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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I heard so much about Violet before going into the film and I really have to say I’m quite impressed. Violet is a meaningful film about anxiety and the voice in your head that says “you aren’t good enough” or “nobody likes you” Violet uses this idea in a way that’s very unique and quite clever, it combines some very quick editing with some very striking shots that grab the attention of the viewer. The film itself is incredibly raw and emotional to the point where it punches you in the gut several times, which leads to Olivia Munn’s performance which is easily the best of her whole career. She displays so much talent here and how capable she is as an actress, her character is fully fleshed out and feels like an actual person with so much anxiety. The writing is absolutely perfect as well, once again it captures the natural feel and truly delivers when it comes to making the viewer feel and care for what’s taking place. Overall it’s best to go into Violet knowing as little as possible, I will definitely have a more in depth review once it comes out! But Violet is hands down one of the best films so far this year, please keep this one on your radar!
Jakob’s Wife is a very interesting take on the Vampire genre as well as a refreshing one! The standout in this movie is Barbara Crampton, she does such a fantastic job in her role and really makes the film that much more interesting, she gives off a very calm and haunting performance which is very welcoming! Jakob’s wife does have a slow start, it starts out as kind of a slowburn horror movie but then quickly picks up as it goes on. The film itself is ultimately really fun, there’s plenty of great scenes towards the end and once the 3rd act kicks in it gets really satisfying! The writing isn’t too bad at all either, it gives off this eerie feeling to it which is quite great that not a lot of Vampire movies as of late have been able to do. Jakob’s Wife is something I definitely recommend checking out once it comes out on VOD April 16th 2021!