possession

All posts tagged possession

Prepare Yourself for the Brutal We Are The Flesh: A Shudder Exclusive

Published April 21, 2017 by rmpixie

 

We Are The Flesh (2016, 1 hr, 19 mins)

 

Extreme cinema has its purpose, usually to tell a story in the most shocking manner in order to get a visceral response as we watch. While some directors use it for pure shock value, others use it as a rejection of the formulaic films cranked out of the incessant Hollywood machine, and some feel that extreme representation of brutality, sexuality and gore is the only way they can express themselves and their subject matter artistically.  In We Are The Flesh (Tenemos la carne), a film that played many festivals including Cannes in 2016 and is now a Shudder Exclusive, Mexican director Emiliano Rocha Minter gives us all of the above and more in order to tell a meandering story about death, rebirth and god complexes.

Lucio (Diego Gamaliel) and Fauna (Maria Evoli) stumble upon an abandoned building and its sole inhabitant, an elf-like man named Marciano (Noé Hernández). He is strange and extremely volatile, spouting cryptic words about his way of life. Fauna bargains for her and her brother to stay with him in exchange for any sort of arrangement since they seek refuge from a harsh environment on the outside. That arrangement turns out to be labour in order to create a womb-like labyrinth of a cave with bits of wood, cardboard, broken furniture and endless rolls of tape. As he gets to know his two young captives locked in the building with him, he is taken with Fauna and takes to bullying her brother. In a series of extremely strange and increasingly cruel events, he forces them do his darkly incestuous bidding, and once they cross the line, they enter an infernal world of raw emotion and mysticism.

We Are The Flesh wins hands down for the title of extreme cinema. Viewers beware as this film is chockfull of writhing nudity, incest, rape, cannibalism, orgies, and even a dash of menstrual blood; letting it all hang out to tell a strange story with creationist undertones in an absurdist and grotesque manner. Adam and Eve, the devil, a God/Jesus/resurrection theme, and Mexico’s nationalistic unrest are explored but goes off the rails just as you think you can make sense of the startling action. Hernández gave a truly arresting performance as the demonic Marciano and Evoli reached deep for her portrayal of Fauna.  From his interviews, Minter sounded very supportive of his cast, but I’m not sure how he got these performances out of his actors.  If the process was anything like Isabelle Adjani’s motivation in Possession, I hope they had a therapist on set.

Only in his mid-twenties, Minter, lauded and backed by Oscar-winning director Alejandro G. Iñárritu, has been compared to French director Gaspar Noé. While films like Noé’s Love also used extreme sexuality to tell a story, once you get past the sex, it reveals itself to be a sensitive film about a vulnerable young man searching for lost love. I actually found We Are The Flesh had more in common with Michael Rowe’s 2010 film Leap Year (Año bisiesto). This too was filled with stark and graphic sex, but like Minter Rowe uses sex, sadism and isolation as a way to convey a connection, in this instance humanity and heartache as a lonely young woman finds solace in a sadistic relationship. Leap Year is also similar to We Are The Flesh in that there is a brother and sister relationship and an overbearing older male that dictates to, or has the potential to lord over, a young woman, but that’s where the similarities end.

Where Rowe creates a quiet intensity, Minter juxtaposes poetic dialogue with brutally animalistic actions that come at you full force. The characters are unfettered and wild; giving into impulse after impulse in a womb-like setting, punctuated with a barrage of sound. Actions like breathing, stirring, and sporadic and aggressive drumming pulls the viewer’s focus, making each scene that much more uncomfortable as you wince from both the visual and aural assault. There were also nods to Samuel Beckett along with colourful psychedelic and supernatural elements. Those connections still didn’t make it more accessible to me, perhaps only helping in categorizing familiar scenes.

I appreciate some extreme cinema for what it attempts to overcome in this age of banal cookie cutter genre films (as long as living creatures-human and animal- remain unharmed in real life) but ultimately I can’t say I liked We Are The Flesh. Perhaps I’m not intellectual enough to grasp the abundance of allegorical notions presented here, but there are some things that become too much of a stretch for me to consider them above their shock value.

One viewer’s interpretation of art is another viewer’s headache. Are Lucio and Fauna a new hope in a barren land? Is Marciano their god or a demon? Does an abducted soldier represent a violently dying motherland or an attempt to rid the country of political overseers? Is this an ultimately extreme art film instead of a horror?  Who’s to say, but those questions and more will come to mind as you watch Emiliano Rocha Minter’s chaotic, poetic and ultimately confusing first feature film We Are The Flesh. After this experience, he’s certainly on my radar, and I’m curious to see what he does next. Make up your own mind and see it exclusively on Shudder Canada.

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Outcast Review: More Than Just Personal Demons

Published June 21, 2016 by rmpixie

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Outcast (Cinemax TV series, 2016)

 

There’s a new show in town and it’s called Outcast. Created by The Walking Dead’s Robert Kirkman and adapted from his comic of the same name, it follows a troubled young man Kyle Barnes (Patrick Fugit), who has had an abusive childhood and is now estranged from his wife and daughter. Kyle is not the most popular guy in Rome, West Virginia due to his violent history and lives secluded from everyone around him. The community is wary of him and his only friends are his adoptive sister Megan (Wrenn Schmidt), and his sympathetic neighbour Norville (Willie C. Carpenter).

When a young boy’s strange (and gross) behaviour turns unbelievably violent, his mother goes to the town reverend for help. She is convinced her child is possessed and wants the Reverend Anderson (Philip Glenister) to exorcise him. When the demon proves too strong, he calls on Kyle for help. It seems Reverend Anderson has known Kyle for most of his life, and feels that he is destined to help with ridding people of demonic possession due to Kyle’s own experience with a malevolent entity that stole his mother from him. We learn there are very dark forces at work, and they want to make Kyle’s life a living hell so-to-speak.

I’ve watched the first 3 episodes and I’m hooked. The opening credits alone are pretty brilliant. A shadowy substance seeps into the everyday mundane of a small town, and the camera pans slowly like a rollercoaster on Valium. Add an ominous score and my interest was piqued with the disconcerting atmosphere as the names of the cast and crew came in and out of focus. That atmospheric dread comes with each episode as the story is revealed little by little, so if you’re looking for a fast paced show, you’re out of luck. What it does instead is keeps you guessing with tidbits of clarity. We know that Kyle still lives in his run-down childhood home but is plagued with memories of his mother’s horrific abuse. We also know people around him hold him responsible for his estranged marriage because of his supposed violent nature. He lives in a close-knit community, but as the plot goes on, the fabric starts to unravel creating a lot of intrigue and a whodunnit feel that I’m really enjoying. The show is chockfull of violence, and some of it is tough to watch, especially Kyle’s flashbacks of the intense childhood abuse, but it leaves you with a compassion for his character that you realize he needs to give himself.

Patrick Fugit as Kyle Barnes

Patrick Fugit as Kyle Barnes

Fugit who often plays quirky characters, is the right choice to play Kyle. He has a lost look to him that draws you in and makes his anguish believable. British actor Glenister’s disheveled demeanor as the Reverend channels Kolchak from The Night Stalker, and it works. Their mismatched personalities create an unlikely duo with a bumbling chemistry. I also love Reg. E Cathey, most recently seen on House of Cards, who plays the town’s Chief Giles. His character is one to watch, and keep your eye out for Lee Tergesen (know for his many TV series appearances on shows like Oz and Defiance) who plays a really nasty guy!

Kyle (Fugit) and Reverend Anderson (Glenister) banishing demons.

Kyle (Fugit) and Reverend Anderson (Glenister) banishing demons.

I’m curious to see where Outcast will go. It covers horror well for those who love a good demonic possession but also brings in a human element making each episode extremely compelling. Kirkman’s brain is made of horror magic, and the show is already renewed for a second season, so the forecast sounds promising. You can catch it on Cinemax in the States Fridays at 10 p.m. and HBO Canada at 11 p.m.

Face Off Season 10 Episode 14: The Big Finale Part 2 “Sinister Showdown”

Published April 14, 2016 by rmpixie

The second part of the finale had the artists tweaking their makeups to suit what the directors needed.  Walter and Melissa didn’t have too much more to do, but Rob would have to redo his makeups from scratch.  They had very little time left, but a visit from their loved ones helped spur them on.  Walter’s wife, Melissa’s hubby and son, and Rob’s parents gave them some much-needed support before they went full force to finish their makeups for their films.

The each arrived at the creepy mansion on the oilfield to shoot their scenes, and as noted in the previous post, Jason Blum would be on the reveal stage to help judge the final films and makeup.

Melissa finished her molds on set. She got Johnny to affix the appliances differently so they would hold up to the actor’s sweat.  Melissa bounced between makeups to get everything finished.  On set, the judges thought she hit the right notes for her director John Wynn.  He asked her to add a bit more sheen to the possessed makeup and make the demon eye more gooey.  She was happy with how the makeup turned out and thanked her “Team Badass” for their help.  The film was called Hellhole: The Possession and  the judges thought it was a cohesive makeup and liked the organic elements in the prosthetics.  Jason Blum thought her creativity with the cyclops demon was great and her director thought she did something really different with the concept.

Rob had a lot of work to do.  He needed Anna to do a more simple possession makeup and  he had to get rid of the demon’s horn to make the look more sleek; while Kaleb worked on new shoulder pieces.  On set he was terrified but excited.  Anna blended the prosthetics like a maniac, and Rob came up with a gag to make oil seep out of the demon’s eye.  He was happy with the end result, but was apprehensive about what his director Bryce McGuire would say.  Luckily, he only asked for dust on the demon and to keep the possessed makeup hair wet so the oil wouldn’t cake.  The judges liked the eye gag that worked really well, and Rob was happy with his team and thought it was the best creature he’d ever made.  Neville thought he gave them a classic demon that told the story, and they loved the possessed makeup for the J-horror feel.  Glenn thought Rob focused on the right things, and his director thought he was a stroke of genius.  The film, Hellhole: Dead Earth, took place in 1929, and impressed the judges. Ve also loved the horns that looked like a crown on the demon.

Walter was prepared and ready to get to the film set.  Mel made sure not to overdo the painting this time around, and they all focused on the many details to make the characters camera ready for director Ryan Spindell.  The judges loved the integrated vines in the possession makeup, and thought the demon looked “rad” under the lights.   Ve liked the demon’s boils on one of the biggest makeups on the show, and Neville thought they covered a lot of work.  In the film Hellhole: Dark Harvest, the demon looked great!

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The winner was Rob!  He was grateful for this life changing experience, and was happy to share the moment with his parents.  He walks away with a Fiat 500, $100,000 and a visit to one of Kryolan’s 85 international locations.

If you’d like to check out the films, click here. (Canadian fans will have to watch the full episode here, since the short films will play in the U.S. only…boo!!).

All the finalists were really talented and deserved to be there.  Congrats to Rob! Now we have to wait for the next season to see more crazy challenges and innovative makeups!

A Scary and Stranger Slice of Life

Published April 27, 2015 by rmpixie

A good horror or sci-fi movie can scare or fascinate us on the big screen, and most of us can leave the fantasy in the theater.  But what if the overly-friendly neighbour or that strange light in the sky happens in our real lives?  Some of that real life horror has been committed to film, documenting the stories of ordinary people, or seemingly so, who have lived these very experiences.  For them, especially those who lost loved ones, it is worse than any Hollywood nightmare, and for those who stand by their convictions it is a lesson in tenacity.  Here are a few titles that resonated with me, and although they may not be your first choice for a Saturday night flick, they give a voice to folks that either lived through some real horrors, or had some allegedly real, and really weird, experiences.

 

myamhorror

My Amityville Horror (2012, 1 hr, 28 mins)

This documentary focuses on Daniel Lutz who lived in the famed Amityville House with his family when he was a child a year after the gruesome murders. I missed this doc when it screened at Toronto After Dark Film Festival a few years back, so I finally sat down to watch a very strange and eerie account of what he went through.  His reluctance to reveal his true feelings and the damage done to him is evident in his large blue eyes, and I cannot tell you what I believe other than his life was a tortured existence for many years during and after his Amityville experience.  It is a must see if you want some understanding of the media storm surrounding this famous haunting.

 

 

 

cropsey

Cropsey (2009, 1 hr, 24 mins)

I was completely drawn into this Staten Island, N.Y. story.  The filmmakers and natives to the area, Joshua Zeman and Barbara Brancaccio, explore the small town legend of Cropsey, a crazed killer of children said to roam the wooded area around the abandoned Willowbrook State School.  Their quest to find the truth behind the Cropsey boogeyman reveals stories of missing children, heartbreak, a terrible history of mismanaged and abusive hospital facilities, and the slow but sure persecution of real suspected killer Andre Rand.

 

 

 

jefdfiles

The Jeffrey Dahmer Files (2012, 1 hr, 16 mins)

Short but informative, this film, with the help of reenactments, forensic and personal accounts, shows us how a seemingly friendly but introverted man charmed his neighbour and the detective in charge of questioning him despite being one of the most notorious serial killers of our time.  Don’t expect a grand exposé here, rather it gives you a snapshot of what people thought of him, how they related to him, and how he got away with murdering his victims for many years due to the shortcomings of the police.  This documentary will definitely make you paranoid when a stranger is unusually nice to you.

 

 

 

hiddenhand

The Hidden Hand:  Alien Contact and the Government Cover-up (2013, 1hr, 20 mins)

Abductees and scholars speak on the presence of aliens on Earth in this 2013 documentary.  What may sound like loopy hoo-ha ends up coming from some more than credible witnesses like military officials and the sixth American astronaut Edgar Dean Mitchell, as well as celebrated authors like Whitley Strieber, Jim Spark and David Icke.  Several accounts of alien abduction likened to being “tagged like deer” and many cover-up conspiracies fueled by greed are discussed, and details on ties to The Vatican and Area 51 will peak your interest in this hotly debated subject.  If you follow the vein of thought, this slightly dry but interesting film will lead you to think that alien visitation is more common than you think, making the Fox Mulders of the world proud.

 

 

 

billymstory

The Billy Meier Story (2009, 1 hr, 34 mins)

“Billy” Eduard Albert Meier has been in contact with aliens for most of his life, and is known for his prophetic messages that he relays from the Plejaren alien race.  With an early life that James Bond would envy,  Billy Meier has seen other worlds and world leaders; he has opened his own organization that publishes the prophecies of his alien friends and their spiritual teachings among other things, and he has allegedly seen the future.  This documentary takes you from experts who try to debunk his U.F.O footage, to mental health officials that try to certify any kind of craziness, and testimonials from his faithful followers.  It will certainly make you stroke your literal or figurative beard and scratch your head in wonder as you listen to some compelling information.  Despite the somewhat cheesy looking spacecraft footage and drawings of his alien informants that look like the European Jesus and Beyoncé (which would explain a lot), this movie really strikes a nerve as the world goes to Hell in a hand basket, and sadly, we don’t need aliens to tell us this.

 

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