Hello! Ribbie here with another dispatch from Fantastic Fest @ home. This time we’ve got something of a theme running through the features at hand; Family discourse!
Everyone Will Burn
A weeping woman stands on the edge of a bridge ready to jump to her death when a young girl covered in mud wanders from nowhere claiming to be her child. The woman climbs down from her death perch to comfort the child and help her find her real parents. They drive off into the Spanish countryside and are quickly pulled over by the police; they’re looking for an individual who has killed off a good number of cattle in the area. Things escalate quickly when the police begin to question just who this filthy little girl in the woman’s passenger seat is. One cop ends up with a severely aerated throat and the other ignites spontaneously...
EVERYONE WILL BURN is a blood-soaked satanic telenovela with curses and lore out the wazoo, featuring a spellbinding performance by leading lady, Macarena Gomez. The stellar production design and lighting make every set piece, death, and scare pop. The decades-long secrets of the townspeople make for delicious melodrama and make this small Spanish town feel truly lived in.
Sidenote: I thought it was interesting that the cast/story used little people and never acknowledged or used as crux for the way they’re treated.
Elisa has lost someone close to her and is coping the only way she knows how: through her favorite comic. Elisa comes to believe that she has superpowers and must avenge her lost loved one while dispensing baseball bat justice to any wrong-doer she may encounter on the way.
But this isn’t just another revenge tale, we get an intense study of grief and the lengths we reach to cope in the face of extreme tragedy. Elisa and her father are broken from day one. Her father struggling to balance not just his sanity, but that of his daughter as well.
That’s not to say there isn’t some of that o’ so satisfying violent revenge that makes it on screen, but it isn’t the main focus and it’s all the better for that restraint.
AMAZING ELISA ends very similarly to a recent film I won’t name and both films reach emotional highs in their final reveals. It’s the only film from Fantastic Fest I’ve considered re-watching, and that’s saying something with the vast number of titles waiting for me in the queue.
Rain is bringing a mysterious gas from the sewers of Italy and causing people to confront their innermost fears and insecurities in a town where everyone seems to harbor feelings of ill will toward someone or another.
FLOWING establishes a creepy hallucinogenic tone from the start and rarely takes its foot off the pedal of dread in its 93 min run time. I love a good downer horror picture and FLOWING delivers that in spades. Every character on screen is going through some shit and wearing it on their face, some with scars of the past and some with age. And while a lot of euro horror in the past couple years has skewed more toward drama than horror, FLOWING mercilessly leans toward the latter.
Props for being one of the only films I’ve seen that utilizes the ultra-emotional avant garde act XIU XIU to great effect. Very excited to see what this filmmaker does next.
Another Spanish film that begins with a woman about to plunge to their death from a high surface. What’s goin’ on out there? If there’s one through line in this year’s fantastic fest, it’s that everyone in the world has had quite the time these past few years. Familial discourse, loss, depression, sickness, distrust... The Elderly has it all.
Manuel has lost his wife of many years. She jumped from their balcony while he was still asleep and he seems to have no idea why she would end her life. Manuel’s son, Mario, doesn’t think that his father should be alone, so he takes him to live with him and his daughter, Naia, and his second wife, Lena. It isn’t long, though, until Manuel starts to behave strangely and is tinkering with disassembled electronics behind locked doors. There’s a record high heat wave causing tensions to simmer and Lena isn’t buying Manuel’s behavior as that of a distraught widower. And it isn’t just Manuel, every elderly person in town seems to be... off.
THE ELDERLY is a dread filled sepia nightmare sporting some truly frightening blink-and-miss sequences. Those with gerontophobia may want to stay as far away from this one as possible (and go to therapy).
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