It’s been five days since we last checked in, and despite watching movies every day, there’s been little to report. Maybe it’s just the exhaustion talking, but this thought just keeps pounding through my Fantasia addled brain – “Where are all the good horror movies at this year?” It’s not like it’s a problem with the festival programming. Fantasia has an impenetrable track record of picking nothing but the best, most innovative, and most extreme horror so what’s going on?
Part of the issue is the popularity of certain titles. For example, we still haven’t seen Rubber due to its constant sell-out status. Other films, like The Revenant (which everyone seems to love), we’ve missed due to Fantasia-fatigue brought on by too many three-movie days followed up by all-night discussions (and uh, beer). Other whole categories seem to have dried up. Compared to years past, there’s virtually no Japanese, Korean, or even Thai horror out there.
The two straight horror flicks we did see, Outcast (review here), and Heartless. were both okay but didn’t blow our minds. Heartless in particular is a melodramatic overwrought affair with some cool demons and an atrocious score that only reminded me how badly The Reflecting Skin needs to come out on DVD.
Lastly, some films just turn out to be far more mainstream than you would ever expect. Cases in point: Feast of the Assumption: BTK and the Otero Family Murders and We Are What We Are.
FotA:BTKatOFM is not only awkwardly titled, but it’s also a mixed-up documentary that perhaps suffers from a wealth of too much interesting subject matter. The infamous “Bind Torture Kill” serial murderer Dennis Rader slaughtered 10 people and left many families and survivors devastated, but the film decides to focus almost exclusively on the charismatic Hispanic biker Charlie Otero, who lost his brother, sister and both parents to the sexually deranged Rader. The documentary interweaves Otero’s story with the in progress (at the time of filming) investigation, capture, and sentencing of BTK. I’m sure the filmmakers couldn’t believe their luck at BTK coming out of the woodwork and being caught during production, but with so much going on, the movie never seems to hone in effectively on Rader, and apart from a few courtroom videos viewers will learn very little about him or his motivations. Otero’s life, on the other hand, is picked apart in minute detail, chronicling not only his family’s murder but his incarceration for domestic violence and a near fatal car accident involving his estranged son. While the maelstrom of brutality and bad luck that is Otero’s life is without a doubt compelling stuff, a lot of it seems totally divorced from BTK, which causes the filmmakers to try to create some additional linkages by presenting Charlie’s conspiracy theories involving his aad’s business dealings in Panama and his having watched Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood just prior to the murders. These weak explanations cheapen the horrific sting of realizing that there is no rationale for Rader’s utter lack of humanity and that this low budget documentary with its faint whiff of exploitation and serial killer worship isn’t going to help provide one. It’s by no means a terrible documentary, but it’s more like the television show “America’s Most Wanted” than a finely honed documentary with a point like Marwencol (another non-horror documentary entry well worth checking out).
Similarly disappointing for completely different reasons was the well directed, but utterly forgettable Mexican cannibal film We Are What We Are. Full review coming soon, but the short version is that if the 2001 Mexican love triangle film Y Tu Mama Tambien and Romero’s Martin made cannibal movie babies, the afterbirth would be We Are What We Are. In other words, while slick and icky in parts, it’s ultimately a throwaway.
Tonight we’ll finally get to see if A Serbian Film can cause us to upchuck undigested popcorn and flavored mineral water on our neighbors. We hear this one is downright nasty, but given how tame The Life And Death of a Porno Gang was, I have my doubts. We’ll also be on-hand for the 25th anniversary screening of Re-Animator with Stuart Gordon, Jeff Combs, and Dennis Paoli, which might provide just the right gleefully gooey antiseptic required to scour the cynical filth of A Serbian Film from our brains.
“Dave Alexander Editor in Chief of Rue Morgue and Kerry Prior director of the Revenant”
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