google ad

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Fantastic Fest 2022 Reviews: Deep Fear and Chop & Steele

Deep Fear
Directed by Grant Curatola
A great stylish horror movie about a bunch of young people going into the hidden sections of the Catacombs of Paris and seeing their own fears coming true. That's 2014's As Above, So Below, which sadly this movie was nothing like. Watching that film, over Covid lockdown, for a rewatch, and then seeing this, it's easy to choose who did it better.

Deep Fear, set in the 90's, follows a group of teenagers as they delve deep into the catacombs as a way to relieve pressure from one of them being conscripted into the French army, apparently a thing you did in France in the 90's. Serving for about a year to... it looks like 10 months from looking at Wiki real quick. You've got Sonia (Sofia Lesaffre), the nerdy wimp Max (Kassim Meesters) and Henry (Victor Meutelet). I learned to hate all of them as inept teens, terrible friends and overall bad decision makers led by a very pathetic guide in the form of Ramy.
I'm unsure, why the writer and director wanted to portray them so badly, but when bad things happen to them, you really don't have the connection with the character you should. The connection to care about their well-being and safety.
Rewinding, the films starts off scary enough and has a nice build up to creep you out. Sonia has a bad dream about some bad guys attacking her and her friends. We get some nice beats about how these teens formed a friendship. Except, from Max who just wimps around. And, we build up some claustrophobia and meet some other friends and foes in the catacombs. So, the start of the movie has you, but when we get to the 3rd act, it's suddenly a cheaper horror film. I thought cartoon sound effects we're gonna start coming up on how much the film's style changed.

There were some mess-ups earlier I let go. There's little details that the director missed, like Sonia doesn't interact with some bad guys at the establishing bar they go to. Max does, so why she's them in her dreams, sort of shows bad visual continuity. 

The level of playful or over the top violence seems like it was worked in last minute. Like you have two movies and they don't fit together. So, the front of the movie does all the heavy lifting, and the second half can't support it, so it shatters its legs. Which, sucks, because it could have seen a decent horror film here, not a forgotten one.

Initially, the trailer once again tricked me with what I thought would be mostly found footage from Max's camera, but that was heavily underutilized. * Also, magically had night vision on it.
And, just out of spite, I have to say the last area of the film looked way too clean and modern for where it was supposed to take place.
You won't miss it, this Halloween.  Check out As Above, So Below, a cheap rental online for $3.99 in HD.
Chop & Steele
Directed by Ben Steinbauer & Berndt Mader
What did those Found Footage Festival boys get into this week? A couple of pranksters who are decades old friends prank morning new shows with an utterly fake muscle man shtick. They get sued and also think about ending their careers of finding hilariously stupid VHS tapes and sharing them with the world. 

I just saw Joe Pickett and Nick Prueher in another festival film, A Life On The Farm. So, I was ready to be bored, because they don't have much charisma as talking heads. But, it seems when you have better directors, you can make any story more fun. Chop & Steele is that.

Their main prank is that of becoming the personas of Chop & Steele, two "muscle men" that perform the saddest feats of strength you've ever seen. And, it proved that many local new shows didn't do their due diligence to make sure of their guests not selling nonsense. Their bits as the characters are online as well as early clips of Mark Proksch, from What We Do In The Shadows as a very bad Yo-Yo Master, which the duo also created.
We get a breakdown of two teenagers from Wisconsin, building a...not very high-earning salary showcasing weird VHS tapes over the film intermixed with talking heads laughing at their pranks. 
The lawsuit shows the cracks in everything they do. Being sued for fraud and such from a parent comapny of one of the news stations they pranked. It's a lot of work for little income, but they seem to love pretending to write a cookbook about what to do with Thanksgiving leftovers and make newscasters drink down a leftovers shake. That's not the most disgusting scene as for whatever reason  one of the boys cleaning his dog's broken penis is included, thanks, needed to see that.
Also, not working right is Nick and Joe as they feel like they've been doing pranks and what not together for so long with not much lucrative success, but they're both really bad talking to each other about it. For two guys that could be brothers on how much time spent together of their free will, it might be quits-ville.
Other than the lawsuit, there's also a build-up of a big prank that sets a high bar of uh-oh and not sure how they're getting away with it, but they taped themselves secretly on stage of America's Got Talent.

Their pranks are childish and stupid, the bizarre content they find via old VHS tapes is glorious, I don't think I could listen to them on their weekly show, but the movie about them was entertaining. They definitely have some funny ideas and other stuff about them that's pure cringe. But, seeing them hang out and meet an actor of a McDonald's training video can give you tears in your eyes. Have fun watching it with with a sweet under ninety-minute run time.

Films provided for review online via Fantastic Fest