Premika (2017)

Premika
Director: Siwakorn Charupongsa
Writer: Siwakorn Charupongsa, Komsun Nuntachit, Sukree Terakunvanich
Cast: Kidakarn Chatkaewmanee, Natthacha De Souza, Nutthasit Kotimanuswanich, Todsapol Maisuk, Pramote Pathan, Anongnart Yusananda
Part of: /slash 1/2 Filmfestival
Seen on: 6.5.2018

Plot:
For the opening of a new hotel in a pretty remote location, the hotel management has invited a group of VIPs who are supposed to stir up publicity for the hotel with an inaugural stay. The guests include a boyband, a comedic duo (who would like to become a boy band) a singing duo and more. So when they activate a haunted karaoke machine that will kill anyone who sings badly, they should have the best chances. But maybe their talents don’t lie that much in singing. And maybe the ghost in the karaoke machine has its own goals.

Premika is a pretty hilarious comedy over long stretches. It then changes gear quite drastically and turns into a critical examination of marginalization – a change that it pulls off surprisingly well. Definitely worth seeing.

Film poster for Premika (2017), showing a smiling ghost or zombie girl with a microphone in her hand.
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Double Date (2017)

Double Date
Director: Benjamin Barfoot
Writer: Danny Morgan
Cast: Danny Morgan, Georgia Groome, Michael Socha, Kelly Wenham, Dougie Poynter, Brooke Norbury
Part of: /slash 1/2 Filmfestival
Seen on: 5.5.2018

Plot:
Jim (Danny Morgan) and Alex (Michael Socha) have been best friends forever, despite the fact that they don’t have much in common, especially when it comes to women. Jim is too shy to talk to them, while Alex has a seemingly endless supply of pick-up lines. Alex wants to finally get Jim out in the dating world. Out one night, they meet Lulu (Georgia Groome) and Kitty (Kelly Wenham). Against all odds, Lulu and Kitty seem really into Jim and Alex. But it soon becomes clear that they have their own nefarious plans with the guys.

That Double Date would be a film built on sexism was clear from the very description in the program. It’s clear from the plot summary. And the film does nothing to work against that sexism. Nevertheless, it does have amusing moments and much to my own suprise, it did manage to make me laugh.

the film poster for Double Date (2017)
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The Cured (2017)

The Cured
Director: David Freyne
Writer: David Freyne
Cast: Ellen Page, Sam Keeley, Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, Stuart Graham, Paula Malcomson
Part of: /slash 1/2 Filmfestival
Seen on: 5.5.2018

Plot:
A few years after a disease turned a lot of people into zombies, a cure has been found and the cured are ready to be released back into society. But not everybody is ready to accept them back. One of the cured is Senan (Sam Keeley). after his release, his widowed sister-in-law Abbie (Ellen Page) offers him a home with her and her son. But faced with the suspicions around them, Senan’s guilt for what he did while a zombie and Abbie’s grief, living together really isn’t what you’d call easy.

The Cured started well enough, but in the end it really didn’t manage to convince me. It builds on a metaphor that doesn’t really work the way it is supposed to work. And it relies so much on that metaphor that that failure torpedoes the entire film.

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Vuelven [Tigers Are Not Afraid] (2017)

Vuelven
Director: Issa López
Writer: Issa López
Cast: Paola Lara, Juan Ramón López, Hanssel Casillas, Rodrigo Cortes, Ianis Guerrero, Tenoch Huerta
Part of: /slash 1/2 Filmfestival
Seen on: 5.5.2018

Plot:
One day, when Estrella (Paola Lara) returns from school, her mother isn’t there. And she doesn’t come back that night or the next day or the day after that. Hunger finally pushes Estrella out the door and she finds El Shine (Juan Ramón López) and his family, a group of homeless children. They are not a welcoming bunch, but Estrella does find a connection there after proving herself worthy to them. The streets are a violent place, but fortunately, Estrella has a secret: she has three wishes. Wishes that she must carefully consider how to use.

Vuelven is an amazing film. Beatiful and sad and also scary and brutal in many ways. It really impressed me.

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Downrange (2017)

Downrange
Director: Ryûhei Kitamura
Writer: Ryûhei Kitamura, Joey O’Bryan
Cast: Kelly Connaire, Stephanie Pearson, Rod Hernandez, Anthony Kirlew, Alexa Yeames, Jason Tobias
Part of: /slash 1/2 Filmfestival
Seen on: 5.5.2018

Plot:
Todd (Rod Hernandez) and Sara (Alexa Yeames) are carpooling with Jodi (Kelly Connaire), Keren (Stephanie Pearson), Jeff (Jason Tobias) and Eric (Anthony Kirlew). They barely know each other, but they are headed in the same direction and gas is expensive. Their trip comes to an abrupt stop when they blow a tire in the middle of nowhere. But that turns out to be the least of their problems: as they start changing the tire, somebody starts shooting at them – and there’s nowhere to hide.

Downrange was the best film of that particular festival evening. It’s not great, but it’s solid and doesn’t have a single boring second.

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Housewife (2017)

Housewife
Director: Can Evrenol
Writer: Can Evrenol, Cem Özüduru
Cast: Clémentine Poidatz, David Sakurai, Alicia Kapudag, Ali Aksöz, Defne Halman
Part of: /slash 1/2 Filmfestival
Seen on: 5.5.2018

Plot:
Holly (Clémentine Poidatz) is married to Tim (Ali Aksöz) and they are thinking about having children. But Holly struggles with her memories of her parents’ death and that does interfere with her own desire to be a mother. Then Holly dreams of her friend Valery (Alicia Kapudag), who has been missing for a while, and the very next day, Valery is back and invites Holly and Tim to the Umbrella of Love and Mind, an organization that may or may not be a cult, led by Bruce (David Sakurai). There, the lines between dream and reality continue to blur.

Housewife, unfortunately, did not manage to convince me. Given that I haven’t liked anything much that Evrenol has done so far, this came as no surprise to me, but that didn’t make the film any more enjoyable to me.

Slight SPOILERS after the jump.

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Revenge (2017)

Revenge
Director: Coralie Fargeat
Writer: Coralie Fargeat
Cast: Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz, Kevin Janssens, Vincent Colombe, Guillaume Bouchède, Jean-Louis Tribes
Part of: /slash 1/2 Filmfestival
Seen on: 4.5.2018

Content Note: Rape

Plot:
Jen (Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz) has been dating the rich, older, married Richard (Kevin Janssens) for a while. Now they managed to get a weekend away in the desert where Richard has a house he usually uses to hunt with his friends Stan (Vincent Colombe) and Dimitri (Guillaume Bouchède). The two friends are supposed to come the next day, after Jen has left, but they arrive earlier than anticipated. Being alone with the three men soon turns into an absolute nightmare for Jen – and then for the men.

Revenge was the film I looked forward to the most at the /slash 1/2. Unfortunately, it was also the film that disappointed me the most. It has many strengths, but in the end, I was so annoyed by it that it really overshadowed everything.

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As Boas Maneiras [Good Manners] (2017)

As Boas Maneiras
Director: Marco Dutra, Juliana Rojas
Writer: Juliana Rojas, Marco Dutra
Cast: Isabél Zuaa, Marjorie Estiano, Miguel Lobo, Cida Moreira
Part of: /slash 1/2 Filmfestival
Seen on: 4.5.2018

Plot:
Clara (Isabél Zuaa) is a nurse looking for a job. Ana (Marjorie Estiano) is rich, but alone and pregnant – and she needs someone who will take care of her. Clara takes the job. Both of them need a little time to warm up to each other, but once they do, they bond strongly and fiercely. But when the baby is born, things change very quickly.

As Boas Maneiras is a wonderfully cute film that turns into a weird and slightly boring entirely different film at around the halfway mark. I loved the first part, but the second part not so much.

SPOILERS after the jump.

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Pengabdi Setan [Satan’s Slaves] (2017)

Pengabdi Setan
Director: Joko Anwar
Writer: Joko Anwar
Based on: the 1982 film of the same title
Cast: Tara Basro, Bront Palarae, Dimas Aditya, Endy Arfian, Nasar Annuz, M. Adhiyat, Arswendi Nasution
Part of: /slash 1/2 Filmfestival
Seen on: 4.5.2018

Plot:
Rini’s (Tara Basro) mother (Ayu Laksmi) used to be a successful singer, but in these past few years, she has been slowly dying from a mysterious illness that nobody really understands. When she finally succumbs to it, Rini’s father (Bront Palarae) has to leave the children to settle the necessary affairs. But as soon as he is gone, strange things start to happen in the house

Satan’s Slaves has a fantastic first and a muddled second half. Despite that drop in quality, the film is definitely worth it: the first part is definitely strong enough to make up for the second part.

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It Comes at Night (2017)

It Comes at Night
Director: Trey Edward Shults
Writer: Trey Edward Shults
Cast: Joel Edgerton, Christopher Abbott, Carmen Ejogo, Riley Keough, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Griffin Robert Faulkner, David Pendleton
Part of: /slash 1/2 Filmfestival
Seen on: 3.5.2018

Plot:
Paul (Joel Edgerton), Sarah (Carmen Ejogo) and their son Travis (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) are holed up in a remote cabin. They’ve effectively isolated themselves after a mysterious disease broke out. But one night somebody tries to invade their home. They capture the intruder and keep him quarantined. When it turns out that he – Will (Christopher Abbott) – isn’t infected, but has family nearby, they grant them access to their home. But tensions keep rising.

It Comes at Night is a solid film with good characters and a firm grip on the tension it needs. It didn’t quite blow me away, but it’s a good watch.

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