GrimmFest Day Three
Written by Daniel Benson
Day three has arrived and time, or rather lack of it, is catching up with me. Opting to write up the remainder of yesterday’s films, I chose to skip Saturday’s opener Brother’s Nest. Billed as a Coen Brothers-esque pitch-black comedy about two brothers going to extreme lengths to protect their inheritance, it sounds like something that’s definitely worth checking out when the opportunity arises.
So starting my day in the lunchtime slot was Nicolas Pesce’s Piercing, steeped in, yes, you guessed it, '80s chic. Not the BMX and tube socks type of '80s kitsch though, more the uber-stylish type that you’d expect to see in Drive or something from Nicolas Winding Refn. Wendell Pierce is the central character, an aspiring serial killer who plans a weekend away in an expensive hotel with the intention of murdering a prostitute. Based on the novella by Ryu Murakami, it seems to lose something with its translation to screen and ends up, despite its 81 minute runtime, feeling over long and plodding in places.
Today's short film programme was assembled to showcase the work of female directors and writers, with each one being either helmed by or written by a woman. The Dark Room kicked us off with a literal representation of death haunting a young girl as her mother deteriorates from a terminal illness. Excellent costume design and a period location raised the bar for this ambitious short. It also set the record for the longest credit sequence; even the music ran out before they finished.
Neckface brings a bride's worst nightmare to life as she wakes up on the morning of her wedding to find a face has grown on her neck overnight. It's as bizarre as it sounds, especially as her new companion won't shut up or stop singing.
Marta follows the escapdes of an aspiring serial killer as she takes what appears to be her first victim. It succeeds mainly due to its sharp dialogue and black humour.
The Whistler starts like a typical haunted house movie but then moves into territory that's altogether a little more strange. Slick and impressive looking, but it left me wanting a little more.
The Old Woman Who Hid Her Fear Under the Stairs sees an elderly lady lift her fear of the modern world by using an online self-help course. But, of course, these things always come with a caveat.
Round Trip is a time-loop short set in the Australian outback as a cop is driving his prisoner and becomes lost. Each event that unfolds reveals another layer of the loop in a fiendishly clever display of storytelling.
Finally, Sybil rounded out the shorts with its grim tale of a mortician's assistant. It feels like there's a bigger story to tell, which was backed up in the Q&A which revealed that a feature-length version is in the works.
The anthology piece Nightmare Cinema was put together by Mick Garris as a feature film equivalent of the Masters of Horror TV series. Featuring five stories from directors such as Joe Dante and Ryuhei Kitamura and clocking in at almost two hours, the film is based around a creepy movie theatre that draws in five different people and gives them a glimpse of their worst possible future. Despite its hefty run time, it still feels quick paced and the quality of the individual shorts never drops below very good.
Andy Mitton’s old-fashioned spook house tale The Witch in the Window came next and kept the audience captivated with its tale of a father trying to rebuild both a house and his relationship with his estranged wife. Cleverly shot so that you spend almost every scene checking the background for the titular window dwelling witch. Read Ren Zelen's full review here.
Tommy Wiklund and Sonny Laguna's reboot of the Full Moon franchise, Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich was up next. It's been many a year since I've seen a Puppet Master movie, so any fan references that have been squeezed in were all but lost on me. That said, it stands on its own as a campy and gory midnight movie that lays on the holocaust jokes a little thick. It doesn't feel like it tells a full story and rather just exists as a practical effects showcase to splatter the screen with blood. Indeed, the ending could not be more open to a sequel, but this is a Puppet Master movie, so that's to be expected. Read Joanna K. Neilson's full review here.
The final film of the day was the Indonesian possession drama (with added zombies), Satan's Slaves. Sadly tiredness was getting the better of me at this point so I opted to call it a night and get some sleep. It's not all fun and games at these festivals you know.