Friday, 26 October 2018


After Day One's mixture of Cage rage and Michael Myers mayhem, what did Day Two have in store for the Celluloid Screams crowd? Read on...


Loved-up couple Jackie (Hannah Emily Anderson) and Jules (Brittany Allen) head out to a remote woodland location to celebrate their first wedding anniversary and all is going swimmingly until a visitor unwittingly lets slip a piece of information about Jackie which will have Jules questioning everything she knows - or thinks she knows - about her wife...

I've been careful to say as little as I can about the plot because the less you know going into What Keeps You Alive the more you'll enjoy it. Just over 20 minutes in there's a breathtaking surprise in store (I think most of the Celluloid Screams audience had the same "WTF?" reaction I had) and from there on it's fun to just roll with the story to see exactly where it heads next.

Strong performances from Anderson and Allen (both excellent in very different ways, but I can't tell you what those ways are) anchor the somewhat outlandish cirumstances to a bedrock of chilling plausibility, not to mention keeping the tension simmering nicely. There's also plenty of cracking, darkly comic dialogue to be savoured. I just can't tell you what that is for fear of giving something, anything away.

Writer/director Colin Minihan piles on the twists and turns to such an extent that by the end you might feel it's possibly taken one or two too many plot swerves but that's a very minor gripe about a film which confidently raises the suspense stakes time after time. See it and be thoroughly entertained by all of the things I can't tell you about in this mini-review, then you'll know exactly why I'm being so frustratingly light on detail here.

You're getting no more from me on this subject. Go watch.


Gay porn film producer Anne (Vanessa Paradis) is having relationship trouble with her editor/lover Loïs (Kate Moran) but that's nothing compared to trouble she's about to face when one of her actors is brutally murdered. Using the ongoing police investigation as the inspiration to make a more ambitious adult movie, Anne is fully aware that everyone is a potential suspect or victim as the masked murderer sets about making their own cuts to those involved...

Knife+Heart's refreshingly different setting provides the perfect backdrop to a stylish, giallo-inflected treat, packed with extravagant characters and lurid killings, all sumptuously filmed in gorgeous 35mm, its musical heart driven by a pounding M83 synth score. Paradis is excellent in a complex role and the film-within-a-film's cast are brought to flamboyant life, particularly Nicolas Maury as the sympathetic but no-nonsense Archibald.

The third act, true to the classic examples of the subgenre, dials up the weirdness even more as the killer's background and motives are slowly revealed, culiminating in their attempt to complete their peculiar plan at a cinema where Anne is watching one of her previous productions.

To say I'm a giallo fan is something of an understatement so Un Couteau Dans Le Coeur (to use its French title) was high on my list of must-sees at the festival and it did not disappoint in the slightest. All the elements are present and correct - psychological horror, dreamy interludes, graphic bloodshed and sexploitation - and these seem to be more at home than ever in the close-knit community portrayed here.

The sexuality of the characters is not a big deal here, thank goodness. Yes, I did notice a comment on social media referring to the number of blowjobs in this film but a) they're tastefully framed, b) they're filming an adult movie, that kind of thing is going to happen and c) they're so incidental to the story that I'm not sure why anyone would focus on them. This is a deftly crafted, naturalistic portrayal of the dynamics between a group of LGBT people who just happen to be making porn. Some of us need to grow the fuck up and appreciate the view from elsewhere.

Okay, lecture over. Knife+Heart is beautiful, bloody and brilliant. It has the brutal murders and all of the strangeness you'd expect but it also possesses real warmth and heart plus a welcome dash of intentional comedy. How could you not embrace something that has a character called the Mouth Of Gold?


Five people (well, six to be totally accurate as one segment features a couple) wander into a spooky theatre and, once inside, they're each treated to a short movie they probably weren't expecting. The film they're watching features themselves in a tale of terror and chances are it's not going to be "the feelgood movie of the year"...

As a fan of portmanteau movies - especially the Amicus ones such as Asylum and Tales From The Crypt - and with knowledge of the remarkable directorial talent involved I have to admit that I went into this one secretly hoping that it would be great. Unfortunately, I came out of it feeling more than a little deflated.

As with any example of this type, the individual segments should take different approaches (which they do) which means they'll land in different ways (which they do) and as long as the hit-to-miss ratio is acceptably high I don't see how that's an issue. I really didn't expect five classics and nor should I have. Here, out of the five stories, I really enjoyed one, liked one, tried hard to like one but couldn't quite manage to and didn't really care about the other two.

Yes, there's gore aplenty and although there are a number of intriguing ideas bubbling under the surface these take flight very rarely, which means that a particular story ends up going absolutely nowhere, another stops pretty much dead with little revelation while another falls back on having a lot of people meeting bloody ends.

Also, the overarching device - involving Mickey Rourke as the projectionist of the titular theatre - is frustratingly underdeveloped and I would have liked his character to have been fleshed out a little more. Well, make that fleshed out at all. The potential to showcase a great character is pretty much thrown away as all he really ends up doing is pointing out to each unfortunate cinemagoer just how screwed they are.

I wanted to love this so much and it's incredibly frustrating to me that I didn't (judging by the chatter after the screening I'm sure many people rated it highly). I still think there's mileage in the concept though and despite the fact that this missed the mark for me I'm not averse to a Nightmare Cinema 2 with new stories and directors.

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