My September Adventures!

September has come to an end as Canada has officially announced the beginning of the second wave of COVID-19. We’re going through regional alert levels where with the past weekends leaps in increase of cases, Montreal (along with two other regions) will enter into maximum alert on October 1st meaning generally that other than shopping centres and retail businesses/personal care services, everything where social gathering can happen (theatres, libraries, bars, dine-in at restaurants, etc) are all closed for the next 4 weeks including all private gatherings. Just a little update on the currents of my whereabouts.

New Restaurants in Town

Perhaps my fave place so far to open would have to go to Shuyi Tealicious where I just love the Jasmine Tea or Oolong Tea with Grass Jelly. Its some delicious stuff in the simplest way. So good. Whereas the husband loves the milk tea with oats.

The first dine-in since COVID-19 and the only one for a while, I’d assume seeing the current state of situation. Either way, this new ramen place was pretty good. Its new so there was a line-up which if it wasn’t for my friend’s birthday, I wouldn’t have lined up for it or chosen to dine-in. Luckily the tables here were spread out pretty good.

With the new restrictions in place, we’re back to hibernating at home and cooking our own food or taking out or maybe trying out some delivery services if we want to try new food. The little joys in life, right?

Fantasia Film Festival Wrap-Up

Fantasia International Film Festival ended on September 3rd with a successful first ever virtual edition which had a very good platform for its movies and loved the mix of live screenings, Q&A as well as the on demand film selection. If only I didn’t have actual work, I’d have done a much more elaborate coverage of many more films. Still, I managed to do a bigger load of movies in a shorter timeframe so I’m rather proud of myself in general plus, I picked some solid choices with maybe only one or two that was a little disappointing. As a final wrap-up since I don’t want to do another post for it, here is my top 10 (which I’m thinking whether it would have been great if I did it in a Youtube video format or even podcast format, right?)

  1. The Oak Room
  2. The Paper Tigers
  3. Sheep Without A Shepherd
  4. Detention
  5. A Mermaid in Paris
  6. A Witness Out of the Blue
  7. Chasing Dream
  8. The Mortuary Collection
  9. You Cannot Kill David Arquette
  10. Jumbo

Movies and Tea Podcast

The latest episode of Movies and Tea Podcast transferred to Youtube is here as Season 2 is in progress of being put up.

We’re in Season 5 David Fincher on the Movies and Tea blog. The latest podcast episode released was our After Hours special for You Cannot Kill David Arquette HERE.

Hiking: La Montée du Dragon

Parc National du Mont-Megantic

Nothing like a little hiking as we return to Mont-Megantic National Park earlier in September. You can check out the hiking recap HERE.

Announcement: Halloween Marathon Starts TOMORROW!!

October is around the corner (tomorrow) so its time for the annual Halloween Marathon! I’ve got quite a nice line-up as we tackle two different franchises. I was only suppose to be one and then I started watching the sequels of another one and finished it so kind of wrapped up another franchise as well. Its the Living Dead franchise (including the remakes) and Insidious sequels (since I already reviewed the first one before). I also have some random movies to slot in between so it should be fun. Living Dead franchise is a little hard to find some of the movies and I didn’t plan it better so I’m hoping that I will find some of them if not I might just skip over it depending on the situation. If you have any horror films that you’d like to recommend for me to watch, let me know and I’ll add it on to my list if I haven’t seen or reviewed it before.

That’s it for this September adventures!
What have you been up to during these crazy times?

Fantasia Festival 2020: Perdida (2019)

Perdida (2019)

Director: Jorge Michel Grau

Cast: José Maria de Tavira, Cristina Rodlo, Paulina Davila, Juan Carlos Colombo, Sonia Franco, Paulette Hernandez, Luis Fernando Pena

Shattered by the unexpected news of their irreversible break-up, an aspiring orchestra conductor is puzzled by his girlfriend’s mysterious and seemingly inexplicable case of disappearance. But, can he look beyond the facts? – IMDB

Perdida is the 2019 remake of the 2011 Columbian thriller called La Cara Oculta aka The Hidden Face (review). The source material itself is an outstanding piece of psychological horror thriller kind of deal with great execution and a stellar twist. It comes as a surprise after some research for this film that there was a remake before this one which was Bollywood film Murder 3. Its always been somewhat of a mystery in my mind whether knowing the twist of this plot would change its value in a second viewing and its probably one of the reasons that I haven’t revisited the original since I saw it years ago in the early days of the blog. Its also a movie that is very rarely talked about and it makes me wonder whether people actually have seen the original. Putting all that aside, Perdida was one that had a lot to live up to and one that is hard to not at least compare it to its original a little especially since movies that live in my brain years after its viewing is a rarity.

For the most part, Perdida stick fairly close to the source material especially in structure. Its atmosphere and the characters all come together quite well. Its interpretation of the suspense and the thriller also works well. What it does really well is the cinematography as it creates all the tension with ambiance as well as making some visually appealing scenes using the dim lighting and shadows. There are some passionate sex scenes and then the music score is probably what blends the best with the film which pulls together the orchestra conductor profession of Eric. The score builds up a lot of the scenes. At the same time, the contrast of subtlety in sound also crafts the suspenseful side of the story.

Where Perdida might not quite work so well is that the characters feel a little empty. The main leads between Eric, Fabiana and Carolina do a good job as their dynamic and the scenes sees the shift in those relationships. However, the need to cast suspicion on the husband being responsible isn’t as prominent and that has to do with a lack of the police officers presence in the story. There’s a bigger focus on the passionate love between Eric and Fabiana, a little bit of Eric’s obsession for this conducting career and a bit of his darker character perhaps, while Carolina is a someone who seems very resourceful but also having some extremes in her character.

Overall, Perdida on its own is a decent thriller. It follows the source material a lot and that originally had a very good story to begin with. The three main leads as Eric, Fabiana and Carolina all do a decent job while the other elements also come together fairly well. They also make the new home as a setting some kind of life as well with the little things that happen. In case anyone hasn’t seen The Hidden Face or Perdida, I’m going to avoid talking about the twist here which is executed fairly well. However, on a personal level, Perdida didn’t quite live up as a remake of La Cara Oculta since in my memory, the original still seemed to have a better control of a lot of these elements but that’s all comparison which if you haven’t seen it, Perdida is done pretty well overall.

Fantasia Festival 2020: Crazy Samurai Musashi (2020)

Crazy Samurai Musashi (2020)

Crazy Samurai Musashi

Director: Yuji Shimomura

Cast: Tak Sakaguchi, Kento Yamazaki, Masaaki Takarai, Akihiko Sai

A clan’s future hangs in the balance. A boy of noble birth waits by a temple. The dishonor of his father and the death of his brother must be avenged. The boy is merely bait, there to draw out the enemy who has brought shame upon the Yoshioka school of swordfighting. In the surrounding woods, hundreds of Yoshioka retainers lurk, weapons at the ready, in anticipation of the solitary swordsman’s arrival. This will not be a fair fight. Not fair at all. – Fantasia Festival

With only beginning and ending scenes with the actual plot, Crazy Samurai Musashi is mostly all about its 77 minute one take samurai fighting scene in between where Musashi faces an unfair amount of 400 mercenaries and other clan samurai who all want his dead. A few of these have a bit more dialogue which indicates some kind of deeper desire to win or more competent which isn’t always the case.

77 minutes of fighting is still a little much. It becomes a little flat since its easy to start seeing who will get hit on the head or get slashed elsewhere. It gives a lot of space to start nitpicking and seeing the little moments of people getting hit and then running off screen for example that feels like its a constant rinse and repeat cycle. It is 400 people to 1 person so its nothing that’s unexpected. Its also a lot of the same moves with some more elaborate fighting choreography here and there. However, credit where credit is due, the fight choreography does take the time to go from the lighter elements in the beginning to being more lethal as there’s more blood spill and such. It all escalates to this fight in the rain that is definitely one of the high points of the film. The score also changes throughout almost like the fights shifts from one phase to the next. The film also takes the time between these transitions for Musashi to be human and look for water thats conveniently strewn about in little corners of the house that he can find instantaneously.

It has its appeal at the beginning when the story starts off with a specific scene where Musashi shows up and then the one take starts and it seems a little funny to see people running off screen or being shielded to move off screen or whatnot. The one take techniques comes into play and its fun to watch how its executed in this sense but then fighting goes on for a long time and its wears down the pacing a lot. It might feel a little more gimmick than proper execution in this sense. The backstory is decent but the focus on the story is so little that there isn’t a whole lot of engagement with the characters to begin with.

Overall, Crazy Samurai Musashi might be only suitable for those with an incredible love for either the technical one take movies or samurai movies on general. For myself who isn’t quite that hardcore and more focused on more thorough story line, this one fell a little flat in the middle, even if the movie does give some changes like score and the pacing of the fight choreography. The one take and some of the fight scenes and even the filming and use of the setting and the score is really nice but there’s just something missing to make this more engaging.

My August Adventures

Can you believe how fast 2020 is going by? We’re at the end of August in a blink of an eye. Its been a bit of a whirlwind this past week but the previous time before was pretty alright as well.

Hiking: Colline du Lac Trousers (Bolton, Quebec)

Colline du Lac Trousers

Kicking off the month before all the rainy and thunderstorm season hit us sporadically for the rest of August was a hike. I wouldn’t call it little since it was one of the longest hikes we’ve done in the past 2 years. You can check out the full hiking trail recap HERE.

Movies and Tea Podcast

As we kick off the Season 5 of Movies and Tea in audio version for David Fincher with our Alien 3 episode HERE, the Youtube channel is slowly catching up as the Season 2 transfer has started for the Guillermo del Toro episode.

Deep Blue Sea Podcast

Movies and Tea had the pleasure of being guests on the Deep Blue Sea Podcast which deep dives into one of my favorite shark movies ever, Deep Blue Sea and discusses chapter by chapter. The instagram post of the episode is above has the link to the episode. Give them some support on this uber fun project.

Fantasia International Film Festival – Virtual Edition

With only a few days left of Fantasia, the movie roster is pretty much set with only a very little of these not seen yet either because of live screenings or simply last minute decisions for on demand films and I haven’t gotten around to watching it yet. That said, a lot of the earlier movies have reviews up already and you can find them all under the Movies section on the menu above. Fantasia going virtual is great since it gives more time to cover more films but at the same time, I still miss some of the theatre reactions and meowing pre-show and whatnot but then this might be the new landscape we’re faced with. Overall, I chose some pretty decent movies with a few that I absolutely loved.

Workout/Gardening Update

Not a ton happened in terms of both of these things hence why I’ve done this section together. I managed to get in one run which was a decent length and relatively alright pace. There was a lot of rain and I’m not so intense that I want to go out and brave the rain for a run just yet. Excuses, I know… The weather has cooled down a little so I’m hoping that after film festival coverage and work crazy phase is done that I can get back to some more runs.

As for the gardening, mostly everything is over. We still have the peppers and two cucumbers still alive. Our raspberry finally decided to have some fruits so we had some harvests now. The bee garden is looking decent as well. The one that’s doing the best has to be the water lily in our bucket that has been having a lot of flowers.

That’s it for this August Adventures!
What have you been up to?

Fantasia Festival 2018: Our House (World Premiere 2018)

Our House (2018)

Our House

Director: Anthony Scott Burns

Cast: Thomas Mann, Nicola Peltz, Percy Hynes White, Kate Moyer, Lucius Hoyos

A young genius accidentally invents a device that amplifies the paranormal activity within his family’s house, possibly bringing back the spirits of loved ones, and unleashing things far worse. – IMDB

Our House is based on the 2010 microbudget independent film Phasma Ex Machina directed by Matt Osterman. While I haven’t seen the film that this is based on, Our House is said to have changed its focus and reimagined differently by director Anthony Scott Burns, to focus on a young man dealing with trauma and tragedy. Looking at the description, Our House seems like it has quite the potential to be a lot of the same but still have room to have its own potential. Sometimes films can be surprising and no one really can know what they get into especially when going into a movie presented at Fantasia Film Festival. Disappointingly, Our House actually is just another cliche and predictable horror film that falls into a lot of trope-y territory that makes its audience spend a lot of time doing things that have already been done before, sometimes in a more effective way.

Our House

Perhaps, a correction here because the film spends at least half (if not more), on building the drama in the family and healing after the parents get into an accident and pass away, changing the course of the main character, a young man called Ethan (Thomas Mann) as he leaves his promising education at MIT, distance from his beautiful girlfriend Hannah (Nicola Peltz) and go back home to work as a cashier to take care of his younger brother Matt (Percy Hynes White) and little sister Becca (Kate Moyer). In these parts, the story takes time to build up the dynamic and status of the characters however, the horror bits here are the familiar trails of black smoke or children seeing spirits and having it mistaken for imaginary friends and such. There is no doubt that the final act is quite atmospheric and works in a jumpscare way but it still falls a lot into the generic horror with predictable scares around the corner. Smoky figures and predictable moments of when they do something malicious will always be timed exactly as you expected. If you want almost all the scary bits, the trailer pretty much highlights a lot of those moments, however if you do plan on catching this one, you will do well to avoid it at all costs.

Our House

The redeeming part of Our House goes to its young cast. A few of them are familiar faces like Thomas Mann who did Kong: Skull Island and Nicola Peltz from Transformers: Age of Extinction. For what this script does, everyone delivers some great acting. Thomas Mann has taken on some interesting projects. While he has done horror before, this one is one of the more engaging roles he has been in. Playing his younger siblings, Percy Hynes White and Kate Moyer also do quite a decent job as their characters are written to show a different connection that they have with their brother, creating the riff in their relationship. They have their unreasonable moments but these moments match their characters and reactions very well.

Our House

Our House has some nice ideas and maybe the source material that inspired it had great reviews but disappointingly, it just didn’t quite hit the horror elements here. It was generic and predictable with so many horror tropes in the small amount of horror scenes that were actually happening on screen. Even with an great cast, there was no saving this one from being somewhat of a lackluster horror movie experience. What made it even worse was the “twist” ending that everyone saw coming a mile away. Perhaps it might satisfy the entry-level horror viewers but for horror genre veterans, it is too much of the same.

If you do want to catch Our House in theatres, it will be shown in theatres starting next week in selected theatres and will be available on VOD.

Fantasia Festival 2017: Dead Shack (2017)

Dead Shack (2017)

Dead Shack

Director: Peter Ricq

Cast: Lizzie Boys, , Lauren Holly, Matthew Nelson-Mahood, Gabriel LaBelle, Donovan Stinson, Valerie Tian

While staying at a run-down cabin in the woods during the weekend, three children must save their parents from the neighbor who intends to feed them to her un-dead family. – IMDB

Described as The Goonies meets Night of the Living Dead, Dead Shack comes as a fun zombie romp with a  young cast fighting to save their drunk father on a camping trip when they accidentally discover their neighbor and her undead family. This femme fatale next door does everything to make sure to keep her family safe and fed. With a runtime of 85 minutes, Dead Shack knows how to pace its movie to be fast and filled with moments of tension, comedy and action.

The young cast here creates a nice balance in characters. Matthew Nelson-Mahood playing the son’s best friend, Jason who is socially awkward as he tries to impress his best friend’s sister, Summer (played by Lizzie Boys) every chance that he has. He captures the role very well and in turn, with his awkwardness, brings in quite a bit of comedic relief along with the banter in moments of panic with the young trio. The three here create a balance of intelligence, common sense and spontaneous reflex and this leads them to really pull up a lot of strength and courage. Its also impressive to see that the story quickly shifts these teens, particularly Jason that starts the movie being told to toughen up and quickly does.

While the young cast is the focus here, the rest of the characters are well-used also. The father, played by Donovan Stinson is the most hilarious part of this movie. He starts off the movie with a lot of funny moments. However, even the supporting roles are there in their oddly disposable way but still have their value, mostly for comedy as well. Its realizes how to capture the humor in spite of the horror tension they want to create here. It also helps make the teens more useful and responsible than their parents.

The setting of the movie is in the middle of nowhere however fits perfectly. While Dead Shack feels like it is riddled with cliches, it uses them to their advantage whether by making some smart comeback in the dialogue or turning it into a comedic moment or adding some common sense that most horror movies don’t have. The music builds the moments really well also whether it is to create tension or the soundtrack that compliments some of the scenes. Along with some clever camera work capturing close-ups and angles, it works wonders for Dead Shack as a whole.

It is a shame that it feels that the enemy is largely underused. While it works because it helps create tension as to wondering when the undead or the Blonde will show up. This movie is definitely more a comedy in a horror setting. While there are more undead as the movie moves along and it never feels like we’re really invested into any of the characters, it still finds a way to make this into a fun romp that surprisingly works really well.

My Weekly Adventures: Festivals, Food, Fireworks and Planning!

Wow! It feels like a long time I haven’t done a Weekly Adventures.  This past month has been extreme festival season here and with wedding planning and keeping up with everything, its been really crazy.  Mentally and physically draining in many ways but things are settling down.  While that is the case, I still have little thoughts of having just a week off from the blog to catch up on things, notably sleep.  If any of you thought I didn’t sleep before, now its even less.

Regardless, lets hope I can fit this all in one post.  This month was really eventful and probably a few of these deserve their own posts but we’ll deal with it here! 🙂 So warning: it will be long but I’ll keep the words less and pictures more formula.

1) Fantasia Festival

Fantasia Festival is over! Which means its been at least a month since I’ve posted my last Weekly Adventures. I made it to all the movies even though there were a few I started wondering if I was starting to get sick especially when it was bouncing back between our heat wave and then rainy weather.  11 movies and a lot of decent choices.  There were some disappointments but mostly there were pleasant surprises.

If you missed any of my reviews, here they are:

What might have shined other than the movies were the short films.  The Morrigan, Black Eyes, What Doesn’t Kill You, Point of View were all really good. A fantastic festival and I look forward to next year.  I did miss a few that had some scheduling issues but I look forward to hopefully finding them on Netflix 🙂

2) Unexpected Retweet!

I think the busiest time during my site is during Fantasia Festival season and Halloween marathon time. The site kind of takes off a little.  Its that whole horror genre thing, I guess.  Its okay.  I’m just happy that it does because themed months makes me work double as hard and I plan in advance as much as I can. Regardless, I had some fabulous people retweet me.  The best one was for Cooties.  Elijah Wood retweeted my post! Excuse me.  I’m still a little shocked.  And that brought a ton of retweets from probably his fans and followers which made smile a ton!

Then the second one was Tales of Halloween where one or two people of the crew liked the post.

I never expect much from my posts but I do try to link them up for the Festival so that its a little more exposure for them.  I just never expect these things to happen to my little blog.  Anyways, happy times, happy surprises! 🙂

3) Ottawa Asian Night Market

Living in Canada, we don’t always get to savor the authentic Asian cuisine.  Montreal doesn’t hold a lot of it so I usually head out to Toronto to get some better Chinese food.  This year, located in Lansdowne Park in Ottawa there was the Asian Night Market.  For one, it was a zoo! One line could take up to 90 minutes wait time. We had to separate and conquer in order to eat efficiently.

The lamb skewers were possibly the best ones.  There was some potato tornado or something like that.  It was really good.  Unfortunately, my phone died on the way there so I didn’t take any pictures…

4) Festival Orientalys & Just for Laughs Festival (Take 2)

One of my friends has a booth out at the Festival Orientalys the weekend afterwards selling Japanese street food: Takoyaki, Kakigori and Okonomiyaki.  After that, we headed out to Just for Laughs Festival for a second take to eat more food.  I’m telling…I ate on and off for about 3 hours. It was crazy! It was also fantastic weather so I had a lot of delicious drinks to try out. We got to watch some shows down at the Place des Arts area for the Just for Laughs Festival. It was an awesome time!

 

5) Fireworks: Madonna Tribute + Dinner in Old Montreal

The Montreal International Fireworks Festival runs for about a month or so.  I haven’t gone to see any of the showings in a few years.  For the last show that wraps up the festival, we went to go see the fireworks with my fiance and a bunch of our friends.  We went out and met up for dinner beforehand.  After some discussion, we decided to go to Holder’s Restaurant in Old Montreal.

 

And for some Fireworks highlight!

 

6) Brossard Cultural and Gastronomic Festival + (more) Fireworks

My goodness, these festivals, right? And you can start asking, why is she always eating? I’m sorry.  I should be losing weight for the wedding but umm…I just can’t resist.  Brossard Festival has been around for a few years now.  I’ve only started going this past few years.  I had skipped last year though.  This year, they added food trucks and we got there later so that we could catch the fireworks finale at 11pm.

The process to get there, especially that last 45 minutes was painful.  No disrespect to the highlight band, La Bottine Souriante which is a Quebec folk band, but it was a clash of loud music which was balanced so bad that it sounded like a thousand pots clanging at the same time.  On top of that, the lyrics were absolutely hilarious and somewhat creepy (in a weird stalker-ish way). Anyways, no disrespect.  It wasn’t for me and it was fun watching everyone doing their version of jigs and jumping up and down.

But the fireworks, although only 15 minutes long was fantastic.  It was simply beautiful

7) Wedding Planning

I guess I’ve kind of kept it pretty quiet.  I had shared some details with some blogging buddies here and there. Wedding planning on a tight time schedule between ALL these events is what is going on.  We had some invitations snags which are all ironed out.  You can see my invitation package below! 🙂

wpid-20150813_220326.jpg

If only all of us blogging friends weren’t so scattered around the world, there’s a lot of you I’d love to invite.  Imagine a meeting at a wedding, now that would be so cool! Unfortunately, I’m not rich so I can’t fly all of you in.  Sad because a lot of you have been a consistent part of my life the last few years and to me, you are all my friends 🙂 If you do want a bit more details on it, you can always drop me an email.

The past Sunday, I went shopping with my girl friends for my wedding dress and their bridesmaids dress.  I have a lovely friend being my celebrant so we were looking something for her as well! All in all, it was a long and exhausting day of shopping BUT, GOAL ACHIEVED! I found my wedding gown after just two dresses! It had everything I wanted and met all the criteria! Now for a few touch-ups and its ready to go! And, we even found my two girls their dresses with a lovely color (they called it eggplant). And I found my second dress! 🙂

Things are rolling into place but tentative schedules, details, centerpieces, bouquet, my mom’s dress, and of course, wedding bands: all still on our to-do list.  The date is rolling really close, my friends! I’ll probably drop one more update before the wedding! Two months countdown has started!!!

8) Upcoming….

  • Baking Through Disney Project: Snow White theme baked goods (my plan for this weekend)
  • Unloading my vacation pictures from May (I know its late but things got a little crazy)
  • Music Obsessions (possibly!)
  • A few book reviews
  • I’m planning a new way to get rid of some movies on Netflix and I’ll talk about it on the next movie review (right after I wrap up all the posts I owe fellow bloggers)
  • Maybe a Wedding Planning themed Pinterest Therapy (for good measure)

And to end it all, since I didn’t do a workout update, although I’m still running, Zumba and doing a 4 week Nike Training Club Workout Program.  In the heart of Zumba, one of the instructors use this as our cooldown song so it always makes stretch and do the cooldown routine when it comes on. I wasn’t a huge fan but listening to it over and over kind of grew on me.

Happy Friday, my lovelies!! 🙂

P.S. Drop by later! I have something awesome coming up!!

 

 

Fantasia Fest: Tales of Halloween (2015)

My first ever horror anthology everyone! And I get to start it with a world premiere of Tales of Halloween directed by some awesome directors who happen to be hosting the event also.  Included in this group is definitely one of my favorite directors, Neil Marshall, the guy who directed The Descent which is one of my favorite horror movies.  Before the movie started, a few of directors hadn’t seen the final cut because its has only been completed a few days according to them.  To them, this is a project among good friends who would want to direct a movie together and that resulted in 11 directors for 10 stories in this horror anthology. For this one, I was that crazy person scribbling on my notebook in the dark without looking at the paper while the movie was playing and my eyes were glued to the screen. The hype in the theatre was incredible.  Tales of Halloween might be one of the best theatre experiences I’ve had! It defines why I always love going to Fantasia even if it means lining up 80 minutes in advance outside.

Let’s check it out!

Tales of Halloween (2015)

World Premiere

Tales of Halloween

Sweet ToothDave Parker
The Night Billy Raised HellDarren Lynn Bousman
TrickAdam Gierasch
The Weak and the Wicked – Paul Solet
Grim Grinning GhostAxelle Carolyn
Ding DongLucky McKee
This Means WarJohn Skipp & Andrew Kasch
Friday the 31stMike Mendez
The Ransom of Rusty RexRyan Schifrin
Bad SeedNeil Marshall

I’m going to try to keep this short.  Each segment was maybe about 10-12 minute pieces or so and it was in that order up there, title with the respective director for that piece.  Tales of Halloween is set in a small American town where these 10 stories take place in different areas and at various timelines where you’ll see characters crossing in each other’s stories.   It features all things Halloween from ghosts, witches, killers, monsters and a whole lot more that you should go and discover.

Tales of Halloween

I wasn’t so sure that I’d be into horror anthology and to be honest, the first trailer released for Tales of Halloween really didn’t quite get me so eager to see it.  What sold me was the Comic-con trailer that was a lot more detailed and well, Neil Marshall being there.  The Q&A for this one was really great, just to hear their experiences and working together and how to put it together.  There is one thing that you can’t doubt: the passion and heart put into Tales in Halloween.  There is a ton of it!

Going into an anthology for the first time, I had the expectation that it would be hard to follow and wondering whether there would be correlation between the stories.  As it happens, there was a lot of little details from the directors appearing in each other’s stories to characters crossing through stories as it all takes place in various time lines through this town.  The second expectation is that I’d probably end up liking one more than the other for reasons of different style or whatnot.  In a way, that was true. I didn’t like all the stories equally but they were all entertaining and I didn’t hate any of them but they all definitely had different styles.

Tales of Halloween

Tales of Halloween sets the tone right at the beginning like its taking us into a town on the day/evening/night of Halloween.  The opening sequence was done so well.  It was kind of cartoony and had this really nice score in the background as we had the narrator take us into the town and we got snapshots of each story and their directors.  At least that’s what I remembered it was.  I just loved it a lot and it pulled me right into being the excitement of watching this.  Right off the bat, we step into the first story, Sweet Tooth and it takes us right into the mood as we have teenagers scaring a little kid about legends of this character called Sweet Tooth revolving candy and trick or treat and Halloween traditions.  Honestly, there is no better way to take everyone into Halloween than that.  As the other stories unfold, we have neighbors fighting for who decorates their lawn better, flipping the perspective around to trick or treat, slight turns of faint, facing demons and bullies and haunting ghost stories.  It all comes into the mix with all the symbols we’d associate with Halloween played into this mix and then ending it with something a big finale of action and craziness.

A lot of thought was put into organizing the Tales of Halloween so that they would flow well together and build the Halloween mood.  What’s nice is its not just scares, there’s quite a bit of sarcasm and comedy in it all and it really lifts the movie.  There was some stories that didn’t quite have me into it all the time but there was also the whole idea of knowing how good a director is when it knows when to play the audiences expectations, be it a jump scare or a turn of events.

I really don’t want to dive into this too much.  Overall, Tales of Halloween is an impressive horror anthology with a fantastic opening sequence, catchy score and a nice mix of horror subgenres while giving it a thoughtful flow of events.  Nothing makes a movie better than feeling the talent mixed with heart and passion put into a project.  Tales of Halloween is an entertaining set of stories and if you get a chance, you really need to check this out for yourself! 🙂

Have you heard of Tales of Halloween? What do you think of it: directors, cast, premise, trailer? Do you like horror anthologies? Any recommendations?

Fantasia Fest 2015: Anguish (2015)

The wake up call hits when its a week ago that I went to go see the world premiere of this horror film called Anguish. This one had a trailer that creeped me out so much I pretty much didn’t finish watching it and stood waiting for the movie to start so early that I had time to get all nervous about how scary it might actually be.  I’m sure amping up my expectations on something I essentially knew nothing about wasn’t a great idea but you know what, so far in the two years of Fantasia, I’ve made some pretty good choices especially in smaller films so I’m pretty excited.  In an afterthought, my suggestion is to NOT watch the trailer 😉 However, mine will be a spoiler-free review and I’ll keep it relatively short to not go into too many details so here we go!

Anguish (2015)

World Premiere

Anguish

No poster so here’s from the director Sonny Mallhi hosting the world premiere of his movie, Anguish

Director/Writer: Sonny Mallhi

Cast: Ryan Simpkins, Annika Marks, Karina Logue, Amberley Gridley

Sixteen-year-old Tess (an astoundingly powerful Ryan Simpkins) may be young in age, but she’s already had several lifetimes worth of psychological distress, beginning randomly when she was found banging her head into a wall at the age of five. Through the years, her mother has tried everything, every specialist, every alternative treatment, to bring her into balance. The closest thing to a proper diagnosis that doctors have been able to assign to her mental condition is an identity disorder, and in a sense, that’s not incorrect. Tess’s identity is horrifically disordered — because it’s being encroached upon by spirits of the dead. – Fantasia

Before we start the review, what you should know is that Anguish is inspired by true events of people suffering with unexplained psychological disorders (or that’s the idea of it if I remember correctly).  They clarify it more in the beginning of the movie.  Regardless, that’s a good point to remember as you watch it.

Anguish

Anguish is the directorial debut for Sonny Mallhi who is the producer and/or writer of a good few films that we all know ranging from The Lake House to The Roommate to the much more well received The Strangers.  Last year, I almost went to see another movie he produced at Fantasia called At the Devil’s Door.  I’ll probably give that a watch for the Halloween marathon later this year.   He definitely has a knack for horror and in Anguish, he succeeds at writing and directing a very atmospheric spirit possession movie.  However, as I mentioned in the opening paragraph, I blame part of my lack of fright because the trailer reveals a lot of the scares to expect in the first act.  They are still quite creepy and will give you that chill down your spine regardless.  For those who go in with less knowledge, this one will give you plenty of scares.  The scares build from utilizing his background sounds and knowing when to isolate sounds in that environment and using an ambient soundtrack that creates the mood the audience needs to be in.  The story premise itself is also pretty good.  It does sometimes feel a little predictable with reminisces of Insidious (for one example).

Anguish

The setting that they choose for Anguish is also very good with lots of nature and contrasts of the city scene.  It gives space for the change in scene and mood that’s well needed for the story.  Some shots are done so well that they captured in my memory quite a bit.  However, Anguish focuses very much on women because we look at two parallels in mother-daughter relationship and the ties they  have.  It pulls in a good level of drama and struggle and successfully allowing us time in the well-paced story to bond with sixteen year old Tess.  While we’re talking about Tess, she is such a central character and Ryan Simpkins does a great job of capturing Tess and making us wonder about her mental disorder and how much it has to do with this being haunted business.

Anguish is a little movie that deserves a lot of attention.  While it may suffer mildly from predictability, it does a great job at building the perfect creepy and chilling atmosphere blending it with a suiting sounds that will make you jump up from your seat with some of the scares.  You will feel anguished and dread what will happen one scene after another.  Not quite as much about jump scares as it is about making this a psychological journey in the horrific world that Tess gets dragged into. There’s something pretty awesome about Anguish and its worth a watch! 🙂

Have you heard of Anguish? Are you a fan of some of the movies that Sonny Mallhi has produced and/or wrote?

Fantasia Fest 2015: We Are Still Here (2015)

Moving on to the next movie was my second double movie night at Fantasia! I’m telling you, this year’s schedule accounts for a lot of my feeling super tired.  These double movies are great and lots of fun but also a ton to think about afterwards.  Thank goodness, this time around, I recorded the Q&A so I don’t need to strain to remember some things here and there.  It doesn’t work to incorporate into my review but it does remind of things that I felt like I agreed with or not. Anyways, enough of this rambling…

The next movie was We Are Still  Here.  Its a directorial debut for Ted Geoghegan (who apparently is also the Director of Publicity for Fantasia Festival) and his sharing of the professed love for an era of horror movies that he feels hasn’t been done in a long time.

We Are Still Here (2015)

Canadian Premiere

We Are Still Here

Director/Writer: Ted Geoghegan

Cast: Barbara Crampton, Andrew Sensenig, Lisa Marie, Larry Fessenden, Monte Markham

The year is 1979. Anne (Barbara Crampton) and Paul (Andrew Sensenig) are mourning the loss of their teenage son and attempting to start over in rural New England. Before long, however, noises in the basement, falling photos, and a cryptic visit from a very strange neighbour suggest they’re not alone. Anne invites over hippie spiritualists May (Lisa Marie) and Jacob (Larry Fessenden), and things get even more alarming when it becomes apparent the locals are harbouring a secret about the house — and the horrible fate that befell its former inhabitants. Soon, a failed attempt at spiritual contact opens the doorway to a supernatural slaughter.. The spirits [..] aren’t simply content to slam doors and lurk in shadows. They’re out for blood — and get plenty, literally painting the walls crimson. – Fantasia

We are Still Here

 Coming right out of watching You’re Next, Barbara Crampton’s name was the first to pop out and I’d be lying if her appearance didn’t give me that final push (along with a very well done trailer) to grab these tickets. We Are Still Here is something special.  It really is.  The movie has this nice style to it that really impresses.  It starts off slow in the first act. We get the layout of the house this couple moves in.  We learn about our characters and what they are dealing with.  There’s a good sense that we can suspect something else is lurking in the shadows.  I might be overthinking this but the camera does it so that it feels like we’re watching the characters sometimes interact like someone is spying on them from around the corner or the next room.  Its builds a pretty creepy atmosphere.  The script even lets us learn that the house has a dark history from a long time ago.  There’s not a lot of characters we deal with but each very well portrays what is needed.  Especially since the cast and even crew has been part of some movies that I’ve heard about.  There are a ton of really great jump scares, and I’m not using myself as the judge here but the fiance because he’s a whole lot harder to scare than I am.  They were extremely effective and those spirits are awesome, chills down your back ones.  I’m not going into further detail because that’ll just ruin your fun when you watch it.

We Are Still Here

I should elaborate a little on the cast since its so great in this one.  Barbara Crampton is a fantastic horror actress.  Its kind of funny because there are parts that her lines and expression kind of give us a little moment to laugh even in the most tense situation.  The final act particularly has a few of those moments. Those moments don’t just apply to Barbara Crampton’s Anna but also all the other character’s here.  Another character that does leave a mark is Jacob (played by Larry Fessenden) who does the whole hippie gig super well and then goes to be a total opposite character and grasps that perfectly as well.  I’m being vague deliberately, okay? Another great actor is Monte Markham who plays the Town Leader (in a way) and does it so awkward and great.  The vibe is incredible.

We Are Still Here

I’ve only touched on the first act being slow but what makes We Are Still Here great is the fact that its like a switch turns on in the second part and things go crazy.  Its not that slow burner about building character anymore, it gets all blood and crazy.  And that’s also when I went “huh?” in a good way because it was so genius how the plot twisted.  I don’t say this often but wow.  That’s really all I have to say about it. It kind of blew my mind a little.

Here’s a good spot to end this.  Overall, great characters portrayed by a stellar cast, effective jump scares, building story, mind-blowing plot twist and a switch from slow to fast in a second filled with a creepy atmosphere that turns around and gets bloody and crazy in a second and my fiance might be disappointed if I don’t mention it, but his favorite is that the spirits themselves are done really well that made the scares even more effective.  We Are Still  Here is a great movie and one I definitely feel privileged to have seen at Fantasia Festival.  I haven’t seen what this movie is supposed to be inspired by (since I’m still learning about the huge world of horror) but if you know more, you might even catch how much heart this movie has.  A great effort for a directorial debut and I look forward to what else this team comes up with.

Barbara Crampton, Ted Geoghegan, Travis Stevens (Producer) Karim Hussain (Cinematographer) hosted this movie and was available for the Q&A.  I would post it all up here but I haven’t quite figured out how to do that.  But there is a nice trivia especially regarding one of the scenes. Here’s a picture of them…from my seat far far up in the Concordia Hall Theatre.
Fantasia Festival

Seeing as this is a Canadian premiere and I have no idea where else its been released, have you seen it? Does this intrigue you?  Are you interested in this 70s style horror?