Film Review: So You Think You Know How It Ends

The following short films are being screened as part of the When You Think You Know How It Ends programme at this year’s London Film Festival.

Be Still My Beating Heart

Ruth Paxton’s horror short Be Still My Beating Heart is atmospheric. The film is about a woman who is haunted by her work with dead bodies, and the illness of her sister. Writer-director Paxton mixes abject depictions with a quiet psychological terror. The sound design is great; it is a film without much dialogue so the sound goes a long way to give an indication of protagonist’s mindset. Maxine Peake is a reliable as ever in the lead role.

Nimic

The opening music leaves viewers in no doubt this is a Yorgos Lanthimos film. Nimic is about a cellist who has a chance encounter with a stranger on the subway. The film has a distinctive quality; there is a strong sense of uncanny. At twelve minutes long, Nimic does not waste time with explanation. The film is well cast; Daphné Patakia has an unnatural expression which fits perfectly. Matt Dillon’s jaded portrayal is also a good fit.

Rain, Rain, Run Away

Set during a heatwave, Clémentine Carrié’s fifteen-minute film does not go anywhere of note. Rain, Rain, Run Away (Gronde Marmaille) is about two young children who decide to run away from home. Writer-director Carrié achieves an intimacy with her protagonists, but it takes a considerable amount of time for anything significant to occur. When it does, nothing particularly noteworthy follows. Rain, Rain, Run Away has good production values, however.

Roadkill

Leszek Mozga’s stop-motion short Roadkill is weird and wonderful. At eight minutes long, it is the shortest film in the When You Think You Know How It Ends programme. Writer-director Mozga subverts the roles of human and animal. In doing so, the film questions the idea of responsibility and guilt. There are some great edits, and a nervy conclusion make for a memorable and original film. 

What Do You Know About the Water and the Moon

Writer-director Jian Luo offers a strange film with What Do You Know About the Water and the Moon. The premise is bizarre; it offers a good hook. The first line of dialogue does not occur until a quarter of the way into the film. Luo chooses to tell the story visually up until this point. The film features some good imagery, such as the reflection in the vase. The symbolism does not translate to much depth however.

White Girl

Director Nadia Latif’s White Girl is immediately unnerving. A young girl wanders the streets late at night and encounters a range of individuals. The sound design works with Latif’s choice of shots to create an unsettling atmosphere. The thirteen-minute film is pervaded by a sense of mystery; viewers do not know whether to trust those around the girl, or the protagonist herself for half the film. When an incident occurs, motives become clearer and The film ends in a wonderfully gruesome fashion. White Girl is a good calling card for Latif; hopefully we will see more from her. 

Be Still My Beating Heart, Nimic, Rain, Rain, Run Away, Roadkill, What Do You Know About the Water and the Moon, and White Girl are being screened in the When You Think You Know How It Ends programme at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2019.

Film Review: Animated Shorts for Younger Audiences

The following films are being screened as part of the Animated Shorts for Younger Audiences programme at this year’s London Film Festival.

The Pig On The Hill

Jamy Wheless and John Helms’ The Pig On The Hill is about a pig who is not happy about his new neighbour. The animation is lush, and the story is endearing. The narration by Pierce Brosnan is a perfect match for the on-screen visuals.

Colour Birds (Coucouleurs)

Oana Lacroix’s Colour Birds (Coucouleurs) is about a two-coloured bird living in a forest of one-coloured birds. Lacroix tells the story without dialogue, relying instead on her striking visuals. A film about finding one’s place, Colour Birds is enhanced by its sound design.

Funny Fish

Krishna Chandran A Nair’s Funny Fish is about a group of fish who attempt to rescue what they believe to be a fish from the surface of the water. With their enormous eyes, the fish are cute in appearance. There are some nice shots in Funny Fish, depicted how small the group are compared with the vastness of the ocean.

I Want To Live In The Zoo

Evgenia Golubeva and Myles McLeod’s I Want To Live In The Zoo is about a young girl who would rather live at the zoo than do her homework. The animation style mirrors the film’s protagonist, with bold shapes and bright colours. The filmmakers tell the story succinctly; the simplicity suits the six-minute run time.

A Walk In The Woods (Promenons-nous)

Hugo Frassetto’s A Walk In The Woods (Promenons-nous) is a animated short musical about a wolf playing a game with his cubs. The animation mixes broad characters with detailed backgrounds, in a way which complements. Half way through the style changes with the wolf’s song, giving way to a simpler, sketched style of animation. With A Walk In The Woods, Frassetto demonstrates his range.

Vivat Musketeers

Anton Dyakov’s Vivat Musketeers is about a hero who attempts to rescue a princess. The film features a good deal of slapstick humour, including a great climax. Movement in the film is great, and the soundtrack really sets the tone. There is an amusing mixture of the old and new, which gives Vivat Musketeers a distinct feel.

Penguin

At just over three minutes long, Julia Ocker’s Penguin is the shortest film in the programme. Nevertheless, the film packs in enough slapstick humour into its duration. The animation is bold rather than detailed, but this suits the style of Penguin. Dialogue is not necessary here.

A Bit Lost (Un Peu Perdu)

Hélène Ducrocq’s A Bit Lost is based on the children’s book of the same name by Chris Haughton. The illustration has a very similar style to that of the book. At five minutes long, the film is the perfect length for the simple story. It is very cute, with a tiny post-credits shot adding to this.

Ernest and Celestine – The Blizzard

The bear and mouse duo return in Jean-Christophe Roger and Julien Chheng’s Ernest and Celestine – The Blizzard. The film, featuring Gabrielle Vincent’s characters, will be adored by fans of the 2012 feature film. The animation is beautiful, with the watercolour-like backgrounds giving the film a traditional feel. The story is very cute, particularly the ending.

The Pig On The Hill, Colour Birds, Funny Fish, I Want To Live In The Zoo, A Walk In The Woods, Vivat Musketeers, Penguin, A Bit Lost, and Ernest and Celestine – The Blizzard are being screened in the Animated Shorts for Younger Audiences programme at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2018.

Film Review: Animated Shorts for Younger Audiences

The following animated shorts are being screened as part of the Animated Shorts for Younger Audiences programme at the London Film Festival.

Sabaku

Sabaku is a three-minute film about a bird who is looking for a new friend. Directed by Marlies van der Wel, the film is a humorous take on the elusive search for friendship. The animation is warmly reminiscent of a children’s book, with its bold shapes but detailed strokes. The score gives Sabaku a levity in keeping with the tone of its narrative.

Hedgehog’s Home

Eva Cvijanović’s Hedgehog’s Home is about a hedgehog who believes his home is a castle. The ten-minute film begins and ends with a nod to the western genre; this also manifests with the appearance of antagonists. The animation is fantastic; Cvijanović shows great attention to detail. This is clear from the fur blowing in the wind to the detail of the backgrounds. The rhyming narration is also a highlight, and the voices are most apt. Hedgehog’s Home is an entertaining watch which shows Eva Cvijanović’s skills exceptionally well.

Catherine

Catherine is a sweet, amusing and macabre animated short. The twelve minute film is about a girl with a bad track record at keeping pets and her new Kitty. Directed by Britt Raes, Catherine transitions through a range of emotions in its brief duration. It is inventive in terms of narrative; once Catherine has Kitty, the film takes a surprising but amusing turn. The music is also great. Raes’ film captures the cat owner’s life, albeit in a rather macabre way.

Piglet’s Journey (Ruksiša Celojums)

Piglet’s Journey (Ruksiša Celojums) is a delightful animated short. Director Dace Riduze’s thirteen-minute film is about a physical and metaphorical journey. Protagonist Piglet ponders the essential question, wondering why people must work when they could sleep. The stop-motion animation is great; the use texture comes through incredibly well, and colours are strong. Piglet’s Journey is perhaps too vocal on the nobility of hard work, but its message about friendship is conveyed in a sweet and accessible format.

SabakuHedgehog’s Home, Catherine, and Piglet’s Journey are being shown as part of the Animated Shorts for Younger Audiences programme at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2017.

Film Review: Hoping. Fearing. Dreaming

The following short films are being screened as part of the Hoping. Fearing. Dreaming programme at the London Film Festival.

Black Barbie

Comfort Arthur’s Black Barbie is a powerful and informative short film. At under four minutes long, the film focuses on the notion of light skin being the beauty ideal. The narration is great; the essay has a poetic quality that combines well with the on-screen imagery. Using a mixture of animation and collage, Arthur tells her story is a meaningful and memorable way.

The Ancestors Came

The Ancestors Came recounts civil rights activist Faith Ringgold’s memories of her past. Cecile Emeke’s film features recollections from Ringgold and footage of Harlem, which is key to the artist’s work. The use of music plays an important role in setting the era for these recollections. Emeke’s work is assured, and she has created the kind of short film which will leave audiences wanting to know more.

To & Kyo

To & Kyo is directed by Tsuneo Gōda of Domo fame. The very cute animated creature come as no surprise then. The film combines animation and live action to take viewers on a brief tour of Tokyo. Gōda blends the two mediums in a natural way; it never feels as if the two creatures have simply been superimposed onto background footage. To & Kyo exhibits the fun and imagination of its filmmaker very effectively.

Robot & Scarecrow

Kibwe Tavares’ Robot & Scarecrow is a love story with a difference. The film is about a robot and a scarecrow who meet at a music festival. The motion-capture special effects in the fifteen-minute film are great. Tavares evolution as a filmmaker can be seen here; the high production values made possible by funding from a partnership of companies and counts Michael Fassbender as a producer. The film features an enviable cast (Holliday Grainger, Jack O’Connell, and Daniel Kaluuya), although they appear in different guises. Robot & Scarecrow illustrates Tavares’ technical ability and his skill as a storyteller.

Black Barbie, The Ancestor’s Came, To & Kyo, and Robot & Scarecrow are being shown in the selection of the Hoping. Fearing. Dreaming programme at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2017.

What to Watch on Shudder: Antiviral and More

This week’s guide of what to watch on Shudder features Brandon Cronenberg’s Antiviral, zombie sequel [Rec] 2, and Dark Skies

What to Watch on Shudder: Antiviral

Brandon Cronenberg carries on his father David’s tradition of science fiction/body horror with Antiviral. At times uncomfortable viewing, the film nevertheless compels. Antiviral is about the employee of a clinic which sells injections of viruses harvested from celebrities to their obsessed fans. The premise of the film is fantastic, and so is some celebrity worship to the extreme with an interesting and unusual tangent. The theme and imagery create a distinctive atmosphere. Clinical and dystopian, there is nothing about the film that feels comfortable. Yet it is a great watch. Read a full review of Antiviral here.

What to Watch on Shudder: [Rec] 2

Sequels can be a mixed bag, but [Rec] 2 is certainly one of the better ones. The film picks up straight after the events of the first film, and focuses on a SWAT team and doctor who are sent in the building to retrieve blood samples. The film gives hints to the cause of the outbreak, and offers tension, gore and some great scares. The film is a must-see for fans of the first film, and indeed the zombie sub-genre generally.

What to Watch on Shudder: Dark Skies

Given the premise and advertising, it would be forgivable to think Dark Skies is a homage or a rip off of Hitchcock’s The Birds. Yet the film takes a different tangent. The film is about a suburban family whose lives are disrupted by a series of strange events. Scott Stewart’s film combines science fiction and horror. The film is a little generic; at times it feels as if it could be an episode from The Twilight Zone. Nevertheless, there are a few good scares, and a decent atmosphere prevails. Dark Skies stars Keri Russell and J.K. Simmons.

To find out more and to sign up to Shudder, visit https://www.shudder.com.

What To Watch On Shudder: Repulsion and More

Here’s what to watch on Shudder this week, including Repulsion, The Love Witch, and short The Grey Matter

What to Watch on Shudder: Repulsion

Roman Polanski’s Repulsion is one of the director’s best films. Released in 1965, the film was Polanski’s first English-language film. The film is about a young Belgian woman living with her sister in London, who descends into a perilous state. Catherine Deneuve delivers a great performance as Carol, the young woman whose mental state slowly unravels in Polanski’s psychological thriller. Repulsion is a landmark genre film, one that lingers after the credits have rolled. Read a full review of Repulsion here.

What to Watch on Shudder: The Love Witch

Anna Biller’s The Love Witch is an amiable pastiche of late 1960s/early 1970s exploitation films. The film is about a modern witch (set in that period), who uses spells to make men fall in love with her. Biller adds a feminist approach to the exploitation film, offering a protagonist with a commanding presence, and seemingly-strong male characters who buckle under the title character’s charms. Anna Biller is something of a one-woman film crew; she directs, writes, produces, and edits the film, as well as being responsible for art direction, production design, costumes, and music. The Love Witch is a visual feast, it is a colourful, alluring film that does not skimp on the gore.

What to Watch on Shudder: The Grey Matter

Directed by Peter McCoubrey and Luke McCoubrey, The Grey Matter is a short comedy horror. An office worker wakes up in an alley with a head injury and a later personality transformation, which seems him attract the attention of a beautiful colleague. The Grey Matter combines comedy with horror tropes, and does so in a light and engaging way. The short film offers decent special effects, and a story fit for its eighteen-minute run time.

To find out more and to sign up to Shudder, visit https://www.shudder.com.

What to Watch on Shudder: Dracula (1958) and More

Films that include vampires, waxworks and bogeymen all feature in this week’s guide to what to watch on Shudder…

What to Watch on Shudder: Dracula (1958)

Hammer’s 1958 version of Dracula is one of the seminal adaptations of Bram Stoker’s classic novel. Known as Horror of Dracula in the United States, the film sees the first outing of Christopher Lee as the iconic vampire. Hammer’s interpretation of Dracula really emphasises the seductive nature of the title character. Gone are the less savoury descriptions that can be found in the novel. Dracula is both ruthless and seductive in this 1958 version. Like most adaptations of Stoker’s most famous work, there are a number of difference between the book and the film. Nevertheless, the gothic reigns supreme; the themes of otherness and duality are prominent. Dracula is one of the classic vampire films, and features perhaps the best-known Van Helsing: Peter Cushing. Read a full review here.

What to Watch on Shudder: Waxwork

Anthony Hickox’s Waxwork feels very much of its decade. Released in 1988, the film is probably best described as a camp horror. Waxwork focuses on a group of older teens who are invited to a party at a Waxwork museum which has mysteriously popped up in their suburban town. Featuring some of the great horror icons, the name of the game is to stay alive. Those looking for real chills may be disappointed as the emphasis of Hickox’s film is on comedy horror. There is some gore and trepidation, however film concentrates on fun aspects of the premise. This is supplemented by the who’s who of the horror world; Count Dracula, Jack the Ripper, Mr Hyde and many more. Starring Gremlins’ Zach Galligan, Waxwork is a great choice for a not so serious horror.

What to Watch on Shudder: Child Eater

Writer-director Erlingur Thoroddsen’s short Child Eater certainly does not shy away from the macabre. The film is about a young boy who is having nightmares about a bogeyman, and the babysitter who must protect him. Child Eater combines a number of horror tropes – the urban legend, the monster in the closet, the gory climax – in a most compelling fashion. Refreshingly, the film does not give the ending many may expect. Thoroddsen remade the short as a feature-length film in 2016.

To find out more and to sign up to Shudder, visit https://www.shudder.com.