Published at: Sept. 20, 2007, 12:28 p.m. CST by merrick
Hola all. Massawyrm here.
Round two of some films you shouldn't miss (CLICK HERE FOR ROUND ONE)!
The Cold Hour
See this movie. See this movie. See this movie. See this movie. See this movie. Seriously. Do not look up the description, do not watch the trailer, do not check IMDB. Go into this knowing as little as humanly possible in hopes that no one spoils a single god damned surprise. If you've bought a badge for Fantastic Fest, this film is exactly the type of film you are hoping to see. Is it science fiction? Survival horror? Post-apocalyptic? It's a little bit of all three.
This is something akin to Day of the Dead without the whole military versus civilian theme and without taking one iota from Romero's universe. The Cold Hour is its own, self-contained, entirely original story. Set after some great catastrophe, a group of survivors dutifully exist in an underground bunker, dealing with their day in/day out routines, interpersonal relationships and the occasional supernatural invasion. Oh, and the entire story is told from the point of view of an eight year old boy in love with the only other surviving child in his camp.
Beautifully complex and a complete joy to watch, The Cold Hour never stops evolving – its small story constantly growing as you begin to grasp what exactly is going on. With surprises around every corner, this movie puts itself head and shoulders above most other films of its type because no matter how big a story element is, the focus always remains on the characters and how it relates to them. Director Elio Quirogo comes out of the gate with his directorial debut feeling very much like the Spanish Danny Boyle. Poetically told and beautifully realized, this film might not just be the best film I'll see at the fest, but one of the best genre films I'll see all year. Prepare to say WOW. This comes with the Highest of possible recommendations.
Exte: Hair Extensions
Once in a while a film comes along in which the premise alone just seems downright silly. So silly that you imagine the film in your head, giggle to yourself and then move along, assuming that there is no way the movie on the screen could be better than the one in your head. Exte is NOT that kind of film. Exte is the even more rare silly as fuck sounding film that actually, if somehow mystically, turns out to be a far superior film than one could ever imagine for the premise.
Wait for it. Wait for it. Wait for it….Exte is J-horror, about killer hair extensions that slaughter their wearer after being installed. I know. It sounds DTV awful. It sounds like something Vern would be all over. Instead it is actually a creepy little horror film that gains its extraordinary power from the very human story it has to tell. Rather than the usual horror setup in which we meet people just nice enough that we hope they don't die, Exte gives us a pair of really enthralling characters: an adorable woman whose only goal in life is to become a great hairstylist and the abused daughter of her raging cunt of a sister. When our heroine is forced to take in her niece and discovers the abuse, the subsequent change from giggling student to motherhood is incredibly moving. Then when people begin dying around them, the setup for some real tension takes you through a premise that otherwise would be laughable at best. This film works because you genuinely care more about the relationship between these two characters than you do about the dropping bodies, the gore or the suspense. So when they get put in jeopardy, that gets ratcheted up tenfold and the payoff is wonderful.
Often times people use the phrase "This is better than it has any right to be" but mean it as a backhanded compliment. This time it is actually true. A movie about killer hair extensions shouldn't have me on the edge of my seat wondering if the main character is going to resolve these motherhood issues. But it does. And when it is not busy being moving, it has just the right amount of fun with the whole hair killing people thing. Don't get me wrong, as serious as this is at times, it can be equally silly. But there's a reason Tim and Co have put pieces of this film all over their FF trailers. It is the perfect example of what Fantastic Fest is. Definitely recommended for horror, but especially J-horror fans.
From Fantastic Fest Alum (and director of Hatchet) Adam Green comes this decidedly different psychological thriller illustrating that this guy is far more than your run of the mill horror director. If anything, sitting down to watch this showed me just how versatile a talent he is. This guy gets it on a genetic level. There is nothing but the main actor (Joel Moore, who also co-directed and wrote the script) that betrays that this is remotely the same guy. The shot structure, the language of its storytelling, the depth of its characters – everything is radically different from Hatchet. Except the budget.
Another micro-budget horror film, Spiral is the story of a disturbed artist and perpetual loser (Moore) who meets what might just be the perfect woman (Amber Tamblyn). But is he going through the motions toward killing her, or is he just losing his mind?
What seems to be traveling down familiar and somewhat clichéd roads keeps taking interesting turns at all the right moments, keeping this story fresh and relatively unpredictable. It is equal parts sweet and disturbing, providing a trio of very interesting characters that slowly move towards a perfect climax. For those eager to take a break from buckets of blood, gratuitous sex and the altogether supernatural, Spiral is the tense, well plotted character drama you're looking for. Strongly recommended.
And traveling further down the road of the psychological thriller we come to Offscreen, Christopher Boe's film from Denmark that I will say right now is NOT for everyone. Only the most sophisticated of tastes are going to appreciate Offscreen for its art imitating life imitating art. This is the story of a young actor who becomes obsessed with appearing on camera. So much so that he begins to make his own documentary about himself. The result disintegrates his marriage and in his depression he decides what better way to win back the love of his life than to make a movie about trying to win her back. And, oh yeah, the guy is completely losing his mind.
I've seen a lot of the psudo-documentaries, especially back during my tenure as the indie-indie guy, but I never truly became enthralled with one like I did this. The character here becomes so painfully unglued that you can't take your eyes off of him – and making matters worse is that he's a local celebrity, so people at first take his disturbed behavior in stride, then all step aside as he completely implodes.
But as fascinating a character study as it is, this only comes Recommended to those who are prepared to watch an hour and a half of talking and self-destructive behavior before anything radical happens. Think about this for a second. It's a Danish character piece art film shot on video. If you don't know whether or not this movie is for you after reading that sentence, then here's a tip – it's probably not. Those intrigued by the premise, however, are in for a real treat.
Alright, one more and we're off to Fantastic fest!
Until next time friends, smoke ‘em if ya got ‘em.