It’s already nearly a month ago since the event started, actually two days after the Gamescom. But it seems that I really needed some time-out after so many movies or that I was preoccupied with other stuff, making the blog entries a bit spare.
Anyone for those who don’t know about the film festival: It went in its 24th year and opens in many German cities, like a band touring around in different venues. Only it’s not music, but a lot of movies you get. Some well-known blockbusters which will also be released soon in public cinemas (like Piranha 3D, although that was a special case; so maybe “Black Death” is the most prominent example); and of course some flicks you only see on festivals (like “Symbol”) and which unfortunately still don’t have a distributor that you can buy them on Blu-Ray or DVD. Of course there are also some examples where you could get the DVD rather cheap in the UK or other countries (like Reykavich Whale Massacre).
The ticket prices were a bit steeper this time, that is 9 Euros (1 Euro more than last year), but with a badge which cost 185 Euros (10 Euros more than last year) you had a better chance to save some money, especially with 3D-movies which were pretty expensive. There was only one on the list, and it wasn’t on mine, because it already looked not very interesting… and another surprise 3D-movie I already mentioned: Piranha 3D, but more about it later (as I didn’t know about it on Day 1 anyway).
The Fantasy Filmfest usually starts with an opener and another movie so you can either decide to get your badge and watch them or go home and start the next day. As there weren’t any other movies running at the same time, the decision was already made. So this is how the first day turned out to be:
Wednesday, August 25th (which is funny because I’m also writing this retrospective on a Wednesday, so I guess if I keep up the writing work with one blog entry each day I’ll finish with the last day of the week the film festival came to an end)
The Pack (French title: La Meute) (2010)
Sometimes it’s strange how your first impressions can deceive you. Especially if you watched the trailer (which I seldom do) and read the promotional information in the festival “guide” (which I try to avoid even more). It sounded and looked like your typical Texas-Chainsaw-Massacre-meets-French-terror-genre mix, which after a while gets a bit boring and annoying (with movies like “Frontiers” not being the best example). But I was pleasantly surprised by the characters, dialogues and especially one-liners. Sure there was not a lot of story and development because the setting didn’t change very much and the characters stayed more or less the same throughout. But the mix worked with its black humor, even though the creatures looked a bit like the “The Descent” monsters and the silent men of the “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” episode “Hush”. Still it was entertaining enough to watch.
Devil’s Playground (2010)
Less entertaining to watch and more like a chore than fun was the other movie. A horror flick about running zombies is of course nothing new after “28 Days Later” and its sequel. Now they could even do some acrobatics, great! Only what’s left? Not much. Or worse: A lot to complain about. I don’t even know where to start. Was it the bad dialogues, overdramatic scenes, the bonkers story or was it just the whole thing? After a while you really got the impression that jumping zombies was the director’s only selling point. There were even scenes which had slow motion just to show you how acrobatic they are.
Only problem: If there are no characters and no story or even some kind of suspense you wished the whole drama would turn into an “America’s Funniest Home Videos” where zombies and human beings failed at their running and jumping activities. Or rather “Britain’s Funniest Home Videos”, because it was done there. But where was the humor? Even the really bad French “The Horde” zombie flick I watched at the Fantasy Filmfest Nights some months ago had at least one more or less weird sidekick character, even though you didn’t care for the rest of the movie.
So the first day was a rather good and bad start, although it was a bit annoying to have stayed for the zombie flick, because the first train in the morning was at 3 am. But no worries: The next movie day would start at 2 pm, so enough time to get some sleep. And of course I had Scott Smith’s book “The Ruins” with me to read and “Elite Beat Agents” on the Nintendo DS to practice my pro gaming skills (I didn’t have anyway) to pass the night time.