Well, it was bound to happen… I missed my first press screening. My body had given up, and sleeping in was a necessity, but because of good word of mouth, I couldn’t miss FEBRUARY.
FEBRUARY is one of the many devil movies on the queue at this year’s Fantastic Fest, and one of the better ones, at that. Kat (Kiernan Shipka) and Joan (Emma Roberts) are stranded at a boarding school during a New England winter. As the two girls wait for their parents to come pick them up, things start getting creepy around the school. FEBRUARY burns slow with an unnerving sense of dread as the audience begins to put together the clues to the mystery. The stark photography brings the chill of winter into the theatre and Kiernan Shipka delivers a very subtle performance as a girl who may be under the influence of supernatural forces. The final moments of FEBRUARY pay off with a few genuine scares, gore, and a very creepy Shipka.
And if there is a devil, then there must be a god, and he is a cantankerous old man living in Brussels. THE BRAND NEW TESTAMENT is a very funny, very sweet, critique of religion that actually turns out to be very pro-faith. God runs the world from a beat’up old 386. He could care less for his wife and daughter, who makes her escape to recruit some new apostles. Some people call the film blasphemous, and perhaps it is, slightly, but the filmmaker’s heart is in the right place. It’s not necessarily a critique of Catholicism as a whole, but rather all that Old Testament nonsense. The humor straddles the line between sly and Zucker-brothers bonkers (Catherine Deneuve falls in love with a gorilla), but the film never comes across as mean spirited or dogmatic. The rumor is that this one is going to be a contender for Best Foreign Feature at the Oscars this year, and a nomination would certainly be well deserved.
RABID DOGS is a remake of Mario Bava’s 1974 feature KIDNAPPED. RABID DOGS is a really good action/heist flick. It’s taught, it’s tense, and all the bad guys all have a slick, leather-jacket cool about them. At its core, RABID DOGS is the heist-gone-wrong song-and-dance that audiences have seen a million times before, but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable. The score drives the action with pulsating synths, and there is one final twist that makes a pretty good flick almost great. I will be tracking down the original as soon as I get back to Chicago. [Good idea! — Ed.]
In lieu of a midnight movie, I joined fellow Daily Grindhouse writers, Matt Wedge and Jason Coffman, at the Fantastic Feud. We cheered on fellow DG’er Katie Rife in a boys-versus-girls trivia match-up. The Feud was a good time, with plenty of boozing, hooting, and hollering, as the contestants were asked to rattle off the films of Christopher Lee, the members of the Coupe DeVilles, and what does the MAC in MAC & ME stand for. Of course, Fantastic Fest is chock full of genre fans, so even if the boys and girls on stage didn’t know, somebody in the audience did.
Coming up on Day 6: The secret screening is revealed, we go into the woods with THE WITCH, and a night off the reservation…
Tags: Austin, Catherine Deneuve, Emma Roberts, Fantastic Fest, Horror, James Remar, Jason Coffman, katie rife, Kiernan Shipka, Lambert Wilson, Lauren Holly, mario bava, Matt Wedge, Mike Vanderbilt, Oz Perkins, Sharon Gissy, Texas, Virginie Ledoyen