Celluloid Diaries: BIFFF 2010 - 28th Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

BIFFF 2010 - 28th Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival

I gave an introduction to several movies at the 28th Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival (BIFFF) in April. It was also an opportunity to do TV interviews, to reunite with friends, to watch movies, and to sip After Liquid Chocolate Liqueur in the VIP bar.

Here are the films I got to see. What do you think are the best BIFFF moments?

BIFFF 2010

The Fourth Kind claims to be a re-enactment of actual alien abduction cases which occurred in the northern Alaskan town of Nome. The film uses split screen techniques to show actress Milla Jovovich playing out specific situations alongside supposed documentary footage. The movie is intriguing as long as you believe that the documentary parts might be real, but once the story becomes farfetched the creepy atmosphere in the vein of The Mothman Prophecies dies out.

An entertaining mix between CubeSaw and Home Alone. A burglar breaks into a chic mansion that has been turned into a lethal trap: machetes are sweeping through the air, knives are swinging from the chandeliers, and a murderer is lurking somewhere in the shadows. Best scene: the one with the cat.

Survival of the Dead has some good ideas, but George Romero brings nothing new to the genre. If you like his previous zombie movies (especially the latter ones), the might like Survival of the Dead as well.


I can understand why this movie gets so many awards at other fantastic film festivals and why Entertainment Weekly classified it among the 25 best zombie movies of all time. It's intriguing, fast-moving and higly original.

Daybreakers is so original that it reinvents the horror genre, but I never really got into the movie. From the Spierig Brothers (Undead).

I was a little suspicious about this fairy tale from director Neil Jordan, but I found myself being captivated by its beauty. Alicja Bachleda-Curus is perfect as the selkie.

Patrick Van Hauwaert and Koen Wijnants

The Human Centipede started as silly but entertaining and ended up as one of the most disgusting movies I've ever seen (even though everything is suggested instead of shown). These words are often used to describe almost any gore flick, but this was the first film where I felt nauseous watching it. The sequel to The Human Centipede is already in the making.

Another romantic film at the BIFFF. This time it's about a nifty, little gadget that can predict the day you will meet the love of your life and what you do when the timer of the person you fall in love with isn't indicating the same date. Timer is a clever comedy with a very high romance factor. Very much recommened for everyone who's into this type of film.

I have to admit that I've only watched half of this boring Dario Argento film about a serial killer. What happened to the Argento of CreepersTrauma and The Stendhal Syndrome?

Lance Henriksen

My friends found this Faust-like film too slow-paced and most of them even left before it was finished. I liked it though, especially the mysterious atmosphere, the look of the demons, and Jim Sturgess' touching performance.

Reykjavik Whale Watching Massacre is a slasher film from Iceland about a family of whalers that kills whale watchers instead of whales. The idea for the movie is hilarious, but director Julius Kemp doesn't take advantage of the setting and the premise with the result that the film becomes nothing more than an ordinary slasher.

A bloodthirsty monster terrorizes a poor family and its neighbours. All the elements are there to make a fun horror movie (monsters, witchcraft, black magic, an original social-realist setting), but we never really get to care for the characters and the story.

Vanessa Morgan

A deeply religious catholic priest turns into a vampire. I loved Park Chan-Wook's Sympathy For Mr. VengeanceOld Boy and Sympathy For Lady Vengeance, but my mind just kept wandering off while watching Thirst.

Valhalla Rising

Slow-moving actors, hardly any dialogue, misty images... Some people call this film hypnotic and overwhelmingly beautiful, others call it painfully boring and meaningless. Even though I have to admit that the images are gorgeous, that the atmopshere is dreamy and that there are several layers to the story, it's still a bit of a drag to sit through.


Very entertaining paint-by-numbers film about an orphan who manipulates her new family. The twist ending makes Orphan stand out. Winner of the BIFFF 2010.

Stephane Halleux

Several inhabitants of an apartment building commit suicide in this Korean film about possession and black magic. Nothing special.

Life And Death Of A Porno Gang

It looks like Serbian films are the new fad in today's horror cinema. I missed the best and most violent one at the BIFFF (A Serbian Film), but I had the chance to see the less stylish Life and Death of a Porno Gang. The first half of the film is pornography, the second half is about Serbians decapitating people with chainsaws. Weirdly enough, both A Serbian Film and Life and Death of a Porno Gang are about porn stars making snuff movies. It's common knowledge that the porn industry is very much alive in Serbia; who knows what else they are doing over there.

When Michael Winterbottom makes a film, we just know it's going to be good. This story about a killer who thinks he's clever in hiding the traces of his murders but who's actually the talk of the town, is no exception to his talent. With Casey Affleck, Elias Koteas, Jessica Alba, Kate Hudson and Bill Pullman.

Tour & Taxis


Fake documentary about the vampire community in Belgium. Vincent Lannoo takes place behind the camera and comes up with some very funny ideas... and some really annoying ones. The result is an unbalanced film that moves way too slow to be good.

I expected something more twisted from this remake of the 1973 George Romero classic about a biological weapon that turns the inhabitants of a small, American town into crazy, murderous people.Not really bad, but not good either.

Evil - In the Time of Heroes

The Greek zombie film Evil / To Kako was an immediate cult hit, even though it was extremely low budget. As the finances for the sequel Evil - In the Time of Heroes increased, the quality of the film improved as well. Some of the scenes look as if Guy Ritchie was behind the camera, but not the whole film is on the same level. Just the fact that the movie takes place in modern-day Athens, makes Evil - In the Time of Heroes worth watching.

Thierry Phlips

What a brilliant movie this was! Everything was perfect about it. It reminded me a lot of the French movie Un prophète, but Celda 211 was more engaging than the latter. The movie received 8 Goya Awards (the Spanish Oscars) and a reward from the thriller jury at BIFFF.

The Detour

I was hoping to find at least one good idea in The Detour - just one would have been enough - but all I got was a succession of clichés. The premise looked engaging though: a young couple takes a detour and ends up in the woods where a crazy family has installed dozens of surveillance cameras with the idea of tracking their human prey.

The closing film of the 28th Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival pokes fun at the comic book superheroes. It's impossible not to laugh with Kick-Ass, although it doesn't deserve the buzz it currently gets. Based on Mark Millar's comic book series.

Special thanks to Patrick and Nadine from the RAZOR REEL FANTASTIC FILM FESTIVAL (RRFFF) for the pictures.


  1. Here's my list.
    I think the quality of the 2010 BIFFF was better than recent years ( though much depends on the movies you sometimes randomly select ).

    Rating "excellent"
    - The door
    - Deliver us from evil ( though Ole Bornedal himself was not easy to interview )
    - Rampage ( my first Uwe Boll film, and the guy is a dream to interview )
    - Thirst ( perhaps 15 minutes too long, but original and good acting )
    - Celda 211
    - The killer inside me ( perfect film noir, we don't see enough of these anymore )
    - Kick-Ass ( original, funny, good story )

    Rating "good"
    - Heartless : indeed many people didn't like it but I liked it too for the performance of Jim Sturges and the images of London
    - Symbol : original, but too many variations on the same (good) idea.

    Rating "bad"
    - The fourth kind ( boring )
    - Duress ( didn't even finish it )


  2. Another BIFFF has gone, I'm still all alone... No, this is not Michael Jackson's new remix. Just a last few words about the BIFFF 2010. This is the best event in Brussels, and probably in Belgium. Meeting people, having a drink, watching films, discovering artists at the exhibition. In a nutshell : getting closer to a fourth dimension made of fear and fun. Ain't nothing like it, baby !

  3. Another BIFFF has gone, I'm still all alone... No, this is not Michael Jackson's new remix. Just a few "last words" about the BIFFF 2010. This is the best event in Brussels, and probably in Belgium. Meeting people, having a drink, watching films, discovering artists at the exhibition. In a nutshell : getting closer to a fourth dimension made of fear and fun. Ain't nothing like it, baby ! Be sure to be there next year, so we, vampire souls, can catch you !

  4. And don't forget to read "Drowned Sorrow". Vanessa Morgan is a number one !

  5. As Piet wrote it, I must also admit that the selection of this year is better than last year.
    I really like your reviews. I mostly agree with them.
    It's too bad you haven't seen A serbian film. Even if the basic idea is the same than the one for life and death of a porno gang, A serbian film goes much farther than the other film. It's the 1st time I felt sick in watching a movie.


  6. The BIFFF had a good edition this year! As a matter of fact so good, that we simply can’t compare it with last years selection! However you can’t blame BIFFF for that, they have to choose from whatever is out there!

    Due to the fact I was part of the Thriller Jury I had some obligations for BIFFF and thus I could not see as much films as usual! But hey I’m not complaining! After all I clock down on about 29 movies. If you add the four of them that I have seen on previous festivals (not to mention our own Razor Reel Festival in November) the count comes to 33! That’s exactly 50% of the screened films.

    So asking me to make a selection is not that easy and making a top five is just plain horror, but that’s what it is all about, isn’t it. And if I think about the big kiss I’m receiving from the host of this blog for doing this, then I’m gladly going through the horror of selecting.

    It might come to a surprise to many, but “Pontypool” is amongst my top five! Honest, refreshing and original...are some words that come to my mind! Sure the end of the film was a bit lame and the word game was silly, but come to think of it! A disease hidden in a language…ah you should think this one is typical Belgian, but you’re wrong it’s Canadian and those Frenchies don’t like the English speaking majority for sure!

    Another one that stole my heart is “Cargo”. This Swiss Sci-fi flick owes as much to Alien as it does to Solyaris and 2001. Made with seemingly great production values this one is truly a nice addition to the sci-fi genre! Don’t think Star Trek (except maybe for Star Trek : the Motion Picture) or Star Wars for once but think about the real classics. When the government is building on your dreams you can be sure it will become a nightmare in the end.

    “Celda 211”, the Spanish prison flick was another great movie that I really enjoyed from the beginning till the end! Daniel Mozon goes away from all the usual cliché’s (and yet there are still many of them in this film) to make a very good film about a simple and honest man who accidentally get locked up in prison! To survive he has to act like a criminal, be a criminal and ultimately become a criminal. No rape scenes or lots of female nudity cause this is not a woman in prison film, but a prison film. Sorry guys.

    Another Spanish movie that did get my attention was “The Orphan”! This film doesn’t bring anything new to the beaten path of possessed children movies, except maybe it is not about a possessed child at all! Can’t say much more but if you like films like “The Children” and “The Omen” this crossbreed will certainly turn you on. Star of the film is the 11 year old Isabelle Fuhrman.

    Last but not least on my list is “Slice”. This Thai movie about a cross gender killer was for a very long time my favorite of the thriller section! Editing is perfect, The “mise en scene” is simply said great, camera views and movement is superb and the story is well fit! The only drawback to this film is that it takes a bit to long to get sucked into it, but beware this is one of the strongest flicks I have seen in a long time.

    Sure there where much more interesting films! When I come to think of it there was also “The Door”, “the Hidden”, “Adelé Blanc-Sec”, Deliver Us from Evil, “Rampage”, “Salomon Kane” and “Thrist” that are one for one films that I enjoyed quite well, however none of them touched me as much as those five above! But BIFFF is more then just films! It is also a gathering of friends, people you meet once a year for thirteen days, hanging out with other film lovers, drinking Troll again,…it is one of those happenings that make you feel good, no matter what mood you’re in! for those of you who can’t wait for another eleven months to have this feeling feel free to check out the Razor Reel Fantastic Film Festival in Bruges! Each year early November Bruges is in the grip of fear, fantasy and sci-fi! Come have a drink in the festival lounge, chat with one of our guest and since you are there, why not try a film or two!

    ---Pat ---

  7. Thanks a lot for your description of the festival. I went to see the films SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD and REYKJAVIK WHALE WATCHING MASSACRE and those two didn't live up to the expectations. Your book was more entertaining.

  8. From what I've seen, I'd agree with Piet about the quality being better than recent years. I did miss many of the most talked-about films, but in my opinion the ones worth mentioning this year were the following:
    -Symbol. It had it all. Absurd and hilarious, yet deep and moving. A true gem.
    -Thirst. I must admit I haven't seen the vengeance trilogy yet, so I can't compare. Loved the atmosphere in this one, though.
    -Valhalla rising, even though I would say it depends on your state of mind. It's a bit like watching a beautiful photo exhibit or something: you will definitely be disappointed if you expect "entertainment".
    -Kick-ass. A great popcorn flick. Nothing more, nothing less.
    -Deliver us from evil. Worth a look if you’re into Danish cinema. Not groundbreaking, but a few nice ideas, which could have been taken a little further.
    -A Serbian film. Tries so hard to shock the audience that - for me at least - it doesn’t work anymore. I’m just not buying it, as it quickly turns into this caricature of violence, yet takes itself seriously. As for the story, it’s really nothing new either. Some say I’m just shielding myself from the violence by seeing it that way. Maybe they’re right, although my limit of tolerance is usually very high, but to be honest I don’t really see the point of this movie unless you’re into violence porn.


  9. Attack of the Serbian Monster. Night of the Serbian Monster. Dawn of the Serbian Monster. Day of the Serbian Monster. Serbian Monsters From Outer Space. Serbian Monsters From The Deep.

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