Pamela Powell’s first batch of reviews from the 2017 Sundance Film Festival

screen-shot-2016-10-13-at-9-52-25-am

“KILLING GROUND”

“Killing Ground” is the first feature film from the Australian filmmaker Damien Power.  As a sweet, young, and in-love couple decides to get-away for the weekend to camp in the wild, they notice a tent not far from their area.  After quite some time, the inhabitants are nowhere to be seen.  Sam (Harriet Dyer) and Ian (Ian Meadows) begin to investigate, but after finding a toddler wandering nearby, their greatest fears don’t begin to compare to the horror that lies ahead.

This is not your classic horror film.  It’s clever and unpredictable using perfect timing of situations and clues to lead you on this “treasure hunt.”  Immediately, you have a sense of dread which is contrary to the sweetness that exudes from this couple.  The intensity is off the charts, but it is the thought-provoking puzzle that makes this a wonderfully creative spin on the classic horror in the woods.

Power sets up all the right situations, pulling you into the story and making you jump and scream out loud as he catches you off guard. Balancing deeply disturbing situations with smart writing that makes you think is a work of art.

Watch for a full review and an interview with Power and two of the actors in this small ensemble cast in the coming week.  In the meantime, if you’re at Sundance, don’t miss this film.  If you loved “Don’t Breathe,” you’re going to love this intense psychological thriller that will cut you to your core.

“BEAT BEAT HEART”

“Beat Beat Heart” comes to the Slamdance Film Festival by way of Germany from writer and director Luise Brinkmann.  Kerstin (Lana Cooper) lives in an idyllic area as we find her enjoying a lovely day with her significant other.  Things aren’t always as they seem as we find that we are lost with  Kerstin in her memories.  She is heartbroken and trying to put her life back in order to accomplish her goal: to renovate an old playhouse into a movie theater.

While this may seem an ordinary tale, the supporting cast of characters add a very unique perspective with their own inherent stories.  We meet Kerstin’s roommate who is rather overtly promiscuous to say the least.  And then, drum roll please, we meet her mother who apparently is coming to stay with her, unexpectedly, for an indeterminate period of time.  It’s obvious there is discomfort between the two, but they are experiencing similar traumatic experiences of the heart.  The way they deal with it is just as polar opposite as the two women.

“Beat Beat Heart” in some ways feels very surreal as we are taken back to Kerstin’s memories.  The stylized cinematography is gorgeous as it transports us back and forth between reality and the past.  The generally unspoken difficulties in a mother-daughter relationship are still unspoken, yet are boldly portrayed for us to see.  There’s jealousy that is very unintentional, but felt, with Kersstin watching her mother recover in her own way.  And we also see that deadly sin rear its ugly head when her mother and roomate become friends.  While this is a drama, there are truly laugh out loud moments as her mother  attempts to use Finder (Tinder) and how this is portrayed as it is explained.  Imagine a forest of trees and those trees are all men…I’ll let your imagination take it from there.

Lana is simply beautiful to watch on the screen as she gracefully glides through each scene.  But it is her very subtle expressions and slight facial movements and eye gazes that create a genuine and real character.  We know exactly what she is thinking when her mother comes to visit without her saying a word.  Although what she actual does say is simply hysterical!  (Note to self:  Do not show up on my daughter’s doorstep with a lot of luggage in tow.)  And we know how her heart longs for the touch of her love and the feel of his lips.  We find hope in her eyes when she’s drawn to another, but her personality may not allow her to truly heal.  And then we have Saskia Vester’s portrayal of Kerstin’s mom.  As a mother, I could truly relate to much of what she said and felt as she spoke with her daughter.  The dialogue between the two could not have been more natural or real.  Then the risque and truly funny roommate  beautifully balanced the emotionally heavy parts of the film.

“Beat Beat Heart” is an unusual love story focusing upon the heart and dreams of three different women.  It’s engaging story filmed with gorgeous style draws you closer to the characters as you relate to them all in some way. Finding humor within our lives is the reality of this film while affirming our own life’s choices and the consequences.

“DAWN OF THE DEAF”

The horror film genre seems to be exploding, but finding a unique spin on the genre is a difficult task.  Rob Savage, director of “Dawn of the Deaf” has found just that much sought after unusual view as an inexplicable apocalypse hits a community which creates zombies of all those affected.  Now that’s unusual, wouldn’t you agree?

We meet a young adult who is hearing impaired, communicating soley through the use of sign language.  There’s a certain sadness deep within her eyes that we can feel, but we initially attribute it to the fact that she can’t communicate like the rest of us.  Nothing could be further from the truth and there is no way that you would even begin to imagine the truth behind her eyes.

This short film is amazingly captivating and creative, taking the viewer on a roller coaster ride of emotions; from sadness and pity, to empathy and understanding, but within the last several minutes of the film, the emotions are utter rage and horror.

The story is quite complex to say the least, with several unexpected layers within the story not to mention a few twists and turns.  And here is another unusual twist—several of the cast members are truly hearing impaired or deaf.  In many ways, this film is a blended language film which will be thoroughly enjoyed by any horror film lover, hearing or deaf.  And trust me, you’ll see this particular group in a new light thanks to this movie!

As with many short films, it has the ability to communicate so much in such a limited time frame.  And again, with wonderful short films, it leaves us wanting more.  Each relationship we see, the father-daughter, the mother-daughter, and the two friends, have so much more to share with us.  Perhaps a full-length feature is in this film’s horizon?

“AN INCONVENIENT SEQUEL”

There is no denying climate change, but what can be denied is whether or not the US will be a leader in one of the most important issues facing our world today. Former vice president Al Gore’s  newest documentary, a follow-up to an inconvenient truth, brings us up to date nearly 10 years after his first film.

The significance statistics are there.  The educational aspects are there, but most importantly the humanity is there. And it comes through on so many levels. But it is Al Gore’s dedication, determination, and passion that comes through that is truly inspiring as well as instill hope for our future.

Also Watch for the thorough and supporting documentary by Jared Scott and Kelly Nyks, “The Age of Consequence.”  It’s a perfect film to give a complete picture augmenting “An Inconvenient Sequel.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s