is generally accepted as fact psycho-stalkers are always scarier when they are
German, but cult leaders are still creepy even when they are woolen-wearing
British matrons. Prepare to have your suspicions reconfirmed when the 54th New York Film Festival takes horror and dark thrillers international—and also succinctly
to the point—with Shorts Program 3: Genre
Stories, which screens tonight as part of the fest.
Dickens’ supernatural yarn The Signalman has
not been filmed very often. The last time was probably a 1970s BBC Christmas
special starring Denholm Elliott (Yuletide ghost stories are a big deal over
there). However, Daniel Augusto still assumes everyone knows the story, because
he dispenses with the narrator character (who would otherwise explain what is
going on) and mostly implies rather than shows the events of the story. Still,
it is an undeniably moody and evocative piece, lightyears more enjoyable than
his recent feature, Paulo Coelho’s Best Story.
get seriously serious with Johannes Kizler & Nik Sentenza’s Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You. Yes,
there is a slasher home invasion film at NYFF, so sit up and pay attention.
Basically, Eyes Off plays like the
prologue to a Scream movie, but those
are always the most memorable sequences. A mother and teenage daughter are arguing
over her absentee father, but they are not alone in their tony modernist McMansion.
Things proceed exactly as they always do, but you have to give Kizler & Sentenza
credit for their slick, tight, tense, and brutally effective execution.
die all the time in Jack Burke’s New Gods,
but it is really more of a cult-themed psychological drama than a horror film.
Still, you really wouldn’t want to be there either. Rosemary looks like a high
school art teacher, but she rigidly commands the agrarian collective known
simply as “The Community.” That means no medicine for those who are sick. They
are to simply make their peace and shuffle off, unless you happen to be
especially useful to Rosemary. In that case, exceptions can be made.
Unfortunately, the hard toiling Sophie is running a fever, but she has no
special skills. The premise and climax of New
Gods could most likely sustain a feature length treatment, but Burke’s
remarkably economical narrative feels fully rendered and satisfactorily self-contained
in its current short subject format.
in Luxembourg, they have a baby-tooth hoarding mouse instead of the Tooth Fairy.
We’re much better off than the Benelux nation, as a grown fanboy dad and his
son will learn when they come face to whiskered-face with the ferocious rodent
in Pascal Thiebaux & Gil Pinheiro’s Pearlies.
While cleaning out the late grandmother’s flat, father and son inadvertently
cause the loss of one of the mean little creature’s prized teeth, so he will
take a replacement the hard way. With its richly detailed sets and over-the-top
dark humor, Pearlies has the look and
vibe of early Tim Burton or early Sam Raimi, making it quite a macabrely
ringer of the programming block is also a real downer. After enjoying all the
previous genre goodness, Kristy Guevara-Flanagan’s What Happened to Her sets out to guilt trip horror and police procedural
fans by rubbing their noses in images of naked women corpses, as seen in films
and TV shows. Of course, viewers are not supposed to enjoy those images.
Rather, they are priming us for future payback.
It is sort of like That’s
Entertainment for floating bodies, but instead of music we hear a
voice-over interview with a former extra who found her corpse portrayal
physically uncomfortable and emotionally demeaning. It is might have been an unpleasant
gig, but it is hard to see it haunting her, like more conventionally explicit
sex scenes. Regardless, it is almost perversely amusing to see the axe-grinding
docu-supercut sharing the bill with Can’t
Take My Eyes Off of You.
the shorts preceding Happened mostly celebrate
the tradition of genre filmmaking in rather entertaining ways. As a result, Shorts Program 3: Genre Stories is quite
a mixed bag, but it is front loaded with enough reputable and guilty pleasures
to earn a recommendation for horror and dark thriller fans when it screen
tonight (10/1) and Monday night (10/3), as part of this year’s NYFF.
Labels: Charles Dickens, Horror Movies, Movie cults, NYFF '16, Short Films