Double Feature: A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (2014) & Raw (2016)

Time to move along with the next double feature in Halloween movie marathon month! The next two is a pair-up from production of Season 6 of Movies and Tea (yes, we’re very ahead in schedule) and its a pair-up of two international independent horror films which are unique in their own subgenre. The first is Iranian vampire film, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night and the next is French body horror film, Raw.

A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (2014)

Director (and writer): Ana Lily Amirpour

Cast: Sheila Vand, Arash Marandi, Marshall Manesh, Mozhan Marno, Dominic Rains, Rome Shadanloo, Milad Eghbali

In the Iranian ghost-town Bad City, a place that reeks of death and loneliness, the townspeople are unaware they are being stalked by a lonesome vampire. – IMDB

Filmed in black and white, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is a unique sort of vampire story set in a slum-like world where it tells a rather one of a kind love story. Everyone seems to be easily forgotten and invisible in Bad City and yet, in the shadows is a girl lurking at night who measures their bad roaming the lonely streets and waiting for the moment to claim the victims that she believes deserves to die. Its a subtle arthouse movie that is quite a movie experience.

The black and white tone adds to the entire horror experience even if the typical bloodiness of vampire movies isn’t the focus. In fact, the vampire titled only as The Girl really only shows her true nature as she stalks her victims in the gloomy night or as she has the sudden abrupt showing of her fangs and then attacks. A lot of it is fairly unexpected even in its rare occurrence for a vampire film and yet there’s something rather fun about this whole ordeal even if everything feels so unconventional of vampire movies.

In fact, just as unconventional as everything else, its the vampire that is the most unique. The Girl is a hip person who wants to catch up on the popular music as she goes through listening to music that becomes the movie’s soundtrack seamlessly while also going through Bad City’s street on a skateboard. Its obvious that she can control herself as one of the most scary scenes has to be when she encounters a kid that she questions whether he’s been a good boy and scaring him about the consequences of being bad. On the other hand, the surprise of meeting another lonely soul in Arash, the main male lead of the movie finds each other where its more about the bad things that they don’t know about each other and bonding from that through a feeling and attraction together which comes as a test with a final movie decision that wraps the movie up so nicely.

Raw (2016)

Raw

Director (and writer): Julie Ducournau

Cast: Garance Marillier, Ella Rumpf, Rabah Nait Oufella, Laurent Lucas, Joana Preiss

A young woman, studying to be a vet, develops a craving for human flesh. – IMDB

Body horror might not be my first choice in horror movies. In fact, Raw as been an experience to say the least where it was a little gut-wrenching in its disturbing and cannibalism elements. Except the root of the story wasn’t about the body horror as much as its a movie about the young woman Justine who realizes that when she is forced to eating raw rabbit kidneys during rush week as a part of the hazing ritual, that it opens up this new craving and nature that she doesn’t quite understand. It becomes even scarier when she realizes that the same cravings have appeared in her sister Alexia as well.

Justine’s journey through this single first week of school is definitely one that is eye-opening. Her character is one that is fascinating to watch as she dives down this rabbit hole as she first thinks she is having an allergic reaction because of eating meat and as it gets worse, she starts having almost addict-like reactions to craving raw meat from eating subs to raw chicken and finally to human flesh which opens up an entirely new door. However, it is one of the none human flesh eating bits that makes this movie that provides this film one of the most revolting moments as she coughs up an endless amount of her own hair after having a stressful chat with her professor. Whether its the new environment or the stress of all the hazing rituals or that she’s embracing a new self, Justine fights her cravings and tries to find a way to live with it where we see a completely different sort of reaction to how Alexia copes and its this contrast that makes for a movie that isn’t just about Justine but also about how this somehow bonds their relationship but perhaps also set them apart. Its not only her relationship with her sister that comes into play but also a confusing relationship with her gay male roommate that also makes for some odd attractions between the two.

Its an exhilarating and disturbing sort of journey as the reality and what feels like her hallucinations start to blend together with some very odd scenes (like some girl licking a guy’s eyeball). Its really the shocking final act as a whole with the last revelation that shows the danger of this craving and what it can all amount to while also the ending that pieces this whole story together as it reveals the “why” to all that has happened inside of her. Raw might be sold as a body horror but in reality, its a much deeper experience, almost a character study that makes this one such a memorable movie.

That’s it for this double feature!
A little more of an indie horror double feature!
Have you seen these movies? Thoughts?

Halloween Double Feature: Blue My Mind (2017) & Boar (2017)

DOUBLEFEATURE (71)

Things are not easy for this Halloween marathon because a lot of the films that I’ve chosen seem to have not quite turned out to be conventional horror which is the risk of trying to go into a movie blind. The first choice here, Blue My Mind is definitely not in the conventional horror and is the one that I debated to swap out but there was a certain level of “horror” here that I’ll talk about more (its really categorized as drama-fantasy but Wikipedia calls it a coming of age/horror, so you decide). Second film here is Boar. A last minute change to the original pairing so that we can get some creature feature going on in this marathon as well as some definite horror film.

Let’s check it out!

Blue My Mind (2017)

blue my mind

Director (and co-writer): Lisa Bruhlmann

Cast: Luna Wedler, Zoe Pastelle Holthuizen, Regula Grauwiller, Georg Scharegg, Lou Haltinner, Yael Meier, David Oberholzer

A seemingly normal teenage girl faces overwhelming body transformations that put her existence into question. – IMDB

Final decision to add Blue My Mind in went into the complete belief that the transformation/body horror elements of Blue My Mind and even the coming of age realization and unknown transformation in this character for Mia is a horrific one. Sure, its more along the fantasy drama category for a lot of people but there were definitely levels of the fear of the unknown going on here. A lot of the unknowns here from why this happens to Mia remains mostly a question throughout. While there are lot of unanswered questions, the focus of the situation is honestly watching Mia transform all starting from the very scary first period that takes her onto a journey of trying to numb her pain by drugs and alcohol and then slowly coming to accept it.

Blue My Mind is odd and sometimes the teenage angst gets really annoying. The film is a rather slow burn as well so the first part takes it rather easy and gives time for Mia to change and try to make friends with the popular trouble-making students. There’s a lot of silly teenage decisions and the transformation to fit in this new environment as well as all the rebellious things she does at home along with the inner change all blends together. It really starts getting under the skin as the movie goes further along because her character is developed so well. The theme of body transformation and mermaids and such are so underused that this movie is a rare one to see. It might be able to be executed better with less of the teen angst and rebellion but overall, its one that does make us think.

Boar (2017)

Boar

Director (& writer): Chris Sun

Cast: Bill Moseley, Nathan Jones, John Jaratt, Steve Bisley, Roger Ward, Hugh Sheridan, Chris Haywood, Simone Buchanan

In the harsh, yet beautiful Australian outback lives a beast, an animal of staggering size, with a ruthless, driving need for blood and destruction. It cares for none, defends its territory with brutal force, and kills with a raw, animalistic savagery unlike any have seen before. – IMDB

Nothing says horror like a creature feature which usually has a good dose of cheese as well as a lot of horrified chases and screaming. I’ve never watched a boar be the center of a creature feature so figured it would be a nice one to add to this horror marathon line-up. While there were some issues here and there with acting and some computer effects as well as some other parts that didn’t quite make sense or just felt very been there done that with bad decision making and such, Boar actually was a fun time and it had a lot to do with making a decent second half of the film that went to quite a fun ending sequence.

Boar is pretty much about a giant rhino-sized (as they described in the movie) killer boar that terrorizes the Australian outback town full of farmers and workers. Its goes around hitting farms and then campers and moving right along to eventually go up against a family coming out to visit the brother, Bernie (Nathan Jones). While his acting isn’t anything to call home about or maybe it is because its overacting that kind of works for this role and is expected, he does have quite the hulking presence here making him the rock that stands between the boar and his family. At the same time, bar owner Sasha (Melissa Tkautz) who goes out looking for his father who has gone missing is quite the tough lady here as well.

Which brings in an issue with the film being that every mainstream character from Bernie’s family (sister, daughter and daughter’s boyfriend) are really hard to watch because its so cringeworthy. Then you have these bad dialogues all around. When its just the boar doing its thing, its actually quite good especially in the beginning as it only reveals part of this boar or from a distance and then shows all the different ways it is offing its victims and the rampage it goes on. It gets pretty intense even if the boar has some fairly cheesy shots, as it gets further on and some of these deaths are pretty gory and disgusting. There are some really crazy bits here as it gets closer and closer to the end or I guess you can call it the final showdown.

Boar isn’t great. The beginning takes a little long dealing with this cringey characters in their crappy dialogue but it has some redeeming points when it works through the creature feature bits, which is really what matters, right? There’s not a lot of Boar creature features so this point alone is worth a watch. Not to mention a death scene here that reminds me so much of Deep Blue Sea and Samuel L. Jackson’s characters death scene. Love it!

That’s it for this Halloween double feature #3!
Have you seen either of these films? If so, thoughts? If not, are they on your radar?

Fantasia Festival 2019: Daniel Isn’t Real (2019)

Daniel Isn’t Real (2019)

Daniel Isn't Real

Director (and co-writer): Adam Egypt Mortimer

Cast: Patrick Schwarzenegger, Miles Robbins, Mary Stuart Masterson, Sasha Lane, Hannah Marks

Daniel Isn’t Real is as 2019 American horror thriller about a boy’s imaginary friend that starts taking over and controlling his life.

In the midst of his parents’ split, young Luke is lonely and confused. That is until he meets young Daniel, a boy that only he can see. As most kids do, they end up locking away their imaginary friend but years later, as his mother’s condition gets worse after he leaves for university and he starts seeing odd images, he is lead to believe that facing his imaginary friend is needed and so Daniel is unlocked again. Whats starts out as a fun little company turns out to be a lot more sinister. Luke starts questioning whether its his evil subconscious that created this companion and whether Daniel is real or not.

Daniel Isn’t Real is a thing of the worst scary stories when the innocent child’s imaginary friend who is normally a safe haven turns into a thing of nightmares. Under neon-tinted scenes and the borderline of fantasy and schizophrenia, this story is creepy and unsettling. Perhaps its because its born from such a naive source of creativity and dependence. The lighting is used with incredible care. Not only does the color change with red neon lit hallways or white spotlights for example, it works not only to making the film visually stylistic but also, it gives each shot and its character a different emphasis and vibe. The same can be said about how the shots are framed. Its identified as a body horror and probably not in the way most would expect, and is done so well. Its quick-paced and as intriguing as it is crazy and entertaining all thanks to great execution.

All that dials down to the the two mains. The first being imaginary friend, Daniel played spectacularly by Patrick Schwarzenegger. Given Daniel is crafted with a lot of suspense to begin with even as a child, he delivers on giving this ominous imagination so much character and charm. He’s controlling, dominant and cunning and all this seeps through with not only the dialogue, but also his looming (and lurking) presence navigating the scene while immensely charming with each perfectly dressed moment and evil grin, packing in so much self-confidence. His character is the opposite of Luke (Miles Robbins) which makes sense as Daniel brings out the confidence in Luke, giving him the power to see what he can achieve but in turn also creating the tension between the two as the balance starts slipping away. In a film like this, there is an obvious twist coming: one that seeds from whether Daniel is actually an imagination or whether on a deeper scale, mental illness or simply something else.

Daniel Isn’t Real has its little flaws though. Its minor and easily can be overlooked with all the style and charm and fear that the film does. It all dials down to one character, the psychiatrist who pushes the story back on the path by encouraging Luke to release Daniel in the first place as a help for his issues (which we all know is never a good idea especially in horror films). If this scene didn’t happen, there wouldn’t be a movie however, other than that part, this character is essentially unnecessary in any other scene. Its a mystery in itself why this was chosen.

Despite this little flaw, Daniel Isn’t Real is a must-see. Its a horrifying trip seeded from the most innocent of youth creativity and dives deep into the issues of mental illness and evil possessions. Its a jaw-dropping ride that escalates from the positives of having an imaginary friend to the negatives as it takes over and where to draw the line, when to let go and maybe even reconsider this notion and just lock them away forever.