Has it only been a year? It's my favorite time again, that of the fabled Fantastic Fest
in Austin Texas, an eight day festival of genre film making that takes place at the Alamo Drafthouse
, the oft-proclaimed 'best theater in the world'
. I did extensive coverage of the event at Spill
for the past three years and was helped out a bit
last year by our very own League of Extremely Ordinary Gentlemen
He made a big mistake because this year I've roped him into helping me cover the entire kit and caboodle. Luckily, Tim League
and the fabulous Fantastic Fest
staff have hooked us up with some early looks
this time around which is gonna make this coverage that much easier and thorough.
Keep in mind a lot of these are very small films, some from third world countries even, but often they're amazing. To see these yourself, the best thing to do is send emails to companies like Lionsgate
or Anchor Bay
encouraging them to release them in your area.
I think we're gonna start out here with the first film Jason
and I watched together, "The Children"
. Now this is an English film released there in December of 2008 to relatively good reviews. Any horror film with a title insinuating creepy kids makes me uncomfortable usually because there's not a real good track record lately of quality with them.
Now now. There are a bunch of damned solid evil kid flicks out there. Just look at Problem Child. And Problem Child 2. That ginger little bastard is way scarier than Malachi
and his ilk. 'The Children'
is thus far my favorite flick that's come out of Fantastic Fest
. Everything happens as expected. You know the evil is coming. You know where it's coming from, but that doesn't stop it. That doesn't dull the shock. It's a slow, dreadful build into panic and by the time the characters realize what's going on, it's too late. It's gruesome with some interesting character dynamics operating outside of the carnage, giving you little bit of concern for the victims. My only real complaint is that this was waaaaay too similar to so many other evil kid flicks, most notably 'Devil Times 5'
. Seriously. The fact that "The Children"
didn't mention this in the credits is worse than Cameron
not giving Harlan Ellison
a nod at the end of the Terminator
. It's that similar. While 'The Omen'
and 'Who Can Kill A Child'
are still the best of the subgenre, this one is creepy and entertaining, with some inventive, gorgeous scenes. One lingering shot of blood chilling on individual crystals of snow will stick with you. And it will remind you to write your Congressman, thanking them for Roe vs Wade
I'll let some of your kid picks go because you have deep seated problems that go farther back than I feel comfortable addressing in this forum. You do sum up the positive qualities of "The Children"
well though. Getting into what the hell it is in the first place, a Christmas family reunion in an out of the way country home leads gradually to violence as an insinuated virus starts causing the young children to become homicidal. That's pretty much the entire plot, but the effectiveness of the horror comes with watching parents being stalked and murdered by their own children, something that hits home on a primal level. That being said, the idea of a virus that can make someone into a calculating, calm, and devious murderer capable of even killing their own loved ones falls into the category of REALLY hard to swallow for me.
Deep seated problems? You're not going to let that go, are you? Dude, it was just a misunderstanding and the fine folks at Sea World opted not to press charges. Can we move on now?
The virus aspect almost seemed like an afterthought, really. It didn't bother me all that much, but I didn't see the point since they didn't go far enough to really explain it. I don't completely need the curtain pulled back on everything that's going on, but yeah, the virus excuse was flimsy. It did, however, illustrate that children are nothing but sociopathic disease-bags. How the children slowly snare their parents is another great aspect of it. By the time you realize you should have killed them, it's too late. Just like real life.
You make a strong point, J. If society let me I'd build a flamethrower shield for myself to keep those little germ bags at bay. Even with the effectiveness of the NATURE of the scares, I thought there was some sloppiness in the continuity (the parents start acting scared of the kids before they even have any real reason to be) and some awkwardly telegraphed parts to the score. I'm gonna have to give this (on the
particular to Fantastic Fest
scaled score) a Matinee
Gotta agree with you there. It could have been nudged up to full price, but I'm going to have to stick with Matinee
Pfft. Get your own rating, loser.
Anyway, another movie we checked out was "Human Centipede"
and...what? Why are you making that face? Oh here we go.
The Human Centipede. Seriously?! Seriously!? This is what it takes to get a movie greenlit these days? It's the story of a crazy German doctor, a Siamese twin specialist, who abducts people and sews them together, ass-to-mouth.
I'll let that sink in for a second.
Lips-to-rectum stitching. And all that entails. That's it. That's the movie. Crazy guy sews people together. The end. And yet we had to sit through an hour and a half of it.
And yet, there was a delicate beauty here, a metaphor for man's inhumanity to man and most certainly for the Holocaust that made this perhaps one of the most meaningful, profound and intelligent horror films I've seen this year. When German actor Dieter Laser
(who I knew best from the sci-fi series "Lexx"
) is performing the surgery that turns two innocent girls and a man into his ultimate organic being, not only do you feel the pain of birth with him but the joy of creation which is hard met by the realization of just how disturbed you SHOULD be by all of it, yet can't tear your eyes away.
Did you sprinkle your breakfast with peyote again? You're out of your damned monkey mind if you see this as anything more than someone swinging for the fences in the Gross-out World Series. This movie is the product of nothing more than a couple of stoners sitting around when one of them says, "Dude. . . DUDE. . . you know what would be fucked up?"
Yeah, okay, you got me I was just messing with you. This is one seriously fucked up movie. "Human Centipede"
certainly isn't brilliant but it might be a bit more fun than you give it credit for. I laughed my ass off through the entire thing. Dieter Laser
(who has the coolest name ever) is so perfectly cast here and so damn weird looking that he carries the film past the mere gross-out factor with his exaggerated mad scientist histrionics. This is one of those movies you see with a crowd so you can all shriek and laugh and cover up your eyes together. The Fantastic Fest
specific rating from me is Matinee
And we'll be back soon with two more films from the most fantastic festival of all for us to call each other names over shortly...