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The Sitges Film Festival is Still One of the Best Fests for Genre Flicks
If you know, you know: this is a great festival. Watching movies at the Sitges Film Festival in Spain is one of the most exciting cinema experiences anyone can have. The Festival Internacional de Cinema Fantàstic de Catalunya, as it is known officially, is one of the world's premiere genre festivals - meaning they show horror, thrillers, sci-fi, action, and everything else related to these cinema genres. This year Sitges celebrated it 55th edition, bring over 100 films from all over the world to this cozy beach town. I've been attending Sitges since 2017, but after 2019 I had to take a break - due to the pandemic it was impossible to make it down to Spain. After a two year hiatus, I was back!! I love Sitges for so many reasons - it's a very laid back, enjoyable festival; the food in town is amazing; the views are stunning and it's warm even in October; the crowds are like no other; and I have the chance to catch a bunch of rad genre films that I can't usually see at any other festival. I'm glad I came back again this year, catching up with 14 new films at Sitges 2022.
Sitges 2022: Jalmari Helander's 'Sisu' Introduces an Action Legend
Don't mess with the Finns!! They're some of the most resilient, brave, toughest people on this planet. Holy shit!! Buckle up for this one, and get ready for one hell of a ride. This film absolutely RULES!! Sisu is the latest feature made by Finnish filmmaker Jalmari Helander, known for his genre films Rare Exports and Big Game previously. He returns to the 2022 Sitges Film Festival with his action thriller Sisu, also known as Immortal (not a good title for this one - stick with Sisu), which initially premiered in Midnight Madness at the Toronto Film Festival. It ended up winning the top prize of Best Feature Film at Sitges - deservedly so. I had an absolute blast watching this and the Sitges audience ate it up, cheering throughout, even giving it a standing ovation at the end. I'd happily watch it again right away. The film establishes an irrefutable truth - Jalmari Helander is one of the best action filmmakers working today. This lives up to the hype in every way.
› Posted on October 17 in Review, Sitges | 1 Comment
Sitges 2022: Thomas Salvador's Mesmerizing, Poetic 'The Mountain'
The mountains will call you. If you let them, maybe they will change you. There are two extraordinary films this year about mountains and how much they can change and shape and draw us in. As a mountain lover myself, I'm naturally drawn to these kind of films but rarely are two of them in one year this perfect. Both of these films premiered at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival - the first is The Eight Mountains, an Italian film telling the story of two boys and how mountains shape their lives. It was one of my favorite films in Cannes, and I reviewed it then. The second film is The Mountain, a French film starring and made by filmmaker Thomas Salvador. I caught this one at the 2022 Sitges Film Festival in Spain, which is usually where they play horror and sci-fi films. However, it's not so much a horror or sci-fi, more of a quiet, poetic drama with a touch of magic in it that makes all the difference. I am very glad I could watch it on the big screen anyway.
› Posted on October 10 in Review, Sitges | Comments
Sitges Review: Benson & Moorhead's Clever Sci-Fi Film 'Synchronic'
There's nothing like a Benson & Moorhead film. These two indie filmmakers have been working together since 2012, launching with their first feature film Resolution. They followed that up with Spring in 2014, then The Endless in 2017, both excellent features. And now they're ready with another new film - this one titled Synchronic. Out of all of their films, this one is a bit more "commercial" than their others, but still as intricately crafted. At some point we just need to start admitting that Benson & Moorhead are some of the best sci-fi / genre filmmakers cooking up some of the most original projects these days, I mean goddamn these guys rule. Everything they make is outstanding. If you can see Synchronic without knowing anything else about it, go see it that way first. It is always the best way to experience every Benson & Moorhead film.
› Posted on October 15 in Review, Sci-Fi, Sitges | 3 Comments
Sitges Review: 'After Midnight' is Mumblecore Meets Monster Horror
Nothing like a good ol' fashioned monster movie. After Midnight is the latest film written and co-directed by filmmaker Jeremy Gardner (of The Battery and Tex Montana Will Survive!), produced by fellow genre filmmakers Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead. This collaboration, and the resulting low budget horror flick, feels a bit like the early days of the Duplass Brothers. I remember seeing their early films (like Baghead in 2008) at the Sundance Film Festival. I just wanted them to keep making more, because even though they didn't make the best films, there was a kind of remarkable creativity within their filmmaking. The way they made all these fun films on a tiny budget, using bland throwaway locations and not much else besides their own ingenuity to tell a story on the screen. Sometimes that's all you need, as is the case with After Midnight.
Sitges Review: 'The Platform' is Social Commentary Cooked Just Right
Each year we get to see a new selection of films criticizing modern society, governments, and everything else wrong with the way things work. But only a few of these films deserve to be crowned and called the crème de la crème of cinema. The Platform is the latest film worthy of the label, a conceptually innovative film like Saw and Cube before it that has already instantly cemented itself in halls of cinema history playing to rave reviews back-to-back at the Toronto Film Festival (where it won the Midnight Madness Audience Award), at Fantastic Fest, and finally at the Sitges Film Festival. For those wondering – yes, it does live up to the hype, and then some. But don't expect some big, flashy, eclectic film – this contained horror drama is as minimal as Saw and Cube, taking place entirely inside the barren rooms of an insidious vertical prison called The Pit.
Sitges Review: Daniel Radcliffe in Action Comedy Film 'Guns Akimbo'
Just when you think, "they've done it all", someone will come up with some other crazy-as-shit idea and turn it into a movie. The next evolution in the wild action comedy subgenre is a movie titled Guns Akimbo, this time coming from New Zealand (though it was filmed partially in Germany in addition to New Zealand). Guns Akimbo is the second feature film from a New Zealand visual effects artist-turned-filmmaker named Jason Lei Howden, following up his debut film Deathgasm from 2015. The crazy-as-shit concept in this one involves a random guy waking up one day with guns bolted to both of his hands - he can't remove them or do anything because they're drilled right into his bones. But, why? What happens next? Will he survive? You'll find out in Guns Akimbo, which is as totally insane and as totally entertaining as that concept sounds.
› Posted on October 6 in Review, Sitges | 5 Comments
Sitges Review: Vincenzo Natali's Inescapable Thriller 'In the Tall Grass'
In the tall grass lurks monsters, demons, horrors aplenty – but scariest of all is a fear of confusion, unknown forces, an inability to figure out where to go or what to do or how to escape. I've been a big fan of director Vincenzo Natali ever since discovering Cube, and while he did not work on either of its two sequels, I've been hoping one day he might return again, as it really is his original idea. An alternative, however, is this film - In the Tall Grass. Adapted from the novella written by Stephen King and Joe Hill, this frightening film is a thrilling stuck-in-one-location horror. Somewhere in the middle of America, and endless field of tall grass lures unsuspecting victims inside. Once you're in, you can never get out. The grass tricks everyone into hearing sounds/voices that aren't there, making them go crazy as they desperately try to find a way out.
Sitges 2018 Final Recap: Seeing Some of the Best & Worst Genre Films
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.
› Posted on October 18 in Editorial, Horror, Sitges | 1 Comment
Sitges Review: Julius Avery's WWII Movie 'Overlord' is Loud & Intense
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.
› Posted on October 18 in Review, Sitges | 6 Comments
Sitges Review: Krzykowski's 'The Man Who Killed Hitler & Then Bigfoot'
Not all heroes live a heroic life. Not all heroes get a big parade and go on talk shows and end up in history books. The Man Who Killed Hitler & Then The Bigfoot is one of most undefinable films of this year, no question. It's part drama, it's part action film, it's part horror, but at it's core it's really a character study about a lonely man at the end of his life looking back on everything. Sam Elliott plays Calvin Barr, indeed the very man who killed Hitler and then the Bigfoot. He spends his days drinking at a bar and relaxing with his adorable yellow lab dog, because no one knows that he killed Hitler. It was covered up by Germany and America, because there was more at stake. As he states in the film, he just killed a man that day, that's all. And he has had to spend his life dealing with the substantial feelings, as they slowly chip away at his psyche.
› Posted on October 15 in Review, Sitges | 2 Comments
Sitges Review: 'The Spy Gone North' is a Gripping Korean Spy Thriller
Not all spy movies are like every other spy movie. And not all spies are the same. The Spy Gone North is an impressive, riveting spy thriller from Korea, made by filmmaker Yoon Jong-bin (of The Unforgiven, Beastie Boys, Nameless Gangster: Rules of the Time, Kundo: Age of the Rampant). This first premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in their Midnight category earlier this summer, but I just caught up with the film at the Sitges Film Festival. The more I think about, the more I love this film. It's such a slick, superb spy film that draws you into the story and keeps you intrigued with anticipation, on the edge of your seat the entire time. And there isn't much action, which works well for this fascinating story, yet it's thoroughly compelling from start to finish. This film really stands out above so many others - in the way of spy films and thrillers.
› Posted on October 10 in Review, Sitges | 1 Comment
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