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Who Needs An Autograph When You Can Get Celebrity Herpes?!!

Published April 24, 2013 by vfdpixie

antiviral

Antiviral (2012, 1 hr 48 mins)

It’s pretty clear that with all the reality shows that make the obscure rich even richer and become a household name; and with all the gossip rags that give us the every move of every celebrity, society at large is overly obsessed with the rich and famous.  Brandon Cronenberg (the son of twisted director great David Cronenberg) brings us a surreal tale of obsession and deceit.  Antiviral is to me, a commentary on the parasitic, symbiotic relationship between celebrity their fans.

Syd March (Caleb Landry Jones), a sickly pale ginger of a man, is a consultant at the Lucas Celebrity Clinic.  He helps people choose viruses harvested from their favourite celebrities to infect themselves with, the most popular of them being the Clinic’s exclusive contract holder, actress Hannah Geist.  It is a brisk business, from the common cold to cancer, topping it off with “cell steaks”; meats made from cells of the rich and famous.  All of this insanity is commonplace, it’s not cannibalism, it’s justified by the fans wanting to “feel more connected to celebs and to enrich their lives.”  (This pixie is fine with an autographed 8×10.  Just sayin…)

Syd is also an entrepreneur of sorts, and infects himself with the latest viruses so he can resell them on the black market.  His latest conquest comes from Ms. Geist.  He is sent on a house call to collect her current illness, and promptly injects himself with it to get the jump on the best black market dollar.  Only problem is that this virus deadly, and she has reportedly succumbed to it.  So starts the weird journey of Syd and his quest for the cure.  He is caught up in a conspiracy and the truth about this virus.  It’s hybrid of deadly viruses created to perhaps assassinate Hannah.   Syd is enlisted by Hannah’s camp to find the cure, and he agrees, his main motivation being to stay alive.  Problem is, everyone wants the infected Syd.   All sorts of bad guys, looking to make a fast buck off of Hannah’s death and what courses through the veins of Syd’s scrawny body.

I’m going to make a prediction right here.  I predict that Antiviral will become a cult favorite.  I feel the young Cronenberg has a similar sensibility to his father.  This film had a Crash-like feel to it, with its stark, vulgar images that had their own unique beauty.  It is rumoured that all the injection scenes were real, and I thought they had an almost voyeuristic, fetish feel to them.  I actually loved the clean, clinical look of this film.  The starkness and the symmetry were great companions to the defined spaces within each setting.  It was juxtaposed with the gore which, while calculated, still seemed jarring with the clean lines.  Another fascinating detail was  the virus itself.  An apparatus called ReadyFace gave each virus an actual face as an identifier and a safeguard from replicating.  They were blurred, grotesque images, and I wondered if they were contorted from ecstasy, pain, terror, or a gleeful evil.  I also thought the use of Hannah Geist’s (Sarah Gadon) angelic face throughout the film drove home the point of idolization and a heightened sense of absurd perfection.

What I wished for this movie visually was a whisper of glitz.  I felt it needed a different type of lighting as most of the film’s colour seemed a touch flat, although shooting part of the movie in Hamilton, Ontario could be partially to blame for that (don’t hate, just relate.  Anyone who’s been to the Hammer knows what I’m talking about…it’s very, um, dystopian).  The pacing also needed to be sped up a bit.  I wondered when I first started watching it if I could get through it.  For all the blood and gore, it is a slow-moving exploration of obsession and in a way, immortality.

I really enjoyed the cast.  Malcolm McDowell is always taking risks and stays in the horror/sci-fi genre which I will always admire.  He was great as Dr. Abendroth-Syd’s guide for a cure.  Sheila McCarthy was a welcomed surprise as Hannah’s handler Dev Harvey, and a veteran Canadian actress that needs a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame.  And lastly, Landry Jones was very effective with his eccentric, drooling/spewing rag doll portrayal of the ailing Syd.  Very cringe worthy.

If you can look past the pace, Anitviral is actually a pretty good film.  Definitely different and a great commentary on the general public’s incessant need for a piece of celebrity.

Most Memorable Line:  Owner of the clinic Dorian Lucas (Nicholas Campbell) justifies the use of his services by saying, “Celebrities are not people; they are group hallucinations.”  Deep!!  Something for late night pondering over a bag of Doritos and reality T.V. *eyes all swirly like I’m hypnotized*

Favourite Scene:  When Syd is desperately searching for a cure, he jumps his virus pusher, The Butcher, like a maniac.  They collect themselves, and the Butcher (Dan Wary-Smith) says, “You kind of caught me off guard.”  No, really?!!

Hate Crime: Shock ’til you Drop

Published April 17, 2013 by vfdpixie

HateCrimemorehorror

 

Hate Crime (2012, 1hr 13 mins)

This pixie and her sisters were raised by a mother who was suspicious of everyone.  Overprotective of her three girls, she prepared for kidnappings, molestation, or death, all at the hands of people who didn’t like the colour of our skin.   As a result, We expected the worst at an early age.  We were the”other”, visible targets of prejudice and intolerance.  Thankfully, the worst we got was name calling and some schoolyard bullying.  In James Cullen Bressack’s latest film, Hate Crime, we see this type of intolerance, up close and personal, like a searing hot microscope held to your eye.  We join a family of five in the midst of their youngest son’s birthday dinner, which is being video taped by their dutiful dad.  They are Jewish, which shouldn’t matter, but unfortunately it is the key reason for why they are targeted in a home invasion that shatters their celebration.  The intruders?  3 maniacal Neo Nazi freaks who unleash a torrent of cruelty, brutality and horror upon this unsuspecting family, documenting it with the family camcorder.

This “found footage” film has been described as shocking, disturbing, horrifying, alarming and sickening, and it is all of the above.  While I was watching it, I wondered when it would end, and how it would end; wishing mercy on the family as they watched each other get murdered, defiled and humiliated in unspeakable ways. The portrayals of the tormented family members were raw and real, and the Neo Nazi assailants were terrifying with their brute force.  When the film was over, it stayed with me for a few days.  I couldn’t forget the brutality and the message Hate Crime sent like a knock-out punch.  I was fascinated by the person behind the film, and was lucky enough to contact director and writer Cullen Bressack (who is also the mind behind My Pure Joy) via email so he could answer a few questions about the film:

Was there a particular event that motivated you to make Hate Crime?

The concept of Hate Crime came about in several different ways. I had always wanted to make a home invasion film because I had honestly feared home invasions my entire life, ever since I was a wee little lad. But what really brought on the idea for the Neo Nazi aspect of the film was a scary chance encounter in Texas. My business partner and I were at a bar and were harassed by skinheads and asked to leave. We, being Jewish, started to feel really hurt by this kind of blind hatred and we looked into it. Sure enough there are many, many Hate Crimes in the US per year and an alarming amount of them are against Jewish people and are violent. I knew Hate Crime had to be made.

What would you like viewers to take away from the film?

I would like viewers to take away from this viewing experience not only just a film but a message as well. The amount of Hate that permeates our society is becoming overwhelming. It’s time not to judge others and just accept one another. I know it’s a strange thing to say about a film like this but it is how I intend the film to be received. When we are fueled by blind hate and violence, no one wins. This film is an experience but it is also a journey, and I hope you decide to take this journey with me.

Your cast really went for it.  I especially felt for Maggie Wagner (who played Melissa, the mother).  How did they prepare for such raw performances? Anyone crawl under a rock for a month to recover?

I worked extensively with every single one of my actors for hours on end, discussing character and really building everything that was off the page, not just what was on the page. Everybody has their own process, but I feel that film is a living breathing medium and the way I look at building a character with an actor is we dig deep into who they are both on and off the page. We take my perceptions of the character and the actors perceptions of the character and we imagine this invisible wall. We both throw our perceptions at the wall, aka have a discussion, and whatever sticks for both of us ends up making the most sense for the character. Its how I like to have my actors prepare and how to truly root a character in reality. I am very hands on with my actors and I think they appreciate it. I know everyone was happy to shed their characters when it was time to stop filming.

Are there any plans to put this film out for a wider audience, or have you gotten great reception via the internet(which is infinitely vast itself)?

The film will be released on DVD in the USA in august through UNEARTHED FILMS and a BLURAY later on after that.  I wanted to do this VOD (video on demand) thing because there are so many people in other countries that want to see it that I fear might not end up with the opportunity to see it for a very long time. As you know the BAN laws are a lot more strict in foreign countries then they are over here in the USA.

Can you let us know what’s in store for the future?  Should we get our crash helmets prepped?

The next film I directed/wrote that is coming out is called TO JENNIFER and it is something VERY different then what I am use to. I think everyone will really like it. Essentially its a buddy comedy but it will please any fans of HATE CRIME guaranteed.  Also keep an eye out for Pernicious, which is a bigger film I am shooting this summer in Thailand!

A big thank you to James Cullen Bressack for taking the time out to answer some questions for Rosemary’s Pixie, and much success in the future!

In less Westernized places on this planet, men, women and children experience violence on a daily basis because of their religion, race, or sexual orientation.  Unfortunately here in North America, people are still subject to the same injustices.  Even though his film was hard to watch at times, I applaud this indie director for approaching the subject matter in the same way violence is doled out.  Hate Crime is in your face, unapologetic and drops a much-needed reality check in our laps.  People, we just need to get along!

Hate Crime can be currently rented online for a limited time at www.pyskikjunkypictures.com for $6.66.  If you have a delicate constitution, you have been warned.  Not for the faint of heart!

The Collector & The Collection: Have Mask, Will Torture

Published April 2, 2013 by vfdpixie

the collector                                  the collection

(2009, 1 hr, 30 mins)                                                               ( 2012, 1 hr, 22 mins)

So I though I’d treat myself to a double bill.  I had seen The Collector last year, and was blown away.  I loved this stylish and gruesome thriller, so when I heard there was a sequel, The Collection, I was cautiously excited.  Both films were co-written and directed by Marcus Dunstan, and since the first movie was so innovative, I thought for sure the second would be comparable, so I bought both movies for, um, my collection. (Beware: Spoilers to follow!)

The Collector brings us Arkin O’Brien (Josh Stewart), a handyman/ex-con who is on a reno site where the clients are filthy rich.  He has been casing this mansion because the owner, a jewel broker, has a giant gem in his safe, and Arkin needs to steal it to repay a jailhouse I.O.U.  He is also looking out to provide for his family, a wife and daughter, and deal with his wife’s loan shark debt which has a midnight deadline.  In desperation, Arkin decides to take the gem that night, since he believes the wealthy broker and his family to be away on vacation.  Little does he know that a masked psycho of epic proportions has also marked the home for his own twisted purposes.  We learn he is a collector of sorts, keeping his last victims as bait for new prey.  Arkin gets caught up in this collector’s vicious and gruesome web of booby traps and is horrified to know that the family has in fact been captured and tortured by the intruder. The youngest daughter, Hannah (Karley Scott Collins) has escaped the Collector, and hides somewhere in the house.  Being a father himself, Arkin puts his self-preservation instincts aside to help the child escape this deadly game.

josh stewart

Hmm…just notice how Arkin (Josh Stewart) looks like my prom date many moons ago. Minus the cuts and scratches. The handcuffs are probably a part of his daily wear these days though, along with an orange jumpsuit…and yeah, I’d date Arkin too..

The Collection begins where the first movie ends.  Arkin rescues Hannah, but is unfortunately recaptured by the Collector and taken away in a signature red steamer trunk as bait for his next victims.  We are also introduced to Elena Peters and her father in a flashback, survivors of a car crash and mourning the loss of her mother.  They were rescued by a man named Lucello (Lee Tergensen), and he becomes their loyal protector.  Elena (Emma Fitzpatrick) is now a beautiful, pixie-haired young woman, whose overprotective and wealthy father (Christopher McDonald) is oblivious to her plans of partying well into the night at a secret club. Out to have a good time, Elena finds her boyfriend cheating, punches him out, and makes a tearful retreat.  She finds a red steam trunk and opens it after hearing a thump from within, releasing our anti-hero, Arkin, bloodied and beaten.  This sets off a series of deadly apparatus that turns the club into a death trap as the Collector makes his appearance.   Elena watches her friend get crushed, and is unfortunately captured by the Collector.  Arkin escapes by leaping out of a window using her now ex-boyfriend as a cushion and is rushed to the hospital where he is placed under arrest as he recuperates.  Arkin is the only known survivor to escape the Collector, who we learn has been very busy with other victims.  The nightclub massacre has been pegged as one of his kills, and Elena’s protector Lucello offers Arkin freedom for his help in finding her.  He agrees and takes Lucello and some mercenaries to the Collector’s den of insanity housed in an abandoned hotel, where they encounter more booby traps, mutilated drug-crazed victims and guard dogs.  Once again, it’s a battle of wits, survival and gore all at the Collector’s whim.

elena

Elena in full freakout mode and still glam. A red lip is a must even when terrified!

I’m really surprised that these movies had the same director/writer.  The first movie had a gritty, indie, yet slick feel to it.  The camera work was interesting, and I loved the cool colour scheme of blues and acid greens that created a cold, calculating backdrop for the villain. The traps were crazy and gruesome with lo-tech sophisticated uses for knives, fish hooks, and bear traps.  The film was intimate and claustrophobic at the same time as we witnessed the thought processes of both Arkin and the Collector; intruders with very different goals.  I felt The Collector was truly innovative.  Josh Stewart was brilliant as Arkin, a bad guy with some humanity left, with a perpetually tortured look in his eye.  I really enjoyed the suspense as he outsmarted the villain again and again.

In the second film, Stewart reprises his role as Arkin, and is just as good, as his character continued his survival of the fittest behaviour, but I found the film not as visually appealing, overusing the colour red.  It reminded me of the Saw movies, a few of which Dunstan had a hand in writing.  The gallery of the Collector’s creations also reminded me of The Human Centipede, which is unfortunate since I still want my time back for watching that stinker (incidentally, the sequel to that movie was…well, I want my time back for that one too). I also found that the kills weren’t as artistically shot as the first film.  There were, however, some interesting moments, like seeing the Collector’s lab.  There was also potential to see into his back story, which never came to fruition.  Just a few tidbits here and there that lead us to believe the Collector had a traumatic experience in childhood that lead him down the psycho path.  I liked the mannequin hallway which was very creepy, as well as the grotesque paintings throughout the hotel.  I also loved the heroine, Elena because she was plucky (check out her MacGyver-esque escape from the steamer trunk), and yes, because she had a pixie cut.  Finally, a gal with short hair who isn’t typical looking but still beautiful!  Hats off to Marcus Dunstan for thinking outside the box for that.  I was also happy to see Lee Tergensen in this film, since I’ve been a fan of his from his days on OZ, but that still couldn’t redeem it for me.

I had a wish list for The Collection.  I wanted this movie to be about the Collector; about his process and what lead him to his morbid obsessions, because Dunstan created a fantastic villain.  I wanted to know why he chose the ambitious nightclub location where he was bound to be found out.  I wanted Arkin to face him in another battle of wits, not the forced mission that made our anti-hero look cowed and beaten.  It’s a shame too, because director Dunstan seemed to be well-loved by his actors, and he looks like a super nice guy as I watched the dvd extras.  Let’s hope that he makes The Collector his signature film and creates something just as great since he is clearly talented…because you know this pixie is waiting…

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