Fear Me Not (Den Du Frygter, 2008) – [rate 3.5]
I didn’t score this movie as well at the festival, for a simple reason: it’s not really a fantastic film. Sure enough, it’s about the world as we perceive it and how our perception of it shapes our reality. But isn’t any drama with an intro-spective main character? You could compare this one to Special, but that one has a fantastic theme to itself, even if you take the drugs and their effects out of the equation. Fear me Not doesn’t but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad movie. Quite the opposite in fact, it’s engaging, well-paced and has a cool style about it that reminded me of Haneke movies.
The story is kept small and plays out in few locations, with a focus on the characters and their changing situation. A good story about grief and growth, this one is recommended for anyone with a taste for gloomy scandinavian drama.
Dante 01 (2008) – [rate 4.0]
Think French mashup of Cube and the Fountain with an odd Christ-theme and you’re probably pretty close to Dante 01. In a remote space station, prisoners of the worst kind volunteer to be guinea pigs for experimental drugs, to escape a death sentence. An original premise for sure, but it works ok and the actors perform well enough to prevent you from being distracted by such incongruity with reality.
The story may come across as somewhat unsatisfactory, especially once you see the ending, but it actually makes sense in a metaphorical sense if you give it some time to simmer and stew in your mind. Clever and novel, I liked it a lot, but I’m certain it’s not for everyone. Don’t go and see this if you expect to see some Event Horizon action and fx. Do see it if you’re into stuff like Solyaris or Pi. (though truth be told, Marc Caro isn’t a Tarkovsky or Aronofsky just yet)
Embodiment of Evil (2008) – [rate 2.5]
You either love it or hate it, no middle ground, though loving it doesn’t make it a good film. That much is safe to say about this hommage to the B-movie days of actors like Bela Lugosi and Vincent Price. The devil is about to be released from prison and when he gets back to his dungeon, he is welcomed by his gothic followers and gratuitous sex and violence ensues.
It’s like a Dario Argento and Ed Wood mashup and unless you enjoy watching movies of either (or rather both), you’re probably better off giving this one a pass. Suffice it to say it made me chuckle and remember the good old days, whereas it made my girlfriend hurl and spit with anger at time wasted.
Chemical Wedding (2008) – [rate 2.5]
All through Chemical Wedding, I had a feeling of “for television”. A TV movie, but a very good one at that. Decent actors, nice locations, a strong – if somewhat eccentric – episode of a british crime mystery series perhaps. The overall premise isn’t all that original and the logic of the story is full of holes, but that hardly ever stops horror movie directors.
What’s missing in Chemical Wedding is real mystery, threat or excitement. The story unfolds, but there is hardly anything to be anxious about and that’s sort of the point of a thriller or horror movie. And since this doesn’t succeed in being either, it is sort of a tame supernatural drama, which may be the one genre with even fewer good movies in it than black-and-white space opera western musicals.
Stingray Sam (2009) – [rate 3.5]
Most of what’s really great about Stingray Sam was already featured in American Astronaut, which was one of my favourites in a previous edition of the AFFF. Still, the movie takes this zany universe of cowboy astronauts a step further and blends in Terry Gilliam-like animations to help the story along.
The movie was shot as a six-part series, intended for broadcasting on mobile phones. The quality of the images does nothing to betray this fact, everything looks crisp and ready for the theatre, but the pacing of each episode is clearly geared to keep the attention of the instant message-generation.
As black-and-white space opera western musicals come, this one has to be one of the best. It’s genuinely funny and though the style may seem a bit childish in some scenes, the humour certainly isn’t and its fake innocence only serves to increase the estranging effect of the setting and the utterly unlikely story.
The plot really doesn’t even matter all that much, it’s not what keeps your attention on the screen. This movie/series is about being transported to another universe, in every possible way, even though there’s a lot to recognize. Recommended for anyone with a sense of humour.
Strange Girls (2007) – [rate 2.5]
Considering the low budget debut for what it is, Strange Girls isn’t bad. The actors aren’t horrible, but not exactly smooth professionals either. The story is a patchwork of cool ideas, but sadly more often than not stolen from other movies. There is a difference between a quote or an hommage and plain theft and the writer and director of this movie seem to be oblivious to such differences.
If you don’t watch a lot of movies, or if you have been living in a cave for the past 20 years, Strange Girls might actually seem like the promising debut with some interesting ideas, but the only asset of this film that is its own is the basic plot. Two sisters, identical twins, live life as one, refusing to communicate with their surroundings.
Disconnected from life and the world by choice and only communicating by letter and by reading books, they live in a fantasy world with each other as the only party worthy of conversation. The story uses their isolation as a fair enough excuse for some socially unacceptable behaviour, but after a good start the story starts to run out of ideas and even shows some of the ideas that would have been better left out.
Seventh Moon (2008) – [rate 2.0]
Set in China and focussing on a newly wed couple, using their honeymoon to visit the groom’s family, the movie start off well enough, although the couple seemed more like two people on their third date than newly wed (or on a collision course with divorce). They happen to arrive on the day of a festival, not unlike traditional Halloween and getting lost in the countryside on that particular night turns out to be a very bad idea.
Having the whole affair shot in shakeycam, fairly lousy acting and poor grime don’t help the movie. A plodding plot also serves to diminish any potential it may have had. The end result is a fairly pointless movie, with some vague life lessons about sacrifice but you won’t miss a lot if you don’t go and see it.