Teens who’ll stop at nothing to increase their Instagram followers, and other frights at this year’s Rio Grind Film Fest

Elina Löwensohn in Let the Corpses Tan

Elina Löwensohn in Let the Corpses Tan. The film screens as part of this year’s Rio Grind Film Festival (Nov. 16-19).

A rap-battle movie produced by Eminem; the 100th film from a Japanese master; and a retro-looking crime thriller are among the treats at this year’s Rio Grind Film Festival.

Presented by the Rio Theatre (1660 E. Broadway), the annual event features horror, sci-fi, fantasy, cult, animation and sometimes just-plain-unclassifiable movies. Along with feature films, the festival—Nov. 16-19— includes shorts, guest filmmakers, and a special surprise screening.

Here are some highlights. (Click on titles for trailers.)

Blade of the Immortal—The latest (and 100th!) film from Japanese writer-director Takashi Miike (Audition, Yakuza Apocalypse) is a samurai action-adventure epic. In it, a highly skilled and immortal samurai warrior trains a young girl to avenge the murder of her parents. Variety: “The 100th feature by genre master Takashi Miike transcends conventions of Japanese swordplay films with both fantasy and graphic violence.” (Nov. 16 at 6:30 p.m.)

Hagazussa—A Heathen’s Curse—A grad school project from its first-time director, Hagazussa has been praised for its cinematography, soundtrack (by Greek avant-rock trio MMD), and open-ended (and mostly silent) storytelling. The film has made the rounds of the world’s genre film fest circuit. It’s also been favourably compared to last year’s The Witch. Hollywood Reporter: “But even if the open-ended story does not satisfy conventional genre rules, Hagazussa works very well as a spellbinding audiovisual symphony. Mostly shooting in long, slow, hypnotic, wordless takes, Feigelfeld presents us with a painterly parade of mesmerizing tableaux and arresting motifs: skulls, candles, horned beasts, mist wafting across wintry woodland vistas.” (Nov. 17, 6:45)

Let the Corpses Tan—Based on a 1971 thriller by French crime writer Jean-Patrick Manchette, Laissez bronzer les Cadavre is said to be “a visually stunning, hyper-stylized neo-Western that finds itself basking in the dreamy yet thrilling hues of an over-saturated Mediterranean summer.” Over the course of a single day, an idyllic spot turns into a gruesome battlefield when Rhino and his gang come across an eccentric painter (Elina Löwensohn) and a few of her guests. Variety:  “Any stray excerpt of ‘Corpses’ could be taken as evidence of a fascinating, eccentric lost obscurity, replete with all the outdated joys of its chosen era and genre references. They include solarized images, gratuitous nudity, giant Spaghetti Western-style closeups of glaring eyes, disorienting cross-cutting, gauzy flashbacks, surrealism, crude symbolism and so forth, all shot for maximum grainy nostalgia value in super-16mm… The technique is impeccable, extending to a soundtrack mostly comprised of delicious archival tracks, many by the era’s screen composing king, Ennio Morricone himself.” (Nov. 17 at 9:15)

Tragedy Girls—This movie has been described as “Heathers meets Mean Girls in an Instagram universe.” What else do you need to know? Screen Rant: “A delightfully subversive and darkly comedic take on a slasher horror film.” (Screen Rant) (Nov. 17, 11:15 p.m.)

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Junk Head—Japanese animator Takahide Hori spent four years working on a 30-minute short, then another four expanding it into its current feature-length iteration. The stop-motion, post-apocalyptic sci-fi picture premiered at Montreal’s Fantasia Film Fest, where it won a Special Mention in the Satoshi Kon Award for Excellence in Animation category. (Nov. 18 at 3:30 p.m.)

Bodied—Produced by Eminem, Bodied navigates issues such as cultural appropriation, gender politics, class, systemic racism, and various social injustices.  The lead character is a white male grad student (Calum Worthy) looking for battle rap legitimacy. The film received the TIFF Midnight Madness Audience Award 2017 and Fantastic Fest Audience Award 2017. Collider: “Even if you have no interest in rap battling, BODIED will suck you in and send you spinning with the battles. You’ll love seeing words used as weapons, and you’ll never stop considering the wounds they inflict.” (Nov. 19 at 9:30 p.m.; filmmakers in attendance.)

For a complete schedule and ticket info visit riotheatre.ca.

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