These are the reviews from the first day of Daily Texan film coverage at South By Southwest.
The programmers at SXSW were nice enough to program my most anticipated film of the festival on opening night, and the world premiere of “Evil Dead” proved to be an exhilarating experience in the way that only this festival can deliver. The film has several spotty moments, and its characters are fairly standard chainsaw fodder, but it manages to build an irresistible visceral momentum as it goes on, and by the time blood starts to literally pour from the sky, “Evil Dead” has gone so gleefully insane that it’s impossible not to come along with the ride.
“Evil Dead” opens in theatres on April 5.
With “Primer,” his first film, Shane Carruth established himself as a filmmaker with no interest in helping the audience keep up with his dense narratives. Either you’re operating on Carruth’s level of logic, or you’re down a creek without a paddle. “Upstream Color” is no more narratively forgiving than “Primer,” but a lovely turn from Amy Seimetz helps anchor some of the film’s more oblique moments, which intertwine brainwashing and telepathy together in an assessment of the boundaries of human consciousness. While it all sounds mystifying, “Upsteam Color” boasts a gripping narrative immediacy and makes for a satisfying experience, provided you can sit back and let Carruth’s style of storytelling wash over you.
“Upstream Color” screens again on Saturday 3/9 at 6:00 and Tuesday 3/12 at 6:45, and opens in theatres on April 19.
“V/H/S/2” is the rare horror anthology without a weak segment, and the creative team of Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett have assembled a strong crew of filmmakers for the second installment in the budding horror franchise. An improvement on the original in almost every way, “V/H/S/2” delivers a veritable Baskin Robbins of horror imagery – no matter if you like ghosts, aliens, zombies, or the Antichrist, “V/H/S/2” will deliver. Shorts from Barrett and Wingard (who also have the terrifically entertaining “You’re Next” at the festival) set the stage nicely, and newcomers Jason Eisener (“Hobo With a Shotgun”) and Gregg Hale and Eduardo Sanchez (“The Blair Witch Project”) bring a creative spin to the film’s found footage anthology premise. However, they all pale in comparison to a sequence by “The Raid” director Gareth Evans, a stunning escalation that climaxes with a spine-tingling assault on the audience, a perfect encapsulation of everything that works about horror films, and a surefire contender for the horror hall of fame.
“V/H/S/2” screens again Saturday 3/9 at 6:30 and Thursday 3/14 at 11:30 PM.
“Reality Show” asks what would happen if your average American family was recorded without their knowledge, especially once the producers of a potential reality show centered around the unwilling participants start to subtly turn the screws on their lives. The result is an aggressively unsettling work with as much subtlety as a sledgehammer to the face, a film that wears its subtext proudly on its sleeve. The film does its best to keep things compelling, and many of the dramatic manipulations would be interesting if any of the nuance that could be drawn from the material wasn’t fumbled by stiff, unlikable performers. “Reality Show” is the easiest version of this premise, a strong idea essentially reduced to watching a gleeful “Sims” player terrorize the citizens of his virtual world.
“Reality Show” screens again Saturday 3/9 at 7:00, Tuesday 3/12 at 11:00 PM, and Thursday 3/14 at 7:00.