Wednesday, May 18, 2022

THE BOBBY DIAMONDS STORY: Teaser Trailer

 

 

I have just completed principal photography on my latest short film, The Bobby Diamonds Story. 

Underground poker player Bobby Diamonds steps into the spotlight in this hallucinatory, hilarious and heartfelt biography.

Here is a first look, teaser trailer. 

 

 

I have begun the process of submitting the film to some film festivals. Let's see if this strange, idiosyncratic film gets selected anywhere.

Here is the film's IMDb page. Click here.

As always, thanks for your ongoing support,

Robert Aaron Mitchell 

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Happy Holidays from Soldier Of Cinema. Some Festive Film Recommendations.

 

 

Once again it's the holiday season. It's a Wonderful Life is celebrating it's 75th anniversary this year. There is no shortage of holiday themed movies set around this festive season. I decided to take a look at some movies that do not necessarily and readily come to mind this time of year. There have been numerous pieces about Shane Black movies and Die Hard. I wanted to revisit some other films. Once you turn off the Christmas lights the darkness once again emerges. The following films explore some dark natures of the human condition.

 GO (1999) Directed by Doug Liman

"You know what I like best about Christmas? The surprises. It's like you get this box, and you're sure you know what's inside. You know, you shake it, you weigh it. You're totally convinced you have it pegged. No doubt in your mind. But then you open it up, and it's completely different. You know. Wow, bang, surprise. I mean, it's kind of like you and me here, you know? And I'm not saying it's anything it's not. Come on, this time yesterday, who would have thunk it?" Are the opening lines spoken by Claire (Katie Holmes) GO written by John August (Big Fish, Corpse Bride) and directed by Doug Liman fresh off of Swingers and would later helm Edge of Tomorrow aka Live, Die, Repeat is a movie involving multiple stories around the holiday season. The trio of friends who work at a grocery store who wind up in a drug deal gone bad. A pair of actors who are about to have a horrible night. And a group of friends who head in sin city. Vegas baby! When I first saw film years ago it had me hooked when the Columbia studio logo was inter-cut with rave party footage. The film features a great ensemble cast with pretty much every actor moving onto many other film projects. A personal favorite film I revisit from time to time. Working in a grocery store sucks, especially around the holidays. 

JOHNS (1996) Directed by Scott Silver 

"A john once told me that the only one true friend you really  have is the money in your pocket. That I know is complete bullshit. All the following hustler stories however are true. My tale begins and ends with shoes." Donner (Lukas Haas) Several years ago I was watching Sean Baker's exquisite film Tangerine. Another film that takes place on Christmas Eve. As I watching the movie another movie kept popping into my head. I could not remember the title. I did remember that David Arquette was one of the actors and I vividly recall watching it on the Canadian channel Showcase and the film was introduced by now C.E.O. of the Toronto International Film Festival, Cameron Bailey. After searching I found the title of the movie, Johns. The film is directed and written by Scott Silver who would go onto write Joker (2019) The Fighter (2010). Johns begins on Christmas eve. The story focuses on a couple of L.A. street hustlers navigating their world on Christmas Eve. John (David Arquette) and Donner (Lukas Haas). This is another film that features a great ensemble cast. The story features the absurdity, fear, sadness of people operating on the fringes of society. 


SILENT NIGHT (2021) Directed by Camille Griffen

My favorite movie that I watched the 2021 edition of the Toronto International Film Festival was a....Keira Knightley....Christmas movie.... The less said about this movie the better. I urge you to watch it. The couple of folks I recommended it to really dug it. Another great ensemble cast. The stand out actor for me is Roman Griffin Davis (Jojo Rabbit) who is going to have a great acting career. Camille Griffin is his mother. Here is what I wrote about it. Review Here


EYES WIDE SHUT (1999) Directed by Stanley Kubrick

A film that was written about a crazy amount when it was being filmed. From the aspect that Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman were married at the time, to Stanley Kubrick's obsession to details and multiple takes to the how long the shoot was, 400 days. Eyes Wide Shut still holds the record for longest continuations film shoot. Kubrick died days after presenting the film to Warner Brother executives. 

In the opening moments of the movie the Harford couple are at Christmas party Alice (Nicole Kidman) asks William (Tom Cruise), "Do you know anyone here?" He responds, "Not a soul." The season social gatherings are only going to get more awkward as the night progresses. 

A Hungarian stranger by the name of Sandor Szavost that Alice is dancing with asks, "Don't you think one of the charms of marriage is that it makes deception a necessity for both parties." She laughs the fake kind of laugh that only a former SOHO gallery owner can laugh. He is quite insistent on questioning Alice's marriage. Bill is walking around the party with two gorgeous women on either arm. Ah, to be rich and beautiful."Don't you want to go where the rainbow ends?" One of the women asks Bill. Than he is cock blocked. Seems the host of the party is up to his own infidelity transgressions. A woman has overdosed on a speed ball. Dr. Bill gets the woman to open her eyes. It's a Christmas miracle. 

Alice keeps dancing away. The festive lights are oh so beautiful and bright. She is visibly getting tipsy. Sandor is still quite insistent. Alice cuts him off and says they will never see each other again because she is married. The late 1990s really kick into high gear when the Chris Isaak song "Baby Did A Bad Thing." kicks off. It's back to the practice and taking care of the child. Preparing for Christmas. A little weed to take the edge off. Alice than asks Bill if he pursued extramarital relations at the party last night when he disappeared. Bill asks about the Hungarian stranger. The conversation then turns to Bill saying it was only natural that the Hungarian wanted to fuck Alice because she was a beautiful woman. She takes umbrage to this statement. Alice turns it around on Bill that he did indeed want to fuck the two models because they were also beautiful woman. He says he did not. Alice follows up with asking him, "What makes him an exception?" Bill responds, "What makes me an exception is that I happen to be in love with you. And because we're married..." and continues, "and because I would never lie to you..." with his EYES WIDE SHUT! Kubrick the cinematic master left us with the gift of this perennial holiday favorite as his last fully realized work.

 

A L’INTÉRIEUR aka INSIDE (2007) Directed by Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo

A L’intérieur is a story of loss. It is also about motherhood and providing shelter and safety. The film features two exceptional performances from Béatice Dalle and Alysson Paradis.

Sarah (Alysson Paradis) is in a car accident with her husband. He passes away. She survives as well as the five-month-old baby she is pregnant with. Four months later it is Christmas Eve. Sarah is at the a doctor’s appointment. She is due to give birth the following morning. Christmas morning. The doctor says to Sarah, “Enjoy your last night of peace and quiet.” Unfortunately for her Christmas Eve will be the exact opposite of peace and quiet.

Red being a predominate color of the festival season. You will not find another film, which displays this much red in it. A giant pair of scissors is not only for cutting wrapping paper. This movie has for me one of the most terrifying and haunting shots when a face appears from the darkness in a doorway. A L’intérieur arrived at the height of the French new wave of horror cinema.There is so, so, so, much blood. It is not for the faint of heart.

I wish you all a happy holiday season and happy new year. Thanks for reading.


Saturday, November 20, 2021

THE DAY AFTER: Reflections by Robert Aaron Mitchell

 “They made you a moron, A potential H bomb. There’s no future, no future, no future for you” – The Sex Pistols
 
In my childhood - in the late seventies and eighties – premieres for made for television movies were a big event. You would see commercial spots for the newest made for TV movie for months leading up to the big event.  I remember quite vividly the kid floating to the window in Salem’s Lot (1979). When The Exorcist premiered on CBS. My cousins showed me that movie when I was five years old. I had nightmares for weeks afterwards. I used to sneak down stairs and turn on one of the movie channels of my youth, First Choice or Super Channel. This is how I saw John Carpenter’s The Thing for the first time. Runaway train was another film I got up well after bedtime to watch.
 
The most terrifying scene for me personally, premiered on November 20, 1983 on the ABC television network. Ronald Reagan was President. Yuri Andropov was the paramount leader of the Soviet Union and the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome or A.I.D.S was a new immune system disorder that was making headlines. Assured mutual destruction and trickle-down economics were buzzwords. Reaganomics was in full effect following massive tax cuts signed into law in 1981. The percentage of people below the poverty line in 1983 had climbed to 15.2%. On March 8th, 1983 President Reagan was speaking to the National Association of Evangelicals where he first said the phrase, “Evil Empire” in reference to the Soviet Union. The doomsday clock was positioned at four minutes to midnight. In November 1983 I was eight years old and living with my grandmother and great-grandmother.

For weeks and weeks we had seen the commercial spots for the latest television movie that was premiering on ABC, The Day After. That November night we gathered around the living room. The ABC Theater logo began. Then a man sitting in front of bookshelves introduced himself, “Hello I’m John Cullum.” And went on to introduce the move. “And this evenings ABC Theater presentation of The Day After I play a father in a typical American family who experienced the catastrophic events of a full-scale nuclear war. Before the movie begins we would like to caution parents about the graphic depiction of nuclear explosions and their devastating effects. The emotional impact of these scenes maybe unusually disturbing and are therefore recommending that very young children not be permitted to watch. In homes where young people are watching we’d like to suggest that the family watch together so the parents can be on hand to answer questions and discuss issues raised by the movie.” Suffice to say my grandmother and great-grandmother did not heed the first part of John Cullum’s warning. The three of us did indeed watch the movie together.


The screen went to black and I had a palpable sense that I was about to see something quite incredible and terrifying. The movie on television began with the following words on the screen: “Although based on scientific fact, this film is fiction. Because the graphic depiction of the effects of a nuclear war may not be suitable for young viewers, parental discretion is advised.”
 
As a kid I loved, loved airplanes. I had notebooks filled with drawings of them. My father would take me an airshow every summer. I knew all the designations of military aircraft. The Day After opens on a Boeing 707 with gray, white and black lettering of the United States air force sitting on the tarmac at SAC Airborne Command Post Omaha, Nebraska. A general boards the plane. Service people are working. This opening scene feels very much like a documentary. The plane roars to life and takes off over cornfields. Big brassy music swells as the camera flies over farms and small mid-west towns. School is staring. Cowboys ride through cattle pens. People are working in manufacturing jobs. The camera flies over Royals Ballpark where George Brett, Vida Blue, Gaylord Perry played months before. It is a beautiful day in Kansas.
 
The ticker tape is humming, the phones are ringing and the numbers are changing on the stock boards at the Kansas Board of Trade. The television news plays as journalists are talking about Soviet Union military buildup along the border of Czechoslovakia. A military helicopter lands at a quaint little house. Military personal run off of the helicopter. They enter a missile silo. “Everything is clean and green.” An air force person informs the others. 

 

Dr. Russell Oakes (Jason Robards) is meeting with his daughter Marilyn (Kyle Aletter) “Hey what’s eating you fruitcake.” he remarks. “I’m sorry just jumpy.” “Ah, you saw 60 minutes last night.” “Huh? No. Come on, I’m taking you to someplace you work right next to and I bet you’ve never been inside in fifteen years.” Sirens are off in the distance. They then wander an art museum. “Sometimes it’s hard to experience a Chinese landscape because the artist does not tell you where you are watching from.” Marilyn informs her dad as they look upon a painting. “You know why?” She asks. Dr. Russell shakes his head, no. “Because he wants you to be in the landscape. A part of it not out here looking at it.” “You mean a God’s eye point of view?” “No, well yes, if by God you mean everywhere inside sort of thing.” Marilyn informs her dad that she is moving to Boston. “Growing up is like growing apart, maybe it’s a natural phenomenon.” Marilyn says. Seconds of silence. Dr. Russell speaks,  “It’s not so easy, saying goodbye.”
 
As families gather for dinner the evening news plays on the radio and television. The Soviet Union is moving large military forces. People pause as an anchorperson relates that East Germany has closed off access to West Berlin. As the sun sets in Kansas, the threat of war is imminent. A baseball game plays. “We interrupt this program to bring you a special report…” East Germany is making more aggressive moves. Life continues. Two sisters chase each other around the house fighting. “Jolene, I’m never going to speak to you again.” An air force man is getting ready to be deployed to his missile silo has an emotional goodbye with his wife. “It’s just an alert, we run around and check things twice instead of once, that’s it.” Life continues as the prospect of war looms larger. There is such a dread the runs throughout The Day After which directly tapped into the zeitgeist of the early 1980s. At any moment actual nuclear was possible and probable. For a country that has in been in continuous declared war for most of the twenty-first century, it is perhaps difficult to grasp how real nuclear war and all out destruction of the planet was. This threat has never actually dissipated. 
 
The sun rises the next day and people continue to go about their day. Tensions continue to escalate in East Germany. A high school football practice is happening. War in Germany is starting. People are leaving Kansas because of the missile silos. The city of Moscow is being evacuated. A man gets a haircut before his wedding the next day. The Russians have invaded West Germany. The highways of Kansas and Missouri are packed with cars leaving the area. Panic. Supermarkets are getting cleaned out. Children watch morning cartoons. The high-pitched tone of an emergency broadcast interrupts the show. Three nuclear blasts are being reported over advancing Soviet troops. Air force troops scramble to B-52 bombers. Another nuclear bomb has exploded at regional NATO headquarters.
 
Forty-nine minutes and twenty-seven seconds into The Day After a woman is drying off after a shower. Her kids are playing outside. The farmhouse begins to shake. In the window behind her a huge plume of light and smoke emerges from the ground. She rushes to the window. A horse neighs and bolts in slow motion. The kids stare in awe of the missile emerging from the silo. The nuclear missile is airborne. The unthinkable is happening. When Jim Dahlberg (Jim Cullen) carries his wife Eve (Bibi Besch) downstairs to the cellar and Eve is screaming it is bone chilling.


We see the Kansas City skyline. The wailing of warning seconds give way to silence. The shot pulls back. The sound of a large boom followed by a brilliant flash of light. Electricity goes out, rooms immediately darken. Clocks stop. Cars stop. A fireball explosion begins on the horizon. The television screen goes white. Only the silhouettes of cars on the highway are visible. The explosion starts to rise from the ground, rising upwards, forming a mushroom cloud. Vast destruction. More explosions. Mushroom clouds. The screen flashes.
 
In an entire film filled with the horror of nuclear war, it is a forty second sequence that really got to eight year and now forty-six year old me. It begins with a woman flashing into a skeleton and then ceasing to exist. An entire classroom of children flashes into skeletons and cease to exist. Within flashes of red, white and blue one hundred and seventy life forms flash into skeletons and are instantly evaporated. Among the evaporated, fifty children, six cattle, the horse from the first missile launch and one dog. The most violent fictional forty seconds ever aired on American television. I had nightmares for weeks.

As a Generation X child, it felt like the world could end at any moment. The psychological effect of these catastrophic images at such a young age were deeply embedded in my imagination. I often think of my worldview of the future being such an abstract thought and how I often live within the moment. To both a benefit and a detriment. I hadn’t had nightmares of nuclear war for many years until the 45th President was elected. As the Covid-19 pandemic continues it still feels as though there is no future for you. Scientists developed the doomsday clock in 1947 to convey the threats to humanity and the planet.  The doomsday clock is set every year. As of January 27, 2021 the Doomsday clock is set at 100 seconds to Midnight. The closet to extinction the clock has ever been set.


 

Friday, October 22, 2021

I STILL SEARCH FOR YOU: A Cinematic Sketch by Robert Aaron Mitchell

 

I have been living in the middle of a cattle ranch in South Texas for a couple of months now. The area is very isolated and has amazing visuals. Everyday I have some sort of encounter with wildlife. Be it a snake chasing a frog I saw when out driving. A baby owl trapped near a cactus. The fleeting glimpse of a deer jumping over a barbed-wire fence. I wander the ranch in the hot Texas sun formulating ideas to create several short films. I decided to edit some of my cellphone footage I have been taking, to put together, what I'm calling a cinematic sketch. I used several filter and editing tools available at the app store to play around and manipulate the images. This is the result. 

I Still Search For You. A man walks in around a cattle ranch ranch in South Texas in a hallucinogenic state. 


Wednesday, October 20, 2021

BROOKLYN HORROR FILM FESTIVAL 2021: WHAT JOSIAH SAW Reflections by Robert Aaron Mitchell


                                 WHAT JOSIAH SAW (USA) Directed by Vincent Grashaw

Out on old willow road on the outskirts of a small Texas town is a dilapidated farmhouse surrounded by a good swath of land. This is the Graham homestead. Tommy (Scott Haze) is on a rusted out tractor trying to get it started. He cranks the ignition. It pops and puffs. Plumes of smoke billow out. Inside Josiah (Robert Patrick) looks on. His powerful patriarchal presence felt through the glass of the window. Out on an old oak tree is the inscription;
 

                                                        Miriam Graham
                                                        Darling Wife
                                                        Beloved Mom

Josiah and Tommy sit around the kitchen table. Tommy says a prayer, “God, God I just love you and thank you from the bottom of my heart. For this food today. I pray for ma. I pray for pa. I pray for the man he lied to Amen.” Josiah tells Tommy a story and tells his son he is ignorant to believe in God.

The small town is like a lot of towns these days. Barely hanging on. A main street with a few shops. Oil developers are circling the town trying to buy up land relevant to their shale oil extraction. A couple of Devlin Oil company men meet with one of the assemblymen of the town. They want to buy the Graham property. Assemblyman Gentry points to a map, “Well, this is Willow Road. That’s the Graham property that’ll be a tough sell.” The company men do not seem to phased. “Most have a price.” Gentry continues, “That place has a bad history...something awful has come about.” He proceeds to tell them a story about the Graham family.

On a night when the winds are whipping up something fierce, the farmhouse creaking away. Josiah wakes up in a panic. He sees something above him. He is transfixed and frozen in fear. The next morning Tommy sees Josiah standing beside the oak tree. “Whatever bad you got inside you come from me. Everything good comes from your mother.” Josiah eyes wide and unblinking says God is indeed watching them. They can right their ways, right their wrongs. Getting right has to begin with spit shining the house. Tommy gets down to work. Whatever Josiah saw sure has changed him. At the kitchen table Tommy is about to pour him some whiskey. Josiah covers the coffee mug with his hand “Leave it be.” “No morning tea?” Tommy asks. “Not no more.” Things are turning around. Tommy sets upon the old tractor and it pops and puffs more smoke and wouldn’t you know it, the tractor starts.

Robert Patrick as Josiah is a dominating presence. He stalks around quietly and on the turn of a dime flies into rage. His wide-eyed, unblinking blue eyes are a force of nature. The eyes that can be infused with drunken lunacy, outright terror, menace and malice. Scott Haze playing the son who has returned has the formidable task of sharing scenes with Robert. He rises to the challenge. From Tommy’s posture, dialect or the way he muses and cares for his pa even when his father is in a mean drunk is a role full of empathy and a longing to stay in pa’s good graces. Resolve and courage are two exemplary traits of good actors. Robert Patrick and Scott Haze display these traits as the story moves into unsettling and disturbing ways.

Eli arrives in the story in a frenzied moment of passion. As Josiah remarks about his son, “First step that boy took was a mud pile of trouble.” Looks like Eli continues to step in a mud pile after mud pile of trouble. Eli navigates a violent, rough and tumble world of gambling, whoring and drinking. Henry David Thoreau wrote in Walden, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Nick Stahl as Eli personifies such a man. A man who is perpetually down on his luck.

One of Eli’s many vices is gambling. He owes Boone, a bar owner and all around shady guy a shit ton of money. Boone is going to kill Eli. Unless. Eli has to accompany two of Boone’s guys, Logan (Troy Powell) and Billy (Ronnie Gene Blevins) on a job. Job don’t go well, Eli is dead.

The three man crew arrive at a gypsy carnival. “They say if a dog howls for no reason, there’s trouble coming. Gypsy lore.” Billy says, ”Lightning without rain these are omens” Eli sits in a trailer as Logan and Billy go on about things. Eli is approached by a young woman, they get to talking. She mentions Eli should meet with the median. He reluctantly agrees. The gypsy median tells him some things. Bullshit everyday platitudes or ominous omens? A lot of shit goes down. Looks like Eli might very well have a second chance. He shows up to his trailer with a letter from the oil company sitting on the floor.

Mary (Kelli Garner) is Joisah and Miriam’s daughter. She is married to Ross (Tony Hale). They are not doing well. They are trying to adopt a child. Mary is meeting with a therapist as a part of the adoption process. Eli shows up with the letter from the oil company shattering a peace that was never quite there to begin with. 

Thomas Wolfe's posthumous novel is entitled, “You Can’t Go Home Again”. Mary and Eli have spent a lifetime with this as a guiding principle. The allure of the oil company money is the impetus. The confrontation with the past is the pull. A heart wrenching reunion with Tommy in the front yard of the farm house. The hugs and warm feeling is short lived. When Tommy informs Josiah his other children have returned the ominous tone ratchets up in intensity.

I like the novel structure of the film. There are also some great story telling moments in the beginning of the chapters when assemblyman Gentry (Ben Hall) and bar owner Boone (Jake Weber) relay a yarn. The film moves among its stories, characters and tones. Sometimes with ease, sometimes jarringly.  That is probably the point. There is a lot of movie here. A film full of great faces. Vincent Grashaw makes some great distinct and visual choices to tell the story. There is such an ominous feeling of dread that permeates the film.

Film is a combination of so many things. Visual, musical, sound design. In a good movie one should not notice these things. However, for me, that is like going to the symphony and not seeing the musicians gathered around a half-circle on stage. When the elements of a film mesh well together it is pure cinema. Cinematographer Carlos Ritter brings a great look to the movie. Composer Robert Pycior's score is haunting, beautiful, and versatile as the tone of the film changes. Last but certainly not least, the sound design team of What Josiah Saw have done an amazing job. The sound design is exquisite.

What Josiah Saw is a southern gothic crime thriller. The film has a great foundation with Robert Alan Dilts screenplay and is anchored by strong performances from a great character actor ensemble. The story twists and turns in unexpected ways. Suspenseful, creepy, disturbing. Director Vincent Grashaw and his team of filmmakers keep the story moving in unique and compelling directions.

One of the core elements of What Josiah Saw is the stories people tell. The truth and lies. Through the murky lens of memory and manipulation.

Family reunions, much like film endings can be complicated affairs. What Joisah Saw will definitely have much discussion after the credits roll. That is a testament to a film that is unafraid to go there.

BROOKLYN HORROR FILM FESTIVAL 2021: WHEN I CONSUME YOU Reflections by Robert Aaron Mitchell


 WHEN I CONSUME YOU (USA) Directed by Perry Blackshear

When I Consume You is Perry Blackshear’s third feature film. His 2018 film The Siren was the closing film of the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival. He returns to the festival with his core acting troupe.

The film opens with a frenetic pace. Incredible images of physical pain. A woman is bruised and bloodied. She is in a bathroom. Locks the door. Standing over the sink she regurgitates a lot of blood. She reaches into her mouth. A distinct and jarring snapping sound. She pulls a loose tooth from her mouth. Another jarring sound as the tooth hits the porcelain. Washing her hands a tattoo of appears to be a stick figure is on the inside of her wrist. A man calls out. The woman runs the shower. She says she is good, she is finishing the shower. She sits on the floor, fully clothed, the water pouring over her as a victim of a horrendous encroachment would.

A nightmare is revealed in the closet.

The woman is in the mirror applying cover up to a bruise. Two people sit on a balcony. Daphne (Libby Ewing) and Wilson (Evan Dumouchel). Wilson says, “I decided I want to be a teacher because I want to help people. People who have had a hard time, need help, and protection and to feel safe. Like kids. It’s really scary to be a kid.” He is really focused on getting this out and has clearly spent a lot time rehearsing his words to get them out in a concise manner.

Daphne hands Wilson a necklace. It is inscribed with a quote, “I sought my brother” They are siblings who have endured a lifetime of pain and hardship together. They have a bond that is inseparable.

“Are you okay?” Wilson asks. A memory. She nods her head in a way that says I’m not quite okay.

The Shaw siblings are forging ahead and pursing paths to better their lives. Daphne is trying to adopt a child. Wilson is going to have an interview for a new job in a couple of days. The adoption process is not going well and has revealed some deep psychological aspects to Daphne’s personality.

Wilson preparing for his big interview leaves the iron on his good shirt too long marking it with a burn. He practices tying a tie. Keeping up appearances to a cold, indifferent society. Wilson is not doing well the night before the interview and shows up at his sister’s apartment in the middle of the night. There is a sense that is a familiar routine. A lifetime of developing coping mechanisms. Intense workouts. A fantasy card game. Three am visits. Hanging out on the balcony. Wilson and Daphne are there for each other through thick or thin.

Wilson stands outside the school waiting for his interview. He self consciously rubs at the stain on his shirt, holding his jacket a little bit higher. While waiting he is approached by someone who works at the school and is informed he will not get an interview. He does not have a college degree. Wilson stands shattered. Another hit from a cold, indifferent society

Wilson returns to Daphne’s apartment. Tragedy. Wilson spots someone running out of the apartment and onto the balcony. On the roof and down the fire escape. He gives chase. To no avail. Wilson stands in the glow of first responder blue and red lights. The chaos of sirens. He frantically is communicating that he saw someone run out the window. An integration. An examination.

At the grave site Wilson holds the words he wrote to eulogize Daphne. “I love my sister very much. When we were little, she protected me though she was younger. I would probably be dead if it wasn’t for her and how strong she is.”  He chooses a different set of  words. He also makes a vow to find the evil that is still out there. The evil that murdered his younger sister.

Wilson wanders the dark New York City streets inquiring about the person he saw flee Daphne’s apartment. Approaching people if they saw the person who he describes. They treat him as people do in a cold indifferent society as a delusional person. Wilson continues to work as a janitor. Invisible to the people around him.

Wilson falls further into himself. Searching for solace at the end of the next bottle. Is he indeed alone? He obtains a box of keepsakes. He opens a leather bound book. Daphne’s diary. Her voice fills Wilson’s mind. The diary compels him to search for the mystery surrounding Daphne. The path leads to intense violence. A mysterious figure has great plans for Wilson Shaw.

When a supernatural event occurs Wilson begins a personal transformation to avenge Daphne. The seeds of letting go and moving forward are also being planted.

When I Consume You is Daphne and Wilson’s story. Libby Ewing and Evan Dumouchel carry the film with outstanding performances. Performances that run the gamut of range.

When I Consume You is a violent, meditation of personal pain and loneliness. A struggle with mental illness in a society that moves on its own accord and has not the luxury or desire to pause and listen and to help. Perry Blackshear navigates genre storytelling elements as an allegory for physical and mental abuse. The film is also a study in loss and grief. How do you continue to navigate through grief?

In a cold, indifferent society the bonds of love are a powerful adherence that spans across different planes of existence.

Losing someone there is no such thing as closure. That kind of pain now becomes a part of you. Perhaps, there can be a moment of peace. A moment of acceptance. Maybe, at the end of the day, it’s a victory to hold the demon at bay, for one more day.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

BROOKLYN HORROR FILM FESTIVAL 2021: NIGHTMARE FUEL Short Film Block

 

If a feature film is a novel, then a short film is a poem. I took a look at the following short films that were curated by the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival under the program, Nightmare Fuel. Hope I can sleep tonight….

THE THING THAT ATE THE BIRDS (U.K). Directed by Sophie Mair & Dan Gitsham

The film opens on a beautiful vista. A man walks the countryside. A bag slung over his shoulder. He points a flashlight ahead of him. The music swells. The man stops walking. A bird lies dead before the man’s feet. Something is wrong in the countryside.

Wonderful sound design and musical score. Fully realized characters. It feels as though we are getting a momentary glimpse into a larger conflict. The makeup effects are top notch. The Thing That Ate The Birds does a great job operating with the confines of a short film. A wonderful piece of horror cinema. No birds were harmed making the picture.

IGNORE IT (USA) Directed by Sam Evenson

A kid sits on a bed playing a GameBoy. The kid’s father comes into the room and tells Justin that an unwanted visitor is back. He must follow the rule. “Stay focused.” The father says.

Great use of light as well as fun, creative shots of the unwanted visitor. Ignore it does a superb job of creating suspense and a tone of dread.  

Family dinners can be awkward and forced. Hopefully your next dinner is not as tense as this one…

CUTTER (USA) Directed by Dan Repp & Lindsay Young

Cutter wastes no time drawing you into its world. The opening shot is powerful and horrific.

I had no idea where this film was going, which is a considerable feat in the short film running time. A film with this kind of gravitas only works on the strength of the actors involved. Nadia Alexander who plays Raelyn and Leslie Fender (Raelyn’s Mother) anchor the film with strong performances.

Loneliness and heartbreak are very painful experiences. Sometimes the emotional pain manifests into self-inflicted physical pain. Sometimes other forces are at work. Cutter was an uncomfortable watch. I believe that is a compliment. The film does a great job with the horror people inflict upon themselves as well as the possible supernatural elements that can create havoc.


WEEE WOOO (USA) Directed by Charlie McWade

A night in. Playing some tunes. Sipping some red wine. Good times. A door creaks open.

I personally hate looking in a mirror and seeing something off. This happened to me just a couple of days ago.

Snow gently falls from the night sky. Good at changing tones. Great use of lighting. Sound design that really amps up the story telling. I really dug the changing of subjective and third person in the film.

Tara Pacheco does a great job in the lead role.

Very effective at being creepy. Perfect for some nightmare fuel. 

THIS IS OUR HOME (USA) Directed by AK Espada

The short begins with “No animals were harmed in the production of this film”. It continues with, “However, real archival footage of an animal in distress has been used.”

Full disclosure, I had a mouse problem when I was living in indiana and resorted to glue boards. While brutal the traps were highly effective. I had a rule, I never went out into nature to mess with mice. However, if you come into my house, you have to get out as soon as possible. Thankfully I never stepped on a glue trap with my bare feet.

Dina (Mor Cohen) and Ruya (Ruba Thérèse Mansouri) are roomates. They also have every New Yorkers nightmare of a mice infestation. While they differ on methods they do agree that the mice have got to go.

The never-ending squeak of mice at night is so unnerving. War is war. This Is Our Home is ultimately a film about colonialism, roomates and veganism. I promise to never use a glue trap again.


OUZO AND BLACKCURRANT (U.K.) Directed by Nat Luurtsema

From the font of the title, to the infectious reunion of friends you get the immediate impression you are about to have some fun.

Friends wander through a field of wrecked cars reminiscing. To say more would be to say far too much.

I dug the look of the film. Ozuo and Blackcurrent does a lot in the condensed run time of a short. A nice slice of horror cinema.

BRACKISH (USA) Directed by Christa Boarini

Opens with beautiful widescreen cinematography. Hypnotic underwater photography. A body is submerged. An idyllic summer scene. People are enjoying being out on the lake and a woman sets up an easel to paint the landscape.

This film being in a program entitled nightmare fuel things cannot stay idyllic for too long.

You ever get that sense that you are being watched? Naw me neither.

As I have mentioned the photography quite a lot in a few sentences, kudos to Director of Photography Colin Treanbeath. Great score by Justin Hogan. The film reminded me of Peter Weir’s Picnic at Hanging Rock.

LA OSCURIDAD The Darkness (USA/MEXICO) Directed by Jorge Sistos Moreno

Marina, a former elementary school teacher, emerges badly bruised on the shore of a lake. After a lengthy track through the hot Mexican sun, she lands at the primary school where she once worked. 

A pickup sits by a lake as the sun rises. A man stands at the shore and spits into the lake. It starts. LOUD. The truck rumbles away but the evil deed the driver has performed remains out in the open in the form of a purse and a pair of heels.

The tone is a slow dread. Some exquisite shots in the film. Sometimes the darkness claims it’s vengeance.

The art house meets horror. La Oscuridad is a haunting and effective story.