The filmmaking team behind a short called The Other Side got in touch with me. It’s part slasher film and part home invasion flick with a psychological twist, featuring an imposing killer at its core — played by director of Beware the Moon Paul Davis. Nick Moran (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Harry Potter) and Amelia Warner (Mansfield Park, Aeon Flux, The Echo) also star amongst a crew whose collective resume includes Kick-Ass, The Shining, Shadow of the Vampire, and more.
The 20-minute movie is directed by the Santoro Brothers who have previously worked on films such as Harry Potter and The Wolfman. Watch the trailer below, and then chat with the filmmakers on Twitter to let them know what you think.
On a related note, actor-filmmaker Davis will be working on a project with The Other Side producer James Pears, which you can donate your hard-earned dollars to over here. It’s bound to be clever and genre-savvy, and it will help Davis make his feature-length project Silent Night of the Living Dead starring Tom Savini and AJ Bowen.
“It so happens that this slackening, this confusion, this fragility express themselves in an infinite number of ways and correspond to an infinite number of new impressions and sensations, the most characteristic of which is a kind of disappearance or disintegration or collapse of first assumptions which even causes me to wonder why, for example, red (the color) is considered red and affects me as red, why a judgment affects me as a judgment and not as a pain, why I feel a pain, and why this particular pain, which I feel without understanding it and which I must continue to suffer so violently and so bitterly that I struggle to analyze it in an attempt to pry it loose from me… “ —Antonin Artaud in a letter to his doctor, February 19, 1932.
As a starting point for any filmmaker, Alice in Wonderland‘s surreal, dream-like sequences imbued with allegory and rich fantasy lore make it a compelling palette for painting notions of fear and the subconscious. That explains in part why Hollywood has latched onto fairy tale structures for dark reimaginings of characters and fictional landscapes that have connected us since childhood. It’s a built-in audience for filmmakers, but these stories are truly timeless.
Red Kingdom Rising writer-director Navin Dev has put his own stamp on this revisionist exploration. In an interview last year, the filmmaker shared that “Red Kingdom Rising, along with keeping to Lewis Carroll’s themes of reality and dreams, divine mathematics and psychological evolution, does adhere to traditional mythology. It tells the coming of age journey of a woman coming to terms with her past through this dark journey in her wonderland.”
Mary Ann (Emily Stride) has been troubled and tormented her entire life by dark dreams and disturbing childhood memories. After the death of her father, she returns to her family home where visions of a sinister figure, the Red King — a character her father once described in storybook fables — are awakened. Soon, Mary Ann is propelled through the dark hallways of the old house, and her mind, where she must confront the ghosts of the past — including her confused mother (Silvana Maimone), whose foray into black magic wraps a disquieting cloak around the decrepit estate. Haunting flashbacks of Mary Ann’s father (David Caron) seem to hold the key to deciphering the riddles of her unsettling journey.
Dev does a fine job at submerging us in Mary Ann’s world, thanks to his beautifully shot frames that look like pages torn from a Grimms’ fairy tale. The talents of special makeup effects supervisor Mike Peel (The Descent) and his crew, and a haunting, original score from Martin Thornton successfully complete Dev’s vision. A creepily impressive turn from actor Caron is striking, but the filmmaker’s largely unknown cast are engaging in their own right. Fans of fantasy-based horror films will appreciate Dev’s darkly atmospheric twist on the Alice in Wonderland mythology. Well-crafted and eerie, Dev’s first feature-length film is hopefully one of many independent movies we’ll be seeing from the talented director.
Visit the filmmaker’s website for more information.
“A young Engineer drinks from a ceremonial cup, then begins to disintegrate, his remains blowing into the sea and, eventually, mankind itself,” begins Mark Salisbury’s Prometheus: The Art of the Film. Titan Books — always adept at delivering gorgeous and utterly geeky art books, particularly thorough film companions — contains a fascinating and beautiful collection of production artwork, behind the scenes photos, and other previously unseen gems from this summer’s most divisive movie, with input from director Ridley Scott.
The title is an essential read for those still pondering the films most ambiguous moments — even if it doesn’t answer for the terrible old age makeup Guy Pearce was caked in and the film’s other frustratingly illogical moments. If you want to find out what a “Babyhead” is, or learn who and what the Engineers were modeled after (their exosuit inspiration, for example, was “Russian cosmonaut meets Samurai”) you’ll definitely want to pick up a copy of in-depth compendium. Design nuts will have plenty to swoon over here.
And just like the film, Scott leaves us wondering where the surviving crew will take us next. “I thought Prometheus was so enjoyable — returning to the world of science fiction was so fun — I’m thinking about what the hell I might do for a Prometheus 2… ”
Prometheus: The Art of the Film is available on Amazon.
A few images from a forest photo series by Poland-based artist Agnieszka Dagna Michalska (AKA “eatmefeedme”). Visit her website.
My best friend just returned from Iceland — one place I haven’t traveled to yet, but would love to visit. She brought me witchy souvenirs from the Museum of Icelandic Sorcery and Witchcraft. This woolly creature (that I’m hoping actually has a rib bone inside of it) loves nipples. Also, I thought it was interesting that most of the witches killed during the 16th and 17th century “Burning Times” in Iceland were men, not women.
“The Tilberi is a strange creature from Icelandic folklore.
If a woman wants to create a tilberi she has to dig up a human rib in a graveyard early on Whitsunday, wrap it in grey wool and preserve it between her breasts. The next three Sundays at communion she has to spit the holy wine on the bundle which will then come alive. Then the woman has to carve a nipple inside her thigh on which the tilberi will hang on and nourish itself. When it is fully grown the woman can send it into the neighbouring pastures to steal milk from cows and sheep.
When the woman becomes old the tilberi becomes a burden and the only way she can get rid of it, is to order it to gather all the sheep-dropping in three high-land pastures. Eager to get back on the nipple the tilberi will overexert itself and explode, leaving only a human rib beside the heap of droppings.
The milk-stealing tilberi is the only magic in Icelandic folklore that can only be performed by women. A fully grown tilberi could lie across a sheep´s back and suck two tits at the same time and when it would roll back to its farm it would spew the milk into its mother churn. The butter made from the milk would fall into little pieces if the magical sign smjörhnútur (butterknot) was drawn on it.”
All three of the stories in Sean Hogan, Andrew Parkinson, and Simon Rumley’s Little Deaths — a gruesome play on la petite mort — center on the cruelty born from power exchange “relationships” (consensual and otherwise).
Hogan’s House and Home sets the tone for the anthology with a talented cast of players (Luke de Lacey, Siubhan Harrison, Holly Lucas), but departs with a tidy resolution that feels like a safeguard excusing the dehumanizing acts we’ve just witnessed, lacking follow-through. Parkinson’s Mutant Tool goes to some interesting places in its disturbing conceptual starkness, but things get a bit uneven. Kudos for Parkinson’s use of practical effects, but a split-second shot of the massive, rubber cock swinging wildly and looking extremely fake had me cringing in all the wrong ways.
Rumley’s Bitch is the most successful of the trio, and manages to usurp the others while being far less explicit and ultimately more disturbing. The filmmaker proved he has a knack for guiding his actors into some extremely dark places in Red White & Blue, and his ability to ground the terror they engage in a naturalistic way is refreshing. Bitch is no different. Kate Braithwaite’s Claire and Tom Sawyer’s Pete — who play a dysfunctional couple that engage in a broken dominant/submissive power struggle beset with abusive mindfuckery — feel like real, damaged individuals. Rumley’s examination of their impaired relationship seethes with heartbreaking desperation, frustration, and alienation. The dog eat dog conclusion undermines the unexpected, challenging way Rumley crafts a snapshot of uncontained desire, unrestrained hunger, and uncontrolled impulse. It ends all too goofy for my liking, but Bitch is an admirable short that once again left me wanting more from the director.
[Spoiler ahead] Director Troy Nixey spins a familiar yarn about a spooky, lush estate, a misunderstood child, and the absent adults who don’t believe her things-that-go-bump-in-the-night stories in his adaptation of the 1973 TV movie, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark. Trying to tap into the collective fears of our childhood, but instead serving up halfhearted impressions of producer Guillermo del Toro’s best-of, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark is passable, but lacks the poignancy of the filmmaker’s other collaborations, like Juan Antonio Bayona’s The Orphanage. The usually compelling Guy Pearce is comically unavailable — as the film’s father and an actor — and Katie Holmes delivers an annoyingly weak show at solidarity toward Bailee Madison’s Sally. What feels like an attempt to show Sally’s frustrated perspective lacks conviction. In the end, we can surmise that prescription drugs are evil and that we should follow Nixey’s advice when dad’s young girlfriend gets what’s coming to her, vanishes into the bowels of the haunted house, and the rest of the family all but shrugs and walks away.
Rob Pattinson just became a lot more appealing to me. I’ve been writing up news about Cosmopolis for some time now, though, and can’t wait to see more.
The photos come from Premiere France‘s special Cannes edition. Read the interview and see more photos on the Cosmopolis website.