Sunday, February 21, 2016

San Francisco Indie Fest at the Alamo Drafthouse

Last night, Lord Battle, the Berkeley Blazer, and I (Huntress) finally got our first taste of the 18th San Francisco Independent Film Festival at, none other than, the Alamo Drafthouse. The two movies we saw went together very well, despite being very different. 

The first film we watched was Lady Psycho Killer, which is the story of a young, sheltered girl who realizes that her murderous daydreams are much more satisfying when acted out in the flesh. She hides her new found outlet behind the good-girl facade she spent her whole life begrudgingly upholding. 
Having gone into this movie knowing the bare minimum, I was very surprised to find out that there was a lot of humor in the script. First time actress, Kate Daly, perfectly embodied the academically centered, sexually naive main character, but easily transitioned into the her psychotic alter ego, bringing both sides of the role to life. Judging by this poster, I was expecting something similar to It Follows in tone, but this movie could not be any more different. 


Looking at a poster that greatly resembles the TV show ad for Holliston as well as an iconic Frazetta painting will cause a savvy horror fan will make several judgments about Late Night Double Feature without ever watching a second. Not all of these prejudgments are wrong either. Late Night Double Feature is an anthology film, which features a wrap around story set on a local access channel set during a late night horror host double feature. Dr Nasty’s Cavalcade of Horror is very similar in tone to the Movie Crypt on Holliston but that’s about it. Dr. Nasty is a costumed host who enjoys the benefits of being a self proclaimed, washed up horror host, which instantly puts him at odds with the audience that I’m assuming loves horror (or at least currently is in the mood for some), since a typical horror host isn't necessarily a fan of the genre. This is as cut and paste as our movie narrative gets, for Late Night Double Feature actually creates a very authentic block of TV. I say authentic because we often romanticize our memories of horror hosts but anyone who has ever enjoyed the late night company of any knows what it’s like to excitedly await films that are close to unbearable to watch and littered with local advertisements. These moments are left in by Late Night Double Feature, and unlike the real-life experience, these true-to-form blemishes shine throughout the film. The thing is Late Night Double Feature is not about celebrating these horror icons, but rather the experience.
The shorts featured in the film are above average in execution and heavy in concept, yet deliver on some very interesting context. My favorite being Slit, a convincing arthouse horror, that takes the danger prostitutes face and applies a gender reversal through a Street Trash-esque mythology. Tonally, this short is very serious and feels removed from the film except for a brilliantly placed moment of unexpected humor. These tonal changes throughout the movie are accented by the efforts put into distancing each segment from the next by using different cameras and lighting to give each sub-story its own feel. This is perhaps the best way to contrast television to film. Where in TV land the writers are king and the camera is a tool, not a character.

-Lord Battle

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