Ah, my final post from SLIFF 2016. I’m really sorry to everyone that it has taken me so long to get things posted. Between everyday life obligations, sneak peeks of things I’ve been lucky enough to see, contacting filmmakers, and of course, watching movies, it’s been hard to really sit down and give the post the time it deserved. But it's because of my dedication to you, my dear friends, and my dedication to film as an art form that I will continue to find time to go to festivals and write about the films (wonderful or not) that I’ve seen.
So as always, thanks for reading!
In this short there is basically a doll (a fairly creepy egg, china, Russian stacking looking thing) that can grant wishes. However, it’s fairly obvious that it does so whenever it wants to and not just at the discretion of the wisher. It falls from an investment banker who seems off his rocker to a homeless man. After wishing for some of the typical things (food, clothes, etc), he takes it to a bar where he tries to seduce women. At this point, the egg/doll abandons him and he gets tossed from the club. Then he sells it (for what looks like 1 billion dollars – more on that in a second) to a man cheating on his wife, and then it ends with the cheating man realizing his phone is gone.
This short was all over the place despite what I thought was initially fairly intriguing. I thought the design of the egg was very good, but I don’t know if there were cultural differences holding it back (or translational problems), but I thought the script was fairly poor. Along with that, I thought that the acting was way, way, way overdone. This is most likely cultural (most movies from Asian cinema tend to be this way), but it really distracted from the point of the short.
I can only go forward with a “C-“ for this film.
Check it out on IMDB!
This was one of those shorts that grew on me the more I thought about it. The scene is instantly set – we’re in a Louisiana type area, deep in the bayou where Catholicism and pagan traditions have merged into an interesting Cajun gumbo mixture. A young girl is giving up something for Lent, and once she arrives home, she convinces her father to give up drinking for Lent as well. Amongst these talks, there are mentions of a Rougarou – a terrifying mixed creature that hunts those that break their Lenting vows.
I really liked the scenery in this one. The setting is perfect for a horror story, and the beast is of fantastic lore. As an avid Cryptid enthusiast myself (at least in theory – haven’t gone searching just yet), this one spoke to me. I enjoyed the performances of Sabine and her father, particularly the scene of Sabine out in the bayou. She sings a little song as she walks along, and it really sets the mood for a decent jump scare.
I think if this movie was longer, it would have been better, as there would have been more development of the characters, but I thought they did a good job at presenting the people for who they really were. When the creature was revealed, I would say that the amount of tension in the movie dropped a bit. That’s nothing against the creature – I thought the design was interesting, if a bit familiar to PeachFuzz from Creep – but the movie had really ratcheted it up to that point. I guess sometimes what is left unseen is truly the scariest.
I’m going to give this one a “B”.
Check it out on IMDB!
Obviously the most financed one of the group, this movie had quite a few slo-mo shots that were technically very beautiful – but were also extremely reminiscent of 300. The story opens with a description of a guardian angel, which had me very excited. Rarely do we see the power of an angel in movies – most of the time angels are played for moral or comedic effect.
The story featured a hunter, some bad guys, and a witch. There isn’t a crazy amount of background here, and that’s what hurt this story the second most. I don’t really understand the reasoning or the origins of any of these people besides the classic “good people and bad people fight each other”. So if you are watching for a full-fledged story, you may be disappointed.
But man is it slick looking. In the end credits you see a lot of the stunts and effects they went through in order to film, and it’s amazing the commitment they featured. I think the acting was good too, particularly by the actor playing the hunter.
Overall, the film was decent, but without the lack of story, it’s hard to get past a “B-”.
Check it out on IMDB!
I’m really sorry to the people that participated in this movie, but I didn’t like any part of the non-technical aspects of it.
The story (I think I can call it that) is about a young girl that has to pass her trial to become a witch. I think that involves some type of ritual sacrifice, but I’m not sure what that is, or what else is going on. The entire thing has very little dialogue, and what occurs is via a phone conversation. The young witch herself isn’t a bad actor, but she definitely isn’t a good one, and I just couldn’t get on board with what was happening.
I guess I didn’t understand this one, but at least it was technically sound. I’m giving it a “D”.
Check it out on IMDB!
This short was very enjoyable. The beginning was a long, silent stretch where the scene is instantly set. We can see that there is a young woman who is following a man, and they seem to be escaping or leaving somewhere. There is some beautiful fog that they are traveling through, and it seems that this is just one step in an extremely long journey. Towards the end, an army moves forward, and it seems that our couple is caught. The knight allows the young woman to escape into the woods, and you can tell this pains him greatly – at some point in the journey, he has fallen in love with her.
From there, you are treated to an extraordinary special effects show, with the flowering of a tree seemingly instantly like something you would see under the influence of psychedelics. Leaves flutter into tongues into flowers, and the colors are so different from the rest of the short that you can’t help but feel like you’ve moved into a different realm.
I really liked almost everything about this short. The acting was good, if short-lived, and the effects were amazing. An entire story was told with almost no dialogue, and that’s impressive. My only critique is that a little bit more could have been spent on his knight’s costume – but that’s nitpicky.
I’m giving this one an “A-“.
Check it out on IMDB!
Speaking of psychedelics, here’s one to blow your mind. It’s not too often that the animated shorts will play outside of the animated categories, but this one did. It followed the story of a boy being passed the responsibility for a forest from his father. This is another picture with no dialogue. However, I think that this is perfect.
The mood changes throughout the short were mainly performed using music. The music is a tad overwhelming at times, but I think that was the point. A lot of care was taken to animate this short – you can see little details scattered throughout – like the young boy’s colic. It’s not my particular taste in animation – I like a bit more color – but I did enjoy the look of the film. Overall, I think with some solid polishing, this short could have improved immensely.
My main issue was that once the boy was left alone, I lost a bit of the thread of the story. Up until that point, I really enjoyed it. I guess there is probably a deeper story to the meaning of the crows and the owl, but I may be overthinking it – it could have just been Black=Evil while White=Good.
I’m going to give this one a “B-“.
I couldn’t find an IMDB page for it – sorry guys.
Based on how it looked on a big screen, I’ve got to up the rating a bit. I’m going up to an “A-“ for the cinematic experience that Lookouts brings to the screen. It looked amazing!
This is another one of those films I just didn’t love. I was intrigued at first – Ape-like creatures living in what looks like a prehistoric world – by the setting, and the influence of such classics like 2001: A Space Odyssey and the Planet of the Apes series was evident. The makeup was very convincing, despite the fact that the contact lenses used glossed out emotion, but eventually, it fell off within a minute or two.
I can get behind quite a few things in movies, but there are certain things I really have trouble with. Part of that is just because I have a soft heart – but other times it’s because I’ve known people that find themselves in situations. Despite the fact that I think there is often some relevance to movies and films (there is a difference to me – I may elaborate at some point), there are some topics that I can’t watch and really handle reviewing. Rape – which is featured in a slightly less human (and not just in the sense that people who perform this act are less than human – the characters in this film are literally ape-like) way – is one of those topics for me.
I’m not really sure what I’m supposed to take away from this film, because it didn’t really get any better after the ape-rape scene. In fact, it presented a rather dull presentation overall, despite what was probably supposed to be a surprise ending.
I’m going to give this one (again, no IMDB page) a “D”.
It’s always a shame when something like SLIFF is headed to a close. I’ve seen and met so many people that I never would have. I got to see some amazing shorts, and meet some amazing performers and artists. I’m going to be brutally honest with you, so I hope you’re listening – I feel so at home with this community. I love attending your events, watching your works, and bringing it to as many people as I can. But as I’m only one man (and of course, Shannon is working tirelessly as well), and my resources are limited (I do have kids), so I need your help. I’m not asking you for your money – I’m just asking for your information. I want to write about more independent films: shorts, feature length, or anything in between. Please just reach out and shoot us an e-mail at DoubleFeaturePreachers@gmail.com!
I would like to thank Cinema St. Louis for putting on SLIFF 2016. I’ll be attending more St. Louis Cinema events in the future!
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"