Sam and Ian are a couple that while trying to escape the chaotic life in city, decide to camp in a remote lake for the weekend, a place found by recommendation from a local stranger. To their surprise, when the couple arrive at the lake they see that they are not the only ones at the camp, since there is a tent near the lake’s shore, although they can not see the owners. Assuming that the other campers could be hiking in the woods, the couple decide not to think much about it and enjoy the peace and quiet.
After a relatively calm night, Sam and Ian start to feel uneasy by the absence of their neighbors and decide to look around their camp, finding the place trashed, and later finding a small boy clearly hungry and dehydrated. Convinced that the child’s parents could be hurt or worse, the couple try to go for help, but find their car with a flat tire and that their cell phones have no signal. That’s when a local hunter arrives at the camp offering his help, and as you might expect, this is just the beginning of the problems for Ian and Sam.
OK, I am sure that the previous synopsis will make “Hunting Ground” sound like another film of a million out there about tourists sent to the slaughterhouse, but let me tell you, this film has a several things that felt fresh and can make it stand out from others, and while I will try to not get into spoiler territory, I will explain why you should definitely give “Hunting Ground” a chance.
Like any other fan of horror, I can enjoy a good story told in the Body horror sub-genre, and I was glad to see that “Replace”, the new film that we watched via the Fantasia Film Festival, not only has the right amount of gore and blood for the peeps, but also brings a very interesting thriller for the general public.
In this film we meet Kira, a lady that after a romantic date starts to experience blackouts, amnesia and disorientation, and while we could say “Hey, that’s what happens when you fall in love!” that would not explain why her skin is deteriorating at an accelerated rate, to the point that is actually breaking and falling apart.
Screened recently at the Fantasia Film Festival, we saw the new film from Jian Liu “Have a Nice Day” (Hao ji le) where the saying “You never know who you work for” fits like a glove in this old school-style animated film. Using the neo-noir genre, this film brings us a story of cynicism, irony and black humor with the reminder that behind any smile and compliment, there always can be an immoral, ruthless person ready to screw you over if the price is right.
In an very ordinary day, Xiao Zhang, a low level driver that works for an small criminal in a nameles city of China, decides to steal the money from a recent job, as you might guess, his boss “Uncle Liu” decides to send “Skinny”, his most effective assassin (a Rocky fan, to boot) not only to find the money, but also to use Xiao as an example to dissuade other employees from having any more bright ideas.
A group of millennials bored at a weekend party with sex, drugs and alcohol find a vintage electronic board game called “Game Of Death”. Without thinking twice or even bothering to fully read the instructions, they start the game, finding out later that the game claims that it can’t be stopped until a certain number of people have been murdered or all the players are dead.
Dismissing this last instruction as a joke, or that some pieces from the game might be missing, the kids decide to continue the party and forget the whole thing, but suddenly one of the gang experiments a massive explosive headache (to put it lightly) and the rest of the group gets convinced that the game might be for real when another one of the players dies, starting a race against the clock to find more victims in their sleepy little town in order fro them to survive the mortal countdown. (hey, that is actually a cool name for another game!!)
“The Senior Class” (” Jol-Up-Ban”) bring us the story of a group of art students approaching their graduation, and how while most of them spend the time focusing on their final projects, some see their worlds collapse.
Jung-woo has been in love with his beautiful and talented classmate Ju-hee for some time, but has never mustered the nerve to even have a conversation with her, instead he tries to reflect his attraction for Ju-hee in a web comic he publishes under a pseudonym. Dong-hwa, his more cynical and careless friend is always looking for a chance to get laid with any girl he can find, not caring about the consequences or her feelings, an aspect that we see reflected on his dedication (or more accurately his lack of…) on his art, since even when graduation is mere days away, he has not even started his project. Jun-hee, who is considered by her classmates as the most talented, shows an unexpected complexity with a labyrinth as her final project.
On June 30th via IFC Midnight, we will be able to see on VOD and select theaters “Darkness Rising” a new suspense film that shows that sometimes is better to leave the past behind, specially if you managed to avoid your death, as you might not be so lucky a second time…
In this film we meet Madison, a young woman than convinces her fiancé, Jake and her cousin Izzy to break into the house where she used to lived a long time ago, before it gets demolished. What Madison is trying to do is to find answers as to why many years ago her mother killed Madison’s younger sister, and almost killed her too, in order to finally move on.
Minor disclaimer: Please note that there were some blocks and titles shown on the festival that we could not cover due time restrictions, and in no way means that the titles not mentioned are bad or should be skipped, and while I will try to bring your attention to the short films and do them justice with the synopsis, I will keep it spoiler-free.
As mentioned before, this block was called “Escape” and some of the shorts included were:
Emergency Stop (dir. Diane Jessie Miller, Ireland, 2016)
A woman driving on a lonely country road, apparently finds a victim of a violent attack. A prudent person would try to call the police for help, but what can you do when there is no signal?
…Simple, to the point and twisted, can’t ask for more!
Again a minor disclaimer: Please note that there were some blocks and titles that we could not cover due time restrictions, and in no way it means that the shorts not mentioned are bad or anything like that, they could be very good, so take a chance and seek them out. Also, while I will try to bring your attention to the short films and do them justice with the synopsis, I will keep it spoiler-free.
From the block “Sweet Revenge”
Rites of Vengeance (dir. Izzy Lee, US, 2017)
The house of the Lord can’t keep a bad man safe from someone determined to right the wrongs.
I am sure that there could be some controversy and division in the audiences due the main theme, but I would focus more on the way the story is delivered, there is no almost dialogue, and in this case, there is no need for it.
The “Final Girls Berlin Film Fest” is currently running its second year from June 9th-11th with the main focus of presenting films and shorts written, directed and/or produced by women.
We have been honored with the chance to do remote coverage of some of the features and shorts playing there, and while I will try to bring your attention to the short films and do them justice with the synopsis, I will keep it spoiler-free.
The shorts are being presented in several curated blocks: “Mommy Issues”,”Phantasmagoria”, “Is it dead?” “Body Horror”, “Dying Of Laughter”, “All In The Family” and “Escape”, please note that there were some blocks and titles that I couldn’t cover due time, and in no way means that they are bad or anything like that, so if you get the chance to see them, check them out.