Blu-ray Review: 'Blue Ruin'


By: Heather Seebach

As genre film fans, we know every trick and cliche of a revenge movie. They are almost always satisfying anyway, even when they color within the lines, but what makes Blue Ruin so special is the way it brilliantly - and subtly - subverts the genre. Add to that director Jeremy Saulnier's talent, an amazing cast, and a fantastic slow-burn revenge tale, and it's no surprise that this indie took home the esteemed FIPRESCI prize at Cannes Film Festival last year. 

Macon Blair stars as Dwight, an Eastern Shore derelict who commits a terrible act of vengeance and must deal with the consequences of his actions in order to protect his estranged family. The basic concept of the film began with the question: What would a regular person do in this situation? Imagine the gritty, bloody revenge films we know and love, but replace the lead bad-ass with a realistically mediocre man. That is our hero, Dwight. He is your average person dealing with his pain in the way he believes is right, even if he does so with frustrating ineptitude sometimes.

I have been a hardcore fan of Saulnier and Blair since I first saw their debut collaboration, Murder Party years ago. That black comedy has since become a staple of my Halloween celebrations, and a favorite film of mine and every friend I force to watch it. Green as they were back then, it was already obvious that Jeremy and Macon were ones to watch. Their sophomore effort is a very different animal, of course. There are touches of that dark humor here but they are appropriately restrained to maintain Blue Ruin's moody atmosphere. Most of the laughs come about from, as Saulnier describes it, "archetypal scenes being interrupted by reality." What would be a bad-ass entrance or showdown for men like Paul Kersey or Jack Carter becomes awkward and terrifying for Dwight. In doing this, the film beautifully walks the thin line between depressingly bleak and absurdly comical.

Saulnier has a strong background in cinematography and acted as his own DP. There are moments of Michael Mann-esque beauty (like a breathtaking Rehoboth Beach boardwalk sequence) but mostly the film is populated with lovely tracking shots in the 'burbs and boonies of Virginia. As for the script, Saulnier has found an ingenious way to tell the kind of revenge tale we genre film fans love but in a more realistic fashion where the characters are genuinely human and the violence never glorified. Dwight and the antagonistic Cleland Family are the broken products of their parents' mistakes, left behind to perpetuate a generational war.


Ruin is an independent film in the truest sense - Saulnier cast his best friend (a relative unknown) in the lead; the crew often doubled as actors; even Jeremy's car, kids, and childhood home play pivotal roles in the movie. This is seemingly a very personal film for the director, as he literally returns home while Dwight does the same. There is a lot of subtext about nostalgia and childhood, which is fitting for a story about the past and about family. There is a hell of a lot of beauty and emotion buried in this gritty little revenge story. You would be doing yourself a great injustice to skip this one - buy it immediately.


------------------------------------------------------------------

Blue Ruin is available on DVD and Blu-ray from RADiUS-TWC and Anchor Bay Entertainment starting Tuesday, July 22nd. You can also find the film On Demand. If you are a fan of this movie and/or Saulnier/Blair, I highly recommend picking up the Blu-ray release, which includes the doc, "No Regrets: The Making of Blue Ruin." In addition to on-set footage, bloopers, festival footage, storyboards, and audition tapes - all amazing content for any behind-the-scenes doc - the most exciting part for me was there are clips from Saulnier and Blair's early VHS movies! Megacop 2000

The interviews with cast and crew are also great, and surprisingly emotional. Saulnier and Blair recount their struggles to find work post-Murder Party (which BAFFLES me), returning to their day jobs until finally taking a chance on Blue Ruin, only to be shot down before finally breaking through. Their story is an inspiration to aspiring filmmakers. I was nearly brought to tears by their story, followed by genuine waterworks when Jeremy talks about his father's death - it's a beautiful moment but you'd better have tissues at the ready.

The commentary track with Saulnier and Blair is also a great listen for fans of this film. Their humorous and occasionally drunk walk-through of the movie is full of good anecdotes. These guys are so humble and don't even realize know what true talents they are. I had no idea that funding this film was such a struggle but I am thrilled for their much-deserved success now.

The Blu-ray also includes deleted scenes, which are mostly extended scenes plus a very cool sequence where Dwight goes through a spooky funhouse. It also has the camera test which the guys used to recruit investors, cast, and crew. It's a stunning 4-minute piece starring Blair and establishing the tone of the final film. It is set to the beautiful and bleak "I Hope You Die" by Maryland-born band, Wye Oak. It's all very Delmarva which hits home even further with this Baltimore native! This is definitely a must-watch for fans of the movie.

You can pick up a copy and support great indie filmmakers (and Viewer Discretion Advised) using this Amazon link below:



Giveaway: Win 'Ginger Snaps' from Scream Factory!


Scream Factory is releasing fan-favorite and coming-of-age werewolf flick, Ginger Snaps on Blu-ray/DVD combo this Tuesday, July 22nd and I have a copy to give away to one lucky reader! To enter, just leave a comment below by noon EST on Friday, July 25th! At that time I'll pick a winner and notify you!

Here is the run-down on the new release:

Los Angeles, CA – Scream Factory has announced the July 22 Blu-ray release of fan-favorite Ginger Snaps (Collector’s Edition). Bonus features include new interviews with director John Fawcett, writer Karen Walton, actors Emily Perkins and Jesse Moss, producer Steve Hoban, make-up effects artist Paul Jones, composer Mike Shields and editor Brett Sullivan, a new Women in Horror panel discussing Ginger Snaps, an audio commentary with Director John Fawcett, an audio commentary with writer Karen Walton, deleted scenes with optional commentary by John Fawcett and Karen Walton, The Making of Ginger Snaps - Vintage Featurette, Creation of the Beast - Vintage Featurette, Being John Fawcett -Vintage Featurette, cast auditions and rehearsals, theatrical trailers, TV spots, production design artwork photo gallery.

Fifteen-year-old Brigitte Fitzgerald (Emily Perkins, Insomnia, Juno) and her nearly-sixteen-year-old sister Ginger (Katharine Isabelle, Freddy vs. Jason, See No Evil 2) are both best friends and outcasts. Obsessed with dying and bound by a childhood pact to stay together forever, they loathe their mind-numbing existence in the suburbs of Bailey Downs. One night the two girls are heading through the woods when Ginger is savagely attacked by a wild creature.

Ginger’s horrible wounds miraculously heal over, but something is not quite right about her. Ginger is irritable and in denial. But to Brigitte, it is obvious that a terrifying force has taken hold of her sister. She’s convinced that the insatiable craving her sister is experiencing can mean only one thing – Ginger is becoming something unspeakably evil and monstrous.

Also starring Mimi Rogers (Penny Dreadful), Kris Lemche (Final Destination 3) and Jesse Moss (Tucker & Dale vs. Evil), this riveting funfest was directed by John Fawcett (Orphan Black) and written by Karen Walton (Orphan Black).



SPECIAL FEATURES:

·        NEW interviews with director John Fawcett, writer Karen Walton, actors Emily Perkins and Jesse Moss, Producer Steve Hoban, Make-up Effects artist Paul Jones, Composer Mike Shields and Editor Brett Sullivan
·        NEW Women in Horror panel discussing GINGER SNAPS
·        Audio Commentary with Director John Fawcett
·        Audio Commentary with Writer Karen Walton
·        Deleted Scenes with optional commentary by John Fawcett and Karen Walton
·        The Making of GINGER SNAPS - Vintage Featurette
·        Creation of the Beast
·        Being John Fawcett
·        Cast Auditions and Rehearsals
·        Theatrical Trailers
·        TV Spots
·        Production Design Artwork Photo Gallery
2000/Color/108 minutes
Blu-ray: 1080p High-Definition Widescreen (X.XX:1)/DTS-HD Master X.X

If you absolutely cannot wait, feel free to pick up a copy using the link below!


Review: 'Under the Skin'


By: Bradley Hadcroft
 
Under the Skin represents Glazer’s sole output during the last 9 years and reaches our screens a full 13 years after his startling debut, Sexy Beast. During its epic decade-long development period, the director had plenty of time to hone his interpretation of Michel Faber’s 2000 Whitbread Award shortlisted novel. This included the jettisoning of Brad Pitt from the cast and a complete revamp of the special effects. One thing is for sure: Glazer has used this time wisely and made exactly the film he wanted to.

The film revolves around an alien visitor played by Scarlett Johansson who travels around Scotland seducing vulnerable men in order to harvest their bodies for reasons that are never made entirely clear. She is periodically pursued and seemingly aided by a man riding a Ducati for reasons that are never made entirely clear.

If the above synopsis seems a little vague then that is because plot - and indeed any sense of cinematic narrative - are not priorities for this simultaneously intriguing and infuriating movie. Nothing is sign-posted or spoon-fed in Under the Skin but instead of the viewer becoming irreparably lost, there is much intellectual nourishment to be found in the satisfying business of unraveling the events on screen. As a natural consequence, vast swathes of the film are open to personal interpretation. Decoding the film proves a rewarding experience as it never slips too far into pretense as to be impenetrable.

The presence of A-list star Johansson (and of course her on-screen nudity) may well be the starting point for many potential viewers. As a result, the film may leave a few befuddled casualties in its non-mainstream wake. However, for once the casting hype is genuinely warranted and it is indeed a fascinating piece of work from the actress.

Glazer is no stranger to eliciting expectation busting performances from his cast. This is after all the man who gave us Ben Kingsley as Don Logan in Sexy Beast, in which the director transformed the man who won an Oscar for his portrayal of peace icon Gandhi into a detestable C-bomb dropping psychopath, garnering him another academy nomination into the bargain.

It’s not just the casting of Johansson that is of interest in Under the Skin. The commitment and attention to detail is commendable as Glazer casts Neurofibromatosis sufferer Adam Pearson rather than opt for special effects, and champion road racer Jeremy McWilliams as the sinister biker. Both bring a palpable realism to their respective roles with Pearson acting as script advisor for his scenes, and McWilliams hurtling down rain-soaked Scottish back roads at breakneck speeds.

Let us get the nudity out of the way, shall we? Yes, Scarlett Johansson bares all but it’s totally in context and in fact solidifies one of the many gender-based subtexts that bristle under the surface of the film. It is also interesting in as much as that it is a relatively brave move from the actress. There is no airbrushing or use of disingenuous camera angles here, and it does stand up as a refreshing and honest depiction of the female body - something mainstream Hollywood lags woefully behind in.



It is in fact the treatment of male nudity that provides the visceral shock value in the film and literally does stand up as the clearest clue that the main theme Glazer is addressing in Under the Skin is one of how men and women perceive each other.

Another pointer to how exact Glazer’s vision was in making the film can be found in the scenes where Johansson is combing the Scottish underbelly for prospective victims. It is imperative she chooses her victims wisely to preserve her anonymity and as such single, lonely men who will be less obviously missed are her priority. Most of the scenes where she is grilling the men through flirtatious means were shot unscripted and on the fly with hidden cameras. The unsuspecting victims being randomly chatted up by a Hollywood film star in a white van. The men were subsequently advised, and almost certainly warned, by Glazer of the possible lengths they would have to go to should they agree to appear in the movie.

This kind of authentic approach is very important to the films dynamic as Glazer attempts to weave the mundane seamlessly with the insane. The picture just simply wouldn't work if either of the science fiction or kitchen sink realism elements dominated - instead he strikes a delicate balance that imbibes the film with a disturbing sense of dread and foreboding.

A singular vision such as Under the Skin can stand or fall on the strength of its cinematography and Daniel Landin’s contribution on this front cannot be underestimated. Clinical and harshly minimalistic at times and expansively jaw-dropping at others, the movie never feels claustrophobic or one-note. Surrealism constantly duels with naturalism and the result never looks anything but gorgeous as Landin transitions between beautiful Scottish landscapes and willfully abstract effects sequences with ease.

The standard of the effects work courtesy of VFX house “One of Us” is incredibly high. Starting with a blank canvass and following the process closely through to completion, the team bring a vision to the table that both shocks and mesmerizes. The team used a mixture of practical and digital to create a simple yet beautifully horrific visualization that stays with the viewer for some time. The fact hat the effects never threaten to drown the overall aesthetic of the experience, and instead compliment the overall tone shows great judgement.


The undoubtedly lush visuals are accompanied by a superb soundtrack with composer Mica Levi at the helm providing a suitably subtle and yet iconic theme that complements the films many standout scenes perfectly. A lot of artistry has gone into blending the visuals and music in the creation of the arresting and disturbing atmosphere of Under the Skin. This combined with an obsessive attention to detail and excessively long development time has led to inevitable comparisons to the work of Stanley Kubrick.

There is no doubting Kubrick’s influence on Glazer - he directed the music video for Blur’s "The Universal" and the opening scene of his latest film alone could lead you to expect a “Kubrickian” homage. It is however far more than that. In terms of comparison I thought it shared far more common ground with Claire Denis' Trouble Every Day and Panos Cosmatos' Beyond the Black Rainbow than any of the great mans work.

Under the Skin is a unique piece of single-minded filmmaking and as such is not for everybody. To some it will be seen as nothing more than a pretentious vanity project. However, horror fans seeking a high-grade cerebral fix will find a great deal to love in this challenging piece of cinema. Glazer's film is destined to be one of the most talked about projects of the year and I for one would be very surprised if it doesn’t become worshipped as a cult classic sooner rather than later.


DVD Review: 'The Raid 2'


By: Heather Seebach

When Gareth Evans' Indonesian ass-kicker The Raid landed on American soil, it was as if millions of action-horny fans simultaneously climaxed all over the Internet. Frankly, I did not share that overwhelming enthusiasm for the film but it had some great moments - the scene behind the walls and the three-way fight come to mind. Still, Evans had proven his chops well enough that I caught The Raid 2 (aka Berandal) in the cinema and ended up much preferring it to the original!

The sequel picks up right where its predecessor left off: Rama (Iko Uwais) has just escaped the gangster-riddled high-rise building but is quickly forced back into harm's way when his family is put in danger. He must go undercover and infiltrate a dangerous crime family. The first step in this task is to befriend the crime boss' son (Arifin Putra). Per usual undercover cop stories, Rama soon gets in over his head while struggling not to blow his cover.

The primary reason The Raid 2 works so well is because unlike the original film, this one spans a variety of set pieces and characters. Via the undercover cop story arc, the viewer spends more time with Rama this round. So too do the villains and heart-of-gold hitman Yayan Ruhian (Mad Dog from the first film) also get sufficient time devoted to their roles. If asked, I could not describe a single character from The Raid (aside from Mad Dog) but this sequel boasts a handful of memorable ones. In addition to the core group of warriors, Evans also throws in a few gimmicky characters that would have Quentin Tarantino salivating - namely, "Hammer Girl and "Baseball Bat Man" who steal scenes with ease.

Meanwhile, the fight sequences are bigger, bolder, and bloodier. From a prison yard melee to a nightclub brawl, the battles  - be they one-on-one or group - are damn entertaining! As with the first film, there is some amazing martial arts on display, and no shortage of gore. Evans certainly knows his audience and delivers on what we want! The plot may not be particularly original, and some characters may be paper-thin but those are not the goals of films like these. As for the goal of providing non-stop badassery, The Raid 2 nails that with a bloody hammer! 

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The Raid 2 is now available on DVD and Blu-ray from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The DVD includes director commentary with Gareth Evans; a Q&A with Evans, Iko Uwais, and composer Joe Trapanese; and "The Next Chapter: Shooting the Sequel" featurette wherein the transition between the two films is discussed. The DVD also includes both an English dub and the original language version of the film.

Use the links below to get your DVD or Blu-ray copy now!

DVD:


Blu-ray:

First look at POV actioner, 'Hardcore'


Remember that insanely bad-ass Biting Elbows music video called "Bad Motherfucker" that all your friends were passing around a few years back? The first-person-shooter style one full of over-the-top action and gore? Yeah, this one:

How many times have you seen this screenshot now?

Well, the brains behind that video, Biting Elbows frontman Ilya Naishuller wrote and directed the forthcoming film, Hardcore starring genre favorite Sharlto Copley. An interview with the latter, and on-set footage from the set have surfaced, and it looks like Hardcore will not only keep the POV format but also be full of outrageous ultra-violence! 

Copley describes Hardcore as "the craziest and most different film I have ever been involved with. It's going to be something like a cross between a film, a video game and a roller-coaster ride in a cinema." Follow this link to check out the full video interview, including footage of gore and stunts in action: http://www.kinopoisk.ru/interview/2430469/

Here are a few screencaps of the madness:


Fate just gave us a black gift - SAMURAI COP IS ALIVE!


GUYS! I can barely form words right now. Samurai Cop fans like me have been living under the impression that star Matt Hannon has been dead for years. Nobody has heard from this guy, or knew the circumstances of his alleged death. Then, just a few days ago, this fucking video surfaced out of the blue and MY HEAD EXPLODED:


THIS IS FUCKING INSANE AND AMAZING! His co-star Mark Frazer has been talking on Facebook about Samurai Cop 2 and it sounds like Hannon will be involved, too! HOLY SHITBALLS! On top of that, my braincells are spontaneously combusting because how the fuck does Hannon look better now, at 50 years old, than he did then? Is he the real basis for Benjamin Button? What is happening?!

To learn a little more about Samurai Cop and why it rules, watch my episode of Trainwreck Cinema devoted to the cult classic:


Review: '300: Rise of an Empire'


By: Heather Seebach

Glistening muscles and slow-motion are back in this sequel to Zack Snyder's 2007 action-fantasy, 300. Both films are based on graphic novels by Frank Miller, although "Xerxes", the inspiration for this latest film, is not as of yet published. As the book's name implies, there is a bit of the villain's origin story involved but mostly Rise of an Empire portrays the events concurrent to 300 as the Athenians battle Xerxes' second-in-command on the high seas. 

It is part prequel, part sequel, and mostly simultaneous to the first film. As the Spartans debate whether or not to get involved in the Persian Wars, Athens mounts an offensive-at-sea against Persia, led by General Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton). He and his men face off with the vengeful Greek-born woman who leads the Persian Navy, Artemisia (Eva Green). 

Empire may seem like an after-thought sequel but it is actually strongly tied to its predecessor. Zack Snyder is no longer in the director's seat but he co-wrote and co-produced this one. Many of the characters - both alive and dead- from 300 are back, including Xerxes, Queen Gorgo, Dilios, the hunchback Ephialtes, and even that Persian emissary who got kicked down a well! Some of the original Spartans also make cameo appearances (albeit pre-filmed or digitally-created ones) since the events of this movie happen largely at the same time as those of 300


This sequel carries on the visual style of the original film, having been shot entirely against green screens, but it does not look nearly as beautiful this time around. Snyder's go-to director of photography Larry Fong is out, and the cinematography is noticeably lacking.  Granted, there are a few lovely shots that stood out but virtually every shot in 300 was breath-taking. So too does the slow-motion get even more overused this time around. There also seems to be too much emphasis on the 3-D here, which gets pretty annoying. 

Finally, and most disappointing of all, the gore FX are terrible. Obviously, practical gore is not, well, practical for an all-digital film like this, but why does the CG blood look so bad now?! It has partly to do with coloring, lighting, and motion - they are all off - and also how overused the gore is here. 300 was bloody, yes, but it was relatively restrained to sprays of blood, not ridiculous geysers. Usually I am all for more blood on screen, but in Empire, the over-abundance just exposes how weak it looks. Case in point, compare these two screenshots - the first from 300, the second from Rise of an Empire:


This is one of those cases where I am not bothered by the existence of CG blood so much as the quality of that CG blood. There are numerous scenes in ROAE where the gore is groan-worthy. I don't need puddles of it flying at the screen, just give me realistic brutality!

The concept of the sequel is good, at least. Setting it on the high seas was an inspired choice, even if the ocean battles are a bit of a digital cluster-fuck. I also like the decision to set this one during the events of 300 but it sets itself up for failure since there is no way the Athenian battles are going to be as interesting as the Spartans! Everything about these guys is less interesting - their weapons, their helmets, their monologues, even their bodies are less impressive. As for the lead, Themistokles cannot compare to Gerard Butler's Leonidas. I looked forward to Stapleton in the lead, as he was a stand-out in Animal Kingdom, but his character is just boring here. Every time the sequel shows a glimpse of the Spartans, I wished I was watching them instead!

Fortunately, Rise of an Empire has Eva Green. Her ruthless Artemisia, based loosely on Xerxes I's real-life female naval commander, is an entertaining villain. Green's scenery-chewing almost makes up for how boring the film's heroes are. So too does Lena Headey out-shine her male co-stars as Leonidas' queen seeking to avenge her fallen husband. Rise is not exact a feminist-friendly tale but it does boast some powerful, screen-commanding women.

DVD Review: 'Enemy'


By: Heather Seebach

"Chaos is order yet undeciphered." These are the fitting opening words of Enemy, a movie that toys with its audience right from the start and we don't even know we are being duped until it's too late. If you like easy films that give you all the answers, stay far away from this one but if you enjoy a challenge and a good mind-fuck, look no further! The last time Jake Gyllenhaal melted my brain like this was when 17-year-old Heather watched Donnie Darko for the first time.

In Enemy, Adam Bell (Gyllenhaal) is a glum history professor living in a crummy apartment with a girlfriend (Melanie Laurent) who occasionally comes over and has boring sex with him. While watching a film, Adam discovers he has an identical double living elsewhere as a bit-part actor. He sets out to meet his doppleganger but inadvertently becomes involved in a dangerous situation with the double Anthony (also played by Gyllenhaal) and his pregnant wife (Sarah Gadon).

As both Adam and Anthony, Jake Gyllenhaal is incredible. Impressive as the camera trickery is, their scenes together would not be believable without the actor's convincing portrayal. He gives each man different subtle traits, from the way they stand and talk to the steadiness of their hands! 

 Nothing is quite what it seems in this mind-bending thriller. Director Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners) has constructed a fascinating puzzle that will confuse you, anger you, and make you want to watch it again and again. The movie withholds information from the viewer which is simultaneously infuriating and addictive. You may find yourself noticing inconsistencies but they are in fact clues. This film is peppered with hints and red herrings. Just when you think you got it pinned and are ready to dismiss it as another cliched thriller, the film pulls the rug out from under you again. 

Slow tracking shots, nightmarish glimpses, and an oppressive score create a haunting atmosphere for this tricky tale about identity, duality, and repetition. Villenueve fully admits that his film is open to interpretation so be prepared for more questions than answers. This movie demands repeat viewings and will keep you engaged in long debates with your cinephile friends. Enemy is not always easy but it is a rewarding endeavor whether you solve its mysteries or not.



Enemy is now available on DVD and Blu-ray. I highly recommend you get this one! Follow the widgets below to get a copy! 

DVD bonus features on the DVD include "Lucid Dreams", a 17-minute making-of featurette that sheds a little light on the surreal film but mostly consoles you in the knowledge that it is meant to be so ambiguous. There is also discussion of how the dual Jake scenes were created and how the set design is littered with thematic clues about the film.





'Cause of the Echo: Why You Should Be Excited about the new Predator


By: Heather Seebach

The Hollywood Reporter broke the news today that Shane Black will be helming a reboot of the Predator franchise. Firstly, let's stop using that word 'reboot', okay? The last installment in the franchise was Predators, which came out only four years ago! If anything, that film's director Nimród Antal ought to be credited/blamed (whichever you prefer) for "rebooting" the franchise. Personally, I enjoyed the hell out of Predators.

The reality about this news is that a new Predator film on the way and it happens to now be in the hands of one person who fucking gets it! By now, the name Shane Black ought to ring a bell, if not send your action-loving loins into a fit of excitement. Yes, he directed Iron Man 3, which I loved 80% of and appreciate that Black gave it a quirkiness all-its-own. The final act was disappointing to me but overall I think it's incredibly under-appreciated. Long before that film, however, Black was known for writing big action movies, such as Lethal Weapon, The Last Boy Scout, The Long Kiss Goodnight, and Last Action Hero

Black also collaborated with Fred Dekker when he wrote a little movie you may have heard of called Monster Squad! Here is the cherry on top of the sundae - Dekker is also writing the new Predator! If you're not familiar, Dekker also directed Night of the Creeps and wrote the House films. So before you bitch and moan about Hollywood raping your childhood, recognize that the two men in charge of this new Predator film are heroes of our childhoods and we should all be THRILLED at their involvement with this! 

 
I have not even yet mentioned the fact that Shane Black's directorial debut, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, is a piece of pure brilliance. If you have not seen that film yet, fix that immediately.

Finally, the most amusing thing about this news and another reason I trust Black's appreciation for the franchise is the fact that he was in Predator! Remember Hawkins?


Hawkins: Billy. Billy! The other day, I was going down on my girlfriend, I said to her, "Jeez you got a big pussy. Jeez you got a big pussy." She said, "Why did you say that twice?" I said, "I didn't."

 Billy: [stares blankly]

Hawkins: See, 'cause of the echo. 

Must-See Films of Fantasia Fest '14


The 18th annual Fantasia International Film Festival, taking place this July 17th through August 5th in Montreal, just announced the first wave of their line-up and as usual it is full of titles I am dying to see! James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy (my most anticipated blockbuster this year) is screening, in addition to the following genre flicks I need in my eyeballs stat:

Among the Living
(d: Alexandre Bustillo, Julien Maury)


Well, this film was on my most-anticipated of 2013 list - whoops. Obviously, it was not quite ready yet! I was so excited to see the next film from the directors of Inside and Livid that I blew my proverbial load too soon! This 80s throwback "tells the tale of three youngsters who skip school, wander around an abandoned amusement park, and suddenly see a woman in chains being dragged around through a field by a man in a clown’s mask. Worse still, the masked man catches a glimpse of the boys." That's just a little taste of course, but it already has me drooling.



Cybernatural
(d: Leo Gabriadze)


Not much information is out there for this movie yet, but I am hooked based on its premise alone! It also helps that Night Watch director Timur Bekmambetov is on-board as producer. Here is the synopsis provided by Fantasia: "On the anniversary of a teen’s suicide, the six cyberbullies responsible meet online for a group chat. A seventh, anonymous participant joins them. Told entirely by way of a character's computer screen, CYBERNATURAL brilliantly nails the ways in which we communicate and present ourselves online, hitting hard with a new kind of horror for an increasingly connected-yet-disconnected world." I'm there!

  
Dealer
(d: Jean Luc Herbulot)


 I'm a sucker for drug-fueled crime thrillers! This hyperkinetic movie looks more than a little like Nicolas Winding Refn's Pusher films (which I adore) so it will either be redundant or fucking awesome. Either way, count me in. According to Fantasia, it promises to "drag its audience full-steam ahead through a Parisian underbelly filled with hoods and thugs, marking the powerful arrival of one of the most promising new voices in French genre cinema."




The Harvest 
(d: John McNaughton)


 The director of Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer and Wild Things is back from an 11-year hiatus with this psychological thriller about a child is born with a debilitating disease and his medical professional parents who seclude him from the outside world . Samantha Morton and Michael Shannon star. I am interested in McNaughton's return but also lured in by this description: "a disquieting median space between sinister fairy tale and shattering human horror."


I Origins
(d: Mike Cahill)


From the director of Another Earth comes this sci-fi drama starring Michael Pitt and Brit Marling about molecular scientists who tap into something that could change everything we thought we knew about life and society. I am fascinated by these modern science fiction films and this one looks to intertwine faith and science in curious ways.





Killers 
(d: The Mo Brothers)


This one is definitely in my top three most anticipated films of Fantasia (if not number one)! Timo Tjahjanto, who helped create some of the most memorable shorts in The ABCs of Death and V/H/S/2, re-teams with Kimo Stamboel (as they previous did on Macabre) for this brutally bloody Indonesian actioner about a serial killer and a vigilante facing off. This is sure to be smart, action-packed and brutal. In other words, I need it in my life immediately!





Live
(d: Noboru Iguchi)


The latest from the manic director of Machine Girl and Dead Sushi is about a public race-to-the-death, based on a 2005 novel by Yusuke Yamada. Keep your Hunger Games whining - I never get tired of these survival competition movies, especially when it's from the insane mind of Iguchi.




The Man in the Orange Jacket
(d: Aik Karapetian)


I had not heard of this Polanski-esque slasher film until not but it looks slick! Here is the synopsis: "A young man is fired from his job at the sea port and begins to stalk his boss and his beautiful wife. After a blood chilling turn of events, he attempts to escape his past by moving into the lavish mansion previously owned by his boss. The embittered young man tries to assume a new identity and lead a luxurious life, but nothing will prepare him for an unsettling visit by a vaguely familiar guest. After that unnerving encounter, the house will no longer be a safe haven, becoming, instead, a twisted and dangerous trap haunted by menacing spirits."




Also find us here: