SXSW Review: Master (2022)

Three women strive to find their place at a prestigious New England university that may disguise something sinister.

Master was a film I was going to see at Sundance but didn’t quite work out due to scheduling conflicts, so I was glad to see that it was being shown at SXSW. Master is a very well put together movie that is very haunting mostly due to the use of real life horror, Regina Hall is fantastic in her role and gives so far one of my favorite performances of the year, Zoe Renee also does quite a solid job as well. The atmosphere is very well done and definitely uses the location in this case a college to it’s advantage, Master could have went without the supernatural horror elements as those were far weaker than the real life horror elements. The supernatural elements while definitely not bad do feel a bit out of place, they do hurt the movie during the second act but get progressively better as the movie goes on. Mariama Diallo does a fantastic job in the director’s chair, she really knows how to create an atmosphere that’s genuinely haunting and captures a sense of loneliness as well. Which is something a lot of directors can’t say they do. Overall Master is an incredibly solid film that does have it’s hiccups but still ends up being a thrilling experience.

Master releases March 18th on Amazon Prime Video!

7/10 B

SXSW Review: Bitch Ass (2022)

A gang initiation goes wrong when a group of four recruits break into a house of horror, as they’re all forced to play deadly games for their lives. Win and you live – lose and you die.

Bitch Ass is hilarious in almost every single way possible, it’s low budget and has a lot of the quirks that make a very low budget film so entertaining. It starts out with Tony Todd telling you what you are about to watch which immediately calls back to Tales From The Hood, what follows is a very entertaining slasher film that knows it’s not anything great and just has fun with itself. The gore I have to say however is surprisingly not that bad, sure there was definitely room for improvement but for the budget they had it’s nowhere near as bad as you would think. Bitch Ass himself is a Jigsaw clone but Tunde Laleye makes it entertaining, in fact the same can be said with rest of the cast. While they all play very stock characters who don’t get much development it’s cast’s energy that makes it work and keeps the viewer entertained. With that said the aspect ratio is very strange and the movie does get a bit repetitive as it goes on, however Bitch Ass is an entertaining slasher movie that would definitely make a great midnight viewing while drinking with friends.

Bitch Ass currently has no release date!

6/10 C+

SXSW Review: Slash/Back (2022)

When Maika and her ragtag friends discover an alien invasion in their tiny arctic hamlet, it’s up to them to save the day. Utilizing their makeshift weapons and horror movie knowledge, the alien realizes you don’t mess with girls from Pang.

I really don’t have much to say about Slash/Back but the movie itself is a very straightforward Sci-Fi movie, a group of teenage girls fight aliens while protecting their home. The cast look like they had a blast making the movie which is always great to see, plus the performances are all pretty solid as well! The same can be said for the music, it’s genuinely fun and brings the film a lot of entertainment value to it. The film definitely reminds me of Attack The Block so if you liked that movie you are more than likely going to like this one. The biggest flaw is the movie not really doing anything noteworthy, however it really isn’t trying to do that. It’s the very definition of a Indie film where a small group came together and made a film plus worked with what they had. And for that the movie definitely deserves credit, it’s a decent enough time to recommend.

Slash/Back currently has no release date.

6/10 C+

SXSW Review: The Cow (2022)

When Kath and her boyfriend arrive at a remote cabin in the redwoods, they find a mysterious younger couple already there. Her boyfriend disappears with the young woman, and Kath becomes obsessed with finding an explanation.

It’s been two days since I watched The Cow and some of it I completely forgot about until I started writing this review, so that’s a bad start already. The Cow has an interesting premise that never gets fully realized, Winona Ryder gives a really strong performance and the same can be said for Brianne Tju, the atmosphere is definitely there as well. There’s some genuinely suspenseful moments that really capture a thrilling experience that I wish the rest of the movie had. I’ve noticed with some of SXSW’s films this year there’s a lot of them that have no idea what genre they want to be, so they just throw in random elements from other genres and hope they stick. That’s the case with The Cow, the first act plays out like a drama but then quickly becomes a thriller that gets very ridiculous at the third act. It’s a fine enough setup to a very lousy result that could have honestly been disturbing if the writing and the atmosphere were a lot stronger, what definitely breaks this movie is the dialogue. There’s moments where it’s so bad it takes you out of the movie, when you are trying to build a suspenseful movie that’s the very last thing you want. Overall The Cow is a missed opportunity, there was definitely an attempt to try and make this work but so many flaws are holding this one back unfortunately.

The Cow currently has no release date.

4/10 D+

SXSW Review: Stay The Night

A failed work opportunity prompts chronically single Grace to pursue a one night stand with a stranger. Turns out he’s an on-the-outs professional athlete in town with a problem of his own. Maybe they can help each other?

Stay The Night is a very serviceable romance movie that doesn’t break any new ground, but has some strong character moments that are just enough to make this sort of interesting. I do like the whole idea of a film just being a conversation between two people and walking around a city, there’s a lot of compelling moments that really add to the story and the filming is actually not too bad either. Unfortunately what holds this movie back from being anything more is the acting, Andrea Bang and Joe Scarpellino are definitely trying their best but the script is just not letting it happen. It’s a simple enough premise that you would think would be very easy to nail down, but instead the third act tries to do way too much with the characters. The movie also leaves you wondering what we’re they trying to go for, I wouldn’t say Stay The Night is a bad movie as it is so close from being a decent time. But it’s just not memorable.

Stay The Night currently has no release date.

5/10 C

SXSW Review: Deadstream (2022)

After a public controversy left him disgraced and demonetized, a washed up internet personality tries to win back his followers by livestreaming himself spending one night alone in a haunted house. When he accidentally pisses off a vengeful spirit, his comeback event becomes a real-time fight for his life (and social relevance) as he faces off with the sinister spirit of the house and her own powerful following.

Very solid start to the SXSW film festival, Deadstream is one of those screen-life films examples are Searching, Unfriended movies, The Den, Spree, CAM and several others. It’s one of my favorite subgenres so I was very excited to check this one, Deadstream is a satire on popular Youtubers and streamers from the piss poor apology videos to the way they act it’s all there but mixed with Evil Dead elements. The first act of the movie is rather rough with some writing that isn’t funny and tries a little too hard with the satire. However by the time the second act rolls around the movie becomes incredibly enjoyable, there’s a ton of gore that is actually very well done. The atmosphere is very effective and the setting (a haunted house) compliments it very well, the jumpscares are actually very effective here. It’s refreshing to see a film that doesn’t use cheap jumpscares every five seconds and instead uses them when it’s most appropriate. Joseph Winter I thought did a decent job with his performance mostly because it seemed like he was having the time of his life, the writing does have it’s issues at times particularly when it tries to use humor. There are moments where the movie is genuinely funny but it’s a lot more successful when it builds a creepy atmosphere and scares the viewer. Overall Deadstream is a very solid movie that is perfect for a midnight viewing, definitely check this one out once it releases!

Deadstream currently has no release date!

7/10 B

SXSW Review: Spaz (2022)

Steve ‘Spaz’ Williams is a little-known pioneer in computer animation. This intimate account examines his life story and events surrounding the historical moment when his digital dinosaurs walked onto the silver screen in JURASSIC PARK. Steve and a chorus of expert witnesses recount a dramatic tale of rebellion and revolution at Lucasfilm’s Industrial Light & Magic in the early 1990s–a time when creating realistic creatures with a computer was considered impossible. As the industry changes at breakneck speed, Steve’s longing for acknowledgement triggers a humble reckoning with his chaotic past.

Spaz is a very straightforward documentary about the pioneer of computer effects Steve ‘Spaz’ Williams, this is the man who gave us iconic moments from Jurassic World, Star Wars, Terminator 2 and many others. It’s very refreshing to see computer effects artists get praised for their work as it often does feel like they are put on the sidelines, there’s a lot of great archival footage and interviews in the documentary that really show how beautifully made Williams’s work was and still is. Plus Williams is a great speaker he’s the type of person where you could just listen to him talk to you forever and not get tired of it. The documentary does struggle when it comes to the last half, as it does struggle to to keep both conversations of Williams success and his career’s fall balanced. There’s a lot of one conversation talking over the other, however that doesn’t stop it from being a very interesting piece about someone who gave us some of the most iconic moments in film history.

Spaz currently has no release date.

7/10 B

SXSW Review: Spin Me Round (2022)

A woman wins an all-expenses trip to a company’s gorgeous “institute” outside of Florence and also the chance to meet the restaurant chain’s wealthy and charismatic owner. She finds a different adventure than the one she imagined.

Spin Me Round was one of my most anticipated of the festival and sadly it’s one of the weakest I watched, Jeff Baena is a director who’s films have always been a mixed bag for me Life After Beth, Horse Girl both had great concepts but needed far stronger writing while Little Hours was actually pretty decent but not a movie I look back at often. Spin Me Round has great performances from Alison Brie and Aubrey Plaza who both easily steal the show in this huge mess, the comedic moments with the two of them are pretty decent. There’s some jokes that did get a few laughs out of me, the main issues come in when you look at everything else. The rest of the cast is really nothing special at all, the writing is very tonally confused it truest to be a comedy then a drama and then a thriller. Which is the straw that breaks this movie the last 20 minutes try to go for something completely bonkers, which I’m all for filmmakers to go wild and make their films as unhinged as possible but there has to be some sort of build up. Which unfortunately there wasn’t any in this case, plus it just didn’t fit the movie at all, had the movie focused on build up rather than just throwing it in for the sake of wanting to be bonkers it might have worked. Overall Spin Me Round is terrible and a huge waste of potential that had all the right Ingredients the chef just wasn’t in the kitchen for this one.

Spin Me Round currently has no release date!

3/10 D-

SXSW Review: Jethica (2022)

When Jessica’s stalker surprises her in New Mexico, she must seek help from beyond the grave to get rid of him for good.

I really wish I liked Jethica a lot more than I did but for what the movie is it’s not bad. It’s a simple ghost story that has beautiful filming combined with it. What makes this movie is the atmosphere as there are a bunch of atmospheric moments that really capture the film well, the cast does a pretty solid job in their respective roles. What holds Jethica back from being far better is the pacing combined with the rather surface level execution, despite being a 70 minute film it feels much longer mostly due to it trying to be slow burn. Which is fine I love slow burn films especially slow burn horror films, however there is no reason for it to be one and when you combine it with a very interesting idea that is only explored a little bit but not fully realized it becomes a mixed bag. Jethica is definitely something I will have to rewatch once it releases maybe it will grow on me but for now it’s not a bad movie just one that could have been a lot better.

Jethica currently has no release date

6/10 C+

SXSW Review: The Prank (2022)

Ben and his slacker friend, Tanner play a prank on their high school physics professor. When she fails them on a test, they teach the demanding instructor a lesson by falsely accusing her of murder on social media.

The Prank is easily one of the weakest of the bunch I saw at SXSW, while there are some great performances from Rita Moreno and Ramona Young, decent comedic bits that did get a few laughs out of me and the last 15 minutes going completely off the rails. Everything else is way too predictable which is fine in some cases but the execution is just not exciting enough to gather much interest from the viewer. The side characters end up being some of the highlights rather than the main characters and the writing definitely needed to be a lot stronger. There’s a lot of jokes that completely fall flat as well, I appreciate the movie trying to go for a comedic thriller type of movie as we don’t get that very often, but the comedy definitely outweighs the thriller element. Having that said The Prank is not the worst but it’s just begging for a better script.

The Prank currently has no release date

4/10 D+