Monday 12 April 2010

Short on Fear

I would've so loved to call this post "Abbreviated Terror" but then I'd be ripping off Rue Morgue.  And while I'm not above ripping off a magazine I really like and respect, simply using the word "short" allowed for that great pun.

The Tallahassee Film Festival has been running for three years.  I'm told it began as a way for the city's well-to-do citizens to sponsor a much-needed cultural event and encourage tourism in the state capital.  I found out about it by chance.  A grueling schedule of essays and exams prevented me from attending TFF 2009, but I shelled out for the All Access pass this year and tried to make the most of my $20 investment.

Of course my primary interest was horror.  I would go to any and all horror offerings.  I would make it my mission in life.  And then I checked the schedule:  no horror.  No horror?!?  Well, sort-of horror.  The festival's "dark shorts" programme was showing a selection of genre short films.  Those plus two other shorts in the "Florida shorts" listing, and a student film, comprised the entirety of the Tallahassee Film Festival's horror programme.  But if that wasn't aggravating enough, short films that were not categorized as horror were among the dark shorts, while other distinctly horror-themed shorts were shown at different times.

Anyway, I saw 9 short "horror" films totaling 137 minutes.  I also saw two features: Dust, which I don't recommend, and Polytechinque, which I do.  What follows is the list of short films I saw, rated on the TFF scale, which I just made up: T - meh; TF - yeah, pretty good; TFF - so glad I saw this

Death Ranch (USA)
Easily the least straightforward of the lot.  I've thought about it for two days now, and I'm still not entirely sure what it was about.  Death Ranch is a place where you can dress up and play "cowboys and Indians" only for real.  I think maybe it was a take on The Most Dangerous Game, blended with a bit of City Slickers, but without a point to make. T

Imbalance (USA)
Perhaps my least favourite of the lot.  The movie tries to cram way too much story into its 11 minutes, all of which is delivered in a monologue at the end of the movie. A man and a woman play a seductive game of cat-and-mouse, all of which is just a preamble to her trying to get her hands on his money. T

Lucky Break (USA)
Not strictly horror, I think it would have found a more appreciative audience had it played with the other "horror" movies as opposed to running with locally produced films.  Travis is a bit of a loser, but when he discovers fortune cookies can, in fact, predict the future (as well as the present), his life takes a turn for the better.  However, he's not the only one being guided by the fortune cookie hand of fate, and he soon comes to learn that disobeying the cookie is not a good idea. TFF

Mildred Richards (USA)
This short movie introduced me to a new genre of film, the radio picture.  The brain child of Marc Kess, radio pictures marry early and mid-century radio dramas with modern film.  In this noir story, celebrated Broadway actress Mildred Richards is keen to inherit $4 million from her ailing aunt.  Mildred's greed, however, is stronger than her patience and she makes a brilliant, if ill-advised play for the money. TFF

Page Turner (USA)
Another hidden gem that was wrongfully programmed.  Filmed in LA, the director's from Tallahassee so it was grouped in with the local fare.  Out on a first date with Johnathan, Lisa buys a photo album at a garage sale.  At ten o'clock at night.  The mystic woman selling the album takes their picture and inserts it in the album's cover.  Later that night, Lisa flips through the album and sees pictures of her life with John. She also sees how their marriage ends. TFF

Stoney (USA)
My friend and I hung out with the director, who told us stories about Tom Noonan.  Noonan is the eponymous anti-hero who's got a portal to hell on his property.  Lonely and depressed, Stoney fills his days by hunting a rat that lives in his house.  That is, until he discovers the things that disappear into hell can come back to earth through the hole in his front yard. TF

Together (Spain)
I absolutely loved this one.  A man, whose wealth and prosperity comes from hitting people, is busily trying to get ready to meet his wife and daughter.  Constantly distracted by the fighting in the apartment above his, he goes upstairs to sort it out.  Instead of a violent and satisfying end to a frustrating evening, the man receives a mind- and reality-bending karmic punch to the face. TFF

True Beauty This Night (USA)
This film has played a pantload of festivals and is a real crowd-pleaser.  Not a horror movie by any stretch of the imagination, I can only guess it was part of the dark shorts programme because it's crime-related.  In truth, the film is a comedy about Rhett who makes a date to meet Elise, a woman he met by chance the night before and can't stop thinking about. TFF

Um Medico Rural (A Country Doctor) (Brazil)
I saw this movie twice and though it didn't get any better upon repeat viewing, it certainly didn't get any worse.  Based on a story by Franz Kafka, a doctor is called to the home of a dying man.  As the doctor meets with his patient, he struggles with feelings of doubt and guilt.  Can he figure out what's wrong with the dying man, and is he responsible for the abuse being suffered by his maid in his absence? TF

1 comment:

Schlockmaniac #1 said...

Nice one - I just retweeted your link for this post.