Monday, April 05, 2010

BUFF Day 6: The Romantic and Someone's Knocking at the Door

It'll be a bit of a down day on the write-ups, I'm afraid - six days of all-evening festival attendance, generally following a full day at work, resulted in me sort of hitting the wall on Tuesday. I dozed off a couple of times in The Romantic, including once right close to the end, and it was a bit difficult to pull details out for Someone's Knocking at the Door.

That's not a slight on either movie; it's all on me. It's an indication of why we should appreciate the heck out of everybody who does the actual work to run a film festival, regardless of size: If this is how wiped out just attending a bunch of movies can make you feel, imagine how it must be for the guys who have spent the better part of a a year watching dozens of features and probably hundreds of shorts (with the vast majority likely terrible) and lining up sponsors, then going from morning to late at night making sure all the films are in the right place, ferrying guests around, and then trying to look excited and ready to go all night when the daily parties start. I'm not up to it, I know that much.

I've written the makers of The Romantic asking for a screener so that I can give it a full and fair review in the next couple of weeks; if that doesn't work, I expect that I'll be able to catch back up to it at Fantasia. In the meantime, before getting to the reviews, to compensate for not having a whole lot to say about Tuesday night, here's a picture of something funky set up in the Kendall lobby on Sunday night (the 28th):

Ask It!
The Romantic

* * * (out of four)
Seen 30 March 2010 at Landmark Kendall Square #3 (Boston Underground Film Festival, digital video)

The Romantic deserves props if only for its ambition; it's a feature-length animated feature with most of the work done by a small team in Pennsylvania which builds a strange but consistent mythology and then, as is almost a necessity, destroys it; it is the downfall of gods, kings, and men.

It's not somber, though - the visuals are quirky and distinctive, and there's plenty of comic relief (both verbal and slapstick). It's not for everybody - it's violent at times, and grotesque at others; those who find animation to be the domain of family-friendly cinema should not apply. And as much as I would claim my own weariness as much more of a factor in having trouble getting through to the end than faults in the picture, the movie does have a bit of a tendency to move in circles and keep telling us that character X might have his own motivations until well after we've gotten the point.

Someone's Knocking at the Door

* * * (out of four)
Seen 30 March 2010 at Landmark Kendall Square #3 (Boston Underground Film Festival, digital video)

A lot of horror movies like to vary their means of delivering the kills, and Someone's Knocking at the Door does. But not too far, because, let's face it, when you open with "raped to death", pulverized intestines and various other uncomfortable details, well, what can filmmaker Chad Ferrin come up with that sounds worse?

That's what happened to Ray (Jordan Lawson), the poor guy. The police are investigation, but we see early on that they may not have all the information. At least initially, Ray's friends aren't talking about how they were reading the case files on 1970s serial killers John (Ezra Buzzington) and Wilma (Elina Madison) Hopper earlier -including the bits about returning - or the drugs they were taking while they did it. Justin (Noah Segan) was the most enthusiastic; straight-edge Meg (Andrea Rueda) the least. The other three, med students all, are foreign student Annie (Silvia Spross), stammering Joe (Ricardo Gray), and abrasive Sebastian (Jon Budinoff).

The plot is, at first glimpse, straight out of the slasher movie template: Dead serial killer, distinctive MO, plenty of young victims and unsuspecting cops to become a body count. Ferrin and his co-writers kick it up a couple notches, though; from the very beginning, the prospective victims are maybe not ready to turn on each other, but they're just as worried about each other as evil spirits. Maybe it's the drugs, the stress, or something else, but this movie seems to start at the level of paranoia other horror movies have to ramp up to.

Full review at eFilmCritic

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