Fantastic Fest got started with the world premiere of Frankenweenie, followed by this weekend’s big opener Dredd 3D. Fortunately I had seen both at press screening so I could spend day one watching movies I’d largely never heard of, looking for something awesome.
I started out thinking Black Out was going to be this year’s Headhunters. It seemed to be an amnesia crime thriller with high energy and wit. Then it quickly became a Guy Ritchie overcluttered caper with not-that-funny inept crooks bumbling at each other. Yup, the Dutch can rip off Tarantino just like the Brits. Jos (Ramond Thiry) wakes up next to a dead body and doesn’t remember how he got there. That’s cool. The web of thieves botching their attempts to steal a stash of cocaine is unnecessary. I like Jos and I really like the villain Vlad (Simon Armstrong). I don’t want to see all these other characters, even the hot hitwomen (Katja and Birgit Schuurman) who talk about movies. By now the post-Tarantino sudden bursts of violence are passé too. The climax in a bowling alley is awesome though. The extra half star is for that.
Like all anthology movies, there’s one that’s great and one mediocre one. Three stories by Korean filmmakers all deal with some form of apocalypse. The opener, “A Brave New World” is a horrible viral outbreak piece that thinks being grosser, bloodier and weirder makes it cool. It doesn’t. “The Heavenly Creature” is a more A.I. sort of take on a potential robot holocaust. The idea of a spiritual robot in a Buddhist temple is interesting, but it is slow and plodding about it. “Happy Birthday” is my speed, just an absurd comic romp through an asteroid hitting the earth and one family living in an underground shelter. The newscasters and QVC broadcasts have a wonderfully irreverent take on the final 12 hours, beyond this summer’s Seeking a Friend for the End of the World.
A Brave New World:
The Heavenly Creature:
Here Comes the Devil
I’m a big fan of director Adrian Garcia Bogliano. His Cold Sweat was amazing and Penumbra was very entertaining. Here Comes the Devil is another strong entry from a mature, confident filmmaker. Sol (Laura Caro) and Felix (Francisco Barreiro)’s children get lost, but return changed. The film fascinatingly explores the practical real world analysis that parents and doctors would give to potentially traumatized children. Then it goes in wildly horrific directions. What makes these twists even stronger is that the married couple is really sympathetic and passionate. The film’s sex scenes are hot, like encounters you may have really had in real relationships. Carro especially portrays a compassionate mother and a sexy empowered woman, with Barreiro as a supportive, but human, husband.
CraveOnline will be at Fantastic Fest all week reviewing more movies and interviewing filmmakers!