Coulrophobics look out, “The Night Watchmen” is easily your worst nightmare come true, but it’s also one of the best horror comedies I’ve seen in a while. Director Mitchell Altieri delivers one of hell of a great horror gore fest that imagines the world overrun by vampire zombie clowns. “The Night Watchmen” is set primarily in an office, and Altieri makes great use of it, picturing the night shift from hell. You could make a sub-genre out of horror movies set in an office work place, these days, but “The Night Watchmen” has a great time making use of the back drop, with the various halls and corners of the office, and the typically monotonous setting.
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.
Izzy Lee is a talented short filmmaker who some of us cannot wait to see a feature film from. Her shorts have been many and has one of them, For a Good Time Call…, played Fantasia International Film Festival this year paired with the feature Dead Man Tells His Own Tale. As her work should, more like needs to, be seen by all horror fans, here is a rundown of some of her recent shorts.
Chris Peckover’s “Better Watch Out” is absolutely nothing like I thought it’d be. That might be a criticism by some when the movie makes its way to VOD this year, but walking in to it blind, I was stunned to find something different but still rather entertaining. “Better Watch Out” just might end up being a Christmas classic somewhere down the road, as it’s a pitch black comedy, and unusual horror thriller that derives great pleasure in its sheer sadism. I’m not usually a fan of horror movies filled with such a mean streak, but “Better Watch Out” is shockingly clever, and very slick in how it builds up its villain slowly and makes the menace in the movie more and more terrifying.
Last year saw the first time where the programmers at the fest felt a need to have a short film block dedicated entirely to women-made short genre films as they had received a big selection of very strong titles. This year continues this with its second edition or the 2017 edition. Here are short reviews for each film involved in it this year (in no particular order).
Spectrum Productions works with a day camp in Montreal which offers filmmaking mentorship and classes for people on the autism spectrum. Spectrum Fest was a presentation of some of the films made by participants over the years for the first time at Fantasia. It was a free screening for anyone interested in going and it was hoot.
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.