Film Review: “Nandor Fodor and the Talking Mongoose”

Starring: Simon Pegg, Minnie Driver and Christopher Lloyd
Directed by: Adam Sigal
Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 96 minutes
Saban Films

Our Score: 2.5 out of 5 Stars

At 2021’s San Diego Comic Con, I attended a panel for “Nandor Fodor and the Talking Mongoose.” I had an actual interest in the panel after having recently listened to Last Podcast on the Left doing an episode on the subject. The film is based on a peculiar incident from 1930s Britain about, well, a talking mongoose. While that seems straightforward, the movie isn’t. Honestly, it’s odd attending a panel where everyone has a difficult time articulating what the film is about. It’s even odder watching the film.

While listed as a comedy, I didn’t laugh once during the film, but I’m not sure the film was written and filmed as a comedy. Sure, you have Simon Pegg as Dr. Fodor, who begins the movie explaining a belief in the paranormal as someone who sees something that no one else can see. In fact, most scenes with Dr. Fodor seem to be moments written for dry chuckles. That’s because he’s a natural skeptic whose life has been debunking every psychic phenomenon, every bump in the night and every scare tactic he can get his hands on. It’s beginning to wear him thin as he glides through life one hoax and alcoholic beverage at a time. That’s when a fellow skeptic and professor, played by the delightful Christopher Lloyd, tells him about Gef, the talking mongoose. With his assistant Anne, played by Minnie Driver, in tow, Dr. Fodor is off to the Isle of Man to unravel a mystery that will never be solved.

I had the knowledge going into this film that Gef remains a mystery. Is it the work of bored playful humans? Was Gef an actual talking creature lost to time? Was Gef the culmination of poltergeist activity? There are way more theories than answers and honestly, the film mimics that true to life story. That could genuinely frustrate anyone looking for an engaging story, much less a comedic one. Since the film isn’t necessarily going to give you answers or a laugh, why can’t I flat out not recommend it?

The film is peculiar in that I was never bored. While the characters talk in hushes and whispers while silently thinking about the day’s event (usually over a drink or two…or three), it seems like someone is screaming something at the top of their lungs, just below the surface. Annie is the only one of the main cast that’s genuinely open minded to the possibility of Gef’s existence, at least, outside of the peculiar townsfolk and family side characters that have allegedly heard Gef. It’s almost like Annie, after years of watching Dr. Fodor unmasking mysteries, is beginning to tire of the dog and pony show. Or maybe she’s warming up to the idea of Gef, and life, being a giant question mark, while Dr. Fodor can’t possibly fathom a question without an answer.

So maybe the film is more than a look at this absurd true-life story, but instead an encapsulation of how we shouldn’t let small things bog us down in life. Especially since Dr. Fodor, who has obvious chemistry with Anne, never seems to act on those sparks. Instead he seems miserably content with being single and skeptical of everyone and everything, as long as he has a stiff drink in his hand. But in a way, that’s why I can’t recommend it. Maybe I’m giving too much credit to a poorly written and directed film that wanders aimlessly for 90ish minutes. Maybe that screaming I sensed underneath the surface was the cast demanding any form of direction. Just like Gef, this film is a tonal mystery.

 

 

Film Review: Bad Things

Starring: Gayle Rankin, Hari Nef, Rad Pereira and Annabelle Dexter-Jones
Directed by: Stewart Thorndike
Rated: NR
Running Time: 83 minutes
Shudder

Our Score: 2 out of 5 Stars

I’m generally wary of movies that get compared to great films. Enter “Bad Things,” which bills itself as a female-version of “The Shining.” The early reviews reference how similar in vein it is to Kubrick’s 1980 film. So, I guess I’ll be the proverbial turd in the punch bowl by saying that, yes, it is similar to “The Shining” in a lot of ways, mainly visuals and hotel specters, but that’s about it since it’s far from being a horror classic, much less a horror film I can even recommend.

Ruthie (Gayle Rankin) has inherited her grandmother’s closed and aging hotel, somewhere in New England (most likely). Ruthie is just looking to sell the mid-century modern hotel because of bad childhood memories involving her mother, but Ruthie’s girlfriend Cal (Hari Nef) doesn’t quite see it like that. Cal sees an exciting business opportunity and organizes a girl’s week, inviting two pals, Maddie (Rad Pereira) and Fran (Annabelle Dexter-Jones). So, for the next 80ish minutes, we’ll be treated to gossip about a potential love rectangle between the four ladies, rumors of the hotel being haunted, and visuals that may or may not be real.

The film’s brief runtime and the hope that there’s a decent payoff kept me engaged throughout most of “Bad Things,” even if I found myself wondering what the purpose of any of it was. Cal seems so focused on reopening the hotel, but never really articulates why, which becomes annoying as Ruthie’s mental health declines as she’s constantly reminded about her mother’s parental shortcomings. If Cal was an actual caring partner to Ruthie, you’d think she’d drop the whole idea, much less convince her to have a gal pal weekend in it. As for Maddie and Fran, it seems like there’s skeletons in their closet when it comes to their prior relationships to Ruthie and Cal. It’s almost as if Cal has intentionally planned a weekend to sabotage her own relationship or is that willfully ignorant of other people’s emotions.

References to “The Shining” are sprinkled throughout, but never really feel like an homage or slice of true terror, coming off more like a cringy wink at the camera. The worst moment is when one of the characters sees ghosts eating breakfast in the hotel’s dining area, much like Wendy Torrance encountering a ghoulish party in the final act of “The Shining.” It doesn’t help that, unlike “The Shining,” the girls can leave at any time and are literally a block away from a strip mall. The isolationism that’s perfectly encompassed in Kubrick’s film is nowhere in sight of “Bad Things.”

Despite my frustrations, I was never bored, which is fascinating in of itself. Despite never being scared, the cinematography really makes the hotel a fascinating character. While you’re most likely to have your suspicions that the ghosts aren’t real, the hotel is filmed in such a way that you never feel like the characters are safe from something paranormal. Even in the bitter, snowy cold, the hotel doesn’t seem welcoming or the last place you’d want to be stuck in. Keeping things moving is the cast, which is constantly gnawing on the stale, peeling scenery of the hotel. Rankin steals the show by the end of the film, but Nef, Pereira and Dexter-Jones each have individual scenes they can add to their highlight reel because of how convincing they are in those moments.

I have to wonder how much better “Bad Things” would have been if the film’s promotional material wasn’t attempting to tell me how Kubrickian it was. There’s a lot going for it, including the cinematography, the acting and several ideas that are placed throughout. Even the ideas that I came to enjoy ultimately failed because they were never fully realized. I can’t help, but wonder how much better the film would have been if it leaned more into psychological horror or even implemented more slasher tropes. There’s definitely a way better film in this tangled mess, but “Bad Things” can’t overcome being a bad thing.

 

Film Review: “The Pod Generation”

Starring: Emilia Clarke, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Rosalie Craig
Directed by: Sophie Barthes
Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 109 minutes
Vertical

Our Score: 1.5 out of 5 Stars

The word AI is beginning to permeate the landscape as humanity navigates an exciting, yet dangerous future. “The Pod Generation” has arrived at the near perfect time to comment on the machine learning phenomenon we’re all experiencing. The film is about NYC couple Rachel (Emilia Clarke) and Alvy (Chiwetel Ejiofor). Rachel works for an AI company that makes little eyeball products that are like some kind of 22nd century nightmare version of Alexa or Siri. Alvy on the other hand, is a botanist that teaches at a nearby college.

They’re polar opposites in their careers, whereas Rachel sees a bright digitized future, Alvy seems to yearn for a return to nature. This style clashes when the Womb Center, exactly what you think it is, says that they have a limited number of spaces for couples to have their baby in their pod-shaped incubator. Rachel is eager to sign-up, while Alvy is a bit hesitant. They both want children, but disagree on the path forward. Rachel eventually wins out, mainly signing up behind Alvy’s back, but Alvy warms to the idea when he watches the artificial insemination process. This is all fascinating and interesting, but that fades as the movie progresses.

The biggest issue in “The Pod Generation” is that it’s too long and only has surface level commentary that approaches the story like a shotgun blast of ideas instead of a sniper rifle of wit. While the film could have simply honed in on technology versus humans’ animalistic need to procreate, the film seems to throw every idea at us without rhyme or reason. For instance, we see women protesting the Womb Center, but never hear their counterpoint or why. We see these eyeball products everywhere, but never get a full idea of how intrusive they are. We see an entirely robot run school, but never get an idea if it’s beneficial to the children in it. We hear about how there’s a serotonin bliss meter being monitored by the government, but that’s about it. All these neat sci-fi ideas are just vomited on us without any kind of idea or point behind them.

Unfortunately, this continues for over 100 minutes, which begins to make your mind wander during the film. Which meant I began to poke holes in the various sci-fi tropes it’s utilizing. For instance, at one point, Rachel and Alvy begin seeing a marriage counselor that’s just another big AI eyeball that talks to them. You’re telling me that in this future, the human brain has been unlocked to the point that AI can articulately offer psychological advice, yet there’s still a need for human botanists to teach college kids? At one point the couple are watching “March of the Penguins” on a 32-inch TV and I had to wonder, because this is in the 22nd century supposedly, why is a couple watching a 100-plus year-old movie on what’s most likely a very tiny TV at this point in technological evolution? Also, we never made TV’s better than standard definition? I wouldn’t be having these nitpicky thoughts if I wasn’t so bored by its lack of in-depth philosophical ideas and unnecessary runtime. Then there are just scenes of Rachel dreaming like it’s an episode of “Black Mirror,” which just made me want to open Netflix.

I would hate this movie more if it wasn’t for the performances by Clarke and Ejiofor. They really ham it up in some scenes, even if I never believe that these two people are in an actual relationship, much less banging. I can’t help but wonder if this kind of plot and idea would have been better served in a “Black Mirror” episode with a twinge of despair or horror. I say that because the movie just kind of ends without any kind of climax of note. We’re just kind of left wondering, “That’s it?” In a contemporary world begging for AI satire, “The Pod Generation” may have actually benefited from an AI editor.

Film Review: “Til Death Do Us Part”

Starring: Natalie Burn, Ser’Darius Blain and Cam Gigandet
Directed by: Shane Dax Taylor
Rated: NR
Running Time: 109 minutes
Cineverse

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

In a previous critic’s life, I reviewed blu-rays for action movies you’ve never heard of. You’ve never heard of them because they usually utilized 80s action stars in their twilight years for a few minutes, just so they could get Bruce Willis or Jean Claude van Damme on their cover art. The movies were notoriously rough because of their hairbrained scripts, wooden acting, CGI blood and explosions, and incompetent use of 80s tropes. Thankfully though, the low-budget action movies I watch now are directed or written by those with a deep understanding of what made 80s action great. Brutal violence, spurts of fake, but realistic looking blood, schlocky dialogue bordering on unintentionally funny, and stories that have you rooting for the good guy; Or in the case of “Til Death Do Us Part,” the good bride.

When we first meet the bride (Natalie Burn) and groom (Ser’Darius Blain), they seem like they’re madly in love. In fact if you didn’t know this was an action movie, you’d think that you’re stuck watching a third-rate Hallmark rom-com in the first several minutes. The bride is happy, the groom is yucking it up with his seven groomsmen, and all seems well. But suddenly, the bride bails because, as we find out, her hubby-to-be is a professional assassin. That doesn’t sit well with the groom who sics his groomsmen, who are all mercenaries, after her.

“Til Death Do Us Part” is like if “Kill Bill” and “Scott Pilgrim” had a one night stand that led to pregnancy. The violence is joyous as each groomsmen meets a brutal end at the hands of a woman scorned. Each groomsman attempts to bring his own pizzazz to the battle, only to have the bride find another unique way to dispose of them. While the kills and fight scenes are not as highly choreographed as the two films I mentioned above, “Til Death Do Us Part” makes up for it in pure tongue-in-cheek brutality. Very rarely does Burn make the bride more than a revenge driven killer and very rarely do any of the groomsmen evolve above one note bastards looking to do the bidding of the groom.

If I had a complaint about “Til Death Do Us Part,” it’d be the runtime and the attempt to make the world bigger than it seems. I won’t reveal the specifics, but “Til Death Do Us Part” seems to play with the notion that there’s more to explore in this world. While that may be, the writer seems to want to take this in a semi-serious direction, which actually works against what makes this film enjoyable. During most of its runtime, I don’t have to worry about putting too much thought into what I’m watching and can simply enjoy the slicing and dicing. It also needs an editor, as evident by the runtime that pushes us well past the 80-to-90-minute mark. Simply put, this film would have knocked it out of the park if there was less talking and more groomsmen to kill.

“Til Death Do Us Part” mainly works because of its cast, which is ready and willing to get covered in blood. Burn plays the bride with enough sympathy and grit that we can’t help but smile as she goes on a relentless killing spree as geysers of blood coat her face and pristine white wedding dress. The best man, played by Cam Gigandet, gets to gnaw on the wedding scenery as he dispatches groomsman after groomsman while speaking philosophically as if he’s Socrates in ancient Rome. Even if you’re watching “Til Death Do Us Part” by yourself, you’ll find plenty to smile about as the body count piles up and the bride’s white wedding dress becomes a blood soaked badge of revenge.

SDCC 2023: More Hurdles to Overcome


Last year I wrote the following in my post-San Diego Comic Con 2022 write up, “Here at MediaMikes, we’re fairly confident SDCC 2023 will be better.” I’m glad I didn’t say that we’re fairly confident things will get back to a chaotic normal. SDCC 2023 could be summarized as last-minute disorganized chaos. From 2020-2022, it was the pandemic that rattled things in San Diego, but now it’s the strike.

First off, we’re not blaming the writers or actors. What they’re doing is noble and they deserve the pay and respect that they’re demanding. We even got to talk to a few striking writers and actors at SDCC and they expressed their utmost appreciation and admiration for the convention. But what that did to the studios attending, as well as the fans attending, is what really caused some of the more massive headaches at this year’s iteration of SDCC. I don’t want this to be a negative piece, so I’ll start with some of the positives we witnessed at SDCC.

Because the infamous Hall H didn’t have Marvel or big names, a lot of the people who would most likely be spending their weekend in line for Hall H had plenty of time to visit a busy exhibit floor, which we assumed translated to more cash for those selling their merchandise; and there was plenty to go around. From the usual comics and art, we saw a fascinating array of goods directed at all nerds, including those who aren’t. If those Hall H line people weren’t going to the sales floor, they were going to smaller panels where some much deserved unknowns got some well-deserved attention. In the few smaller panels we attended, we definitely noticed rooms filling to capacity which meant more eyeballs on small studios and products. We think that’s great for independent artists and others who were still able to attend.

The lack of Hall H luster also meant that SDCC offsites were busier. Some of the studios and entities really stepped up their game this year with free goodies that were worth their weight (and wait) in gold. For instance, “Only Murders in the Building” had fans solving puzzles for Selena Gomez make-up products (which aren’t cheap) while Paramount+ showcased a wide variety of their programs with goods along-the-way, including an actual “Good Burger,” spray-on tattoos, and “1923” photo ops. For Trekkies, you also got your chance to sit in THE captain’s chair. Hulu also managed to hand-out boxes of TV show pins that delighted hardcore fans of “Futurama,” “Solar Opposites,” and other animated shows. As for the best offsite, it really goes to “Interview with the Vampire,” by AMC+. The immersive offsite offered food, drink, goodies, posters and a near bite on the neck.

Unfortunately though, not all that glitters is gold. A24 may have a mess on its hands because of its “Talk to Me” screening. Nothing against the directors or actors, but A24 really bungled the secret screening, leaving hundreds and hundreds of upset fans, some of whom had waited all day to see the movie. While A24 movies may be fantastic, their PR and handling of the screenings are abysmal. That being said, the people behind SDCC have plenty of blame as well. Because of the strike, the biggest name attending this year was Jamie Lee Curtis who was touting her new comic book. Instead of moving her to Hall H, they kept her in a significantly smaller room which led to one of the longest lines of the entire con. They also have failed to bring back one vital thing for those who stand and walk all day, carpet. The floors would have been less merciful if fans got to actually stand on something that wasn’t concrete.

All in all, SDCC continues to be my geeky love/hate relationship. While I look forward to it every year and get excited with each passing day, the hate in the relationship sometimes boils over during or after the convention itself. As I become a hardened con goer, I’ve learned to pick and choose my battles every year. Even though I still go home licking my wounds, I also go home with fond memories and goodies. So even though my feet are sore, my skin is burnt and at times I found myself looking from the outside in on various things I wanted to attend, SDCC remains a flawed geek mecca. As for next year…let’s just hope the old phrase, “bad things come in threes,” doesn’t come to fruition for SDCC 2024.

Film Review: “Mother, May I?”

Starring: Holland Roden, Kyle Gallner and Chris Mulkey
Directed by: Laurence Vannicelli
Rated: NR
Running Time: 99 minutes
Dark Sky Films

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

When death occurs, it leaves a scar. Not only the loss of a loved one, but the words that will never be said. The emotions that will now never be conveyed or felt. The questions that will now go on unanswered. I won’t bother looking up who said it because it’s a universal truth, but the only sure thing in life is death. In “Mother, May I?,” death is really the only sure thing.

Emmett’s (Kyle Gallner) mother, who abandoned him, has recently passed. Understandably, he wants to go to her house, get in, get out and move on with his life. Emmett’s fiance, Anya (Holland Roden), is in tow as emotional support, but that support seems a little flawed. At least from my vantage point. In an effort to help alleviate the pain of the experience of being in her house, Anya recommends they take psilocybin mushrooms. I have yet to try this method, but seeing people on mushrooms without having to deal with trauma tells me…I won’t. While tripping, Emmett and Anya decide to play a little roleplaying game where Anya is Emmett’s mother. It’s weird, oddly sexual and freaks Emmett out a bit. However, the troubles continue when he wakes up the next day and Anya is still pretending to be his mother. Or is she?

“Mother, May I?” is the definition of unsettling. As the film progresses, we begin to wonder if something supernatural is happening. Anya, who professes to not know how to swim, begins to swim whilst continuing to “be” Emmett’s mother. She also begins to exhibit ticks that Emmett knows his mother had, but has never told Anya. The emptiness of the house they’re in, compounded by the callousness of Emmett’s mom in flashbacks, allows the film to creep slowly under your skin, wriggling around when tensions come to a boil. When things explode between the two, it’s like a therapy session in hell.

Since most of “Mother, May I?” is filled with our two leads, so much of the film’s emotional weight is carried by Gallner and Roden who do spot-on jobs when their characters are hurt, vengeful, remorseful and horny. Rarely does the film relent, seemingly putting its foot down on the emotional accelerator. At some points you have to wonder who’s attempting to inflict emotional damage and who’s using brutal honesty to progress their own self-reflected feelings forward.

So what exactly is going on with Anya? Is she possessed or is she creating a cruel new form of psychotherapy? Or better yet, what’s going on with Emmett? Is he truly disturbed and upset or is he a unique byproduct of a broken mother-son relationship that would have Sigmund Freud licking his lips? Since the film leaves every question unanswered, the film in of itself is like death. As the credits roll, we’re left wondering what if and why.

 

Film Review: “Mad Heidi”

Starring: Alice Lucy, David Schofield and Casper Van Dien
Directed by: Johannes Hartmann and Sandro Klopfstein
Rated: Unrated
Running Time: 92 minutes
Raven Banner

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

One of my favorite movie going experiences was 2007’s “Grindhouse,” by Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino. Not so much the Tarantino portion, but the Rodriguez portion. After convincing several friends to drop money on a three-plus hour film, we were immediately rewarded as blood, guts, mayhem and tongue-in-cheek comedy took center stage. Even though there were only a handful of us in a mostly empty theater, there were times we could barely hear the movie over our own laughter at every exploding zombie head and intentionally bad scene. I sometimes wonder why more modern exploitation films aren’t made. Regardless, I’m glad someone did this year.

Heidi (Alice Lucy), of “Mad Heidi,” lives in the Swiss Alps with her grandfather, occasionally spending time (i.e. sex) with her lover, Goat Peter (Kel Matsena). Goat Peter, though, is quickly executed in the film by the fascist Swiss government in this alternate reality. Goat Peter’s crime? Selling illegal dairy products. In this cartoonish dystopia, Swiss Dictator Meili (Casper Van Dien) has outlawed lactose intolerance, conquered every inch of the dairy market, and is creating a cheese that forces the populace to be subservient Swiss patriots. After Goat Peter’s execution, Heidi is imprisoned, sending her on a trashy path towards vengeance.

“Mad Heidi” is what happens when you take an 1881’s children’s book, and smash softcore porn nudity, over-the-top violence, and out-of-date trashy storytelling in between the book’s pages. To say “Mad Heidi” is not for everyone, is like saying Jaegermeister is an “acquired” taste. Even the people watching, cheering and laughing during “Mad Heidi,” recognize it’s intentionally offensive humor, second rate CGI blood spurts and gore, and 80s action one-liners for what it is. Ridiculously amusing and oddly charming. The charm switch gets flipped on because of Lucy’s double sided performance of Heidi, a sweet relatable country girl who has to become a warrior badass. It helps that her nemesis is played by Van Dien, who may as well have eaten a spoonful of fondue before every cheesy line delivery.

The winks at other genre films is endless; all the way back to the sleaze of films like “Caged Women” to modern schlocky action-comedy like “Kung Fury.” With Van Dien on cast, the movie wastes no time in referencing “Starship Troopers,” and the references never get old as the film goes on. If I was to knock “Mad Heidi” for anything, it’d be that it’s a smidge too long and it doesn’t quite live up to the wall-to-wall insanity in other modern exploitation films like “Hobo with a Shotgun” or “Black Dynamite.” That being said, modern exploitation feels like an incredibly hard genre to pull off because exploitation is now the internet, and it’s hard to match the ferociousness of real violence broadcast into our eyeballs every day. “Mad Heidi” also has to tow this line of intentionally offensive stereotypes that are funny without upsetting modern sensibilities.

The great thing about modern exploitation and “Mad Heidi,” is that uptight people looking for the next thing to be outraged and shocked over won’t be watching the trailer for this film or looking at the poster and thinking, “I gotta check this out.” In a surprising way, it’s refreshing to watch something so politically incorrect, that you either have to hold your nose or roll with the offensive punches. I chose the latter. I relished every brutal bloody battle, every gruesome kill, every uncomfortable moment and all the little moments of absurd world building. For fans of any of the films I’ve mentioned above, or fans of B-movies with hyperviolence and immoral sexuality, “Mad Heidi” is a must. Also, someone find Tarantino and Rodriguez, and let them know another pupil of trash cinema has arrived.

Panic Fest Film Review: “Birth/Rebirth”

Starring: Marin Ireland, Judy Reyes and Breeda Wool
Directed by: Laura Moss
Rated: NR
Running Time: 98 minutes
IFC Films

Our Score: 4 out of 5 Stars

You know you’re in for a good movie when a director is able to summarize their film without giving away too much. Before “Birth/Rebirth” began, Director Laura Moss discussed how the film was her own unique take on “Frankenstein” and how the idea has been simmering in her mind since she was a teenager. Even with that kind of spoiler in mind, one where I could expect the reanimation of a dead person, I couldn’t foresee what kind of horrors could be and would be mined in “Birth/Rebirth.”

Celie (Judy Reyes) is a natural as a prenatal nurse at the hospital she works at. She brings her motherly warmth to work to help patients and others, but that warmth will disappear in a flash. Celie’s daughter, Lila (A.J. Lister) abruptly dies, leaving Celie with so much to ponder. On the flip side, we meet a morgue tech by the name of Rose (Marin Ireland) who goes about her work with about as much warmth as the corpses she digs around in. Celie and Rose are strangers, but Lila’s death is going to bring them together in horrific ways.

The mantle of Dr. Frankenstein could be divided up between Celie and Rose, who work together after Rose reanimates Lila. Celie, despite being unable to communicate with the daughter she used to know, tries in earnest to recover what she had by focusing on nearly every aspect of Lila’s life. Rose on the other hand takes a more rudimentary, yet scientific approach to Lia as she makes notes, runs experiments and monitors the overall situation. Sometimes the roles flip as time goes on where one character assumes the role of scientist and the other as parental figure. Because the reanimated Lila remains mostly quiet throughout the duration of the film, it’s difficult to tell what’s actually going on in her head as opposed to the emotional projections by Rose and Celie.

I can’t think of a “Frankenstein” reimaging or story that heavily shifts the narrative to a female centric one. The original story could be viewed as man’s attempt to control what humanity cannot control, life and death. In some ways you could argue the original doctor was also driven by a need to create. The ability to create a human life is not possible for someone born as a man, so Dr. Frankenstein had to create human life in another form. “Birth/Rebirth” seems to explain the passion and need to control life and death as that of a woman/parent. We see how Celie and Rose work with Lila to ensure she survives, the sacrifices both of them make, but is it more about science or more about basic maternal instincts? Rose is the calculating, numbers driven and scientific to all her approaches, but the longer she spends with Celie and Lila, the more something else is taking shape beneath her expressionless face. On the flip side, Celie also realizes the lengths she’ll go to obtain what she used to have, but must also reckon with what it takes to reach that goal.

The film’s ending, which will certainly be annoying to some, leaves more questions than answers. The audience is supposed to reflect on the idea of motherhood and what parenthood in general does to us. The morals of the film are constantly being debated by the characters and by their inevitable actions. Just like the Mary Shelley classic, “Birth/Rebirth” asks us to examine creation, life and death, through our own selfishness, our own sacrifices and ultimately what we are willing to do to secure and fulfill what we see as our obligations to our creations. “Birth/Rebirth” is a monster that you’ll be thinking about long after the credits and lights go up.

 

Panic Fest Film Review: “Black Mold”

Starring: Agnes Albright, Andrew Bailes and Jeremy Holm
Directed by: John Pata
Rated: NR
Running Time: 92 minutes

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

I’m asked anytime by people who find out that I do urban exploring (the art of exploring abandoned buildings, tunnels and everything in between) about whether or not I get scared. Of course. That’d be like asking a trapeze artist if they’re ever worried about plummeting. The thought will always be there. When it comes to my side hobby, I’ve almost been attacked by humans and animals, nearly broken bones, and, worst of all, almost been caught by authorities. So when I recommend “Black Mold,” a film about two urban exploring photographers taking on a deadly task, it’s not because it taps into that fear.

Brooke (Anges Albright) is going through the motions as her and her budding photographer, Tanner (Andrew Bailes) are adding more photos to their portfolio. The abandoned countryside homes they photograph aren’t enough for Brooke today though. She’s got her eyes on the duo’s white whale, a rundown government facility that is the center of several area rumors. Ignoring the fencing, warning signs, and obvious threats, the two are dropped off by their driver, whom they tell to come back in three hours. The two then  set foot inside a building they may never leave.

“Black Mold” never does what you’d expect, which is a treat because it uses a lot of horror tropes. While the story is familiar, the path isn’t. Brooke, we learn, has never come to grips with a traumatic part of her childhood, the death of her father and the ensuing blame being directed at her. While the movie solely focuses on her, Tanner is also dealing with his own personal demons even though they’re never discussed or shown. We just see him react to what he thinks he’s seeing or actually seeing, just like Brooke begins to wonder if a homeless person they encounter in the building is her father.

That is one of the more befuddling parts of this film, what’s real and what isn’t. It’s intentional, but also confusing. For about half of the film, we’re left wondering what experiences are real and which ones aren’t. Eventually day turns to night and we even have to question if time is changing along with perception. I’m not sure why Tanner is in the film, but over time, I wondered if the film could have been better without Tanner because we have no emotional attachment to him. That, and I imagine the isolation would be more impactful for Brooke and the audience.

“Black Mold” is kind of a play on the idea that mold in a dilapidated building could impact your mind. I also believe it’s how the trauma that Brooke experienced not only effects her creatively and in her hobby, but also emotionally because it’s obvious she’s never dealt with her father’s death in any meaningful way or talked with anyone about it. Psychologically and visually speaking, “Black Mold” is a fascinating watch, but the horror itself isn’t as scary as it could be, and the ending feels like a little bit of a letdown.  Overall, the film is an enjoyable journey into the psyche of regret, loss and broken relationships.

 

Panic Fest Film Review: “Satan Wants You”

Directed by: Steve J. Adams and Sean Horlor
Rated: NR
Running Time: 88 minutes

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Children are the greatest non-violent weapon humans have ever had. In 2020-21, my social media was being spammed with #savethechildren. Sounds noble. Besides, who hates children and wishes them ill will? Unfortunately, the #savethechildren people on social media were ignorant to the reasoning behind the hashtag. All these #savethechildren people were suckers for Q’Anon, a conspiracy theory about how the world’s elites are eating, raping, beating, sodomizing, and killing children. Not only children, but newborn infants. While it sounds too crazy to believe, “Satan Wants You,” is a reminder that we’re constantly doomed to repeat an inherent part of our history, believe stupid crap.

If you haven’t heard about the Satanic Panic of the 80s and early 90s, it’s kind of like Pizzagate for the pre-Internet age. They even had their own hashtag before hashtags, having people say “Believe the Children.” The insanity kicked off in 1980 with the book, “Michelle Remembers,” where Canadian Michelle Smith, with the help of her then-psychiatrist at the time, remembered buried memories. Those memories were of being kidnapped, caged, beaten, sexually assaulted, raped repeatedly and forced to eat babies along with other Satanists in a ritual meant to summon the Lord of Darkness himself. Makes for an interesting fiction novel, but “Michelle Remembers” was touted as a real life encapsulation of a secret cabal right under society’s nose.

“Satan Wants You” doesn’t dig around in every nook and cranny, but it’s an incredibly entertaining and serviceable documentary on the Satanic Panic, for those who know nothing about and those like me who could stand to learn a little bit more, including the interesting tidbit later in the documentary about how insurance companies may have saved the day. The documentary’s focus is on how such a perverse lie was able to spread around the U.S. like a new strain of COVID-19, while examining the possibilities of why Michelle would remember…a lie.

Michelle’s psychiatrist, Lawrence Pazder, eventually became her lover and husband. It doesn’t take an HR consultant for most people to recognize a doctor and patient hooking up is the biggest ethical red flag you could potentially spot. The documentary seems to imply more wrong with Pazder than it does Michelle, as it talks with his family members about how he abandoned them for one of his patients. It details how Pazder had a fascination with the perceived weirdness of other cultures and traditions, and how that kind of got channeled through his sessions with Michelle. In my personal belief, I think he was a sexual deviant and Michelle’s recollections were simply part of his fetish.

But what about Michelle? It’s easy to pin the blame on the person spinning these lies, but the documentary treats everyone fairly, including Michelle. If anything, she is a victim to Pazder’s delusions of grandeur, because he envisioned himself becoming famous with her recounting of the alleged demonic occurrences. She also was seeking psychiatric help because she had endured a miscarriage. So in a vulnerable position, she was most likely persuaded by Pazder. A lot of this is my own musings based on the film because “Satan Wants You” is so balanced and thoughtful in its approach. The film doesn’t look to demonize or point the finger of blame at anyone particularly. Unfortunately we can only blame ourselves, especially since history shows that anytime there’s a crisis of faith or a newfound religion, one side attempts to demonize and disparage that group with lascivious lies involving children. For a harmful conspiracy theory to flourish, it takes a village of idiots.

For those who are interested in the Satanic Panic, “Satan Wants You” is a must-watch, even for those who may not know anything about it. At times it feels like it doesn’t say enough while at the same time giving us enough information to completely understand and digest the whole damn mess. You may find yourself wondering aloud during the film, “How the hell do people believe this?” Well, just wait until 2060 when we release a film about all the morons who thought a billionaire narcissist was going to save all the babies from demonic Jews in positions of power eating babies or how Lil Nas X is the Anti-Christ or how social media campaigns never helped children.

 

Panic Fest Film Review: “Abruptio”

Starring: James Marsters, Christopher McDonald and Hana Mae Lee
Directed by: Evan Marlowe
Rated: NR
Running Time: 94 minutes

Our Score: 2.5 out of 5 Stars

Anytime I see human puppets, I immediately think of “Team America: World Police” or “Being John Malkovich.” I’m not sure if that’s because I discredit the art form of puppets altogether and can only tolerate self-mocking portrayals or if that’s because the films are top tier puppet films. While it’s still too early to say, I think I might start adding “Abruptio” to that mental list anytime I see someone with a marionette.

When we meet Les Hackel (James Marsters), he’s working a dead-end job, living at home with his parents still, and getting dumped by his valley girl sounding girlfriend. Then, without any warning, he notices an incision at the base of his neck. One of his buddies has one too, and his buddy knows what it is; a bomb. Then Les begins receiving mysterious messages on his phone stating that everything will be fine as long as Les does what they say. If not, boom goes the neck bomb.

“Abruptio” is a unique take on human puppets because they’re a mix of actual puppets and life-sized puppets; I think. I’m not sure about the actual puppets, but it is very clear from the get-go that actors on screen are wearing puppet looking masks, attire, hands, etc. The mix of real world and puppets is, at most times, visually unsettling. The puppets stick out like a sore thumb, but because of that very intent, it makes us question the reality that the life-size puppets are in. The preposterous plot and visuals only amplify the unease as Les has to do more and more sinister things from the mystery entity or entities.

Adding to the bizarre plot devices are the vocals. We have the late Sid Haig, THE Freddy Kreuger (Robert England), and Christopher McDonald giving us that Shooter McGavin tone. For a film that took seven years, I’m impressed at the range of people who inevitably signed on to such a unique, puzzling, puppet film. Outside of the technical aspects and voice acting talent, “Abruptio” sometimes feels and looks hollow.

Les is more of a villain than a hero, so following him throughout the film can be a moral drag. While this film sits neatly into the horror genre, there’s still some basic ethics in horror. For instance, the puppet nudity never felt necessary or earned. I know, you probably had to do a double take at the puppet nudity. While it didn’t bug me at first, it was utilized at certain points to an unpleasant degree. Some moments felt hateful while others were more masturbatory in their presentation. It also doesn’t help that Les’ character looks like a 55-year-old loser on the verge of shooting up a gas station and he’s having several woman issues throughout the movie.

I can’t completely disregard something like “Abruptio,” because the ending reveal may make everything prior seem like a big misunderstanding. For the horror community, “Abruptio” is a fine addition to the “so weird it’s oddly good” category, but for everyone else, the film will be too dark and miserable to enjoy.

Panic Fest Film Review: “Trader”

Starring: Kimberly-Sue Murray, Shaun Benson and Stephen Bogaert
Directed by: Corey Stanton
Rated: NR
Running Time: 84 minutes

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Sometimes the strangest things in life end up becoming the best fodder for films. Since the first image flickered with life on-screen, movies have commented on politics, government squabbles, war, famine, Hollywood itself, etc. All of it has been caught by the watchful eye of directors looking to make a statement, whether it’s subtle or blunt. As I’ve mentioned in other reviews, the pandemic was a breeding ground for ideas, but I can honestly say I never expected a director to watch the GameStop squeeze in later 2021 and go, “That gives me an idea…”

Does the lead of “Trader” have a name? No. Kimberly-Sue Murray leads the way in “Trader,” a film shot in the apartment basement of a building with Murray as the only person we’ll see for the next 84 minutes. She lets us know what kind of person she is in the opening minutes as she scams an elderly person over the phone out of their credit card and personal information so she can dump some funds into her bank account. What does she want to do with that money? Stonking some tendies to the moon and back (Sorry, r/WallStreetBets lingo). I’m sure that sounds like a boring premise to some, but I assure you it is not. Murray, who delivers a tour de force performance, carries this film on her back as she learns about stock trading, learns about options trading, and attempts to hedge her way into a cutthroat world that may just end up eating her alive, unless she bites first.

Murray may just be the sole reason we watch “Trader.” It’s not a character study, but what we get out of her character is personal financial determination mixed with sociopathic tendencies. She’s a smart cookie, and will possibly break your arm for doubting it. She eventually makes her way through the message boards and connects with a broker named Bob who plays the stock market for social media clout and, of course, the millions of dollars. Murray’s character aches for that life and that luxury, but as one person in a basement on her lonesome, she has to make due with what she’s given. She’s been given Bob the Broker and will lie her way to a seat at the broker table.

Throughout the film, we’re told through discussions with Bob that Murray used to be a victim of sex trafficking, but can we believe that? Most of the time we see her lying, even to Bob, so when she does cry and seemingly stares off into the distance with all the seriousness of the world in her eyes, we have to believe her. But it’s that same kind of personality that she uses to fool others, whether it’s the geriatric at the beginning with his credit card in hand or Bob teasing a better life. One of the more fun aspects of the film is attempting to piece together who Murray’s character is and isn’t.

Even if you know nothing about GameStop or stock trading, “Trader” is a low-budget techno-thriller with plenty on its mind and plenty more to say. Murray gives the best performance of the year, so far, with equal amounts of pain and pleasure during the entire process. Murray’s character is physically, mentally and emotionally working through a past that’s never revealed, but watching her kick and crawl through the boy’s game at Wall Street is an absolute delight. If you’re lucky enough to see this on a streaming service or anywhere in the future, give it a watch and prepare to be blown away by its mesmerizing simplicities. 

Panic Fest Film Review: “Bury the Bride”

Starring: Krsy Fox, Scout Taylor-Compton and Dylan Rourke
Directed by: Spider One
Running Time: 90 minutes
Rated: Unrated
Tubi

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

If you had told me that within a half year time span that Rob Zombie would release his worst movie of all time, followed by his brother releasing his best film, I’d probably believe you. But that’s horror for ya. Sometimes directors and writers release something that might be incomplete or a fully unfulfilled idea. That’s what I thought about Spider One’s release at 2022’s Panic Fest, “Allegoria.” While I didn’t write a review for it, I kind of enjoyed it, but wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. That being said, I’m recommending the hell out of “Bury the Bride.”

How does a bachelorette weekend in a cabin in the desert sound? Terrible, right? Well, that’s what June (Scout Taylor-Compton) wants for her party, which automatically raises red flags amongst all her friends. Not only does she want a low-key bachelorette party, despite years of telling her friends about a really kickass one that she’s planning in her dream, but she’s marrying a redneck. To put this in perspective, June and her friends don’t look like they’ve ever spent time in the South or Midwest. And what I mean by that, is that they’ve never visited the true parts of the South and Midwest. I’m not saying they’ve never been to Nashville or Chicago, but they sure as hell haven’t been to Skidmore, Missouri or Jefferson, Texas. The really weird part? When June’s fiance does crash the party, the two seem blissfully happy. So what’s the deal?

“Bury the Bride” takes a lot of turns before arriving at its big twist, which quite honestly gave me a momentary sense of panic because I legitimately wasn’t expecting it. Even before the film, the audience was told of a fantastic twist so the whole time I sat there wondering what it could be and out of the 100 things I was thinking, I was still wrong. Props to Spider One and Krsy Fox, who wrote the story together and shot it after “Allegoria” had its world premiere at Panic Fest 2022. Even the twist has its twists in the third act, giving the film an overall unique spin on a rather worn out story we’ve seen dozens of times before.

Because the characters are written to be so genuine and real, the acting feels inherently natural even when things go completely off the rails. The performances are actually the strongest part of the film, which to me is equally impressive since most, if not all of the actors, were in “Allegoria.” It’s clear that Spider One and crew learned a lot from their debut pandemic-era film, not only how to keep a budget low, but also creating a cohesive story throughout. “Allegoria” was more of a hit-or-miss anthology without a connective tissue whereas “Bury the Bride” is a bloody killing spree in a desolate square of white trash. There are still some issues, like sound and visual goofs, as Spider stretches his eight creative legs, but with the leaps and bounds made from “Allegoria” to “Bury the Bride,” I’m hoping Spider makes another stop at Panic Fest next year for his third film.

 

Panic Fest Film Review: “The Third Saturday in October Part V” and “The Third Saturday in October”

Starring: Kansas Bowling, Darius Willis, Poppy Cunningham, K.J. Baker, Taylor Smith and Lew Temple
Directed by: Jay Burleson
Rated: Unrated
Running Time: 89 and 97 minutes
Dark Sky Films

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Never seen or heard about “The Third Saturday in October: Part V” or the prior four films in the franchise? Don’t worry, no one has. The text crawl at the beginning of “Part V” tells us all we need to know about the franchise. It states that the first film in the series was created as a cash-in on the popularity of “Halloween” in 1978. It became a cult classic, spurring several slasher sequels over the next decade and a half, but the first film has been lost to time. Thankfully for you and I, “Part V” has been found.

Anyone who has read, heard or seen anything about this film knows that the first film is available. But for reasons I’ll explain later, you should watch “Part V” first. The killer of this non-existent, made-up franchise is Jakkariah “Jack” Harding, a scarred killer who appears every third Saturday in October to kill unsuspecting teens and other morons in the fictional town of Hackleberg. Both films basically have Jack murder his way through a group of high, drunk and horny high schoolers, and other random character clichés, gathering together to watch the iconic football game between Alabama-Mobile and the Tennessee A&M Commonwealth. In “Part V,” Jack wears a never before seen clown/child mishmash mask that isn’t scary or menacing. What this film is, is plenty of cheese dripping at the corners of your screen, a budget so low it’d make Lloyd Kaufman tear-up and comedy good enough for the “Scary Movie” franchise (at least the good movies in the franchise).

“Part V” is an homage and parody dropped into a blender with discount guts/gore, horror movie tropes and easily disposable caricatures. “Part V” was allegedly released in the early 90s and it definitely shows in the characters, using vernacular of the time with the style of goth kids from that era. The actors are clearly older than the “teens” they’re playing, adding to the overall goofiness of the film. There are several winks at movies outside the “Halloween” franchise, such as “Misery,” “Friday the 13th,” and “Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” The one thing the movie really nails is the odd thematic mix that was “Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers,” the main film being spoofed here. Without making this a laundry list of references, “Part V” is not only pure entertaining fan service, but also a retro throwback to early 90s horror which was ultimately a cash grab that failed to recognize or continue the story of the iconic slashers from the late 70s.

So what about the first film? “The Third Saturday in October” serves as the true beginning of the franchise, but watching “Part V” first gives you a sense of who the killer is while the first tells you the what and why of the killer. I won’t go too much into the first film, but it’s still a comedy-horror. Instead of relying solely on laughs, the film takes a bit of a more serious edge just like most slasher films did in their first franchise creating film. Everyone who’s watched “Nightmare on Elm Street” knows that Freddy Krueger is all menace and no jokes in the first of the franchise. The chuckles and one-liners don’t make an appearance until the third film, “Dream Warriors.” This happened a lot in franchises and 80s horror.

With his tongue firmly planted in his cheek, director Jay Burleson makes the most spot-on representation of two different time periods in horror cinema. He manages to take the best parts of those screenshots into history while ridiculing the parts that have aged about as well as 3D technology in late 80s horror films. He makes his supposedly menacing killer, who giggles behind the mask while maiming and killing, even trashier and goofier than Pinhead in 1992’s “Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth.” Burleson has done his research stylistically and writing wise, making “Part V” walk and talk like every other early 90’s horror that failed to do its horror icon justice. But since we’ve never been acquainted with Jack, we don’t necessarily feel the same way when Pinhead and Freddy focused more on one-liners than kills. With Jack and the cast of dopey teen characters, we relish the intentionally awful concept.

“Part V” is an insane amount of fun if you’ve ever grown up watching slashers or were like some 90s kid and watched one of those God awful 90s slasher films looking to capitalize on the success of its predecessors. I believe that’s the intent of Burleson, who most likely grew up as I did or knew someone who did. Growing up in the 90s, I didn’t have a lot of access to late 70s/early 80s horror content, so a lot of times with horror franchises, I would work backwards. Burleson does this with his franchise as an homage and meta commentary on the whole notion that regardless of when you start a horror franchise, if you vibe with the killer, you will ultimately like it all. It also may be a commentary on horror purists, who believe the sequels are inferior to the original, whereas someone like me watched “New Nightmare” before the original “Nightmare.” So sue me, I like “New Nightmare” better. Would that theory hold true if you watch the first “Third Saturday in October” before “Part V?” That’s another potential piece to this metaphorical puzzle. If you went to the video store back in the day and wanted a horror movie night, you were at the mercy of what’s available. So, maybe all you had upon your return home was the first “Friday the 13th” and “Jason Goes to Hell.”

I’m sure there’s some people rolling their eyes at the prospect of an intentional double feature that has to be watched out of order. That’s a fair point and one that I can’t really fault people on, especially when horror movies often tease a gimmick only to fail at making the gimmick work. Burleson not only makes the gimmick work, but I think it’s safe to say that without the internet or smartphones, he could have easily fooled people into believing this was some kind of diamond plucked from a Blockbuster dumpster. Even then, Burleson understands everything about these eras of horror, from how they were lit, how they were portrayed and the overall tone they were going for. He’s like a horror historian that decided to show his knowledge with his funny bone.

I wouldn’t be taking these two films as seriously if it wasn’t for how spot-on this film is at the decades and genres it’s lampooning. What makes this low budget, poorly acted film such a delight, is that everyone and everything is committed. The little girl who plays the trope of being too smart for her age along with the stereotypical babysitter are delightful along with their gaggle of friends that represent every high school teen stereotype. It’s also fun watching the douchebag jocks in each film get their cruel karma after they dish out some insults to the geeky kids. Because of that, we’re glad to see them meet their end at Jack’s hands. I tried as best I could to stay away from some of my favorite gags in this film (there are a lot) because each passing minute is a chance for Burleson to pay homage to one film, while ridiculing another, and then doing the complete opposite in another scene later on. If Burleson plans on doing the next logical thing, an early 2000s reboot, I’m all-in. Then of course we’ll need the 2020s approach, just make a sequel to the first and ignore all the other sequels. I wanna see what Jack does next and you should definitely see what he does in “Part V” and his origin story.

Panic Fest Film Review: “Razzennest”

Starring: Sophie Kathleen Kozeluh, Michael Smulik and Annie Weiner
Directed by: Johannes Grenzfurthner
Rated: Unrated
Running Time: 81 minutes

Our Score: 4 out of 5 Stars

One of the most scathing, yet hilarious lines on “Mystery Science Theater 3000” for me is from the episode about “Mac and Me.” There’s a scene where we see several old time radios explode and one of the robots asks, “What is that?” Jonah responds, “It’s a radio,” to which the robot asks what a radio is. Then Jonah delivers the best summary of radio before the 21st century, “It’s like a podcast you can’t control.” So what does this have to do with “Razzennest?” Well, if you ever wanted to know what it was like to sit around in the 1940s and listen to a radio play, then this is the most entertaining way to find out.

To say this film is unique is a disservice to how original and off-the-beaten path this film truly is. “Razzennest” is basically the recording of an audio commentary track for a documentary called “Razzennfest.” Through dialogue, we’re introduced to the narcissistic film director, along with several members of his crew, as well as a less narcissistic film critic. We hear them meet and greet as the audio engineer in the studio gives them direction. The two then begin to rant, rave and bash one another over endless images and b-roll. As the inauspicious conversation continues, the images and b-roll continue to cycle as we wait to see why this is a horror. To my benefit, and yours, I’ll stop with the plot right there.

I avoided as much as possible about this film, which in a lot of ways isn’t a film. Most of the action is articulated through sound, so the video portion of this film is almost secondary. When it began, it felt like what some podcasts do on Youtube, which is loop imagery or videos over the entire audio track. While some of the b-roll and images do reflect and play off what’s happening during the recording, mostly in the third act, it’s sometimes difficult to fuse both together when the images of a quaint village are smothered by the audible yells and screams happening in the recording booth. However, the juxtaposition is intentionally jarring.

I’m not sure if I’d classify this film as a horror because I wasn’t necessarily scared nor do I think most people would be. The audible terror can only do so much when the visual terror is nearly unnoticeable. Also I watched this at home and was mindful of my apartment neighbors so the volume wasn’t that of a 150-seat theater. I do see this film more as an experimental dark comedy. The first 15 minutes are clearly for comedic effect as we listen to the critic and director attempt to make off-the-wall remarks about the documentary, films in general and life. The director is clearly a blow-hard who reads too much of his own positive reviews while the critic is a clout chaser, heaping praise on a director and a film she knows little to nothing about. Listening to these two is like listening to your two worst enemies discuss topics they’re either misinformed on or triumphantly overconfident about. So when the horror finally hits, it’s hard to feel any sympathy for these self-absorbed doofuses.

Because “Razzennest” relies so much on your interpretation of what’s being said and heard, it’s difficult to parse what exactly the meanings are as the story unfolds. That’s why I found myself chuckling and wondering if this is all just a big middle finger to an industry of snobby film artists and their fart sniffing critics chasing their own form of fame and fortune. The scathing commentary is less and less noticeable as the horror elements drip in, but even during the film’s final act, it seems like the horror is also used to further demonize the director and critic as part of a flawed entertainment industry. It’s also possibly stating that the critics and media surrounding the film industry is some kind of codependent toxic relationship. I would say the meta commentary is a bit too narrow in its attacks, but I also believe most people recognize the obnoxiousness of artists and critics quibbling over artistic merits while the world burns.

Not to sound like the film critic dork in “Razzennest,” but this is the kind of indie film that could easily be the definition of an indie film. It’s hard not to think and believe that Director Johannes Greznfurthner brilliantly orchestrated a lot of what’s happening on film, even if it feels pointless and almost unnecessary at times. As I stated before, the film footage seems inconsequential at the beginning, but more purposeful at the end. I believe Greznfurthner did one of two things, he either purposely did that or all the footage is intentional. Because the film is commenting on my freelance work, I’m in a bit of a pickle attempting to critique a film that’s simultaneously critiquing people in my field. I do know that Greznfurthner also directed “Masking Threshold,” one of my favorite horror films of last year; another film with commentary on life and the effect media has on it. I’m sure by the time I finally figure out just what in the hell was going on in “Razzennest,” he’ll be ready to show me his next mind fuck of a film. And I’m ready for it.