Plot: Sarah (Seána Kerslake) and her son Chris (James Quinn Markey) move to the countryside for a fresh start. But their remote home becomes less of a refuge for them and more of a constant source of paranoia for Sarah when Christ starts to act stranger and stranger. His behavior seems somehow connected to the sinkhole in the woods behind their house and Sarah is soon convinced that more is going on than just a difficult transition into a new life.
The Hole in the Ground starts well enough and does have some creepy moments, but unfortunately the longer it goes on, the less it manages to keep the story together.
Plot: Anne (Vanessa Paradis) produces gay porn together with her lover and editor Lois (Kate Moran). But Lois isn’t happy anymore with their life and she leaves Anne. Anne tries to win her back by making a new, ambitious movie with Archibald (Nicolas Maury) whom she has worked with a lot already. But a killer is making his way through the gay community and he kills two of Anne’s stars as well, drawing her into the investigation that becomes ever stranger.
Un couteau dans le coeur is a neo-giallo or at least a tribute to the old ones. I, personally, am not really a fan of giallos. Usually they just pass me right by. But I have to say that this film worked very well for me and left a very lasting impression.
Plot: When Liz (Lily Collins) takes a break from being a single mom and goes out with her friend Joanna (Angela Sarafyan), she meets law student Ted Bundy (Zac Efron). He is charming and the two hit it off. It doesn’t take long for him to be a fixture in her life, as well as the of her daughter. But six years later, Ted is arrested and charged with being a serial killer. Liz doesn’t believe that there is any truth to the allegations. But as the trial goes on, she has to face the fact that maybe she doesn’t know as Ted as well as she thought she did.
If Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile had been programmed at the edge of the festival day, I probably would have skipped it because I feared that it would feed into the mythology of Ted Bundy too much. But it was programmed between two films I wanted to see anyway, meaning I was already there, so I gave it a chance – only to see that my fears were absolutely warranted, even if the film isn’t bad.
Content Note: (critical treatment of) racism, white supremacy
Plot: Denmark, a few years in the future. After an attack on Copenhagen, radicalization in the country has accelarated and with elections coming near, Martin Nordahl (Rasmus Bjerg) is set to win in a landslide victory with his extreme right-wing party. Zakaria (Mohammed Ismail Mohammed) sees that development with unease. He is a muslim and his family migrated to Denmark, so he knows he is a target and he wants to do something about it. He finds an ally in Malik (Zaki Youssef) when they meet at a new organization for young men like them.
Sons of Denmark is a politically astute film that is appropriately suffocating in its look at the rightwing politics that are on the rise in Europe again. The film-making isn’t quite as good as the film’s message, but given that it’s Salim’s feature debut the few things that don’t work that well can be easily forgiven.
Plot: Veteran cop Brett Ridgeman (Mel Gibson) and his younger, more volatile partner Anthony Lurasetti (Vince Vaughn) are caught on tape using excessive force on a black suspect. They are suspended when the tape reaches the media. Ridgeman decides to turn to crime himself in this forced downtime: he and Lurasetti plan to take over a robbery of which they get wind. Part of the robbery crew is Henry Johns (Tory Kittles), just released from prison, who came home to find the poverty of his family completely overwhelming. Without other options, he lets himself get roped into the robbery plot. But things don’t go according to plan for anybody.
I was this close to not watching Dragged Across Concrete. Zahler’s last film – Bone Tomahawk – was racist crap. That he then turns to make a film that is a whole lot about racism and casts Mel Gibson, a known racist and antisemite, in the lead is insensitive to say the least. But then I figured, I had an all-access pass to the festival and I may as well give this film a go. Well. I should have listened to my gut and saved myself because the film is just as racist as the last.
Plot: Overgård’s (Mads Mikkelsen) plane went down in the Arctic circle months ago and he has found a way to survive, has established a routine for his survival, always in the hope that he will be found and rescued. When a helicopter appears, he believes that his day has finally come. But instead, the helicopter crashes, too. Inside is a lone survivor (Maria Thelma Smáradóttir) who is gravely injured. For her sake and his own Overgård has to decide now whether he can continue to stay put, or whether he should take the risk of walking towards help.
Arctic is a strong film that really draws you in – so much so that I got really cold watching it. Unfortunately, the gender dynamics are a little disappointing, but other than that it’s a strong survival film.
Plot: Tobias (Leif Edlund) and Elin (Ylva Gallon) plan to spend the weekend camping. Their relationship hasn’t been going well and they hope that some time focusing on each other may give them the chance to repair things. They pitch their tent on a clearing in the woods and start settling. But then Mog (Peter Belli) – incongruously dressed in a white suit – shows up with his entourage and things take a very bad turn . And then another. And another.
Koko-di Koko-da builds from a strong idea and has some excellent moments, though overall it runs a tad too long. The main story is intercut with beautiful animation – basically short films within the film, told in chapters. They were the strongest bit for me. I did enjoy the film overall, but I didn’t love it.
Plot: Christmas dinner brings together the entire family. But as is so often the case, it is also the perfect place to bring out the tensions that have run in the family for many, many years. Things get really bad this year though – and turn outright bloody. It appears that something more than just the usually family feuds is going on.
Secret Santa is a cheesy, low-budget film that was a whole lot of fun. It’s perfect to scratch any gorey B-movie itch you might have, at least with a nice crowd like the /slash people.
Plot: Police officer Buron (Benoît Poelvoorde) has a murder to solve. And his witness Louis Fugain (Grégoire Ludig) has a story to tell. But as the officer tries to trip up Fugain, believing him to be a suspect in the death, Fugain starts to fumble in his account and the interview situation becomes ever stranger and more tense.
Au Poste! may be a little subdued compared to Dupieux’s earlier films, but that didn’t take away from its entertainment factor at all. It’s a beautiful exercise in absurdity.
Plot: Dax (Robbie Kay), Krill (Jacob Batalon) and Sam (Seychelle Gabriel) are absolutely excited: Blood Fest – the mega fun fair slash fan convention about all things horror is coming to their town. And they know that they have to be there. But Dax’ father (Tate Donovan) is dead-set against it, as he is against everything horror-related since Dax’ mother was killed. Dax manages to go anyway, but once there, it turns out that something sinister is going on at Blood Fest.
Blood Fest is no masterpiece, but it’s fun and entertaining. Horror movie fans will feel a little like watching a bobble head with all the nods the film throws at them and that makes most of its charm. I enjoyed it.