For my podcast The Filmcraziest Show, I was able to speak with the minds behind Bad Candy. They are Desiree Connell and Scott B. Hansen, who share directing duties, as well as writing duties. In our conversation, we touch on the vignette shooting and how they don’t personally consider it an anthology film and adding to the Halloween resurgence and playing by Halloween rules.
Mark O’Brien’s The Righteous explores the interesting “hook” of a mysterious stranger coming upon a home. The mysterious stranger is O’Brien’s Aaron Smith (“Original, I know,” says Aaron), who comes upon the property of an elderly couple one night, leg injured. The home is owned by former priest Frederic Mason (Henry Czerny) and his wife Ethel Mason (Mimi Kuzyck), the reason Frederic left the priesthood. Playing with fascinating themes of sin, retribution and penance, Mark O’Brien creates quite the compelling storyline in his feature directorial debut, where he also writes the screenplay.
In the film, we first meet young couple Kat (Regina Lei) and Jim (Berant Zhu), getting ready for an ordinary day. However, today, after a year of living with the Alvin virus, it’s permanently mutated into something rabid. It turns everyday, fine citizens into feral sadists who give into their primal urges. In the film, Jabbaz throws every caution to the wind, creating a totally bonkers action-horror film. It’s filled with anxiety as we watch as we never know what will happen. It’s injected with the pure insanity of each film in The Purge series (the good ones), but dialed to 11. It’s also just The Crazies on crack. The first kill we see is haunting, and a big kudos to Jabbaz for choosing this greasy first death. If you’re watching the film and you’re immediately turned off by this first kill, there’s a decent chance this won’t be for you. It’s definitely not for the faint-hearted.
Back at last October’s first edition of the Nightstream Film Festival, I was able to watch the wild puppet horror film Frank & Zed, written and directed by Portland filmmaker Jesse Blanchard. I loved it a lot as a love letter to the horror genre and monster movies, and I loved seeing all the effort that went into a puppet film of nature, especially with the climactic Orgy of Blood. I spoke with Jesse at that festival, but as our conversation came at the very end of the festival, we thought it best to hold the conversation for either its release (On Demand or what have you), or its next big festival stop. It’s now playing at the Fantasia Film Festival – available On Demand through Wednesday, August 25 – and I’m super excited to unveil our conversation.
In horror thriller Don’t Say Its Name, outsiders are being killed by an unseen force in the woods in a Canadian Indigenous community. The town’s sheriff, Betty (Madison Walsh), can’t make heads or tails of it, so she enlists the help of badass game warden Stacey (Sera-Lys McArthur). The film is an Indigenous story at its core, one about protecting one’s land as outsiders (a coal mining company called WEC) look to profit off their land. At the very least, Don’t Say Its Name is thought-provoking because of this. There’s strong character work here, especially with Betty and Stacey. Stacey’s an army vet suffering from PTSD, so her healing from trauma of war is an intriguing element on top of Indigenous people coping with their collective trauma.
On this episode of The Filmcraziest Show, I was able to join in on a press day to chat with Japanese filmmaker Takashi Shimizu for his new film Howling Village, which he co-wrote and directed. Shimizu is best known for bringing the universe of Ju-on: The Grudge to life, creating the original Japanese horror films, and then directing their American remakes in The Grudge and The Grudge 2.Tak In Howling Village, a young psychologist (Akaya Miyoshi) searches for her missing brother at a haunted and cursed location known as "Howling Village," where she starts to uncover information about her family history. In our conversation, we talk about the film's phone booth scene, what other genres of horror Takashi would like to explore, and some nursery rhymes heard in the film.
The structure works, as we learn information the same time as our main character Fret, or at least as to what’s happening outside her can. Smith’s horror is at its most effective when we’re hearing visceral screams and just imagining what’s happening. It’s impressive what he can do with visuals and lighting, too, where one of the film’s most chilling moments is simply an old man smiling at us through his grated window, prophesizing.
Director, writer and editor Jane Schoenbrun has a knack for making comfortable things uncomfortable. For instance, an ASMR video that Casey watches on a projector screen. I’m a headphones user and this scene triggered my fight or flight response.
The woman in the video tells us we’re safe and pets the screen, and all I could think was, “Stop petting me.” It’s chilling because of Schoenbrun’s creepy atmosphere in the film. Of course, if you go to the real ASMR video, there’s nothing in the comments but positivity about how much the video helped them. It’s a safe place.
There’s no such thing as a safe place in We’re All Going to the World’s Fair.