Clapboard Jungle (2019) [Fantasia Festival 2020]

Justin McConnell’s “Clapboard Jungle” is essentially about artistic pursuit and the search to grab even the slightest success in a world filled with artists. How does an artist make it in a world where millions of others are working night and day to make theirs heard? How do you thrive without competing or stepping over others? How do you stave off imposter syndrome? And in a climate of consistently rotating and interchangeable titles, is it even possible to deliver anything fresh or appealing in cinema anymore?

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Yummy (2019) [Fantasia Festival 2020]

Now Streaming Exclusively on Shudder

Lars Damoiseaux’s “Yummy” reminded me a lot of the sub-plot in Robert Altman’s “The Player” where the two aspiring executives have an idea for the opening of a drama. Tim Robbins’ character snickers behind their backs that they have a movie with no second act. “Yummy” is a movie with a great concept, but no real execution behind it. It’s a gory darkly comic zombie movie set in a plastic surgeon’s office… and then… not much else happens beyond that.

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Morgana (2019) [Fantasia Festival 2020]

Isabel Peppard and Josie Hess’s “Morgana” is a documentary begging to be turned in to a feature film. It’s a wonderful and heartbreaking account of sexual repression, forced domesticity and using pornography as a means of re-claiming individuality. “Morgana” is short, but it’s an engaging journey in to the life of Morgana Muses, who suddenly found herself without the demands of a marriage that offered zero fullfilment. When she’s finally free she has no idea what to do with herself. That is until she realizes sex is a big part of what kept her from blossoming as a woman and adult.

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A Night of Horror: Nightmare Radio (2019)

“On this stormy night, we are going to tell horror stories, because horror stories never end.”

I’m a big fan of the concept where studios or a collective of directors take various short films from indie directors and create anthology horror films in the vein of “Tales from the Darkside” or “V/H/S/.” The idea is a great one and opens up a broader audience, and allows them some great exposure. “A Night of Horror: Nightmare Radio,” is one of the many that’s come along, mixing seven stellar horror shorts told by a lone radio DJ in the middle of the night.

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Nothing But the Blood (2020)

Intentional or not, when you go in to “Nothing But the Blood” you’re bound to have flashbacks of “Red State,” as director Daniel Tucker seems to be sewing his narrative from the same cloth. Ideas about religious fanaticism, the deadly cost of religious institutions, and the hypocrisy of religious leaders are all here. Les Best even seems to spend most of his time on screen channeling Michael Parks. Daniel Tucker tries hard to establish him as a source of evil, even beginning the movie with a fourth wall breaking prologue as Best’s character reads a long sermon and angrily preaches to us.

Why this should set up the story I was never entirely clear but—it’s black and white, so it’s eerie…?

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Promare (2020) [Blu-Ray/DVD]

There’s nothing I hate more than a movie that has so much going for it, but has no idea how to deliver a great narrative. “Promare” is a movie that, by all accounts, should have blown me out of my seat. But by the middle of it, I was counting down the minutes, and waiting for it to get to the point. It’s so sad that a movie that looks so amazing could be so lacking in originality with government corruption, clandestine organizations, and an evil politician who has plans for the world, yadda, yadda. It’s all so old hat for such an epic looking animated movie.

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Deep Blue Sea 3 (2020) [Digital]

The “Deep Blue Sea” movie series seems to be veering slowly away from the campy nonsense that was the original and headed more in to Peter Benchley lite fare. For a movie that followed the silly shark fest with Sam Jackson, this is a surprisingly straight faced and dull second sequel. There’s nothing really here, save for the usual riffs on “The Deep,” “Aliens,” “The Abyss,” and only a very small connection to the sequel, which had a very small thread tied to the original Renny Harlin cult classic. It’s all fairly standard killer shark fare.

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