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Fantastic Fest Wrap Up: Day 5

October 1, 2010
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Jane:  Oh god, what day is it? I’m afraid if I open my eyes, I might bleed to death.

Short Fuse: This collection of horror shorts had a few that really stood out to me among the crowd.  Ninjas (directed by Dennison Ramalho) was anticipated to be one of the best by a lot of people that I spoke with at FF.  It contained a truly disturbing scene and an inventive visual sequence that had me squirming in my seat, though some of the imagery used was remeniscent of J-horror films (which a lot of people like, I think I am just way burned out on it).  Rosenhill (directed by Johnan Lundborg and Johan Storm) is a clever piece about an elderly woman who has recently moved into a nursing home and believes that the staff have nefarious plans for her.  I really enjoyed it.  Interview (directed by Sebastian Marka) is a dark, humorous yarn which slowly unravels as a journalist interviews a serial killer – this film was a lot of fun and made great use of it’s short running time.  Off Season (directed by Jacob Jaffke) a man and his dog break into unused summer homes by an ice covered lake during the winter season and find something disturbing and terrifying while they pilfer for loot.  This piece was so beautifully filmed, the stark winter setting adds a tremendously haunting atmosphere to the story, this was easily my favorite among the short programs.

Stake Land (directed by Jim Mickle and starring Danielle Harris, Connor Paolo and Nick Damici) Set in a kind of post-apocalyptic world in which vampires have infested nearly every part of the globe (save the colder climates, as these vampires are cold-blooded like reptiles), a young boy is rescued by an older man after his family is slaughtered and together they seek refuge in a place called New Eden (Canada) which they believe is free of vampire infestation.  It’s hard not to make comparisons to The Road – and to a lesser extent, to Zombieland – because there are many similarities.  This isn’t to say that the film isn’t good – I enjoyed it quite a bit – but I do think it suffers from the resemblances that it bears to other recent releases covering similar themes.

Naan Kadavul (Directed by Bala, starring Arya) Hands down, this was the craziest thing I saw during my stint at Fantastic Fest.  A film that defies categorization, Naan Kadavul features deformed children performing musical numbers about their misery, a transvestite striptease that climaxes with a urine soaked meltdown (after which his wig is used to mop up the mess) and most notably an elaborately coiffed Asthetic  – who smokes heroic amounts of dope, claims to be god and beats people up while he is tripping balls.  Somehow the plot lines between the drug-fueled, raging Asthetic and the severely physically-handicapped beggar children intertwine…but it’s confusing.

Machete Maidens Unleashed (directed by Mark Hartley) this documentary explores the abundance of exploitation films made in the Philippines during the 60′s and 70′s – owing namely to the cheapness with which they could be made and also to the relaxed attitudes about stunt safety.  Definitely a fun doc to see, it piqued my curiosity and has made me want to seek out several of the titles featured in the film.

Shannon: Never Let Me Go (directed by Mark Romanek, starring Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield, and Kiera Knightly.)  The trio of talented young adults star in this poignant film about a group of children that all grow up together in an English Boarding school.  Their calm lives are shattered when a new teacher informs everyone at the school that they were created merely to donate their organs so that others may live.

Knowing that they are marked for donations in their early twenties sets a pall over their remaining years.  It is a bittersweet movie that is well directed, but it is rather depressing to watch, and a bit slow.

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