I began the festival with Doomsdays, by first time director Eddie Mullins. A “pre-apocalyptic” comedy that stars Justin Rice and Leo Fitzpatrick (from Kids) as two vagabonds who spend their days breaking into vacation homes, looting, taking shelter as long as they can, and moving on to the next house without being caught. You wonder why they do the strange things they do, like slash car tires and constantly drink, and the movie does a fantastic job of revealing information about their world and motives as it goes on. The dialogue is witty, blunt, and effective. In fact, it was named the festival’s “Most Effectively Offensive” film, and for good reason. The two of them spend their time talking about life, love, and the screwed up world in the most matter-of-fact way. My favorite line from the film just about sums it up: “If you’re on the Titanic and you can see there’s no room on the life boats, why not go live it up at the bar?”
The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears
After Doomsdays was a film called The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears. I cannot get this movie out of my head. For the life of me, I couldn’t begin to describe the plot or the overall point of the film. It’s a series of vignettes that are all connected by some strange central plot that quickly spirals out of control. Every sequence in the film is shot in a different style; it defies time, space, and logic. It’s tightly edited, like the best music videos, and incredibly effective. The score is evocative in such a special way that is impossible to describe. It’s almost like a Tarantino movie, but without the irony. On top of all this, it’s gruesome, disgusting, and incredibly unsettling. This film is ingrained in my mind not just because the plot is impossible to figure out but also because I saw some of the most powerful, intense, disturbing images I’ve ever seen. The cast of characters in this film is as mind-boggling as the plot: a private eye who becomes obsessed with his subject, a woman on the run from a gang of leather-clad men (Spirits? Demons? Who knows), an old lady whose husband is trapped in the ceiling, and different versions of these characters at different stages in their lives. This is a movie I’ll be pondering for a very, very long time.
Saturday night brought with it Starry Eyes, a throwback to classic 80s horror movies made with modern flair and an unsettling sense of humor. It stars Alex Essoe as Sarah, an aspiring actress with less than ideal circumstances for starting a career in L.A. Her overbearing boss doesn’t understand her audition schedule, her unmotivated friends hold her back, and she has anxiety issues. A studio is intrigued by one of her anxiety attacks after an audition and asks her to recreate it. From there, the film takes a dark turn as the studio executives become obsessed with this girl and her potential as an actress. There a lot of commentary about millennials and selling your soul to someone that only wants to exploit you, but the strength of this movie is in its main character’s downward spiral into madness, sickness, and obsession. It’s funny, disgusting, and bloody as anything. This is definitely one to keep an eye out for when it’s distributed in the next six months.
The final film I saw was unbearable. EDSA XXX is a Filipino punk-rock opera about an uprising in a dystopian future in the Republic of Ek-Ek-Ek where the prophet Three Eyes is organizing his followers to overthrow the current leader with an unprintable name. That may or may not actually have been what was happening; I couldn’t follow the convoluted plot at all. The music was catchy enough, but the subtitles moved incredibly fast along with the lyrics. I sincerely hope that these lyrics are better in their original language than they were in English because to me, they were trite, pointless, and without any sort of creativity. It was shot entirely with a handheld camera and a fisheye lens, which made the framing horrible. It was so low-fi that it makes Trash Humpers look like a Kubrick film. I couldn’t stand it.
Grade: D. This would be an F if not for the fact that I can’t get one of the songs out of my head.
The people at this festival were excitingly enthusiastic and genuine about their love for this genre of film. I loved hearing cheers and laughs during particularly bloody or poignant scenes in these films. For movies like this, the audience and their reaction is so crucial; I guarantee that I wouldn’t have enjoyed these films half as much as if I had watched them alone on my laptop. The movies would be just as good, but I wouldn’t have had as much fun watching them without this great group of people around me. I had a blast watching these movies and attending this offbeat little festival.
Brian also discussed the Boston Underground Film Festival on The ADR Podcast. Check it out here.