Celluloid Diaries: Sitges Film Festival 2013 {part 2}

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Sitges Film Festival 2013 {part 2}

Sitges Film Festival 2013 poster

This is the second part of my wrap-up of the Sitges Film Festival 2013. You can find the first part at Sitges Film Festival 2013 {part 1}.


The week started with a morning screening of Frankenstein's Army. It's 1945. Russian soldiers push their way into Germany through Poland. Their mission is to aid Russian squadrons in need of assistance. When they enter an abandoned church's maze of underground hallways, they are attacked by mutated machine creatures. The atmosphere of Frankenstein's Army is macabre and creepy. The creatures are the best I've seen in a long time. Once the nutty professor who made these creatures shows up, though, the film changes pace and the cleverly constructed suspense falls apart.

In the afternoon I went to see the movies Coherence and Sapi. Coherence turned out to be one of the festival's biggest surprises. A dinner among friends is interrupted by a passing comet that knocks out electricity, Internet connections and cell phone services. All lights in the neighborhood are out, save one house two blocks down the street. Turns out that lit place is the perfect replica of their own house occupied by alternate versions of themselves. Coherence is a well-crafted, clever story about survival, choices, quantum physics, and Schrödinger's cat. The film was presented at the Sitges Film Festival in the presence of director James Ward Byrkit and actor Nicholas Brandon (known from Buffy).

The Philippine Sapi (aka Possession) was the worst film I saw at the Sitges Film Festival. Two competing television teams hope to expand their audiences by chasing a variety of demonic possession cases. Not much happened and I left the film after one hour. The people sitting next to me were sleeping.

Next was We Are What We Are, a story about a family who turns to cannibalism once in a while because they believe that refusing to do so will kill them. I was really looking forward to this film as many people described it as a masterpiece with an extremely disturbing ending. The concept contained many original elements and the movie was beautifully made. Still, I was never really touched by anything that happened.

Hotel Meliã swimming pool
Hotel Meliã Sitges
red carpet Sitges
Sitges Film Festival 2013


Tuesday morning started with a screening of the no-budget horror Demon's Rook. If I had found this film at a flea market thinking it was an unknown Z-movie from the eighties, I would have probably thought it was a good find. Reminiscent of movies such as Demon Wind and The Video Dead in terms of performances, build-up, horror, and special effects, I constantly had to remind myself to try and appreciate this movie for what it was and not compare it to general modern filmmaking. Once I managed to do so, I actually enjoyed The Demon's Rook, especially the music, the look of the demons, and the use of colors.

After The Demon's Rook I took the time to catch up on some work near the hotel swimming pool before heading to the Auditori to support director Bruno Forzani and illustrator Gilles Vranckx for the presentation of their movie L'étrange Couleur des Larmes de ton Corps . Turned out it was a treat for eyes and ears. Certainly a style I hadn't come across before. A mix between gialo and experimental meta-film made to very high standards.

The day ended with Enemy. Jake Gyllenhaal plays a history professor who discovers that some local actor looks and sounds exactly like him. He arranges for them to meet. With its doppelgänger theme, symbolism and refusal to explain what's going on in an obvious way, Enemy was by far the best film of the festival. It's even the best film of the year. Based on the novel The Double by Jose Saramago.

Bruno Forzani and Gilles Vranckx
Vivero Sitges


The first movie I saw on Wednesday, Open Grave, starts with a man waking up in an open grave of rotting bodies. His past is a blur. When he meets other individuals with amnesia-like symptoms, they work together in order to find out what happened to them and what they're heading towards. What I loved most about Open Grave is that the way I expected the story to proceed wasn't at all what it turned out to be.

Dark Touch, which came next, was all about evil kids, and you all know how much I love that subject. However, Dark Touch didn't have the same impact on me as most other movies in the genre. While technically well-made, it's a bit too cliché for its own good.

Cheap Thrills was the last movie I saw on Wednesday. An auto mechanic gets an eviction notice posted on his door on the same day his boss lays him off. He stops for a beer and meets a rich couple who makes casual dares in return for money: "I'll give you 50 bucks if you can get that lady at the bar to slap you." As the intensity of the dares escalates, so does the money. Lots of quirky humor make for the perfect horror festival movie. Not sure if Cheap Thrills will be equally fun on a small screen.

port of Sitges
Sitges boats
port of Sitges


On Thursday I took the plane back to Belgium. But not without seeing two more movies: Big Bad Wolves and Only Lovers Left Alive.

Big Bad Wolves is an Israeli film from the makers of Rabies. A man whose daughter was raped and murdered takes the law into his own hands by kidnapping and torturing the suspect. Big Bad Wolves is one large torture scene interspersed with clever humorous intervals that amp up the tension instead of releasing it. It's all pretty repetitive, but it works.

The last film I saw at the Sitges Film Festival was Jim Jarmusch' latest, Only Lovers Left Alive. Jarmusch tackles vampires who overcome their eternal boredom through the appreciation of art and objects. Only Lovers Left Alive has many redeeming qualities such as the Moroccan filming locations, the fitting music, and the visual flair. However, those qualities didn't make up for the unlikable characters, easy script, and ridiculous humor.

Sitges at dusk
Sitges at dusk


  1. I'll skip Big Bad Wolves - torture porn is not my thing - but I'll watch for Demon's Rook. I like a good throwback film.

  2. This all sounds so fascinating! (And the scenery is pretty gorgeous too!) It sounds like you saw some really great films. ☺

  3. WE ARE WHAT WE ARE sounds like a perfect movie to avoid :)

  4. Wow, you got to see so many films! Coherence and Enemy both sound really great. Happy Friday! I hope you have a great weekend! :)

  5. This sounds like such a fun time seeing all those films! I'd love to do a film festival some time.


  6. I thought your name sounded familiar when I saw it in my inbox this morning with such a thoughtful comment. Then I came back here and thought, yes. The lovely woman who posted all those nourishing blue skies at the film festival!

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