It finally arrived, the penultimate day of the ultimate movie festival and the last full day of entertainment. It’s a day that would see the Drafthouse invaded by men in moon suits, a famous rock star, and another strong lineup of movies.
Milocrorze: A Love Story bursts out of the screen in Technicolor joy, forcing smiles on the faces of the audience with its highly stylized take on love told through three vignettes. Japanese director Yoshimasa Ishibashi has created a beautiful, bright, colorful world where a young boy can fall in love with a stunning older woman, but when it goes south he covers his heart with the top of a pot. A world where a relationship expert dances down the street after boosting young men’s confidence and one where a samurai will fight an entire house of guards to rescue his long lost love. If Baz Lurhrmann made love to Amelie and then gave birth to Pushing Daisies, that child could very well be responsible for Milocrorze. This is a movie that completely delighted both me and the crowd I saw it with. I could do without a few extra minutes of the slow motion fight scene in favor of one more dance number in the middle, but this is an otherwise upbeat, visual joy.
Following such a visual treat was another movie that had been high on my radar due to being a fan of Sean Hogan’s previous work in Little Deaths (a movie I previously reviewed for SXSW). The Devil’s Business presents two Irish hit men sent to a house in the middle of the night to put a man in his grave. As they wait on his return from the opera, Pinner (played by the most excellent Billy Clarke) regales Cully (Jack Gordon) with one of his oddest encounters in his line of work, an unsettling supernatural affair that may not be as unusual as the situation they’re in; as they both discover the man they are to kill isn’t what he seems.
A confident, well shot film that would crumble had they had lesser actors, The Devil’s Business succeeds as a full length, freakish tale. The last act veers quite wildly, but it’s one that I did not see coming and had me on the edge of my seat. It’s another excellent work by Hogan.
Around this time, as we emerged from the theater it was hard not to miss the spacemen in orange suits throughout the Drafthouse, there as part of excitement for the Angels and Airwaves movie Love. Also in attendance was the lead singer of the band, and member of Blink 182, Tom DeLonge. I had passed up getting a ticket despite the movie not having a wide release because I was far more interested in my next movie, a French horror film.
Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury burst onto the horror scene back in 2007 with their extremely gory tale of a pregnant woman fighting for her life in Inside. It’s a movie that played at Fantastic Fest and made a huge splash with its shocking plot and excessive bloodletting. Having been associated with a Hellraiser remake which never came to fruition, it seems Bustillo and Maury decided to go back to telling an original story with Livid.
A grand departure from their previous slasher, Livid follows the beautiful young Lucy (Chloé Coulloud), a woman with two differently colored eyes, who is training to become an in-home nurse. On her first day of being shown the ropes she is taken to a large house with an invalid old woman who supposedly has hidden a treasure within. After later talking with her boyfriend about this encounter, they hatch a plan to break inside to find the treasure so that they can stop struggling in their daily jobs. Unfortunately for them, what one person considers a treasure can be a nightmare for others.
Livid is easily one of the most beautifully shot films I had the pleasure of seeing. So tight and crisp and full of well placed camera angles, it really shows a world you want to dive into. That is until everything goes awry and takes a wickedly strange turn that I still wonder where it came from. Livid is a horror movie that begs multiple views, where so much feels left uncovered when you’re done. I knew I really enjoyed what I saw, but if left to describe in detail the turns it takes I’d be at a loss. It’s a shame that Bustillo or Maury were not in attendance as a Q&A would have been excellent. I can’t really recommend Livid for all horror fans, but for those who like a supernatural take and don’t mind some art house injected into their darkness, this movie is one that will keep you guessing.
The next selection is one that had won the jury awards for best film and best director at ActionFest back in April of this year. A Lonely Place to Die by brothers Julian and Will Gilbey places their actors in some precarious mountain climbing early on in the story where a group of friends find a young girl buried in a box in the forest during a hiking expedition. Unfortunately for them, this girl wasn’t meant to be dug up and they end up hunted by two mysterious men. Star Melissa George and the director team spent a quick two months training in rock climbing to prepare for the insane stunts at work in the first half of the movie. While at first glance it appears it’ll play out as a mountain climbing thriller, the second half of the movie chooses to lose the beautiful locations in favor of moving the action into town.
I found A Lonely Place To Die a perfectly competent action piece but nothing in the movie ever surprises in its formulaic plot. The mountain climbing scenes and arial shots are stunning but once the movie gets really rolling, it rapidly fills with extraneous characters and stumbles towards a predictable ending. Still, it’s nice to have another film with a strong female lead and Melissa George shines in her role.
The final Wednesday night movie was the second secret screening of Fantastic Fest. Rumors had been floating around that it would be Paranormal Activity 3, as several attendees were slipped padded envelopes with VHS tapes marked with “September 1988” on the spine. For those who’ve followed the mythology of the Paranormal Activity series, it’s been known that the preview clips had referenced 1988 as the year the new film was based. I had hopes that it would be something more surprising and, not being a fan of the first two movies, I would have preferred about anything else, but once seated it was announced we were to be shown a near finished cut of Paranormal Activity 3. Directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman (Catfish) as well as the star of the first movie, Katie Featherston, were in attendance and told us they had been working nonstop for a week to get the cut ready for us and the only thing missing was some sound work.
The third installment takes the series back to when Katie and Kristi were young girls and Kristi begins talking to her imaginary friend Toby. Meanwhile, one night while their parents are trying to have a sexy evening that includes filming themselves with a new VHS videocamera, an earthquake occurs, and upon reviewing the tape their father notices dust falling on a mysterious shape. From then on out, he begins the same video taped investigation that gets repeated twice again years later with the exact same results. And that’s where the movie lost me. It’s easy to forgive the fact that we’re watching an extended play VHS tape that’s somehow in HD but this series’ sound cues of a bass rumble then a big “boo!” scare are both tedious and extremely repetitive. The new thing brought to the table this time is a camera hooked to an oscillating fan, which I found less than clever knowing exactly how it’d be use for scares. To be fair to the movie, there are two really good scenes later on and I’m certain that anyone who is already a fan of the first two movies will like this one, but it’s just a collection of dull jolts and bad home videos for me.