Celebrating its ninth consecutive edition, the Razor Reel Flanders Film Festival has revealed a full slate of high-caliber movies. True to its roots as a fantastic film festival while unafraid to cover some new ground, the Flemish fest still takes place in the historic city center of Bruges, in the Cinema Liberty; from 10th – 15th November.
Beginning the festivities on Thursday the 10th of November, Razor Reel looks to Belgium-born Johnny Galecki for inspiration by hosting the national premiere of The Master Cleanse. Following its opening film with another screening at midnight, Razor Reel presents the long-awaited Belgian premiere of The Devil’s Candy, Sean Byrne’s ode to heavy metal Satanism. Closing the festival in style on Tuesday the 15th of November is South-Korea’s zombie-outbreak horror Train to Busan, which has delighted audiences around the world since its Cannes 2016 premiere.
In between these genre fest regulars Razor Reel opted once more for an eclectic program that brings a mixture of the expected, outré and cutting edge, with a few surprises thrown in for good measure. New for 2016 is a thematic spotlight on both creature features and coming of age films with a darker or fantastical twist:
Among other horrors, the first category will experiment on Noomi Rapace in Steven Shainberg’s sci-fi abduction thriller RUPTURE, while also unleashing the space bugs of Takashi Miike’s TERRA FORMARS and the dark denizens of Justin Seaman’s monster movie throwback THE BARN. The second thematic focus is aimed at both teens and adults and is intended in part as an illustration of how the label fantastic cinema entails much more than random carnage and senseless bloodshed. Included in this category are Clay Liford’s superbly acted sci-fi dramedy SLASH, Stephen Dunn’s wildly imaginative coming-out tale CLOSET MONSTER (with Isabela Rossellini as a talking hamster!), John Carchietta’s thrilling take on high school romance, TEENAGE COCKTAIL, and also THE TRANSFIGURATION, Michael O’Shea’s faux-vampire horror drama. Comfortably straddling the line between supernatural creature feature and dark coming of age thriller is Billy O’Brien’s atmospheric chiller I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER.
In addition to these two themes Razor Reel also celebrates German language film with a double bill of Nikias Chryssos’s DER BUNKER and Michael Krummenacher’s SIBYLLE on Sunday the 13th of November. While the former Belgian premiere is a bizarre comedy all about sheltered underground existence and unconventional teaching, the latter hauntingly recalls classics like The Shining as an atmospheric ghost story with psychological shades. Both directors will attend as guests.
This year’s Young Blood competition for best directorial debut or sophomore film includes Christophe Deroo’s SAM WAS HERE, a Twilight Zone-esque mystery about a door-to-door salesman who ends up in a strange and hostile version of California where the word of local radio host Eddy is law. Also featured in competition is Dan Pringle’s socially poignant, cannibalism horror K-SHOP. Fellow contenders include Geoff Redknap’s THE UNSEEN, a novel take on the invisible man mythos, and Adam Tsuei’s THE TENANTS DOWNSTAIRS, a darkly comedic ode to perversion. Aforementioned titles like THE TRANSFIGURATION, CLOSET MONSTER and TEENAGE COCKTAIL round out the nominees for the international award.
Other than feature films, Razor Reel 2016 boasts a strong roster of European and international genre shorts. From the Katharine Isabelle-starring, Cube-meets-Groundhog-Day mash-up that is ITERATION 1, to Tim Egan’s genuinely unnerving CURVE, Quarxx’s stellar, Fantasia-winning UN CIEL BLEU PRESQUE PARFAIT and Belgium’s own meta-horror homage ICE SCREAM, fans will be treated to some of this year’s top shorts.
Collected from all corners of the world and completing the 2016 feature film line-up are:
- Vardan Tozija’s hard-hitting Amok, a coming of age crime drama from Macedonia that takes aim at the failings of the social and judicial systems and posits each society is responsible for the creation of its most undesirable subjects.
- Joel Potrykus’s The Alchemist Cookbook, a slow-building, expertly sustained exercise in minimalism that gradually encroaches on viewers with a story of a Faustian bargain, madness or both. Arguably one of the most original and captivating horror experiences of 2016.
- Patrick Rea’s Enclosure, a camping trip nightmare that pits Fiona Dourif against unspecified entities that roam about a midnight forest.
- Stephen Fingleton’s The Survivalist, a dystopian thriller that weighs the price of loyalty against the instinct to survive at all costs.
- Sevé Schelenz’s Peelers, a midnight delight set in a nightclub that treats moviegoers to a showdown between spunky strippers and infected patrons.
- Jiri Sádek’s The Noonday Witch (Polednice), a metaphoric take on the grieving process that scales back the horror of The Babadook and transposes the story to the lushly captured Czech countryside.
- Carles Torrens’s Pet, a psychological thriller driven by strong performances from Dominic Monaghan and Ksenia Solo that presents the roles of predator and prey as constantly in flux.
- Andreas Climent and André Hedetof’s Origin (Bieffekterna), a Swedish sci-fi that examines the cost of hacking one’s own genetic code and anchors its tale of immoral science with emotional resonance.
For more information about the feature films, the full short film line-up, the competitions and guests, head on over to the Razor Reel website (www.rrfff.be)