katrinaolson.ca - KO Review of CUFF Shorts: Dark and Delicious (CUFF 2016)

Posted on Wednesday, April 06, 2016 at 11:00 AM

"Do You See What I See"

KO Review of CUFF Shorts: Dark and Delicious (CUFF 2016)

Review by Katrina Olson-Mottahed x CalgaryMovies.com

A KO Review by Emily Mody

Do You See What I See?

Do You See What I See? is a short narrative film directed by Justin McConnell and Serena Whitney. The story takes place at a Christmas party, which is being thrown by two conflicting sisters, Sloan and Jessica. While the party is taken place a man enters the house unseen and preys on the guests of the party.

I would classify this film as a part of the horror/sci-fi genre. I did enjoy it and it maintained a slightly unexpected twist on the genre tropes that I had been expecting which was nice. I was, however, somewhat underwhelmed by the acting. If there was ever a genre that was pretty much known for the unfortunate actors that try to portray it, it would probably be horror. It seems as if there is some understanding among filmmakers that fear is a base emotion that is easily understood and could be portrayed by anyone. Being a huge fan of the horror genre, however, I would argue that horror films are perhaps one of the most difficult genres to act well. With that being said, I think it is still certainly possible to enjoy a film even if you did not enjoy the actors in it. Do You See What I See? was a lot of fun which is, honestly, what I would expect most from a slasher film. I also thought that the film was very well put together. I enjoyed the structure of the film and the overall story.

This may seem a bit strange for those of you who have read the synopsis but I feel inclined to compare Do You See What I See? to Videodrome directed by David Cronenberg. The way the two films deal with ideas surrounding perception and reality really reminded me of each other. I would, however, say that the two films are not really comparable in any other way besides that and the genre they inhabit. Horror films can be very difficult to find anything unique in. I always find horror/sci-fi films to be a bit on the strange side of things but they are also always refreshing to me because they often present a new way of thinking or looking at ways to tell a story.

Overall I would recommend Do You See What I See? to anyone who is in the mood for a slasher film with a hint of a sci-fi element. In terms of content, there is some drug use, there is also obviously murder and gore but nothing I would consider too graphic. I think that this is appropriate for nearly all audiences barring young children or those who would be offended by the things mentioned above. The film runs a total of 14 minutes. If you are interested in going to see Do You See What I See? it will be screening as a part of the Calgary Underground Film Festival (CUFF) on Thursday, April 14, 2016 at the Globe Cinema Upstairs at 10:00pm.

Never Tear Us Apart

Never Tear Us Apart is a short narrative film directed by Sid Zanforlin. This particular story belongs to the horror genre. I honestly have so many questions I do not even know where to begin but I will try to summarize the plot. A man named James goes out to the woods to visit his family with a friend. When James and his friend stumble on a house that James finds endearing he looks in the window and is horrified at what he sees. When he begins backing away he loudly stumbles and a chase ensues. I enjoyed this film… I think. It is very short and it leaves a lot up for interpretation so I guess that can be considered both a strength and a weakness depending on who your audience is. It is a pretty interesting concept and for a moment while I was watching it I got some True Blood vibes, which is always good. I also got some Texas Chainsaw Massacre vibes, which is still good although maybe not quite as solid (I have a soft spot for vampires). This film is definitely not for the faint of heart. It is gory, dark, and very mysterious. I thought the acting was pretty skillful. However, when James was looking through the window of the house it came off a little bit comical as opposed to scary which is certainly what the director was trying to achieve. Besides this moment I found that the acting well done and well casted.

I would definitely compare this film mainly to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (directed by Tobe Hooper) in the sense that it felt more dark than scary. Horror films such as this seem to belong to their own subgenre. I think that other films that could belong to this subgenre include The Strangers (Bryan Bertino), and Zodiac (David Fincher). I think if you enjoyed any of these films you would probably enjoy Never Tear Us Apart. In Never Tear Us Apart, as with other films of this style, often I find that they are set in an area that seems far removed from the normalcy of everyday life. They often take place in very small towns where, due to the size, they are able to make up their own rules and laws. Often in these stories, when strangers pass through these places for one reason or another they are subjected to the people who live in their own kind of horrific world and the strangers cannot escape. Never Tear Us Apart does play on this kind of story but it also has a very interesting twist on this idea that I had yet to see in this type of horror film. Never Tear Us Apart is definitely worth a watch for those of you interested in darker horror films.

 The film runs a total of 6 minutes. It will be screening as a part of the Calgary Underground Film Festival (CUFF) and it will be playing on Thursday, April 14, 2016 at the Globe Cinema Upstairs at approximately 10:45pm (Never Tear Us Apart will be screening as a part of a larger shorts package which will begin at 10:00pm that night).

The Puppet Man

The Puppet Man is a short narrative horror film directed Jacqueline Castel. This seems like the type of film you should definitely give a second watch but my first impression was that I kind of loved it. Four friends stumble into a bar late at night. The place is small and empty. A bartender emerges from somewhere in the back and tells them that the bar is closed. Tommy (played by Joe Castle Baker and one of the four friends) insists that the bartender opens it back up and bribes him with a one hundred dollar bill. The bartender succumbs and pours them all a shot of bourbon. Christine (played by Crystal Renn) leaves the bar area to go to the bathroom. While Christine searches for a bathroom in a hallway at the back the bartender decides to lock up for the night and tells them that they are free to stay if they wish. When no one gets up he proceeds to tell the three friends the story of The Puppet Man. As Christine searches for the bathroom she stumbles into a very creepy room that is filled with dolls. At the same time the bartender begins to play a song called Hey Puppet Man by Bob Morrison over the jukebox. When the song comes on two curtains are pulled back in the room that Christine stands and they reveal a silhouetted figure of a man with a hat and a switchblade. Christine runs back to the bar to warn her friends but is it too late? I guess you will have to watch it and find out for yourself.

The style of The Puppet Man lent itself to a very dream like quality, which I thought was uniquely beautiful. The film utilized moody and deeply dark lighting but Castel also emphasized a heavily saturated use of colour. The Puppet Man (played by Johnny Scuotto) really reminded me of Freddy Krueger from Nightmare on Elm Street. The way that Castel drew on this notion of the silhouetted figure of a killer in a hat seemed to be very much inspired by Wes Craven. I also loved the way that this film made me feel like I was dreaming. Many things contributed to this, as I stated above the lighting and use of colour were major contributors but also the way the characters spoke and interacted with one another, and the way that slow motion was utilized in some places. The acting almost becomes irrelevant because of the hallucinogenic feeling that the film evokes. The feeling seems to hold more weight and purpose than the performance does. Regardless, however, I did enjoy the actors in this film.

The Puppet Man runs a total of 10 minutes. It will be premiering in Canada as a part of the Calgary Underground Film Festival (CUFF). It will be playing on Thursday, April 14, 2016 at the Globe Cinema Upstairs at approximately 11:45pm (The Puppet Man will be screening as a part of a larger shorts package which will begin at 10:00pm that night).

The Babysitter Murders

The Babysitter Murders directed by Ryan Spindell is a short narrative film. This film follows a teenage girl on a typical night babysitting for a family with one young boy. When a patient, who is known for killing children under the care of their babysitters, escapes from a criminally insane institution the night becomes a little less than typical. The Babysitter Murders typifies the horror genre. I really enjoyed this short. The setting was a large, beautiful, and eerie Victorian house that fit the plot perfectly. The acting was spot on. The male (played by Ben Hethcoat) and female (played by Caitlin Custer) lead matched each other perfectly in terms of talent and driving suspense. The story also took place in the middle of a rainstorm at night, which added to the unsettling atmosphere. The director also included a nod to the horror film series, Halloween, while a film played in the living room of the house that centered on a masked killer (a Michael Meyers lookalike if you will). This nod to the horror genre provided a means of self-reflexivity, which made the short a little more fun for people who are fans of the horror genre.

The Babysitter Murders was so typical of the horror genre that I felt like I was being wrapped up in a big comfy blanket, if you enjoy being wrapped up in meat cleavers and fire pokers. This film reminded me of Scream 4 directed by Wes Craven. The Babysitter Murders had a very similar feel to Scream 4, maintaining the same kind of modern slasher genre tropes. The heroine in The Babysitter Murders reminded me of one of the female leads (played by Emma Roberts) in Scream 4. The way both films maintain methods of self-reflexivity really reminded me of each other as well. The directors of both films (Craven and Spindell) show a great knowledge and respect for the horror genre through this process. I really enjoy when directors make reference to other horror films because, as a horror fan, it makes the viewer feel more engaged.

The film runs a total length of 21 minutes. If you enjoy horror films then go see this. I promise it will fulfill your creep quota for a little while at least. There is gore, murder, and some drug use so it might be best to leave the little ones at home for this one. Just try to avoid leaving them with a babysitter, as a matter of fact maybe consider hiring some type of ninja to watch your kids. If you would like to go see this film, which I hope I have convinced you sufficiently by this point that you should, then it will be screening as a part of the Calgary Underground Film Festival (CUFF). It will be playing on Thursday, April 14, 2016 at the Globe Cinema Upstairs at approximately 10:15pm (The Babysitter Murders will be screening as a part of a larger shorts package which will begin at 10:00pm that night).  


NOTE: The showtimes listed on CalgaryMovies.com come directly from the theatres' announced schedules, which are distributed to us on a weekly basis. All showtimes are subject to change without notice or recourse to CalgaryMovies.com.