Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Screamfest L.A. 2016

One of the joys of having been transferred down to Southern California from Chicago is proving to be gaining access to a whole new level of film festivals including this "kick" -- the annual Scream Fest L.A. -- apparently held each year in Hollywood around Halloween Time ;-).  Of the films that played at the Festival, I saw the following (and a couple of them should make it to the cinemas or at least art-houses around the country):

Happy Hunting [2016] (R) (written and directed by Joe Dietsch and Louie (Lucian) Gibson) was an AMERICAN "Horror-ish" (something of a "Splatter") movie about "Warren Novak" (played by Martin Dingle Wall) a "regular guy" with some issues, who drove into a sleepy Arizona border town on his way to eventually cross into Mexico to resolve some of said issues only to discover that said "sleepy little border town" had some doozies of its own: A once / "back in the day" "hunters' paradise," all the game in the area had been hunted-down / wiped-out long ago.  So ... the townsfolk resorted to creating a new tradition:  Each year, they'd round-up and then chase / hunt-down and kill some of their more problematic residents or passersby.  Well, poor Novak (his name literally meaning "New Guy") came into the wrong town at the wrong time.  With something of a drinking problem, he soon found himself in the local clink only to be driven out the next day to the outskirts of town to be one of the sacrificial victims in this town's demented attempt to preserve its "proud hunting tradition."  For as its folksy Sheriff (played by Greg Sturm) put it: "Without Tradition, what else do ya have left? Nothing."   Much along the lines of "Mulberry meets The Purge [2013-2016] / The Hunger Games [2013-2016]" ensues ... ;-) -- 2 1/2 Stars

The House (orig. Huset) [2016] (would be R) (written and directed by Reinert Kiil) was a NORWEGIAN entry to the Festival. Set during in the mountainous hinterlands of the country during Nazi Occupation, two German soldiers, an officer and an enlisted man (played by Frederik von Lüttichau and Mats Reinhardt respectively) with a captured Norwegian resistance fighter (played by Sondre Krogtoft Larsen) in tow, seeking to find shelter for the night in the midst of a if not driving snowstorm then just a steady, steady, no reason to believe that it would end soon, snowfall, come upon a seemingly nondescript if uninhabited (perhaps for the winter) House in said Countryside, which they then enter only to find, of course, that this was _really_ "the wrong house" to have come to.  From dreams, flashbacks and/visions that all three experience, it becomes clear that the house had some sort of a Tormented / Evil history in the Past (some sort of an Exorcism had been performed there in the Past, and indeed one of the rooms is just covered by Crosses, all of them hanging upside down ... never a good sign).  They _don't_ seem to be able TO LEAVE the environs of this House that they've entered.  Sure, they could make it outside -- into the steady but unending snow -- make it even fifty or so feet into the woods, but then somehow and always they'd find themselves waking-up again "in the House."  Why?  Was the House "cursed?" (well, Yes...) but there seemed to be something more going on.  It all made for a quite interesting Norwegian "Nazi occupation themed" Twilight Zone-ish [1959-1964] [wikip] [IMDb] film [1] [2] [3] -- 3 Stars.

Lake Bodom [2016] [IMDb] [CEu] (would be R) (directed and cowritten by Taneli Mustonen [IMDb] [CEu] along with Aleksi Hyvärinen [IMDb] [CEu]) a FINNISH / ESTONIAN "Friday the 13th-ish" film THOUGH INSPIRED BY AN ACTUAL 1960 incident in which three Finnish teenagers were actually murdered (and a fourth wounded) while camping by a Finnish lake named Bodom some 22 km outside of Helsinki.  In the current film, four teenagers (played by Mikael Gabriel [IMDb] [CEu], Santeri Helinheimo Mäntylä [IMDb] [CEu], Mimosa Willamo [IMDb] [CEu] and Nelly Hirst-Gee [IMDb] [CEu]) come to the Lake near the Anniversary of the notorious murder, ostensibly because Elias, the nerdiest of the group, "had a new theory about 'what really happened'" back in 1960.  All of the other teens had their own reasons for coming along, among them, of course "that they were teenagers" and ... BUT in any case, like in the recent Blair Witch [2016] remake, the new four start "dropping like flies ..."  What was going on?  Well that's the film, and actually though with its requisite (but actually not terribly exaggerated) amount of blood / gore, there's quite literally a certain "campiness" / humor to the movie and its various often quite funny plot twists.  All in all, though certainly a B-movie, certainly not a bad one -- 2 1/2 Stars.

Inicuo: The Brotherhood [2016] (orig. Inicuo: La Hermanidad) [IMDb] [FA.es]* (would be R) (written and directed by Alejandro Alegre [IMDb] [FA.es]*) was a MEXICAN entry to the Festival that proved simply too Dark for me to stay through.  It was the only film in the Festival that I saw that I got up and left from (Dear Readers, as I've written before [1] [2] [3], just because one buys a ticket to a movie does not mean that one has to sit through the entirety of a film.  There are films that for any number of reasons one could decide: "Okay, I've had enough," and just get-up and leave.  The film here was about a twenty something young adult named Federico (played by Isaac Perez Calzada [IMDb] [FA.es]*) who after experiencing a good deal of pain and betrayals in his life founded a Cult that sought to perform Ritual Revenge on those perceived to have hurt him / the other members of his Group (the Cult).  Again, pretty Dark stuff ... I suppose it reminds viewers that (1) Betrayals / Evil exist and, actually, (2) that Revenge is NOT EXACTLY the "best approach" in dealing said Evil (even if Evil doers would perhaps deserve their due).  Still IMHO the film takes Viewers on a truly Dark path to make the point -- 1 1/2 Stars

The Unseen [2016] (would be R) (written and directed by Geoff Redknap) was a CANADIAN entry to the Festival that may feel to many, especially younger viewers, to be at least partly inspired by the Marvel Comics Wolverine movies.  Ten years back, seemingly regular guy, logger Bob Langmore (played by Aden Young) for reasons unclear upped and simply left his former wife Darlene (played by Camille Sullivan) and then 7 year old daughter Amelia (played now as a 17-year old by Max Chadburn) leaving a terrible hole in their lives that neither had been able to fully patch.  Yet despite obvious anger by both toward their former husband / father, Darlene comes to the conclusion that she simply has to look him up again because Amelia now was beginning to act very, very strange.  What was going on?  Well the story that unspools gives new context to Bob's previous abandonment of his family and is portrayed, at least in part symbolically, in a truly spectacular cinematic fashion.  Honestly, this film ought to win awards for its cinematography / makeup and even screenwriting / direction or at minimum open doors for the artists/film-makers responsible!  Excellecnt job here! -- 3 Stars.

* Reasonably good (sense) translations of non-English webpages can be found by viewing them through Google's Chrome browser. 

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