[Fantastic Fest ’12] Corey Mitchell’s Mini-Reviews: Day 2 – ‘The Conspiracy,’ ‘The Collection,’ ‘Sinister,’ ‘Holy Motors,’ & ‘Cold Blooded’

Fantastic-Fest-Logo

The 8th annual Fantastic Fest’s 8-day reign of chaos in Austin, Texas is underway. The sci/fi, fantasy, martial arts, Asian fantastic, and horror film festival offers up a little something for all genre lovers.

It is my duty to bring you the most horror and/or horror-related film reviews possible. With less than 20 feature films considered to be true horror, I will occasionally spotlight other non-horror films that will, hopefully, appeal to our readers here at Bloody Disgusting.

Be sure to be on the lookout in Austin, Texas from October 25-27, 2013, for my very own Housecore Horror Film Festival. I will be joined by my partner, former Pantera lead singer and heavy metal legend Philip H. Anselmo. We will be bringing 100% horror and heavy metal to the Lone Star state!

Check out Day 1 for more Fantastic Fest reviews!

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THE CONSPIRACY*


Two young documentary filmmakers are drawn into a shadowy world of secret societies when the subject of their film simply disappears. Have his investigations led to his demise?

For the first 55 minutes, this well-crafted conspiracy theory (natch!) film reels you into a web of potential intrigue and mystery by making you, if not sympathize with, at least appreciate what the two young documentary filmmakers undertake. The final 30 minutes, however, turn THE CONSPIRACY into an outright horror film that will truly stress you out.

This is no cheesy PG-13 teen horror remake, nor another pointless entry into the overcrowded and under-imaginative realm of “found footage” (though cinema verite is most definitely employed herein) films that have dominated over the last 13 years. Instead, this is an intelligent horror film that brings to mind the ending of KILL LIST, an overblown Alex Jones black helicopter doc minus the hokum, and a front row seat at a private fundraiser for Mitt Romney (note – I actually watched this the same day that Romney’s 47% video broke wide in the media).

Shadowy figures, far-out stories told by slightly delusional characters, and sudden “disappearances” of various participants all add up to one creepy affair. What makes it all even more disturbing is that director Christopher MacBride is probably not far from the actual truth.

4.5/5 Skulls

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THE COLLECTION

In this sequel to THE COLLECTOR, our favorite victim-hoarding serial killer chooses a new specimen and his previous quarry Arkin leads a strike team into The Collector’s lair on a rescue mission.

There’s nothing worse than giving a lukewarm rating to a film that is made by guys you know who love the genre. But it’s my job to give you guys an honest assessment about each of these films, and not of the people who make them.

I’ve been following the careers of Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton since their days as winners of the PROJECT GREENLIGHT reality series which thrusted FEAST upon the world. They were great on the show and have parlayed that success into seriously viable careers in the insanely difficult world of showbiz.

I enjoyed THE COLLECTOR. It was entertainingly grotesque, which is always a good thing in my book. Its sequel, THE COLLECTION, unfortunately falls slightly below its predecessor.

During the Q&A after the screening it was mentioned that this was their ALIENS, whereas the first was more akin to ALIEN. In other words, it’s a bit more of a gung-ho romp as opposed to the nihilistic doom that pervades THE COLLECTOR.

Big props for being inspired by the real-life crimes and house of macabre of late 19th century serial killer H.H. Holmes.

Don’t get me wrong, THE COLLECTION is bloody fun at times, but nowhere near as effective as the original.

3/5 Skulls

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SINISTER

SINISTER is a frightening new thriller about a true crime novelist who discovers a box of mysterious, disturbing home movies that plunge his family into a nightmarish experience of supernatural horror.

SINISTER is easily one of the best films at Fantastic Fest this year. It is also one of the best American horror films to be released in a number of years.

I don’t want to give away much of anything other than to say that I am the target demographic for this movie: a true crime author who is looking for inspiration in the darkest of places. Plus, with music from Boards of Canada and Sunn O))), how can you go wrong?

Seriously, go see SINISTER. And see it with as little information as possible. You will dig it.

Now, about those last 15 seconds…

4.5/5 Skulls

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HOLY MOTORS*

While following a day in the life of Mr. Oscar as he attends several appointments, things quickly unravel and spiral out of control, abandoning all sense of logic or sanity.

This critics’ darling is not a horror film despite containing a dual suicide, a dual bloody knife fight, a run-by assassination, multiple make-up designs, and a finger-chewing leprechaun. Hard to believe, huh? It is, however, an acting tour de force by Denis Lavant, who reminds me of a cross between Billy Bob Thornton and Gollum. Lavant pulls off roughly nine characters over the course of one evening – from an accordionist to a CEO to a murdering thug and so much more – and makes them all, at least, enthralling.

While I’m sure this would be a film student’s wet dream to dissect, it is nearly impossible to do it justice during the course of a film festival comprised of 30+ screenings, 7 interviews, a few parties, and untold numbers of bottles of booze. I can say that it was a fun ride, that ultimately dead ends under its own weight. Regardless, Lavant’s performance is truly a revelation.

3/5 Skulls

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COLD BLOODED*

Things quickly spiral out of control when a policewoman must protect her recently comatose suspect from a violent crime boss who has cornered them in an isolated hospital wing.

What police officer is ever going to handcuff herself to a potentially violent perp? Not once, but twice! This move of utter stupidity completely took me out of what could have otherwise been an intriguing story of a police officer tempted by the wiles of a nervy con artist and thief. Instead, this completely nonsensical decision, combined with some seriously wooden acting by Zoie Palmer (Syfy’s LOST GIRL) left me smacking my head repeatedly with a spiked mallet. Or at least, wanting to do so.

It’s a shame because the lead actor, Ryan Robbins (APOLLO 18), is quite brilliant as the sly diamond thief willing to do anything to escape the clutches of both the police and the other bad guys.

2.5/5 Skulls

*Denotes that I watched film as an online screener.

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-CM

Corey Mitchell is a best-selling author of several true crime books and is currently helping Philip H. Anselmo write his autobiography, MOUTH FOR WAR (Simon & Schuster, 2014).

Join Corey at Facebook and Twitter.

Also, be sure to check out Philip Anselmo and Corey Mitchell’s Housecore Horror Film Festival on Facebook and Twitter coming to Austin, TX in October 25-27, 2013.

  • MakeThisAMovies

    I totally picked up on the ALIENS vibe from The Collection trailer. I’m excited, because while I enjoyed the original, I’ve been burnt out on depressingly nihilistic horror films of late. I like the my horror scary and dark, but ultimately fun. I can’t wait for that flick.

    • Corey-Mitchell

      @MTAM: Then you will definitely enjoy THE COLLECTION. I’m in a much more “grim” state of mind these days with my horror. Grim as in despair, doom, etc. Not just gore.

  • horrorking95

    The Conspiracy looks really interesting! I’ve never heard of it before, but I’ll certainly be keeping a watch on it.

    • Corey-Mitchell

      @horrorking95 – THE CONSPIRACY is turning out to be one of the big surprsises at the fest this year. Everyone else I’ve spoken with has really enjoyed it as well.