Tag Archive: short films


That chill in the air, is a rare event in Texas: fall. Yes, it was 95ºF when Fantastic Fest started last week, but if you’re still here, it’s now fall. Leaves don’t turn here, but it’s nice out when it’s not raining. Day 6 of Fantastic Fest was a great day, a good time to pace yourself for the final push. It’s easy to spot the 2nd Half Badge holders: they’ve got a great attitude at 11am, while I’m suffering from nearly a week of sleep deprivation. Here’s the run down for day 6:

Faultless

This French film is a character study of a deeply flawed person. Constance is single, in her forties, and out of work and homeless. She spends her days dreaming and scheming. Mostly scheming. A perpetual liar who tries to take advantage of every situation through manipulation and deceit. Her current scheme is to get hired back to her old job as a real estate agent after failing to make it in Paris. And the only way is to eliminate the competition: a younger, prettier rival who will work for commissions only. It’s only a matter of time before the lies and schemes come crashing down. The good: a fascinating character study of a train wreck in progress. The bad: Nothing comes to mind. 7/10

Short Fuse 2016

I loved every short in the horror shorts category this year. All deserved to be in the program. They were:

  • Dawn of the Deaf – slow build up to the joke
  • Curve – high concept surreal horror
  • The Stylist – skin crawling gore FX
  • They Will All Die In Space – a nihilistic sci-fi adventure
  • I Want You Inside Me – A woman’s boyfriend disappears during sex
  • Death Metal – buckets of blood
  • Overtime – a hilarious mash-up of Office Space and werewolves
  • 90 Degrees North – Probably the most hilarious and Twilight-Zoney piece about a man-eating crosswalk
  • When Sussurus Stirs – Little Shop of body horrors!

The Lure

You’ve probably heard of the Polish musical mermaid movie, and this is it. There are a number of original songs, as well as some well-known tunes, performed in this movie. They range from classic rock to pop to punk in style. Most songs were sung in Polish, but the tunes were catchy (even if the translated lyrics didn’t quite rhyme). This is the fucked-up, blood and sex, Fantastic Fest-worthy version of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid. Two young cannibalistic mermaid sisters go on vacation on dry land with their new human legs (except they don’t have the usual orifices that real humans have down there). The sisters are natural singers, (using their voices to lure men to their deaths), but decide to sing and party at a nightclub, whose owner promptly makes the mermaids part of the act. The good: catchy tunes, high energy, and lots of genre elements for the FF crowd. The bad: the story was underdeveloped, but sufficient for a musical. 8/10

Truth Beneath

Another big budget Korean crime drama. The teenaged daughter of a politician disappears during his run for office, and her mother searches for answers to her disappearance. Could it be tied to his political campaign? Is she still alive? Each time an answer is uncovered, a new mystery and more questions arise. I won’t say more than that without spoiling the movie, but suffice it to say that if you’re familiar with Korean crime dramas, you’ll be expecting twists, screaming and crying, and skeletons in everyone’s closets. I enjoyed it, but some people I spoke to at the festival felt it didn’t live up to their expectations. The good: it has a shovel-load of drama. The bad: It’s kind of long and the backstory quite complicated, and hard to follow at times. 7/10

100 Best Kills: Childbirth

Technically, this is not a screening, but an event. I’d already seen the other films in this time slot, so I decided to relax and enjoy an hour of clips from the worst childbirths deaths (including anything that bursts out of you in a blood soaked manner) in the movies, with a focus on the really obscure and cheesey ones. The emcee was handing out candied cigars to the first person who could name the movie that each obscure scene was taken from.

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‘m trying a new app, BloggerPro, so if it looks weird, or something, pardon the dust while I figure it out. I also had to up my data plan as I’m burning through it pretty fast using my iPad at the festival.

Evolution

This film is a creepy, arthouse, slow-burn mystery about a boy, Nicolas, and his mother. They live on what looks like a volcanic island by the sea. The location is not named. He doesn’t got to school. Their home is incredibly sparse and offers no hint as to the time and place where they live. The town they live on seems to be populated by other single women and boys that all look eerily similar. The film is told from Nicolas’ point of view as he begins to question the nature of his existence, the woman he calls mother, and the strange things he observes at night. The answer is haunting, fantastic, and even after the credits roll, mysterious. This movie made an impression on me. France (French with English subtitles)

Short Fuse (Horror Shorts)

The shorts program is always worthy, and my personal favorites were The Mill at Cedar’s End, an animated puppet feature about a family curse, and Portal to Hell!!! about the maintenance worker in an apartment building who comes across some satanists opening a portal in the basement, and has to battle evil special effects.

Southbound

A horror anthology that’s reminiscent of Tales From The Crypt, in which several short stories are loosely connected to each other, each directed by a different director.  Devil worshippers, home invasion, road chase by supernatural beings, a John Carpenter-inspired blood and gore filled horror segment that’s not for the squeamish. Southbound is an entertaining midnighter. However, like most anthologies, don’t expect the disconnected narratives to form a single larger narrative.

The Devil’s Candy

Sean Byrne is well regarded by the Fantastic Fest crowd for the Aussie horror/torture picture, The Loved Ones, and he live up to his reputation in his new film. The Devil’s Candy stars Ethan Embry, Siri Appleby, and Pruitt Taylor Vince about a house in rural Texas haunted by something evil. Embry and Appleby play the couple who move in with their teenaged daughter (Kiara Glasco), and before long, Embry is having visions, while Vince is hearing satanic chanting and feeling murdery. It’s well made, another solid midnighter with a loud metal soundtrack and a satisfyingly frenetic and bloody ending.

What We Become

This is a horror film about a mysterious disease that quickly overtakes a suburban neighborhood. It seems that after victims die from the sickness, they become a rabid killer. Told from the point of view of a middle class Danish family who find themselves holed up in their fashionable middle class home and under quarantine from nameless, faceless military pointing automatic weaponry. While the movie never uses the Z word, the story beats are straight out of the George R. Romero play book, down to people doing stupid things they know will get them killed. It’s like any Hollywood zombie movie, but with subtitles. Denmark (Danish with English subtitles)

Fantastic Fest 2014 Day 5

Monday is the first day of the Second Half of Fantastic Fest. Some out-of-town attendees, particularly from the film industry (and others who are only here on business) will leave Sunday, so to keep the theaters filled, FF sells Second Half badges at a pretty good discount for the last four days of the festival. If you use all the time slots, you can see 19 movies for around $100. Most films are screened twice during FF (once in the first half and again in the second), but there are exceptions. A Secret Screening event is always held during the second half, as is the closing night party. The only thing you really lose with the bargain badge is the opportunity to vote on films, and often film guests will only stay for the first screening of their films. Monday was as packed as ever, so it didn’t feel like anything slowed down.

Blind
Blind, like Force Majeure, is not the usual genre fare. There’s no violence or monster. But the film is surreal. Ingrid has lost her sight, but fueled by a new world of sound, and her growing insecurities about her new handicap, she soon begins to suspect her husband is having an affair. Then things get weird. Since the story is told from her point of view, are we seeing the objective truth, her runaway imagination and fears, or a mixture of both? (7/10)

Babadook
Babadook was very popular at FF2014: it won 4 awards in the Horror category (best picture, best screenplay, best actor and best actress). I’ll break it down like this: it’s a solidly produced, high-tension movie about a menacing supernatural creature (the titular Babadook) who haunts a single mother and her young son. The design of the Babadook itself is creepy as Hell, and I loved the way it was introduced as an extremely creepy children’s popup book. The plot doesn’t answer every question, and I have some quibbles about what kind of information the filmmakers chose to reveal about the Babadook, but overall, it’s not enough criticism to stop me from recommending it. (8/10)

Over Your Dead Body
Takashi Miike. That’s all you have to know about this surreal and gory story is that it’s about infidelity between a trio of actors in a stage production. The movie actually spends most of its time in stage production, which is a story about an unemployed Samurai who conspires to murder his wife and child in order to enter into a more profitable relationship with his mistress. The play’s story mirrors the infidelity between the actors who are in a very similar love triangle in real life. The film is masterful in presentation, unflinching in its use of gore and sex, rich in symbolism, and very well acted and produced. In short, it rises above the rest. It’s not exploitation genre fare, it’s closer to art. (9/10)

Short Fuse 2014 (Horror Shorts)
The horror shorts are short films with edgier content. The gory, the macabre, the grotesque, or otherwise offensive shorts. This year’s program featured: Autumn Harvest, Bad Guy #2, Crazy For You, Death Sentence, Extreme Pinocchio, Goat Witch, He Took His Skin Off for Me, Invaders, The Stomach, Waterborne. My personal favorites were Bad Guy #2 and Extreme Pinocchio. (7/10)

I AM A KNIFE WITH Legs
For completely no reason, this movie is titled in all CAPS except for the word Legs. And no reason probably explains why anything happens in the plot of this musical about Bené, a soulful musician holed up in an apartment in L.A. because a suicide bomber blew up his girlfriend, and now he’s hiding out with Beefy, his sidekick/manager, because someone named “ILuvTennis127” logged on to a website and declared a fatwa against Bené. The movie is probably best described as a one-man performance by writer, director, producer, singer, animator, and star Bennett Jones. This movie is funny, weird, and pretty unique as far as a festival entry. Forget narrative (there is one, but who cares?). With seemingly no budget whatsoever, Jones holds your attention for and hour and a half with song, comedy, animation, and an absurd tale told through the sheer force of his deadpan funny narration. (8/10)

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