Since we’re all slowly and inexorably heading into the last day of the month of October, I’ve gotten to thinking about the perfect film to watch on Halloween. The sort of film where, to properly experience it, you have to turn off all the lights in your living room and surround yourself with friends or family, put a huge bowl of freshly made popcorn on the table to get that smell of hot butter in the air, and then cower together to scream and laugh while lit only by the glow of the television. We’ve all done it at least once, and it’s always fun, but it can be unforgettable if you pick just the exact right thing to watch.
This, in turn, got me to thinking about John Carpenter. Because, as you all remember, he just happened to make a little obscure flick called “Halloween”. Which, coincidentally, is why my own personal recommendation for the perfect film to watch on Halloween is “The Fog.”
Small Gauge Trauma is a programming block of shorts at the Fantasia Festival that sort of functions as a two hour anthology movie without a wraparound story. The shorts can be in any genre and are chosen by rough theme. In the 2017 edition’s case the theme was “Family” and while I know that this doesn’t sound overtly ominous, trust me when I say that it should.
Before I even start the review(s) I’m going to issue a mild to medium spoiler warning. Short films are, well… you know… short. So I have to talk about something and because the various runtimes are often under ten minutes I may mention stuff that happens towards the end. I promise I won’t ruin any twists and I will try not to describe every aspect of the plot and story, but I have to work with what I got.
I got started as a critic in 2004 when I covered the Fantasia film festival for Film Threat. At the time I was pretty active on the Film Threat web board and one of the moderators, I believe it was Eric Campos, asked if I could attend the festival and write something for the magazine since I lived nearby. I must have done a good job because he let me stick around to do more stuff, mostly review indie films and write a series called “Versus” where I compared remakes with the original.
It was fun, but eventually I had to slow down because I was burnt out. I realize that “watching movies” doesn’t sound exhausting, but I always felt a deep sense of responsibility to both the readers and the filmmakers. It felt wrong to just go “This film sucks!” or “This film rocks” without exploring every little detail on screen and analyzing every aspect of the production.
There’s been talk of remaking Suspiria for years. So much so that a lot of what I’m going to mention here are thoughts that have been bouncing around in my head for over a decade. The latest attempt at a remake, and the one most likely to happen, is supposed to star Dakota Johnson and Tilda Swinton, have music by Thom Yorke, and be directed by Luca Guadagnino. All of whom are above average artists in their respective fields. So I wish this attempt well and I genuinely hope it succeeds.
At the same time, I think it’ll fail.