Posted by Deirdre Crimmins
Ongoing contributor Dede Crimmins is soaking up eight days of movies at the renowned Fantasia Film Festival in Montreal. She's mapped out close to a few dozen films she plans on elbowing old ladies over in order to reserve her seat and she's been gracious enough to give us a handful of mini reviews of her festival favorites for the 21st and 22nd. Dede probably watches more movies than Chris and I combined, and I'm not entirely unconvinced she doesn't strap monitor glasses and earphones to her head at night in order to soak in another three films while she sleeps. Stay tuned for more updates from Dede throughout the week.
Sushi Girl (dir. Kern Saxton). Starting my Fantasia week with a bang was the international premier of Sushi Girl. Presented by the superb ensemble cast of Mark Hamill, Tony Todd, Noah Hathaway, James Duval, Andy Mackenzie, Michael Biehn, as well as the writers and directors of the film, it was clearly a hit with the sold out audience. The film is a heist gone wrong and subsequent revenge scenario that cannot escape comparison to Reservoir Dogs, but that is due to happen any time you secure a crime confidant to a chair and try to beat answers out of him. Not technically a horror film, however it is satisfyingly gory, with very creative modes for flesh destruction (a sock filled with glass, to name one) while trying to pry secrets out of one of their heist buddies. The film drags a bit while unsuccessfully building suspense for the inescapable torture, but it is often rescued by the antagonistic relationship between Hamill and Mackenzie’s characters. Todd chews the scenery in the best way possible, and this film serves as a testament to the fact that Todd is a film legend for very good reason. All of the characters are unsympathetic, and the actors all seem to get such joy out of exploring their own sadistic sides.
Wrong (dir. Quentin Dupieux). Following 2010’s Rubber, director Dupieux creates an equally absurd and yet somehow relatable comedy. Wrong follows Dolph (a great performance by Jack Plotnick) as he awakes, at 7:60am, to find his dog missing. The film twists and turns from there, and as long as you surrender every notion you have about reality and how it should function on screen, it is a very fun ride. The gardener has to break the news to Dolph that his palm tree has turned in to a pine tree. It is constantly raining inside of Dolph’s office. And Dolph’s neighbor refuses to admit that he likes to jog. Had I not seen it with the enthusiastic audience at Fantasia, I might have felt like it was slow moving, but the pacing is actually quite appropriate for the material. It can take some time for Wrong’s oddities to sink in, and a faster pace might leave the audience behind. But with a great crowd that appreciates the absurd, both in this film and in everyday life, it was a great cinematic experience.
Lloyd the Conqueror (dir. Michael Peterson). Lloyd (Evan Williams) and his slacker friends are barely holding on to their passing grades in community college. After phoning in a presentation in class they are given an ultimatum: join their professor’s LARP (Live Action Role Play) guild, or fail out of school. The logic to arrive at that decree is a bit murky, but it turns out that their professor is an evil ruler of the local LARP group, and he needs more guilds to fight against, or there will be no final battle this year. The film suffers from some weak casting (both Williams and his buddy Patrick, played by Jesse Reid, are hard to believe as losers), but both Scott Patey as the slacker Oswald, and Brian Posehn as the owner of the local gaming shop make the film fun. A decent comedy which clearly has affection for male-bonding, but not necessarily a must-see film.
Dead Sushi (dir. Noboru Iguchi). The premise of Dead Sushi is one of the most delightfully irreverent premises at this year’s Fantasia: Sushi comes back to life, and attacks humans, creating a zombie/sushi/human hybrid which then wages battle against an ass-kicking ex-sushi chef. Director Iguchi, known best for Machine Girl, does an outstanding job of proving that he is one of the most bizarre directors getting exported from Japan right now. This film has an obvious fondness for the silliness in many kung-fu films, and it celebrates with without ever poking fun at it. Interestingly, the plot of the film follows the trajectory of a slasher film. A group of business partners are at a remote inn for a weekend of hot springs and sushi. A strange vagrant appears. The vagrant is approached by a young horny couple, whom he kills… with a living dead squid. Dead Sushi is just as much fun as you would hope it would be.
My Amityville Horror (dir. Eric Walter). Fantasia often hosts genre-related documentaries to support the horror and science fiction programming they offer. This year one of those documentaries was the world premiere of My Amityville Horror. The film came about after ten years of research and three years of shooting. It is the first time that one of the children who fled the infamous Amityville house in 1975 after a series of paranormal occurrences drove them away. While the film is described as an investigation into the impact of international media scrutiny on a family, it is actually a sad portrayal of a lost man. Daniel Lutz’s family spent only 28 days in the house that had a mass murder inflicted by the previous occupants, and yet his entire life has been clouded by those occurrences. The film takes an appropriately neutral point of view when it comes to questioning whether or not the incidents in the haunting actually occurred. Through clever editing of many on camera and audio-only interviews, Walker is able to pull the audience back and forth, until no one is sure whether Daniel is telling the truth, or if he simply has grown to believe his own tall tales.
(Deirdre Crimmins lives in Boston with her husband and two black cats. She wrote her Master's thesis on George Romero and works too much.)