The Midnight section of Sundance has been home to such …
Just this year has seen the relatively wider releases of dreck the likes of Almost Human and All Cheerleaders Die, both films that can easily discourage horror movie junkies from continuing the exploration of what the American independent scene has to offer. Enter Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer who collectively bring forth a surprisingly effective, unnerving, fantastically gory and thematically intelligent movie about the soul-sucking motion pictures industry in the City of Angels.
The new film Cheap Thrills is the kind of horror film that’s so effective, you may only want to see it once. Consider that a compliment of the highest order, as this low-budget indie film, playing at Fantastic Fest this weekend, aspires to be a wholly nasty piece of work and reaches that plateau early and often. Anchored by an appropriately sweaty and desperate Pat Healy, Cheap Thrills is gruesome and visceral, while always being slightly tethered to matters of the real world.
How much credit does rudimentary social commentary buy a film? You may find yourself pondering that question if you can distract yourself from the barrage of indignities that not only frequent but actually make up the constituent parts of the latter half of Cheap Thrills, a social satire by-way-of cruel lark that takes the makes a case against the way capitalism ferrets out and rewards our worst impulses, and does so in the crudest, most straightforward fashion imaginable.
Frankenstein’s Army is the closest thing thus far to a live action Bioshock adaptation. The second Frightfest feature to resemble a video game – albeit in a positive light – the film forgoes the tiresome trademarks of the found-footage format, its curious lens rendering the entire escapade a thrilling a first-person adventure. We begin among a troupe of Russian soldiers during World War II as they delve deeper from the outskirts of the forest and into a laboratory of mechanical nasties, eventually confronting the mad scientist responsible for their creation. All the while, the camera never skirts from its responsibility as a steadfast explorer.