Wilczyca [She-Wolf] (1983)

Wilczyca
Director: Marek Piestrak
Writer: Jerzy Gieraltowski, Marek Piestrak
Cast: Krzysztof Jasinski, Iwona Bielska, Stanislaw Brejdygant, Olgierd Lukaszewicz, Henryk Machalica, Leon Niemczyk, Jerzy Prazmowski, Hanna Stankówna
Part of: SLASH Film Festival
Seen on: 29.9.2021
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Content Note: abortion

Plot:
Kacper (Krzysztof Jasinski) returns home from war to find his wife Maryna (Iwona Bielska) dying after a botched arbortion of a child that wasn’t his. And not only that, it appears that in his absence, Maryna has started to dabble in the dark arts. And she’s not about to make things easy for Kacper, either. As she dies, she curses him. Kacper’s brother (Jerzy Prazmowski) urges Kacper to make sure that Maryna can’t rise from her grave. After the deed is done, Kacper leaves to stay with a friend, Count Ludwik (Stanislaw Brejdygant). Once there, Kacper realizes that something is up with the Countess Julia (Iwona Bielska).

Wilczyca has interesting moments for sure, but it also has lengths and a very unlikeable protagonist, leaving me with only middling feelings about it.

The film poster showing the painting of a woman, half her face a skull. Behind her is a wolf, below and smaller a man.
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Coming Home in the Dark (2021)

Coming Home in the Dark
Director: James Ashcroft
Writer: James Ashcroft, Eli Kent
Based on: Owen Marshall‘s short story
Cast: Erik Thomson, Daniel Gillies, Matthias Luafutu, Miriama McDowell, Billy Paratene, Frankie Paratene
Part of: SLASH Film Festival
Seen on: 29.9.2021
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Plot:
Hoaggie (Erik Thomson), his wife Jill (Miriama McDowell) and their children Maika (Billy Paratene) and Jordan (Frankie Paratene) are taking a little road trip together. Their fun and bickering, though, is interrupted when Mandrake (Daniel Gillies) and Tubs (Matthias Luafutu) show up as the family picnics. The two men are armed and dangerous and nothing will be the same after the encounter.

Coming Home in the Dark finished off the trilogy of hopelessness that was the SLASH program this evening (the other two films in this unofficial trilogy were Hunter Hunter and Teddy). Of the three films, it was the weakest. It simply gave us nothing to hold on to.

The film poster showing Mandrake (Daniel Gillies) holding a shotgun in front of a red-tinted sky and a car standing in a field.
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Teddy (2020)

Teddy
Director: Ludovic Boukherma, Zoran Boukherma
Writer: Ludovic Boukherma, Zoran Boukherma
Cast: Anthony Bajon, Christine Gautier, Ludovic Torrent, Guillaume Mattera, Jean-Michel Ricart, Alain Boitel, Noémie Lvovsky
Part of: SLASH Film Festival
Seen on: 28.9.2021
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Content Note: sexualized harrassment

Plot:
Teddy (Anthony Bajon) is widely considered the bad apple of his small village. He dreams big, but his reality is pretty small. Living with elderly relatives he has to care for, he works at a massage parlor where his employer Ghislaine (Noémie Lvovsky) is too touchy. More often than not, Teddy gets into fights. Not even his girlfriend Rebecca’s (Christine Gautier) parents like him, but at least Rebecca does. And then Teddy gets scratched by some creature and his life gets even worse.

Teddy starts as a whole lot of fun, but soon takes a turn towards darkness that I found unsatisfying and a little shoddily handled. But until then, I liked it a lot.

The film poster showing Teddy (Anthony Bajon) standing in front of a yellow curtain. There is a werewolf paw pushing through the curtain and laying on his shoulder.
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Hunter Hunter (2020)

Hunter Hunter
Director: Shawn Linden
Writer: Shawn Linden
Cast: Camille Sullivan, Summer H. Howell, Devon Sawa, Nick Stahl, Gabriel Daniels, Lauren Cochrane
Part of: SLASH Filmfestival
Seen on: 28.9.2021
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Plot:
Joseph (Devon Sawa), Anne (Camille Sullivan) and their daughter Renee (Summer H. Howell) live off the grid, in the middle of the forest, getting by as trappers, selling the furs of the animals they catch. When they realize that a wolf is in the area, they are highly alerted, though. Anne is worried for Renee in particular, as they believe it’s a rogue wolf who is likely to attack them and who, at the very least, is a danger to their already slim livelihood. So Joseph sets out to catch the wolf.

I have rarely watched a film that left me with such a strong urge to drink something like this movie. And I actually do mean that as a compliment. It’s depressing and tense and highly effective.

The film poster showing a howling wolf, painted with white color on a black background. in front of it the silhouette of a man, and in front of that Anne (Camille Sullivan), rifle in hand.
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Caveat (2020)

Caveat
Director: Damian Mc Carthy
Writer: Damian Mc Carthy
Cast: Ben Caplan, Jonathan French, Leila Sykes
Part of: SLASH Filmfestival
Seen on: 28.9.2021
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Content Note: ableism/saneism

Plot:
Moe (Ben Caplan) is looking for somebody who can keep an eye on his niece Olga (Leila Sykes). Olga is mentally ill, has recently lost both her parents and is now holed up in a house on a remote island. When Moe hears about Isaac (Jonathan French), an acquaintaince who was recently released from the hospital and is in need of some cash, he asks him. Isaac is hesitant, he doesn’t feel like he is the right person for the job. But ultimately Moe wins him over. Once at the island, though, things get stranger and stranger for Isaac.

Oh well. Caveat was a bit of a mess, I’m afraid, quickly turning quite frustrating. Ultimately I wished that I had skipped this past-midnight screening and instead had gone to bed earlier.

The film poster showing the eye and ear of a toy bunny in front of a black background.
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Doch Rybaka [Tzarevna Scaling] (2020)

Doch Rybaka [literally: Fisherman’s Daughter]
Director: Uldus Bakhtiozina
Writer: Uldus Bakhtiozina
Cast: Alina Korol, Viktoria Assovskaya, Valentina Yasen, Aleksandra Kysotskaya, Albina Berens, Serafima Solovyova, Xenia Popova-Pendereckaya, Uldus Bakhtiozina, Adelia Severinova, Mária Pavlová
Part of: SLASH Filmfestival
Seen on: 27.9.2021
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Plot:
Polina’s (Alina Korol) life is far from fancy. She lives in a tiny apartment and works as a fishmonger in a small truck. One day, a strange woman comes to her truck to buy fish heads for her cats. She gives Polina a special tea that is supposed to make her dreams come true. Poline gives it a try and ends up in a strange, but rigorous testing program to see if she is a princess, a tsar’s daughter.

I adored Tzarevna Scaling. If there is one thing I didn’t like it’s that it’s only 70 minutes long – I really wanted to spend more time in this world. It’s a visually stunning take on fairy tales that will stay with me for a long time.

The film poster showing two women wearing elaborate swan hats sitting at a table next to a swimming pool where they armwrestle.
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A Pure Place (2021)

A Pure Place
Director: Nikias Chryssos
Writer: Nikias Chryssos, Lars Henning Jung
Cast: Sam Louwyck, Greta Bohacek, Claude Heinrich, Daniel Sträßer, Daniel Fripan, Wolfgang Czeczor, Lena Lauzemis, Mariella Josephine Aumann
Part of: SLASH Filmfestival
Seen on: 27.9.2021
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Content Note: (critical treatment of) white supremacy, fascism and cults

Plot:
When they were very small, Irina (Greta Bohacek) and her brother Paul (Claude Heinrich) came into the care of soap producer Fust (Sam Louwyck). That means, they started working in his factory and learned to revere him like a god, always hoping to be pretty and clean enough to make it from below (the factory) to above (his mansion). And it seems that Irina finally gets her chance at a turn in the light when Fust grows tired of one of his followers. Only that this means that Irina has to leave Paul behind.

A Pure Place starts off well enough, with building up the whole setting as a thinly veiled allegory for white supremacy. But then it gets lost in its own story, seems to turn in circles and never reaches a satisfying conclusion. Plus, there were some really problematic elements with regards to Irina and the male gaze that ruined the film for me a little.

The film poster, drawn comic-style, showing Irina (Greta Bohacek) as a greek statue with a snake and a goblet. Behind her we can see Fust (Sam Louwyck), his arms spread wide and his congregation with soap around their necks, some wearing hooded robes. In front of Irina we can see Siegfried (Daniel Sträßer) self-flagellating.
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Gaia (2021)

Gaia
Director: Jaco Bouwer
Writer: Tertius Kapp
Cast: Monique Rockman, Carel Nel, Alex van Dyk, Anthony Oseyemi
Part of: SLASH Filmfestival
Seen on: 27.9.2021
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Plot:
Gabi (Monique Rockman) and Winston (Anthony Oseyemi) are forest rangers, sent out to check on wildlife cameras. What should be a routine mission starts to go sideways when Gabi walks into a trap and is injured. The trap was set by Barend (Carel Nel) and his son Stefan (Alex van Dyk), but it is unclear what or who they were hunting with it. In any case, Gabi finds herself at their mercy – but it may very well be that they are not a threat. There is something dangerous in the forest, though.

Gaia worked pretty well for me – for the most part. I did have a couple of issues with it, but overall I liked it.

The film poster showing Gabi (Monique Rockman) from her shoulders up, her head dissolving into mushrooms.
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In the Earth (2021)

In the Earth
Director: Ben Wheatley
Writer: Ben Wheatley
Cast: Joel Fry, Ellora Torchia, Reece Shearsmith, Hayley Squires, John Hollingworth, Mark Monero
Part of: SLASH Filmfestival
Seen on: 26.9.2021
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Plot:
In the middle of a global pandemic, Martin (Joel Fry) arrives in a nature reserve to join his colleague Olivia (Hayley Squires) in research. Park ranger Alma (Ellora Torchia) is supposed to lead him to the scientist’s camp in the woods. As they walk, Alma realizes, though, that Martin has a bit more than a professional connection to Olivia. Before they arrive at the camp, Martin and Olivia get attacked, though. There is generally something strange going on in this forest.

I have written it before, I will write it again: Ben Wheatley and me is a combination that just doesn’t work. That’s also true for In the Earth that I found a little muddled at best, and boring at worst.

The film poster showing an obelisk-like boulder with a round hole at the top in the forest under a starry sky.
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The Feast (2021)

The Feast
Director: Lee Haven Jones
Writer: Roger Williams
Cast: Annes Elwy, Nia Roberts, Steffan Cennydd, Sion Alun Davies, Julian Lewis Jones, Rhodri Meilir, Lisa Palfrey, Caroline Berry
Part of: SLASH Filmfestival
Seen on: 26.9.2021
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Plot:
Glenda (Nia Roberts) has to prepare a fancy dinner for her husband Gwyn (Julian Lewis Jones), a politician. The two hope to arrange a deal over dinner with their expected guests. To ensure that everything runs smoothly, Glenda has hired Cadi (Annes Elwy) for help. Cadi is withdrawn and quiet, but she gets to work. But the atmosphere in the house is strange, and there seems to be something brewing that has nothing to do with the food.

The Feast is a wonderful looking, and also political film that manages to build the perfect atmosphere of something just being (more or less slightly) off in this house. I really enjoyed it.

Cadi (Annes Elwy) kneeling in the grass.
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