Shadows Film FestShadows off the beaten path
Indies, foreigns, docs, videos, revivals and shorts...
On this page: THE GOOB
< <
I N D I E S > >
last update 31.May.15
back to the top R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
The Goob
dir-scr Guy Myhill
prd Michael Elliott, Lee Groombridge
with Liam Walpole, Sean Harris, Sienna Guillory, Marama Corlett, Oliver Kennedy, Paul Poppelwell, Hanna Spearritt, Joe Copsey, Rosa French, Martin Ferguson, Kirianne Busby
walpole release UK 29.May.15
14/UK BBC 1h24

london film fest
The Goob This loosely constructed film is a terrific calling card for first-time British filmmaker Myhill, who creates an intense drama with very little narrative structure. It feels like an honest slice of life from a corner of England that's rarely depicted on-screen, which gives it the feel of a rural American indie.

As the summer holidays begin, 16-year-old Goob (Walpole) finds his life taking an unexpected turn. Gone are the happy days working with his mother (Guillory) in a roadside cafe while tending to their pumpkin fields; now he has to cope with Mum's cock-of-the-walk boyfriend Gene (Harris), a stock-car racer who adds misery to every moment of Goob's life. A brief friendship with lively hired-hand Elliot (Kennedy) is cut short by Gene's rage. Then Goob notices migrant worker Eva (Corlett) and thinks that perhaps there might be something nice happening in his life after all.

Writer-director Myhill and cinematographer Simon Tindall beautifully capture Goob's perspective. A perceptive kid with a sensitive soul, he's surrounded by bitter, shouty louts who constantly push him to be something he doesn't want to be. Although he's not sure who he is. The superb Walpole reveals uncertainty and curiosity laced with both hopelessness and a yearning to break free. So watching him gather the strength to stand up for himself is thrilling to watch.

This tight point of view also creates interest in the side characters, because even if they're essentially stereotypes, they also have distinct inner lives. Guillory's character loves her son, but needs the security and excitement a jerk like Gene provides. And Harris gives Gene an intriguing hint of insecurity beneath the bravado, essentially a schoolyard bully who has never been challenged and never grown up. Corlett's Eva is funny and steely at the same time. And Kennedy is a standout as a guy so confident in who he is that he scares everyone else. No wonder Goob finds him irresistible.

With its realistic, funny, earthy tone, the film draws us in even though it's tricky to work out who these people are and what their interactions mean. There isn't much plot, but the community is strikingly vivid, and Goob's emotional journey engagingly traverses joyous roughhousing, dark terror, first love and a dawning sense of independence. Like Goob, we are surprised by where things go. So even if the details remain thin, the movie has a powerful resonance that gets deep under the skin.

15 themes, language, violence, sexuality
back to the top R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
The Human Centipede 3 (Final Sequence)
dir-scr Tom Six
prd Ilona Six, Tom Six
with Dieter Laser, Laurence R Harvey, Eric Roberts, Tom Six, Bree Olson, Clayton Rohner, Robert LaSardo, Tommy 'Tiny' Lister, Jay Tavare, Akihiro Kitamura, Bill Hutchens, Carlos Ramirez
harvey and laser release US 22.May.15,
UK 10.Jul.15
15/US 1h42

See also:
The Human Centipede (2009) The Human Centipede 2 (2011)
The Human Centipede 3 (Final Sequence) Notorious Dutch filmmaker Six conceived of the human centipede as a deterrent to crime, and he concludes his grotesque trilogy by getting round to that idea. And what a deterrent it would be if it weren't for those pesky human rights laws (and film censorship). As one character says, "This is historic, beyond medieval torture!" Everything is exaggerated beyond all reason, but it also makes a point about extremism.

In a sadistic, overcrowded prison somewhere very like Texas, cigar-chomping warden Boss (Laser) responds to violence with violence, pressured by the swaggering state governor (Roberts) to clean things up during the election season. After watching the two Human Centipede movies, his snivelling accountant Butler (Harvey) has a brainstorm to fix the prison and frighten would-be criminals: create a gigantic human centipede with the inmates. So Boss calls in writer-director Six himself for advice.

Going even more meta, Six opens with the final scenes of the gritty, black-and-white Part 2, then expands to widescreen colour and an even more wildly comical tone. And in addition to popping up as himself, Six casts his two previous leads against-type. So each scene is already over-the-top, even before Laser hysterically bellows his lines as the beyond-unhinged Boss, an unabashed psychotic monster who when he's cornered simpers, "I was only following orders."

As a filmmaker, Six's main achievement thus far is coming up with things never before put on screen, genuinely atrocious situations that horror fans can't help but begrudgingly admire. "Highlights" here include roasting inmates in the yard under the midday sun, removing a defiant prisoner's testicles to make a lunchtime snack and unthinkable variations on waterboarding and prison rape. Plus a human caterpillar. Oddly, there's also some pathos as Butler tries to defend Boss's secretary Daisy (pornstar Olson) from a continual stream of hideous abuse.

Everything about the film is amateurish, which may be a deliberate attempt to mimic gonzo American B-movies, complete with hilariously detailed medical discussions, the tortured bombshell Daisy and Butler's staggeringly incorrect moustache. There are moments when the film suddenly looks cinematic and has performances that resemble actual acting. One inmate even quotes a censor, claiming that "these films risk causing harm". Amusingly, Six himself has the best reaction to his own vile imagery. And in the end someone even offers the voice of reason. Well, almost.

18 themes, language, violence, sexuality, extreme grisliness
back to the top R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
dir-scr Shane Abbess
prd Sidonie Abbene, Shane Abbess, Matthew Graham, Brett Thornquest
with Daniel MacPherson, Grace Huang, Luke Hemsworth, Bren Foster, Luke Ford, Dwaine Stevenson, Louisa Mignone, Tess Haubrich, Harry Pavlidis, Kevin Copeland, Andy Rodoreda, Richard Huggett
macpherson release US 8.May.15,
UK 18.Sep.15
15/Australia 1h50
Infini A lack of ambition and attention to detail sabotages what might have been an intriguing sci-fi horror thriller, mainly because the characters are so under-developed that it's impossible to care if any of them survive. With painfully simplistic back-stories, it's very difficult to find any meaning in the film. But the premise is intriguing and the cast is good enough for us to wish they had a better script to work with.

In the 23rd century, desperate people take dangerous interplanetary jobs that involve the not-quite-perfected slipstreaming process to transmit them like digital data across the galaxy. With his wife (Haubrich) pregnant, Whit (MacPherson) is going to work in a paramilitary outfit, and on his first day he ends up slipstreamed to Infini, a base on the edge of the universe where something has gone terribly wrong involving the discovery of a dangerous biological species. So a search-and-rescue team heads to Infini to clean up the mess and bring Whit home.

The main problem is that Whit is the only character we know, and we only know one thing about him. There's the whiff of a relationship between two team members (Huang and Foster), but they're otherwise indistinguishable, other than the tetchy one, the geeky one, the gung-ho one and so on. Absolutely nothing about them sinks in, so it's just a lot of people rushing around, going crazy and then turning on each other in increasingly grisly ways.

It's a solid idea, with echoes of Alien and Event Horizon, but writer-director Abbess simply forgets that subtext is what engages with the audience. The actors do what they can; they all look fit and intriguing, so we'd like to know more about them and care what happens. But that's impossible when they're as sketchy as this. As a result, we cling to Whit's cliched concern for his wife and unborn child, which MacPherson plays with far more emotion than the screenplay requires.

But while the film has a cool tone, it isn't actually that inventive. The designs are head-scratchingly odd, with costumes that look clunky and old-fashioned even now, complete with already archaic technology (Infiniti looks like it was launched in about 1982). And all of the suspense depends on rumbling, hackneyed noises on the soundtrack, followed by repetitive brawls that are thoroughly incoherent. And without any character detail at all, everything is just pointless.

15 themes, language, violence
back to the top R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
dir-scr Eric Henry
prd Marc Henry
with Adrian Shepherd-Gawinski, Ryan Fisher, Jonathan Nathaniel, Matthew Ludwinski, Elena Seepe, Graham Gauthier, Jesse Stong, Ken Scott, Helder Ramos, Lesley Hibberd, Bruce Gram, Michelle Ross
shepherd-gawinski and fisher release Can May.14 tiof,
US/UK 25.May.15
14/Canada 1h16
Seek This comedy-drama has a strong premise and engaging characters. It also contains the usual pitfalls of micro-budget filmmaking: an underdeveloped screenplay, smiley overacting and slack editing. While it tackles big themes with a refreshingly light touch, it also feels like a short film padded out with random sideroads, as if writer-director Henry wanted to get a lot of things off his chest.

In Toronto, young journalist Evan (Shepherd-Gawinski) works at a local gay weekly magazine and is thrilled when a newspaper editor (Gauthier) assigns him to write a freelance feature about the city's nightlife. While fending off the advances of his married friend Kate (Seepe), Evan goes out with his colleague Aidan (Nathaniel) in search of a story, also hoping to spot Jordan (Ludwinski), the dream man who got away. When he meets club-night host Hunter (Fisher), Evan knows he has the subject for his article. Then he discovers that Hunter and Jordan were once a couple.

The film cleverly portrays the difficulty of finding a lasting relationship in a big-city scene packed with people living for the moment. Evan yearns for that fantasy partner and struggles to avoid guys he knows are wrong for him. As a result, he of course misses everything that's right in front of him. None of this is terribly deep or original, but it's depicted with warmth and an engaging honesty. And the performances are likeable when they're relaxed and natural, less so when they feel strapped to stilted dialog.

Along the way, Henry playfully subverts silly cliches about urban life, especially on the gay scene, such as when Evan awkwardly turns down friendship from a too-persistent older guy he's not attracted to. Much of this is irrelevant to the central plot, but adds texture and interest. Oddly, despite the subject of Evan's article, the film never really explores the nightlife scene, and as we observe Evan and Hunter's superficial conversations we wonder how there's enough material to fill an article.

But then, nothing here quite cracks the surface. The naivete about journalism is echoed in a prudish approach to sex, as if the entire film has romanticised sexuality because it's frightened of the reality. Issues like fetishism and cross-dressing are addressed in the same squeaky-clean way. But the embracing approach holds the attention, as does the personal journey Evan takes through all of this. Because in his internalised feelings, the film cleverly touches a nerve.

15 themes, language, sexuality
back to the top Send Shadows your reviews!

< < I N D I E S > >

© 2015 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall