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See also: SHADOWS FILM FESTIVAL | Last update 19.Apr.23

Evil Dead Rise  
Review by Rich Cline | 3/5  
Evil Dead Rise
dir-scr Lee Cronin
prd Rob Tapert
with Alyssa Sutherland, Lily Sullivan, Morgan Davies, Gabrielle Echols, Nell Fisher, Mirabai Pease, Anna-Maree Thomas, Richard Crouchley, Jayden Daniels, Mark Mitchinson, Noah Paul, Billy Reynolds-McCarthy
release US/UK 21.Apr.23
23/US Warners 1h37

Bifan fest

See also:
Evil Dead 2013

Is it streaming?

echols, fisher, sullivan, davies
As the horror franchise returns, writer-director Lee Cronin sidesteps plot and characters to focus on creating the grisliest movie imaginable. It's an approach that keeps the audience squirming at each mind-bogglingly awful thing that happens to a bunch of relatively normal people minding their own business. Genre fans will enjoy the yuckiness, but the connection to the other movies is tenuous, and there's not much else to it.
On a dark and stormy night in suburban Los Angeles, Ellie (Sutherland) gets a visit from her world-travelling sister Beth (Sullivan). Since her husband left, Ellie has been fending for herself and her three kids, teens Danny and Bridget (Davies and Echols) and the younger Kassie (Fisher). While Ellie and Beth hash out the long-running beef between them, the kids find an ancient book recently uncovered by an earthquake. And suddenly everything goes nuts, as the book's destructive demonic spirit attacks this family in increasingly vicious ways. But they aren't going down without a fight.
A lakeside prologue hints where this is going, although Cronin takes a while to connect the dots. Meanwhile, this malevolent force zeroes in on anyone who is even slightly nice, determined to obliterate them. Fans will delight at the way this condemned apartment building is infested, as this demon causes mayhem that results in literally buckets of blood and gore (including a visceral homage to The Shining). The film definitely keeps us gasping at the scale of the nastiness, but it remains a superficial thrill.

While the script includes intriguing relational nuances, they are abandoned once the chaos is unleashed. The likeable actors do what they can to maintain a sense of connection between the characters, but they remain so sketchy that it's impossible to care what happens to them. Sutherland has a lot of fun in the most over-the-top role as a single-mum tattoo artist who has the earliest encounter with this evil force. Sullivan brings some spark to Beth along the way, and Davies, Echols and Fisher play their youthful roles with attitude and energy.

Cronin playfully finds fresh ways to use the setting, a decrepit apartment building rather than a cabin in the woods, even if the movie is eye-strainingly dark and murky. And while the multi-generational cast adds some nice twists to the premise, the possibilities remain unexplored by the script. What's left is a series of outrageously gruesome attacks that keep us squirming in our seats simply because they're so ghastly. Which just about makes up for the lack of suspense.

cert 18 themes, language, violence 17.Apr.23

Golden Delicious  
Review by Rich Cline | 4/5  
Golden Delicious
dir Jason Karman
scr Gorrman Lee; prd Kristyn Stilling
with Cardi Wong, Chris Carson, Parmiss Sehat, Ryan Mah, Leeah Wong, Claudia Kai, Jesse Hyde, Hunter Dillon, Zavien Garrett, Jeff Joseph, Kameron Louangxay, Cole Howard
release Can Oct.22 viff,
US Oct.22 sqff,
UK Mar.23 flare
22/Canada 1h59

bfi flare fest

Is it streaming?

wong and carson
Warm and engaging, this Canadian comedy-drama uses sympathetic characters to explore big issues relating to family and societal expectations. Asian ethnicity and queer sexuality play a role in the various story threads, which remain resonant even when things get a bit melodramatic in the final act. Throughout the film, director Jason Karman maintains a wonderfully light touch, and the gifted, fresh-faced cast members are easy to root for.
In Vancouver, 17-year-old Jake (Cardi Wong) is excited to start his senior year with his girlfriend Valerie (Sehat). His dad George (Mah) once again pushes him to try out for the basketball team, and Jake obliges even though he's far more interested in photography. Jake also becomes increasingly intrigued by the hot teen Aleks (Carson), who has just moved in across the alley. Aleks also plays basketball, and he's openly gay, all of which stirs something unexpected in Jake. And as Jake explores his own feelings, it becomes increasingly difficult to live up to everyone's expectations.
Other characters are also dealing with similar issues, including Jake's mother Andrea (Leeah Wong), who is fed up with running the family restaurant. Jake's sister Janet (Kai) is in culinary school and has to battle to be let into the business. While at school, basketball team captain Ronald (Hyde) relentlessly bullies both Jake and Aleks. All of these plot strands swirl around and come to a head, but thankfully the script never tries to find a tidy conclusion. And because the characters are so messy, the actors are able to bring them to life with big personalities.

As Jake, Wong plays a likeable kid who clearly has no idea what to do with the discoveries he is making about himself. He has terrific chemistry with both Sehat and Carson, especially as his impulsive actions cause ripples of consequences. And within his family, the bond is sharply well played to reveal closeness as well as potential fissures. Each actor maintains a full inner life that adds texture to the overall drama, even when things begin to get rather intense.

While the film feels a bit overlong and sometimes threatens to become very dark indeed, Karman maintains such a buoyant tone that we never worry about it turning in a tragic direction. Instead of simplistic resolutions, these people are able to find ways to take baby steps in the right directions. This makes the underlying themes powerfully involving. And it also makes the film both entertaining and moving.

cert 15 themes, language, sexuality, violence 21.Mar.23 flare

Unidentified Objects  
Review by Rich Cline | 4/5  
Unidentified Objects
dir Juan Felipe Zuleta
scr Leland Frankel
prd Juan Sebastian Jaimes, Leland Frankel, Matthew Jeffers, Masha Leonov, Ramfis Myrthil, Adam Piotrowicz
with Matthew August Jeffers, Sarah Hay, Kerry Flanagan, Hamish Allan-Headley, Elliot Frances Flynn, Roberta Colindrez, John Ryan Benavides, Tara Pacheco, Roy Abramsohn, Brittney Saylor, Dorian Perez, Andrew Stevens Purdy
release US Jul.22 ofla,
UK Mar.23 flare
22/US 1h40

bfi flare fest

Is it streaming?

jeffers and hay
Wildly inventive, this lively road comedy has a wonderful fantastical streak, even as the story grapples with seriously grounded themes. It may be a bonkers adventure involving a gay little person and female sex worker, but the writing, direction and acting have a lot to say about overcoming fear. It's also a hugely engaging journey that's packed with wonderfully surreal touches and moments that are both hilarious and moving.
In New York, Peter (Jeffers) is wallowing at home in self-pity and grief when Winona (Hay) bangs on his door insistently asking to borrow his car. She says she has an appointment in rural Canada to meet aliens who abducted her as a teen. Peter cynically dismisses that but, when he thinks about it, he has his own reason for tagging along. So they hit the road for a three-day cross-country trek. On the road, Winona's life-loving attitude clashes with the cantankerous Peter. But maybe getting out of his shell is just what Peter needs.
Surreal Lynchian imagery echoes throughout the film as director Zuleta skilfully uses eye-catching lighting and imagery to dig deeply into Peter's thoughts. This includes sequences that play with extraterrestrial imagery or root around in his lively imagination. At the core of the story is Peter's sense of his own otherworldliness, because he thinks that he is only seen for the things that set him apart. So as a stream of outrageous characters cross his path, starting with the force-of-nature Winona, Peter's odyssey becomes hugely involving.

Jeffers is sensational in a difficult role as a smart guy who knows everything but doesn't feel like he belongs anywhere. Initially unwilling to open up at all, he is battered down by Winona's relentless kindness. She's beautifully played by Hay with a tricky balance of intelligence and heart. Each encounter pushes Peter in a different direction, and it's fascinating to see Jeffers' full-bodied reactions, which range from vicious to silly to sad to exhilarating.

With terrific cinematography by Camilo Monsalve (a one-take hotel room confrontation is breathtaking), the film is peppered with memorable scenes that carry weighty kicks. Whether it's a bigoted assault or an absurd police stop, each sequence pushes the story in heightened ways that dig into the deeper ideas about how most of us feel like outsiders. And in the end, the question is only whether we have given up or still have hope.

cert 15 themes, language, violence 19.Mar.23 flare

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