SPEECHLESS Short Film – Audience Video from Oct. 2017 HORROR Festival

Festival for HORROR

SPEECHLESS, 7min, Horror/Thriller
Directed by Dustin Demoret

What is behind the door and why does it want to get in?

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

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Film Review: GIRL #2 (USA, Horror/Comedy)

Played at the HORROR FEEDBACK Film Festival in October 2017 to rave reviews.

Review by Kierston Drier

One of the hardest areas of genre blending is terror and delight. Unlike romance and comedy or science-fiction and mystery, comedic-horror has an incredibly tight margin for error. Slightly too much in one direction and you have an awkward or unbalanced film. GIRL #2, directed by David Jeffery, is an example of a perfectly orchestrated success of these two styles. GIRL #2 follows two girls trapped in their sorority house while a crazed murderer follows them. Several of their friends fall victim to him and when the girls barricade themselves in a room for safety, the debate who will be able to get away. The tables turn in the debate when the girls get into a fight over who will have time to escape the villain- because based on horror cliche, the most attractive girl will likely get killed first.


Hilarious in its absurdity, GIRL #2 hits a tone similar to known horror-satire CABIN IN THE WOODS, because it delivers the classic horror tropes while also making fun of its own genre. A rollercoaster blood-and-thrill start to the short makes the comic turn all the most delightful as the subversion of expectations is take to a raucous extreme. GIRL #2 will surely please comedy lovers and thrill seekers alike.


Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video


Festival for HORROR


Best Film: MILK MAN

Best Performances: LIZ DRIVES

Best Cinematography: MY BODY


WATCH the Audience FEEDBACK Videos of the Short Films:

festival posterGIRL #2, 9min, USA, Horror/Comedy

festival posterSPEECHLESS, 7min, Horror/Thriller

festival posterANTICA, 11min., Canada, Horror/Thriller

festival posterLIZ DRIVES, 8min, Australia, Horror

festival posterMILK MAN, 10min., UK, Horror/Comedy

festival posterMY BODY, 6min, Germany, Horror

festival posterSTUDDED NIGHTMARE, 9min., Canada, Horror

festival posterTHE DARKNESS KEEPER, 18min, Spain, Thriller/Suspense

The HORROR OCTOBER 2017 FEEDBACK Film Festival was truly a great success.

The theme of the festival was “DOORS”.

Every film showcased had a “DOOR” part of the plot of the film!

NOTE: This was a showcase of the best HORROR films from around the world. Our 2nd HORROR Film Festival for the 2017 season.

There is a lady who attends…

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THELMA (Norway/Sweden/France/Denmark 2017) ****

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Thelma Poster
A woman begins to fall in love, only to discover that she has fantastic powers.


Joachim Trier


Joachim Trier (co-writer), Eskil Vogt (co-writer)



Director Joachim Trier’s (OSLO, AUGUST 31st and LOUDER THAN BOMBS) latest film combines the austerity of his previous films with a spin-off of the CARRIE the Stephen King story/Brian de Palma film where Sissy Spacek moves objects to avenge herself from the people who have wronged her.

THELMA inevitably draws comparisons from CARRIE but these are two very different films despite the similar subject matter.

The film follows a timid young woman, THELMA (Eili Harboe) who leaves her rural home to study in Oslo.  There, she finds love for the first time.  This love happens to be for a classmate of the same sex, which makes her extremely guilty because of her religion.  But her relationship is complicated by her family’s oppressive meddling, their seemingly fundamentalist religious beliefs, and, possibly, her unique ability to shape and affect her environment.  When Thelma is upset or agitated, strange things seem to happen.  She also goes into epileptic fits which cannot be explained by the hospital doctors.

Trier’s film works for two reasons.  Trier keeps the story one step ahead of his audience, making it always interesting.  The other, related to this reason, is that he is thus able to use the tool of audience anticipation.  The first time Thelma is shown in the film exhibiting her powers is in the school library.  Birds crash onto the library window while she goes into convulsions.  Then nothing till later in the film.  Trier uses the first third of the film to introduce Thelma, her family and surroundings to the audience without much happening.  And what will Thelma do next? What is she really capable of?  How will the film end?  One at least knows from the history of movies in this genre that the bad guys will get what is coming to them.  In THELMA, Trier keeps the ambiguity on who is bad or who is good.

The most intriguing fact in THELMA which is never explained is Thelma’s mother’s accident.   Unni (Ellen Dorrit Petersen) is seen in the latter part of the film in a wheelchair.  Is this a result of Thelma’s doing or an accident or due to her father Trond’s (Henrik Rafaelsen) meddling.

Trier also ups the mystery element by introducing the character of Thelma’s grandmother.  She is bedridden in a home.  Thelma thinks her grandmother is dead and visits her, unbeknown to her parents, thinking that her grandmother possesses the same power she has and that her father had given her medication to cause her to be in that sorry state of affairs.  When Trond gives her daughter pills to calm her down, Thelma grows suspicious that he might be poisoning her. 

Trier never explains the origin or cause of Thelma’s powers.  But neither did the film CARRIE.  It does not matter the reason, but what Trier wants to do with the power that matters.

THELMA succeeds as a psychological horror drama that keep the audience intrigued from start to end.  THELMA is shot in Norwegian.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HF36DsRFnXU

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WONDER (USA 2017) ***1/2

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Wonder Poster

Based on the New York Times bestseller, WONDER tells the incredibly inspiring and heartwarming story of August Pullman, a boy with facial differences who enters fifth grade, attending a mainstream elementary school for the first time.


Stephen Chbosky


Stephen Chbosky (screenplay by), Steve Conrad (screenplay by)

WONDER is a family friendly film with just the correct mix of comedy and drama about a boy with a facial deformity, Auggie ( Jacob Tremblay).  The film follows his adjustment to public school, Beecham Preparatory School after being home schooled by his mother, Isabel (Julia Roberts).  His father, Nate (Owen Wilson) is supportive as well as his sister, Via (Izabela Vidovic) though she resents not being given as much attention by her parents.  WONDER is written by Steve Conrad based on the book of the same name by R.J. Palacio.

Despite the obvious message as announced via voiceover at the end of the movie: “Be Kind: You just have to look at people to see…”, there is another more important message found in the movie, as uttered by Via, Auggie’s sister when she angrily quips at her brother: “It’s not always about you.” This message is also echoed in the way the film’s story is brilliantly told – in 4 parts from 3 other points of view besides Auggie’s, showing that other people count.  The other views are from Auggie’s sister, Via, and from two of his friends, Jack Will (Noah Jupe) and Miranda (Danielle Rose Russell).  The other three are revealed in the script as individuals, just as important as individuals as being a character in Auggie’s world.

The film’s contains one mixed message in the way Auggie finds his first friend, Jack Will – by allowing him to cheat, copying from him, during a test.  He could have helped him or offered to help him study instead.

The big minus in WONDER is the filmmakers insistence on going for sentiment.  They should be more confident on the material and stop tugging at the heartstrings.  So be forewarned!  Bring plenty of Kleenex as director Chbosky chooses to milk every opportunity he can for tears.  This can be observed by the choice of music; Julia Robert’s perpetual sad look; the script’s dialogue (You cannot blend in if you are meant to stand out in the world); the fondness of close-ups of the actors’ faces.

The script could be trimmed to do away with the teen budding romance between Via and her new theatre boyfriend, Justin that does not do much with the main story.

The performances from the young kids are to be praised.  The best of these belong to Noah Jupe as Jack Will, Auggie’s best friend.  Jupe is a natural, the camera loving his every facial expression – a possible future star in the making.  Two screen veterans Mandy Patinkin and Sonia Braga lend their hands playing Mr. Tushman and Via’s grandmother respectively.

Chbosky’s film tries at making every set-up perfect.  It is therefore not surprising that the film’s best moment is a quiet and simple one – a close-up of Jack Will’s face at being happy once again at being Auggie’s friend.

The film ends with Auggie’s mom saying to Auggie: “You are really a WONDER, Auggie”.  Perhaps the film itself could have turned out a wonder if everyone did not try so hard.

But for all its flaws, WONDER is a film made about a subject that matters.  It is also good to see stars like Julia Roberts  and Owen Wilson putting their efforts in a earnest little movie for a change.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cFxsRbqN8jA


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STEGMAN IS DEAD (Canada 2017) ***

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Stegman Is Dead Poster
Meet Stegman. He’s dead. In this crime comedy, bizarre assassins must come together to unravel the puzzle of Stegman’s blackmail secret, and why he’s already dead on the set of his own porn film.


David Hyde


Raven Banner Entertainment distributes low budget films – usually horror flicks or flicks with an edge.  STEGMAN IS DEAD falls into the latter category, with violence and  some foul language thrown in for good measure despite the film’s protagonist being a family man.

A family man with a past crime background, to be more accurate.  He has ‘successfully’ completed a heist in which he had accidentally killed two security guards.  His boss, Don (Michael Ironside) has cleaned up everything but unfortunately all the cleanup was recorded on tape which has been stole by Stegman who is now blackmailing him.

The film attracted attention well before its release, with two nominations at the Golden Trailer Awards in LA, an Award Of Excellence at the IndieFest 2017 Film Awards in the US and a surprising “market premiere” at the Cannes Film Festival programmed by Telefilm Canada as one of their six favourite films of 2017.

Director Hyde focuses the film on a single location (Stegman’s home/studio) and created a colourful array of criminals, each with their own distinct “style.” There are twenty-one speaking roles include a bumbler named Lars (Arne MacPherson), a sadistic Russian named Sergei (David Lawrence Brown), a psycho “terminator” named Kruger (Stephen Eric McIntyre) and a mystery-woman named Evy (Bernice Liu).

This follows Diane’s family, a deceptively pleasant, aging lot of retired criminals who want to give her struggling husband Gus, a leg up.  The father and daughter – the leads of the story – are members of a clan that goes back generations. They revere the fact that they are thieves. They live in an offbeat culture that exists outside normal society. ‘My dad taught me how to steal wallets, I’m teaching my daughter how to steal wall

When the film opens, Mike is in front of his house. The voiceover informs that he is about to rob his own house.  But the police have been to the house first.  He is to recover the tapes that will save his hide and his marriage.

STEGMAN IS DEAD is confidently put together by director, writer and cast who clearly exhibits confidence.  The trouble with confidence is that the film comes out as too smug for tis own good.  A bit more humility will result in flaws being identified and perhaps corrected.  

The film’s dialogue ranges from funny to fair.  His wife warns him:”If you don’t bring back the bacon, you do not get the sausage.”  Or an old guys saying: “No ore tension, now with pension.”  But the film occasionally hits the laughter jackpot as in one scene where everyone at gathering is forced to lie on the ground.  The wife of an elderly tells him, “Keep your arms together”, as he has difficulty going down to the floor.

The film’s setting is Middle America with its low income residences, old cars and dirty roads.  It sold remembered though that this is a Canadian movie.

STEGMAN IS DEAD is not a bad film, efficiently put together with a confident cast and crew.  It contains occasional surprises but one has to watch out for them.  There is one good thing to say about this film – it has spirit!  The film has a limited engagement at the Carlton Cinemas, again a small venue for small budget films and gems.

Trailer: https://vimeo.com/223366304

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PARADISE (Russia 2016) ****

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Paradise Poster

Follows three people whose paths cross during a terrible time of war: Olga, a Russian aristocratic emigrant and member of the French Resistance; Jules, a French collaborator; and Helmut, a high-ranking German SS officer.


Andrey Konchalovskiy (screenplay), Elena Kiseleva (screenplay)

Shot in black and white in part documentary style with interviews, PARADISE is a harrowing if not compelling study of human behaviour and strife for a better lifestyle (or as the film unfolds, the goal is to achieve a kind of PARADISE) regardless of circumstances.  The circumstances in the film’s setting are not too good – as the setting is a Nazi concentration camp.

When the film opens, the audience sees three different individuals interviewed, whose paths cross because of the devastation of war.  

The first person interviewed is a portly middle-class Frenchman named Jules who has a wife and a son called Emile..  He goes on to talk about his son being called Emile for no real reason, except to show that he is a man dedicated to family.  Director Konchalovsky (who has proven himself with 3 well-known films, RUNAWAY TRAIN, THE ODYSSEY, SHY PEOPLE) allows his audience to form their own opinion or judgement on this not entirely unlikeable character as in the other two, despite him being a French-Nazi collaborator. 

Next is handsome high-ranking German SS officer Helmut, who once fell madly in love with Olga and still harbours feelings. They re-kindle their old flame and embark on a twisted and destructive relationship.

The third and most important in the story is Olga.  Olga, a Russian aristocratic immigrant and member of the French Resistance, is arrested by Nazi police for hiding Jewish children during a surprise raid.  As her punishment, she is sent to jail where she meets Jules and later Helmut who offers her a safe haven to South America as an escape both for her from the concentration camp and for him from the defeat of the Nazis in the war.

The best thing about PARADISE is the film’s authentic look in terms of period and atmosphere.  Everything else too from the costumes, wardrobe, sets look directly as if they were derived from old photographs.  The camera moves in and out the seemingly crowded spaces in the concentration camp.

Konchalovsky also shows the rift between the Jewish prisoners.  They fight among themselves for food and for the attire off someone who has just died.  The kapos (the prisoners selected to act as guards) are also looked down upon in the film.  Besides the grim look of the camps, Konchalovsky also shows the splendour enjoyed by the rich.  Servants stand by to serve the rich and fortunate as they play tennis in the latest fashioned attire.  Helmut looks particular sexy in his outfits among the females.

But the film’s main goal is the message that is revealed only at the end of the film – on how humanity and kindness can still exist amidst the futility of war.  The film’s theme can be summarized using the famous words of German philosopher Karl Jaspers: “That which has happened is a warning. It must be continually remembered. It was possible for this to happen, and it remains possible for it to happen again at any minute. Only in knowledge can it be prevented.”

PARADISE arrives though a year late, with all the accolades after winning the Silver Lion Award at the Venice Film Festival.  Definitely a film worth seeing!

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OzIthDhMjC4


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BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL (Japan 2017) ***

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Blade of the Immortal Poster

Manji, a highly skilled samurai, becomes cursed with immortality after a legendary battle. Haunted by the brutal murder of his sister, Manji knows that only fighting evil will regain his soul. He promises to help a young girl named Rin avenge her parents, who were killed by a group of master swordsmen led by ruthless warrior Anotsu.


Takashi Miike


Hiroaki Samura (manga), Tetsuya Oishi (screenplay)

If you have not heard of Takashi Miiki, this is the opportunity to get acquainted with the Japanese writer/director who has made 99 films so far with this one BLADE OFTHE IMMORTAL based on Hiroaki Samura’s ground-breaking and award-winning manga, being his 100th film.  Most of his films, violent as they are never get a commercial release in Canada.

Miiki is famous for action samurai films but he is also well known for his modern horror flicks, especially AUDITION, which is one film guaranteed to make one cringe – imagine steel wire supported by bricks dismembering ones foot.

BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL follows the hero of the story, Manji (Takuya Kimura), a highly skilled samurai who becomes cursed with immortality after a legendary battle.  Haunted by the brutal murder of his sister, Manji knows that only fighting evil will regain his soul.  He promises to help a young girl named Rin avenge her parents, who were killed by a group of master swordsmen led by ruthless warrior Anotsu. The mission will change Manji in ways he could never imagine.

In period samurai pieces, interest is often lost without personalizing the story.  This one has Rin who hires Manji to avenge her father –  a story reminiscent of TRUE GRIT.

For amusement, Miiki inserts a debate on what is good and what evil is, only to tear apart the concept a few moments after.

  The straightforward samurai revenge flick is built around the platonic, primal ideal of what a samurai movie can be.  Still, as in Miiki’s films, BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL is a non-stop symphony of murder and steel filled with unbelievable weapons, gruesome amputations, rivers of blood, and charismatic warriors. It is a 2 hour 20 minute saga, though interest never flails.  It features spectacular fight scenes with a whole array of imaginative weapons, and a climactic battle reportedly involving some 300 people that took more than two weeks to film.

Miiki takes his time to establish his villain.  The villain is one Anotsu, not just a villain with no character.  He has his principle of fighting one on one, and not playing with children as he deems it vulgar.  He is a pretty boy with luscious lips, always decked in a gorgeous robe, obviously better looking than the hero, who has a scar right across his face.  That is Miiki’s weird humour that makes his film and his characters stand out against others.

Miiki remembers too that in spite of all, BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL is an action sword fitting flick.  So, the battles and fights are well choreographed and exciting enough to satisfy die hard fans.  There is a little combination of horror and action in the film, but the horror is not as disturbing as in his other films like AUDITION.  Still, there are a lot of chopped off hands, feet and limbs. 

BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL premiered at Cannes and at the Reel Asian International Film Festival in Toronto.  

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-M2F4-oTNF4


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ROMAN J. ISRAEL, ESQ. (USA 2017) ***

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Denzel Washington stars as Roman Israel, a driven, idealistic defense attorney who, through a tumultuous series of events, finds himself in a crisis that leads to extreme action.


Dan Gilroy


Dan Gilroy


Writer/director Dan Gilroy’s ROMAN J. ISRAEL is a film that tries very hard to be perfect, just as its subject, ROMAN J. ISRAEL, ESQ (Denzel Washington) tries to be.  But perfection is a state that is almost impossible to achieve with regards to the film and its subject, and this point comes clear at the end of the film.  Which is a shame considering writer/director Gilroy’s noble intentions.

The film begins with a document in the making, with a plaintiff and defendant named the same person Roman J. Israel, Esq.  The film flashbacks three years earlier to explain how this state of affairs comes to be.

Gilroy introduces his man, Israel as a noble man, but one that is not respected by many as this is a man not of the world, but of humbler means but with proud aspirations.  He works in a small law firm with his partner taking on small cases that matter in terms of human rights and fairness.  The partner does all the court appearances while Israel all the ground work.  When his partner, the firm’s front man, has a heart attack, Israel suddenly takes on that role.  He finds out some unsettling things about what the crusading law firm has done that run afoul of his values of helping the poor and dispossessed, and he finds himself in an existential crisis that leads to extreme action.  

Into the his world arrives two people that make a difference.  One is Maya (Carmen Ejogo) who looks up to him and who he eventually falls in love with.  The other is the head of a well established and successful law firm, Arthur (Colin Farrell) whom his partner taught and inspired in law school.  Arthur takes Israel in, hoping to find his conscience that he has almost lost in the world of business and law.

What stands out in this incredible story is Roman’s downfall.   Like any other man, he is tempted by the good life.  Roman takes a bite of the apple in the garden of Eden.  The apple arrives in the reward money Roman quietly takes from one of his cases.  And he is found out.

A lot of the film rests on Oscar Winner Denzel Washington’s performance.  Roman is the main subject who is in almost every scene.  Roman not only undergoes a character change once but twice from good to bad and to good again.  The character also undergoes a rites-of-passage where he learns about life itself.  But the surprise and prized performance comes from Colin Farrell.  Farrell douses his unkempt and portly appearance he donned in THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER and THE LOBSTER to reveal a sexy business executive, a Mr. Perfect looking sharp and sexy in his  perfectly tailored suits and groomed hair.   He finally shows his transition from action actor to star commanding the screen presence in this film so magnificently.

One wishes ROMAN the film would have come out more powerful.  The main problem is the film aiming too high.  A classic movie arrives with minor flaws, some dull parts and surprises just as what life dishes out.  Gilroy’s ROMAN J. ISRAEL, entertaining though it may be, is just too meticulously planned.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CItEtnp3nPY

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