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Film

Fantasia Week Three, Thereabouts

Posted by Christine / August 10, 2011

20110810-dontbe.jpg Vampire, also an official Sundance Film Festival selection, screened August 1st. This film tells the tale of Simon, portrayed by promising young actor Kevin Zeggers, a biology teacher with some unusual habits, namely, exsanguinating would-be suicide victims to satisfy his need to consume human blood.

This film was beautifully shot and had remarkable key images, albeit a bit overused, reminiscent of the works of one of my favorite photographer duos, Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison. Particularly striking are the scenes featuring Simon's mother, an isolated woman suffering from Alzheimer's. She is harnessed to giant white balloons, which function as a means to prevent her from wandering from home. The moral soundness of employing such a contraption is questionable, and well, so is murdering people. Simon doesn't seem to mind either all that much.

Director Shunji Iwai's vision is a tender one. Melancholy reverberates through each character as they create and loose fleeting connections with one another. However, the film itself falls victim to the same emotional affliction, sometimes moving from scene to scene in a manner that is both disjointed in mood and plot. With that said, this film would have benefited from an editing eye, specifically, by eliminating redundancies and providing smoother narrative transitions.

Don't Be Afraid of The Dark, based on a 1973 made-for-TV movie, was shown August 4th. It was introduced via video by talented horror producer Guillermo del Toro, whose repertoire includes: Pan's Labyrinth, The Orphanage and The Devil's Backbone. All of which are worth seeing, trust me.

"This is a re-invention of the original telefilm I saw as a kid, and I essentially crapped my pants," he laughed, reminiscing on the terror he felt while watching it for the first time.

But first, the audience was treated to a great short film co-created by none other than Rider Strong of Boy Meets World fame. The Dungeon Master was an endearing offering that appealed to the retired D&D player in me. Strong himself said, "This is a film (my brother and I) had to make because we were totally geeky as kids."

You can watch the trailer here.

Don't Be Afraid of The Dark was everything I hoped it would be. Not unlike many other del Toro pieces, this movie featured an exceptionally well-cast child actress caught in a dark, Grimm's Fairy Tales-like world.

Sally (Bailee Madison.), whose parents are divorced, comes to stay with her father (Guy Pierce) and his girlfriend (Katie Holmes) in a Victorian mansion the pair is restoring for re-sell. From the depths of the building, mysterious creatures begin calling out for Sally to play with them. Their intentions are far from benevolent.

A horrific take on the all too familiar tale of the tooth fairy, Don't Be Afraid of The Dark moves along at an excellent pace. The beings progress from hissing disembodied voices to erratically scurrying shadows to believable rodent-like CG creatures. This slow reveal resulted in many a clenched arm rest, covered eyes, nervous feet shuffling, teeth gnashing, and scared couple cuddling.

And with that, my coverage of this year's Fantasia Film Festival has come to an end. Simply put, nothing sets my heart ablaze quite like discovering a terrific film I would have never otherwise seen. Whether I'm flanked by friends or flying solo, I always enjoy the assembly of eccentric, genuinely elated audience members Fantasia brings together (whose hilarious pre-movie "meowing" can always be counted on). And Fantasia loves us back.

"Thanks for your curiosity, your passion and your madness," said Co-Director Mitch Davies.

Image from: Beyond Hollywood.

Discussion

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