Friday, December 8, 2017

Blood In The Snow Canadian Film Festival--Short Reviews

I am so thrilled to be able to review for so many filmmakers and festivals that host these films. Yes most of what I am sent is of the lower budget films etc , horror etc. But for me that is one of the most under appreciated pieces of film, when it's good it gets noticed and some others feel that there is no need for horror. Well, like anything it has it's audience and I have enjoyed it since I first saw my first horror movie.
This is my third year to be allowed to screen the films for The Blood In The Snow Canadian Film Festival, my first being in 2015.
The films are shown in Toronto but they have allowed me to screen them here in BC of course through a secure server to protect the films.

Lets get the reviews going shall we?

Bestia” follows the lone survivor (played by Mathias Retamal) of a disaster as he awakens on a deserted beach. It becomes clear that there are more dangers lurking in the woods than a hungry beast.

From the opening shot of this film scanning the water of the dead tree trunks to the man on the beach face down in the sand I was intrigued to say the least of what was or had happened prior to our arrival.
I start off with the review for this film because I felt it was the strongest short film I saw in the festival and the jury also agreed as they gave it the award for "Best Short Film" at the Festival.
The film was awarded Best Short Film at the award ceremony last weekend.
Gigi Saul Guerrero writer/Director of the short and co-founder of Luchagore Productions had this to say about her first time attending the festival. She told me this:
"The festival treats their filmmakers with incredible hospitality and appreciation to their work. BITS17 was my first time attending and it was amazing to celebrate genre film with this beautiful  community Toronto has. I feel so lucky to have taken part of this year's line up. I met so many talented and passionate people! Can't wait to be back."
Just everything about the film was so well done and the most amazing part is there is no talking until the last part of the film when our only actor says the title of the film "Bestia"

The film is so deserving of the award as I also found it to be the best short of the festival, that being said there are also some very well done shorts as well.

This is yet another impressive short film that showed here at the festival. Again there is no speaking throughout the film but the use of lighting , directing and acting helps pull it all off.
I felt the presence of the creature(s) or entity that was there was pulled off well in this short.
We are only shown the shape of the figure briefly at first and a few close up of the face like the one above, the pacing and music helps in this one. Both the monster and the young woman are humming the music that starts the film on a record.

Switching gears and quite literally speaking we have a desert rider seeking revenge on those that set out to hurt our rider at the opening of  the film.
We are soon shown that our rider is indeed serious about revenge.
In a pull no punches(pun intended) our drifter is played by Michelle Haug she is fearless in the face of her enemies , she handles them well---not without a good fight from some of them.
Our villain is Hersher played wonderfully by Andrew Long and upon doing some research on the film I found this was a Storyhive contestant back in 2015. The page is still active and has storyboards and a synopsis of the film as well. I love finding things like these.

There are a lot of films that are very open about the subject matter or what is happening , this one is very well hidden about what is really happening.
Inspired by true events, residential school survivor Jacob Wematim (Julian Black Antelope), struggles to hang onto his family, land and identity as his personal demons threaten to manifest in the form of the Wendigo spirit (Wilma Pelly) and take it all away.

In many images of the countryside and images brought to us in dream sequences a man is haunted by either his doings or his drunken thoughts have him visited by the spirit of the Wendigo.

The elders and some of the others that visit him in his visions/dreams are interesting in the way in which they are shot and told. This is another great little short film.

Interesting tale of a night club that sends out invitations to random people to their club. Once at the club some of the other patrons seem a little hungry for blood.

My only complaint about the film is that as soon as the story starts to get going the film is over.

With a poster that looks like it came from the 80's New Wave scene or poster art for a low budget film from the same era. Scraps is a film based on revenge served cold.
Walking her back to his place we find the young couple cornered by some men dressed with masks and bats.
This takes an unexpected turn at the end and was happy to see the outcome, won't spoil it for those that want to see it.

Le Loup or The Wolf is a tale of a young couple staying at a cabin of the same name. Their relationship is in trouble for he cheated on her , because she is always on the road.
We learn this over their discussion over dinner and they are wanting to get back what they once had.

This short film actually pulls off what The Strangers and You're Next failed to do in their feature films. Created some real tension and just an overall enjoyable short film.

I only make the comparisons to those films as this is somewhat the same story, but the delivery is better.

Not sure what this one was about and I don't think it was intended to be anything really , just a few cut together images representing a demon.

So I think if you tried to write a horror rhyme I don't think you could come up with a better little fable of a young man that goes to camp one summer and sees two of his counselors having sex . so he kills them.

No poster for this short film titled:
Alice, Alone.
It's near Christmas and she is waiting for her boyfriend to come home , calling him he is busy and not able to make it home for dinner.
She pours herself a drink and falls asleep, not sure if what happens next is real or a dream.

She hears the couple above her apartment having a very loud and abusive argument , she is worried for the safety of the young woman that she has spoken to a few times before.
She leaves the comfort of her apartment to help.....

FUN is a kids show that gets into some darker elements that have not been brought up on a children's show before.
Tying the puppet up and skinning it alive.
Sounds like fun doesn't it?
Never felt so bad for a puppet before , sorry for the pun I couldn't help it!

This one kind of reminded me of "The Big Snit" done many years ago by the NFB. A couple is having a very competitive game of Scrabble.
The day is very hot and that makes for an even more intense battle for them. The man in the picture above is also our narrator and finds that anything he thinks of happens to his wife, he spells zapped and she gets zapped on the fan when she turns it on.
Not everything is spelled out nice and clear or can be projected. As in cards it's always best to have a poker face , then your opponent has no idea what you are up too.

Some posters tell so much in their image and this one certainly does a good job of it.
We follow a young woman around town as she watches the young couple at first we think the obvious story here she is after the man.
It's a very well shot film and we are told the story through flashbacks and recent images of the couple(s) out for dinner.
A work of obsession and desire, the ending is creepy enough to get beneath your skin.

Next Short: Even The Darkness Has Arms

Our lead is having troubles sleeping and uses the washroom, washes his face and upon entering the room sees the creature that is standing behind him in the picture above, leaning over the bed at his partner.
As quickly as our story starts, it's over leaving the audience wanting more --at least I did.

In one of the more violent shorts of the festival --I Make Corpses wastes no time getting to it.
Turns out he is actually helping society with a zombie outbreak 
He makes a mistake by slicing their throats and other such nasty things, but someone forgot to tell him that you have to decapitate a zombie --to really stop them.

A young man comes across a video online where it seems a woman is being tortured , with interest he watches and then the camera focuses on here and she says "Don't Click" ending the video.
Below her image is a click here to watch more.
He does so and he is now in the same position she was in....
Interesting idea and pulls it off well.

This one is exactly about just that an "Itch" where a young man develops an itch that seems to get worse as he scratches it. 
Using some cream he has at home it actually makes it worse to the point of amputation.
I was not fond of this one.
"The Hag" is a short that I felt could have been a little longer as just as it gets to where it seems interesting it is over.
I get that it is crucial in a short film for the viewer to want more of the film, that is why some directors will turn their short film into a feature and expand on the initial story.
Here we have a shape outside the bedroom door seeming to want in the room but cannot pass a closed door?

"Timebox" is a different look on going Back to the future as two men find a box where they can replicate themselves and in a sick game they decide to hunt each other and the winner gets to leave and have a free life from the Timebox and their history.
In an odd twist of events the last remaining copy of one of the men sends the free man a video message telling him that the other man is making more copies of himself and he feels hunted and alone.
They say that ones past can come back to haunt you, this sure is the case here.
Overall good film and look forward to what this filmmaker has to offer in the future--without the Timebox...

The irony in the title is that I guess they are trying to relate that when there is destruction in the world we can then find out what is of most important to us in our relation to other human beings.
The  young woman on the left is quite sick and the other woman is doing what she can to find food for her to eat , stopping at nothing to care for her we can see they are more than friends but more like a couple in a dying world.
With so many films that look at the end of the world as the most disastrous and evil time for humanity, this shows some deep(& dark) love for another human being.

In a move where some films may lose the attention of their audience this one has enough to shock and delight fans of many genres.
Starting out as a tourist video/kids driving across the Amazon --then into cult driven madness of eating body parts to a jacked up man and a smaller man also a woman Terminating the cannibals in an action gore-packed scene.
Then the movie ends off with a monster attacking a woman that image is in the poster above--so much for so many.....happy viewing, I know I enjoyed it.

In a scene where the young woman played wonderfully by Alyx Melone has a date where she is ignored by him at first and then by the waitress as well.
She sees all of the waitresses and the female patrons all dress, look and act the same, on her way she saw a salon that can make you look the same as other women.
She goes there and after a decapitation she then returns to the same place with the same man. He pays close attention to her now as she now fits in to what he wants.
She then realizes what she has done and runs to the bathroom to compose herself upon doing so she meets more woman all dressed and acting the same.
She tries to get herself back to where she once was , but it's too late.

I found this to be a very profound piece of film about accepting ourselves for who we are and not trying so hard to fit into society.

This little short is one made of nightmares, the dreaded monster in the closet. Here we have a child that cannot sleep for the night she was taken away in the forest by their home but returned safely....or did she?
In some really good and tense shot scenes this movie does it's job in letting us into the scenes.
The ending finally lets us see the monster and the other side of the door as well. Everything works on this film, beginning -middle and end.

Thank you for reading this
Anthony Nadeau

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