In the interest of getting “hard” copies of my work under one roof, I plan to spend the next few weeks posting the entire archive of my film journalism here on ScullyVision. With due respect to the many publications I’ve written for, the internet remains quite temporary, and I’d hate to see any of my work disappear for digital reasons. As such, this gargantuan project must begin! I don’t want to do it. I hate doing it. But it needs to be done. Please note that my opinions, like everyone’s, have changed a LOT since I started, so many of these reviews will only represent a snapshot in time. Objectivity has absolutely no place in film criticism, at least not how I do it.
Originally posted on Cinema76.
DAY 4 – THE FINAL COUNTDOWN
It’s hard to believe that this wonderful festival is already over, but seeing how much bigger and better it grew in a single year leaves me only with high hopes for next time. Although my eyes were on fire and my butt was thoroughly numbed, the final day was a real blast. Here’s what went down:
Rift – dir. Erlinguar Óttar Thoroddsen
If I’m being honest, I have absolutely no clue what was happening in this film plot-wise, but my confusion was not to its detriment. Rift registers less as a film to be decoded as one to be experienced. It’s a tone-piece and a successful one at that.
The bulk of the film occurs in a small vacation house in the middle of a remote area of Iceland. Two former lovers have holed up in an effort to work out their feelings for one another. Meanwhile, an abstract supernatural force begins meddling in their affairs, leading both to question their reality.
I think that’s what it’s about. No matter. Anyone who has ever dealt with a breakup is sure to recognize the faux coziness which occurs in the presence of a recent ex, which is mirrored here in the film’s deceptively beautiful location — the cabin is comfy, but step outside into the real world and you won’t last long.
A bit too lengthy for its own good, but the dream-like quality of Rift makes for a thoroughly satisfying sit. More Icelandic film, please!
100 Acres of Hell – dir. Jay Lee
Listen, I’m all for a good throwback slasher, but 100 Acres of Hell is too much of a mess to be able to coast on genre novelty alone. It’s a shame too considering that the bulk of the cast and crew were present for the screening. While the 80 minute runtime was forgiving, and the crowd of enthusiastic filmmakers brought a buzz into the room, there’s no excusing the film’s bland build up and completely incomprehensible final act. Since this was the world premiere one could assume that 100 Acres of Hell will be tested and cut into something more palatable, but time will have to tell.
It could be done too. The film is clearly made with a reverence toward — and distinct knowledge of — horror cinema. The chemistry amongst the leads is above average and the jumping off point for the plot is certainly clever (an injured pro-wrestler goes on a doomed camping trip with his hedonistic buddies), but per the post-screening Q&A it seems the filmmakers are a bit too tangled in the comforting blanket of “labor of love” to apply any objectivity just yet. Here’s hoping, as everyone who helped make the film seemed really cool. Gene Snitsky, former WCW wrestler and star of the movie sat behind me during the screening and his running commentary was infectious in the best way.
Paired with You’re It – dir. Brandon Tanczak
I think this might have been shot, produced, and released over the course of about 5 minutes.
Night Creep – dir. Greg Travis
Allow me an opportunity to gloat. Those of us who made it to the final screening of the night are the ONLY people in America who have seen Night Creep. Nanananabooboo.
Made in 2003 and shot entirely on VHS, Night Creep deserves to be in the same conversation as The Room when it comes to batshit insane ego projects. The writer/director/star, Greg Travis is known best as a consummate character actor who appeared in such classics as Showgirls and Lost Highway. Fitting that he’d make a film which reads as equal parts of both. Yes, Showgirls is a classic and I will fight you on it.
The title is in reference to a hallucinogenic street drug. In the case of exotic dancer, Cindy Cinnamon, the visions lead her to believe that she is being assaulted by her elderly landlord while she sleeps. From here, things get crazier than the collective words of 20 languages could accurately describe, and frankly, I wouldn’t want to spoil the fun for any potential viewers (a wide release is pending, per Greg Travis’ twitter page).
The best part about Night Creep is how inspired the direction is. Despite being limited by budget and the inherent madness of the content, there’s no denying that Travis has an eye for filmmaking. My sincerest hope is that his movie find an audience and Travis is then given license to make more movies. It’s that good. Once The Disaster Artist turns The Room into legit cinema, Night Creep is poised to become THE essential midnight film.
The final day of the festival also featured another shorts program, this time it was comprised of local filmmakers:
The Basement – dir. Matt Spade
Sketched – dir. Aidan Carter Guynez
Beta Persei – dir. Katherine Clark
Good Night – dir. Brandon Tanczak
Put a Pin In It – dir. Jes Vasquez
Not Yet – dir. Chad Hamilton
An Ambitious Man – dir. Frank Juchniewicz
Kill the Engine – dir. Derek Frey
This block was simply wonderful. Every film had something to love. When called upon to vote for my favorite I was torn between Kill the Engine (the funniest short of the fest outside of Death Metal) and Beta Persei which was drop dead gorgeous. Ultimately, Put a Pin in It took home the grand prize for its portrayal of rampant Bobby pin use, and it was very well-deserved.
And so the end has come for PUFF 2017, and it was just the best. The tops, I say! To commemorate closing, founder Madeleine Koestner released a PUFF balloon into the night sky over Philly. We all watched as it floated high above the Drake building and then we all agreed to stop watching since our eyeballs hurt from four straight days of staring at a screen. PUFF 2018 can’t come quick enough, and y’all should really be there when it does. You can sit next to me while I eat a cold can of Spaghettios from CVS with a spoon that I got from Rita’s.
Yes, this did happen and I don’t regret it one bit. Don’t judge me. I’ve seen Night Creep. What have you ever done?
Time to go find a copy of Assholes.