For most people, yesterday was an ordinary Monday, heading back to work after our short but sweet weekend. But for me, I had plans for that evening after work….heading into Chicago to the Music Box Theatre to catch three movies at their Cinepocalypse Film Festival. Granted, the idea of watching movies until close to 2am, after being up at 5am to go to work that morning, didn’t seem like the smartest thing to do. But when you have the chance to see an old classic, as well as two new films, all from different countries and from directors I like, it seemed like I had no other choice.
The first title of the night was Dario Argento’s Suspiria, which I have seen on the big screen twice before. The first time was way back in the mid ’90s when they were screening it in Chicago with Argento in attendance. Unfortunately, what we all soon found out soon enough was that this was the American 35mm print, which was not only the cut version, it looked like it had been edited with a chainsaw. The second time was this last August when we got to see the new 4K scan restored print from Synapse at the Flashback Weekend convention. That was just awesome. But the print we were seeing tonight is a rare Italian 35mm uncut print. So having the chance to see it uncut from an actual film print was pretty cool. By the time this screening started, the theater was packed. It is always so cool to see so many people come out for a screening like this.
But making this particular event even better was the presence of star Jessica Harper there! After the screening, there was a great Q&A which was a lot of fun, enlightening, as well as damn entertaining. Just the fact that after just watching this incredible film, to have the star of it making a very rare appearance to talk about the film and the director just made the night even more special.
For the next film in the lineup for that night, we traveled from Italy to Spain, for Paco Plaza’s latest feature Veronica, a tale of a teenage girl and possession. Plaza is one of the co-director of the first two [Rec] films, then directing the third entry on his own back in 2013, so I was excited to see his return to feature films with this one. With the recent movies dealing with possession, especially due to the use of a Ouija board, I did have a little apprehension that this might be on the similar vein, but then I remember this wasn’t from Hollywood, so at least should have some interesting creativity in there to say the least! And I was right.
Veronica is the name of the main lead, a teenage girl who is having to take care of her three younger siblings because their mother works evenings. The day of a solar eclipse, while all the other students at school are on the rooftop watching, Veronica and two friends are in the basement of the school with a Ouija board, trying to connect with her dead father. But as we all can figure out, something else comes through, and it is not a good thing.
What I really impressed me here was that the main cast being so young, but doing a great job here. Most of the film of course lies on the shoulders of Sandra Escacena, who plays our title character, and she gives it her all. But her younger siblings, played by Bruna González, Claudia Placer, and Iván Chavero, hold their own and help the audience feel the terror they are feeling. Which is also helped by their mother, played by Ana Torrent from Alejandro Amenábar 1996 film Thesis, and seeing her react to what his happening with her children.
Paco does a great job bringing the scares throughout the picture, with shadowy figures moving around in the near darkness, to a few well placed jump scares. He is one of many in Spain that is showing the world that they have quite a few directors that are not only making the horror genre their home, but also a great place to visit.
The last film was the latest film from Can Evrenol, who gave us Baskin in 2015. If you have not seen that one, then I highly recommend you do so. It is like no other film you’ve seen before. Maybe not in the story, but just in its presentation. Housewife is Evrenol’s second feature film, so I went into this with a sense of nervousness, but came out just amazed at what I had just watched
Evrenol takes more than a few storylines that we’ve seen before but not only weaves them together, but shows you that just when you think you know where the story is going, he changes gears and goes somewhere completely different. I don’t want to go into any detail about the film because I think it really is best going in completely blind. But the story follows a young couple, mainly the wife, played wonderfully by Clémentine Poidatz, who is still haunted by her trauma-filled childhood, as they try to move forward into their lives. Then it gets weird. I mean, really weird. Some may not like the sense of “what the hell is going on”, but I really enjoyed it and it really drew me into the story and the main character. When you get the chance to see it, I strongly urge you to.
For my first time at an official film festival, and even though it was only for one day, I had a blast. I now wish that I would have saved some more vacation days and be able to attend more of the screenings. But from what I’m hearing, there will be a next year, and I think that might be something I plan for.
Huge kudos to the Music Box Theatre for starting their very own genre film festival. After longing to travel across the world to different film festivals, it is so cool that one is now taking place so close that I really can’t pass up the opportunity. And next year, I will make sure that I don’t miss it, but dive head first into all the gore, gruesomeness, and glory that Cinepocalypse is. The event goes on until this Thursday, so there is plenty of time still to catch some more great flicks. You can check out the site HERE.