The Fantasia Film Festival continues on for another two weeks in Montreal, Canada. Instead of jamming you with stories during the Comic-Con, we’ve stockpiled tons of them that will begin unloading today.
Fantasia is so loaded with horror films that it’s overwhelming to even begin looking at the list. For every movie, fans line up all the way down the block hoping to get a prime seat for their viewing pleasure, so that when the scares come, they can comfortably (or uncomfortably) sit on the edge of their seat. The list of horror films is vast, spanning across subgenres and budgets and this is precisely what makes Fantasia so special. Giving equal attention to major productions and low budget indie films, Fantasia has something for everyone.
In an attempt to view as many horror films as possible on the big screen, I find myself running across the street to catch each flick before the mass crowd barges their way in. Although it would be ideal for me to write full reviews on ever movie I see, it would take me too many days and way too much coffee. What follows are mini-reviews on what I’ve seen so far at Fantasia 2011.
Directed by: Trent Haaga
Starring: Will Keenan, Timothy Muskatell
Some of you may know Trent Haaga better for his writing on films such as Dead Girl, which took horror fans by storm a few years back. Now Haaga switches into the director’s chair for this gruesomely hysterical horror comedy. Chop focuses on a struggling young man who is made to confront his “dark” past by a particularly vengeful stranger. His past turns out to be one sidesplitting screw up after another, getting more outrageous as the film develops. From the very beginning, both laughs and severed limbs are a plenty.
The torture porn subgenre has rapidly been on the rise since the release of Saw (the original) in 2004. As with most genres, the longer it’s been around the more ridiculous the films have gotten. This is precisely what Chop is satirizing (if you couldn’t tell by the title). It seamlessly fits the formula of typical gore porn, from the problematic past of the victim, to the psychopathic killer who claims he only wants to help. While the film is far from perfect, it is a wonderful parody of splatter movies. Watch this flick with a group of friends and there’s no doubt that you’ll be laughing till it hurts.
Directed by: Douglas Buck, Buddy Giovinazzo, David Gregory, Karim Hussain, Jeremy Kasten, Tom Savini, Richard Stanley
Starring: Kaniehtiio Horn, Catriona MacColl, André Hennicke, Tom Savini, Udo Kier, Lena Kleine.
Do you remember the kid’s horror show Are You Afraid of the Dark? Have you ever wished that they made an “adult” version of this? Well to be quite candid this is exactly what The Theatre Bizarre is. The film is divided into six separate parts, each one offering a totally different take on horror. The idea behind this film was largely to encourage the auteurship of six very creative directors by giving them complete creative control. What’s nice about this is that you really get a sense of how vulgar and imaginative these guys can be. The film brings together some of the masters of horror, both old and new, a real treat for horror fanatics. The concept may seem like it would lead to a clusterf*ck of a film, but it’s actually laid out very well making for an enjoyable anthology.
The best part about the The Theatre Bizarre is that if you don’t like one of the segments, you can rest easy knowing that there is a new segment on the way that’s going to be utterly different. Each slice truly showcases the ability and vision of each director, displaying diversity in their modes of filmmaking. Although not every segment is an incredible feat in horror, and some get boring as they develop, they all offer great execution.
The segments only got better as the film progressed, offering everything from disgusting pincer vaginas to a child’s view on the cycle of life and death.
Directed by: Jed Strahm
Starring: Katherine Randolph, Krista Braun, Scott Elrod, Grant Reynolds, Kym Jackson
Indie movies are incredibly hit or miss, and Knifepoint is a definite miss. The film is actually shot fairly well, and the director knows his stuff, but this does not detract from the horrid acting, the devastating script, or the insufferable rape scenes. Before I continue I should note that I don’t dislike the rape-revenge subgenre, in fact some of my favorite movies fit into this category. This is not a rape-revenge film; it’s a rape-rubbish film offering little other than violence, bad acting, and a helpless girl in a wheelchair (I wish this was as funny as it sounds).
The film begins with some very nice montage shots, and some heavily shadowed locations. However, things rapidly go stale as the characters are introduced. Illogical actions, and plot-holes galore, the end of the film leaves you totally baffled. The only people who may enjoy this are complete sadists for it’s realistic violence and bogus antagonists, but horror fans be warned.
Directed by: Julian Gilbey
Starring: Melissa George, Ed Speleers, Eamonn Walker, Sean Harris
Sometimes a director takes action and tension to a new plateau, and this is the case, quite literally, in Julian Gilbey’s A Lonely Place to Die. This is one film that you will remember for years not only because of the intense moments, but also because of the beautiful cinematography. This rock climbing thriller flick does not let up for a second, and it will have you cringing from start to finish.
The film follows a crew of mountain climbers who discover a little girl who’s been kidnapped in the middle of a forest. In a desperate attempt to get her, and themselves, to safety, they rush through the mountains. Things only get worse when the kidnappers find them, making their trek even more difficult. A Lonely Place to Die heavily builds on the idea of the “final girl” in horror movies by bringing the main character across multiple genres to see how she can survive. The expansive scenery shots combined with the penetrating actions sequences make this film breathtaking in more than one way. Unfortunately, the film is not perfect. The film has an untidy finale, leaving some questions unanswered and straying from the otherwise real-feel of the film. A mix somewhere between Cliffhanger and Eden Lake, A Lonely Place to Die is dazzlingly shot and will be well received by audiences.
Directed by: André Øvredal.
Starring: Otto Jespersen, Robert Stoltenberg, Knut Nærum, Glenn Erland Tosterud.
Handheld cam movies should always, always, always, be seen on the big screen, and The Troll Hunter is a prime example. It offers a completely different effect than watching it on a laptop screen, especially so when it involves giant trolls smashing people, trees, and bridges. Though not a terrifying film, it is one that truly captures the air of mythology and folklore by bringing trolls to life. Not only is the film smart and tense, it’s also a great comedy. After all, it is about a man whose job is to track down trolls, blast them with light, and turn them into stone.
The plot itself is laughable, but once you’re in your seat, it’s immediately engaging. The absurdity of the film is brought out almost instantly as the goofy main character struggles to make a movie for his college, and turns to a small town to investigate a “bear problem”. The story is slightly repetitive at points, but the trolls get bigger and badder every time, leading up to the “final troll” that towers over the crew, showcasing the full capabilities of the special effects team. If you’re looking for a highly original, extremely funny, like nothing you’ve ever seen before film, The Troll Hunter should be on your list.
Stay tuned for more Fantasia updates and reviews!