Fantasia 2014: I Origins, Suburban Gothic, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2

SGKD

Hands down the best festival Montreal has to offer, Fantasia always showcases a brilliant and wide selection of international films and this year was no exception. Screening over 160 feature films and somewhere near 300 shorts, the only thing that could improve this festival is a designated urban camping zone.

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Suburban Gothic
Dir/Richard Bates Jr

Raymond (Matthew Gray Gubler) is an unemployed graduate with a case of bad purple scarf and finds himself moving back in with the parental units (Ray Wise & Barbara Niven). Haunted by the Liam Neeson in Taken of nasty ghosts, Raymond and his soft grunge lady friend (Kat Dennings) go Hardy Drew on solving the mystery of the lost dead girl bones.

The wicked film title and a John Waters cameo are what initially peeked my interest about this film. The campy vibe reminded me of Are You Afraid Of The Dark, except with a lot more pant tents and toilet humor. Ray Wise (Twin Peaks, Fire Walk With Me) was hilarious albeit his character is super racist, homophobic and misogynistic, an element which I could have done without. The soundtrack, however, featuring Bass Drum of Death & The Dead Milkmen, was totally rad. And the showmanship! The showmanship this crew displayed at Fantasia was the best. Screw 3D movies and 48FPS, give the audience cheap gimmicks like expired bottles of ECTOGASM to dip their fingers in and sniff, or even better toss out a Q & A with the director and actors, and give the audience a Director’s mom VS Lead Actor’s mom joke showdown where the loser’s son gets a face full of ECTOGASM handed to them by none other than Ray Wise himself! Then bask in sheer amusement as Wise fumbles handling his microphone with ECTOgooey hands, drops the mike with a loud crash and sparks go everywhere and frighten people in the first row, creating a chaotic media circus fun fair. Now that’s a show ladies and gentlemen!

Though the film’s cast and crew will unfortunately not be touring cinemas performing after each movie viewing, know that Suburban Gothic, put together by what appears to be a fun loving and wonderful team of hooligans reflects the energy of its creators and is good fun times. The story was predictable and seemed to drag a bit despite being only 90 minutes, but it’s sort of the genre it’s going for so you should probably meet the wizard before seeing this one.

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I Origins
Dir/Mike Cahill

Dr. Ian Grey (Michael Pitt) is a Halloween enthusiast, a molecular biologist, and an obsessive collector of photographs of stranger’s eyes. Sofi (Astrid Bergès-Frisbey), a model he meets at a loft party, has the most striking eyes he’s even seen. Despite being a mystic and hella not pragmatic…basically Ian’s opposite, their love is the shit. Meanwhile at the lab Ian works double time to disprove God with Karen (Brit Marling), his new research assistant and science soulmate. A tale of science versus faith told through allegorical female characters and their eyes. Set in two acts, the first in Brooklyn and the second in Idaho and Delhi, Cahill deftly splits the spiritual with the scientific across the film and its locations, tidily compartmentalizing the story and themes in a way that is very pleasing to my obsessive self.

I was so enamored with this film after seeing it that I made a play date with friends to entrap them into watching the trailer with me. The next morning after our sleepover, I casually let slip that I saw this cool sci-fi film at Fantasia, and oh, why don’t we watch the trailer together? I sat on the edge of my seat, SO eager to share with them this beguiling film and partake in the Aha! moment but then the obvious happened. The trailer was absolutely, aggressively mediocre and corny. My friends laughed, and I was slightly confused at first but then it hit me. Just like tv’s The 100, it was the sci-fi that had drawn me in, but it was the Gossip Girl soap drama that got me feeling all fuzzy in that dark place in my chest.

All that said, if you like sci-fi, rom coms, and Gossip Girl…check it out!

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The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2
Dir/Tobe Hooper

Stretch (Caroline Williams), a rock and roll dj teams up with Marshall Lefty (Dennis Hopper) after she’s a witness to the chainsaw crime of two rich jock assholes via car phone. Together they search out and destroy Leatherface and his family, but not before she strikes up a strangely sexual pseudo-romantic relationship with Leatherface to save her own skin.

My dislike of clowns added to the fright and disgust of these villains in the ‘sequel’ to one of my favourite horror films ever… although calling this film a sequel is almost as much of a misnomer as referring to Halloween 3 as part of the Michael Myers slasher franchise. As Hooper explained in the Q & A he was going for something entirely different with Chainsaw 2; giving the public what he thought they wanted. The public’s desire at the time apparently being much more gore and a whole lot of gags. Although this makes for an entirely different film centered around what are vaguely similar characters, it remains an excellently fun 1980’s horror romp.

-Kathryne