Sunday, April 15

2018 PFF & IHSFF Festival Recap – Saturday, April 14th 2018

2018 PFF & IHSFF Festival Recap – Saturday, April 14th 2018

Coda’s ongoing coverage of the 2018 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.

DARK RIVER – Directed by Clio Barnard

A beautifully shot drama about how two siblings can have very different relationships with their parents and the land they were raised on. The film begins with Alice (Ruth Wilson) returning to her North Yorkshire farm after her father's death. She is forced to face her brother, fight for her inheritance and confront the dark family secret that made her leave in the first place.

This film is gorgeous but I'm not sure if you could have shot this location any other way. The subject matter however is much uglier. Overall, I found myself very easily engrossed by this story, even though the pacing was pretty slow.

This picture will unfortunately struggle to ever find any traction in the U.S. The northern British accent is so thick that I probably only comprehended about 2/3 of what the characters were saying. I don't think most American audiences will have the patience for this. 

MARLA MAE – Directed by Lisa Van Dam-Bates

The opening shot of this film is of our titular character using her fingernails to scrape paint off of a metal bench... I had to close my eyes and ears. It didn't get any less gross from there. Marla (Lisa Van Dam-Bates) has been given a free IUD from a creepy family friend/doctor... Then some really gross stuff starts happening to people she gets close with <ahem>.

I actually like the plot of this one in spite of some pretty glaring issues with some of the character's motivations being somewhat unreasonable. That type of stuff bothers be sometimes but in the case of a film like this, I think that it doesn't really detract from the overall message of the film.

No, the issue with this film is in its performances. It stars its director and is supported by a pretty rough cast. I think this is most likely a product of a shoestring budget and that's kind of a shame. I'd like to see more stories like this, just with better execution.  

ANDOVER – Directed by Scott Perlman

I completed the Scout Taylor-Compton trifecta last night with this one. She is in 3 films from the festival. The others were FERAL and CYNTHIA.

This was a horribly uneven film. From one angle, it's a romantic comedy about a man so selfish he doesn't even shave for his own wedding but he still somehow gets two beautiful and intelligent women to fall in love with him. This is truly a male fantasy film in which the only conflict of self for our main character is his struggle to let his past go to clear up the way for new love that he so easily finds. 

From a different perspective, it's a dark comedy about a college professor with a god complex that keeps cloning different versions of his dead wife and then disposing of them when they aren't perfect enough for him. And throughout all of this disgusting behavior, his lab assistant Emma (Taylor-Compton) inexplicably continues to fawn over him. This doesn't really work because it wasn't nearly as dark in tone as your typical dark comedy.

This film got quite a few laughs in the screening and I'll admit, some of the gags were pretty good. I just really had a hard time with the overall pitch of it. It only leans from one side to the other and never commits. The rom-com that could have been made out of this story could have worked if the main character had at least one redeeming quality. The dark comedy could have work if it would have gone further off of the deep end. Unfortunately, what you get comes off as tone-deaf and underwhelming. 

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