Trey Edward Shults’ “It Comes At Night” is a great movie, it’s also a poorly marketed movie by a studio that had no idea what to make of it. It’s a masterful dramatic thriller less in the realm of “The Walking Dead” and much more in the realm of “On the Road.” Shults definitely creates a film that focuses on the apocalypse and a family surviving through the apocalypse. But what Shults does is create an enemy that assures an inevitable and unstoppable death at the hands of a miserable disease that is inexplicable and remorseless. When we meet Paul, his wife and son Travis, they’re beginning to set their grandfather free in the woods where they plan to execute and bury him.
The staff at Philadelphia Unnamed Film Festival makes a great effort to bring all kinds of horrific, kooky, and fun shorts to their fest. The films chosen are of a wide array and all different from each other. Here are a few shorts reviews for a few of these short films:
Shane Ryan’s “Guerilla” watches more like a proof of concept film more than a short film, but for what it offers I think there’s a ton of potential for a great feature film down the road. With no dialogue and a sweet eighties synth score, “Guerilla” is a mix of “The Goonies” and “Night of the Comet” centering on the apocalypse and an airborne disease that transforms people in to blood soaked maniacs.
Once called “Stake Lander,” the follow up to the fantastic 2011 apocalyptic vampire film may be just a TV movie, but it’s thankfully a pretty excellent follow up to the original vampire thriller. “Stake Land 2” reunites just about everyone from the original film to extend the mythology of the original film and continue the epic journey of the enigmatic Mister and his young sidekick Martin. Except now, Martin is an experienced apocalyptic hunter who has managed to settle in to a life he loves, even in the midst of the end of the world. Despite Mister venturing out on his own, Martin has established a farm as well as married and had a son.
Kyoshi Kurosawa’s “Kairo” is a film dripping in terror that deliberately paces itself as a slow burning end of the world tale. Rather than an all out orgy of gore and carnage, “Pulse” eventually explodes in to something of a last gasp of humanity, and a civilization that ends in a whisper and somber whimper. “Kairo” is written as something of a two act structure where Kurosawa opts for a film that’s episode in the vein of “Pulp Fiction,” and then smashes together in the stunning climax. Much of what we see seems and feels random in many places, and events collide allowing for a cogent unfolding of events that doesn’t just make sense but feels so meticulously planned from square one. What makes “Kairo” so haunting even when the credits have drawn to a close is the way the director opts less for splatter and gore, and more for a requiem that depicts mankind as a stain and nothing more.
“Day of Reckoning” is a pseudo-biblical horror movie that teams “Doom,” “Day of the Dead,” “The Walking Dead” and the Roland Emmerich disaster pornos in to one ball of baffling entertainment. “Day of Reckoning” is teeming with potential and actually manages to be entertaining every now and then. When a mining company accidentally unearths a hibernating brood of demonic monsters, the beasts arise from their slumber to begin wreaking havoc on humanity. The monsters are a variety of winged, stampeding, anthropomorphic demons with varying degrees of appearances and habits. Sometimes they’re a random herd of monsters, and sometimes they’re scheming and planning. They can poison people to apparently turn on everyone else, and they have a thirst for human flesh. Best of all they can be taken out by dousing them with enough salt.
“Rock & Rule” is a wonky, surreal, and entertaining animated musical that feels like Ralph Bakshi, Don Bluth, and “Heavy Metal” magazine were combined in to such a frantic cult gem. The 1983 movie has gone through years of being an underground classic, and has finally been embraced for such an ahead of its time science fiction tale. The animation for “Rock & Rule” is completely out of the box, resembling rotoscoping in many aspects, and opting for character models you don’t often find anywhere else. “Rock & Rule” is a science fiction, punk rock, steam punk tale set many years in the future after world war III wiped man off the face of the Earth. The only surviving species are cats, dogs, and rats. They have evolved in to anthropomorphic mutants, all capable of thought and speech.
“Metalstorm” is another one of the Not Brand X movies from the eighties where fans of “Mad Max” were treated to a long list of movies that desperately emulated its formula and aesthetic. If you survey most of the late seventies and eighties, you could probably build a whole sub-genre of post-apocalyptic movies that emulate “Mad Max” and “Escape from New York.” There’s a whole library from various studios who aimed to capture the same success and pop culture momentum as the aforementioned. “Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared Syn” is by no means a bad movie. It is a hokey but fun movie, though. It has all the hallmarks with films of this ilk including a desert wasteland, a hot rod driving “road warrior,” and his blonde babe.