And thus ends the 2014 Phoenix Film Festival review session by this girl. I was lucky to end on a high note:
Amy Seimetz as Caroline
Joe Swanberg as Jake
AJ Bowen as Sam
Gene Jones as Father
Written and Directed by Ti West
Synopsis: A man and two friends set out to a colony in another country to locate his sister who’s been missing for some time. She got in touch after a long while, inviting her brother to come see her. The friends are journalists, and decide to go along to document the trip, because there is a lot of information missing from the sister’s sudden reappearance. They find crazy running rampant within the community that the sister is now a part of, and they start to wonder if they’re going to make it home again.
This was fantastic. It’s listed in the IHSFF (International Horror and Science Fiction Festival) showcase for PFF2014, and while it may not take on your typical slasher/blood-and-guts horror film, the story is really a realistic horror: it’s (very loosely) based on the Jonestown incident. What could be more horrifying than mass murder/suicide based on brainwashing innocent, vulnerable people?
• The handheld filming. The video journalist is actually cinematographer, so it’s not weird, found-footage shooting. It doesn’t make you nauseous.
• Father’s ability to talk around subjects and not actually answer questions, but still have 100% support from his family. All great leaders are great public speakers. Look at Hitler. You know what I mean.
• The violent deaths. I know that sounds abhorrent, but you know what? In a fiction film, the ability to make death look really real is a gift. Nicely done.
Weepy Meter: 3/10 It’s tense. There are some seriously difficult moments. Mom and her daughter when all hope is lost? I lost it.
Man Meter: 8/10 Violence. Based on a true event. It’s just GOOD.
Overall Rating: 8/10 It’s a horrible subject, but the best films make us think about the human condition and our role in society. Are we leaders? Followers? People who stand by and watch the unthinkable happen? If you can make it to the end, you’ll definitely think twice about how the human race uses communication for all sorts of means.
Side note: Ti West is a talented guy. He’s done some big stuff, and he’s going places. I told you this. Remember that.