Each year Fantasia showcases a ton, almost a literal ton, of shorts films. Reviewing them can be a bit demanding, so it has been decided to review them in groupings. The following shorts were attached to feature films that played the fest and were viewed on the big screen.
In 1959 Indochina, a legend is born. A man fights his way out of jail and to make money until he is forced to fight for revenge. Through this, he learns a lot about himself and what he is ready to do.
Written and directed by Jesse V. Johnson, Savage Dog is a decent fight film with a bit of story created with the purpose of setting up fights for star Scott Adkins and co-star Marko Zaror. The story is decent enough but not exactly fascinating, something that should not bother fans of fight films as this one has a few very good fights and some side ones that are also interesting. The dialogue is decent while the setting is interesting, but not used to its full potential. The characters are almost all created with a purpose relating to Adkins’ character, making him the center of just about everything. The story is not bad as it develops in ways that keep the attention and introduces fights in a manner that makes sense.
A family expecting their second born is surprised to have a mutant child as it arrives in this world and kills all in its path when scared. As a baby, being scared is something that happens quite a bit, creating a mounting body count for this tiny tot.
Written and directed by Larry Cohen, It’s Alive is a tale inspired by pollution and environmental effects on humans’ reproductive systems, eventually leading to a damaged progeny trying to survive when it’s scared and ready to kill for survival. The film takes this and turns it into an easy to watch horror film about a newborn mutant monster that can easily be taken as just that, a monster film, but is much more once one delves into the environmental message. Here Cohen creates a tale that is deeper than it seems and works with monster film tropes to pass along its message and entertain at the same time.
Written by Justin Benson who co-directed with Aaron Moorhead, The Endless is a slow slow burn of a film that takes its time to set-up the weirdness going on and creates a sort of mindfuck as it goes along. The film takes a few known ideas such as cults and time warps and plays with them until they connect and make sense. The co-directors having worked together on other features, they clearly know how to work together and this shows in how the film is directed, being a way that looks seamless between the two of them and what they each directed, something that is not always well done, but is great here.
Written and directed by Dick Maas, Prey is a horror comedy film with its comedy very dark and its horror a bit light. The film takes the wild animal on the loose premise and moves it to the city of Amsterdam where the idea of a killer lion on the loose is particularly ludicrous. The way the film develops this and adds hunters, both experienced and not so much, who once paired with the local police becomes a bit of a mess in terms of lion-chasing but a fun watch in terms of horror-comedy. The film shows an ability to pit characters against each other in a way that is entertaining while they all face the lion threat. The comedy is often situational and takes advantage of the characters’ flaws in a way that works well here. The direction is rather on point for the comedy and fairly good on the horror. However, as a horror film, it has just about no scare factor.
It’s “The Bye Bye Man,” or as I call it “Honey, We Ripped Off Slenderman.” In all honesty, “The Bye Bye Man” actually looks like a weak Senator Palpatine cosplayer who died from toxic poisoning from his face make up and became a demon who likes to rip off his shtick from The Babadook, Freddy Krueger, and your every day mime. I’ve experienced scarier stories in young adult sections at public libraries, and could come up with a monster ten times more imposing, and with a name that doesn’t automatically inspire me to chortle under my breath. A movie this bad could only inspire me to gather my thoughts of bewilderment in an itemized list.
Did you see “Scream 4”? Do you remember the finale and surprise reveal, as well as the reasoning for the murderer’s devious deeds? Well, then you’ve seen “Tragedy Girls.” It feels a lot like Tyler MacIntyre loved the finale to “Scream 4” so much that he took that one twenty minute explanation, and transformed it in to a ninety minute movie that presents glimmers of brilliance, but stumbles quite often. While many will liken “Tragedy Girls” to “Heathers,” it’s actually about as smug and annoyingly self-satisfied as films like “Detention” and “Easy A.”
A man on the run hides in a farm house, taking the family living there hostage. As the search for him intensifies, dead bodies start to pile up. Who is he and what has he done, who is killing these other people and why.
Based on the books by DOA and adapted for this film by DOA and director Eric Valette, Le Serpent aux mille coupures is a tense French polar, a sort of Thriller the French way. The film takes its premise, adds extra bad guys, and pushes the limits a bit while still keeping a fairly simple way of going at things. This creates a tension and suspense while the police and others are looking for a killer who tortures horribly his victims before killing them, while the man in hiding may or may not be this killer. All the tension comes from how the story unfolds even after the audience knows who is doing what, something that is a sign of strong writing and directing.