Fantasia Festival 2019: DreadOut (2019)

DreadOut (2019)

DreadOut

Director (and writer): Kimo Stamboel

Cast: Caitlin Halderman, Jefri Nichol, Marsha Aruan, Ciccio Manassero, Susan Sameh, Irsyadillah, Mike Lucock, Rima Melati Adams

DreadOut is a 2019 Indonesian horror film telling the story of a group of high school students that go into an abandoned building to try and make a viral video and accidentally opens up a portal to another realm full of evil spirits.

Based on the 2014 Indonesion survival horror game of the same name, its important to first make it clear that the movie itself is a different story. It uses the same realm and even a portion of the evil spirits that appear in the game as well as some of the characters. There are some familiar scenes however, it still drives itself in a story that will translate better as a feature movie. There is no fault in choosing that path however, despite some nice cinematography, there are a mix of elements that both work and don’t work and it bases heavily on whether you are familiar with the source material or completely new to this world.

With that said, DreadOut has some of the issues of being indecisive. It lingers between horror and comedy, not being able to commit enough to a tense scene and very often, breaking the tension with some random silly dialogue. With that said, a lot of scenes are predictable jump scares, mostly accentuated through loud sounds and humming music or chants. It also goes on a little repetitive, mostly because the main defense is the main girl Linda (Caitlin Halderman) and the flash of her smartphone while jumping back and forth through reality and the other spirit realm while finding and losing her members of the group over and over again. She runs into all sorts of different evil spirits, increasing in its strength. Different from the game, the dangers are presented one after another without the game angle that gave its uniqueness, its presentation of Indonesian spirit origins.

Its hard to not think that DreadOut either is deliberately mocking or playing tribute to mainstream American horror when it emphasizes a lot of horror tropes that most horror viewers loathe, for example going into an empty place and saying hello. These are fun little moments if it is the former (which is the reason I choose to believe). Its definitely one of the more satisfying elements here.

As someone who knows the game, there are a lot of material to fill in those blanks and appreciate the effort here especially embracing the Evil Dead style of horror. It has its typical video game adaptation flaws like shallow characters and creatures and as a foreign language, also lingers in the bad script of stating the obvious which is okay in a game but doesn’t translate as well as a horror film except give it a good laugh due to the overacting and serious moments hindered by clunky dialogue. Despite its flaws, the run time packs the film fairly well-paced so for the general horror viewer, it should still satisfy a little demonic possession horror craving.

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Fantasia Festival 2019: G Affairs (G殺, 2018)

G Affairs (G殺, 2018)

G Affairs

Director: Cheuk Pan Lee

Cast: Hanna Chan, Lu Huang, Sen Lam, Kyle Li, Alan Luk, Chapman To

G Affairs is a 2018 Hong Kong thriller that puts together the pieces after a severed woman’s head rolls into an apartment randomly.

G Affairs plays a bit like a story with connected characters and each of their stories that result in the final scene. Its title can be interpreted in two ones: one of the literal way of “G” Affairs, a story in chapters of words that start with the letter G or in the literal Chinese way, G, the Mandarin pronunciation of chicken, which in Cantonese is the common use for prostitutes. Not only the title highlights two ways but the story itself not only strives to show a side of Hong Kong post 2014 Umbrella Movement but also the two sides of parent and youth expectation, that things can be seen as good or bad as with the final destiny of someone can also be tragic or lucky for anyone with the same situation. Its the debut film for director Cheuk Pan Li and yet, there is a lot of maturity to the content he chooses to portray as well as the way he executes the story as well as shoot the film. Definitely choosing to give a rebirth to the Category III films, equivalent to a hard R rating is one that also deserves praise as Hong Kong films have moved away from it as it becomes dependent on the Chinese market.

The story is portrayed as a scrambled timeline taking place in the present with parts of the past that eventually link all the characters’ timeline together. No doubt a growing popular use of how to portray thrillers especially when executed well, the finale can be well hidden in all the little details. When it isn’t, it can be confusing. Its a test for its audience in the end to capture the details and make sense of it all and that will determine whether the finale will be far-fetched or logical. For G Affairs, other than at times stretching the use of the G vocabulary a little far, therefore making the story feel a bit on rails, it does a good job to not reveal too much but also create a compelling story that involves all these characters and yet also give them their spotlight to highlight the issues they face.To be fair, just like The ABCs of Death might have its more odd selection, G Affairs using that concept also pushes it far but still remains fairly clever and each of these opening up a chapter for one of the 5 characters involved. The film is thought-provocative to take a look into the little world of the different people in the society both as a result of the 1997 Handover after 20 years while also pushing the morals and ethics behind the scenarios as well as the stereotypes that drive the division whether its origin or age or profession.

Its hard to exactly pinpoint how well G Affairs will portray to the general public. In reality, the film embeds itself in a lot of Hong Kong views and to connect better with the material will need a certain level of understanding between the conflicting point of views after the 1997 Handover as well as the post 2014 Umbrella Movement and what it meant for the people living there. However, as a debut director, Cheuk Pan Li commands the camera well, adding in a good level of visually appealing shots to increase the cinematography of the whole piece. While the letter G is used a little bit too frequently and moves probably too fast and a few times, feeling fairly insignificant, the whole film as a whole is done in a clever way using finding its references in an array of elements that do contribute to the film like its music choices.

What’s Up – Week 28: Fantasia Films Take Over!

Fantasia Festival has started at the tail end of the week. Other than the TV binge, everything else will progress slowly for the next three weeks as movies flourish. With that said, let’s see whats up!!

READING

The serpent-Bearer

  • The Serpent-Bearer and the Prince of Stars by C.S. Johnson

Currently reading: Within by Clare C. Marshall

Light reading is definitely in the picture. As I finished up The Serpent-Bearer graphic novel, the review only goes up later with the blog tour. After Montreal Comiccon, I decided its high time to get around to last year’s book purchases and make it to this year’s sometime this year preferably. Within is the first one to read, mostly because its a lighter book to carry around as I venture around long treks to the festival with my Chromebook.

PLAYING

Linelight

Currently playing: Linelight

Currently hooked on Linelight, a minimalist indie puzzle game that I picked up during the Steam Summer sale. It definitely lives up to expectations and has an amazing soundtrack. I’m still in the first world of puzzles so its going to be a while until I finish it but its a nice gaming dose everyday.

WATCHING

little monsters

  • The Hate U Give
  • Creed 2

Fantasia Festival movies

With Fantasia about, its hard to not pick one of the movies that I’ve seen at the festival and hope that it circulates soon to a big screen or digital or something or another. I can’t say that I’ve seen anything too horrible this week however my first movie at Fantasia definitely had the best balance, execution and pacing out of the all the movies in the first 4 days of the festival. Almost all the reviews should be up so you can check out the links above in case you missed any of them. I can’t not give a mention to The Hate U Give which was an amazing movie (and makes me want to read the book) while Creed 2 was a disappointment. As for Fantasia, other than Little Monsters winning my heart, Paradise Hills was also pretty neat with some fantastic ideas especially for the sci-fi fantasy fans out there.

BINGING

Your Highness Class Monitor

  • “Your Highness” The Class Monitor

Currently binging: Love Signal 2, River Flows to You, Go Go Squid!, The Coming One III

Your Highness Class Monitor ended early in the week. I have some thoughts about this one and it had a lot to do with a change in perspective in how I felt about the characters and a bit of disjointedness in the series. I have a huge delay in TV binge right now that I’m working hard to catch up on but I might get this one done before, if I find time. However, in the currently binging is mostly new shows as I start River Flows to You and Go Go Squid!, the latter definitely winning my heart so far.

That’s it for this week’s What’s Up!
What’s are you reading/watching/playing/binging?

Fantasia Festival 2019: Paradise Hills (2019)

Paradise Hills (2019)

Paradise Hills

Director: Alice Waddington

Cast: Emma Roberts, Eiza Gonzalez, Danielle Macdonald, Awkwafina, Milla Jovovich, Jeremy Irvine

Paradise Hills is a 2019 American-Spanish science fiction fantasy film about girls put in a mysterious boarding school located on an island to be reformed into the women that others surrounding them want them to be.

Set in a dystopian future with flying cars and higher and lower society mentality, Paradise Hills is deeply grounded in its fantasy roots. The reform island that Uma (Emma Roberts) ends up is one that is a culmination of fairy tales. Apart from the room where she wakes up which is dark and fake, her first walk through the grounds is one that is full of pastel colors and resembles an Alice in Wonderland parallel, especially as the darker themes and there is a deeper knowledge of surrounding and different areas. Every new territory she discovers is both fantastical and mysterious. Filmed in Spain and Canary Islands, the location itself is captivating as a backdrop.

As she forms her sisterhood bonds with Amarna (Eiza Gonzalez), Chloe (Danielle Macdonald) and Yu (Awkwafina), Uma’s two week stay starts to settle in easier, even if she is still resistant to be changed into the girl that is desired by others. While Uma is a main character here and she has done similar roles like this in other indie films before, this one feels very complete. It also has to do with the actresses around her, Eiza Gonazalez, Danielle Macdonald and Awkwafina all portray different types of girls who live around people with different expectations and a varying level of accepting the situation that they are in despite the fact they can be seen as the rebels.

When faced with a passive-aggressive “headmistress”, The Duchess (Milla Jovovich), the conflicts between her and the four girls create tension and friction. Milla Jovovich has played a few roles of strong women and while a lot of her movies, such as Resident Evil has its cult following, The Duchess is one that shows off a lot of depth in the character. She commands each scene as The Duchess. Her costumes and her character design as a whole portray a powerful woman while her dialogue gives her a lot of manipulative and coersive nature, emphasizing her place. Her character is mysterious and cryptic at times but it all adds layers.

Adapted from the screen story by the director Alice Waddington herself and the script co-written by Nacho Vigalondo, who also wrote Colossal, Paradise Hills is one that executes the story it tells very well. It has a surface layer that is enjoyable to watch, especially in its visuals: costume, camera angles and the ambiance.  It never rushes to reveal too much too quickly and only hints and builds up its tension both as the characters discover more mysteries and search for their answers and the urgency to escape their uneasy situation. At the same time, it gives enough detail to keep the final act a lot of surprises, truly succeeding at making this an impressive thriller especially in the hands of a debut director.

Fantasia 2019: The Wonderland (2019)

The Wonderland (Birthday Wonderland, 2019)

Birthday Wonderland

Director: Keiichi Hara

Voice Cast: Mayu Matsuoka, Anne Watanabe, Kumiko Aso, Masachika Ichimura, Nao Toyama, Keiji Fujiwara, Akiko Yajima

The Wonderland, originally titled Birthday Wonderland, is a 2019 Japanese animated film about a girl who goes to pick up her birthday gift at her aunt’s store and ends up unlocking the portal to the world beyond and is tasked with being the savior of this mirror world.

Right from its beginning, The Wonderful is all about its vibrant and colorful background and its relaxing everyday. Akane’s biggest problem was being accepted at school by her classmates doing the most mundane things like wearing a hairpin. For her, this made her life difficult and everyone else’s hard. Its a good way to start the movie especially as this foundation takes us into the mirror world called World Beyond and she has now been adorned with a Momentum Anchor that makes her move forward even when she doesn’t want to and seen as the Goddess of the Green Wind, the person rumored decades ago that will save them from a major crisis by curing the Prince.

Japanese animation has always seem to flourish when it takes the environmental elements into their stories. For a film that focuses on the world beyond losing color as their main danger due to the lack of water, it still manages to keep it colorful and cute. To emphasize it, there are contrasts of dangerous enemies with dull metallic armor and black clothing with the bright colors used for everything surrounding the group heading towards the castle. While others have buffalo stampedes, The Wonderland has stampedes of huge fluffy sheep and then a scene of Akane and her aunt Chii, who joins into the journey, lying on them (a parallel of My Neighbor Totoro perhaps), and the journey continues into different environments that they go through filled with shades of red, pink, orange and many other colorful elements. There are so many details here and the little magical elements also add into the charm of the visuals especially in the landscape.

The characters also are quite charming, if not still pretty familiar in design. Akane and her aunt Chii create a contrast as well. While Akane needs the Momentum Anchor to move her forward to be more courageous facing different situations, Chii is more about embracing the adventure and being prepared and taking chances. Its this contrast that makes it funny and rather inspiring to watch as over the almost 2 hour film, Akane finds her strength and also embraces her ability to try and save the world because of seeing the beauty between this mirror world that had kept a more old-fashioned way of living in comparison to her reality of modern advanced technology. These two may bring a lot of joy to the film. In fact, the movie definitely falls into the cute elements more especially as the sidekicks are little humans who are a little silly but also very adorable.

Filled with talking cats, underwater aquariums and colorful environments all around, The Wonderland is exactly as its title implies. Even with the crisis that the world faces, it still manages to keep it light-hearted. The visuals and a sweeping soundtrack that sometimes matches to the sounds in the scene and other times, creating the environment for the scene adds a lot to a fairly generic story. Running at 115 minutes, it does feel like it drags a little in the middle part despite all the charming locations giving it a boost. The story could have been better executed as a whole but its cute and colorful and its hard to be a little enamored by it.

My Weekly Adventures: Fantasia Festival Begins!!!

Welcome to the next Adventures post! The last two weeks has been hectic to say the least. Oh boy, its hard to imagine we’re only a few days into the big festival here so its going to be quite a while before things get back to normal. Right now is still the transition phase or something in my mind. Either way, there’s some little updates and some changes in projects to talk about here.

Canada Day Tarts

I debated on putting up the recipe by memory but there’s no way that I can replicate this since I did it by trial and error and just my instincts with one taste in the middle to adjust. The ingredients I used here were the basic except I did add a drizzle of honey on the top before popping it in the oven on each tart. I think it helped balance the tartness a little. Overall success 🙂

Montreal Comiccon 2019

Montreal Comiccon 2019

Montreal Comiccon has come and gone. It was a hectic weekend and one that felt like I finally found my rhythm and everything was done efficiently. Things became more flexible to work with and it just felt more prepared in general. You can check out all the posts below:

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Gaming Recap
Shopping Haul

Fantasia Film Festival 2019

After a bit of a media pass delay, since it wasn’t ready on Day 1, I ended up skipping my first movie and started the festival on Day 2. However, things did have a nice turn in the end so the movies so far watched are the following:

Little Monsters
Vivarium
Extreme Job
The Wonderland
Paradise Hills
1BR (Press screening…review up after world premiere)

I’ve never had the chance to make it to any press screenings in the past few years covering the festival so it was super awesome to do it, even if it was an early start to a Sunday morning but then I also got to check out the screening room and catch up on movies I didn’t get to see in their showings. Its definitely convenient especially since it opens up options to add some more movies to the already too long list.

Game Warp – Changes

Lots of changes these days. After some That Moment In change, Game Warp is only running on WordPress now. We have also decided to go to an audio format on Anchor. You can find us HERE.

We uploaded the last episode to go up for E3 Conference Recap. More episodes to come as we work out our schedule. Youtube will now be more of a supporting platform when gameplay is something we want to do or whatnot. While it won’t be as plentiful especially due to the festival season, I do still want to do some videos when I have time.

Gardening Update

After this picture, I’ve been working on getting rid of some of the grass and weeds growing around the plants. However, the vegetable garden is doing pretty well.

As is the flower garden, which was taken last week so the campanulas are now in bloom and things are really filling in the spaces, making it look full.

Cute Kitty Pic

cat

Thats it for this Adventures recap!
Are there any cool festivals going on near where you are?

Fantasia Festival 2019: Extreme Job (Geukhanjikeob, 2019)

Extreme Job (2019)

Extreme Job

Director: Byeong-heon Lee

Cast: Seung-ryong Ryu, Seon-kyu Jin, Lee Hanee, Dong-hwi Lee, Jin-hee Jang, Myeong Gong, Ha-kyu Shin, Jeong-se Oh, Eui-sung Kim

Extreme Job is a 2019 South Korean action comedy about a ragtag team of cops who take over a fried chicken restaurant as a front to do surveillance on a drug trafficker.

Right off the bat, Extreme Job sets itself out as a comedic act as this specially put together team goes on their mission which ends up in a disgrace. This first mission sets the comedic tone for the film throughout as it shows off each of the members and the type of cop they are. Upon their suspension, they eventually gets into the fried chicken business and it becomes apparent that what started out as a surveillance job takes a turn for the worse when they start taking the business seriously and the food becomes popular, drawing them too much attention. A lot of luck and coincidence leads this ragtag team to the finale.

Extreme Job might go by the numbers and is on rails for most of the film but what it grasps well is finding that right tone and committing to it on all levels. It gives its characters room to grow and each of them to take up their job while also seemingly, see them lose their path as the restaurant business becomes more profitable than their actual police job. In terms of pacing, Extreme Job starts and ends very strong: quick-paced and action-packed and humor all balanced and bundled together wonderfully. Unfortunately, the movie is on the lengthier side at almost 2 hours long and because of that, the middle act lacks a bit of action and involves more tedium (which probably could have been edited out to make it more tight-knit).

The charm of the movie does lie in its police squad. This ragtag 5 person team might seem clumsy and disgraceful and even a bit ridiculous. Most of the time, they are nonsensical however, the dynamic they have makes each of them fun to watch, especially because they form the basic team of having a leader, an oddball, a tough lady, a serious guy and the newbie. The most charming of this does go to the oddball Sergeant Ma who makes things incredibly hilarious with both his character physical appearance as well as his dialogue. His character makes the rest of the team be able to bounce off his humor and in turn also have a fun humorous element to a lot of scenes.

While a lot of Extreme Job feels fairly formulaic in terms of story flow, it does take a unique turn of events for its final act which gives the reveal of who the team actually is and why they were specially formed. Perhaps a slight spoiler but the final act also brings out the action element to the max as it involves a lot of strong action choreography paired up with an energy-packed background music to give it that extra boost.

More comedy than action, Extreme Job still manages to find its tone and its charm, making it a fun ride full of laughs, and making it easy to connect with these 5 underdog cops and rooting for them to win even if it feels unlikely right from the beginning. Not to mention, its fantastic food shots that will make you crave for some fried chicken after the movie ends. After watching it, its no surprise that Extreme Job has the second most tickets sold in its country’s history and on top of that, an American remake in the works starring Kevin Hart.

You can catch the second screening of Extreme Job at Fantasia Film Festival on July 31st at 3:05pm EST.