Wednesday, April 17

2019 PFF & IHSFF Festival Recap – Sunday, April 14th

2019 PFF & IHSFF Festival Recap – Sunday, April 14th

Coda’s ongoing coverage of the 2019 Phoenix Film Festival & International Horror Sci-Fi Film Festival. I'll be using these posts to recap the films I've experienced as part of these festivals.

TO TOKYO – Directed by Caspar Seale Jones

This is a metaphorical horror story about anxiety and paranoia in the same vein as some Lynch films. It actually reminded me visually of The Polish Brothers' NORTHFORK a bit. Lights, shadows, score and sound design all work together to create a hallucinatory depth of conscience. 

I would also add that I always appreciate a horror story that begins with the main character already afraid of the lurking figure. There are no expendables here to cast aside to get the tale started. We begin with the overwhelming feeling of dread that Florence Kosky's Al has seemingly been dealing with for some time already.

EXCURSION – Directed by Martin Grof

This is a very clever time travel plot that twists and turns in between present day and Soviet Moscow in the late 80's. Unfortunately, every aspect of the production value is distractingly bad, including the performances. 

I think the concept for this film would actually work very well for a long running Anime series or even possibly a Sci-Fi channel show. 

I'LL TAKE YOUR DEAD – Directed by Chad Archibald

William is a farmer that moonlights chopping up and disposing of dead bodies for gang members. As a result, his farm house is just riddled with ghosts. Then, when one of the bodies turns out to be a lot less dead than the others, he has to figure out what to do with her, attempting to keep himself on one side of the murderer line while still protecting his daughter. 

This is a well paced and excited film with an original concept. I was specifically impressed with the performance of Ava Preston, his 12 year old daughter. I just found the supernatural element around the whole thing a bit out of place. From a technical aspect, the ghosts were well done, with good makeup and startling jump-scares. But looking at the entire narrative, I can't really say that the story benefited at all from this realm. I'll probably still check it out again when it shows up streaming somewhere. 

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Sunday, April 14

2019 PFF & IHSFF Festival Recap – Saturday, Saturday 13th

2019 PFF & IHSFF Festival Recap – Saturday, April 13th

Coda’s ongoing coverage of the 2019 Phoenix Film Festival & International Horror Sci-Fi Film Festival. I'll be using these posts to recap the films I've experienced as part of these festivals.

RAISING BUCHANAN – Directed by Bruce Dellis

This is a very well scripted and well edited quirky little adorable comedy about three money struggling women, a ventriloquists mafia and one presidential corpse. The lead, Amanda Melby gave a very endearing performance. Bits of heartfelt drama never cross over into the sappy zone. And supporting performances by M. Emmet Walsh and Rene Auberjonois were quite outstanding.

This film has a great soul and I hope it makes some more noise in the coming months. I'd like to see it get legs.

HAIL SATAN? – Directed by Penny Lane

I would typically point out that this is a one-sided documentary that never really gives its opposing viewpoint a microphone. But historically, the other side's over-representation in this country is kind of the whole point of this film.

I'm kind of a news junkie and my politics sway pretty far to the left, specifically when considering First Amendment issues and the separation of Church and State. If that's you, you may not see anything here that sheds any new light to these things. The various court cases explored here were fairly well covered in mainstream media. 

That being said, if you're not all that familiar with this type of activism, this is a well made and informative doc that may interest you.

SOUTHERN PRIDE – Directed by Malcolm Ingram

What would it be like living as a member of the LGBTQ community in Southern Mississippi in the era of MAGA? This quiet little doc gives us a glimpse of a world that a certain segment of this country's population would rather just ignore. 

Through trails and tribulations, we follow two bar owners in neighboring towns working towards organizing Mississippi's first ever PRIDE festival.  Not everything is beautiful and triumphant, this is a 'warts-and-all' look but I feel like the overall takeaway was rather simple. These are some people that I most of us would probably enjoy spending time with. I appreciated this film. The more exposure these communities get, the more empathy and compassion we will all feel.

THE TOMORROW MAN – Directed by Noble Jones

With only one day left to the festivals, I can only hope that this ends up as my least favorite of the lot. A "doomsday prepper" (Lithgow) falls for a lonely hoarder (Danner). Together, they validate and enable each other. This film seemed far more interested in playing the two respective disorders for laughs than ever taking a critical look at any part of them. At least the audience I saw it with thought this was a comedy. Their roots in paranoia and obsessive compulsion and the fact that they come with vastly different stigmas and how harmful these disorders can be to loved ones mostly ended up on the cutting room floor here. 

I don't really have time to flesh this out here and I'm not usually in the habit of hate-writing reviews so I'll just stop here. I was not a fan. 

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Saturday, April 13

2019 PFF & IHSFF Festival Recap – Friday, April 12th

2019 PFF & IHSFF Festival Recap – Friday, April 12th

Coda’s ongoing coverage of the 2019 Phoenix Film Festival & International Horror Sci-Fi Film Festival. I'll be using these posts to recap the films I've experienced as part of these festivals.

MY SOUL TO KEEP – Directed by 
Ajmal Zaheer Ahmad

This film will challenge any preconceived notions you once had about displaying registered trademarks on screen. At least it did for me. Apparently the filmmakers were cleared to display Apple, OXI CLEAN, The Transformers & G.I. JOE throughout the entire film. But when Sam's character wants to support his favorite team, he wears a "DERTROIT BEISBOLCATS" shirt, complete with a picture of a tiger chewing on a baseball bat... Honestly, all of this kind of distracted my brain from following what was a fairly generic "Boogie-Man" film. 

That's not to say that this piece didn't have its own merits. There was a lot of good shadowplay dancing around the house that served for a better-than-expected final showdown. The whole thing was actually shot rather well actually. It was a very good use of the space that the filmmakers had. But all-in-all, a bit too much clumsy exposition that slowed down the beginning had me checking my clock. As good as the final act was, it was already a bridge too far.

IN FABRIC – Directed by 
Peter Strickland

This is just another one of your typical, run-of-the-mill horror comedies about a hyper-sexual Gypsy-cursed dress that murders those who dawn it. We've all seen it a thousand times. So what makes this one special? This film really comes together and shines in its second half. What you thought was just off-kilter and disturbing in the first half, turns into a romp of comedic characters repeatedly one-upping the weirdness factor. 

I don't think this needed to run a full two hours, it could have used a trim. And I think that its length is ultimately going to work against it upon release. But I was glad I stuck with it. I found it to exist somewhere in between Dario Argento and Nicolas Winding Refn in its look and pacing. If that perks your interest, keep your eye out for this.

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