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Monday, November 14, 2016

AFI Fest 2016 Reviews: The Lure, Prevenge and Panamerican Machinery

AFI Fest blessed the Chinese Theaters in Hollywood this weekend and is still going this week with free screenings from local and far-off directors. We had a chance to catch three films that grabbed us, the top of course being The Lure, a musical-horror-comedy that's coming to our shores from Poland this Jan-Feb from the artsy folks of Janus Films. It's about murderous sexy mermaids in 1980's Warsaw, oh, yeah, that's bait to get you to read more.

The Lure

Where do you begin in describing The Lure or the strong style and view of the director Agnieszka Smoczynska, who came to the midnight screening. She told us she wanted to make a horror movie and a musical, not in anyway normal to Poland's film industry. Neither is made their often, and they sure aren't put together ever. She was joined by lead actress Marta Mazurek who played Golden, one of the mermaids. Below see her sing "Part Of Your World," from The Little Mermaid in what we assume is Polish.
She was part of a duo, joined by Silver, played by Michalina Olszanska who were both sexy, killer mermaids who were also lounge singer strippers in a Polish night club. 

And, damn, the were good singers, the music in this film was good and mixed. The lyrics were bat-sh*t crazy, but we need a soundtrack stat, released by Mondo or iam8bit when it gets wider distribution. For a feature it had the perfect number of outlandish set pieces in the club at three big numbers. These pieces of stripping and 80's music create some of the greatest scenes in the film of just the feeling and look of being an amazing party you want to be a part of.

The story is a musical, bit of a dark one with love, sex and rock and roll or really 80's music that doesn't literally kill, but these mermaids do. Just like the stories past down by sailors they have a hankerin' for human flesh. Their ability to hypnotize man and women to come into ocean from the sound of their voice has them mesmerizing audiences making them the best club act in no time. They get there start from a band playing to close to a river at night, with a song with lyrics like, "Help us out of the water, we aren't planning to eat you." Love the lyrics in this one.

From their we see our mermaids get caught up in 1980's human society, Golden falling in love-which is a big no-no for mermaids- all while we see their band/family go through it's paces with the problems of success you've seen in other films. And other problems like eating people and not having female genitalia.

The surreal moments, the grittiness and the musical numbers will drive you mad with laughter as you have no idea what's going to happen next and how turning on the TV can become a musical number makes you ponder what did I just see?

Without a doubt grab the bait and see this film when it comes out in any form next year.


We all have voices inside are heads telling us right from wrong or to help out and to kill people...maybe not that last one. That is unless you're unborn baby is telling you to go out and murder people and that's what happens in director Alice Lowe's first feature film, which she also stars in with her unborn child. Telling us it was shot in 11 days and with the serial killer baby herself in hand, Alice Lowe answered questions on the film on it's second screening at AFI Fest.

 She told us how she just bought a random baby's first book-like first steps, first words- and then used it in the films as sort of her murder journal. She answered our question that she filmed really when it was Halloween in Cardiff to get people acting at there worst in costume, creating a creepy atmosphere towards the ending.

Let's not get ahead of ourselves, the killer in this hasn't even been born yet. Prevenge is a horror movie with comedy elements and the strange concept of a serial killer whose pregnant. Our protagonist hears her future daughter calling out for blood and must answer her calls, it's what any good psycho mother would do.

As a huge horror movie fan, it's very reminiscent of Alice Lowe's other horror film Sightseers in slow-moving tone mixed with kills and some comedy. The comedy doesn't always come from the murders themselves or the voice in her head of her baby. No, it comes from a great cast of victims that Alice herself said were chosen and given little control over. Her secret was casting people she felt were already talented and it shows. As every victims performance makes you want to kill them, cept' for one who you are suppose to really like.

We came out really liking this film, but for us when you already have a killer baby in your mind, you don't have to be subtle. And a final giving of props for the wonderfully shot scene where Mommy goes out for murder on Halloween.

Panamerican Machinery

The concept of a troubled company that specializes in construction closing its doors and their employees forming their own society and it falling apart grabbed us to attend. By the end, we wanted to get out just as much as some of the employees. Very much like dramedy's like Dogtooth and The Lobster, a ridiculous idea taken to an extreme somewhat realistic level.

The problem for us was just how slow-moving  it was and the lack of defined comical moments were. I even question if another director/writer could have just been more inventive with the script and filming. 

Though everything is in its place for a strange movie that could have a deep emotional impact it's all too boring. We get notions of a very well thought out company, the differences in position, a few people's problems, but nothing ultimately pays off, but one story, and it's not a good pay-off.

If you want to languish in this work-space you can, but I don't recommend it.