/slash 2017 – Day 6: 68 Kill

68 Kill
USA 2017
Written by Trent Haaga, based on the novel by Bryan Smith
Directed by Trent Haaga
Watched on 26.09.2017

“68 Kill” actually started off really well. Yes, of course it’s totally over the top, but for a while, I really liked it. AnnaLynne McCord was awesome as this crazy, wild, untamable whirlwind who sets her eyes on 68 grand, dragging her boyfriend – who is completely out of his depth – along. Also, the way the characters are totally over the top makes it clear that we’re not supposed to take this too seriously. Anyway, I was really well entertained for a while, especially during the robbery, and later on during Chip’s flight with Violet (I didn’t care all that much about the previous visit to Liza’s brother, which went into territory that – even in such a clearly tongue in cheek-movie – I found impossible to laugh about). What’s more, despite the fact how over the top they were, “68 Kill” actually managed to make me care about the characters. However, it all went completely downhill for me once they offed a certain character. I’m more than tired when it comes to this stylistic device, and the fact that it was pretty much the only one on the whole ensemble that I actually liked didn’t help matters either. After that, I just couldn’t care less about what was happening to the rest of them. I’m also extremely critical concerning the message this movie, once again, conveys: You’re only a real man when you’re tough – which in this case seems to mean to not fret it and just go ahead and kill a bunch of people if you have to (or simply feel like it). Even in a tongue in cheek-film like this one I had a hard time accepting that. How about a sensitive man who is actually allowed to stay that way, and where that is actually seen as a gift? Boy, wouldn’t that be something. Thus, in the last half hour, the movie unfortunately lost me completely. Which, given how much fun I had with it before that, is really a crying shame.
4/10

IMDB

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/slash 2017: Fantastic Shorts Competition

Like last year, the /slash Filmfestival again held a contest for short films, where the winner is chosen by the audience. We don’t know who won yet, but here are some very short reviews for this year’s entries.

Limbo
This short films is beautifully shot, and uses impressive landscapes to present a couple of haunting, surreal images which were great to look at. However, I could have done without all the biblical symbolism. Mostly, though, it simply was far too long and lethargic to get its point across in an effective manner. That I was this close to falling asleep, even though it was the first screening of the day, speaks volumes. Still, it’s definitely a nice screen saver.
3/10

Amos Beauty
In general, and with very few exceptions that prove the rule, I’m not a huge fan of mockumentaries. Thus, “Amos Beauty” was already off to a bad start with me. That said, the concept in itself was nice, and there were a couple of funny moments. Nevertheless, it was a one-note idea that even though this was one of the shorter short films, grew tired rather quickly.
3/10

Sherry
I don’t know. It probably would have helped to get a little context. In the beginning, I didn’t know if this was a feature or a documentary (only later it turned out that it was the latter), and it would have been nice to not just get thrown into this without any foreknowledge. It also was too long. Again, maybe if it would have dug deeper into the artist himself, his methods and his motivation, it could have been interesting. As it stands, it was one of the weakest entries for me.
2/10

I Love Eva Marsh
Finally a good one! Yes, it’s nothing special, and I could have done without the “women are the source of all evil”-subtext (his mother leaving him behind, and his would be-girlfriend getting him into this mess in the first place). But it told a nice (if not revolutionary) story in an effective way, was nicely shot and acted, and I especially liked the ending (the final shot was absolutely perfect). Nice!
7/10

Am Berg
Ugh. I really really wanted to like this, since I try to be a patriot, but… nah. The setting was nice, but it was rather pointless, and most of all, it offered a galore of extremely cheap jump scares with an incredible loud and aggressive sound mix. It is never a good sign if a director has to rely on that to create tension.
4/10

Nothing A Little Soap and Water Can’t Fix
Difficult. To show the similarities between so many different bathroom scenes of countless movies was quite interesting, and also a little revealing. However, I have a hard time accepting something that feels like your standard YouTube-Supercut for such a competition. But taken for itself, it was ok.
5/10

The Babysitter
The story is nothing special, and almost painfully predictable; you pretty much know where this is going from the first frame on. However, it has a nice nostalgic feel to it, and was short enough to not get boring. Nothing special and rather trivial, but nevertheless quite entertaining.
6/10

Mike’s
Granted, as an Austrian I was probably predisposed to liking this one (then again, look what I had to say about “Am Berg”), but I really thought that “Mike’s” was very cool. I liked the concept of an “alps-western” taking place at a modern-day gas station, the characters, the direction, the music… I liked pretty much everything about it with the exception of the ending (I would have preferred a more lethargic, darkly humorous and thus “austrian” conclusion, with him waking up, having a look around, and returning to his beer). And the flashback was a little unnecessary. Other than that, it was great.
8/10

Special Agent
Completely average, and totally unremarkable. The effects were surprisingly hokey, and the buddy-cop-setting something that we’ve seen a zillion times before, but it was well shot, short and to the point, and entertaining.
5/10

The Plague
Probably my favorite of all the short films (narrowingly beating “Mike’s”), mostly because it was the only one that resonated with me on an emotional level. The scene in the house between daughter and father was devastating, and the final short harrowing. That one really stayed with me for a while. Yes, it’s a little predictable, and from a visual point of view, not the best of the bunch, but the story and the emotions it provoked more than made up for that.
8/10

Hope
I wasn’t that taken with this one for the first couple of minutes, and definitely could have done without the voice over-commentary. However, in the second half, it gets sweet, romantic, and even slightly touching, and the scene with the classical music and the flying guts was absolute perfection.
7/10

Holy F__k
The idea was quite nice, and there were a couple of funny moments. To say I’m not the biggest fan of “The Exorcist” would be an understatement, thus I’m more than game for a parodistic short film that pokes a little fun at it. However, it was a one-note idea, and felt rather like a “Saturday Night Live”-like gag than a real short film. Still, it was a funny idea, and the film itself was short enough to not overstay its welcome.
6/10

Les Iles
It started off nice enough. The first couple of minutes were quite sensual and erotic; I even wasn’t that appalled by the appearance of “vagina-face”. However, it then switched its focus multiple times to different characters, and thus – for me – completely lost its rhythm. It also was too long and too artsy for my taste. Thus, after a nice beginning, it lost me rather quickly – even though I have to acknowledge its nice, visual aesthetic.
4/10

Neck and Neck
Nah, sorry. I liked neither the story (if you can call it that) nor the animation. Its only saving grace is that it’s really short – but even that didn’t help much.
2/10

Resolut
A “women in prison”-short film that was far too shallow and hackneyed for what it seemingly wants to achieve. There are far better rape and revenge-tales out there – which makes this one painfully redundant. At least it was well acted, and looked nice.
4/10

Even Ants Strive for Survival
really wish I could say I liked it, mostly because I actually really like the idea behind it. But somehow, I never found my way into this tale, and thus got very bored very quickly. I can acknowledge its intentions – but not much else, I’m afraid.
3/10

Bon Appétit
Well, yeah, I don’t know. It certainly looked pretty enough, and offered a couple of really beautiful images. But the story itself was rather unimaginative, and I wouldn’t really have needed the twist which made this into some sort of critical commentary on politics. Overall, It tasted rather stale.
4/10

Run Baby Run
I totally didn’t recognize that this was from the same guy as last year’s “Lost” – and if anything, “Run Baby Run” is even worse. This is a really strange dude who seems to think he makes art – and I seriously hope this was the last time the /slash filmfestival invited him. Absolutely terrible, pointless, and a complete waste of time – even though it lasted hardly a minute.
0/10

Wandering Soul
One of the better ones, but not my favorite of the entire bunch. However, it was really well shot, quite gripping and atmospheric, I loved the setting, and also enjoyed the rather unusual twist. Nothing too special, but definitely worth watching.
7/10

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/slash 2017 – Day 5: Hounds of Love

Hounds of Love
Australia 2016
Written by Ben Young
Directed by Ben Young
Watched on 25.09.2017

“Hounds of Love” is a pretty grim tale with a couple of truly harrowing moments. Based on true events, it tells the story of one of the few serial killer couples in history, John and Evelyn White, as well as the plight or their most recent victim, Vicki Maloney. I loved the dynamic between those three characters, and how it shifted – a few times, actually – over the course of the movie. There were also a couple of scenes that truly stood out for me: The one where they capture her, where Ben Young really puts the audience in her shoes. The first morning. And especially the scene where John and Evelyn go into her room to have their way with her. The “closed doors”-approach worked very well here, since in my book, most of the time it’s more effective to let the audience create their own images in their head instead of actually showing what is going on. Anyway, that one as well as a couple of other scenes were really disturbing. I’m a little bit more torn about the ending. Obviously, this being a retelling of true events, they were stuck with what actually happened, but I’m not sure if I wouldn’t have preferred a different outcome. Also, the way the final scene was staged was a little weird (I have to stay vague in order not to spoil anything). And for the umpteenth time at this year’s festival, this was another movie that felt slightly too long. However, it was acted superbly by Emma Booth, Ashleigh Cummings and Stephen Curry, had some really tense moments, and a couple of scenes that are probably going to stay with me for a while. Highly recommended for everyone who likes his/her thrillers unsettling and/or based on true events.
8/10

IMDB

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/slash 2017 – Day 5: Cult of Chucky

Cult of Chucky
USA 2017
Written by Don Mancini
Directed by Don Mancini
Watched on 25.09.2017

Confession time: Prior to this screening, I have never seen a Chucky-film in my entire life. It didn’t do it on purpose, it just never happened, and in recent years when I started to catch up on some classic horror franchises (like “Halloween”, “Friday the 13th” and the “Nightmare”-series), other ones just seemed more important (and urgent) to me. However, since I really liked “Cult of Chucky”, it probably won’t be long until I finally catch up on the films that came before. Now, I’m fairly certain that long-time fans of the franchise are going to enjoy this even more than I did. Personally, it seemed to work well enough on its own, and I never felt lost, but obviously without knowing the backstory there’s certainly some things that I missed out on. Which didn’t bug me, but I also don’t rule out that with said foreknowledge, I would have liked (and rated) it even higher. What I liked were the jokes and the nice, brutal and occasionally original kills. When it comes to slasher or splatter movies, I either want them serious and clearly on the side of the supposed victims (“Halloween”), or with their tongue firmly in their cheek (“Friday the 13th – Part 6”, which is probably my favorite of the entire series). “Cult of Chucky” actually kinda does both, since even we’re occasionally supposed to cheer on Chucky, Nica clearly is the protagonist we’re supposed to root for. I liked the setting in the psychiatric ward, the humor, the one-liners, the cool practical effects with which they realized Chucky, and the ending. I also was, once again, taken aback to see how much Fiona Dourif resembles her father (she seems less like and offspring and more like a gender-swapped clone). Granted, the movie was more entertaining than thrilling, and definitely more comedy than horror. Also, not every gag hit home. And once again, it might just have been a tad too long. Overall, though, I had fun with it.
7/10

IMDB

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/slash 2017 – Day 4: The Mole Song – Hong Kong Capriccio

The Mole Song – Hong Kong Capriccio
Japan 2016
Written by Kankurô Kudô, based on the manga by Noboru Takahashi
Directed by Takashi Miike
Watched on 24.09.2017

Placing a 128-hour-film (and thus the longest of the bunch) as the final of five movies on this day’s program probably wasn’t the wisest choice, and I was worried that I’d have trouble staying awake. And while I still maintain that the slot was a little unfortunate, the movie turned out to be entertaining enough prove my fears to be unfounded. While overall, “Blade of the Immortal” remains my favorite from the 3-Miike-punch at this year’s /slash filmfestival, and even though I was surprised to find out that this actually was a sequel (to a film that I haven’t seen), I had a pretty good time with “Hong Kong Capriccio”. Granted, once again, the movie definitely was too long for its own good. I also had the feeling that it wouldn’t have hurt to have seen the first film before, since even though they recap it, it seems to be a direct continuation. I also wasn’t that taken with the main character, and wish that they wouldn’t have made him that much of a doofus. And the “twist” was painfully obvious; right from the start, I knew where this was going. However, I liked the craziness of the movie (even though it falls short of the “Hentai Kamen”-films in that regard), it (like pretty much every Miike-movie) was well shot and offered a couple of nice visuals, and some of the characters were quite memorable (which is especially true of the henchwoman). There are also many funny moments and a couple of crazy, original ideas. Overall, “Hong Kong Capriccio” was quite entertaining – however I definitely recommend watching the first one prior to this.
6/10

IMDB

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/slash 2017 – Day 4: It Stains the Sands Red

It Stains the Sands Red
USA 2016
Written by Stuart Ortiz & Colin Minihan
Directed by Colin Minihan
Watched on 24.09.2017

I had high hopes for this one, since the concept – a woman fleeing through the desert, pursued by a lone zombie (“The woman in red fled across the desert, and the zombie followed”, if you will) sounded really promising. Oh, all the things they could have done with this setup! The woman, desperately walking through the desert, followed by an unrelenting pursuer who needs neither water nor rest. All the truly terrifying moments they could have gotten out of that! Instead, Colin Minihan and his co-author Stuart Ortiz took an entirely different direction, which only partly convinced me. The idea of the zombie being a therapist-substitute to whom Molly can voice her innermost thoughts to isn’t an entirely uninteresting one. As is the bonding that takes place through this process, on her side. However, once they suggest that the zombie shared similar feelings, the movie started to go downhill for me. Also, they ultimately went completely overboard, with her actually protecting “Smalls” from the soldiers, trying to drag him along et cetera. That simply was too much, and by that point, she didn’t seem “just” desperate, but rather really stupid to me. The movie isn’t helped by the fact that it simply doesn’t know when it would have been best to stop. I’d argue that her driving off would have been the perfect way to end the movie. Instead, we get an epilogue that a) felt very arbitrary and unnecessary and b) culminates into an open ending anyway. Seriously, if they wanted to keep things open, they just should have faded out 10 minutes earlier. And overall, while parts of the movie were entertaining, I never felt any real tension. Yes, the scenes in the desert were well shot and quite impressive, I liked the basic setup, and Britanny Allen’s performance is top-notch. Overall, though, this unfortunately was a major disappointment.
4/10

IMDB

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/slash 2017 – Day 4: Sweet, Sweet Lonely Girl

Sweet, Sweet Lonely Girl
USA 2016
Written by A.D. Calvo
Directed by A.D. Calvo
Watched on 24.09.2017

“Sweet, Sweet Lonely Girl” would already be sobering enough if it would be someone’s feature film debut, but taking into account that writer and director A.D. Calvo has already a couple of movies under his belt, the final result is actually quite devastating. “Sweet, Sweet Lonely Girl” is one of those films which seem to have been made by people who have never done a horror film before, and – most of all – for people who have never seen one in their entire life. Because it’s sooooo generic, run-of-the-mill and unimaginative, that for someone who has already seen a couple of horror films (let alone the hundreds that I’ve watched by now) it’s totally unpredictable, and also completely unremarkable. Seriously, there is absolutely nothing here that you haven’t seen before. The setup, the story, the characters, the scares, the “twist”… there’s nothing new here, nothing that would make this even remotely special and/or worthwhile. It’s full of clichés, but offers no tension at all. The characters are one-dimensional and completely uninteresting (and also mostly unlikeable) paperboard-cutouts, the two main characters reminded me a lot of “Jennifer’s body” (the blond shy, innocent virgin and the dark-haired vamp), there’s some completely arbitrary and gratuitous half-nudity (I mean, of course, we all clean our bathrooms half-naked!), and even the inclusion of a gay (or at least bi) protagonist felt calculated (and random). The only saving grace of the movie is its short runtime – but that doesn’t make it any less pointless.
3/10

IMDB

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