The Bar

The Bar

Directed by Álex de la Iglesia

Iglesia does madcap comedy better than few others. All of his recent films start off with fairly “normal” plots – a bank robbery gone wrong, life in the circus, or in this case, a shooting in the street – before they go completely off the rails bonkers and introduce monsters or witches or some other insane element.

The Bar is no exception. It’s an ensemble film that kicks off when a group of people in a bar are interrupted after a customer gets shot in the head while leaving. They all naturally freak out and take cover, but they soon realize that things are even weirder. The streets are deserted and their cell phones have no signal. Another patron tries to make a break for it and BAM, he’s down with a headshot too. Now the accusations begin. Perhaps the bearded guy is a terrorist? Why does one of them have a gun? What’s this impossibly buff homeless dude doing here?

They all start to fight each other, and soon learn that things are even worse than they thought.

The Bar’s features Iglesias’ typically weird sexual stereotypes, but the breakneck pace and the ridiculous combination of horror, action, and comedy makes for a very fun and surprisingly lighthearted time at movies, especially when you consider the subject matter.

/Film Rating: 7 out of 10

Still Born

Still/Born

Directed by Brandon Christensen

This won the jury award for most frightening film and it was easily the most deserving. There is a scare here that elicited a genuine shriek from an audience member, a terrified, genuine cry of terror, the like of which I’ve never heard before during a screening. It was warranted.

Still/Born starts as a mother is giving birth to twins, but only one of them survives. The young mother Mary (an astonishing performance by Christie Burke) takes her child home with her husband and they try to settle into their new life. Mary faces both the normal issues any new mother faces – the post-partum depression, having to hook yourself up to a breast pump every few hours, the sleepless nights. All of this while she also has to look at the empty crib sitting across from the one occupied by her child. She doesn’t want her husband to take it down.

And then she starts seeing things on the baby monitor. Mary becomes convinced that a demon is trying to steal her baby, all to the increasing horror of her neighbors and loved ones.

Still/Born joins other great horror movies about pregnancy, like Prevenge, L’Interior, and Grace, films that perfectly play upon the fears and sheer madness one feels while having your first kid. It’s ultimately light and you’ll see a lot of the beats coming, but it’s the kind of film that’s perfect for movie theaters. Sometimes, all you need is an entire crowd jumping at the one perfect scare.

/Film Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Mayhem

Mayhem

Directed by Joe Lynch

The Walking Dead‘s Steven Yeun stars as an office drone who’s worked his way up the ranks at his evil corporate law office, only to be unceremoniously fired after he’s framed for someone else’s mistake.

As luck would have it, he’s not allowed out of the building as he’s being escorted down, because the whole building has been infected by a so-called Red Eye virus that makes people act out their basest instincts. The virus was recently famous for allowing a man to get away with murder, scot-free, because he wasn’t responsible for his actions. Now Yeun is infected, stuck in the building with his former employers for eight more hours until the quarantine clears, and has judicial precedent to get away with murder.

You can see where this heads next. Yeun fights his way back up the corporate ladder, murdering his way back up to the big boss with the help of numerous weapons and a woman named Melanie (a hilarious and bad-ass Samara Weaving.)

You know how sometimes a movie feels like it was made for you? Joe Lynch’s Mayhem is exactly that. I can see the problems with it – the nonstop violence can get boring after a while, and it’s basically a videogame plot that sees our heroes looking for literal keycards to get to the next floor – but I don’t care. It’s got chunky violence and the most metal character in years in Melanie (in one scene she bellows Soulfly lyrics while readying a nail gun) and it’s pulsing and violent and fun. It’s The Raid 2 by way of Office Space with a dash of Troma. It is glorious.

/Film Rating: 8 out of 10

Meatball Machine Kodoku

Meatball Machine Kodoku 

Directed by Yoshihiro Nishimura

Meatball Machine Kodoko is like Under the Dome, if the dome chopped off more penises when it came down.

By this point, you hopefully know what you’re getting from a Nishimura film. The creator of Tokyo Gore Police and Mutant Girls Squad has created a weird, splattery niche, and he isn’t budging. You don’t go into one of his films expecting a coherent plot, developed characters, or anything resembling a family-friendly experience. You go there for extreme gore, nudity, and things that combine the two.

Nishimura is an effects artist first and foremost. That’s all he cares about, and that’s all he delivers. He did the effects to the 2005 original, but is now in the director’s seat for this fairly standalone sequel, which is just as disgusting and ridiculous as most any film you’re likely to see.

It centers around a debt collector who sucks at his job…until his stomach troubles reveal that he has terminal cancer, and then he starts to care again. He starts roaming around collecting all the money owed to him with impunity, kicking down doors and grabbing cash, not taking any more excuses.

But then a giant glass jar flies down from space and it lands on top of the city. Those people unlucky enough to be straddling the line end up chopped in half, or worse. One couple copulating on the line’s lower halves continue to do so for a few seconds afterward. It’s that kind of movie.

Now the really bad stuff happens, as metal creatures start clamping down on people’s heads, turning them into Necro-borgs – half man, half machine creatures. Our hero’s cancer-ridden body fights back, though, and he gains control again. This starts an absurd, gore-ridden battle for supremacy inside the dome. Trying to explain any more of the plot would be futile, as it doesn’t really have any more. Just know that none of it makes any sense, except as a conduit for absurd and bloody GWAR-ish superhero battles in which each monster wields a weapon that meant something to them in life.

Everyone stumbled out of this screening at 2:00 in the morning, confused by what they had seen. That’s probably the point of the whole thing

/Film Rating: 5 out of 10

Continue Reading Overlook Film Festival Reviews >>

Cool Posts From Around the Web:

About the Author