I Saw The Devil 2010 dir Ji-Woon Kim
South Korea has character-driven revenge films down. I Saw The Devil was Fantastic Fest 2010’s first surprise screening. This is one of those rare films that even though it has a 144 minute run time, not a minute of film feels wasted. A special agent’s fiancee is murdered by an emotionless killer. What follows is the agent tracking him down as the hunter becomes the hunted and continually beats the soulless murderer down to within inches of his life. By beating I mean stomach churning levels of torture. Another level of interest is added to the tale as it becomes tougher for the special agent to tell if he has become a monster himself.
I’ve overheard some here at Fantastic Fest write this film off as a “one note joke” of a film. To be sure there are very dark levels of comedy at play here, however it worked for me. By far easily one of the best of Fantastic Fest.
I give I Saw The Devil 5 “GPS trackers” out of 5
Drawn and Quartered: Animated Fantastic Fest Shorts
Short of South Korean graphic revenge films, what better way to start a Saturday than with a collection of 13 animated shorts? While I enjoyed all the shorts in the collection Wisdom Teeth by Don Hertzfeldt was the easy stand out. It had me laughing for just about it’s entire duration with tears pouring out of my eyes. After the graphic violence first thing in the morning it was a welcome laugh for what is more than likely going to be the most hilarious thing I see at Fantastic Fest.
Drawn and Quartered: Animated Fantastic Fest Shorts 4 “Dog Tails” out of 5
Bibliotheque Pascal 2010 dir. Szabolcs Hajdu
Meh, they can’t all be winners, this so far has been my one choice I wish I could have a do over on. Bibliotheque Pascal is the fantastical (no pun intended) tale of a mother as she fights for her child’s custody. Mix in the sex trade, and all kinds of other semi-whimsical that couldn’t happen (absurdest type stuff) and that is Bibliotheque Pascal in a nut shell. Not sure if it was due to it being my third film of the day, it’s glacial pacing, or perhaps a mixture of both that ultimately found me having a very rough time staying attentive to the picture.
Bibliotheque Pascal 2.5 “lies sometimes out weight truth” out of 5
Drones 2010 Dir. Amber Benson & Adam Busch
I was already fading fast on day three but was thankfully sustained by a combination of an Alamo Drafthouse tasty five dollar milkshake and this funny Office Space meets alien co-workers comedy film with a dash of Sci-Fi mixed in. Brian (Jonathan M. Woodward) is a typical white collar cog in the cube farm machine office worker. He and his best work friend Clark (Samm Levine) have lunch together all the time and things are as monotonous as they seem until he walks in on Clark communicating with his home office in the supply room. He then turns to find out that not every one in the office is who they seem to be and Clark begins to lose it trying to comprehend it all.
Drones is one of the lighter films at Fantastic Fest in the fact that not a single ounce of blood is spilled and there are extremely limited visual effects. Drones is a purely character-driven piece that has lots of laughs. The film and it’s laughs have a pretty fluid pacing until the end of the film where the pacing began to feel a bit off compared to the rest of the film. Overall, being at times part of the same cog in the machine cube farm world that Brian is in, this is an easy recommend worth seeking out for fans of either Office Space or The Office.
I give Drones 3.5 “copiers” out of 5
Kidnapped 2010 Dir. Miguel Angel Vivas
Wow, easily the most brutal film I have seen so far at Fantastic Fest, it will be tough to top. It was also the second home invasion film I had seen in less than 24 hours, the previous being Mother’s Day. Of the two this one was far superior though far bleaker. Kidnapped follows a well off family of three as they move into a new home. The parents are hoping to have a family dinner while their teenage daughter, Isa, is not fond of their move far away from her friends and her boyfriend, who had previous plans to spend the evening out with her boyfriend. All these plans are interrupted however when a gang of three break into the family’s home and take them all hostage.
I thought that Mother’s Day was unrelenting; it has nothing on this rapidly paced 85 minute bleak film. It’s one of those rare films that once the invasion begins it doesn’t let you feel safe until the final second of film has rolled and even then it doesn’t let up. Not the type of film I would advise using as a kick off to what one may plan as a nice carefree evening.
Kidnapped 4 “chefs knives” out of 5
By John Coovert