What’s on tap for today?
I look forward to the Fantasia Film Festival each year for a variety of reasons. One, you get to take in a wide array of genre titles, many of which may or may not find their way to a broader audience. Two, it’s one of the few festivals that caters to the film blogger with a jam packed lifestyle and makes a number of the titles available for remote coverage.
While I hope to one day actually be able to escape to the Montreal fest in person someday it’s equally as busy on the home front balancing work and home life while trying to fit in some weird flicks in the interim. As a family man with a full-time job it’s not a walk in the park finding the free time to watch insane genre movies and then sitting down to write about them–as much as I wish I was the guy who was getting paid for people to disagree about movies with on a daily basis. So, while my Fantasia intake is a fraction of your typical writer who attends the fest, here’s a rundown of some of titles I caught that hopefully everyone will be able to take a gander at sooner rather than later.
Hollywood has yet to see the value in the chaotic brain belonging to director Joseph Kahn. His work has been ridiculed and praised in equal parts for his cinematic efforts Torque and Detention. The frequent music video director may have really hit his stride though with Bodied, a battle rap comedy and drama that, if there is any justice in his world, will see Kahn finally breaking through into the mainstream of film culture.
The straight pitch for Bodied (a term I had no knowledge of prior to this film’s existence) is essentially what if 8 Mile were about a privileged white kid studying battle rap as an art form and became a heavyweight in the medium in the process. Also, if the climatic battle rap of 8 Mile were stretched into 2 hours. Calum Worthy stars as Adam, the aforementioned privileged white Ivy League geek who attends a battle rap session to interview Behn Grymm (Jackie Long) and get the 411 about the use of the “N word” in and out of the battle rap context. When asked to put his battle rap knowledge to the test Adam impressed, finding his star thrust to the big leagues of the battle rap circles. The higher his star rises, the more he loses his grip on what’s acceptable in and out of the confines of a battle rap stage.
There’s a double edged sword slicing its way throughout the course of Bodied and its the character of Adam as a whole. Joseph Kahn as director and working from a script he co-wrote with Alex Larsen allows the audience to experience what it’s like to completely flip their opinion on Adam left and right. At first he seems like a well meaning–if somewhat intellectually obnoxious–scholar obsessed with a culture that he more or less doesn’t belong in. Eventually he transforms into a completely obnoxious, homophobic, and racist scholar, but the complex part is deciding if Adam IS all of those things, or if he just loses himself in the art and culture that he’s co-opted.
Once you can stomach the ups and downs of watching Adam spit fart smelly intellectual musings about cultural appropriation and race relationships then rap poetically about various racist stereotypes, misogyny, and homophobia then you’re well on your way to connecting with Kahn’s overall vision. The filmmaker flip-flops around from straight up comedy to dramatic beats in a natural way without alienating the overall satire.
The performances are fantastic, combined with a number of impressive battle rap scenes that you’ll have to watch over and over again to catch the rapid fire jokes and insults being hurled around. Bodied is a whirlwind of cringe-inducing slams and genius level satire that has to be seen over and over again to be believed.
I’ve covered the films below in one centralized location, so as opposed to regurgitating my thoughts, I’ll give you a brief overview of my overall thoughts and provide a handy dandy link to the full review.
If you are jonesin for a full length film that feels like a Black Mirror episode, then look no further than CAM. There’s a reason why this film was given the honor of as the best first feature and best screenplay at the 2018 Fantasia Film Festival. Plus, a brace and committed performance by Madeline Brewer make this a flick to put on your radar and check out as soon as you can.
Full Review: Coming Soon
The horror of pledging a frat or sorority is not lost on those who have likely done so or are considering doing so. However, if you find yourself in a dark room with a bunch of psychos who want to brand you as the FIRST step of their initiation, you’ll do well to walk out the door ASAP, cause things won’t get much better from there.
Full Review: Pledge (Bloody Good Horror)
The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot
Word of advice, don’t EVER make your decision to see a movie based on the title alone. Not that The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot is a bad movie, but boy howdy is it a whoooole lot different from the movie I was expecting. A great, but subdued performance from Sam Elliot is the anchoring piece for this one that should probably be added to your list, once your expectations are adequately realigned.
Xavier Gens’ career in the genre is unique if nothing else. However, the potential in all of his films to this date has yet to really hit a peak leaving a lot on the table, which can only keep you employed for so long before people get hip to your tricks.
Full Review: Cold Skin (Bloody Good Horror)
You like Home Alone right? Of course, who doesn’t. What if I told you there’s a version of Home Alone for genre fans that answers the question if Harry and Marv were one person and had a thing for little boys that didn’t involve just robbing their famiy? Well, this is that movie….for the most part.
Full Review: Knuckleball (Bloody Good Horror)
No, sorry Nine Inch Nails fans, this is NOT a full length feature based on the popular song once famously covered by Johnny Cash. It is however, an ALMOST pretty good kind of stalk and slash flick that tries way too hard to pull the rug out from under the audience with annoying misdirections. Of note, after this movie was screened/reviewed it was brought to my attention that the screened copy was not the final version, so take the review with a grain of salt as there’s currently no way to know if the new cut may have alleviated some of my issues.
Full Review: Hurt (Bloody Good Horror)
The Witch in the Window
Hindsight is a weird thing. After reviewing this film I’ve gone back and read some reactions and additional reviews to see what some of fellow writers had to say about this one and apparently I’m in the minority. Personally, I found this little slice of Canadian ghost nonsense to be a quite dull but also a supremely effective sleep aid.
Full Review: The Witch in the Window (Bloody Good Horror)
One of the cool things about Fantasia is coming across films having no idea what you’re in for. Lifechanger features a fascinating concept that spends a little bit too much time info dumping in clunky ways instead of focusing on the engaging bits of serial killer body horror that its concept has the audience begging for. Still, despite its missteps its definitely worth checking out.
Full Review: Lifechanger (Bloody Good Horror)
Overall, of the movies I was able to catch, this year’s fest didn’t yield the same number of hidden gems that the previous year’s did, although it did give me two titles that will be vying for spots on my top 10 lists of the year.
Best Overall: Bodied (A-)
Best Genre Flick: CAM (B+)
Over the course of the three week festival I also took in screenings of films from the festival that were supplied to me separate from the inclusion of festival coverage that I will be sharing reviews of very soon that include The Ranger, Arizona, Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich and Summer of ’84–so stay tuned!