Day two at the Buried Alive Film Fest offered a block of shorts, a block of local shorts, a great feature, and the 5th Anniversary of Splatter Cinema featuring an uncut 35mm print of Argento’s masterpiece Suspiria. As far as the shorts go, the festival was a little top heavy, with most of the award winners playing on day 1. There were definitely gems on day 2, including one whose audio alone gave me chills and another visit from our buddy, Lobster Spaceman. As far as the features, Nailbiter delivered and Suspiria was, well…Suspiria. As I said in my day 1 recap, if one of these flicks sounds like something that would tickle your boat (or is that float your fancy?), then hunt them down online. A lot of them you can watch in their entirety for free. Also, this seems like a good place to sound the SOC battle cry…SUPPORT INDEPENDENT HORROR! There. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, I present…
Between Friends - Two friends learn that some secrets must stay buried. This intimate little horror flick was well acted, well paced, and well shot. Both ladies put in good performances, and the tension never relented until the ending, which elicited one of those evil conspiratorial laughs from the crowd. Good stuff.
Hike - Hike is about what can happen when you go into the woods. The third of the “shaky cam forest” flicks at the festival this year, and the second one that I really didn’t dig at all. One problem that short films often fall into is having a plot that feels like a scene from a movie instead of a complete story. At the end of hike you’re left with a “that’s it?” feeling. They did make good use of the woodland shooting location though. Oh, and while I’m not usually a stickler for realism in my movie violence, I’m sick of seeing people tear someone’s tongue out. That’s just not possible. Cut it out.
Ethereal Chrysalis – repeat – See Day 1 HERE for my review.
Silence - A married couple in their bedroom. Something unexpected will disturb their connubial peace. A brief reinterpretation of the homonymous poem by Edgar Allan Poe. This one had a very nice atmosphere and some really good ideas, but the suspense never really took hold, and the twist was pretty obvious. There were moments when I thought “ok, now we’re getting somewhere, and then it was back to the lead actor making faces at the camera again. Not bad, not good, not much.
Un Jour Sang – Winner: Earf**k Award. She’s not free. Still, in her distant, haughty, sublime perfection, she’s everything. Intolerable. He has no alternative : Destroy her, ruin her, profane her, cut her into shapeless and painful pieces and squash them in a dustbin. This story is not new. Let’s tell it differently… I’ve got a confession to make; I always thought “Best Sound Design” was a lame ass Oscar. Imagine my surprise, then, when I found myself lobbying for Buried Alive to give an award for sound design. We promptly christened it the “Earf**k Award.” Anyway, while we watch a man and a woman separately get ready to go out, we hear an encounter between a captive woman and her torturer. It’s rare in a horror movie to hear great voice acting, but this was just plain brilliant. The audio track is harrowing, and I couldn’t even understand a word of it. While I had to read the subtitles to get the actual words, the sheer emotion and bloodcurdling realism of the exchange literally gave me goosebumps. Outstanding.
Him Indoors – Winner: Best Actor (Reece Shearsmith). Gregory Brewster is a serial killer, only problem is, he’s agoraphobic! Facing an impending eviction from his family home, Gregory has a plan that will save him from being subjected to the one thing he’s terrified of… the outside world. Things don’t quite go to plan however, when a surprise visit from his new neighbor finds him in a very awkward situation. This comedic short succeeds in large part due to the acting. Reece Shearsmith earned every bit of his best actor award as a slightly snarkier Norman Bates type of character. After seeing Offspring and The Woman, it was kinda off to hear Pollyanna McIntosh speak. She did great however. The dialog is sharp, with some good horror references thrown in, and I really liked the ending. Someone’s Rondo Hatton Award even makes a cameo appearance. I’m gonna have me one of those someday.
Crowscare - Tasked with watching over a creepy house while the owners are away on vacation, pretty coed May finds herself dealing with both a deranged murderer AND a living scarecrow! My only issue with this one is that at times it was tough to tell if they were going for funny or scary. It ended up being both in some spots and, sadly, neither in others. Aside from a very inconsistent tone, I thought it was shot well, the score was decent, and I really dug the design of the scarecrow. The filmmakers even had the scarecrow in attendance at the screening in full costume. Big time bonus points for the ballyhoo guys!
Travel Size - Three ounces of pure terror! I had to check to be sure, but this is from the same director of Wet Dream On Elm Street from last year, and it’s the same kind of short joke involving a toy of a horror icon. Once again I found the joke pretty funny, but once again I have a bone to pick with director Andrew Shearer. Andrew is the master of the “almost” titty shot, which makes him my natural enemy. Just show some nudity already, especially when your actresses are that well endowed. Yeah, I admit it, I’m a boob loving horror perv and I don’t like being teased like that. If you’re gonna be sleazy, be sleazy.
Mae of the Dead - A one-night stand during the zombie apocalypse. The Good: Both of the actresses did an excellent job with what they were given. The Bad: What they were given. This was 5 minutes worth of story stretched into 20. The pace was absolutely glacial. Like I said, both actresses were excellent, but they needed more to do, or snappier dialog, or more action, or something. The “scratching on the bathroom door” scene was goddamn interminable. I’d like to see these gals and their onscreen chemistry again, but with a story next time.
The Transmission – repeat – See Day 1 HERE for my review.
Decapoda Shock – repeat – It was just as good the fourth time around. LONG LIVE LOBSTER SPACEMAN! See Day 1 HERE for my review.
Nailbiter - Finding themselves trapped in the basement of an abandoned roadside house by the storm outside, a mother and her three daughters soon discover that they are not alone and they have sought refuge in the worst place imaginable. I already did a full review of Nailbiter a few months ago, so I’m not gonna go into a lot of detail here. If you want a full analysis, go HERE. In short, this is a damn good flick. The CGI effects of the storm look better than what you see in Hollywood blockbusters (yes, I just praised a flick’s CGI), the monster design was excellent, Grandma was a hoot, the suspense was built well, and the lighting deserves special mention. My only real complaint was that we never got a really good look at the monsters; but it feels like the first movie out of a series, so maybe next time. While a few audience members thought it got a little slow in the middle, just about everyone I talked to had good things to say. Buried Alive alum Patrick Rea’s first feature is an old school slow burn horror tale that delivers.
Suspiria – I’m still kinda miffed that we couldn’t vote for this one in the best feature category. I thought it was pretty good. I like this Dario kid’s style. He’s got a bright future ahead of him.
Two Severed Thumbs Up: Un Jour Sang, Suspiria (duh!)
One and a half Severed Thumbs Up: Him Indoors, Nailbiter
One Severed Thumb Up: Between Friends, Crowscare
One half Severed Thumb Up: Silence, Travel SizeOne Severed Thumb Down: Hike, Mae of the Dead