Saturday, October 6, 2012

DC APA Film Fest 2012 - Night 2 Late Show - I Am A Ghost; The Company of Thieves

Movie: I Am A Ghost

The late night showing on night two of the DC APA Film Festival had a completely different vibe from the light comedy of the early show.  This was the horror showcase, and it ended up being much scarier than I was anticipating.  I really enjoy horror movies, so this wasn’t really a problem for me, but the creepiness really snuck up on me.  It’s a pretty impressive feat to catch a fan of horror movies off guard these days.  I watch a lot of scary movies, and it seems like the twist endings are all the same.  But, director H.P Mendoza really managed to shake things up with this feature film, I Am A Ghost.
As you may have gathered from the title, this is a ghost story.  But, Mendoza takes a fresh new spin on this genre by telling us right up front that the main character is dead.  Emily is a Victorian woman, and she’s been haunting her old home ever since she died.  She goes about her everyday routine over and over again, but she doesn’t stop to think about why she can’t move on or leave this house until she is contacted by a medium.  Sylvia has been hired by the home’s new owners, and she acts as a sort of therapist to try and help Emily discover and confront the mysteries from her past that are tying her to this house.  The film starts off very low-key and unthreatening as it follows Emily through her daily chores.  But, gradually the endless repetition starts to take on a very sinister tone as it becomes clear that this woman has no awareness of how long she’s been repeating the very same simple tasks.  And, this feeling of unease gradually builds throughout the film to all-out horror by the end.  The movie is absolutely terrifying, and the story will keep you guessing at every step.  In fact, the film is so packed with information that I’m going to want to watch it again to see if I can figure out more of the symbolism and little twists along the way.

If you enjoy horror movies you aren’t going to want to miss this one.  It’s been ages since I’ve seen a film with as many fresh ideas and surprises as this one has.  In the Q&A session after the screening, H.P. Mendoza even mentioned that he wrote this story in response to the many thin, disappointing horror films that are currently floating around out there.  I was definitely impressed.  Especially since he made this film with a very low budget, and a skeleton crew.  I’m definitely going to want to check out more of Mendoza’s other work, and I’ll be excited to see what he makes in the future.

Movie: The Company of Thieves

The feature film was preceded by this vicious, little, short film about revenge, and just how costly that kind of retribution can really be.  Director Shilpa Sunthankar tells a story about making a deal with the Devil.  That guy offers some pretty tempting bargains, but if legend has taught us anything, it’s that the Devil really can’t be trusted.  He’s always got some loophole, or clever interpretation that makes the deals wind up in his favor.  But, this is a story about thieves.  They’re an impulsive and greedy lot, and they aren’t really known for being deep thinkers.  And, that’s how the Devil likes it.  This is a very witty short film, and it’s got plenty of excitement to keep you on the edge of your seat.  The film is gorgeously shot and moves along at just the right pace.  And, it was the perfect pairing for this late night showcase’s dark, nasty theme. 

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