Fantasia International Film Festival 2016
Dir: Danny Perez
Lou (Natasha Lyonne) and Sadie (Chloë Sevigny) are two hard-partying trailer women in the slums of Michigan. After a night of drinking and dancing around a dumpster fire, Lou wakes up with a hangover, no memory of the night before, and pregnant. A miraculous pregnancy, that seems to be the result of a mysterious new drug being peddled by Sadie’s boyfriend. As the drug starts to melt people, Lou grows sicker and more pregnant at an alarming rate. Lorna (Meg Tilly), a veteran who’s had a supernatural experience, finds her and delivers a warning of aliens and government conspiracy. Together they set off to find the truth of that night and what is growing inside of her.
Every frame of this thing is completely vile by design, it makes Troma movies look like a Studio family films. Danny Perez presents a world where every building is falling apart, garbage is everywhere, and everyone is homeless, on drugs, deformed, sleazy, or some combination thereof. Lou and Sadie are like a dumpster bin Romy and Michelle. Natasha and Chloë play them with a great, over the top gusto (withholding speculation about how they researched their hard partying parts). It’s great to see Meg Tilly back in a horror genre film. She’s the one part of this film that’s warm and not covered in some kind of unidentifiable bio-waste. Surreal and grotesque, Antibirth is an interesting visual experience that will leave you wanting a shower afterwards.
The Dark Side of the Moon
Dir: Stephan Rick
Urs (Moritz Bleibtreu) finds himself having something of a personal crisis after a defeated business opponent commits suicide in front of him. At the funeral he takes a walk in the woods and meets a beautiful young hippie. He later accompanies her to a gathering at a country house where the guests are relaxing and ingesting handfuls of mushrooms. He takes a walk in the woods alone and has a spectacularly bad trip about a black wolf. Thereafter he begins to act, shall we say, strangely; leaving his wife, strangling the hippie’s cat, stabbing deer in the woods, and causing car collisions. He learns that he accidentally took an unknown mushroom and he might be becoming a beast himself. Now he must find the mushroom again before he becomes a complete maniac.
The Dark Side of the Moon has a great cast. Moritz is alternately tortured and raging while Jürgen Prochnow is at his most evil as the head of a pharmaceutical company who might be the devil. In a way this film is kind of a twist on the tale of the wolfman, but here the animal is on the inside. The film brilliantly leaves the question up in the air whether Urs was a monster already or if he was made one by the mushrooms, toying with the idea of the inherent potential for evil within us all. Almost as compelling as the plot is the cinematography of the breathtakingly beautiful woods in which the film primarily takes place.
Dir: Daniel de la Vega
Virginia is on the run with her daughter Rebecca through the Argentinian countryside to avoid handing Rebecca over to Virginia’s estranged husband. When they stop at a gas station for lunch, someone grabs Rebecca and escapes in a tow truck. Virginia gives chase but is run off the road deliberately by an ambulance. When she awakens, she discovers she has been buried and has to be rescued by a stranger who tells her of a ritualistic cult that has taken her daughter. They have also grabbed a number of other children away from mothers and guardians. He says that she has just eight hours to find the ‘White Coffin’ and rescue her daughter before she returns to being dead and Rebecca will be murdered. Virginia finds herself in a game where she is competing against a clock and the other women to recover their children and nothing is quite what it seems.
At first I thought it was strange how adamant the press materials for this film were that it was an action-horror-road movie crossover instead of just calling it a horror film. However, on viewing I see that it is an accurate description. White Coffin perfectly crosses the tension and action of something like Breakdown or The Hitcher with an 80’s style supernatural cult thriller. Director Daniel de la Vega delivers a frantic world, full of surprises and twists that left me stunning and asking ‘did I really just see that?’ The great performances all around make the film feel all the more realistic, which makes the pandemonium all the more shocking. At a brief 70 minute runtime, White Coffin packs in a ton of action and once Virginia is out of the coffin, the film launches forward at a dizzying and exciting pace.
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.