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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

REVIEW: 10th Annual Buried Alive Film Festival Feature Films

This past weekend, the 10th Annual Buried Alive Film Festival screened 70 short films and three features (plus a special screening of Deep Red by Splatter Cinema!). These films came from all over the world and ran from experimental to atmospheric, violent to hilarious. Below are short reviews of the three features that played: Curtain, Bunny the Killer Thing, and The Interior. If you are interested in these films, be sure to check out their websites and trailers and support them as they tour through film festivals!

Curtain - USA (73 mins)
Dir. by John Henrie-McCrea

Curtain follows a young woman, Danni, in her late twenties who, for reasons unbeknownst to us at first, is moving into her first apartment. As she is gradually learning to live on her own, she finds that her shower curtains keep disappearing. After leaving her phone camera in the bathroom to figure out what’s going on, she discovers that they are being sucked into some sort of inter dimensional portal in her bathroom wall. She is ready to just move out and get away from it, but her co-worker Tim (she works for Whale Savers, asking for donations on the street to stop whalers) insists that they investigate, sure that they will make a landmark scientific discovery.

For most of the movie, there’s a strong indie comedy feel, and the film pulls off the quirky characters in a weird situation vibe well. Where it goes with the weirdness is fun and unexpected, and it focuses in tight on the narrative once this starts.. My only issue is with the depth of characterization with the main character; I feel like we learn more about Tim and his ambitions, past, and personality than we ever do about Danni, which makes it hard to have a strong connection to the protagonist. Even so, Curtain is a unique and enjoyable film with a handful of fun nods to the practical effects of Evil Dead.

Bunny the Killer Thing - Finland (88 mins)
Dir. by Joonas Makkonen

Bunny the Killer Thing tells the bizarre tale of a medical experiment gone wrong that leaves a man turned into a giant bloodthirsty bunny that violently lusts after (and constantly screams about) female genitalia. Adding to the madness is a group of horny teenagers who are staying at a secluded cabin in the snowy woods and the trio of British criminals that they unwittingly pick up. Part absurd crime tale and part sexploitation horror, this film gets increasingly silly as it goes on, and at a certain point you have to decide to just let it happen to you.

It is based on a short film of the same name, and you can tell–something this strange and silly works much better as a short. While I found it funny at times and interesting in how strange the whole thing was, my tolerance waned after an hour. Be that as it may, no one who ever sees Bunny the Killer Thing will ever forget a bloody man-sized rabbit swinging his gigantic dick around and screaming "Pussy!" over and over again.

The Interior - Canada (80 mins)
Dir. by Trevor Juras
Official Website 

Easily my favorite feature of the festival, this hard to place Canadian film follows James, a young man who is having trouble coping with his modern urban life. His office job is driving him to comedically violent fantasies about his boss, he's unhappy with his girlfriend, and he might be receiving some ominous medical news after experiencing some strange symptoms. In order to escape, he essentially runs away to the British Columbian Interior, opting to live for a time in the forest, alone. 

It is here that the film mostly shifts away from the indie comedy feel of the first third and veers towards a darkly existential drama, tinged with horror. While backpacking through the gorgeously shot forest, his alone time is violated by a man who, in all likelyhood, is just passing through on his own hiking trip. From there, a series of creepy, but mostly harmless things start to happen, and James' paranoia begins to leave him with little sleep as he continually packs up his camp and moves in the middle of the night. The line between reality and dreams becomes hard to distinguish, and as it is for James, it is impossible for the audience to know whether these increasingly aggressive happenings at his camp are real or imagined, or perhaps even a hallucination caused by his medical issues.

The Interior does an excellent job of making physical our fears of the unknown and manifesting the battle between a deep need to be alone and the sometimes horrifying necessity of community. It's not listed as a horror film on IMDb, but I found the film deeply scary at parts. It does all this with almost no dialogue and with no special effects to be seen, which makes it all the more fascinating and up for interpretation. Add to that a great performance by Patrick McFadden in the lead and truly beautiful cinematraphy and you've got a film that desperately needs to be sought out.
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