In addition to the usual reviews and comments you would find on a horror movie blog, this is also a document of the wonderfully vast horror movie section of the video store I worked at in my youth.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Fantasia, Part Three.

Unfortunately, it pissed rain the entire Sunday, so the majority of the day was spent under cover rather than gallivanting downtown. After taking in Robo Rock, a silly and fun Japanese romp about a down on his luck mob courier, I settled into the J.A. de Seve Theatre for a little film called Home Movie.

Parents local pastor David (familiar face Adrian Pasdar) and psychiatrist Clare (Cady McClain) start witnessing weird behaviour from their two young children Jack and Emily (Austin and Amber Williams). The movie is told through a video camera that is supposed to be for Clare’s work, but is more often used to document family holiday events. We jump in at Halloween, through to the following Easter.

Home Movie has an intriguing premise. What WOULD the early home movies of future serial killers look like? This cinema vérité style is really popular now, but still continues to be a very effective way to tell a story. It gives the filmmaker innumerable ways to be creative and extremely calculating about how information is given to us, the viewer. The film concentrates more on the parents – and their reactions to something they can’t understand - than the children themselves, which is a smart move and aside from a few paper-thin red herrings, the storyline is pretty straightforward. It succeeds in the ‘less is more’ category.

Now, Home Movie is – as is every film of this type - about balance. The suspension of disbelief issue is always a struggle. As the situation escalates, at what point would the camera operator put the camera down, rather than continue filming. The device often implemented is the protagonists’ need to ‘document’ the proceedings, but that can only take you so far. You have to cut them some slack when you get to this point because unless you do something really clever – like Behind The Mask switching to conventional camerawork for its conclusion – no camera, means no movie. The other balancing act is the response of the parents to their predicament. Would the parents have thought they knew best and tried to use their polarizing techniques to ‘fix’ their children rather than just calling in the white coats? I’m not a parent, so I can’t say for sure that David and Clare should have woken up and smelled the corpses rotting early on. The device of religion and science trying to heal those who cannot be healed is as good as any and the performances keep Home Movie grounded.

Probably the creepiest thing about Home Movie is how much of it came from director Christopher Denham’s own experiences. During the Q&A following the film, he talked about the troubled kid that lived next door to him growing up and how his anti-social behaviour culminated into the eventual murder of a local boy. Denham said the guilt shared by his entire neighbourhood was a tangible thing. People just ignored what they didn’t want to deal with, much like the father in the film.

Home Movie is refreshingly serious tale, told with little humour and the lack of a conventional score only adds to focus the growing tension. It would be a shame if it gets buried under all the other titles that employ this narrative technique because Home Movie is a worthwhile watch.

After some liquid refreshment, dirtyrobot and I went to what would be our last film of the weekend, the animated film From Inside.

A lone train barrels through a post-nuclear wasteland. The passengers know not where they are going, just somewhere other than here. A pregnant woman onboard is terrified for her unborn child. Will it be born dead, or worse still, deformed? All she can do is wait as the train continues on an uncertain path.

After the movie, I turned to my friend and said ‘Well, that was a little bleak’.

I kind of wish that Robo Rock had been our final film at Fantasia because then we wouldn’t have been on such a downer when we made our way back to The Irish Embassy. Luckily, we had Serena to cheer us up when she joined us after her screening of Trailer Park Of Terror. As you can see from her review, she had the more enjoyable experience.

I did dig the visual style of From Inside. It reminded me of the 2001 Web Series Broken Saints; it being largely sketched drawings slowly moved across the screen to simulate movement. Unfortunately, this isn’t the most ‘kinetic’ style around and combined with the female narrator's lulling voice, I had to fight an encroaching drowsiness at some points. I also had to think of Stephen King’s The Waste Lands, because of the train and you know… the wastelands. The sequence where it rains blood looks great, flushing out the dull greys and browns of the previous act.

I think back now and realize that not much happens in the movie, but I was nonetheless captivated. I just wish that it hadn’t been so morose. But, then again… that would explain why there aren’t too many post-apocalyptic musicals out there. I appreciated it, but maybe Trailer Park Of Terror would have been the better bet. Hopefully, it comes to Toronto for After Dark this October.

So, as I mentioned, we retired to the pub and enjoyed our last night together before we were to go our separate ways.

The usual suspects.

This little snippet of Fantasia (and Montreal) I was able to experience was an absolute blast. I hope to make this a yearly thing. I will, of course, bring you all along with me if I do.

1 comment:

DirtyRobot said...

Seriously, FROM INSIDE bummed me out! BTW, it was extremely hard for me not to warn you about WICKED LAKE... stank! :P