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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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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Leptirica [She-Butterfly] (1973)

Leptirica
Director: Djordje Kadijevic
Writer: Djordje Kadijevic
Based on: Milovan Glisic’ short story Posle devedeset godina
Cast: Mirjana Nikolic, Petar Bozovic, Slobodan ‘Cica’ Perovic, Vasja Stankovic, Aleksandar Stojkovic, Tanasije Uzunovic, Ivan Djurdjevic, Bogoljub Petrovic
Part of: SLASH Filmfestival
Seen on: 25.9.2021
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Plot:
A small town in the middle of nowhere is facing a problem: their millers keep dying, murdered, as they suspect, by a mysterious creature that seems to have ties to the village itself. Without a miller, there is no flour and without flour, the village is soon bound to starve. The men of the village think they have found a solution, though. As they look for the creature, they ask Strahinja (Petar Bozovic) to take over as miller. He is poor and needs something to prove himself so he may marry Radojka (Mirjana Nikolic), so Strahinja accepts. But the search for the creature is difficult and Strahinja may be in more danger than he realizes.

I really enjoyed Leptirica, especially because it gives us a very different take on a creature that is often referred to as a vampire (I’d argue, it’s something else entirely). Understandably a classic.

The film poster showing the film title as if written with wooden planks. A butterfly is impaled on the "T" and a moon dangles on a string from the "C". There is a skull in the moon, and below the moon, there is a village.
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Prisoners of the Ghostland (2021)

Prisoners of the Ghostland
Director: Sion Sono
Writer: Aaron Hendry, Reza Sixo Safai
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Sofia Boutella, Nick Cassavetes, Bill Moseley, Tak Sakaguchi, Young Dais, Charles Glover, Cici Zhou, Louis Kurihara, Tetsu Watanabe, Takato Yonemoto, Shin Shimizu
Part of: SLASH Filmfestival
Seen on: 25.9.2021
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Content Note: child sexual abuse (alluded to), misogyny

Plot:
After his granddaughter Bernice (Sofia Boutella) disappears, the Governor (Bill Moseley) turns to desperate measures to find her. He frees a notorious criminal and turns him Hero (Nicolas Cage), though not without precautions to ensure his compliance. Thus the Hero makes his way to the Ghostland where Bernice is suspected to be. The Ghostland is a dangerous place, and the Hero has his work cut out for himself.

Prisoners of the Ghostland didn’t work in the slightest for me. Way too shrill and loud, way too little sense. If I hadn’t been sitting right in the middle of my row, I probably would have left early. As is, I napped here and there but I should have just stayed away entirely.

The film poster showing the Hero (Nicolas Cage) standing atop a giant warrior helmet with skulls, other people and a huge clock that seem almost part of the helmet.
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Jakob’s Wife (2021)

Jakob’s Wife
Director: Travis Stevens
Writer: Mark Steensland, Kathy Charles, Travis Stevens
Cast: Barbara Crampton, Larry Fessenden, Bonnie Aarons, Nyisha Bell, Sarah Lind, Mark Kelly, Robert Rusler, Jay DeVon Johnson, C.M. Punk
Part of: SLASH Filmfestival
Seen on: 25.9.2021
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Plot:
Anne (Barbara Crampton) has always been the good wife to Minister Jakob (Larry Fessenden). Over the years, she has shrunk herself more and more to fit into the role better and better. When her first love Tom (Robert Rusler) comes back to town and they meet, Anne feels first stirrings of her hunger for life again. But it isn’t until she and Tom are attacked, that her hunger turns very real – and very bloody.

Jakob’s Wife starts well enough, but loses steam right when it should be picking it up, leaving a lackluster feeling behind.

The film poster showing Jakob (Larry Fessenden) reading in a bible and Anne (Barbara Crampton) praying next to him in a startling red dress. Behind them is a chruch, and in the sky we can see a half-transparent face of a vampire.
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