Kicking-off in Nottingham’s Broadway Cinema, the first two days of the 14th Mayhem Film Festival brought together a wonderful selection of genre films introduced by Chris Cook and Steven Sheil. Movies In Focus was once again on-hand to bring you a rundown of the gory, the bleak and the ugly.
Here’s what went down…
Anna And The Apocalypse
A Christmas-zombie-musical-teen-comedy, the multi-genre straddling Anna And The Apocalypse could have gone either way (with the odds on disastrous). But this John McPhail directed pic manages to work on all levels and it features star making turn from Ella Hunt. The zombie genre has been done to death, resurrected and then killed again, but this UK flick overcomes any issues with good characterisation and really good songs (kudos to composers Toddy Hart and Tommy Reilly).
Director John McPhail also took to the stage for a fun, passionate and candid Q&A.
If the truth be told, Movies In Focus was disappointed in horror anthology Nightmare Cinema. The film features five short films (The Thing in the Woods, Mirare, Mashit, This Way to Egress, Dead) from Alejandro Brugués, Joe Dante, Mick Garris, Ryûhei Kitamura, and David Slade. They’re are all tied to a mysterious cinema which features a very strange projectionist indeed (Mickey Rourke)
Nightmare Cinema wants to be a Twilight-Zone/Tales Of The Crypt type thing, but the framing device with a miscast Mickey Rourke doesn’t work and the film’s are only so-so.
Erik Blomberg’s 1952 Finnish fantasy, The White Reindeer is a wonderfully hypnotic piece of cinema. Almost a silent film, this Cannes lauded movie’s plot sees a reindeer herder’s wife turn into a killer White Reindeer. A wonderful little oddity, this features some tremendous visuals and a tremendously jaunty score. Truly unique on all levels.
Nicolas Pesce’s Piercing is a giallo-style thriller starring Christopher Abbott and Mia Wasikowska. Abbot plays a man with a urge to kill, who settles on Wasikowska’s prostitute as his victim. However, she’s not quite the shrinking violet he had in mind and things don’t go to plan. The plot may be slight (it’s basically, two people in a room for the majority of the running time) but Piercing‘s performances, score and visual stylings bring it alive.
Marc Price’s Nightshooters is a real crowdpleaser of a film (the Mayhem crowd loved it). The film sees a low budget film crew unexpectedly caught-up in a gangland murder. It’s funny, dramatic and incredibly well shot (in just 17 days!). Price’s pic hits the target on all levels, but it’s probably Jean-Paul Ly’s fight scenes which will win the most fans.
A down-to-earth Marc Price took to the stage with a Q&A with Mayhem’s Chris Cooke following the film. It was an insightful chat which covered the film’s production. Good stuff.
The Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich
How can something so reich be so wrong? Sonny Laguna & Tommy Wiklund’s reboot of the long-running Puppet Master franchise sees carnage unleashed at a puppet convention. Gory, offensive and but good fun nonetheless, The Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich doesn’t care who it offends and Movies In Focus saw one walk-out after a particularly bad taste murder.
Panos Costamos throws away the rule book for revenge movies and fashions a dream-like piece of cinematic carnage with Mandy. Nicolas Cage is the logger who goes on a blood-fuelled rampage after his lover (Andrea Riseborough) is killed by a Charles Manson style cult led Linus Roach (putting it all out there).
Trippy visuals, with a score to match, at times Mandy feels like an 1980s fantasy film told through the prism of a Taken-style thriller. It ‘s not wholly successful in being a good film, but it’s certainly unique.