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All posts for the day October 29th, 2014

The Babadook TADFF 2014

Published October 29, 2014 by vfdpixie

babadook

The Babadook (2014, 1hr 33 mins)

I had read about The Babadook several months ago.  Drawn in by the strange name, I had to see what this indie Aussie horror, touted as one of the best horror films out this year, was about.  I was immediately intrigued by the trailer, and was ecstatic when I found out it was coming to the Toronto After Dark Film Festival as the closing gala film.  This fairytale nightmare was worthy of all the buzz and anticipation as it kept your gut in knots and will make you avoid your bookshelf for a while.

On the day of her son Samuel’s (Noah Wiseman) birth, Amelia (Essie Davis) loses her husband in a car crash.  Samuel, who is now 6, is a handful; his imagination runs wild with monsters he must battle, and he invents treacherous gizmos that creates problems at school.  His mother is a broken woman trying to keep her head above a sea of unrealized emotion, and gets no support from her sister.  One evening for a bedtime story, Samuel picks a book called The Babadook.  It has mysteriously appeared on his shelf, and it is a menacing tale that becomes too close for comfort, immediately scaring the living daylights out of Samuel and his mother.  What ensues is the unleashing of a supernatural force that stakes its claim on their home and their lives.

What draws you in to The Babadook is not the dollhouse-like sets or the moody lighting and midnight blue palette, but the performances.  Davis, with her fresh face and big eyes, played the hell out of her character who goes from distraught to a demonic transformation that will give you chills.  To be in abject terror for such a sustained amount of time deserves an award of some sort!  Wiseman sold the excitable, anxiety-laden Samuel who just wants happiness in his life really well, drawing out concern just as you were ready to write him off.

Writer and director Jennifer Kent uses the age-old fairy tale rule of a moral or warning in its most literal sense, in this case burying your fears and emotions that will eventually come back and bite, or stab you.  She has also made a visually engaging film.  From the simple household sets that conveyed a sad isolation, to the vintage silent film footage that haunts Amelia’s dream and waking life, Kent makes the indie into high art.  And the fact that our antagonist, The Babadook, is not treated like your regular demon/spirit fare elevates the monster to what I hope will be iconic status.  Also note the brilliant sound design that at times you could feel in your seat and made your skin crawl.

When this film comes out in a wider release, and I think with all its success it will, go see it.  You will get a kick out of some old-fashioned scares, harkening back to the spooky stories you remember as a child, and the unusual ending will leave you wondering what will happen to Amelia and Samuel.  Ba Ba Dook-Dook-Dook!

Face Off Season 7 Finale: Life, Death and Battling Knights!

Published October 29, 2014 by vfdpixie

It was a long road, and many contestants later, we were left with Cig the monster lover, Dina the ex-cake decorator, and Drew the makeup teacher.  An eclectic trio that consistently improved as the show progressed, and that hard work earned them a coveted spot in the finale.

The previous episode gave a few hints at the surprises in store for Season 7’s last episode.  The final 3 artists were surrounded by swords, suits of armour and coats of arms.  McKenzie revealed the subject for their final spotlight challenge:  Knights!  Like Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones, good and bad knights ran amok.  In their final Life and Death challenge, the artists had to choose a unique coat of arms and create a good and evil fantasy knight that represented life and death.  The artists had a great time actually pulling a sword from a stone to pick their coat of arms.  They would also have a lot of help with an eliminated artist from this season and a randomly assigned past season’s winner!  The next surprise?  These life and death knights would fight it out in an actual jousting, sword fighting battle!

Drew picked George and was assigned Rayce, winner of Season 2.  His coat of arms included a stag, so he went for woodland, elven creatures inspired by satyrs.  They were to be two warring sets of satyrs.  He was really jazzed that he had Rayce on his team since he was an amazing sculptor.  Mr. Westmore advised Drew on the nose placement of his elven fawn people, and his team went at sculpting and building.  George did a lot of the molding because he was fast at it.  They were doing well until Drew noticed some of the colours Rayce was using on his dark knight.  He wanted the paint job to be a bit more flesh coloured, but in the end, decided to trust Rayce.  On the finale day, Drew carefully placed the antlers on so when the knights actually fought, they wouldn’t tear into any cowls.  In his rush during last looks, Drew started to paint some of the armour the wrong colours, so he had to scramble to fix it.  His final characters were my favourites.  The were definitely fantastical and beautiful.  The judges liked the nice natural makeup on the good knight, and great cheekbones to convey the stag reference.  They loved the “gorgeous” dark knight and felt the characters worked really well together; you could tell they were from the same world with the harmonious style and palette.  The only thing that put Glenn off a bit was the hair on the face.

Dina picked Stella and was assigned Season 3 winner Nicole.  She got the aquatic coat of arms.  She wanted to design her knights with found things from the sea:  a good fish knight who got his armour from a mermaid, and a the bad knight who was reanimated by electric eels.  When Mr. Westmore heard this concept, he was worried that she wasn’t using the octopus that was prominent in the coat of arms.  This freaked Dina out a bit, but luckily, Nicole came up with an octopus that controlled the brain of the crab-like knight.  They would extend the tentacles down onto the cowl.  Stella sculpted a lot of the armour, including a starfish that Dina finished off with her now famous piping bag.  They were scrambling to clean out the molds when Drew, George and Rayce came to their rescue at the last minute.  Nice guys!  The gals would have 15 pieces to apply to the knights.  During last looks, some arm pieces were lifting so they had to add moss to some of the areas in question and tie them down with rope.  Dina’s knights were truly beautiful!  The judges were wowed by the amount of detail and cohesiveness of the work.  Lois adored the dark knight, and Glenn thought the amount of detail was astounding.

Cig picked Sasha and was assigned Season 6 winner Rashaad.  The coat of arms they worked with was one with gargoyles.  His concept involved good knights who protected people from gargoyle-like knights.  Cig knew he wanted Rashaad to do fabrication, since he was a star at that.  Mr. Westmore cautioned Cig against having the knights look too dark, and after looking at his Life character, decided he needed to sleep on it because the sculpt didn’t look right.  The next day, he decided on a human looking knight and a gargoyle.  One look was going to be minimalistic and he knew it was a risk.  I thought his life knight looked a touch too red, but the death knight was amazing.  The judges liked the silicone used on the human life knight and that there were no edges to be seen.  They also liked the contrast between the hyper-real looking life knight and the monster, gargoyle knight.  They thought it was great conceptual work, but felt the good life knight didn’t push the character enough.

The battle was really cool!  With bagpipe players and horses thundering around the arena, the crowd cheered at the sheer spectacle.  Thankfully, all the makeups held up to some brutal sword play, leaps and tackles.  In the end, the judges picked Dina as the finale winner!!  She walked away with a new Fiat 500, $100,000 and a trip to one of Kryolan Professional Make-up international locations! I am so happy she won!  She is the little cake maker that could!  She quit her job to do this, and had little experience, but heaps of talent.  Nice to see someone following their dreams. Congrats Dina, you deserve the win!

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