The 2019 Mayhem Film Festival continued to deliver a mind-bending array of films during its final two days at Nottingham’s Broadway Cinema.
The Pool is a Korean killer crocodile that really delivers. It sees a young couple trapped in an empty swimming pool with a crocodile (talk about bad luck). It started off with a bit of wonky CGI, but it’s filled with non-stop tension, laughs and some impressive set pieces. It also dares to do something that very few movies would even hint at, never mind carrying it out. Woof.
She Never Died
A companion piece (but not a sequel) to He Never Died, which screened at Mayhem in 2015, She Never Died is an entertaining vigilante revenge film with a difference. It’s got some great bone-crunching action and good performances but it doesn’t have the freshness of the first film. Apparently, there are plans to potentially turn this into s TV series, and you get the feeling that this is a pilot of sorts.
After Midnight (aka Something Else)
Jeremy Gardner and Christian Stella’s After Midnight was probably Movies In Focus’ favourite film from Mayhem 2019. A relationship drama/comedy/horror, this delivers on almost every level. The film follows the 10 year relationship between Hank (Jeremy Gardner) and Abby (Brea Grant) and the strange creature that lives in the woods outside their house. That’s an over simplification of this quirky little film. Sure, it’s a little ponderous, but it’s fresh, fun and emotive.
Short Film Showcase.
2019 saw a brilliant line-up of short films at Mayhem. They all delivered – except The Procedure 2. I hated the original – and I hate this one too. Movies In Focus top five picks: Steven Sheil’s emotional Unmade, Charles Thurman and Neal O’Bryan beautifully rendered animation Toe, Jill Gevargizian’s brilliantly icky One Last Meal, Alex Withers’ poignant Dead Quiet and Lucas Paulino and Ángel Torres’ creepy El Cuento.
The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil
The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil is a Korean thriller feels like a combination of a Michael Mann crime-thriller and a Martin Scorsese gangster-drama. It sees a cop and a gangster team-up to bring down a serial killer. It’s witty, violent and entertaining. It’s great for the most part, but the last act drags a little.
The second Nicolas Cage film of Mayhem 2019, Vampire’s Kiss has gone down in history as the film where Cage eats a live cockroach. The black-comedy sees Cage play a literary agent who believes that he’s turning into a vampire. It’s OTT, but it has a wickedly wild Cage performance, a great score, impressive visuals and some nice riffs on the vampire genre. What more could you want on a Saturday night a a genre film festival?
Bullets Of Justice
Bullets Of Justice is a bat-shit crazy science fiction actioner from Kazakhstan. I’ve seen it and I’m still not sure what it’s all about – but it feels like a merging of early Peter Jackson and Robert Rodriguez. Danny Trejo pops up for a cameo in this curio which really does have to be seen to be believed. Bonkers.
Korean horror Door Lock got its UK premiere at Mayhem and this chiller about a shy bank worker getting terrified by a creepy killer does have its moments. It runs out of steam towards the finale, but it does have quite a bit of tension.
Why Don’t You Just Die
A violent Russian comedy, Why Don’t You Just Die sees a family and their visitors involved in a battle to the death. It’s well staged and choreographed and it manages to sustain its energy across its running-time – even if it is a little top heavy with the action. It’s like a live action Tom & Jerry directed by Edgar Wright. Fun.
Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots are the young couple trapped in a hellish suburbia. This is a well acted piece which unravels to deliver something akin to a feature-length episode of The Twilight Zone. Director Lorcan Finnegan and co-writer Garret Shanley have crafted a film with weight which keeps the audience on their toes throughout. The screening featured a Q&A with writer Garret Shanley – he seems like a really nice guy.
Come To Daddy
Mayhem 2019 came to a close with Ant Timpson’s Come To Daddy. The Elijah Wood starrer sees a man attempting to reconnect with his father, but things don’t quite go as planned. It’s a film of two halves (the first having the most tension, the second the most action) but this is a well made thriller which impressed.
That’s the Mayhem Film Festival for 2019 – and hopefully Movies In Focus will return in 2020.