we use the term “genre film,” we usually do not mean genres like romance and
coming-of-age movies. It definitely covers horror and science fiction, but
could also encompass thrillers, gangster movies, and maybe even westerns. Basically,
it means somebody is going to die, probably pretty darn painfully. By that
standard, the short films collected in the 53rd New York Film Festival’s Short Program 2: Genre Stories are as genre as it gets.
programming block starts out with its best foot forward. In Territory (trailer here), Vincent
Paronnaud, Marjane Satrapi’s co-director on Persepolis
and Chicken with Plums, takes us
to the Pyrenees, circa 1957. Pierre is a rustic shepherd who can handle just
about anything with his trusty herding dog. However, even he is a bit concerned
when the paratroopers start landing. Soon he gets a good look at why they are
there—and its decidedly Cabin Fever-ish
or zombie apocalyptic.
a short film, Territory has massive scope.
Paronnaud gets his money’s worth from the Pyrenees location and the genre
business is suitably freaky. Obviously, it is far gorier than his
collaborations with Satrapi, but it is worthy of their company. That is saying
a lot too, because Persepolis is a
straight up modern classic and you could make a strong case on behalf of Plums as well.
comparison, Stephen Dunn’s We Wanted More
is a bit of a letdown. It is definitely the smallest film of the bunch, but
he does pull off a rather macabre surprise. A child begat through a spot of
body horror generally primes us to go in a certain direction, especially when
she has perfect powers of mimicry, but Dunn zags the other way.
is no question Percival Argüero Mendoza’s Sânge
is the most disturbing film in the genre program. It is the sort of horror
film that hates horror films, showing what happens to a horror buff like
Cassandra and her film snob boyfriend when she insists on attending a sketchy
Romanian found footage film the ominous Petru Beklea is four-walling in a
decrepit, out of the way theater. Let’s just say it looks unnervingly
realistic. Seriously, this is a film that could really mess some people up.
something completely different, Helen O’Hanlon gets downright whimsical in How to be a Villain. A distinguished
evil gentleman will give us the 411 on super-villainy and how we can be a part
of it. There are amusing lines, but it basically has the depth of a New Yorker cartoon. Still, Mark Stubbs’
mostly black-and-white cinematography and O’Hanlon richly detailed haunted
house set design are wonderfully nostalgic for those of us raised on Universal
and Hammer monster movies.
“genre’ definition is at its stretchiest for Andrei Cretuescu’s Ramona, but it has a grindhouse sensibility
that definitely still qualifies. There seems to be quite a bit of backstory to
the title character that viewers might not entirely pick up. Nevertheless, she
is clearly out for payback and her determination is kind of awesome. For
grittiness and sleaziness, it is tough to beat.
Indeed, having such ill-tempered, exploitative short
films at the New York Film Festival is a real treat. As the class of the field,
Paronnaud’s Territory could fit in at
any festival, but all of the films have at least some merit. Recommended for horror
and revenge thriller fans, Shorts Program 2: Genre Stories screens this Sunday
(9/27) and Wednesday (9/30) at the Beale Theater as part of this year’s NYFF.
Labels: Horror Movies, NYFF '15, Short Films, Vincent Paronnaud