I just spent five days at the Razor Reel Fantastic Film Festival where I hosted several Q&A sessions with filmmakers. Apart from those Q&A sessions, I also had to chance to see thirteen movies. Here's a little overview.
The Razor Reel Fantastic Film Festival started on Friday with a fun film quiz hosted by Zeno Pictures and RRFFF.
Cinco De Mayo: La Batalla was first. The film wasn't meant to entertain, touch or innovate. It's all about teaching its audience about the events that led to the battle of Puebla on May 5, 1892. That day, the Mexican army, guided by Zaragoza, defeated the French army, guided by Count Lorencez. The French wanted to install their own emperor in Mexico, but the Mexicans were not pleased and war was inevitable. A good film to watch at school, not at a horror film festival.
The next movie was On Air, a German slasher/torture porn with hints of Saw. A pirate radio show host gets a serial killer as a calling guest in his show. The killer decides to play a game. The stakes: the life or death of his new victim. Fast editing makes On Air entertaining and easy to watch. Many people liked it, saying it was one of the most gripping serial killer movies of recent years. The predictability ruined a lot, though.
The Dead 2: India was way better in comparison. This time, the zombie outbreak takes place in the overpopulated India, with mass zombie attacks as a result. The film is eerie, atmospheric and more touching than the majority of horror films. Only downside: the local actors didn't measure up to the quality of the movie.
After the screening of The Dead 2: India, I hosted a Q&A with its director, Howard J. Ford. He talked about the difficulties he encountered while filming in India (at a certain point children lapidated the crew), about the supposedly haunted filming location where no one had been for over fifty years, and about the possibility of a third installment to the series.
Later in the evening, I watched the humorous zombie flick Stalled. It's New Year's Eve. A janitor has to replace light bulbs when everyone else is having a party. Just when he's trapped in a woman's toilet, the zombie apocalypse takes place. Pretty original and funny but way too talkative.
I ended the day with a midnight screening of Truth Or Dare from Jessica Cameron. While it's not the first movie that mixes the famous game with blood-soaked horror, Truth Or Dare sets itself apart with its high level of goriness and stupidity. A few extra rounds of rewriting would have brought more logic to the script. The participants are being tortured when they respond to a "truth" question with a lie. It's immediately clear that the enquirer already knows the answers to the very strange questions he asks, but the participants keep lying. So when they have all confessed that they are child molesters, drag queens or incest addicts (who knew everyone had secrets like that), they choose "dare," don't mind if that means you have to cut off your nipples or eat glass. Apparently, it's better to be crippled or dead instead of telling a truth that will be revealed anyway. Luckily, the high level of blood and gore matches the level of stupidity. In the end, the dares become quite sickening. If you like your movies gruesome, then Truth Or Dare may be a fun ride. But be prepared to get irritated by the script, overacting, continuity errors, and amateurish photography.
My Sunday started with a screening of Vacation Hunter. This British indie was advertised as a combination of Heart Of Darkness and The Shining. The Last Great Wilderness would have been a better comparison. I wasn't a fan of the film, though. Too slow, mainly. But also too many beginners' mistakes.
Later that day, I hosted a Q&A with movie score composer Simon Boswell and filmmakers Richard Stanley and Scarlett Amaris about L'Autre monde (aka The Otherworld). Simon Boswell talked about his multiple collaborations with Richard Stanley and about the process of composing film scores. The filmmakers chatted about their interest in the esoteric and their paranormal experiences that formed the basis for L'Autre monde (they saw a woman in white disappearing through the walls of Montségur, France). The majority of the audience didn't like their documentary because it didn't prove anything and because it left room for different explanations. But, in my opinion, that's the only way the film could have been made. Richard Stanley doesn't know the truth. He has encountered something inexplicable and wanted to share it with others. That in itself is worthwhile.
After the Q&A, it was time to see I Spit On Your Grave 2. Your typical rape and revenge movie. No new ground is covered here, but the film was lots of fun and pretty nasty at times too.
After having worked a few days from home, I spent my Thursday running from one Halloween activity to the next. When I finally arrived at the Razor Reel Fantastic Film Festival, it was almost midnight. I watched the last thirty minutes of Antisocial, a movie about a virus that kills almost the entire population on New Year's Eve. It looked decent, but the audience hated it.
After Antisocial, it was time for Kink, a documentary about a BDSM porn maker. Whether you like the subject or not, the documentary is excellent as it gives a good idea of what drives these people and how they work. And it's kinky, of course. You see as much in the documentary as you would in the BDSM films they're making. I was constantly looking at it open-mouthed, especially when they started using strange torture devices. Fun fact: Kink was produced by James Franco, the actor from Spider-Man, Date Night, and The Green Hornet.
On Friday afternoon, I watched the indie horror film The Pyramid, an anthology of four short stories that form one lengthy tale. The pyramid from the title is an object reminiscent of the Lament Configuration from Hellraiser. When someone accidentally gets blood on it, demons invade the world. The Pyramid starts with moments of intense eerieness but looses pace pretty quickly. Overall, the film can't hide its meager budget and the lack of experience of many of its crew members.
After The Pyramid, I hosted a Q&A with director Kate Shenton about her documentary On Tender Hooks. Just like Kink, On Tender Hooks explores the act of submitting the human body to extreme pain, in this case through human suspension. But whereas Kink focuses on sexual arousal through pain, Kate Shenton explores the beauty of human suspension and the process of becoming mentally stronger through the pain. Though On Tender Hooks didn't work as well for me as Kink did, the audience was definitely fascinated and they bombarded Kate with questions.
The last movie I saw at the Razor Reel Fantastic Film Festival was The Battery. For several months, friends had been telling me that this was the best zombie movie they'd seen in years. Well, it's not good to have such high expectations, because I ended up being disappointed, even though it's definitely different and funny. The Battery won the Young Blood Award at the Razor Reel Fantastic Film Festival.
Have you seen some of the Razor Reel movies? Which are your favorites?