Tag Archives: SXSW 2021

SXSW: Sasquatch- Weed, Greed, Murder + Cryptids In This New Hulu Documentary

Is it a Sasquatch documentary? Or is it a true crime doc? Yes.

Both of these elements are explored in Hulu’s upcoming documentary limited series, executive produced by the Duplass Brothers. At the risk of spoiling, the first episode is pretty Sasquatch-heavy featuring local Sasquatch experts and enthusiasts. There are also interviews with the guys involved in arguably the most famous Sasquatch footage in existence- the Patterson-Gimlin Film which was shot in 1967 in Northern California. The docuseries centers specifically on journalist David Holthouse. In 1993 Holton was visiting a pot farm in Northern California. It was during this stay on the pot farm that Holton heard a story about three men who were ripped apart on a nearby farm. The claim was that Bigfoot was the culprit. Twenty five years later, Holton returns to the area to investigate what really happened that night. Who were the victims? Was Bigfoot really to blame for the murders? Did those murders even actually occur?

Through a series of interviews with Bigfoot experts and people who are able to reconstruct the environment of the Cannabis industry in the are in the early 90’s, David is led down a dark path in the pursuit of the truth.

Sasquatch is a three-part documentary series
premiering on Hulu April 20th

SXSW: Luchadoras – Fight For Your Dreams, Fight For Your Life

There is so much more here than you might be expecting. Yes, it is a documentary about badass female Mexican wrestlers. But aside from the world of lucha, these women are fighting against machismo and violence in Juarez, Mexico – a place that at one point earned the title of “deadliest city” because its homicide rate was so high. And I don’t just mean homicide across the board, this is primarily gender-based violence targeting women.

This documentary centers primarily on three fighters- Baby Star, Mini Sirenita and Lady Kandy. Outside of the ring we come to know the women as fighters in their day-to-day lives.

Baby Star- A legacy fighter, the daughter of a luchador with no sons, and so he taught his daughters (Baby Star and Little Star) the art of lucha.

Mini Sirenita – A mother and a grandmother, with aspirations of moving to Mexico City to be closer to her daughter, grandchildren and fighting in the big time.

Lady Kandy – Outside of the ring, she is fighting to see her daughters. Her ex fled to the U.S. taking her children with him and along with her rise to success in the ring, we also follow her fight back to her girls.

Directors Paola Calvo and Patrick Jasmin not only allow the audience to see these women as luchadoras, but as mothers. As grandmothers. As strong women existing in this world. All of this set against the backdrop of Juarez, where women are habitually murdered and frequently go missing. The luchadoras run a self defense workshop for women, they take to the streets and protest against violent machismo and femicide. In a conversation about family Mini Sirenita talks about how she felt better off alone as a single parent, “You are your own macho”. For these women, lucha is more than a sport. It is more than entertainment. It is a rebellion. It is a movement.

Fight for your dreams. Fight for you life.

One of the closing shots is a powerful composition featuring a long line of women from all walks of life, stretching across a vast empty desert; the luchadoras stand with them and they collectively stare straight down the barrel of the lens with a defiance that you believe in and root for. A moving portrait of warrior women and a strong reminder that in the end- aren’t so many of us just fighting for a better life?

SXSW Gaia: PArt Creature-Feature/Cautionary Eco Horror

Tertius Kapp and Jaco Bouwer’s Gaia is a South African eco-horror with plenty of monstrous fun lurking deep in the jungles. When park rangers Gabi (Monique Rockman) and Winston (Anthony Oseyemi) embark upon a routine surveillance mission in a primordial forest, they are quickly thrown a curve ball when the drone Gabi is piloting comes face to face with a human and is struck down. Gabi insists on retrieving the drone, which Winston wisely warns her against, saying something akin to “sometimes you are just like those white folks”, as in the must-go-and investigate horror movie trope. In spite of Winston’s initial instinct, Gabi insists and he appeases. As she searches for her drone, Gabi encounters a father and son duo living off the grid, in a post-apocalyptic fashion. They are covered in mud, for the most part dressed only in loincloths and armed with homemade weapons.

While it initially seems this movie might be in the vein of Deliverance it takes a turn more akin to elements reminiscent of Annihilation complete with strange spores drifting through the air. The newly formed trio is forced to fend off attacks from strange jungle creatures and Gabi begins to learn more about the reasons behind the father and son’s existence in the jungle. There are a good amount of creature effects and body horror, invoking bits of The Ruins along with disturbing psychedelic nightmares. This cautionary sci-fi tale dealing with humanity choosing its own demise hits a little too close to home as fantasy and reality collide in the form of a potentially rapidly spreading threat that could manifest in multiple forms- be it climate change, disease, violence, a stark reminder that the list is potentially endless when it comes to the multitude of ways in which we hurt ourselves.

SXSW The Feast – THERE’S DIRT EVERYWHERE (and they will know us by the trail of dirt)

I write this on the Vernal Equinox and that feels quite fitting. Roger Williams and Lee Haven Jones’ The Feast presents all the trappings of a well-to-do family. A pristine mid-century modern home to kill for, juxtaposed against a rural setting sprawled across acres of family farm land, where a nuclear family unit resides, preparing for an impending dinner party.

The first hour of this Welsh language horror story is spent kind of wondering what this is all about. It is gorgeously shot, making full use of the beauty of its setting, playing with negative space in a way that makes every frame feel like a beautifully composed photograph. It plays like a family drama with strange and sinister undertones. The polished facade is not all it seems, but for an hour, things are mostly only hinted at. However, after that point- everything becomes absolutely fucking unhinged. And by that I mean the movie becomes something else entirely. The curtains are pulled back and the darkness that has been silently snaking its way through the story begins to reveal itself in full, and the story doesn’t just unravel at this point- it explodes.

THERE’S DIRT EVERYWHERE, it becomes quite bloody by this point as well. And they will know us by the trail of dirt. And blood. A morality tale, to take heed against greed. When you’ve taken everything, what else is there and what will you have to repay when collection comes due? While the message of don’t fuck with nature, is very clear this is much more than an eco-horror. Mixing elements together for a gruesome, strange and satisfying payoff. I’ll let you find out for yourselves what else reveals itself after the first hour of this slow burn morality tale. It’s an enjoyable character driven story that takes its time getting to the climax, but fully delivers upon arrival.

SXSW – Alex Noyer’s Sound Of Violence: A Marquis De Sade For The Digital Age

If you were to experience true bliss, if you could see heaven- what would you be willing to do to replicate the experience? Ten-year-old Alexis regains her hearing during the brutal murder of her family. Not only is her hearing recovered, but she experiences the sounds visually in gorgeous psychedelic color. The phenomenon is addicting and Alexis spends her life chasing that dragon, so to speak, through her studies in sound and the conducting of violent experiments. Collecting sounds of violence in the hopes of replicating the phenomenon and retaining her hearing, Alexis is willing to go to any length and sacrifice anything in pursuit of her gruesome endeavors. A Marquis De Sade for the digital age.

Sound Of Violence is such a fresh, cool concept and it truly delivers. This movie also has one of my favorite kill scenes in recent memory. Without spoiling it, Alexis is something of a genius, able to create intricate devices and contraptions for use in her sound experiments. One scene in particular centers on a choreographed gorefest that is so wholly original, and true to the movie’s title- the sound is what makes it so highly effective. Alexis is a maestro of violence, completely in the zone, creating through destruction with absolutely unhinged pleasure.

Through these various sound experiments, Alexis gathers these violent clips and incorporates them into experimental music tracks. Thus making the music a very important part of this movie. “What would that possibly sound like?” We get to hear explicitly what that would be, and it would have been easy to cop out on this part, but luckily Alex Noyer opted to take it all the way, fleshing it out and truly brings us into Alexis’ world.

Written and directed by Alex Noyer, starring Jasmin Savoy Brown (Scream 2022), Lili Simmons (Bone Tomahawk), James Jagger (Vinyl) and Tessa Munro (S.W.A.T.)

Sound of Violence makes its world premiere @ SXSW March 18th
Also available in theaters and on demand May 21st.

SXSW 2021: The Thing That Ate The Birds (Short)- Horror On the Moors

South By Southwest (SXSW) Film FestivalThe Thing That Ate The Birds? Yes, of course I’m enticed. Please, tell me. What is the Thing that ate the birds?

Within seconds the tone is set with a starkly elegant title screen and violent violins ramping up to a fever pitch*. A grin spreads wide across my face and I lean in towards the TV, rubbing my hands together diabolically.

Less than five minutes in and I said out loud, to an empty room, “What the fuck!?” and also “Oh god!” We are off to a promising start.

A tension filled, strained marriage set against the backdrop of the expansive North Yorkshire Moors . A groundskeeper and his assistant stumble across… you guessed it another dead bird. It seems it’s been a problem in these parts and when the duo encounters a very likely suspect, (which will inevitably haunt my dreams for weeks to come), head groundskeeper Abel takes action. He’s a real act-first-think-later kind of guy, now is it all well and done or might this come back to bite him in the ass down the line?

There are lots of nice practical fx here; as a whole it is a well done, sinister piece. Fraught with tension through and through, it will likely have you wound as tightly as those screaming strings for the duration of its fourteen minute runtime. Writer/Director team Sophie Mair and Dan Gitsham do indeed provide you with an answer to the query- what the hell ate the birds!? There might be more to fear on the moors than what the phrase typically tends to bring to mind.

The Thing That Ate The Birds premiered as part of the Midnight Shorts collection at SXSW Online 2021

*I don’t in fact know they were violins, but definitely string instruments and I liked the alliteration.

HGP Does SXSW: Stuffed (Short Film) Interview with Theo Rhys + Joss Holden-Rea

Right off the bat I was pulled in with a series of shots and a color scheme that I can only refer to as macabrely comforting. This darkly comedic, whimsically macabre tale is actually quite tender. A love story for the misfits of the world. For those who “crave something greater”. Existential woes and the impact, the legacy, we leave behind explored through an extreme lens.

I had the opportunity to sit down for a quick chat with writers and director of the amazing short film- Stuffed, Theo Rhys + Joss Holden-Rea. A dark and tender love story, seamlessly blending elements of Norman Bates and Sweeney Todd.

Catch Stuffed at SXSW 3/16

Twitter: @JossHoldenRea @Thideodrome

Trailer:

Trailer: STUFFED from Theo Rhys on Vimeo.