ENJOY THE SHOW
There's an adorable little beach town, about a half hour south of Barcelona, called Sitges. Every year, this town hosts a film festival in October called, of course, the Sitges Film Festival. Officially it's known as the Festival Internacional de Cinema Fantàstic de Catalunya (website here). Sitges is a "genre" festival, in the same vein as Fantastic Fest, screening horror, action, sci-fi, thrillers, and any other wacky, weird little features they find around the world. This year Sitges celebrated its 50th year, and for that reason I decided to finally attend this festival that I've been hearing about for a while. Oh my goodness, it's amazing. One of the best festivals in the world, almost so good that I don't want to tell you about it, because part of it what makes it perfect is that it isn't overrun with people (yet). But, it is my job, so I will reveal a little bit about it.
Brains roasting on an open fire; zombies nipping at your nose; yuletide carols being sung by the undead. Anna and the Apocalypse is a horror comedy film from Scotland that is, as far as I know, the first ever zombie Christmas musical. Yes, indeed, you heard that right – a musical set at Christmas about a zombie apocalypse – and it's awesome. Well, it's not perfect, but it is damn good and the whole thing is just so much crazy fun, that I can't help but say I enjoyed this film from start to finish. It takes a little while to get going at the start, but once we get into it, Anna and the Apocalypse becomes an instant blood-splattered smash hit. It's worthy of being called Shaun of the Dead meets La La Land, with wonderful songs and kills galore.
The power of love. It's such a relief to watch a film and discover it's truly as wonderful as everyone has been saying. Joachim Trier's Thelma has been getting rave reviews ever since premiering at the Toronto Film Festival and Fantastic Fest (Jeremy wrote a glowing review already). I caught up with the film at the Sitges Film Festival and it's now one of my favorite films of the year, a wonderfully exhilarating, gripping sexual awakening story. Joachim Trier is a very talented Norwegian filmmaker who has already made a name for himself with the films Oslo August 31st and Louder Than Bombs, but continues to get even better with each new film he makes. Thelma is his finest work yet, one of the year's best that is worth your time to discover.
Bring down the whole damn house! Indie filmmaker Joe Lynch's (Everly, Knights of Badassdom) new film is another violent, deranged, totally crazy, totally fun film titled Mayhem. The title, which is a bit vague, doesn't have much to do with the plot - which is actually about a guy who works at a sleazy legal corporation that decides to take on the executives when a virus causes everyone to go crazy. I saw this film at 1AM with a crowd of horror fans at the Sitges Film Festival, which is the perfect time and place to see this kind of film, because they cheered at all the right moments. If you watch this one at home, it just won't hit as hard, but it's still a thoroughly entertaining horror action comedy mashup with a worthwhile message at the end of it.
Where did this film come from?! I finally caught up with a sci-fi feature called The Osiris Child, originally titled Science Fiction Volume One: The Osiris Child in full. This film is way, way, way better than it should be, and left me totally blown away. It's not perfect by any means, but it is extremely impressive storytelling, with some cool ideas I have never seen before in any film. I can't speak for others who don't like it, but I can say this is exactly the kind of sci-fi I love. It's remarkably ambitious storytelling on a galactic scale, created on a minimal budget, utilizing some sleek filmmaking tricks that actually make this successful. The world building (or rather, universe building) in this rivals Luc Besson's Valerian, and in all honesty, upon first viewing I actually like this more than Valerian. I really, really enjoyed it - but I do not think everyone will.
The fall film festival season rages on…! Up next are two more film festivals in Europe. I'm stopping by the Sitges Film Festival in Spain, a prestigious genre/horror festival celebrating its 50th year. And then I'm heading up to London to catch the second half of the London Film Festival, celebrating its 64th year. Both festivals kick off this week and continue through next week for a total of 10 days (I love that festivals continue to run for 10 days, it's always invigorating to stay and watch films for that long). This is my first time attending both festivals, which makes me anxious but it's also exciting. Attending a film festival for the first time is always daunting, but once I figure everything out and settle in for screenings, all is well again.