Mr. Fish: Cartooning from the Deep End (2017) [Doc NYC 2017]

The life of cartoonist Mr. Fish has seen through his eyes and those of his loved ones, co-workers, and a few other people.

From director Pablo Bryant, this documentary mixes interviews with a lot of visual material, giving a good idea of who Mr. Fish is, how he thinks, and how he creates. The film covers his life from childhood until now and shows not only how he works but also his home life which has an influence on his work and vice versa. This is done in a way that gives a good, unobstructed view of things and lets the viewer make their own mind as to if Mr. Fish is doing things right or not. Of course, the film does come at the subject from a specific angle and has its own agenda, but that does not keep it from having an openness about its subject.

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The Lake (2015)

Michael Buie’s “The Lake” is a masterpiece of a short film. It’s a beautiful, somber, and heartbreaking look at how the inevitability of our death doesn’t mean we have to stop living life. I sat through the entirety of “The Lake” with a teary eye, mainly because director and writer Michael Buie manages to convey the terror and confusion of being told you’re about to die with pure brilliance. “The Lake” is never exploitative or over saccharine, it’s just about learning to make the most of the time we have in our life.

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Treaters (2017)

From Treehouse Digital and director Peter Stanley-Ward, “Treaters” is a short film that I would love to become the basis for a horror anthology somewhere down the road. “Treaters” is a surefire Halloween treat that works with a sense of whimsy but also has an admirably demented sense of humor that I was sucked in to from minute one. One thing that’s always menacing about Halloween are trick or treaters, because you just never really know who, or what, are wearing those dreaded masks and whatnot.

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Hellbent (2006)

I give director and writer Paul Etheredge-Ouzts a lot of credit for creating a traditional slasher film with a lot of the conventions turned around for an all gay cast. Every single character in the movie is gay, right down to the psychotic masked killer. Ironically, “Hellbent” does fall in to the traps of conventional slasher films, with people willingly walking in to danger, and a slasher whose origins is completely unexplained. I was disappointed in the latter, as I was expecting a big twist, or at least a link to protagonist Eddie’s past as an aspiring police officer.

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Nite Nite (2017)

Chad Meisenheimer’s “Nite Nite” is an ambitious little horror tale that its heart in the right place. I like director Meisenheimer’s enthusiasm for horror, even if “Nite Nite” needs a bit more spit and polish here and there. There is only so much you can do in three minutes, and “Nite Nite” works toward a basic horror tale of babysitting gone awry we often see with independent features.

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Bonejangles (2017)

One thing I will say about “Bonejangles” is that it has a lot of enthusiasm. It has so much enthusiasm, in fact, that every bit of coherence is thrown out of the window in favor of a horror mish mash that makes no sense, is unfunny, not scary, and feels like it was put together by someone who had a lot of ideas, all of which were not enough for one feature length movie. It’s a shame too since Bonejangles is a cool slasher villain with a lot of potential, he’s just bogged down in to a movie that is without a doubt a humongous waste of time. I’m not against nonsense, but “Bonejangles” is directionless, random nonsense that felt sloppily composed from minute one.

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Never Hike Alone (2017)

I dare say that not only is “Never Hike Alone” one of the best fan films ever made, but it’s easily the best “Friday the 13th” fan film ever made. A mixture of “127 Hours” and “Friday the 13th,” director and writer Vincente DiSanti provides a riveting small scale sequel to “Friday the 13th” where he offers up a brand new twist to the conventional tale featuring Jason Voorhees. It’s a shame we might never get an actual sequel to the series because with a small bit of polish, and twenty extra minutes of extrapolation on our main character, “Never Hike Alone” could pass in theaters as the sequel to the series that we’ve always wanted. I’d say it surely is the sequel that I’ve always wanted, as it focuses less on cannon fodder and T&A and spends a lot more time on build up and suspense.

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Two Birds (2017)

I like where Brendan Beachman seems intent on taking us in the realm of horror, as “Two Birds” is an indication of a rich cinematic talent who has potential to spin some very creepy horror tales down the road. Director Brendan Beachman creates a spooky and unnerving short film filled ambiguity and an enigmatic villain, and though we never quite understand what’s happening, that doesn’t make the tale less scary.

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