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Friday, September 20, 2013

Film Reviews - Fantastic Fest Round Up - Day 1

By Adam Ruhl

It's that time of year again! Fantastic Fest has officially begun and I am running from screen to screen trying to take in as many of the genre movies as I can manage. Most of these will be coming out over the next year as they secure deals (some are already in place) and I'm going to provide reviews for as many as I can. Fair warning, I'm running about 20 hour days during this fest. Likewise these round ups may become increasingly incoherent (more so than usual). I will do my best to hold it together and I thank you for indulging my illness. Now on to the reviews.

Machete Kills

The latest spawn from the Grindhouse project is the stunning opening film to this year’s Fantastic Fest. Machete Kills is the follow up to 2011’s Machete, homage to exploitation action films with enough jokes and absurdity built in to border on a parody in a good way. If you’re a fan of Grindhouse, Machete, or Danny Trejo this film does not disappoint. There are a lot of great gags and a huge list of walk on cameos (including a good size role for Lady Gaga). Machete Kills rocked the fest with its red carpet premiere and Q&A after. The film opens nationwide October 11th.



Haunting and suspenseful, Patrick is a wonderful mystery thriller. Remade from an earlier 1978 Australian film, this Patrick is filled with great atmosphere and a gothic style. Its setting is a convent turned clinic for patients in a vegetative state. Kathy Jacquard (Sharni Vinson) is a new nurse charged with caring for the titular Patrick. Australian actress Rachel Griffiths does a wonderful job as the cold as ice head nurse. The movie kept me guessing and director Mark Hartley built consistent suspense (I actually learned about the original Patrick from the same director’s earlier documentary Not Quite Hollywood). The score fits the setting but is at time a bit too liberally applied. I strongly recommend this film as one of the more intriguing thrillers I’ve seen this year.


On The Job

This film heavily follows the crime and corruption genre, it’s hard to watch it with drawing comparisons to Heat, The Departed, and numerous others. Though the plot does start out pretty convoluted there is some good intrigue through the middle and interesting character motivations on both sides of the law. Ultimately I think the films weakness was that neither the good guys nor the bad guys were really satisfying to root for.



Eight friends get together for a dinner party on the night that a comet is passing by. The power goes out mid-party for the whole neighborhood except for a house a few blocks away. Investigating that house sets a chain of events in motion with repercussions for them all. Sorry to be vague but explaining it all would take up too much space here. The story is interesting but not as mind blowing as it portents; the audience was often a step ahead and the dialogue and performances are sacrificed to maintaining the premises mechanics. 


Why Don’t You Play in Hell

Don’t be surprised if the opening sequence of this film has you thinking of Kill Bill. They’re not exactly similar, but it is shot with something of the same spirit and humor. The story is about a Yakuza boss’ attempts to restore his daughter’s acting career for the benefit of his incarcerated wife. He enlists an amateur film crew in his efforts. It’s an over the top fun journey with a lot of great, incredibly violent moments. There’s a hectic energy in Hell that flows throughout the movie. I couldn’t stop laughing, definitely worth seeing.

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