Saturday, April 6

2019 PFF & IHSFF Festival Recap – Friday, April 5th

2019 PFF & IHSFF Festival Recap – Friday, April 5th

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.

LITTLE WOODS – Directed by Nia DaCosta

This is a film that succeeds very well in illustrating some of the many ways that the American healthcare system is broken. It does so under the 'one-last-caper' trope and with great effect. Tessa Thompson and Lily James both show off previously unseen range with their performances as adopted sisters.

I was particularly struck by how this film seems to appreciate it's small North Dakota town setting. This felt as thought the filmmaker was more in touch with the region. Director, Nia DeCosta has been tapped for the CANDYMAN remake and I'm just a little extra interested now.

HUDSON – Directed by Sean D. Cunningham

This is one of those small town dramedies that's heavy on the quirk and light on the heart. David Neal Levin lays it on thick as the titular character who is on a discombobulated road trip to scatter his Mother's ashes with his estranged cousin, Ryan and new manic-hippie traveling buddy, Sunrise.

The performances and dialogue were a lot of fun here. Unfortunately, the plot seemed to only meander its way through the landscape while gaining very little ground. The first half of the film is superior.

EDIT: HUDSON won The Audience Award, Best Ensemble & Best Director

INNER CITY RATS – Directed by Sam Garcia Southern

This was a bit of a surprise for me. I'm not sure what you should expect from a 19 year old writer/director, but I was found an interestingly composed piece, made with a surprisingly steady hand. Touted as an 'album', it feels more like a mixed tape of loosely connected vignettes that take us through a day or so of New York's underbelly. 

Like most mixed tapes, some tracks are better than others. But I think its latter half is impressive, which allows us to leave the theater on a good note. I'll be very interested to see what Southern comes up with in the future. This film shows promise. And its 'rough-around-the-edges' dialogue driven veneer is not unlike what you find in the earliest works of some of this country's most loved indy directors. 

THE HOLE IN THE GROUND – Directed by Lee Cronin

I was first, very surprised to find Kati Outinen show up in this Irish countryside haunted horror film. She is the star of many Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki films. Here, she plays the stereotypical rambling old lady that probably isn't actually crazy. 

This movie set itself up to be a lot of things stereotypical. I was happy to find that it pushed boundaries that are more often left untapped by others in the genre. If you think it's only going to rely on creepiness and jump-scares, you will end up pleasantly surprised. It gets gross...

BODY AT BRIGHTON ROCK – Directed by Roxanne Benjamin

This was one that I was particularly excited for. I was impressed with Benjamin's previous work on the horror anthology, SOUTHBOUND. And, the whole "survival horror" genre is a low-key favorite of mine. 

Unfortunately, there is just too little here to make this work as a whole feature. It likely would have made an amazing 20 minute short. But this plot simply required too much filler and the stakes were always undercut by the multiple dream-sequence fake outs.

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