The final day featured morbid Instagrammers, a twisted Christmas thriller and revenge tale set during Halloween.
Remember earlier when I said Jackals was the festival’s most mainstream film? I was wrong. It was Still/Born. The signs were evident when Alan Jones called it Cannes’ most commercial film meaning that it would be your standard horror fare. It’s about Mary (Christie Burke), a woman who had recently given birth to twins but one was still born. Shortly after giving birth to the healthy twin, Mary starts to notice strange things happening around the house.
There is a moment where Mary Googles “something is trying to make my child” and from this moment on the film becomes flat out silly and it really pinpoints the moment where you can tell the film will be a typical commercial affair. It is by no means badly made, the scares are well-timed, the cinematography makes the large, mostly empty, house a creepy place to be but the film is so predictable and generic that it’s not a film that is going to linger long in the memory. Christie Burke, however, is superb.
A simple organ harvesting caper goes wrong in this interlinking story involving an ex-professional Mexican Wrestler, a recovering addict, and a local mob boss.
Lowlife gets off to a pretty slow start but we are given reasons to stick with the film as the opening scenes are peppered with amusing moments all of which involve Richard Adam Zarate’s disgraced wrestler and a skinhead with full face swastika tattoo. However, once it becomes apparent that the film is a series of interlinking stories, the film kicks into gear and generally becomes exciting. The film’s appeal comes to the eccentric cast of characters with Richard Adam Zarate and Jon Oswald (the skinhead) stealing the show. Credit also goes to director Ryan Prows who manages to link the three stories together seamlessly.
Better Watch Out
It’s impossible to talk about this film without revealing what makes this film so special. So, if you don’t want to know more stop reading right now and just let it be told this is one amazing film.
Ashley (Olivia DeJonge) has been hired to look after 12-Year-old Luke (Levi Miller) who has long since held a small crush on her. Luke has decided that tonight would be the night he lets her know how he feels about her but before he can do that somebody invades the house putting their lives at peril.
The twist surrounds Luke who becomes the film’s main antagonist. At first his ‘nice guy’ act is kinda sweet and harmless (he’s twelve years old he’s got a lot to learn) but when the surprising twist emerges it is obvious that this ‘nice guy’ act was hiding something sinister. The home invasion was no invasion at all but a plan to get Ashley utterly terrified and allow a chance for Luke to become the hero. Ashley, understandably so is pissed, and Luke isn’t happy that his advances have been rejected. Essentially this seemingly standard home invasion thriller becomes a tale about entitlement and misogyny with moments of graphic violence and dark comedy. Better Watch Out is destined to become a cult Christmas classic with its ultra-surprise twist, a stunning Levi Miller performance and genuine disturbing nature of film about how far unchecked misogyny can go. Chris Peckham is the hero of the piece with its subtle little nods to what is about to occur. A brilliant film.
The Terror of Hallow’s Eve
The following film was also a festive themed film set during a holiday period, this time it was Halloween. Part true story, The Terror of Hallow’s Eve sees Timmy Stevens (Celeb Thomas) beaten to a pulp on Halloween night and in his anger he accidently raises a beast known as The Trickester (Doug Jones) which grants his wish to scare his bullies to death
The film is in part inspired by Todd Tucker’s own life as he too was interested in monsters when he was young and bullied for it. The director started his career as a makeup artist before eventually directing his first feature, Monster Mutt. His second feature contains great monster designs, but outside of that the movie is little weak. The 80s nostalgia passes me by and the lack of chills, laughs and scares in the movie makes it a touch boring. Celeb Thomas’ central performance isn’t all that gripping either. It’s clearly is a very personal film and a passion project for the director, but great monster design and 80s nostalgia isn’t enough to sustain a whole movie.
A Scream for the Instagram generation. Tragedy Girls is about two highschoolers (Brianna Hildebrand and Alexandria Shipp) who are so obsessed with a murder they are willing to commit it to boost their show’s popularity (a show about serial killers and murderers in the local area).
Powered by two superb and charismatic performances from the two leading ladies, Brianna Hildebrand and Alexandria Shipp, Tyler MacIntyre’s fun horror-comedy closed Frightfest in style. Brianna Hildebrand and Alexandria Shipp deserve a lot of credit for how the film zips along at frantic pace, throwing gag after gag and reference after reference at the screen. The film pokes fun at the vanity and morbidness of some on Social Networking sites that seem to revel in chaos and death. Story wise the film peters out a little, and needs something dramatic to kick it back into gear again, but the charismatic performances of the two stars (and fine supporting performances) ensure the film is never dull.