First, there was Godzilla, the king of the monsters, and his arch nemesis, a giant three-headed dragon named King Ghidorah. Then, there were the gators of Alexander Aja’s Crawl. It is a summer of reptilian fear and I, for one, am 100% for it. Give me big scaly boys who snap their jaws, whip their tails, and gnash their giant teeth. Aja’s latest foray into aquatic horror is a heart-racing, tense, and absolutely fun creature feature that is the perfect summer film. Crawl seems like it ripped every gator and hurricane-related “Florida man” headline and smashed it together into an unrelenting journey that will make you scream and laugh in fear.
As soon as we left our screening, my friend turned to me in the car and said, “I feel like we both just went on a Disneyland dark ride, where it’s pretty but it’s all really fast and doesn’t really tell the story of the movie that well. It ended and I’m just like, ‘how did we get here?'”
To me, that accurately describes the experience of watching The Lion King (2019), the hyperrealistic remains of the golden age Disney animation. A remake that evokes the feeling of an unknown stranger breaking into your home to move the furniture just a little bit; enough to gaslight you into thinking everything is cozy and familiar and then you trip over a misplaced carpet. Everything about the movie is exactly the same save for minorly altered scenes, and the story is told infinitely worse— a collection of numbingly boring and non-emotive Kingdom Hearts cutscenes stitched together to make up a two-hour piece of content. Modern Disney remakes have always struggled with justifying their motive to reimagine these beloved classics, and even though I have criticized many of these blockbusters for their lack of new perspective or artistic flair in the past, not a single one tries as little as The Lion King (2019) does.
As a transgender man, I have a complicated, strange, and usually arduous relationship with masculinity. Why are men so obsessed with the fact that they are men? For people who claim to be independent and strong, why is is validation from someone they perceive as superior (read; more powerful) so important to them? Why is violence, hatred, and ugliness seen as so essential to being a man in mainstream society? I ask myself these questions constantly. They keep me up at night. The same questions seem to keep Riley Stearns up at night as well, as indicated in his new film, The Art of Self Defense.
Continue reading “Negotiating New Masculinities in ‘The Art of Self Defense’”
Directed by Andy Deere and Ryan Heron, Bludgeon is a documentary which invites the viewer into the fiercely competitive and misunderstood sport of medieval combat in rural New Zealand. Ardently committed to enacting these fantasy battles, players of the sport don antiquated armour and wield handmade swords and battleaxes. Unlike LARPing however, the sport is full contact – players hit hard, and wear costumes weighing almost 30kg. While the film tries to offer insight into the sport and the community who participate in it, what it does instead is covertly invite the audience to laugh at its subjects.Continue reading “EIFF ’19 Review: Bludgeon: Orcas of the Land”
Ben Asamoah’s Sakawa follows a group of young Ghanaians, who, facing unemployment and rural poverty, turn to Internet fraud to better themselves. The term ‘Sakawa’ refers to the Ghanaian practice which combines Internet fraud with traditional spiritualist rituals. The Dutch-Ghanaian director manages to capture the intimacy and urgency of this deeply misunderstood subculture, from a compassionate, nonjudgemental gaze. The camera acts as a fly on the wall, hanging back and observing as the group goes about their lives. Through this perspective, the possible tropes of an African developmental narrative are replaced with focused, candid insight.Continue reading “EIFF ’19 Review: ‘Sakawa’”
Editor’s note: this review contains mentions of suicide, death, trauma.
The Grizzlies opens starkly with a series of black and white school photographs, featuring Indigenous children with cropped hair, wearing school uniforms. These are the victims of Canada’s residential school system, a government-supported initiative to take the children away from their families and way of life, and indoctrinate them. Under this system, children were taken to boarding houses and forced to assimilate into French-Canadian culture and many experienced violent abuse. With such a bleak opening, The Grizzlies asks the viewer to consider the grip of colonialism, and its poisonous legacy on Indigenous communities.Continue reading “EIFF ’19 Review: ‘The Grizzlies’”
Animated horror is often only found in either anime series, such as Parasyte and Death Note, or children’s films, such as Coraline and Monster House. It is shocking that there aren’t more animated horror films, as the medium lends itself so well to horror as strange monsters and creatures can be more easily actualized onto the screen. Animation lends itself even better to body horror, where the human body can be warped and torn apart in even more demented ways. Director Eric Power fully taps into this potential with his animated horror feature, Attack of the Demons.
It is 1994 in Barrington, a small Colorado town known for their Halloween music festival. Hundreds of tourists flood the town, and with those tourists come a few cultists seeking humanity’s destruction. While cultists work to awaken a massive demon, three high school friends are reunited. Kevin, who has stayed in town, sees old classmate Jeff and tries to start a friendship. As they head to dinner together, they also run into another old classmate, Natalie, who’s attending the music festival. As they reconnect and reminisce, the cultist eventually gets access to a microphone and unleashes a chant, which begins the demon’s awakening. The entire town of Barrington, except these three friends, are infected. Kevin, Jeff, and Natalie must band together to fight back against the apocalypse and save the world from an icky demonic death.