Fantasia Festival 2020: The Paper Tigers (World Premiere 2020)

The Paper Tigers (2020)

The Paper Tigers

Director (and writer): Quoc Bao Tran

Cast: Alain Uy, Ron Yuan, Mykel Shannon Jenkins, Matthew Page, Ken Quitugua, Roger Yuan, Raymond Ma, Jae Suh Park

Three Kung Fu prodigies have grown into washed-up, middle-aged men, now one kick away from pulling their hamstrings. But when their master is murdered, they must juggle their dead-end jobs, dad duties, and old grudges to avenge his death. – IMDB

The Paper Tigers is one of the absolute hidden gems of this year’s festival. Its another type of martial arts movies that focuses on a script that stays true to the traditional practice of Kung Fu. It adds in all the proper Chinese terms that the disciples all learn and the different clans and how the ranking goes with how the “bei mo” challenge for someone who wants to fight for a position or whatnot goes. Its all a new eye at the roots of the virtues of practicing is like honor and brotherhood. “Paper tiger” is a common term in Chinese used to represent someone who appears/claims to be threatening but actually isn’t, which is a perfect title that encapsulates this entire film.

Its great to see someone making movies about these key virtues and values that is much more than the actual fighting bit. Ken Quitagua, who also plays one of the later characters Zhen Fan, is the action director that crafts so great fighting choreography. With that said, they don’t cheap out on the fighting either although its more of an action comedy so the fighting wraps in the rusty out of practice Kung Fu skills of these middle age men who have more heart than skills but slowly finds back some of their groove, at least those able to do it between these three friends: Danny (Alain Uy), Hing (Ron Yuan) and Jim (Mykel Shannon Jenkins). For them, its about the values and friendships that they treasured when they were young and because of all the curveballs life has thrown them, they seem to have forgotten the basics of those values that don’t thrive so well in their current reality. The course of this “adventure” or “revenge mission” takes them all for a loop, especially for Danny who the movie focuses mostly around his backstory and life with his divorced wife and being a father to a young boy.

The Paper Tigers is a straightforward story. Its clear cut and doesn’t pad it with a lot of unnecessary tangents but sticks true to the three main characters who are portrayed incredibly well by its cast. They have their own issues to deal with and then they have a lot of the rivalry from past and present that they need to deal with. Its all well-paced and everything hits its marks really well throughout. It shows the years of how the Three Tigers get together as children and then young adults and then for some reason that gets revealed in the plot, what separated them when they reunite to find out what happened to their “Si Fu” aka Master. It also brings in the clever use over and over again in different situations about the Chinese proverb, “Two tigers cannot share a mountain” which they word it a little differently but means the same thing essentially.

the paper tigers

Whether its the humor or the character or the nod to Kung Fu martial arts, its virtues and respect, its all such a great balance of everything that makes it an exceptionally enjoyable viewing. As a finishing note, as I was watching this, it reminded me of Ang Lee’s debut films of Father Knows Best Trilogy that also used the same sort of story-telling methods of presenting a scenario (entertaining or not, like Pushing Hands or The Wedding Banquet) that actually embedded a lot of traditional customs and exhibiting a new culture to the public. There’s a lot of positive vibes from watching a movie like The Paper Tigers.

Fantasia Festival 2020: The Block Island Sound (2020)

The Block Island Sound (2020)

Director (and writer): Kevin McManus & Matthew McManus

Cast: Chris Sheffield, Michaela McManus, Neville Archambault, Jim Cummings, Willie C. Carpenter, Jeremy Holm, Matilda Lawler, Trisha McManus Heidi Niedermeyer

Something terrifying is happening off the coast of Block Island. A strange force is thriving, influencing residents and wildlife alike. – IMDB

Set on the island south of Rhode Island called Block Island (which I knew nothing about prior to this movie), The Block Island Sound uses its setting, the small town community as well as the mystery of conspiracy theory, reality or another unknown reason as its basis. Its main draw is the unsettling suspense and horror behind each development and how the targeted characters, first the father followed by the male lead character Harry falls into this unknown state that sporadically has him doing things he doesn’t want to and shouldn’t do.

A lot of the unsettling and eerie nature comes from its music score and sound effects and background sounds blended with the scene. Starting from this radio static that sounds almost like growling meshing with the frequency. There are also these different types of droning sounds that can easily get under the skin. Let’s face it, directors and scripts that can build on the unknown and mystery and execute it well can make a movie a million times scarier just by the power of the viewer’s imagination and anticipation.

The Block Island Sound is a giant mystery that fluctuates between the different pieces of evidence and the various opinions of people on the island. Its a question of what is going on overall that constantly hangs in the air. Someone rambles on about government testing and conspiracy theory, another believes its just sleepwalking and then there’s the science and medical deduction of electromagnetic sensitivity. Its a choice of what will be believed by the viewers with the little pieces presented. Its always the unknown until the final act where things starts making a little more sense. While the mystery part might drag out maybe one scene too much of Harry’s situation as a part of this whole unknown, the end game and final act is completely worth the wait and is absolutely more than the sum of its parts. It circles back to a conversation at the beginning as the wrap-up that is done so clever.

With any movie like this, subtle and focusing a lot on the reactions and interactions of the characters involved, the cast and character design is a big part. Neville Archambault starts off as the dad and he starts off the movie already in an unsettling manner from what he does and just the look in his eyes. As it seems to transfer over to his son Harry (Chris Sheffield), its hard to not see a different way of how he derails from realizing something is wrong and trying to resist whatever is happening to him. And then, there’s the balancing role who is doesn’t understand what is going on as the “good sister” Audrey (Michaela McManus) that pulls out a decent role especially since her character creates a little contrast. However, if there was a character that brought the most convincing side of the whole equation (and I’m not usually someone who believes in this) is the character of Dale who starts talking about all the conspiracy theories he believes in and it starts right from the first act and throughout the film and each time being doubted in the film which makes you wonder whether its the deal here since that’s how movies usually go.

The Block Island Sound is a story that needs to be experienced and let the story reveal. The more I talk about it, the surprise of the viewing will be ruined. Its a case of knowing less before going in and letting yourself follow and figure it out on your own. Block Island is a great setting and the story itself was done pretty well with some very slight pacing issues in the middle. The unsettling feeling is fairly on point as well. This is a good science fiction horror mystery story.

Fantasia Festival 2020: A Mermaid in Paris (Une Sirène à Paris, 2020)

A Mermaid in Paris (Une Sirène à Paris, 2020)

a mermaid in paris

Director (and co-writer): Mathias Malzieu

Cast: Nicolas Duvauchelle, Marilyn Lima, Rossy de Palma, Tcheky Karyo, Romane Bohringer, Alexis Michalik

A man rescues a mermaid in Paris and slowly falls in love with her. – IMDB

Being a huge fan of Mathias Malzieu debut feature film Jack and the Cuckoo Clock Heart (review), A Mermaid in Paris was a must-watch. It would be interesting to see how Mathias Malzieu would approach doing a live-action film knowing the imagination that he is capable of. This fantasy romantic melodrama is an outstanding effort by Malzieu once again proving that his unique eye for the visuals as well as the use of an older era of fashion and fantastical color palette all blends incredibly well together with his creative imagination that all comes to life in such an appealing way.

A Mermaid in Paris

Being a musician before stepping into the director’s chair, Malzieu also uses soundtrack in a strong way to build up the character of the film. He injects Piaf’s song as well as other song choices to pair with the times. In this case, he also plays on the mermaids and the myth of the mesmerizingly deadly songs of the sirens. This builds up the romantic storyline of Gaspard, a man who falls in love easily and has had his heart broken so much he feels that he has no more love to give and struggling to hold onto his family’s business that holds memories of his mother and a place for performances, who saves a mermaid Lula (Marilyn Lima) who he is immune to her song. Their romantic connection grows gradually throughout the film and Lula becomes a character that wants to get back to sea soon but also has the fish out of water story element, that I’m a big fan of as it brings in a comedic element. The chemistry between Gaspard and Lula is undeniably beautiful.

A Mermaid in Paris

The comedic element is enhanced by a stellar performance of Rossy de Palma playing Gaspard’s neighbor Rossy in a second collaboration with Malzieu. Rossy is a unique character who guides both of them in her rather whacky ways but also plays as an assist. All the happy things here with romance and comedy has to be paired with some drama and adding in a threat to balance out all of this is a revenge story from the girlfriend of one of Lula’s victims. If there’s anything, this character Milena is a bit frustrating at times however she has her purpose.

A Mermaid in Paris is a cinematic treat. The rich color palette paired with the fantasy elements; the mermaid myth playing along on the romantic infatuation that creeps up between them to a surprising twist; the wonderful performances from the cast and the colorful characters: all comes together to create this beautiful experience. On top of that, Malzieu doesn’t even forget to give a nod to the animation style using the characters in this previous film in one of the scenes as a background element. There’s so much to love with Malzieu’s filming style and his seemingly love for telling stories about the life-threatening dangers of falling in love. Its a unique way of telling love stories and its this vision paired with his imagination that makes his films so fun to dive into.

Fantasia Festival 2020: Alone (2020)

Alone (2020)

Alone

Director: John Hyams

Cast: Jules Willcox, Marc Menchaca, Anthony Heald, Jonathan Rosenthal

A recently widowed traveler is kidnapped by a cold blooded killer, only to escape into the wilderness where she is forced to battle against the elements as her pursuer closes in on her. – IMDB

Being an American remake of 2011 Swedish film Gone, Alone is co-directed and written by its original source material. Alone is a simple thriller. It strips itself back to its basics while keep sounds mostly blending with the nature surrounding the characters, the cast kept limited to mostly the two main leads in a cat and mouse chase and the setting in an isolated forest that goes through different weather, phases and structured in swift chapters defining the different landmarks of the film.

Alone starts off with a rather slower first act. It consists of the main female lead, Jessica (Jules Willcox) making the decision to pack up after a tragedy much to the disapprovement from her family. Her story reveals itself over the course of the movie as she fights her grief and guilt and tries to survive from this unknown Man (Marc Menchaca that is hunting her down. The first act is incredibly strong especially having strong vibes of Duel as The Road part of the film sees her having this risky and eerie engagement with a muddy Jeep that she encounters and then follows her around. Unlike Duel, the Man approaches her in various instances and the conversations get more and more unsettling.

The strongest elements of the film does go to its main leads. Jessica and the Man play incredibly well off of each other. Their interaction and the chase between them heightens over the course of time. At the same time there is still a lot of subtlety. The two characters are dialed down to their absolute basics of one that is hunting and the other that is surviving. However, these characters also have enough backstory in little glimpses of phone calls or conversations that make them feel real.

The cinematography plays a big part in this film. It has many moments that feels like its almost comparable to David Fincher with the use of visuals and lighting. It might have to do with the fact that the film heightens a lot during the nighttime that the use of lights flare and the focus on dim lighting and how the film crafts the motion all comes into play. The isolated nature and not being scared to use darkness to its advantage adds onto the tension.

Overall, Alone is a well-executed thriller. Its not about all the fancy things and actually its at its best when the film focuses on being zeroed in on the characters interaction and the chase as well as using its environment to create the atmosphere and tension. The only part if I had to nitpick would be the parts of increasing in the background sound that builds at certain points of the films at times feels like it actually takes away from the tension a little and breaks from the subtlety that it works with. Luckily, its not too frequent. Sometimes less is more and Alone definitely applies that successfully.

Fantasia Festival 2020: Yummy (2019)

Yummy (2019)

yummy

Director (and co-writer): Lars Damoiseaux

Cast: Maaike Neuville, Bart Hollanders, Benjamin Ramon, Clara Cleymans, Annick Christiaens, Eric Godon, Joshua Rubin, Taeke Nicolai

An orgy of blood, violence and fun in which a young couple travel to a shabby Eastern European hospital for plastic surgery. Once there things unravel. – IMDB

There’s no doubt that zombie films are still rather a huge focal point. Belgium offers its version of horror comedy as it sets this zombie film called Yummy in a sketchy plastic surgery hospital doing some experimental things on the side. When a couple decides to go to the plastic surgery through the request of the girlfriend Alison to have a breast reduction, Michael wanders around with one of the staff Daniel and ends up discovering a gory Patient Zero which gets loose. Chaos awaits as the hospital gets infected and the few survivors hiding out in various locations need to find a way out. As with the location, some of the patients is hard to tell whether they are infected or not as well as adding some nudity into the mix. All this adds together for some rather comedic moments.

Yummy is somewhat of a double -sided coin. On one hand, it offers its viewers what you’d expect from a zombie film. Its entertaining and funny at some parts. There’s a lot of blood and gore to satisfy those expecting it in a zombie movie. Trust me, there are some rather disgusting bits. It gets right to the root of the zombie action fairly quickly and is well-paced. It does all the motions of a zombie film fairly well. Its fun enough to keep wanting to see more and how some of the stupid decisions these characters make or even what other spontaneous things they do to make the situation worse. I’m talking mostly about the boyfriend character Michael who is set up as a character who is rather useless and seems to mess things up more throughout the film more than contribute to the situation.

yummy 2019

With that said, the characters are rather one-dimensional. Normally, with low-budget zombie films, its really not expected for a lot of character depth except these characters aren’t exactly engaging to watch. Some of them are downright bad in nature or just doesn’t feel like anyone to root for to get out of this whole ordeal. Its almost expected that someone is going to betray or just be a coward or not stick together to survive and of course, all those things do happen. In reality, its hard to chalk it up to whether its the characters fault since the cast seems to have portrayed them fairly well or the story which seems to be lacking the unique element to make it stand out a little more.

However, credit where its due, the setting in the plastic surgery hospital is a fun choice and does add a lot of points plus the effects are done rather well. There’s a lot of use of the surroundings including intestines and whatnot and some creative use of the equipment to turn into a bomb. Overall, Yummy is a fun zombie movie. There’s some funny parts and is a silly experience as a whole with a lot of gore and blood and then a decent amount of nudity. I’m a little lukewarm towards it since its fun and all but I can’t see myself watching it again since I wasn’t a big fan of that type of ending (but spoiler free so I won’t dive further into that). Zombies, horror comedy, shabby hospital, blood, gore and nudity all seems to be things that you like, Yummy might be the movie for you.

Fantasia Festival 2020: The Oak Room (World Premiere 2020)

The Oak Room (2020)

The

Director: Cody Calahan

Cast: RJ Mitte, Peter Outerbridge, Ari Millen, Nicholas Campbell, Martin Roach, David Ferry, Amos Crawley

During a raging snowstorm, a drifter returns home to the blue-collar bar located in the remote Canadian town where he was born. When he offers to settle an old debt with a grizzled bartender by telling him a story, the night’s events quickly spin into a dark tale of mistaken identities, double-crosses and shocking violence. – IMDB

Being a big fan of Black Fawn Films ever since seeing the first one at Fantasia years ago, its always a fun time to see them back with another film. The Oak Room is a much different offering that takes place in the middle of snowstorm in Ontario bar tucked underground with stairs to descend. Its a film that focuses heavily on storytelling elements. As a young man Steve appears back home years after to settle a debt, he offers to tell a story to bartender Paul. Between this story about a bartender in the current reality and the one that Steve tells about another bar in a similar landscape, it all feels very random and separate. Except as the separate characters of both stories are revealed more and the conversation between Steve and Paul, revealing their issues and the past and father-son relationships and more, there is this tension that stews in the background that starts being stronger and stronger as the stories start making sense as to how it all works together. There’s some incredible execution to pair up the narrative.

Jeff Maher’s cinematography also grabs the bar setting incredibly well. It captures the dimly-lit setting of the bar but using the neon lights decoration to amp up the atmosphere. Its one of the reasons the opening scene is actually one that captures right from the beginning as it focuses on a bottle of beer sitting at the bar while a fight goes on out of focus in the background. There are a lot of those moments that give a mysterious vibe to the whole setting and pairs amazingly well with the story on hand.

With that said, the characters here are done really well. The two central characters is between a somewhat weaker character in the beginning that feels almost like he’s a bit useless in Steve, played by RJ Mitte. Steve’s character is one that develops a lot throughout as there is somewhat of a power change as the story he tells starts having a lot more substance to support his character and why he has come back. Facing Paul, played brilliantly by Peter Outerbridge, who is a strong character right from the start that commands the scene and has an upper hand over Steve. Steve and Paul play well off of each other. The same goes for the parallel scenes in the story about the other bar starring Michael (Ari Millen) and Richard (Martin Roach). Ari Millen and Martin Roach play their parts incredibly well also and play off of each other well. Their story actually wraps in a lot of tension.

The Oak Room

The Oak Room is a really good movie. Probably one of my faves from Black Fawn Films and this year’s Fantasia Festival so far. There’s this breath of fresh air of how they execute this narrative-heavy story that’s all in the subtlety. The script and dialogue works incredibly well together and its executed on point to build the tension to build up this thriller. Amping up from one story to the next and reveals more and more of the connection between the stories and the characters and it all ends in this point that leaves a lot of space for the audience to guess what happens in the final moment. All that is thanks to timing and pacing of the the whole film that pulls everything together.

Fantasia 2020: Detention (返校, 2019)

Detention (返校, 2019)

detention

Director (and co-writer): John Hsu

Cast: Gingle Wang, Chin-Hua Tseng, Meng-Po Fu, Cecilia Choi

Detention is an adaptation of independent video game of the same name developed by Red Candle Games which sets their story in Taiwan 1962 during the White Terror times when rules under martial law, all ideas considered dissendent is banned. In Tsuihua High School, two teachers have grouped together to create a secret underground literary club despite the close watch of the military police. Senior Fang wakes up alone in the classroom and realizes the school is no longer the same. As she searches for the teacher Zhang, she ends up joining up with a fellow student Wei. They can’t remember why they are at the school or how they got there but they continue their search. As they go further, they start encountering ghosts and monsters and their memory starts coming back as to what has happened.

Detention

Video game adaptations usually get a lot of harsh criticism. Detention is a unique premise. As a gamer, this game has been on my to-play list for a while and yet haven’t had time to give it a go yet. Going into this movie blind is a good idea though as the story unfolds like the layers of an onion. It flips between the present and the past from what goes on in Fang and Wei’s perspective respectively and separated neatly in chapters. How the other characters come into the equation and what happens with the military police and the underground club while having the mystery of why these ghosts and monsters are suddenly showing up and what has happened to this school. The story unfolds one layer at a time that adds helps build its intrigue as each side of the story has their own twist and their own secrets to reveal between young crushes, fighting for freedom and doing is what is right.

detention 3

Detention is heavily focused on the atmosphere. The school setting with the growing thunderstorm outside adds to the gloomy and dark atmosphere. Being set during the night creates the ambiance and also cleverly uses the lighting to its advantage. At one part, there is a play on the concept of reality and nightmare. As the story unravels, the different nightmare elements come into play using some horror tropes that actually are executed in an effective way. It has a fair share of jump scares which are mostly effective  but also manages to create a quiet and subtle environment that makes it more intense. Its because of these moments that the subtle sounds like repetitive clinking coin sounds or the off screen sound effects of something happening becomes more unnerving as its part of the unseen element. The monster reveal also doesn’t happen all in one shot and is slowly revealed from one scene to the next but when revealed has a good design as well. Kudos to some great visual cues used.

detention 1

Overall, Detention is a pretty good movie. As a video game adaptation, the story feels well-executed and paced really good. The atmosphere and tone is helped by the setting. Its story showcases a part of Taiwanese history while sharing a coming-of-age story as well as a little bit of romance in the background with themes of freedom and oppression. Everything is well balanced and the thrills of the story does happen as Fang and Wei slowly find back their own memories of how they got there. They are flawed in their own ways while also pulling in a family element that affects who they are as well. Full of twists and turns as well-constructed environment and atmosphere while delivering both subtle tension and effective jump scares, Detention is a great horror film taking its characters on a trip between reality, the past and nightmare to piece everything together.

Fantasia Festival 2020: Hunted (2020)

Hunted (2020)

Director (and co-writer): Vincent Paronnaud

Cast: Lucie Debay, Ciaran O’Brien, Arieh Worthalter

Once upon a frenzied time, Woman (Lucie Debay) meets Man (Arieh Worthalter). Woman dances with Man. Man kisses Woman. Man grips Woman. Woman escapes Man. Man chases Woman… Nothing new! Or is there? The over-recycled “revenge” story takes an unexpected turn in HUNTED. The Big Bad psycho-Wolf, embodiment of patriarchy, and his dummy sidekick engage in a wild hunt, but within mother nature’s protective maze of trees, the Red Riding warrior-Hood’s got killer moves, and won’t surrender so easily. – Fantasia Festival

Hunted is a live-action adult survival horror retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. It builds from the general concept of the story of not talking to strangers because it can lead to being eaten by the wolf and grows from there. While the plot itself is familiar, much like other stories of women being abducted and then hunted down in a forest in a wilderness survival horror style. It has obvious parallels of the fairy tale its based on like the main woman, Eve wears a red coat with a hood and end up in the setting of the mystifying woods that its set in and the false grandmother twist. The movie itself digs into Vincent Paronnaud’s animation roots as it starts off with an animated story told to a child in the forest about Nicodemus and the Wolf-Girl. The story takes a twist when the story takes a turn that works in Eve’s favor and she sees the opportunity to turn the situation around, using the environment to her advantage. The execution and cinematography is done in a clever way especially as between some transition scenes, the surrounding nature is capture from the animals and bugs and even the dense forest.

Hunted

Hunted hones a small cast of a few people. Eve (Lucie Debay) is the Red Riding Hood who may start as a woman who goes out to unwind to end up meeting the wrong stranger, a man who is the Wolf (Arieh Worthalter) and his sidekick. They capture her not to kill her per se but to do a snuff film. Its an interesting way to present these characters. Eve herself doesn’t have so much depth but rather right away, we know that she’s not a weak female lead but actually has a lot of her own survival skills like blending with nature for example. Its a character that we can easily get behind to cheer on to get out of this ordeal alive. The Wolf is a much more unstable sort of character and probably one with a little more depth in comparison. He is an unlikable character but also one that feels a little unhinged especially when the story changes in the final act and seems to start blending in this reality and imagination/hallucination sort of deal where what he sees slowly pulls away from reality and as it pulls to the end, this is where the film seems to lose itself a little at a changing point. It gets a little hard to track in one portion, giving it this uncertainty between what is real and in their minds.

Overall, Hunted does try to be different in the realm of survivor horror. Its story is a bit confusing in its final act but it also feels like its meant to be that way as the “Wolf” seems to have lost his mind as he loses his power. It pulls in this line from the beginning story about “the company of wolves is better than that of man”. It becomes a fact of whether the wolf is just a villainous man and Eve (aka Red Riding Hood) finds her space with the woods that end up defending her. Its smart to use that opening story as a parallel to this story and then set up this retelling of the Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale. A lot of things are in the details and ends up finding its space even if the final act is a little bit confusing and for myself, falls apart and detracts a little. At the same time, the movie spends a lot of time chasing through the woods that in the middle, there is a little repetitive dragging feeling but as the tone and a little twist, it quickly finds its pacing again. Some little things that makes Hunted not quite as well-paced and well-executed in the second half than it did in its first half.

Fantasia Festival 2020: Sheep Without a Shepherd (2019)

Sheep Without a Shepherd (2019)

sheep without a shepherd

Director: Sam Quah

Cast: Xiao Yang, Joan Chen, Audrey Hui, Tan Zhuo, Ming-Shuai Shih, Paul Chun

Desperate measures are taken by a man who tries to save his family from the dark side of the law, after they commit an unexpected crime. – IMDB

Sheep Without A Shepherd is Chinese thriller remake of Malayalam film, Drishyam. Having not seen the source material, this is a standalone viewing for myself which works very well as a whole. The concept of having an every day joe be caught in a situation to use his own detective and thriller film enthusiast knowledge to protect his family and create their own alibi in some ways have been seen before but the execution of this film is done incredibly well and the thriller itself is gripping and intense as it builds to the finale where its questionable whether he will get away with his plan and the little details that is done off-screen in the twist.

Sheep Without a Shepherd also hones a stellar cast. With a supporting role as a neighbor and family friend by Paul Chun and Philip Keung plays the politician father of Suchat who is the boy that was accidentally killed, two actors of different calibre in Hong Kong but very much veterans of the Asian film industry, the latter having made quite the appearances in the recent decade in a lot of films of this genre. Joan Chen has a much bigger role as the police chief Laoorn who happens to also be the mother of Suchat and has quite the presence as she starts from desperation to anger to despair which leads her to make some questionable choices. Playing opposite her is the father and husband protecting his family is Xiao Yang in the role of Weijie Li. He takes on a big role which is mostly subtle in nature as he keeps his cool while using his knowledge from films to create an alibi for the family. Finally, Taiwanese actor Ming-Shuai Shih plays the hotheaded cop Sangkun who in others hands would be typically be over the top and yet, there’s something very strong of how he balances his character to be one that is more grounded and fitting to this corrupt/bad cop sort of character. In reality, each of these characters, whether the younger actresses playing the daughters to the main characters are written and played with a great balance and some depth to keep them moving the story along.

Sheep Without A Shepherd is a gripping story and its thanks to a tight-paced execution. Its watching both sides of the story parallel to each other from a desperate mother and the police station versus the family that needs to scramble to create their alibi and the mystery behind how their alibi works within the time frame that we know is incorrect. The audience knows partially what it is but the depth of the mystery dives a lot further and still manages to have some tricks to pull out. Because of the wrong that was done by Suchat and the layout of how the movie already shows the corrupt authority power in this Thailand area, it gives a blurry line between right and wrong. On one hand, its easy to back the father protecting his family and its successful in the audience siding with him and hoping that he and his family gets away with it because they are the weaker position in this whole situation and yet, accidental murder is still a crime so where do you draw the line, right? Talking more technical, Sheep Without a Shepherd also has some great visuals in the whole cinematography. It uses its camera to deliver the power roles and one of the most powerful scenes with Joan Chen towering over the young daughter makes her feel almost like a monster. There’s appropriate use of situation with how it films the rain and the gloomy shadow over each of these scenes.

Sheep With A Shepherd is a outstanding gripping thriller. It has a lot of tense moments between whether the family’s alibi with get them through and whether the other members of the family will all do their own part with the rushed training. At the same time, it clashes with the police side of the story which is portrayed in an unjust way where everything seems to be out of line. However, all this leads to a bigger element of societal issues of power, authority and leadership that gets brought into the story. There’s a lot of moving parts. Most of the time, its fairly subtle and there are a lot of details. Having the family’s main alibi being built on the knowledge and inspiration from South Korean thriller Montage and having constant movie mentions always gives its a little bit of a fun film buff twist as well. There’s a lot to love about Sheep Without a Shepherd whether its the thriller elements, the cinematography or the outstanding performances from its cast.