Saturday, November 15, 2014

AFI FEST 2014: Day One

AFI FEST 2014 is a wrap, 73 features and 45 shorts screened across eight (8) days. This year I highlighted 24 films I found to be a high priority, of those 24 films I caught 15 of them. In order to give a fair amount of coverage to the 15 films viewed across five (5) days, I've broke my festival coverage down by day(s) including a brief review of each feature.

Day One:
directed by Nicolás Pereda
An extensive opening shot in Nicolás Pereda's "The Absent" is a perfect indication to the pacing he intends to use in the tale of an elderly man confronted with losing his Mexican woodland property. There is an apparent reluctant approach that Pereda utilizes weaving the parable which aptly works in two ways. First, rooting the audience into the plight of the central character. Second, portraying the mundane tasks Eduard carries out over the course the 80 minute drama. Cinematographer Diego Romero Suárez frames each prolonged sequence in a strenuous way that leaves the viewer nested in the environment. While The Absent is quiet and sluggish it does an able job taking the audience through the memories of an aged man. The assertive tale is a reflective and grim portrait of one man's existence living alone in a house on the outskirts of a beach in Mexico.

directed by David Robert Mitchell
"It Follows" is an escalator of terror. Director David Robert Mitchell shows with his second feature film that he and horror seem to be old friends. There's a timeless aesthetic to Mitchell's films. Much of it, in this film, stems from his clever set dressing and ability to create a melodic ambiance within the Michigan suburb setting. The style lends itself perfectly to the nature of the stalker slasher Mitchell has unfolding on screen. There's tension building immediately from an opening that leaves nothing but questions. Those questions are soon answered, all be them replaced with looming anxiety. The kind of unease that has you suspecting and peaking at every possible inch of the screen.
Based on a reoccurring nightmare director David Robert Mitchell had as a child, the film is a sharp emblem for STDs. In a sense, it is the first STD slasher. The entire cast of It Follows pulls their weight. Rising star Maika Monroe is the right blend of nervous and tenacious as Jay the lead heroine. The beautiful cinematography Mike Gioulakis pulls off should not go unnoticed. His use of moving around a set to build and amplify terror helps to make the film absolutely bone-chilling in certain sequences. Lastly, music by Disasterpeace really adds to the panicking nature of Mitchell's tale. Horror fans will want to make sure they see this one when it releases theatrically next year.

Stay tuned for further breakdown from each day I visited AFI FEST 2014.