A long, 5-film day at Holehead last Saturday, so let's just jump right in.
First up was a Shorts Program. Here's the rundown of the lineup:
TWISTED: A love story. Or at least a sex story. With a twist (of course.)
DISTANCE: Fighting over what to watch on TV.
SINK HOLE: Umm...most tragic seduction by an inanimate object ever. That was pretty sick.
IRIS: A dystopian view of dating in the status-obsessed future.
BUG CHASER: It starts out kinda as gay porn. Then it gets really gross. Incidentally, I had never heard of the term "bug chaser" before, but it refers to gay men who intentionally try to contract HIV. As sick as the film was, the fact that such people exist scares me even more.
APARTMENT 15: Four colleagues show up to look at an apartment to possibly rent. Unfortunately, it's not furnished as advertised. More unfortunate, they get locked inside and can't escape. And then it gets weird.
TAKEOUT: A young lady has a crush on the delivery guy from the local Chinese restaurant. She finally gets up the courage to ask him out for a drink. All's well, until a tragic turn.
Due to technical issues, SURVIVOR TYPE and LOVE BUG didn't play, but they were replaced by:
BAD MOON RISING: A brutal interrogation/torture takes a more brutal turn when the full moon is out.
AXED: This actually played at Holehead last year, I liked it then and it was cool to see it a second time.
Next up was the feature film RESOLUTION. If you stripped out the genre elements, it could still be a good straightforward drama about a guy who helps his friend get off drugs. Chris is living out in the woods, getting high and shooting stuff. His best friend Michael gets an e-mail from him with a video showing him as high and reckless and a map to his location--a remote cabin on an Indian reservation. When he gets there, Chris knows nothing about sending the e-mail...in fact he has no computer there...nor any video equipment. But Michael is there to sober Chris up, so he handcuffs him to the wall and swears to take care of him--and to keep all the drugs away from him--for one week. But then weird things happen. Books, pictures, videos are left where they can be easily found, like someone is leading them down a path. It's handled with a nice mix of humor, drama, suspense, and mystery. And as I already said, it would have been fine as just a straight get-off-the-drugs drama. But I sort of have to talk about the villain in the movie, but I can't do that without spoilers. So here's your spoiler warning, highlight to read. [SPOILER ALERT!!] The villain is an unseen force that is motivated only by the desire to see a good story through to the end. And the final shot is from that force's POV. So I think the clearest interpretation is that the villain is the audience--we are the monster. Other's just thought it was an intentionally ambiguous force. Or some might think its the spirits of French archaeologists/folklorists who went missing on the reservation. But to me, it's clear who the villain is, and it is I. [END SPOILER]
Next up was PLAY DEAD, essentially a concert film of a live stage show of the same name. The stage show was directed by Teller (of Penn and Teller) and stars Coney Island impresario Todd Robbins. He delights and tortures the audience with glass eating, magic tricks, and tales of serial killers (e.g., Albert Fish), geeks (real, bite-the-head-off-of-animals geeks, not the modern computer/pop culture geeks), and psychics. And he scares the audience with absolute pitch-black (even the exit signs are turned off) scares (actors in all black with night vision goggles running up and down the aisles molesting the audience.) As a show, it looks like an absolute blast and I hope it comes to San Francisco in some form (might I recommend a collaboration with the Thrillpeddlers at the Hypnodrome, who already have experience with lights-out scares.) As a film...well, it actually does a pretty good job of putting us in the audience. Maybe it's just me acting out my desire to see it live, but I found myself automatically joining in with the audience response, yelling on cue, "Hallelujah!" or "Amen!" or "We're all screwed!" and applauding when the audience did. Yup, it's a pretty freaking cool show.
Then there was AMONG FRIENDS, the return of Jennifer Blanc-Biehn to Holehead (after starring opposite her husband Michael Biehn in THE VICTIM.) She stars and produced this film directed by Danielle Harris (also in THE VICTIM.) Several Hollywood friends gather for a murder-mystery dinner party at the home of their psychiatrist (Alysa Lobit, also from THE VICTIM and she wrote the screenplay.) It's already pretty clear they are all shallow, narcissistic, horrible people, because...well, they're from L.A. And to just amp everything up, it's an 80s theme party, the most empty, shallow, self-indulgent and narcissistic decade possible. And then the evening is hijacked by their hostess who forces them all into a game of torture and revelations. Now here's my problem with the film (and I admit it's to a large extent just my problem, it might not be true of all audience members): I didn't like anyone in the movie. On the one hand you have a group of morally reprehensible, shallow narcissists. On the other hand you have a psychiatrist (never mind that she's a psycho who tortures them all, it's bad enough just that she's a psychiatrist.) I didn't root for anyone to survive, I just rooted for them to all die faster and in more painful ways. And I didn't see the psychiatrist as any sort of noble, avenging voice of morality. I'm not really sure if she was supposed to be, but if she was I already blocked it out because she's a psychiatrist. I really fucking hate psychiatrists is what I mean.
And then, finally, the late show was the U.S. premiere of Barry J. Gillis' sick little twisted flick, THE KILLING GAMES. Dirty Jesus and Son of Satan are a pair of thrill killers. When two girls witness them raping and murdering a couple, one films it with her cell phone. And she fucking films it in vertical movie mode. That in and of itself is enough reason for her to die. But she survives long enough to make it home to her father and her mother who is dying of some mysterious disease (she's already missing an arm and half her face is caved in.) And it gets pretty fucking sick and brutal, at least when it wants to. I will admit I thought it dragged at a few moments, mostly because I was kind of drunk and really just wanted to see more of Dirty Jesus and Son of Satan. Even when they weren't killing people (just talking about it) the movie always picked up when they were on screen. Dirty Jesus and Son of Satan may just be the best onscreen couple since...ever, I guess.
Total Running Time: 451 minutes
My Total Minutes: 305,789