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Under The RadarNight Visions 2014: The Harvest, Let Us Prey and Nuntius

Posted on Tuesday November 4, 2014, 18:26 by Owen Williams in Under The Radar
Night Visions 2014: The Harvest, Let Us Prey and Nuntius

Following the Nordic Invasion, the Spanish films and the documentaries, I can’t come up with a connection for the remainder of my Night Visions, so this is just a rattle bag of The Rest.

Guest of honour at the festival was John McNaughton, presenting both his debut Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer and his newest film, The Harvest. The latter, which doesn’t yet have distribution anywhere, sees the eclectic director tackling what he sees as a modern fairytale, in which young orphaned girl Maryann (Natasha Calis) lately moved in with her grandparents (Peter Fonda and Leslie Lyles), befriends sick boy Andy (Charlie Tahan) in a house across the woods. The two strike up a friendship, but are quickly and perplexing barred from seeing one another by Andy’s ferocious mother Katherine (Samantha Morton). Katherine’s beleaguered and downtrodden husband Richard (Michael Shannon) wearily shuffles in and out of the dispute.

It’s a g...

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Under The RadarNight Visions 2014: Marcos Ortiz and In Darkness We Fall

Posted on Tuesday November 4, 2014, 18:19 by Owen Williams in Under The Radar
Night Visions 2014: Marcos Ortiz and In Darkness We Fall

The dark star of Alfredo Montero's caving horror In Darkness We Fall is actor/producer Marcos Ortiz. Not a potholing enthusiast to any extent, he told me how he ended up enduring two separate productions of the film underground. One of them nearly killed him...

Are you a caving enthusiast?
[Leans into microphone] NO! That was my first time.

Did you enjoy it? Will you do it again?
[Leans into microphone] NO! Never, never, never!

And you had to do it twice for the film, right?
Yes, we actually shot the film twice. The first time was a year and a half ago, and the second shoot was about eight months ago. The director, Alfredo Montero and myself are also the producers, so we originally financed the whole original production, with very little money. We shot it in Formentera, just next to Ibiza, for five weeks, with a Canon 5D. It was a very difficult process because the cave is actually very small an...

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Under The RadarNight Visions 2014: Pablo Larcuen and Hooked Up

Posted on Tuesday November 4, 2014, 18:12 by Owen Williams in Under The Radar
Night Visions 2014: Pablo Larcuen and Hooked Up

Somewhere between Helsinki bars, I cornered director Pablo Larcuen to talk me through his iPhone-shot found-footage horror Hooked Up.

You shot this film in 2011. How sick are you of talking about it at this point?
Haha, well maybe we won’t talk too much about the phone. That would be good! But I actually haven’t talked about it for a while now, so it’s OK.

OK, let’s talk about the phone. Why shoot with an iPhone?
Dammit! Well it was because we had no money to rent any other type of cameras, and I don’t like cheap digital cameras. What I found with the iPhone was that when you shoot in low light it resembles film more than cheap digital cameras. So when we made that decision it was great because we then knew we could design the story around it and have the characters interact with it. It was a 4S. We’re two generations on already. I think you can do slow-motion on the 6!
...

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Under The RadarNight Visions 2014: The Spanish Contingent

Posted on Tuesday November 4, 2014, 18:07 by Owen Williams in Under The Radar
Night Visions 2014: The Spanish Contingent

Predictably for a Finnish festival there’s a significant Spanish contingent among the films on show (um…). Specifically, that means Pablo Larcuen’s tiny horror Hooked Up, Alfredo Montero’s intense caving nightmare In Darkness we Fall (La Cueva), and Jaume Balaguero’s Rec 4, capping the Catholic zombie rabies quartet that began way back in 2007 with the original Rec.

The hook of Hooked Up is that it’s the first feature film to be entirely shot on an iPhone. That obviously means found footage, so your patience with that conceit depends a lot on your patience with the subgenre as a whole. But for those who don’t mind the shaky camera and the characters shuffling it between them as they continue to film in unlikely circumstances, there’s a lot to enjoy here. Plot-wise we’re slightly in Hostel territory, with two idiot American guy...

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Under The RadarNight Visions 2014: The Documentaries

Posted on Tuesday November 4, 2014, 17:57 by Owen Williams in Under The Radar
Night Visions 2014: The Documentaries

Given that Night Visions is a genre festival taking place in a particularly dark city at Hallowe’en, you’d expect a predominantly horror-centric programme. Not necessarily so. Sci-fi and action are well represented too, and there’s a great, wide-ranging documentary strand. I sadly couldn’t make it to the Japanese punk movie Get Action!, but I did catch 2000AD celebration Future Shock! (lots of exclamation marks in these titles), Cannon Films autopsy The Go-Go Boys, and Richard Stanley’s fascinating L’Autre Monde (The Otherworld).

Winner of the audience award this year was the brilliant vampire mock-doc What We Do In The Shadows, but in impressive second place was Future Shock!. It really is that good: it makes you want to run out and buy trade paperbacks of classic Judge Dredd, Rogue Trooper and whatever else right away. But crucially, while the ...

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Under The RadarNight Visions 2014: The Nordic Genre Invasion

Posted on Tuesday November 4, 2014, 17:37 by Owen Williams in Under The Radar
Night Visions 2014: The Nordic Genre Invasion

This was my third year at Helsinki’s Night Visions festival, but to my shame, I’ve never really written much about Finnish or Nordic cinema before. In my defence, that’s partly a reflection of the festival’s programme, which isn’t heavily local. Perhaps with that in mind, this year the festival organised an entire day devoted to presentations on Nordic cinema: a celebration of a deliberately organised ‘movement’.

The idea behind what’s been self-dubbed the Nordic Genre Invasion is a recognition of how popular the Nordic crime genre became in recent years, thanks to writers like Stieg Larsson and Jo Nesbo; the movies based on their and others’ work; and the TV series’ like Wallander, The Killing and The Bridge which achieved breakout international success. With a feeling that those things are becoming slightly old hat now, there’s an attempt underway to kick-start something similar for other genres: action, sci-fi, horror. A coalition...

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Under The RadarNight Visions 2013: The Strange Colour of Your Body's Tears, We Are What We Are, Big Bad Wolves

Posted on Saturday November 9, 2013, 18:40 by Owen Williams in Under The Radar
Night Visions 2013: The Strange Colour of Your Body's Tears, We Are What We Are, Big Bad Wolves

My favourite film of the festival was The Strange Colour of Your Body's Tears, the second "arthouse giallo" (after 2009's Amer) from the writing/directing partnership of Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani. When I left the screening I felt almost battered by it, but its been in my head ever since. A heady and surreal experience, it's a difficult film to describe, but on its most basic level involves the nightmarish psychological journey of a man (Klaus Tange) searching for his wife, who has disappeared from their Parisian apartment, which was locked from the inside. If that sounds like any sort of conventional locked room mystery, I'm not doing it justice.

The structure for a while has flashbacks to the stories of more disappearances in the same opulently decayed building running alongside Tange's current investigations. So we get the woman upstairs, dressed in black lace, sitting in deep shadow, her face always obscured, relating how her husban...

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Under The RadarNight Visions 2013: Jodorowsky's Dune, Nightsatan & The Loops Of Doom

Posted on Friday November 8, 2013, 16:14 by Owen Williams in Under The Radar
Night Visions 2013: Jodorowsky's Dune, Nightsatan & The Loops Of Doom

Winner of the audience award at this year's Night Visions was Frank Pavich's documentary Jodorowsky's Dune (Filth came second and The World's End placed third - take that, Gravity). This was the film I was most looking forward to seeing at the festival, having heard so much great stuff coming out of Cannes, Telluride, TIFF, Sitges, Fantastic Fest and wherever else. In many ways it doesn't disappoint, but it's also not the kind-of transcendent experience I'd hoped it would be. Despite the story's starting to sound overfamiliar, it's a fascinating and comprehensive glimpse of the film that might have been, with the engaging presence of Alejandro Jodorowsky himself front and centre. So on its own terms as a celebration of the greatest film that never was, it's a complete success. But it lacks any sense of balance, any dissenting voices, and any sense that its principal narrator might be at all unreliable. As such it comes across as over...

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Under The RadarNight Visions 2013: Adjust Your Tracking (or Does Anyone Actually Miss VHS?)

Posted on Thursday November 7, 2013, 07:01 by Owen Williams in Under The Radar
Night Visions 2013: Adjust Your Tracking (or Does Anyone Actually Miss VHS?)

I missed Rewind This at FrightFest, but I caught Dan M. Kinem’s Adjust Your Tracking at Night Visions: another similar nostalgia-fest for VHS. As a documentary, I didn’t really think much of it. It has no narrative at all, no thrust and no direction, just a series of talking heads discussing their continued love for the videotape format: showing off their collections; outlining the lengths they’ll go to in the name of VHS archaeology; and boasting about the prices they’ve paid (whether bargainously cheap or outlandishly high). The potentially interesting angle of the original indie corner stores being forced out of business by the ubiquity of Blockbuster is dealt with and thrust aside in minutes at the beginning. The love here is for tapes, wherever they came from.

It’s not entirely a waste of time. There’s some funny stuff in there, but I’ve got to throw my hands up and just admit that I don’t get it. I do...

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Under The RadarNight Visions 2013: Fresh Meat, The Colony, Sawney

Posted on Wednesday November 6, 2013, 11:50 by Owen Williams in Under The Radar
Night Visions 2013: Fresh Meat, The Colony, Sawney

We were somewhere around the abattoir at the edge of the Kalasatama district when the beetroot cocktails began to take hold... Welcome back to Night Visions, Helsinki's vibrant genre film festival, celebrating its sixteenth year with record attendances and a full-on programme of international big-hitters and oddities. Even more than last year, it was a mad experience. Empire got off the plane on Wednesday evening and was shipped straight to the American embassy where a jetlagged Simon Barrett was attempting - with impressive élan - interview coherence under the baleful gaze of Udo Kier and occasional interruptions from the ambassador's enormous dog. After which we were off to the Maxim theatre for Finnish Christmas nibbles (what else on Hallowe'en?) before a screening of the 1996 Finnish Christmas comedy Joulubileet, which would possibly have been less baffling without the wine and the day of travelling and the bizarre English subtitles. But possibly not.

W...

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