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IFI Horrorthon 2022

I went to the IFI Horrorthon 2022! Here are some movies I saw:

Barbarian

Great pick for the opener I had an absolute ball! I love the clever way the film is structured-It’s a wonderful way to slowly drip feed the lore surrounding the house and the broader themes and character motivations and connections while keeping everything interesting for the audience. Justin Long absolutely steals the show here and it’s a nuanced and fascinating depiction of such an individual. The camera work is tight and effective, the characters are engaging and (mostly) likeable, it honestly took me by surprise in places and just this movie had me start to finish man. Highly recommended. 8/10

Suspiria 1977

It feels almost pointless to try to review Suspiria-if you don’t know about it I do not know how you’re reading my blog. Even those who know absolutely nothing else of Argento’s work love this film-it’s a stone cold classic and a joy to see this with the new restoration. The colours fucking popped and I was transported into that dream-like space that will turn into a nightmare on a dime. All of Argento’s usual tricks of murder mystery, gory sensational violence, a lush yet unnerving colour palette but with that mystical twist that really makes it stand out. 10/10

Opera

Another really fun Argento! I’d be lying if I said I was as wowed by this as Suspiria but it’s still a really strong one. I love the frantic chaotic mood he can create and the muted palette really showed off his camera work here, even with the more scenic ending. There’s some creative and fun kills as always. The opera setting doesn’t have a hell of a lot to do with anything but there are some nice reveals and a varied cast you almost feel bad get chopped! Great performance from who is eventually revealed as the killer too. 8/10

The Last Client

This was easily the worst film I saw all festival. The premise alone kind of had me on edge-I could go into a rant about horror and mental health which nobody really wants to hear but I will concede it can be done well-but this locked in a room thriller failed to thrill or do anything outside of occasionally make me giggle at how outlandish and silly it could be. And this was before the most ungodly terrible twists started coming out of the woodwork. It’s shot really flatly, lots of set ups just go nowhere and the acting especially from the “crazy” guy was painful to sit through. 3/10

Huesera

From one of the worst screenings I went to to one of the best what an absolutely fascinating movie. A scathing indictment of heteronormativity and the complacency put on women in particular to fit a societal norm even if they were never comfortable with it. I loved the different anxiety-inducing states it took the lead on and really was not afraid to make her unlikeable in parts while still feeling a ton of empathy for her. Shocking and absorbing all in one go it’s certainly a hidden gem of the year for me. 9/10

The Bird with the Crystal Plumage

Now THIS was a properly classic Argento flick with the style and aplomb, I fucking loved it! The conceit of the murder witnessed was actually really smartly set up especially how we get the “everyman” so to speak involved in the role-not for nothing but this is probably my favourite lead of any Argento film he’s charming and kind of a cad but still really likeable. The cast are great, it’s probably one of my favourite slow burner mysteries I’ve seen of Argento that has an excellent reveal. Suitably beautifully shot and with the maestro Ennio Morricone on score-if you haven’t checked this one I could not recommend it enough. 10/10

Inferno

This is a sequel to Suspiria-kind of. It’s part of the Three Mothers trilogy but otherwise the plots are unreleated. And man does it want you to know about those Mothers-this one has a lot going on and I don’t know if it comes together all that sharply. I find the cast to be really unengaging too which Is a rarity for an Argento flick. There is stuff I really liked-some great kills fun intrigue funny moments and situations here and there etc.-but it’s not as tightly written or focused like his other movies and it left me feeling cold in comparison. Still worth checking out-take my sour review as really high expectations. 7/10

Candy Land

Damn this was a blast! What a refreshing and empathetic look at sex worker framed in the lurid shocking mania of a B-movie. The cast are all great, it’s well shot and suitably gross and horny. Once it gets going it really doesn’t hold back on the violence and goes into the whole religious cult angle of the time period without feeling too mean-spirited; there’s clearly layers to the brainwashing. This all culminates in one of the best needle drops I have heard all year-check it out for yourself! 8/10

Pussycake

This one was kind of really massively disappointing which is a shame as it had a lot of promise. Like the make up for one-there’s some great effects here too with the opening really standing out. And I like that they tried to differentiate from other zombie flicks but like that’s all this ended up feeling like. The characters are not that compelling and no direction the plot goes here really wowed me or felt like it’s not something I’ve been or done before. A shame-loved the pitch. 4/10

Tenebrae

The final Argento I saw at the Fest and boy was it a doozy! A writer gets embroiled in a series of murders that seem somewhat inspired by his own novels and this is absolutely superb stuff. Full of twist and turns including one of the most insane chase sequences involving a dog (I don’t think Dario Argento likes animals). The same praises and aplomb I give all of his other works apply here, but just heightened by a well executed grisly murder mystery an excellent cast and one hell of a climax. 10/10

The Leech

A priest following the pious message he espouses enthusiastically invites a homeless man and eventually his girlfriend into his home and it kinda just. Goes from there. This one was really effective and anxiety inducing while being a deft exploration of piety and who really benefits from this kind of religious fervour. Shout out to Jeremy Gardner playing the homeless guy for being so ridiculously likeable while also an obnoxious presence to get the narrative across. It kind of loses me like a lot by final act but overall I’d say check it out. 6/10

The Lake

A Thai kaiju movie with decent effects for what looks like a pretty limited budget was something I really wanted to be here for. But I mostly wasn’t. There’s an insanely large cast here and they just do not feel fleshed out enough to really make an impact, which wasn’t helped by how haphazard the structure was in the first act. Also the final 20 minutes are…really strange and I did not get what note they were going for. There’s certainly some impressive visuals and it does strike a decent balance between doofy melodrama and fun monster fare but it’s mostly pretty forgettable which is a shame. 5/10

Something in the Dirt

This movie is from Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead who previously did Spring and The Endless. They also star in it in this COVID production about two neighbours who discover freaky goings on in an apartment and continue going down a delirious rabbit hole from there. A lot of the limits of their shooting situation don’t help here but overall I enjoyed this. The duo play off each other well and it truly shows the mindless maddening connections conspiracy theorists create to form…whatever. It’s greaat at highlighting how something is usually lacking in the lives of the conspiracists which pushes them to these places. Solid cinematography and effects work really made this a treat to close the Fest on. 8/10

Cult of VHS

This one sadly I could not see in the IFI due to an issue with the projection but the director was kind enough to give us access to a screener, so thanking him for that. This was a fun easy breeze! Though I can’t imagine it will bring you much insight if you don’t have even a passing knowledge of these kinds of collectors, their passion is palpable and there is some self-awareness that VHS isn’t exactly an opportune format (one guy bluntly says he prefers watching movies on Blu Ray). It’s got a fun visual style with old ads and trailers interspliced and if you just wanna see some dudes and not dudes all the same chat about a hobby that means a lot to them you could do worse. 6/10

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Profile Pic Credit: @Akajennyhere2

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