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Saturday, July 19, 2014

@fantasiafest Fantasia International Film Festival Reviewed! - Animosity!, Live!

By Adam Ruhl



It's that time of year again! Better than Christmas, it's Genre Film Festival season and Montreal's Fantasia International Film Festival is in full swing. We're right on top of it to highlight some of the great films that are playing this year!




Animosity
Dir: Brendan Steere
runtime: 100 min

Carrie and her husband Mike move into a house deep in the woods. Very shortly thereafter Carrie has a number of disturbing encounters with the locals, a neighbor shotgun hunting in her backyard, a boy prowling her house in the middle of the night. When Carrie tells Mike of these events he is unconcerned and dismissive. Finally, one day Carrie witnesses the seemingly unhinged neighbor shoot the boy and she is plunged into a frightening new reality that makes her question everything she thinks she knows.

But is it any good? Yes, it is absolutely worth watching with the caveat that the first third of the film is very rough. Elements from clunky shot set-up to predictable dialogue to some loose editing scream micro budget horror.  Mike telling Carrie that her being attacked in the night must have been a dream (and her accepting that explanation) borders on eye rolling cliché. And it is an extremely small budget independent film, there’s even a remnant Indiegogo campaign from where it was partially crowdfunded. However, once the film gets into the story and builds up steam; Director Brendan Steere seems to hit his stride and he delivers some really intriguing ideas. His passion for the material comes through when the film gets dark and we start to peel back the layers of mystery at Animosity’s core. Tracy Wilet (Carrie) has to do much of the heavy lifting in film and she excels at it. She gives a great performance ranging from shy young wife all the way to the worlds-apart survivor she is by the conclusion.

What starts as a pretty predicable concept veers into territory I was not expecting and soon I was fully signed on for the ride. I just wish I didn't have to wait so long to get to the good stuff. 






Live
Dir: Noboru Iguchi
runtime: 105min

A genre film festival is not complete without a new film by Noboru Iguchi. He is the director of some of the most fun Japanese genre films to come out in the last decade. The Machine Girl, Robogeisha, Dead Sushi, and now Live, which is destined to join the others as an instant classic.

Naoto is a bad tempered college dropout who is mean to everyone, including his mother. One day he receives a phone call saying she’s been kidnapped and he’ll have to follow clues in the kidnapper’s favorite novel if he wishes to see her again. He follows the first clue and quickly finds that he is not alone; a dozen others are playing the same game, following the book and competing against each other to try to get a loved one back.

The movie has the familiar hallmarks, excessive gore and disturbing dark humor, as seen in the director’s other films. It’s less of a cartoon than say Robogeisha and is more a satire of the young adult survival films like Battle Royale and Hunger Games. Live is a race against time that moves with a wonderful frantic pace that in some ways reminded me of Run Lola Run. Apparently the book in the film is a real novel, and it’s available on Amazon, but I was not able to find a translated version to investigate further.

Is it worth seeing? Yes, run, don’t walk to this one, it’s brilliant. Live has a laugh-out-loud sense of humor and the horrible deaths the characters suffer are absolutely revolting. Seriously, people come apart like fresh bread in this film. I was so caught up in its frantic pace that I was honestly on the edge of my seat. I dare you to see Live and not laugh and recoil in revulsion at least a couple of times. 

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