The third day of Fantasia we woke up late, primed for a weekend full of incredible screenings. First up was the Tremors meets Eight Legged Freaks giant bug invasion flick Infestation.
The movie is typical for the genre and doesn’t bring a whole lot of new ideas to the table, but it’s a fun film, noteworthy perhaps for the almost freakish similarity the main character has to John Cusack. Read our Infestation review here.
Up next we saw a portion of Sion Sono’s latest epic, Love Exposure. Why only a portion, you ask? Because the damn movie is four hours long! I’m hesitant to critique the film given we didn’t experience the whole thing, but what we saw seemed to be the apotheosis of Sono’s infatuation with the perversion of family, religion, sexuality, and love. Given the grandeur of the themes, perhaps the four-hour running time is warranted. Hopefully this one gets a solid DVD release because seeing it at home, even without the crowd, seems preferable to squandering the health of your ass in the legendarily uncomfortable Hall building seats. Consider this my yearly plea to Concordia University, the location of Fantasia for the last six years. They’ve been talking about upgrading the seats in the theatre since Fantasia moved to the new location six years ago. What’s the hold-up?! Mark my words, eventually someone is going to sue for having their bum permanently flattened out.
The Saturday Midnight screening was Andrew Thomas Hunt’s Sweet Karma, which is billed as a modern Canadian rape/revenge film. I found the movie enjoyable, in a ‘ripped from the headlines’ prurient interest story kind of way, and while there’s no other genre to put the film in, I didn’t think it fit particularly well into the rape/revenge canon. I define rape/revenge films by their tendency to skirt the line between having the revenge be about female empowerment versus sexually violent titillation. The sense of unease created by this dichotomy, both in the intent of the film and the intentions of the viewer, is what this sleazy sub-genre is all about in my book. Sweet Karma doesn’t fit this mold since it is carefully constructed to avoid being exploitative. Clearly this isn’t a bad thing, and lest you get the wrong idea, the film doesn’t pull its punches with either the sex or violence, but there was an underlying sweetness to the main character and film overall that somehow candy-coated the subject matter for me. Special mention should be made of Shera Bechard in the role of Karma. She doesn’t speak for the entire running time but is able to convey a purity of intent and goodness, all while violently exacting her revenge. Read Paul’s similar take on Sweet Karma here.
On Sunday we caught the sold out noon screening of Thirst, Oldboy director Chan-wook Park’s religiously themed interpretation of Emile Zola’s Therese Raquin. If this makes it sound stuffy and literary, it’s not. I didn’t pick up on the obvious ties to the famous French naturalist novel until I read the Fantasia catalog. It’s definitely smarter than your average blood-filled vampire film, but it has lots to enjoy for horror fans of every stripe. So much so that the screening I saw had a crying baby, seniors there for the Cannes buzz, a fainter who required an ambulance, and piracy obsessed security guards in night vision goggles! Read the Thirst review here. And if the guy that brought his two-year-old to the movie reads this – dude, pull your head out of your ass; you’re doing permanent damage to your kid by filling his infant brain with images and sounds from movies as intense as Thirst. Next time hire a freaking babysitter!
We rounded out the first weekend with the highly anticipated screening of Paul Solet’s Grace (review here). I had to miss it (but I’ve seen it already, and trust me, it’s great – it’s like The Brood meets Repulsion). Fortunately Paul was on the job, and he had this to say:
“The Montreal premiere screening of Grace lived up to its reputation as a nauseating and disturbing crowd pleaser. It has a reputation due to having made a couple of theater-goers faint dead away in previous screenings. (Strangely enough, considering the decidedly maternal viscera on display, according to Solet the pass-outs have all been guys!) However, it appeared the Fantasia audience managed to come away satisfied, entertained, and conscious… a testament to the Fantasia audience’s massive psychic fortitude, perhaps.
Day 4 culminated with a post-screening party for Grace, a blast of a night that carried on until the bar was closed.”
I’m feeling a little blue that I had to miss the party, but I’m sure that tonight’s North American premiere of Book of Blood will sort that right out. Check back soon to find out if the adaptation lives up to the much loved short story
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