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Head Case (2007)
Learn to beware your neighbors!!!
I had the honor of viewing Head Case at the Newark Film Festival this past summer and it scared the hell out of me. The film is not your conventional horror movie, but that is what makes it so scary. The film details the seemingly mundane suburban existence of Wayne and Andrea Montgomery and their two children. The appear to be the typical middle class family, but what lurks beneath the surface is a barely masked evil. Wayne and Andrea kill for fun.
They are serial killers who target transients and hitch hikers. They film their daily lives and the killings the way that other families would a graduation or holiday. The most disturbing thing about Wayne and Andrea is that no one knows about their secret life. They go to church, work and raise their children for years without being detected.
I found that to be the scariest thing about the film, that these depraved people could indeed live next door to me or share a cube at work. They could be part of the PTA or serve on the church board.
As far as the production goes, I think that Anthony Spadaccini has grown leaps and bounds from his other films. The lighting, camera work and acting all support the home movie style that is the centerpiece of the movie. Think Blair Witch, without the witch.
The standout feature in my opinion is the gore effects. Head Case has a particular special effect that seemed to be very realistic and unsettling. The use of gory is minimal, but it is effective. It is what you don't see that will make you cringe.
The dialog in the film is very realistic and shows that people's lives are not always exciting. There are parts in this film that some would consider boring, but I find that it adds to the realism of the piece and really provides the home movie feel that I think the director was trying to convey.
As far as standout characters go, I was supremely annoyed and amused by Andrea Montgomery. Her nagging and the tone of her voice reminded me of the typical over the top mom and added an eeriness to each death that she was a part of. Each time she called out "Waaayyynnne", it made me want to duck and run.
Overall, I think that Head Case is another solid effort from the Fleet Street Films team and I hope to see these characters again.
Emo Pill (2006)
A Beautiful Downward Spiral--slight spoilers
There are slight spoilers below!!!
All that I can say is that Anthony Spadaccini has done it again. His latest foray into the human heart and mind is a perception bending piece of artistry that will leave you wanting more. Emo Pill is the story of a young man stuck in the throws of sadness and the misery of his life, the movie provides a glimpse into his journey of escape. This film is bright and dark all at once, there are parts that are in black and white as well as ultra bright surreal color. It looks like a dream and feels like one that the audience might not wake up from. The cinematography and some of the shots in this movie are genius. There is one scene where the camera spins around a violin player in the park and it just makes you feel some of the confusion that the main character feels.
The director has chosen to forgo dialog in this film and instead relies on visuals and a stunning score of violin and piano that just pulls you into the loneliness of the character and makes you feel. There is an urgency in the way that the movie was shot and scored, this urgency is further shown in the fact that this film is a mere 18 minutes long.
I really enjoyed this movie. It is artsy and complex and there are many ways to interpret the action in the film. The actors did a wonderful conveying their emotions with actions and facial expressions, the lead actor was especially adept and displaying sadness and ennui. My only regret is that this film is short. I would love to see Spadaccini and company expand this into a full length feature.
When hatred boils...spoilers so beware
This film shows how guilt can over take a life and how revenge can drive you to desperate acts. The things that i love about this film are the performances. Anthony does another wonderful job as an emotional victim plagued by guilt and Jeff is a hoot and quite the scene stealer. The stand out performance here belongs to Garrett who personifies, terror, anger, doubt and fear all at once and makes the viewer feel as if these emotions are happening to them. Paul also does a good job as a sinister provoker. He is makes me think of the devil on your shoulder in this role, just waiting for you to make the wrong choice.
I was very angry with "the friends" in this film for it was partly their fault that the situation ended as it did. This another example of careless friends. Please also note that although this film is a sequel to Unstable, it can stand as a standalone film because the viewer is provided with enough information in Hatred to fill in some of the gaps from the other film...but still watch Unstable, it will make the whole picture clearer for you.
The improvised dialogue makes the film seem more like a docudrama than a fiction piece, but that is what makes it enjoyable for me, i like the fact that there are boring parts and lulls during some of the scenes, that is real life.
i would recommend this film to anyone who enjoys realistic cinema and performances. The absence of light in the outside scenes and the bluish glow make some of the parts of the film so eerie and the shakiness of the some the camera work give this film a tension and feeling that you will not soon forget.
Do you know who your friends are?
First I would like to say that this film upset me very much and any film that evokes that much emotion is a great one in my book. This film deals with hate in its ugliest manifestation, violence. I found myself screaming at the screen from anger at the characters and the situation in which they found themselves. The score to this film is haunting and very fitting for what takes place. Unstable is indeed that, with shaky camera work as well as emotionally imbalanced characters, the film seems real, like a documentary and we the viewers are allowed to spend time in the lives of the main characters and get up close with their most terrifying moments. This film will make you think about where your loyalties lie and what can happen when people are ignored and emotions boil over. The characters in this film are apathetic, confused and unstable just like the camera work. The Blair Witch style of filming adds to the tension and the feeling that no one is in control of anything. There is a lot of dialogue between the characters which makes this film seem more like you stumbled on a tape of someone's vacation, you feel like these are real people, not actors in a film. I believe that speaks volumes to the talent of the writers, cast and director. Please see this film, it will make you take a good look at your own circle of friends.
Monday Morning (2005)
Modern Topic with classic film style
This film shows the hustle and bustle of modern day life and our busy schedules in a classic way. The main character is trying to get to work on time and encounters various obstacles along the way. Even though the topic is common, it is handled in a classic silent film style a la Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton that makes the presentation unique. This film even has some of the slapstick kind of moments that make you think you are watching an old film. In the end the viewer is as frustrated and amused as the main character by the situation. This film is definitely a treat as shows that good cinematography and editing do not have to be modern and flashy to be appreciated.
Shut up Jim! --Spoiler Alert!!!
Spoilers below. Do not read if you have not seen this film and do not want plot point divulged! First off I would like to say that Mr. Spadaccini has done it again. He has combined an emotional theme with a hauntingly beautiful soundtrack and appropriate camera work to create a "real life" movie. These characters feel real to me and they react (for the most part like) people in these situations would react. I found Jim's character and performance the most entertaining. I was so amused by him that I found myself telling him to shut up along with the characters in the movie. I feel that this movie had it all, drugs, sex, nudity...but one this was missing...violence. I thought for sure that someone was going to get physically hurt before the trip ended. Ben's character was a little too caring, I wanted him to show more anger, but I think that his hurt was portrayed well. I love Anthony's use to color and black and white to show the emotional turmoil of each character and again the score was fantastic. This film is an intimate and emotionally intense showing of what happens when people commit selfish acts. I highly recommend it!
Everything moves in circles (!!!SPOILERS BELOW!!!)
THERE ARE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW...
This is second Julio Medem film that I have seen, it is very similar in style to Lucia y el sexo, but Lovers of the artic circle touched me more, it had more of an effect on me for some reason. I rank this movie high on my list of favorites, because it was beautifully acted, shot, scored and written. It was so dream like that it is hard to tell where the real lives begin and the dreams end. The ending is the best part, again it reminded my of Lucia in that the end seemed to be sucked into a hole and altered, but the viewer is left with the choice, do the lovers live and finally complete the circle or, and this is the more likely conclusion, did they both die and meet in a Heaven of their own? The silence in the film is what makes it so perfect, the main characters do not have that much dialogue and yet, they say so much with their eyes and their gestures. I have no complaints about this film it is one of the greats. 10 out of 10.