ENJOY THE SHOW
There are film festivals and then there are genre film festivals. They both show great films from all over the world, and they both highlight cinema as one of the finest forms of modern art. What makes the Sitges Film Festival stand out in particular is the audience. Celebrating its 51st year, Sitges has been around for a while. It has a strong reputation and its known around Europe as the top genre festival. Horror fans from Spain and other nearby countries travel in to catch the latest, greatest offerings from talented directors, and catch up over drinks and pintxos (and tapas). This year was my second year back to Sitges, and I decided to stay the entire time to relax and catch a bunch of films over the full 10 days it runs. After my unforgettable experience last year (attending for my first time), I had to return, I couldn't stay away. And as usual, I'm very glad I did. I still love film festivals and Sitges is now one of my favorites in my regular yearly rotation.
"The next person can steal someone's already opened gift." RLJE Films has unveiled an official trailer for a creepy holiday horror titled All the Creatures Were Stirring, which premiered at the Chattanooga Film Festival this year, even though it will be getting a direct-to-VOD/DVD release this fall. This looks like a fun anthology horror to catch. When an awkward date on Christmas Eve leads a couple into a strange theater, they're treated to a bizarre and frightening collection of Christmas stories, featuring a wide ensemble of characters doing their best to avoid the horrors of the holidays. From boring office parties and last-minute shopping, to vengeful stalkers and immortal demons, there's plenty to fear this holiday season… The cast features Constance Wu (from Crazy Rich Asians), Amanda Fuller, Jonathan Kite, Graham Skipper, Jocelin Donahue, and Ashley Clements. This looks a bit low quality, but it might still be entertaining.
"You have to save yourself, I can't do this for you." Orion Classics has debuted an official trailer for an indie romantic comedy titled Unlovable, which first premiered at the SXSW Film Festival earlier this year. The indie comedy is about a sex and love addicted woman who becomes friends with a reclusive man who lives nearby. As one of the quotes in this trailer states, it's not so much a film about love, rather a "feel-good film about the power of friendship." Charlene deGuzman (from "Big Time Rush" now making her feature film debut) stars as Joy, with a stellar ensemble cast including John Hawkes, Melissa Leo, Paul James, with Ellen Geer and Jake McDorman. This looks like an honest, heartfelt film that doesn't try to say love will fix everything - which is really refreshing considering that's what most romance films are about. Enjoy.
"Rule 1: no one talks about swim club." IFC Films has debuted an official trailer for a British comedy titled Swimming With Men, a film directed by veteran English filmmaker Oliver Parker (The Importance of Being Earnest, Fade to Black, St. Trinian's 1 & 2, Dorian Gray, Johnny English Reborn, Dad's Army). The film is about a man suffering a crippling mid-life crisis who finds new meaning in his life as part of an all-male, middle-aged, amateur synchronized swimming team. This is oddly the same setup as a French film titled Sink or Swim, pretty much the exact same thing but this one is British. The film stars Rob Brydon as Eric, with a full cast including Adeel Akhtar, Thomas Turgoose, Jim Carter, Daniel Mays, Rupert Graves, Charlotte Riley, Jane Horrocks, and Nathaniel Parker. This looks like the kind of comedy that only appeals to certain age groups with awkward humor. This isn't for me, but others might be into it.
"There is no mercy for her soul… And there is no escape from the curse of La Llorona." Warner Bros has debuted the first trailer for a new supernatural horror film arriving in April of next year. The Curse of La Llorona is a "timeless Mexican legend" about a "horrifying apparition, caught between Heaven and Hell, trapped in a terrible fate sealed by her own hand." Freaky. Ignoring the eerie warning of a troubled mother suspected of child endangerment, a social worker and her own small kids are soon drawn into a frightening supernatural realm. This stars Linda Cardellini, Raymond Cruz, Patricia Velasquez, Sean Patrick Thomas, Marisol Ramirez, Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen, and Roman Christou. This really is a terrifying teaser, getting right into the horror fast. It has a few jump scares but it's also good at introducing this story without giving away much. Beware of her chilling wail… she will stop at nothing to lure you into the gloom.
Play this movie as loud as you can. Turn the volume all the way up, strap in, and prepare for an extremely intense cinematic experience. I am a sucker for World War II movies, pretty much any/all of them, so I will happily admit I probably enjoyed this a bit more than most will, unless you're also a fan of WWII movies. With that said, it's an awesome movie anyway. Overlord is a WWII horror movie from Australian director Julius Avery, making his first big studio movie after Son of a Gun in 2014. This time he collaborated with Bad Robot and producer J.J. Abrams to deliver an intense, extra loud, uber violent, enrapturing WWII action movie spiced up with some gnarly horror. It hits real hard, right from the start, but never drags. You have to go see this movie in theaters - the big screen, big sound experience really, really makes a difference.
"It used to feel like everybody else was doing it, except me." Another fun horror short to feature this month, this one from filmmakers based out of Bristol in England. Cherry is a "horror/romance" short film that is actually a monologue written & developed by actress Jaleelah Galbraith. "We decided that rather than the usual, some might say 'boring' way in which monologues are presented, we wanted to do something visual and engaging, that was driven by the narrative of the work." And this is the result. You have to watch all the way to the end to get the real horror twist here, and it's worth it. I always admire seeing short films that rely on creativity and minimalism to still have a big impact, and this one is a good one. It's worth a quick watch.
"They've got some surprises waiting for you and your girl here." Cleopatra Ent. has unveiled a new official trailer for an indie horror film titled Death House, which first premiered at a small festival last year but didn't show up at too many other places. Made by filmmaker Harrison Smith, Death House is an "ensemble horror" described as "The Expendables of the horror genre" by critics. A power outage inside a secret prison known as the Death House sends two agents fighting through a labyrinth of horrors. As they fight to escape, the agents push toward the lowest depths of the facility where they learn a supernatural group of evil beings is their only chance for survival. Starring Adrienne Barbeau, Bill Moseley, Tony Todd, Dee Wallace, Barbara Crampton, Sid Haig, and Cody Longo. The film also features cameos from numerous iconic stars from past horror flicks. That seems like a cool idea for a new film, but this looks dismal at first glance.
"Could you leave me alone?!" Abramorama has debuted an official trailer for an odd, indie romantic comedy titled Write When You Get Work, the latest film from New York-based filmmaker Stacy Cochran (My New Gun, Drop Back Ten). This premiered at the SXSW Film Festival and will hit theaters this November. Described as a "story about money, mischief, love and entitlement." The story follows two people living in New York City, who cross paths again years after they were lovers in high school. Jonny is as consumed with Ruth as he was in their school days, and he infiltrates her life for love and profit. Rachel Keller stars, with Finn Wittrock, Emily Mortimer, Scott Cohen, Jessica Hecht, and James Ransone. I dig the grainy 16mm look of this, and the heist twist, but I'm not sure it's going to amount to anything. Check it out below.
"I don't think he stopped killing…" IFC has released the first official trailer for a serial killer horror thriller titled The Clovehitch Killer, from director Duncan Skiles, which originally premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival this year. This "chilling portrait of all-American evil" is about a picture-perfect family that's shattered when the work of a serial killer hits too close to home. Charlie Plummer (from Lean on Pete, The Dinner, All the Money in the World) stars as Tyler, a Boy Scout who discovers evidence and begins to suspect his own dad, a respectable family man and community leader, of secretly being a serial killer known as the "Clovehitch Killer." The title is a reference to the clove hitch knot, a fairly useful knot taught in Boy Scouts. Also starring Dylan McDermott, Samantha Mathis, Madisen Beaty, Brenna Sherman, and Lance Chantiles-Wertz. This trailer alone sends chills down my spine, it looks like a very creepy thriller.
"The five of us won't stand a chance on our own - we need to raise an army." 20th Century Fox has finally released the first full-length trailer for the fantasy adventure comedy The Kid Who Would Be King, the latest film by director Joe Cornish, of the sci-fi favorite Attack the Block previously. This looks awesome! Another story about bullied kids learning to stand up for themselves. Alex thinks he's just another nobody, until he stumbles upon the mythical "Sword in the Stone", Excalibur. Now, he must unite his friends and enemies into a band of knights, and join with the legendary wizard Merlin, take on the wicked enchantress Morgana. Starring Louis Ashbourne Serkis as Alex, plus Rebecca Ferguson, Patrick Stewart, Tom Taylor, Rhianna Dorris, and Dean Chaumoo. This looks like a ton of fun, and it's an original idea, and it looks different than most Hollywood movies nowadays, so you can definitely count me in. Fire it up below.
"You chose to play cops and robbers - and you lost." Annapurna Pictures has unveiled the first trailer for Karyn Kusama's action thriller Destroyer, which premiered at the Telluride and Toronto Film Festivals. Set in Los Angeles, the film follows an alcoholic detective who reconnects with people from an undercover assignment in her distant past in order to try and move on from what still haunts her. Nicole Kidman stars as Detective Erin Bell, and the full cast includes Sebastian Stan, Toby Kebbell, Tatiana Maslany, Bradley Whitford, Jade Pettyjohn, and Scoot McNairy. This film has received lots of attention for Kidman's heavy make-up, which is used in only half the film to show how much she has changed from the past. I saw this in Toronto and I hated the film, it's derivative, bland, and cliche in every way - and Kidman's performance didn't impress me at all. But that's just my take, and others seem to be enjoying it much more.