SFFF Day 1 Report – Home is Where the Horror Is

saskatoon_fantastic_film_festivalThe last days of autumn are leaving Saskatoon and the sharp, cold grip of winter is in the air. It makes for a slightly uncomfortable walk to and from the Broadway Theatre, but perhaps that’s a fitting atmosphere for the Saskatoon Fantastic Film Festival’s program of highly honoured collection of films. Those looking for name recognition in its stars or those resistant to reading subtitles are missing out on some of the best genre films of the last year or two. Day 1 of SFFF may prove to have been its strongest, with a brilliant collection of award-winning horror films. Domestic spaces loom prominently in this first block of films, suggesting little safe territory moving forward into the Festival.

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FUCKKKYOUUU (Eddie Alcazar, 2015)

FUCKKKYOUUU‘s artistic statement reads:

With the ability to travel in time, a lonely girl finds love and comfort by connecting with her past self. Eventually faced with rejection she struggles with her identity and gender, and as time unfolds onto itself only one of them can remain.

With that synopsis in mind, Eddie Alcazar’s short is a sensorial barrage that contrasts the sensual with the horrific and annihilates any comfortable, easily accessible relationship with the film’s concept. The sound design of Flying Lotus is chillingly ethereal and operates in brooding compliment to the film’s shadowy visuals and knife-cut inserts. FUCKKKYOUUU is a densely packed voyage into sci-fi horror with undeniable affect, one that gains depth and power with multiple viewings.

teeth (Daniel Gray and Tom Brown, 2015)

Mouths are strange places as every horror fan knows. They are full of hard, piercing weaponry set amid wet, fleshy muscle and sensitive, waiting nerves. It is also the main portal to our insides, a place where good things should go in and bad things should not come out (but sometimes do anyways). Daniel Gray and Tom Brown’s teeth (2016) is not just preoccupied with mouths, but also with dead things and dissection – a combination not designed for the squeamish. Richard E. Grant‘s narration offers a sense of dignity to this rather ghoulish short, ably offering some misdirection to the thud of the film’s ironically deadpan, matter of fact conclusion.

Gnarr (Gaukur Ulfarsson, 2010)

The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary cinema presents Gnarr.

criterion logoPopular Icelandic comedian Jón Gnarr, having witnessed his country’s all-out economic collapse in 2009 and being fed up with the political status quo, invented a new political party and became a candidate for mayor of Reykjavik in the capital city’s 2010 municipal election. With no political experience at all and aiming to make a satirical statement on the political process, Gnarr’s campaign gains unexpected momentum despite his absurd promises of mandatory viewings of HBO’s The Wire, a drug-free parliament by 2020, and “all kinds of things for weaklings.” What starts as a stunt aimed at mocking both sides of the political spectrum turns into a hilariously incisive take-down of shallow party politics and a welcome antidote to political apathy.

Disc Features:

  • High-definition digital transfer with 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • Audio commentary featuring director Gaukur Úlfarsson and star Jón Gnarr
  • Hooray for All Kinds of Things, new interviews with Gnarr and campaign manager Heida Helgadóttir
  • New interview with political scientist Gunnar Kristinsson on Iceland’s economic crisis, Gnarr, and the Best Party
  • Deleted and extended scenes
  • Trailer
  • PLUS: An essay by film scholar Andrew Pendakis

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Lonesome Ghosts (Burt Gillett, 1937)

I have very fond memories of watching the Ajax Ghost Exterminators on my Fisher Price Movie Viewer. And with its trio of ill-prepared, heavily equipped ghost-hunters and Goofy’s exclamation that “I ain’t a-scared of no ghosts!”, it seems to have a kinship with another all-time MMC! favourite – Ivan Reitman’s Ghostbusters (1984). For those looking for a little trivia, the ghosts in the “Old McShiver mansion” are reportedly named Jasper, Grubb, Boo, and Moss.

La Boca Del Leon (Alfonso Garcia, 2013)

Let’s kick off our month of horror shorts with a genuinely scary film from Spain. Horror films have always been preoccupied with point of view, and so it’s been natural that the trope of the I-camera (those POV shots locked into the perspective of the monster or killer) has led the horror film, above all other genres, to embrace digital media and personal recording capabilities. Few films utilize this technology more efficiently and more effectively than Alfonso García’s 2013 short La Boca Del León (The Lion’s Mouth). This FaceTime exorcism is a gripping 5 minute watch and a great start to MMC!‘s celebration of bite-sized terror.