Animals is a strange, fascinating, and often funny journey through a collapsing relationship. Anna’s husband has been sleeping with their upstairs neighbor. In an effort to rekindle their relationship, they take a six month trip to Switzerland so he can gather new recipes and they can spend time together. As they near their destination they hit a sheep and from that point on reality begins to become unglued. Events shift backwards and forwards in time, Anna and her husband become unable to distinguish their reality from their dreams and suspicions, and every young woman takes on the appearance of the ill-fated upstairs mistress.
Fantasia International was not off base in calling the film Lynchian; it certainly has that same bend towards blending the surreal in with a straight forward narrative and carrying a dark sense of humor, but Animals has a style all its own. It travels freely in between points of view, between reality and fantasy, between awake and dream, all while creating a compelling portrait of suspicion and betrayal and revenge. Director Greg Zglinski weaves a film that is never boring and often both amusing and spine chillingly tense. There are so many layers to the story that it will probably take me several viewings to get to the heart of its riddle.
A group of university friends are in for a rough New Year’s Eve in this horror-comedy from France. The students find a fantastic old manor to rent for the holiday, not dissuaded at all by the warning not to go in the woods or explore the attic of the house. As soon as midnight hits, someone decapitates a dog, the weird girl disappears, and one of the group is murdered and hung by his oversized penis. That’s just the start of the sex and drugs horror hi-jinks.
Le Manoir is an homage to all those great horny college student horror films of the 1980’s like Terror Train and Hell Night but with a modern comedy bend. The blood, gore, and sex are all humorously over the top. The popular stereotypes are all here, the stoner, the innocent kid, the final girl, etc. The film doesn’t concern itself with breaking any new ground, but plays like an immensely entertaining reel of your favorite genre tropes, making Le Manoir a lot of fun if not overly original.
Jon’s (Dean O’Gorman) life is going poorly and it’s all his own fault. He’s crashing on a friends couch, penniless, after leaving his fiancee at the alter and failing to write a book that he’s already been paid for. He decides the best thing he can do is stalk his ex by crashing a wedding. Hitchhiking there, he’s picked up by Luke (James Rolleston) who just happens to have stolen the Mini he’s driving and their crew is rounded out by Keira (Ashleigh Cummings) a young animal rights protester. The trio are on the run from the cops and off to drive across New Zealand.
Pork Pie is one of the best ‘on the run’ police chase comedies in years. First time writer and feature director Matt Murphy knocks it out of the park with a film that is equal parts dazzling action sequences and a laugh-out-loud funny script. The film is a remake of Murphy’s father’s film, the 1981 Goodbye Pork Pie, but this is no retread. What really makes Pork Pie stand out is Matt backs all the laughs and action with incredibly well drawn and interesting characters, you will want to be in this Mini on this adventure with Jon, Luke, and Keira.
Adam Ruhl is a writer and life long Cinephile. He is the Executive
Cinema Editor of Pop Culture Beast’s Austin branch; covering festivals,
conventions, and new releases. When not filing reports, Adam can be
found stalking Alamo Drafthouse Programmers for leads on upcoming
DrafthouseFilms titles. Adam once blocked Harry Knowles entrance to a
theater until he was given extra tickets to a Roman Polanski movie.