Saturday, 2 September 2017

Frightfest: Day Four

Day four includes a violent Australian horror movie, an addiction of which the students are certainly not in control and a bad day at work. Missing is a film called Our Evil which I could not focus on because of fatigue so it is not reviewed here. Sue me.

Killing Ground
Australians are batshit insane when it comes to making horror films as very few films match the rawness of Wolf Creek, the bleakness of Snowtown and the sadistic nature of The Loved Ones. Two horror films come to mind when I think of recent and grim Australian horror films and they are Hounds of Love and Killing Ground. The latter is greatly reminiscent to Eden Lake as both focus on a couple going camping in their native country (in Killing Ground’s case its Australia) only to find a few of insane locals don’t take too kindly to their presence. 

There’s a moment in Killing Ground that generally left me in shock. I won’t tell you what it is but the dull thud that you hear perfectly captures the relentlessness and brutality of this Australian thriller. From the start, tension is sustained throughout, something obviously is going to kick off and air is thick with nerve racking dread which is made worse by the fact we grow to like the central couple. Smartly, with excellent editing, the film weaves two narratives each telling the story of how a family were terrorized by a pair of deranged killers. The film perfectly combines the two, mirroring the experiences suffered by the two families and putting the audience in this uncomfortable position that they know something the characters do not. The film is brilliantly made with the tracking shot of the baby in the background being the highlight (you were crying in desperation for the girlfriend to notice).

Whilst Frightfest is more of a horror film festival it’s in fact a genre film festival so most films won’t be out and out horror. Science-fiction will be heavily featured. That’s not to say that they aren’t unnerving as evident in the next film.

Incontrol isn’t to dissimilar to the 1983 Douglas Trumbull film Brainstorm as it’s about a group of students who create an incredible device that allows you to be somebody else. This device allows you to control them and make them believe they are doing it themselves. You can control anyone you know as long as they are within reasonable distance. However, all students become addicted to the device.

The device is disturbing and director Kurtis David Harder allows you to think of the moral implications that could potentially arise when using the device. The device also creates this uncontrollable sense of paranoia regarding whether the person you are talking to is under the influence of the device or whether yourself are under its influence. Incontrol is most explicitly about addiction, Sam (Anja Savcic) in particular becomes overly attached on the device that it impacts her education and working life. The idea is chilling and film thought provoking but the film’s confusing ending kind of brings things down a touch.

Are you undepreciated at work? Do you hate your boss? Are your coworkers passive-aggressive arseholes? If you answered yes to all these questions than Mayhem is movie for you. Set inside an office building, Mayhem is an ultraviolent and ultra-enjoyable flick about an employee of a law firm (played by Walking Dead’s Steven Yuen) who vows revenge upon his boss for his sacking. All this happens is during a pandemic when all employees are infected by a virus that throws all social cues out of the window.

I actually quite like my boss (or Line Manager). We’ve been to a few football games and I watched The Handmaiden with the CEO and I was concerned I’d become the guy who invites people to Korean lesbian sex dramas. Anyway despite actually quite liking my boss and having zero intention of killing him I still enjoyed this flick because what’s not fun about a group of people mindlessly and violently killing each other? I also enjoyed it because Steven Yuen and Samara Weaving (whose fantastic by the way) share such a remarkably chemistry you desperately want the pair to get what they want.


The Villainess
Day four ended with a film that first premiered at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival. It’s about an assassin, Soo-Hee (Kim Ok-bin), who has been trained to kill since birth. However, when her mentor is killed her life changes forever and she becomes an agent for the Korean government (the good Korea not the insane bad Korea). 

The Villainess is like Kill Bill meets the classic John Woo Hong Kong films via Hardcore Henry. The opening is the film’s most electrifying scene as it’s an incredible POV action sequence that required stunning stunt work, choreography and camerawork. Even though the scene was edited in a way that it seemed as though its shot in one long take it’s doesn’t diminish anything from the opening scene and merely proves making an action scene is an art form. With quality of the opening scene the film sets itself a very high benchmark and film never quite gets to that level again (with the exception of sword fighting on speeding motorbikes). 

That’s not to say the is anyway bad as it’s still an impressive film but where the film falls flat on its face is the confusing central narrative. Whilst you eventually piece it all together it does get very confusing with all the time jumps, different people, different faces, and the same people but with different faces (the central character gets plastic surgery). Still it is thrilling stuff and Kim Ok-bin makes for an admirable and engaging lead.


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