In the concluding part of our review of the Fantasy FilmFest Nights programme, we pick four more films from the programme and go in for a closer look. Hannah watched Snowpiercer, Dead Snow 2, Enemy and The Green Inferno at Fantasy FilmFest Nights, March 29th-30th 2014.
In a dystopian future where the world has been ravaged by global cooling, a train navigates the earth year after year, home to the only remaining humans. Refreshingly there’s a fairly diverse cast as it seems with most disaster movies only white people survive the end of the world, including the wonderful Octavia Spencer and Korean actor Song Kang-ho, but it’s Chris Evans who takes the central role as the gruff Curtis Everett, a third class citizen with a dark past. Evans has graduated from his early noughties role as Hollywood beefcake to accomplished actor/all-American superhero, and his portrayal of Curtis is incredibly human and heartfelt. The film’s origins as a graphic novel are palpable but the story still works on the big screen, the action scenes being particularly impressive. And if you’ve ever wondered what Tilda Swinton sounds like with a Northern accent, here’s your chance to find out! Snowpiecer is Bong Joon-ho’s first English language film but you wouldn’t know it- Snowpiecer has a global appeal that means audiences (with a strong disposition) from Seoul to South Carolina can enjoy it- but perhaps that’s the power of sci-fi.
Dead Snow 2
Next time you think you’re having a bad week, spare a thought for Martin. In the first Dead Snow film he was forced to kill his girlfriend and watch as zombies devoured everyone he held dear after his hapless ski buddies accidentally awoke a troop of Nazi zombies by uncovering their hidden Nazi gold. Minus one arm, Dead Snow 2 picks up right where the first left off. If you think the aforementioned plot sounds ridiculous, it’s nothing compared to what happens in the sequel. How do you defeat cursed Nazi zombies? You awaken a hoard of Russian zombies and get them to fight the Nazi zombies for you. Obviously. When a film is this ridiculous it can either be brilliant or terrible, which is a line that Dead Snow 2 toes quite skilfully. It was the funniest film of the festival for all the right reasons and had everyone in the audience in hysterics for the whole duration. Absurd, gory, disgusting and completely insane, it brings something new to an often tired genre, and if you can’t appreciate this work of madcap genius, maybe the zombies already got to your brain…
In this “erotic thriller” Jake Gyllenhaal plays a duel role as Adam, a mild-mannered history teacher who discovers there is someone who looks exactly like him living in the same city. What follows is a taught thriller that relies on the energy Gyllenhaal provides in his performance, standing out against a yellow-brown city backdrop. Whilst Melanie Laurent receives top billing as Adam’s girlfriend she is barely in the film, although Sarah Gadon is fantastic as the other supporting female character, Helen. The whole film feels incredibly surreal, sort of how I imagine it would be to walk home in thirty degree heat after a dental procedure. The ending has been simultaneously loved and loathed by audiences, but it does make for interesting conversation, and it’s refreshing to see Gyllenhaal, an undoubtedly talented actor, getting more exciting roles than the likes of Prince of Persia or Love and Other Drugs, even if I can’t decide if Enemy is pretentious art-house cinema or not. On another note- it should not be confused with Richard Ayoade’s The Double, starring Jesse Eisenberg, also to be released this year. That one will probably be a lot funnier.
The Green Inferno
Eli Roth rarely stops talking about how much he loves Cannibal Holocaust. In fact, he loves it so much he had the director, Ruggero Deodato, star in a cameo for his own film, Hostel Part 2. If he wasn’t a horror director, his obsession would be a little odd, but instead he channels his admiration into this tribute to the Italian exploitation film infamous for its scenes of animal torture and so graphic its director was accused of actually murdering his cast (no, really). Sadly for Roth, it just doesn’t quite come together in his film (named for the working title of its predecessor) which seems altogether a bit…pointless. The acting is bad, but not bad enough to be enjoyably so, the premise flimsy, and Roth fails to add anything new to the genre he so loves. Even the ‘shock’ ending has been done before. It’s pretty to look at, but that might be more thanks to the beauty of the setting than anything Roth accomplishes.
All in all, this year’s Fantasy FilmFest Nights were bloody good fun, providing ten films in two days and keeping audiences appetites for all things weird and wonderful at bay. For those who missed it, don’t worry too much as Fantasy Filmfest returns to Berlin in August for two weeks of cinematic mayhem: you can keep up with the details and programme news on their website.