Movie Review of the short film “Boudoir”

“Boudoir” played at the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film Festival at the October 2015 best of horror/thriller short films. 

BOUDOIR, 9min, US, Horror/Mystery
Directed by Gina Lee Ronhovde

An agoraphobic photographer is psychologically tortured by a mysterious client during a routine boudoir photography session, escalating into a battle to stay alive.

Read the movie review of “Boudoir” by Amanda Lomonaco

No. Just no. I spent this entire film excited to hear what I was hoping would be hilariously negative comments about it during mediation, and was incredibly disappointed when I heard its praise. As if it wasn’t enough that the film itself had disappointed me.

Some of this is my own fault. I didn’t realize some of the bad acting in the film was actually intentional. Probably because I didn’t recognize the actress originally (apparently she’s famous – oops!). In any case, I was entirely too distracted by the poor acting to allow myself to actually enjoy the film. With the enlightenment of the comments raised during the mediation period, I could probably have appreciated this film a little more, but I still don’t think I would give it a thumbs up.

The concept itself is kind of cool. It even has a little bit of an air of Black Swan to it; some lesbian implications, a tortured artist with just a dash of schizophrenia, an apparent murder that turns out to be suicide… If you’ve seen Aronofsky’s film this will all sound familiar. Quite a few people in the audience really did seem to enjoy it, although I don’t know how much of that was driven by the supporting character’s celebrity.

Yes, I am being incredibly harsh and bias in this review, but reviews are supposed to be a matter of opinion, so I’m simply giving you my own. This was the weakest film in what would have otherwise been a flawless line up for October’s WILDSound Feedback Film Festival, but I suppose you just can’t please everybody all the time.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of BOUDOIR:


Movie Review of the short film “The Blood Of Love”

“The Blood of Love” is a multiple award winning horror/romance short film. It won BEST FILM at the WILDsound October FEEDBACK Film Festival, part of their best of Horror Short Film event. 

THE BLOOD OF LOVE, 19min, USA, Horror/Thriller
Directed by Jeff Meyers

Unwilling to accept the death of her husband, a young widow, acquires a machine that can bring him back to her. But the machine exacts a terrible price: she must provide the blood it needs to revive her beloved. And it starts demanding more and more blood for less and less time.

Read movie review of THE BLOOD OF LOVE by Amanda Lomonaco

There are so many ways in which I loved this film, I’m afraid I won’t even be able to fit it in this review, or that I’ll even be able to describe them properly. So many elements of this film were equal parts clever, funny, creepy, & ironic. What’s best, Jeff Meyers seems to have found the all too elusive balance between telling too much or too little.

You can’t say much about The Blood of Love without revealing the whole plot line. It’s a pretty unique story in itself, but I can start by saying the best part is the end. Not the “official” end, but the end after the credits, when you think the story has finished, and then Meyers steps in with one final jab to wrap the story up a little better. In fact, both endings are funny, and I would have felt satisfied regardless of which one I had viewed, which is a rarity in and of itself.

The one pitfall of the film that I would have to point out is the lack of chemistry between the two characters. While their acting was great, and the scripting was all very natural, everytime I saw things get a little more sexually charged between them I wanted to cringe just a little. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t awful, I might just be nitpicky with this one, but I definitely got the sense that, despite their talent, those two people did NOT want to be kissing each other.

Somehow none of that ruined the film for me. I’m not sure if I should thank the editor for minimizing the instances of intimacy between the two main characters, or if that was simply a directorial choice from the get-go. Nevertheless I never felt at any point like the story was lacking. It was always fun, it was always entertaining, it kept me wanting to see more, and yet when it was over, I was sufficiently satisfied. I always say a good short film leaves you wanting more, but this is one of the few cases where I will say, at 20 minutes, The Blood of Love was about the perfect length.

Don’t expect too much from this one if you’re all about guts and glory, but if you’re a fan of clever plotlines with a healthy dose of irony, give this one a go. Even if you don’t enjoy your average, everyday horror film, I’m sure you’ll get a kick out of this one. Meyers definitely seems to have found a little bit of something to please all audiences.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of THE BLOOD OF LOVE:

Movie Review of the short film “Blood Tower Enigma”

“Blood Tower Enigma” played at the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film Festival in October 2015, part of its best of horror/thriller short film lineup.

BELL TOWER ENIGMA, 10min, UK, Horror/Mystery
Directed by Daniel Reimer

The every-day routine of a Sexton is suddenly interrupted, when a mysterious phone ringing not only draws him deeper into the church, but also into hidden memories of his mind. As he follows the calling of his conscience he unveils his past and discovers the path of redemption that he ultimately must go in order to escape his torturing nightmares.

BELL TOWER ENIGMA Movie Review by Amanda Lomonaco

I have to be honest, my first reaction to this one was a big fat NO. It was odd, disjointed, and a little too artsy for my taste. But weirdly, as I recollect it, I find myself smiling at some of the imagery depicted by Reimer (no, not THAT Reimer, I mean the director).

Something about the architecture of old gothic style churches makes them the perfect setting for any thriller. Being equal parts beautiful and ominous, they lure us in and but somehow still keep us on our toes and make the hairs at the back of our neck stand on end. I like to think that it was this very knowledge that led Daniel Reimer to chose a church as his prime location for this film.

By blurring the lines of continuity, and using a blend of surreal images, Bell Tower Engima comes across as more of a distrubing nightmare than a realistic story, perfect for any horror film lover. When the cinema lights come back on you’re not quite sure what it is you’ve just experienced, but there are certainly a couple of prickles on your skin, much like waking up from a scary dream. Perhaps Nightmare on Elm Street could have learned a thing or two from this short.

I can’t declare that Bell Tower Enigma is amazing, or that I even managed to grasp its full meaning, but there is something to be said about a film that unexpectedly causes you to smile as you recall it. Those of you who enjoy a gentle feeling of disturbance to go along with your films should certainly give it a try. On the other hand I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this for those of you who need blood and guts in your horror films.


Movie Review of the short film “Submerged”

“Submerged” played at the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film Festival in October 2015, part of its best of horror/thriller short film lineup. It received rave reviews from the audience winning two awards: Best Overall Performance and Best Original Score.

SUBMERGED, 15min, UK, Haunting/Romance
Directed by Darren Mapletoft

When a teleportation experiment goes wrong, submariner Billy Bourne finds his crewmates have all disappeared. Determined to dance with his ‘Baby’ again, he faces a race against time to make his own escape.

SUBMERGED Movie Review by Amanda Lomonaco

WARNING! DO NOT watch this film if you are claustrophobic. I am only very minimally scared of cramped spaces but I am TERRIFIED of being buried alive, and of course this film brought out both those elements together perfectly. Again, as a lover of horror, mystery, thriller, and all things Halloween-esque, I was still able to throroughly enjoy this flick despite my continuous sense of discomfort. In fact I suspect it was Darren Mapletoft’s ability to make me feel so thoroughly uncomfortable that made me enjoy the film so much.

The great thing about the cinema is that it allows us to feel things that we would otherwise never experience in our daily lives. It allows us to embody someone else’s experience if only for a few minutes, and escape from our own world in the safety of the theathre’s seats. Even if what we experience is a series of negative emotions, when it’s all over you come out of it just a little more grateful for your own life, and appreciative of the fact that it’s not half so bad as what you just felt.

Submerged was definitely one of those experiences. One commentator described perfectly the feeling that throughout the film you felt like you were gasping for air. As the oxygen began to run out in the submarine I felt my throat constricting and found myself involuntarily conserving my breaths.

The story itself is quite beautiful, and you spend the entirely short cheering for the young couple, hoping that they’ll find each other again. Some people were a little confused by the ending, but most felt that they enjoyed the fact that it was somehow both open ended and finite. You could draw your own conclusion from it, and it was somehow still satisfying enough that you weren’t left too confused, or overly skeptical.

Submerged was a fantastic way for WILDSound to finish its October line-up, and if nothing else it certainly helped increase my lung capacity. Those averse to soppy love stories, science fiction, tight enclose spaces, or being buried alive, may not quite enjoy this film as throroughly as I did. Then again, maybe you’re a bit of a lunatic like me and enjoy suffering for the purpose of your own entertainment. Give it a try, you might learn something new about yourself.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK for SUBMERGED:

Movie Review of the short film “The Little Missus”

“The Little Missus” played at the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film Festival in October 2015, part of their best of Horror/Thriller short films from around the world. Ironically this is the funniest movie that has ever played at this festival. 

3min, Canada, Comedy/Horror
Directed by Adam Beal

A devoted housewife discovers that her slob of a husband has been cheating on her. She takes her revenge by feeding him dozens of tiny metal items — paperclips, ball bearings, thumbtacks — and pulling them out with a powerful electromagnet.

The Little Missus Review by Amanda Lomonaco

Some people might find it strange to mix horror and comedy, but I have always loved it. Yes, I am one of those people who laughs during horror films. I thought Hostel and the entire Chuckie series were hilarious, and while Little Missus is no where near as gory as those flicks, it still finds the perfect balance between comedy and disturbance.

This is definitely one case where I can say my bias did not get in the way, as the rest of the audience seemed to enjoy it about just as much as I did. With absolutely no dialogue, some peppy, upbeat music, a colourfully bright set and quick cuts, director Adam Beal was able to turn an otherwise distressing turn of events, into something pleasantly comical.

Perhaps what’s most interesting about this film is Beal’s use of magical realism. Though generally associated with Latin culture, and cartoons, Beal somehow managed to transfer this fictional genre into horror, and use it to emphasize the comedic elements of this gory tale. It’s not every day we’d be willing to accept that a man would eat an entire disgusting meal filled with bolts, and metal objects, without noticing a thing, or that his wife would have an industrial sized magnet laying around. The way the film is set up, and edited, however, lets us suspend our disbelief and remain content in the world of the film.

I could find nothing wrong with this film. The acting was excellent, the casting was brilliant, the cinematography, editing, art design, even the length. I loved it. And I loved it even more because it was a Canadian film. This is one I definitely advise you not to take my word for on, though. Go see it for yourself, biases aside, I’m certain you’ll enjoy yourself.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of THE LITTLE MISSUS:

Movie Review of the Short Film “A Peaceful Man”

“A Peaceful Man” played at the best of Thriller/Horror short film festival in October 2015, as part of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Monthly Film Festival. It was the winner of Best Cinematography in a short film.  

Australia, 4min, Action/Thriller
Directed by Harrison Norris

Beaten within an inch of his life, a peaceful man has a gruesome epiphany through violence.

Learn more about this short film HERE

A Peaceful Man Review by Amanda Lomonaco

All of us are capable of violence and cruelty under extreme circumstances. At least that’s what Harrison Norris, director of A Peaceful Man, wants to convince us of in his gory short film. His bloody, cringe-worthy, gory close-ups might distract you from that message a little though, or at least it will distract you from the voice-over narrative.

I’m not saying this movie is bad, in fact this was one of my favourite films of the night. What I really mean, is that the cinematography in this film was so brilliant that it almost overshadowed everything else about it. I would venture a guess that the cringes and gasps coming from the rest of the audience indicated they may have agreed with me. Even the special effects didn’t even have to be that great to appreciate this flick, although they were certainly impressive. The very thought of the level of violence being implied in the film was enough to make people curl up in their chairs and look away.

That, to me, is effective filmmaking. Making your audience feel something and react to the very idea of what is being depicted on screen. Even though I’ll admit to only paying attention to half of the spoken narrative in the film, I feel that Norris reserved the most important bits of monologue to the least impactful visual moments. I was able to still understand the gist of everything the narrator was saying while still being able to enjoy the bloody wonder that was being paraded in front of me.

I think Norris makes some really good points in his film. The level of gore and violence simply emphasized how far all of us can be pushed, or in fact need to be pushed, in order to reciprocate with the same level of anger. When it comes to survival, we are all animals, we all have to follow our instincts, and we will all defend ourselves, even if that self-defense involves something we would never imagine ourselves doing. That’s where Norris’ images almost don’t need a narrative. If you simply consider the film’s title, and then focus on the images and how they make you feel, you’ll probably catch on pretty quickly.

By now you’ll have realized that you should not watch this movie if you have a sensitive stomach. On the other hand, if you’re a crazy lover of guts and gore like me, this film should be mandatory viewing. Norris’ cinematographer deserves an award, and  would happily volunteer to make one for him.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of A PEACEFUL MAN:

Interview with Katha Cato, Festival Director Queens World Film Festival

Get to know the Queens World Film Festival. March 15-20 2016


Matthew Toffolo interview Festival Director Katha Cato:

What is the goal of your film festival?

First and foremost: The films are the stars. Every decision is driven by what will result in the best screening possible. We are always asking ourselves: What is best for the filmmaker?  What is best for the film? What is best for the screening?

 We work to build a sustainable community around independent films; between the film lovers and the filmmakers. The festival is curated into thematic blocks that are marketed to appropriate audiences. At Q5 (March 17 – 22 2015) we had 43 blocks with a range of themes, hosted by QWFF moderators who facilitated talk backs.

 We are proud of the support and attendance of the international filmmakers from over 30 nations including Syria, France, Korea, UK and Russia. We are honored to introduce the local and international filmmakers to local press and NY industry professionals.  Each year we feature a block of Queens Filmmakers ensuring that filmmakers who live here are networking and growing together.

 The festival also draws attention to our other programs including the Young Filmmakers Program that puts media programs in a local school, our free Encore Screenings that extend the life of many of the festival films and the Old Spice Screening Series that produces free lunch time screenings for Senior Centers.

 It would be a shame not to mention that our submissions are open through Dec. 7, 2015.Go to our website and hit submit. We love hearing from filmmakers from all over the world and we currently have just shy of 500 submissions from 15 nations including Germany, Croatia, Ireland and Iran and we find it thrilling to be part of the conversation.

 How has the festival changed since its inception until your upcoming 2016 festival?

We learned from the experiences of our earlier years, but we have not changed so much. We remain focused on the films and continue to prioritize creating the best possible experience for everyone. Our commitment to make sure that the films look and sound just the way the filmmaker intended has only deepened and continues to drive us

 Our aesthetic has not changed, we are still interested in films that take a unique stand and present a unique perspective. We are even more interested in stories and films that push some boundaries, use new media, twist themes or mount a new genre.

 And we still love the filmmakers.

 How many films do you anticipate showcasing at your 2016 Film Festival?

We are thinking that it should be around 80 hours, which could be between 110 – 120 films.

We are locked into the Museum of the Moving Image, Ps 69 and the Secret Theatre with a total of 4 screens, so we have lots of options for the 6 days and we are going to be throwing some outrageous images up there.

Can you give us a sneak peak of what to except for the 2016 Festival?

 March 15 – Opening night at Museum of the Moving Image, with VIP reception for 2016 Spirit of Queens Honoree Director Melvin Van Peebles, other special guests and a sampling of films that let people know what to expect at the festival.

 March 16 Wednesday

Opening night at Secret Theatre and PS 69 with special Dinner and a Movie screenings. At MoMI we will screen Mr. Van PeeblesSweet-Sweetbacks-Baadasssss Song

 March 17, 18

Screens running at MoMI, PS 69 and Secret Theatre

 March 19

Closing night at MoMI with a special screening of Susan Seidelman’s Smithereens as part of our tribute to her and IndieCollect, followed by our 6th Annual Awards.

 March 20

Winner’s Circle screening of the Best of the Fest award winners at MoMI.

 Is there going to be an overall theme for the 2016 festival?

The themes that are emerging in reviewing this year’s submissions center on a concern felt around the world for the weakest among us, the disenfranchised, the marginalized. We have some films that represent some incredibly risky artistic choices. Admirable, really.

 The screening committee is reporting that we have risky films, some very lush films, some stark and jarring pieces and some very wonderful features from all over the world.

 Where do you see your festival in 5 years?

Permanently housed within a complex that provides office and screening spaces alongside classrooms, production labs and low cost equipment rental services. Our ancillary programs serving youth, seniors and struggling filmmakers will be thriving and the annual Film Festival continuing to present films, lovingly paired and curated into events that are sure to engage our audiences.

 What’s the current status of the Film Scene in your city?

It’s NYC and every borough in this city has a film culture, so it is very dynamic. There are big trucks and big shoots in every boroughs, there are gorilla filmmakers in every boroughs. …There are film schools, film clubs, film festivals, art houses, chains and everything in between. There are screenings somewhere every night.

 Now, remember, in Queens, we also have 2 huge film studios and 2 airports so our film community in this borough is thriving,

 Our screening events are well attended and we are grateful, because it is a noisy city and it is exciting to know that we are carving out a niche with a loyal fan base.

 What film have you seen the most in your life?

Paper Moon or Idiocracy