so-so direction and the really stupid screenplay which suffered from thousands of re-writes and about three(!) years of post-production. Actually, "Knights of Badassdom" could have been so much better as mere action-comedy without any of the horror elements. The whole Succubus-thing totally doesn't fit in, the CGI kills all feel rushed and look frustrating, and the Succubus' final form is so ridiculous, it makes Rawhead Rex look like a Michelangelo piece of art. Also, there's hardly any tension, the pacing is way too weird, and it's packed with lots of supposed-to-be-hilarious scenes that just don't work at all.


The acting is cool, especially the performances by Ryan Kwanten as blonde doom-metal-head, Peter Dinklage (SPOILER: who gets killed off way too early), the adorably cute Summer Glau and Jimmi Simpson as silly game master. Scenes like the final battle with the fake-dragon or the repair-shop music-video are brilliant, and lines like "There's a fungus among us." as well as Steve Zahn's yodelling made me chuckle. Yet, overall, I can't recommend it. I promise, you'll have so much more fun if you watch "Role Models" or "The Pick of Destiny" instead, both way better than "Knights of Lameassdom".

HOUSEBOUND [/Slash Filmfestival 2014]

HOUSEBOUND

New Zealand, 2014
Director: Gerard Johnstone

9/10











In terms of making quality horror / horror-related films, New Zealand has always been a very reliable country, be it funny gorefests like "Braindead" or "Bad Taste", chillers like "The Ugly" or "Strange Behavior", or amusing trash like "Black Sheep" or "Death Warmed Up". After a few rather calm years, Kiwi country is back with a bang, delivering two high-class horror comedies: "What We Do In The Shadows" (review tomorrow) and this one, "Housebound".

Somewhere between "The Pact", "100 Feet" and "The Changeling", young filmmaker Gerard Johnstone tells the story of wild child Kylie who got caught trying to rob a bank and gets sentenced to nine months of house arrest at her parent's place. Kylie hates her parents, especially her mother, a nonstop chatterbox who believes the house is haunted. What Kylie doesn't know: there IS in fact something eerie in the house, something that soon turns her house arrest into a freaky nightmare...


Where the slightly similar "Suburban Gothic" fails, "Housebound" fully succeeds in making you laugh like crazy AND scare the shit out of you at the same time, thanks to one of the creepiest houses I've seen this year (only the one in "The Babadook" is creepier), incredible cinematography by Simon Riera ("Rotting Hill"), nerve-wracking suspense, steady pacing and a super-stunning cast, consisting of the smoking hot Morgana O'Reilly (Maynard's once again in love...), the hilariously amusing Rima Te Wiata, the even more hilarious Glen-Paul Waru and the eerie Cameron Rhodes who reminded me a bit of 90s Robert Englund.

The story may be not that original, but they way it's told and developed... brilliant, just brilliant. Johnstone's script is full of fun, scares and clever ideas, all leading to a climax that is simply genius. In addition, we get to see some badass gore, ridiculously awesome household-weapons (cheese graters, laundry basket), one of movie history's scariest teddy bears (the teddy-shower-attack is frightening as hell) and... damn, the famous "Hello Moto" ringtone has never been as uncanny as it was used here. A potential cult classic, house-tastic!

SUBURBAN GOTHIC [/Slash Filmfestival 2014]

SUBURBAN GOTHIC

USA, 2014
Director: Richard Bates Jr.

5/10








 


After the outstanding "Excision" (Review here), one of the most remarkable debut features in recent years, I was immensely excited for "Suburban Gothic", the second feature by seemingly uber-talented director and writer Richard Bates Jr. Unfortunately, it's one of this year's absolute biggest disappointments, a hardly entertaining horror-comedy about a job-seeking college-graduate who is forced to move back to his parents' house which is which is haunted by restless ghosts.

There are lots of funny and amusing moments, thanks to fab performances by Matthew Gray Gubler, Jack Plotnick or the great Ray Wise who constantly deliver lots of terrific one-liners, but there are also shitloads of horrendously dull and boring scenes, due to Bates Jr.'s surprising inability to create any form of tension or scariness.


The story is so unoriginal, predictable and lackluster, it's shocking [or like Imdb-user 'your crowbar' mentioned: "(...) I couldn't believe it came from the same man who wrote "Excision"]. The whole thing would have worked way better without any horror-elements as straight satire on the 'burbs and the American Way of Life. Also, the usage of really cheap-looking CGI is distracting and took me out of the movie many, many times. If you don't have the budget to create believable CGI, then just don't use CGI for fuck's sake.

As I mentioned, the acting is great, though there are too many cameos that are completely wasted. It's great to see so many legends (John Waters, Jeffrey Combs, Muse Watson - ignoring the utterly pointless Soska Sisters cameo), but I wanted to see more of them instead of getting bored by generic shots of black computer-generated fog or unfunny levitating computer-generated children's heads. Fingers crossed Bates Jr.'s next film will be a whole lot better than this...

19 September 2014

IM KELLER (In The Basement) [/Slash Filmfestival 2014]

IM KELLER

International Title:
In the Basement

Austria, 2014
Director: Ulrich Seidl

9/10








Thanks to the horrible crimes of Josef Fritzl or Wolfgang Přiklopil, 
Austria unintentionally built up a questionable reputation as 'Land of the Horror Cellars' over the last years - which is obviously bullshit. Austria is a gorgeous country full of cool and extraordinarily friendly people (excluding certain obnoxious right-wing politicians) and as far as I know, most of them don't keep children hidden underground ;-) Still, there seems to be something special about Austrians and their relations to their cellars and basements. Why do they spend so much time down there? What exactly are they doing there? What is so fascinating about these dark places below ground level?


Ulrich Seidl, one of Austria's greatest and most important contemporary filmmakers gets to the bottom of things, following a couple of Austrian men and women into their subterranean comfort zones, showing us what they're doing
or keeping down there.
After feature films like "Import/Export" or the remarkable "Paradise Trilogy"
(Love / Faith / Hope)
, Seidl goes back to his documentary roots, delivering a stunning collage of joy, shock and sadness, about as dazing as his magnum opus "Dog Days" or the still slightly underrated "Models".


We get to see sadists and masochists enjoying their sexuality to its fullest, proud collectors of hunting trophys or Third Reich memorabilia, eerie basement shooting ranges, weird house bars or the woman who keeps a lifelike baby doll down there and treats it like it's a real human toddler. "Im Keller" constantly switches between entertainment and unsettlement, between scenes that make you laugh and scenes that wipe the smile off your face completely, all masterfully done in Seidl's signature style with lots of long takes and abrupt cuts.


Seeing all those people talking about butt plugs and s&m toys from "Toys'R'Us", warthog-schnitzels and 'oriental logics', high velocity cumshots or paintings of the Fuehrer as wedding presents - at first, you may shake your head about all of them and their revelations, but then it makes you think about your own hobbies and obsessions, your dark desires and unspoken wishes, and suddenly you understand that in some weird kinda way, they're not much different from you. They keep their basements as tidy and neat as you do, whether it's a real basement, or an attic, or just the "basement of your mind".

"Im Keller" is not a pleasant film, but it's a pleasantly fascinating one; intriguing, mesmerizing and even entertaining. Ulrich Seidl (once again) at his best!

Wiki ~ Imdb

Oh btw, in the meantime news reports revealed that two people who participated in the scene that took place in the nazi cellar (see below), they are conservative town council members... erm, they were, because they already resigned from their posts and left the People's Party (read here). Well Done! =D



18 September 2014

/SLASH FILMFESTIVAL 2014 - LINEUP

For the 4th time now, I decided to spend my holidays in a small cinema somewhere in Vienna (the Filmcasino!) to dive into the fabulous Filmfestival madness. September 18 - 28, /Slash Filmfestival Numero Five - yes, it's the 5th one already! And once again, it's bigger, better and crazier than ever.

More than 40 films from all around the world, ranging from scary ghost stories to super-funny horror comedies to weird documentaries to batshit gaga Japanese pieces of insanity.

Awesome special guests like Troma Boss LLOYD KAUFMAN ("The Toxic Avneger", "Class of Nuke 'Em High"), French uber-actress BÉATRICE DALLE ("Inside", "Betty Blue"), French horror-innovators JULIEN MAURY & ALEXANDRE BUSTILLO ("Inside", "Livid"), Austria's director legend ULRICH SEIDL ("Dog Days", "Paradise Trilogy"), Austria's horror newcomer MARVIN KREN ("Rammbock", "Blood Glacier"), American horror rookie LEIGH JANIAK ("Honeymoon") etc.

I know, it will be exhausting, stressful and sleep-depriving, but in the end, it will be once again totally worth it. Woo Hoo! :-)




-Day 1- Opening Night
~ IM KELLER ~
(= In the Basement)


Documentary "about people and basements and what people do in their basements. (...) About obsessions, about brass-band music and opera arias, fitness and fascism. (...) A film essay which delves into the underground
of the Austrian soul. 

Directed by ULRICH SEIDL, the genius behind entertaining, unsettling AND thought-provoking masterpieces like
"DOG DAYS", "The PARADISE Trilogy", "IMPORT/EXPORT" or "MODELS".

Screening in the presence of the director and the film team!




-Day 2-
~ SUBURBAN GOTHIC ~
Directed by Richard Bates Jr. ("Excision"), starring Ray Wise, John Waters, Jeffrey Combs & Muse Watson!

~ KNIGHTS OF BADASSDOM ~
Directed by Joe Lynch ("Wrong Turn 2"), starring Ryan Kwanten & Summer Glau.

~ HOUSEBOUND ~
Hey, a new New Zealandian Horror Comedy! *wahoo*
Directed by Gerard Johnstone.


~ R100 ~
Japanese S&M spectacle. Directed by Hitoshi Matsumoto ("Big Man Japan")

~ THE TORTURE CLUB ~
Japanese lesbian BDSM-fest. Directed by Kôta Yoshida

+ Zombie Walk, Troma Transporter & Live performance by KURT DIRT




-Day 3-
~ AFFLICTED ~
Canadian found-footage horror. Directed by Derek Lee & Cliff Browse.

~ WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS ~
Another New Zealandian Horror Comedy! *yeeha* Directed by Taika Waititi ("Eagle vs. Shark) & Jemaine Clement ("Flight of the Conchords).

~ PATEMA INVERTED ~
Japanese Steampunk-Anime, directed by Yasuhiro Yoshiura.

~ DIE GSTETTENSAGA: THE RISE
OF ECHSENFRIEDL ~
(=Saga of the Gstetten: Rise of Lizard-Friedl)
Austrian post-apocalyptic piece of fantasy/horror/sci-fi craziness. Directed by Johannes Grenzfurthner ("Monochrom").
Screening in the presence of the director and screenwriter Roland Gratzer.


~DAS WIENER KETTENSÄGENMASSAKER~
(=The Viennese Chainsaw Massacre)
Short film, directed by Martin Nechvatal.

Troma Double Feature
~ THE TOXIC AVENGER (1984) ~
&
~ POULTRYGEIST: NIGHT OF
THE CHICKEN DEAD (2006) ~

Both directed by Troma boss Lloyd Kaufman.
Screening in the presence of Lloydo himself!!! :-)

 + SURPRISE MOVIE X
+ Lloyd Kaufman's Master Class "MAKE YOUR OWN DAMN MOVIE!"




-Day 4-
~ THE BABADOOK ~
Australian Scarefest, directed by Jennifer Kent.

~ OCULUS ~
Directed by Mike Flanagan ("Absentia").

~ THE CANAL ~
Irish horror-thriller, directed by Ivan Kavanagh. Starring Antonia Campbell-Hughes

~ THE TALE OF PRINCESS KAGUYA ~
Anime, directed by Isao Takahata ("Grave of the Fireflies").

~THE GARDEN OF WORDS~
Anime, directed by Makoto Shinkai ("Children Who Chase Lost Voices")





-Day 5-
~ HONEYMOON ~
Honeymoon gone wrong, directed by Leigh Janiak.
Screening in the presence of the director!

~ STARRY EYES ~
Starring Amanda Fuller, Pat Healy & Nick Simmons. Directed by Kevin Kolsch & Dennis Widmyer.

~ INSIDE (2007) ~
Modern French Horror Classic, directed by the French horror-gods Julien Maury & Alexandre Bustillo.





-Day 6-
~ AMONG THE LIVING ~
 The newest film by the French horror-gods Julien Maury & Alexandre Bustillo.
Screening in the presence of the directors and...
*heavy breathing* Beatrice Dalle!!

~ ALLELUIA ~
Directed by Belgian genius Fabrice Du Welz ("Calvaire", "Vinyan")

~ LIVID ~
Modern French Horror classic, directed by the French horror-gods Julien Maury & Alexandre Bustillo.
Screening in the presence of the directors and... *more heavy breathing* Beatrice Dalle!!




-Day 7-
~ BORGMAN ~
Dutch piece of insanity, directed by Alex van Warmerdam.

~ KILLERS ~
Brutal Indonesia-Japan collabo, directed by the "Mo Brothers" Timo Tjahjanto & Kimo Stamboel ("ABCs of Death", "V/H/S 2", "Macabre").

~ GOMORRA ~
Mafia TV series, first two episodes.
Screening in the presence of main actor Fortunato Cerlino.





-Day 8-
~ STAGE FRIGHT ~
Slasher musical, starring Minnie Driver & Meat Loaf. Directed by Jerome Sable.

~ THE MIDNIGHT AFTER ~
Hongkong sci-fi/mystery/thriller, directed by Fruit Chan ("Dumplings")

+ Surprise Movie Y




-Day 9-
~ JAMIE MARKS IS DEAD ~
Starring Liv Tyler & Judy Greer. Directed by Carter Smith ("The Ruins")

~ WOLFCOP ~
Werewolf meets policeman. Directed by Lowell Dean ("13 Eerie")

~ LATE PHASES ~
Directed by Adrián García Bogliano ("Here Comes The Devil")

~ DISCOPATH ~
Discodancer meets Psychopath. Directed by Renaud Gauthier

~ IT FOLLOWS ~
Directed by David Robert Mitchell ("The Myth of the American Sleepover")




-Day 10
~ THE ABCs OF DEATH 2 ~
26 new directors (actually, it's 31!), 26 new ways to die!
Feat. Vincenzo Natali, Larry Fessenden, Julien Maury & Alexandre Bustillo, Sion Sono, Rodney Ascher, the Soska Sisters etc. etc.

Screening in the presence of director Marvin Kren ("Blood Glacier")

~ THE DANCE OF REALITY ~
Directed by Spanish Grandmaster Alejandro Jodorovsky ("The Holy Mountain", "El Topo", "Santa Sangre")

~ WOLF CREEK 2 ~
Directed by Greg McLean ("Wolf Creek", "Rogue")


~ ESCAPE FROM TOMORROW ~
Horror in Disneyland! Directed by Randy Moore.

~ THESE FINAL HOURS ~
Australian thriller-drama. Directed by Zak Hilditch.

~ LIVE ~
Mad Japanese gorefest, directed the master of insnaity Noboru Iguchi ("Dead Sushi", Zombie Ass")

~ PUZZLE ~
More Japanese madness. Directed by Eisuke Naitô

~ LE MEAT ~
Short Film, directed by Wolfgang Matzl.





-Day 11-
/SLASH TOP 3 - Re-Screenings of the Festival's three most popular films

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