Nipple-twisting fuzzy creatures, sex hotlines, ghosts and personal demons, serial killers, and blood (a lot of blood). The amazing Fantasia team delivered another impressive line up of titles with interesting guests and of course, lots of popcorn. Now that it’s all said and done, that I’m back at my office job, here are five out of the 50 or so titles me and my fellow FTB writer Thomas O’Connor saw that I will remember a long time from now. Fantasia 2012 was on helluva Fest and altho it ended a week ago, it never really ends for some of us: It’s only over when we say it’s over.
I went to see Warped Forest (by Shunichiro Miki) because a fellow reviewer suggested the film and hyped the shit out of it. Normally, this sort of film is off my radar. Even in my open-minded box-breaking film tastes, I am unfortunately still conservative in some regards. Films that approach the absurd or surrealism just don’t get me going and leave me puzzled. Warped forest is one of these films. Given the aforementioned, I shall try to review the film anyhow.
Nine characters, some of which are actually different in scale and proportion, intermingle and live their lives in a bizarre setting that looks like something that came out of an intense drug induced vision: Pornographic fruits, nipple twisting creatures, super cum guns, obsessions with gaoza, and weird inverted floating pyramids. This isn’t surprising since most characters in the film are under the influence of one drug or another at almost all times in the film. Three teenagers, three sisters, and three best buds get tangled up in webs of dealing with wanting more: love, money, and happiness. Dreams and escapism are themes throughout.
Overall, the imagery was extremely interesting and the coveted fruit bearing trees are most probably the most interesting aspect of this twisted forest although they are not nearly explored enough. The scene where the three buds try to dream tinker without having to pay any pocos (the currency in the film, which consists of nuts stored in ones bellybutton) is very silly and quite memorable. The standout performance is that of the youngest sister, who is on a strange quest in the wild, wielding the cum gun and constantly thinking about gaoza (dumplings). In the end, the film left me with two things: an aversion to avocados and a dire need to eat some dumplings.
Turn Me On Goddamit!
I’m a sucker for a quirky coming of age story and Turn Me On Goddamit! is a good one at that. Set in a small Norway town where young girls dream of escape, giving the finger to the town sign every time they re-enter its limits, Turn Me On Goddamit! is about a young girl named Alma who is really horny. At the town recreational center, Alma has an interesting encounter with her longtime crush, Artur, and is faced with social ridicule when she recounts it to her lipgloss obsessed friend. For, you see, Artur poked her with his dick. Thus, Alma becomes “Pik (Dick) Alma” and things only gets worse when her mother becomes increasingly aware of Alma’s hormonal needs, in the shape of a very high sex telephone bill.
What drew me to the film initially was the idea that this would be a film depicting a teenage girl’s sexual desires and I was intrigued to see how this would be done without being some sort of weird male sexual fantasy. I was quickly reassured within minutes of the opening scene that indeed this film would have depth and that the sexual desires of Alma were not simply there for male fantasy but rather a realistic portrayal of what a young woman can go through growing up in a world where female sexual desire is unfairly meant to be kept under the sheets.
The young actress who plays Alma delivers a compelling performance especially in the scenes where Alma and her mother are faced with the discomfort of Alma’s sexual appetite. One of my favourite parts to this film was the small asides focusing on Alma’s best-friend Saralou who wants to differentiate herself from all things small-town. As well, the turnip plant imagery in the film is intriguing and even more so when the two drunk girls, Alma and Saralou, throw turnips and yell “fuck society”. That’s the spirit girls!
In one of my previous reviews I called Toad Road the best of the fest, meet its rival: the ever bloody, ever hormonal, and ever so fucked up: Excision! Just to set the mood, right before the start of the film, the director and his colleagues gave the audience members necklaces made with bloody tampons (fake blood of course). I considered leaving the theatre for fear of how troubling the film would be but I’m sure glad I didn’t.
Pauline’s kinda sorta (a helluva lot) different. She doesn’t fit in, doesn’t seem to take care of her personal hygiene very much and has a really bitchy mother played by none other than Tracy Lords. Pauline has a thing for blood, a dream of becoming a surgeon, hormones, and a sick sister.
This first feature by Richard Bates Jr. is based on the very similar and darker short film of the same name. It is a stylistically stunning piece with it’s disturbingly engrossing fantasy sequences and a stark dark realistic film in its portrayal of the life of a high school outcast with shitty family dynamics. John Waters as the priest, whom Pauline is brought to instead of an actual psychiatrist, is, as always, quirky and strange with little effort. Annalyne McCord’s performance as Pauline is fucking breathtaking. I literally couldn’t move by the last scene of the film and needed half an hour to come down from that freaky high.
My Amityville Horror
This documentary was one of my most anticipated films at the Fest, having grown up with the Amityville Hauntings as horrific entertainment mostly understood through B Horror film retellings. I was extremely excited to see the world premiere and was very impressed by the film, it’s amazing character study and personal nature.
For the uninitiated, the Amityville Hauntings occurred in 1977 at 112 Ocean Avenue, when a newly moved in family experienced all kinds of paranormal activity effectively forcing them to flee the house. Not long prior to their moving into the home, in 1974, Ronald DeFeo murdered his entire family in the very same home. A crazy media circus began then and 112 Ocean Avenue became one of the most famous hauntings in America.
During the Q & A, Eric Walters, the very young director of the film, explained that he had been researching the Amityville Haunting for almost ten years, creating a website containing records and archives when Daniel Lutz contacted Walters because Lutz wanted to tell his side of the story. A lot of the film has the style of an old school detective’s interrogation/narration, with Daniel Lutz speaking to the camera. It is an interesting piece in terms of how it plays with the art of the documentary film. My Amityville Horror asks bold questions, shows difficult consequences to the effect of such phenomena on children, and ultimately makes the viewer question their own beliefs. I will definitely watch this film a few more times.