Day 8 (16/04)
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SHRILL CRIES OF SUMMER
When young student Keiichi moves from Tokyo to an isolated, picturesque mountain village, he finds himself welcomed by a class full of friendly fellow girl-students. But there’s more to it than meets the eye. Slowly but surely Keiichi gets entangled in a small town mystery involving unsolved deaths, creepy old folklore and pagan rituals. I wasn’t familar with the franchise preceeding this film (video-games & Manga adaptations), but Shrill Cries of Summer definitely is a refreshing Japanese horror effort. In that sense, that it’s not the umpteenth ghost story featuring black-haired undead girls in white dresses. Instead, its slow-brooding atmosphere takes you down a chilling psychological path right down to a suspenseful, gruesome finale. Supported by solid acting from a young cast, seasoned with frivolously luscious girls with dark secrets and enhanced by beautiful cinematography. With Death Bell – another Asian horror outing I saw the day before – still fresh in mind, I can safely say I enjoyed Shrill Cries of Summer a bit more. It’s a slow tension builder that pays off in the end… and sets up for a sequel, apparantly in production already.
DEAD IN 3 DAYS 2
The first Dead In 3 Days film won the Silver melies (European competition only) at last year’s BIFFF edition. Usually I share about the same opinion when it comes to winning films at our Brussels festival, but this time I didn’t really get it. I mean, this was “just” a slasher film – admittedly, not a bad one, but still – so I concluded it was mainly the fact that it was the first and only one to ever come out of Austria that gained it so many praises, giving us a never-before-seen setting (picturesque mountain villages with flower-decorated chalets and a typical Austrian mountain lake). What with its success in the festival circuit (and being generally well-received amongst slasher fans), a sequel didn’t really come as a surprise. Dead In 3 Days 2 (obviously titled, but rather incorrect this time), is as a film on a technical level on par with the first one (decent), but it has less of a “teenage slasher” vibe and feels a bit more like exploitation horror, mainly set in a more isolated, snowy region of the mountains. A slightly darker, grittier film altogether. Again, nothing you haven’t seen before, but all done well enough. None of both films felt like a real thrill-ride to me, though, having both more like a slow-to-medium pace to them. Things do get a bit more bloody & violent in this one, but only during the last half hour. As a sequel, it does tie in with the original, so start with the first one. Could even be fun watching them back-to-back on dvd. As a slasher film, the first one might feel a bit refreshing due to its setting. The sequel does the same on a survival horror level, this time having the surviving girl Nina (Sabrina Reiter) from the first film up against a demented inbred family. To her credit, being such a young actress, she puts down a believably raw performance in the last act of the film. But neither of both films are doing something remotely original, really.
A truly terrific, original concept that’s ruined progressively as the film moves on. The plot is to blame for it (or maybe the many writers turning it to a complete dud). With such a great concept, they should not have made this kind of film, but another one, telling us a completely different story, on a much larger scale. The apartment building in this film is impressive & effectively menacing and the initial “lunatic architect” angle was solid (but again ruined as the film evolved). The first half hour of the story is even very intrigiung, but then the film ignores exploring the great ideas and a potentially excellent storyline is smothered and forgotten. By the time the third act came around, the script already went on in such an utterly wrong direction as if it had taken a turn into a dead end street somewhere along the line. But the film does go on for about 30 minutes, dumbly drawing circles on its own territory, only to turn into claustrophobic, hopeless drivel leading up to… nothing, really. Such a shame. The film does look good and it’s not badly made, but I was so disappointed with the final outcome that the more I think about it, the more infuriated I get. What I wanted to see, was a film about a demoniacal architect, designing death-trap buildings on several locations, walling in sacrificial victims, serving a satanic mystery plot ultimately plunging the world into armageddon. Or something, whatever. Not this lethargic piece of self indulgence. I guess it’s my own fault for thinking up my own movie before actually having seen this one.
Onward to Day 9 (15/04).
Mini-reviews by Vomitron.