I didn’t see any mother/daughter consciousness swaps at the Phoenix Film Festival on Friday (at least not that I was aware of), but the short science-fiction film Legacy ensured it was a Freaky Friday nonetheless.
Now if you get that obscure Jodie Foster reference (Lindsay Lohan if you’re a millennial) then consider yourself a true film fanatic, but either way we hope you’ll enjoy our recap of Friday’s Phoenix Film Festival and International Horror and Sci-Fi Festival.
The History of Time Travel
Wow, what an incredible film to start the festival off with. If you allow your imagination to play along, watching this film is like sitting through an actual time traveling experience – heck, for all we know it was real!
Presented like a documentary you might see on the History Channel, the film begins as a tribute to the science fiction literature of the late 1800s then moves into the “actual” history of the scientists who first traveled through time.
Directed by Ricky Kennedy, the attention to detail and the tongue in cheek nature of its story makes this a brilliant film. I loved it and looking forward to seeing it again.
Horror Shorts A
The IHSFF horror shorts always remind me if an EC horror comic come to life, and this year’s first set was no exception – a groovy mix of humor, gore and creepy thrills.
The line up started great with Gotcher, a hilarious take on the childhood trope of having a weird adult capture your nose, but with an extra twist.
The nose nightmare was followed by Ideal, a scary spoof on those sexy Carl’s Jr. hamburger ads; Blight, an Irish version of The Exorcist meets The Omen; an adaptation of the early Stephen King story, The Man Who Loved Flowers; and A Way Out, a mobster story which, frankly, seemed out of place with the horror fare.
After the weird mob detour the scary stuff picked up again with The Smiling Man, about a nasty clown(?) and his balloons; Deathly, the story of an abusive husband getting his comeuppance; Yummy Meat: A Halloween Carol, a fun werewolf story; and Welcome to the Party, an updated take on some Charles Manson like business.
Sci-Fi Shorts B
I have to say that overall I was not that impressed with this block of sci-fi short films; the horror shorts beat them hands down, and, actually, a couple of these might have been better off in the horror category.
First out of the gate was Tomorrow’s Dream, a time traveling tale that was very reminiscent of the first film I saw Friday morning; Ozone, a post-apocalyptic story with robots and cyborgs (and I’m honestly not sure what was going on – but it looked pretty cool anyway.)
Next was Legacy, the film I mentioned earlier and it was the best of the science fiction short film lot. It’s the story of a dying scientist moving his consciousness into the mind of his son, and an Oedipus Rex scenario ensues.
Clones and birth control are the topics in the next film, Populace; and it is followed by the virtual reality game show, The Grid. Finally, another post-apocalyptic tale, Helio, wraps up the B-block of sci-fi shorts, and like Ozone, it was great to look at, but without a real coherent narrative.
The Dark Tapes
The Dark Tapes was our second full feature of the day, but it was actually an anthology of five found-footage short stories pieced together a la The Twilight Zone.
A couple of these tales work better than the others and they all suffer from an obvious small budget; but overall there is some very creepy stuff going on here. I especially liked the [redacted] abduction segment.
Our second time traveling feature of the day was Parallel, which might be considered more of an examination of parallel universes.
In a recurring theme for the day, a scientist devotes his life to traveling back in time to save the woman he loves. In this case said woman, played by Liz DuChez, hung out after the screening for an audience Q&A, where we discovered the filmmakers had actually been working on this project for several years.
Under the Shadow
This Iranian-British horror film was one of the day’s highlights and is one of the scariest movies I’ve seen in a long time.
It is set in Tehran during the late-eighties after Iran had been at war with Iraq for several years. Not only is this a first-rate fright flick, it’s also an excellent study of the struggles women face in that misogynistic culture.
As a rule I’m not a big fan of teenage slasher films, but even though this one has some gaping plot holes on top of the genre gore, I still enjoyed the whodunit aspects of its story. If you dig this kind of thing, then it’s definitely worth a look.
More Phoenix Film Festival 2016
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