GLASS EYE PIX Sizzle Reel The Larry Fessenden Collection PSYCHOPATHS MOST BEAUTIFUL ISLAND LIKE ME Stake Land II STRAY BULLETS Darling ABCs of Death 2: N is for NEXUS Until Dawn Until Dawn: Rush of Blood LATE PHASES How Jesus Took America Hostage — “American Jesus” the Movie New Doc BIRTH OF THE LIVING DEAD Explores the Impact of the Ground-Breaking Horror Film NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD BENEATH THE COMEDY THE INNKEEPERS HYPOTHERMIA STAKE LAND BITTER FEAST THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL I CAN SEE YOU WENDY & LUCY Liberty Kid I SELL THE DEAD Tales From Beyond The Pale Glass Eye Pix Comix SUDDEN STORM: A Wendigo Reader, paperbound book curated by Larry Fessenden Satan Hates You Trigger Man Automatons THE ROOST THE LAST WINTER WENDIGO HABIT No Telling / The Frankenstein Complex Impact Addict Videos
March 16, 2017
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The Iris: LIKE ME “one of the most refreshing indie debuts in a long time”

SXSW FILM REVIEW: LIKE ME (USA, 2017) IS DISORIENTATING AND BEAUTIFUL

When I was nineteen I spent three straight days without sleeping. I had just moved to Tokyo and couldn’t cope with the light pollution or the sounds from the trains that ran behind my flat. I would spend the nights listening to relaxing music and watch films during the day. On the third morning at around 4AM I made an instant coffee and decided to put on Enter the Void.

The first thing I heard after listening to a recording of Enya’s Paint The Sky With Stars on repeat for some three hours, and not having slept through two slow nights, was the Thomas Bangalter scored opening credits. I’d never again feel as disorientated as I was in those two and a half minutes; but watching Robert Mockler’s Like Me, I came close.

Like Me marks the first time Robert Mockler has been credited as a director and writer of a feature length film. The film, which premiered at this year’s SXSW Film Festival in Austin Texas, is eighty minutes of visual portraits pieced together by tactile transitions, lucid VFX and a millennial journey.

Addison Timlin plays Kiya, a young girl who amasses a huge social following after posting a video of herself holding up a convenience store with a replica weapon. She takes her newfound popularity on the road and begins to film her encounters with a string of unusual characters, eventually taking a paedophile, ‘Marshall’ (Larry Fessenden), hostage, to mixed reactions from the online community. An antagonistic vlogger, Burt (Ian Nelson), begins to take Kiya’s videos apart, and her journey becomes visceral as Burt begins to impact both her content and her psyche.

Kiya guides us through her journey. She tests the humanity of the characters she meets, finding that a vagabond doesn’t want much more than pancakes from a diner, or that a painter who believes there is no age of consent had lost his own daughter at a young age. Kiya studies these characters and presents them to us; but often she seems to be neither a part of the film nor the viewership. She’s more like the kid holding a magnifying glass over an anthill.

Addison Timlin is perfect as Kiya, even if the character is not a strictly formed one with laborious dialogue. She has again shown her ability to completely comprehend the characters she’s becoming. Like her performance in Little Sister, she brings a sense of palpability to the role and becomes so natural as Kiya that the film, in moments, feels kind of like an Addison Timlin vlog, like she’s simply playing herself (with exception of the scenes where she’s forcing food into Marshall’s throat and telling him, “you’re going to eat or you’re going to bleed”).

What makes Like Me so mystifying to the senses is the intense cinematography and editing. Every shot is beautiful. Every background, shadow and light setting progresses the film like a series of paintings, ushering the narrative from frame to frame as if it were an exhibition across a gallery wall. The lighting and colours filter the film in two schemes, the afternoon pink skies and radiant neon signs to moments of moonlight blue and shadow. Both ethereal and at every shot, meticulously thought out.

The experimentation behind the lens continues through to the cutting room floor with disorientating and innovative shots that mess with the audience and remove any limits to the camera’s function. Shots will revolve around rooms and bury through the floor, while actors become stuck in a glitch-like trance, moving in two-second motions, back and forth on loop.

It’s these scenes that make Like Me feel like one long hallucinogenic journey. Although not directing the film, drugs play a part in Kiya’s internal narrative and are managed in a tacitly accurate sense. Ketamine is blue and calm, and doesn’t make a lot of sense, MDMA is sense-altering and intense, where mushrooms give the film its ‘baby on the ceiling’ moment, as a snake slides from Marshall’s bullet wound and into the alternate dimension that has surrounded Kiya.

At times the film does get lost in its own eccentricity, sacrificing the plot beneath the layers of art. The balance between progressing the narrative while constantly combing it to assure its uniform in style throughout, tips slightly through the second half of the film. Scenes like Kiya chasing Burt through the streets of a sunny city before inexplicably arriving at a foggy beachfront leave viewers with a decision to make about the symbolism of each moment, and what’s been done just because it looked good.

The film is still one of the most refreshing indie debuts in a long time. It is an experiment in style and as well shot as any box office film released this decade. While the plot at times fades into its own aestheticism, the acting and the unique style excel the film into rare territory for contemporary cinema.

Review Score: FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

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March 16, 2017
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PSYCHOPATHS at Tribeca. Premiere dates announced!

Mickey Keating’s PSYCHOPATHS will premiere at Tribeca Film Festival 2017, dates have been announced!

Over the course of one excessively blood-soaked night, multiple serial killers’ paths cross, leaving a trail of bodies and begging the question: Which psychopath will live to see morning? One of the most exciting and unclassifiable new voices in indie horror, Mickey Keating delivers his wildest ride yet with this ultra-stylish and uber-violent descent into madness.

 
THU 4/20
10:00 PM
 
FRI 4/21
10:45 PM
 
SAT 4/22
11:30 PM
 
TUE 4/25
10:00 PM
March 15, 2017
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MOST BEAUTIFUL ISLAND wins Grand Jury Prize at SXSW

From Yahoo:

At a packed Paramount Theater this evening, the SXSW Film Festival, now at the halfway mark, handed out their big film awards. The fest’s two big competition jury prizes went to director Ana Asensio’s “Most Beautiful Island” …

Shot in super 16mm, it tells the story of undocumented female immigrants struggling to start a life in New York. It is a feature film debut for Asensio, who also stars and wrote the screenplay. “Island” is being billed as a dramatic thriller and was produced by the New York horror master Larry Fessenden’s Glass Eye Pix.

March 15, 2017
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Nightmarish Conjurings: LIKE ME a “visually stunning journey of self-discovery”

Writer/Director Robert Mockler’s feature LIKE ME calls for a bit of a different review.  After all, this film is all about a girl who buys into social media so much that she completely forgets how to connect with people.  Given that this causes her to kidnap someone and go on a weird spree, I think anyone watching this would agree that a traditional review just will not do this justice. 

As such, let us go a different route.  First of all, do me one favor, DO NOT CLICK LIKE ON THIS REVIEW.  Let’s not perpetuate this reliance on social media.  I will very quickly know who actually bothered to read this just by whether or not they clicked like (ooh, social experiment!). 

I know, this is weird, but it is very much in the spirit of this movie. 

How, one might ask? 

Well, you see, this piece is all about obsessing over social media.  The thrust of our action is an artist who posts a video online and suddenly has a lot of people reacting to the footage.  When someone calls her out, in a way that hits too close to home, she decides she must somehow connect with an actual person. 

While this may seem like the stuff of a cerebral, introspective drama, they never quite take events in that direction.  Instead, we are offered a kidnap movie where she slowly befriends the older man she has ensnared.  Their time together is a highlight of this piece as their relationship is constantly switching from touching to combative.  The performance given by Larry Fessenden is one of the best I have ever seen him give and fans of his should run to check this out. 

Addison Timlin is no slouch herself as she perfectly embodies a young, obsessive woman who is trying to figure out her place in life.  The first portion of the feature has her trying to listen more than talk, making her facial expressions our only window into her thought process.  As she begins to come out of her shell more, her range reveals itself through her vulnerability and uncertainty with human connection. 

All the while, she continues her artistic and online endeavors which allows for some truly stunning visuals.  In all honesty, the look of this alone makes it worth a watch as there are so many amazing lighting features, camera shots, and color schemes at work that it really feels like a moving work of art in and of itself.  From the crazy paintings in the room to the psychedelic drugged up sequences later in the film, this is a visual feast for the eyes that is sure to captivate.  

In a few recent reviews I have commented upon music, so I feel I must give just a moment’s notice to the score.  This was an odd and engrossing soundtrack that drew me in right from the get-go.  Like walking through an art museum, the score tried on many different styles to varying degrees of success.  Some I am still hearing one day later, others, though, I don’t recall as clearly, but either way I respect the approach taken as doing something wholly different is in short supply these days. 

Listen, this is a movie that has a little something for everyone so I recommend all to give it a view. It is beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time with equal measures given to style and character development.  The performers are also at the top of their game bringing a lot of weight to this visually stunning journey of self-discovery. 

Once again, I want to stress, please DO NOT CLICK LIKE.  Instead see this movie and talk with someone about what it meant to you.  Create a connection, get out there, be with people and experience art at the same time. 

Nighty Nightmares,
The Creeping Craig

March 14, 2017
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Austin Chronicle: MOST BEAUTIFUL ISLAND “an intriguing and slow-burn reinvention of survival horror.”

SXSW Film ReviewMost Beautiful Island

Poverty and immigration power this taut thriller

There’s a key image that unlocks the central metaphor of Most Beautiful Island: cockroaches, fallen into a tub of water, scrabbling to survive. But are they treading water, treading each other down, or creating a raft for mutual survival?

In her directorial debut, seasoned Spanish TV actress Ana Asensio heads to a grimy New York of undocumented workers and lousy cash-in-hand jobs. In the lead role of Luciana, she’s on the run from her old life, washed up in the Big Apple, and living gig to gig. There’s a measured bitterness and a self-destructive streak that seems destined to take her down risky paths.

Asensio’s opening act is one of measured subtlety. Rather than have her characters engage in long, declaratory exposition about life without documentation, she paints their stresses in smaller brushstrokes, like having them pass over a Craigslist job ad because it requires a social security number. There’s almost a dash of mid-Nineties Ken Loach, or more recent Joe Swanberg (also a fan of Super 16, on which this was shot) in the lo-fi depiction of daily grind, of owing the bodega for ice cream or taking crappy jobs to make ends meet.

But this is not Swanberg’s Chicago: this is Larry Fessenden’s New York. As one of two titles under the genre-bending auteur’s Glass Eye Pix shingle (along with Like Me) at SXSW this year, there’s more seething under the skin than dealing with ungrateful kids on a babysitting gig. Her friend/fellow migrant Olga (Natasha Romanova) tells her of a deal that sounds too good to be true: a few hours at a party, no stress with a big payday. Of course, if it sounds too good, it is too good, and there’s something more sinister at the end of the cab ride than bad DJs and watered-down martinis.

Asensio sets herself an almost impossible challenge: a slow, tense second act that is just the mounting tension of a waiting room. How can the third act possibly pay off that invested time? Well, it does. Moreover, she creates a final resolution that avoids any of the trite defaults of a thriller.

Most Beautiful Island is a character study of survival in a capitalistic, hierarchical world that is not completely bereft of humanity. Arsenio gives Luciana a true inner life, and even the antagonists make deep emotional sense. And then she puts everyone through a ringer that matches the most devious and nail-biting stories of Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected, an intriguing and slow-burn reinvention of survival horror.

March 14, 2017
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Jack Fessenden’s STRAY BULLETS out on DVD 14 March!

Jack Fessenden’s
Feature debut
STRAY BULLETS
now available on DVD
for your home collection.

“An enjoyably blood-soaked thriller with unexpectedly lyrical interludes — made very much in the shadow of classic genre forebears and on what was clearly a constrained budget — this is a strikingly impressive calling-card.” —Hollywood Reporter

Disc includes the hour-long “making of” featurette entitled SWEATING BULLETS.

Stop by your favorite brick and mortar video store or order on-line today!

Starring Asa Spurlock,
Jack Fessenden, James Le Gros,
John Speredakos, Larry Fessenden,
and Kevin Corrigan

and why not pick up the STRAY BULLETS Score from iTunes as well!

March 11, 2017
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Bloody Disgusting: ‘Like Me’ Looks Like a Gritty Florescent Trip!

FROM Bloody-Disgusting:

Rob Mockler makes his directorial debut with Like Me, and oh boy do you have to see this trailer! The footage shows star Addison Timlin in her own trippy world that gives nods to cult classics such as David Cronenberg’s Videodrome and Gregg Araki’s The Doom Generation, not to mention Max Headroom. The film looks like a tripped out version of V/H/S, inspired by Patrick Nagel’s art, and soaked in cool 80’s florescent lighting. I need this in my life ASAP!

March 10, 2017
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Fessenden and Reznick in the Guinness Book of World Records!

From the world of alternative facts comes this official stat from The Guinness Book of World Records: “Longest script for a graphic adventure game: Screenwriters Graham Reznick and Larry Fessenden (both USA) wrote 1000 pages of dialogue for Until Dawn (2015), reduced from an initial 10,000-page outline. The script’s epic length was in part owing to the game’s extended development period. It was originally announced as an action title back in 2012.”

Well, sort of true… anyway, was a lot of work, was a fantastic experience and we are honored to be sited!

March 10, 2017
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Watch the exclusive teaser for LIKE ME

LIKE ME premieres at SXSW Monday, March 13th at the Stateside Theater!

From Screen Anarchy:

The internet can be a weird and dark place, which is something I think anybody who has spent any amount of time online can agree on. How much online culture will grow to shape society versus how much society shapes online culture is still something to be seen played out around us but as we see a generation now reaching maturity having spent their entire lives inundated in broadband video and social media it’s clear enough that it’s doing something to us. And what that thing may be is very much the subject of Robert Mockler’s striking debut feature Like Me.

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March 9, 2017
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MOST BEAUTIFUL ISLAND on No Film School’s must-see SXSW list

First-time writer-director Ana Asensio’s Most Beautiful Island is a movie you won’t easily forget. The psychological thriller follows a day in the life of an undocumented immigrant woman trying to make ends meet in New York. She decides to take an odd job to get herself out of financial straits, but when she shows up, she’s forced into a dangerous underground world in which her life hangs by a delicate thread. Shot in gritty Super-16, the film intimately captures the desperation and ignominy facing many American immigrants. – Emily Buder

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