The 16th annual Fantasia Film Festival is finally over in Montreal. It’s been a long three weeks, packed with horror movies, some good, others not so much. Overall it was a great year for the festival with over 160 films playing from a wide variety of backgrounds. Although it would be ideal to write full reviews, it would take way too many days, and way too many cups of coffee. What follows is my final round of mini-reviews for Fantasia 2012 including Despite The Gods, Grabbers, Game Of Werewolves, and Under The Bed.
DESPITE THE GODS
A few years ago, Jennifer Lynch, son of the inimitable David Lynch, set off on a journey to Bollywood to film Hisss, a film about a snake god who turns into a girl, who turns into a snake. As you can imagine, the Indian film industry is nothing like the American film industry, and Lynch finds out the hard way. Despite The Gods documents Lynch’s hellish time on set through over a grueling 8 months. Throughout her time in India, she dealt with constant weather delays, a lazy cast and crew, and the troubling issue of being a woman in a position of power.
Despite The Gods captures Lynch’s time in India fantastically, showing both her time on set, and her private life behind closed doors in equal measure. Lynch is completely unabashed in front of the camera, and she’s not afraid to speak her mind, shout, or break into tears. You really get a sense of her personal ups and downs as well as a glimpse into Bollywood culture. The doc goes a little too far into the sensitive subject of “our way of filmmaking in America is right, yours is wrong” while never fully breaching that offensive line. Despite The Gods is almost, almost an apology for Hisss.
Grabbers is an incredibly fun flick that nods at big productions like Jurassic Park and Alien, while staying in touch with modern horror comedies like Slither. Director John Wright offers a cheerful, Lovecraft-inspired tale packed with laughs from beginning to end.
Grabbers is set in a small Irish coast town and follows Garda Lisa Nolan (Ruth Bradley) who is placed in the town for a brief two week duty. Her partner, Garda Ciarán O’Shea (Richard Colye), is a lousy drunk who can barely get his ass to work, while the rest of the townsfolk enjoy the simple things in life. Shit hits the fan in the peaceful town when an alien beast begins to reign terror. Tiny facehugers and massive Cthulhu-like monsters invade the land in a search for blood. These are mean creatures, and the only way to stop them is to get blindingly drunk.
Much of the humor comes from the town’s passive response to these vampiric monsters: get as drunk as possible because blood with high alcohol levels is poisonous to the creatures. Grabbers is a refined film, with picturesque wide-angle shots of the landscape, and awesome CGI work on the monsters that give it a polished look. Grabbers is the kind of lighthearted horror we need more of.
GAME OF WEREWOLVES
Game Of Werewolves is a remarkable horror satire that pleasantly evokes Sean of the Dead. This Spanish horror farce is chock full of references to classic werewolf movies offering plenty of gut-busting laughs. The film follows Tomas, who returns to his tiny hometown as an adult to begin writing his new novel. With his fat and loveable friend by his side, they uncover a werewolf curse that has plagued the small town for centuries. The town desperately attempts to sacrifice Tomas to the lone werewolf that lives underneath the foundations of the town. Things are out of the frying pan and into the fire as the entire town becomes infected by the werewolf curse.
Werewolves are hard to take seriously, mostly due to the fact that it’s hard to make them look realistic on screen. You either need a huge CGI budget, or a great costume team. Game of Werewolves uses this to its advantage. There is no CGI, which I love, and the werewolves are just dudes in costume, which makes everything all the more hilarious. The story is captivating, and director/writer Juan Martínez Moreno delivers a wicked werewolf comedy that American audiences will adore.
UNDER THE BED
Under The Bed is produced by your very own BD co-owners, Mr. Disgusting and Killbot, and thus it would be hard for me to give it a full review from an unbiased standpoint. However, I can tell you that the world premiere of Under The Bed sold out at Fantasia and audiences loved it. Under the Bed is loaded with nostalgia, paying tribute to family horror by the likes of Gremlins and Are You Afraid Of The Dark. Steven C. Miller has a talent for making low budget movies look absolutely massive and I have a feeling BD readers who grew up watching 80s and 90s horror will dig this one.