A couple years ago, you had to explain what crowdfunding is to most people. “They’re running a Kickstarter” meant nothing to the average person. All that has changed as this new funding model is now a prevalent part of the digital landscape with the Kickstarter brand being as synonymous with it as Coke is to cola.
You know you love em.
The good folks at Screen Junkies just dropped their ‘honest trailer’ for Skyfall.
Famine is the brainchild of special makeup effects artist Ryan Nicholson. Directing the screenplay he co-wrote with Jeff O’Brien, the film takes an increasingly bizarre look at modern high school life. Take a weird premise, a high school that has an overnight event where students don’t eat, add some twisted and bizarre characters, a demented mascot and someone with a thirst for revenge, shake well and try not to get any on your shoes.
This is a love it or hate it type film, as there is no casual viewing of it. Ryan Nicholson lets his contempt for teen flicks come shining through. Purposefully casting actors too pretty and too old to be teens, he also has them engage in some of the most fantastically mocking style of acting. To some, it may appear as amateurish and incompetent, when in fact it’s exactly how he views view teen flicks. Sappy soap operas filled with overly pretty, overblown and unrealistic characters, saccharin sweet in their telling, teen flicks still command a large portion of box-office sales. In creating this film, the common elements were taken to their extreme, a post-modernist vision of the absurdity of the genre.
While the film is advertised as horror, and it does have its gory moments, it is a comedy at heart, a very black heart. Involving a reasonably sized cast, it focuses mainly on Cathy Carpenter (Beth Cantor) as she navigates this mock teen world with barely contained super-breasts and a manic attitude. The cool kid click seems to only involve sex and making everyone else miserable, while Miss Vickers (Michelle Sabiene) supervises the overnight event. Mr. Balszack (Nathan Durec) who was horribly burned by acid at a previous event, may or may not have something to do with current events. In fact, through most of the film there is much they may or may not be part of the plot. It’s just as well, as it never takes itself, its premise or the audience very seriously. The kids are picked off one by one in interesting and horrific fashion. To say much more than that is to take the fun out of first viewing.
It’s over -the-top approach and vicious handling of the subject matter almost ensure that its target audience will love it, the former geek-teen horror fan who grew up, and that current teens and those through their mid 20′s will find it satirizes them in ways that make them very uncomfortable in ways they can’t explain. Having gone straight to video, the chances to see this on a big screen are limited to one off screenings and festivals. If you enjoy dark humored satire films with a horror bend, then this film is for you, if anything described to this point has made you question if you should watch it or not, then you may not enjoy yourself. This film is not for everyone, but it does have its audience.
Sick is a zombiesque thriller about a plague torn world where civilization has collapsed, the military is trying to find a cure and everyone else is simply fighting to survive. There is a military research compound, and nearby a safe community, of sorts. Dr. Leigh Rozetta (Christina Anne Aceto) is a researcher, along with assistant Claudia Silveira (Jennifer Polansky), who is trying to find a cure for her dying mother when the plague breaks out. As she says goodbye to them, the military is moving her to a secure research facility. She promises to come back. Not too far away is a secure settlement that sends out small groups for supplies. We encounter one such group as it prepares to move, with some of the more seasoned member advising the younger ones. Soon enough, the groups finds trouble and is most of them killed. Seph Copeland (Richard Sutton) and Mckay Jacobs (Robert Nolan) are on the run after their group was attacked. As the two try to make their way back, they run across Leigh. The three then deicide, at Mckay’s insistence, to go to Leigh’s parental home. Mckay doesn’t trust Leigh and can’t understand how or why she is out alone, so feels they must remain with her. Once there, tensions between the three begin to build from this mistrust. Claudia has discovered Leigh’s absence and set out to find her as well. The night finds the Sick more active, and with tensions high, one wonders who, if anyone, will survive the night.
Shot in and around the Toronto area, Director Ryan M. Andrews along with co-writer Chris Cull have created a film that had great potential, but came up short in some key areas. Budget constraints are often the bane of the indie filmmaker, forever trying to reconcile the ideas and elements of the film they want to make with the realities of the film they can make. Not having the ability to shoot complex scenes, or using locations that are simply too expensive, or complicated effects, means the films show a creativity and uniqueness the larger budget films can’t match. And a precious few wind up as cult favorites. Canadian indie filmmakers struggle to have their films made and viewed, both in the US and at home. It is good that films such as this are a part of a festival showcasing Canadian indie/grindhouse films. By focusing on these films this way, the opportunity for them to reach a wider audience develops, as well as promoting Canadian filmmakers whose talent promises more than fringe filmmaking allows them to deliver.
While well acted and shot, it seems to be grasping for more than it can actually grab. Inconsistencies in character development were evident throughout the film. They simply all were just too emotionally scattered to understand over the course of the film. While this can be overlooked in favor of the action between humans and the sick, there wasn’t enough action to distract from the story. At key moments the camera moves to another angle, so the splatter is missed. As such, the story and the action both leave the viewer wanting more, which the film never quite delivers on. Those living with an ever present and very real threat of death tend to become quite good at focusing on what is and isn’t absolutely necessary for survival, of which our two militant survivalists seem to be lacking. While understandable from the recently sheltered Leigh, coming from two men who watched their entire group die around them, their attitude and actions leave one wondering how they managed to survive as long as they have.
Grindhouse festivals are the perfect place to showcase new and emerging talent, as well as classics. This film fits well within the constraints of a grindhouse festival, allowing its audience to grow from those that would both appreciate and enjoy this film. As it was never made or designed for a larger audience, many mainstream viewers may struggle with its shortcomings.
Resolution is a tense and well thought out horror mystery that goes much deeper than your typical “cabin in the woods” type affair. Complex in the telling, the solid acting takes a well written script and brings it astonishingly alive. A compelling mix of friendship, drug addiction, isolation, fear and the unknown make for an interesting and unique horror film.
Michael Danube (Peter Cilella) receives a video from best friend Chris Daniels (Vinny Curran) that shows Chris smoking drugs and shooting up the skyline with various weapons. Seeing the video from home, being concerned for his friend, Michael leaves his pregnant wife and travels to where Chris is currently held up to help him. Finding the video to be accurate, he chains Chris to the cabin wall and tells him he has a week to get clean. Testing the limits of their friendship, Chris has the reaction and painful attitude that any junkie suddenly cut off from supply would. Michael settles in and prepares for Chris to eventually come around to his way of thinking. During this, Michael starts taking walks, and along the way discovers a bevy of characters. There are drug addicts that want either drugs or money from Chris, who is hazy on the actual location of the drugs. The owner of the house wants them gone, sooner rather than later, and implies a threat of violence. A UFO cult, mental patients, various hobos and some unseen supernatural force that may or may not be ghosts, the result of devil worshipers, native spirits or a physics experiment gone awry are all present in one form or another and are given as a cause of unfolding events. Then again, they might not be. There is little gore or violence in this film and nearly everything is implied or alluded to, making it a much more interesting puzzle to figure out.
Michael has little to do beyond ensuring Chris stays put, and being chained, that isn’t very difficult. Boredom soon sets in and all the junk lying around seems like an interesting distraction. What at first appears to be novel soon becomes a little morbid as the things Chris is finding seem to not only contain a theme, but are linked oddly. Linking themselves in an odd pattern, the begin to point to something or someone directing the events currently taking place, including the original video sent to Michael. Chris, in the throes of withdrawal, only wants to be unlocked to do more drugs, isn’t particularly interested in the finds or their meanings. Eventually, even he sees there is something far more ominous and powerful at work. In dealing with not only Chris’ problems, and the other problems presenting themselves Michael acts with a confidence all will be well in the end. Even lying to his wife about the exact nature of the situation seems acceptable. Through the mist of the metaphysical, the two try to find reality and a solution to the growing presence that, well, wants an end to their particular story.
The key to this film is the lead actor’s ability to bring writer Justin Benson‘s script to life. Well acted by both leads, the material seems fresh and vibrant, with interludes of humor scattered throughout. Natural and believable as complete people, this film works as well as a character study as it does on every other level. The chemistry between the two actors has a particular authenticity that one tends to find in long standing friendships, easily relating stories and antidotes about one another as if from memory, rather than by script. Without this, the film could have easily fallen apart, or descended into silliness. Co directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead make the most of the leads acting abilities, creating a rich and subtle relationship between the two men.
In the end, what this film is about is horror. It’s a horror film for horror film fans. They want exactly what this film promises, and quite well delivers on. Clever, subtle, subversive and witty, it achieves a much greater whole than its parts might suggest. So much the better for those who might feel every plot element is random will discover it all has meaning, and purpose.
There has been a lot of attention around Ang Lee‘s next film Life of Pi. In great part it has to do with the movie being based on Yann Martel‘s international best-selling novel. It also has to do with the fact that this is Lee’s first foray into 3D filmmaking. Word is that he is really jumping in with both feet and fully enjoying using the technology.
Based on the trailer, the film is definitely going to be a visual delight and such a sight to take in. I am very eager to see this film. It is early and even though only the first round of films have been announced, I am still holding out hope that Moviejay has it right and we will get to see Life of Pi at the Toronto International Film Festival in the Fall.
Check out the trailer above and let me know if I am right here. Head over to Apple to see in HD.
About the Film Life of Pi is story of an Indian boy named Pi, a zookeeper’s son who finds himself in the company of a hyena, zebra, orangutan, and a Bengal tiger after a shipwreck sets them adrift in the Pacific. Life of Pi, based on Yann Martel‘s novel, is being directed in 3D by Oscar winning Taiwanese filmmaker Ang Lee. The cast includes Irrfan Khan, Adil Hussain and Tabu.
Life of Pi is scheduled for release November 21st , 2012.