24th Aug2019

Frightfest 2019: ‘Fingers’ Review

by Chris Cummings

Stars: Sabina Friedman-Seitz, Jeremy Gardner, Michael St. Michaels. Michael Richardson | Written and Directed by Juan Ortiz


Fingers is the second film of Juan Ortiz (Jennifer Help Us) who writes and direct this strange movie about a woman with a phobia of, well… fingers, as well as serious anxiety, who is recommended a self-help book by a psychiatrist/self-help guru named Dr. Scotty.

This is a real oddity of a film, that’s for sure, and it deals with the phobias and illogical fears of Amanda, the main character. The sequences in which we see Amanda’s anxieties in play are disturbing in a few ways, especially with just how some of those fears manifest. It feels like it’s attempting to offer a nod to modern day America in some of the ways it shows Amanda’s apparent fears come to the surface. On top of that, the sheer absurdity of Fingers is explored in strange ways. It’s a creepy film in tone, yet it’s also pushing at the funny bone too and feels a lot like the visual equivalent to the underground bizarro fiction genre. When Walter, a computer programmer, comes into work with one less finger each day, Amanda’s anxieties come to a head, and that’s when the film really takes off. Seeking help through this book from Dr. Scotty, Amanda attempts to “kill her fears”.

The movie looks great. It’s shot really nicely. Christian Stella did a very good job there. The frankly bat-shit crazy atmosphere and wacky plot are harmoniously handled, and the music by Ryan Winford, from the synth to the heavier guitars, work well with the tone. I can’t really compare the film to anything else when it comes to the conceptual side of things, but the feel of the film isn’t unlike The Greasy Strangler, which makes sense as seen as Michael St. Michael appears here as a pissed-off gangster called Fox. It doesn’t tend to step as far into the comedy as Strangler, but the over-the-top elements and nuts characters did remind me of that. The performances are tough to pin down and criticise because they can be abnormal at times, but mostly I was fine with them. Sabina Friedman-Seitz as Amanda delivers a fine lead performance, showing distress and unease at the various things that effect her so deeply, while also showing quieter and fearful moments. I thought she was good. The rest of the cast, from the awkward Walter (Stan Madray) to Talky, a panda-mask wearing fellow (Jeremy Gardner) and St. Michael himself, are a mixed bag, ranging from a touch wooden to completely decent. I wasn’t necessarily blown away by any of the acting on offer here, but the plot was enough to keep me invested for the almost 90 minutes.

It’s easy to be offended by some of the things that Amanda talks about having anxiety over, and I felt a little like it was all a bit forced in that way, pushing these things, from disabled people to black people to people with different bodies, as the very things that get deep under her skin. It’s comically done, most of the time, and Amanda is painted as irrational in order to highlight just how wrong and absurd her fears are, but the dialogue about the things that cause her to panic and freak out irked me a little bit. Sometimes I think less can be more and subtlety can be stronger than being completely on the edge. There’s certainly a tactless gloss over the top of the film that could have been cut down a touch more for me. It is smart though, and I like to think that many of the fears of Amanda are presented as a metaphor for the current world climate. Who the hell knows.

Fingers is about confronting fears that are terrorising your very existence but goes about it in its own unique and peculiar way, with a tense and weird mood that borders on surreal. It’s a smashing looking film with plenty of intelligent elements going on, yet at the same time I felt it became a bit over encumbered by its own desire to push the envelope. A good horror film with plenty of dark humour at its edges, Fingers will likely become a cult favourite for many people. For me, I liked it, but didn’t love it.

**½  2.5/5

Fingers screened on Friday August 23rd 2019 as part of this years Arrow Video Frightfest.


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