The Silver Scream Fest curated a fascinating list of new features. my only regret is not getting to see every feature. I blame the incredible all-star panels they put together. I couldn’t miss the chance to share a room with John Landis, Rick Baker, and David Naughton. That said, here are the details on some of the new films.
This cyberpunk thriller may not have fit perfectly in a horror festival, but it was so fun that I didn’t care. The bulk of the movie takes place in the server room of a large office building belonging to a Google analog. Hackers break in looking to steal data and see how the company is really making their money, but an environmental AI system takes over and does its very best to kill everyone in the building. It also leaks massive amounts of sensitive data to the world’s superpowers and puts humanity on the edge of global war.
There are some minor plot holes in this movie, a few things that had to be stretched to make it work, but the characters make it memorable and fun. Molly Burnett puts on a very convincing a powerful performance, delivering lines that may have seemed a bit awkward in less adept hands. Josh Banday and Adam Shapiro make a fantastic IT oddball pair. As someone who is worked in the industry, I felt like I knew these characters well.
I was fortunate enough to chat with the film’s writer and director James B. Cox about the film. It’s a strong effort for a first feature length film and I feel like we will be hearing about him quite a bit in the future.
Mania – 2015
When we walked into the Roxy on Sunday, director Jessica Cameron shouted to the crowd that her violent lesbian love story was about to start. I was already sold on the movie, but a few more heads turned and decided to join us.
Mania is a bloody sexy lipstick lesbian gorefest that relishes in its own violence and portrayal of mental illness. Jessica Cameron’s film does a great job of establishing a loving relationship between the two leading women (Tristan Risk, Ellie Church), but has some problems after that. The Mania title fits well as the frantic murders start to pile up. The first kill is probably the most satisfying and disturbing, and does well to establish just how unhinged Brook can become.
There is a lot to like here for body horror fans, but the movie is not without faults. Outside of the two main actresses and a short sequence with a lawyer, the acting is not great. The kills and the reasoning behind them gets very repetitive. When the movie does try to switch up the motive and type of murder, it falls into absurdity and feels like a confused Dexter episode. It then bounces back with more glorious girl on girl action.
It’s not a movie that will make you think, but if you like heavy pulp violence, sexy explicit love scenes, and a touch of insanity, you will definitely enjoy this movie.
Maskoun – 2015
This is the first movie I have walked out of at a film festival. I hate saying that. I hate to bash anything that people put so much time into, but it was hard to watch. The acting reminded me so much of The Room with Tommy Wiseau that I started to feel sick.
The idea itself has a lot of potential. Explore local folk lore and make several segments covering the different tales. Use actual Lebanese talk show personalities to link the stories together and give more credibility to their origins. Even the beginning sequences had potential, as we watch a pair of exorcisms taking place with well shot and well framed scenes.
After that, the movie starts to crumble. We have a documentary crew that keeps telling us “No matter what do not stop filming” delivered with all the force of a kitten landing on a pillow. The movie repeats its lines over and over again, telling us to toast to the good times no less than six times in one scene. All of the characters look like they wandered off of a porn set and were given hand held cameras for a bad reality ghost hunting show on TLC. The transitions between English and the film’s actual language seemed very odd, like it never knew what audience it was really being filmed for.
On a technical level, the subtitles were white, usually against a white background. This was when we decided to leave. Five minutes into a scene where we could not see what was being talked about was just a huge turn off.
Normally I wouldn’t talk about a movie that I had such a poor experience with, but this was the movie that won Best Horror Feature and Best Director at the Silver Scream Festival. This blew my mind. Either the movie picked up and became absolutely incredible in the second half, or the people who made this decision saw a different movie than I did. I really need to have a chat with the judges on this, because I’d like to know what made them love it so.
There are a few films I dearly wish I could have viewed. Faux Paws got a lot of love from those lucky enough to have seen it. Bubba the Redneck Werewolf looked spectacularly shlocky and was well received by the people I spoke to. Honey Bee looked like it could have potential, but it didn’t quite fit with our schedule. The hardest part of any film fest is having to pick what movies you have to miss, so I’ll be keeping an eye out for these in theaters and on VoD.
Be sure to check out our other SIlver Scream Fest coverage coming soon! We’ll be talking about shorts, panels, and art!
Tony Southcotte: Tony hails from the Rocky Mountains somewhere around the state of Colorado. Possibly raised by grizzly bears, this gritty denizen of the arena now spends most of his time grappling with Java updates and dysfunctional RAM. With not much fiction under his belt, it might seem tempting to bet against Mister Southcotte, but an impressive knowledge of everything from PVC pipe to psychedelic drugs makes Tony a storehouse of fiction waiting to hit the paper. Plus, you know, there’s the possibility of him ripping you apart like a grizzly bear.