Fantastic Fest, the largest genre film festival in the U.S., specializing in horror, fantasy, sci-fi, action and just plain fantastic movies from all around the world, starts here in Austin tomorrow! Over the next several days, I’m previewing the movies I plan on seeing and blogging about over the course of the week long festival.
Alicia is devastated by the death of her beloved husband, Jorge. Not surprised, but devastated nonetheless. Not surprised because Jorge, a practitioner of the occult with remarkable powers, foresaw his own death and warned his beloved wife ahead of time. Warned her and left her with instructions on how to bring him back. And Alicia intends to follow those instructions to the letter.
And so, just a few days after Jorge’s death, Alicia has gathered their closest friends in their home to undertake the rite Jorge laid out for them. A rite that she tells her friends will send their love shining out like a beacon through the afterlife, a shining beacon to guide Jorge home. Yes, there will be difficulties. All involved may find themselves visited by the spirits of their own dead. But – and this is important – as long as all involved stay inside the house they will be perfectly safe. Nothing can harm them there.
Alicia is lying, of course, the ritual and its risks not exactly as she has presented them to her guests. And it quickly becomes clear that not everyone will survive until the morning.
A compelling fusion of visual bravado and reckless energy, LA MEMORIA DEL MUERTO announces the arrival of a major new talent in Argentina’s Valentin Javier Diment. Blending the DIY bravado and grotesque sense of humor of an EVIL DEAD II era Sam Raimi with the baroque sensibilities of classic giallo, LA MEMORIA DEL MUERTO is simply astounding in its ambitions and even moreso in its ability to accomplish those ambitions on a tiny budget. Diment is clearly some sort of gonzo genius and this the film that he packed all of his loves and obsessions into as though afraid he’ll never get the chance again. (Todd Brown)
Sandy (Olivia Croicchia) is a high school freshman. She is a self- described loser, an outcast. She is infatuated with a high school senior named Ashley (Madison Riley). Sandy convinces her dad (Corin Nemec) to let Ashley stay over while he is out of town. Ashley takes up the offer on the condition that they secretly hold a party at the house. As the party dies down, Ashley’s ex-boyfriend (Christopher Backus) shows up. After a series of disastrous events, he ends up dead and the two girls have to clean up the mess.
BESTIES is the featured debut of writer-director Rebecca Perry Cutter and delivers a smart, clever twist on a familiar coming-of-age thriller formula. The film differentiates itself from the pack by rooting its story in the strange relationship between the two main characters. Ashley is manipulative and self-absorbed. On the other hand, Sandy is a confused naif. She knows that Ashley is manipulating her, but a mixture of admiration and sexual desire keeps her engaged. The film smartly plays off this dynamic to create an atmosphere of awkward tension and suspense. Cutter also injects issues of class into the mix, thus adding an additional layer of subtext to an already loaded scenario. (Rodney Perkins)
Charged with the theft of a bag of precious diamonds and the murder of his partner in crime, Cordero is comatose and chained to a hospital bed on an isolated and otherwise empty overflow floor. Officer Jane is the stern, by-the-book policewoman guarding Cordero’s room when he wakes from his coma and immediately claims he was framed in the killing of his partner. The two quickly establish a playful rapport, which is broken when Cordero makes his first escape attempt. His efforts to slip away prove to be the least of Officer Jane’s worries as violent, no-nonsense crime kingpin Louis Holland arrives at the hospital looking for the jewels. Officer Jane finds herself trapped on an empty hospital floor guarding her prisoner and trying to find a way out while Holland is quick to prove he intends to maintain the upper hand.
Director Jason Lapeyre (who comes to Fantastic Fest with this and another film, I DECLARE WAR) squeezes every bit of excitement out of a setup that’s limited in scope but not in cleverness. Combining crime, thriller and some occasional humor elements, COLD BLOODED moves at an incredible pace and is smattered with some seriously violent moments proving that no character can ever be considered safe. Holland is a formidable baddie, a brash hulk of a man who’s unflinchingly evil when anyone stands in his way. Officer Jane is a refreshingly well-rounded female lead character, a woman intent on doing what is right and just, regardless of the cost to her own well being. As the two collide, COLD BLOODED shows how much fun a movie with just a handful of characters in a single location can really be. (Brian Kelley)
Phillipe Lefebvre’s PARIS BY NIGHT is a sleek French cop thriller that follows a pair of vice cops as they patrol the Parisian club scene over the course of a single evening. Simon Weiss (Roschdy Zem from SLEEPLESS NIGHT and POINT BLANK) plays a suave chain-smoking, hard-drinking cop with the brigade mondaine. Wiess’ job is to make sure the Parisian night clubs operate legally, but his methods of enforcing the law are unorthodox. In exchange for cash and crime tips, he doles out favors to numerous club owners, including his friend Tony Garcia (Samuel Le Bihan from BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF and FRONTIER(S)). Each night, a different colleague chauffeurs Weiss around Paris. On this particular evening, Sergeant Laurence Deray joins Weiss as his driver. A seemingly normal shift evolves into a long night of beat downs and shake downs.
PARIS BY NIGHT provides a behind-the-scenes look at the seductive and dangerous world of the Parisian club scene. The film is based on the experiences of co-writer Phillipe Asard, who worked with the Paris vice squad for fifteen years. In fact, PARIS BY NIGHT was shot entirely in the same clubs that Asard once worked as a cop. In the film, Weiss and Deray are constantly in motion, weaving in and out of tight-knit network of bars, brothels, and dives. Each stop on the beat introduces the audience to a motley array of characters, ranging from mobsters and drug dealers to hookers and drag queens. Over time, the seemingly routine trips reveal become parts of a puzzle that suggests that Weiss is involved in something far elaborate simple graft and bribery. PARIS BY NIGHT is an intoxicating ride through a seductive world of booze, drugs, and sleaze. (Rodney Perkins)