Posts by Billy Ray Brewton

I Worked for One Day in the Southern California Wilderness on THE ENDLESS and All I Got Was This Lousy Awesome Science Fiction Flick

Picture it: Southern California, 2016. It’s late at night and I’m sitting in the editing bay (also known as a random building at camp) of The Endless, watching Resolution, the first film from Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead. I’m here to shoot a scene as “Dale,” some character that has been referenced in their previous films. I don’t know much other than that. I’m taking the time to watch Resolution because I’ve never seen it before and the producer of both films, Dave Lawson, has sent me a copy. It’s my research. My research for my lineless cameo. Because, when
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FANTASIA 2017: TRAGEDY GIRLS

I’m not sure where I stand with Tragedy Girls. Maybe I’ll have a better understanding by the time I finish this review. I have always been a proponent of films that make you root for the bad guys, and films that make you question yourself in how you’re reacting to certain characters and situations – but there is a line that Tragedy Girls crosses that…I don’t know. I’m not sure if it made me appreciate the full-on balls to the wall approach of the filmmaker, or check out of the film because the last shred of humanity had been sucked
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REVIEW: DUNKIRK

I’ve never been someone you want to engage with in a discussion about Christopher Nolan. For me, he’s always been one of those “middle of the road” filmmakers. I don’t love him enough to get excited about his work, and don’t dislike him enough to tear it down. I actually think, for a filmmaker, that’s the worst place to reside. I’ve found films like The Prestige and Memento to be solid and inventive films, but lacking in emotional engagement. I’ve found films like The Dark Knight and Inception to be good, mostly entertaining pictures that fell victim to an onslaught
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FANTASIA 2017: BITCH

The name “Marianna Palka” should be known by more people. The very fact that it isn’t makes my heart hurt in a substantial way. Most people know Palka more as an actress, most recently as Reggie in the Netflix series GLOW, but her work as a writer/director has produced two of the most original and rewarding independent films of the past decade: 2008’s Good Dick and her new film, Bitch, which I saw at the Chattanooga Film Festival but is currently playing at Fantasia International Film Festival via the fine folks at SpectreVision. Bitch was the ‘film of the festival’ for
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FANTASIA 2017: BETTER WATCH OUT

Nothing gets me excited quite like a Christmas horror film. Black Christmas is the gold standard, but other films like Silent Night, Deadly Night and Child’s Play have kept the sub-genre alive and kicking.  But we don’t get many, at least not quality ones. Krampus exceeded all expectations and we haven’t really seen any since. Enter Better Watch Out, which is sort of what happens when you take Home Alone, mix it with Funny Games, and spice it up with The Bad Seed. Shot in Australia but set in an everyday American town, Better Watch Out is a vicious little
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FANTASIA 2017: GAME OF DEATH

A new horror movie about millennials’ heads exploding? Sign me up any day of the week and twice on Sunday. Game of Death is the movie in question, and it’s another horror flick by way of those horror masterminds…the French Canadians? In truth, Canada has produced some terrific little horror gems the past few years and Game of Death continues that trend. It’s a gruesome, blood-soaked symphony of violence, accompanied almost the entire time by a bad-ass synth score from Julien Mineau that helps make the film seem almost as if it’s one extended sequence, though it’s certainly not. We
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FANTASIA 2017: SUPER DARK TIMES

I am a sucker for a coming-of-age flick. Always have been. I remember being ten-years-old and weeping like a willow when Vada walked up to Thomas Jay’s casket in My Girl; or when Gordie had his breakdown in Stand By Me; or when Charlie hit the dance floor in The Perks of Being a Wallflower. That kind of thing just sets my cinematic ship sailing. And, while it’s difficult to classify Super Dark Times as a coming-of-age film, they share many themes and situations that feel right at home in that sub-genre, that is until they are bludgeoned to death.
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REVIEW: THE BIG SICK

I have always had this one rule that has been a sort of trigger while watching a movie: if this one thing happens, the film is going to be awful. One rule. It gets broken; I check out. And that rule is: if a film shows any part of Night of the Living Dead, I’m done. Why? Because it’s the easiest thing in the world to show, because it’s public domain, and it’s the instantaneous choice. As a filmmaker, I’ve used it myself and it took zero creativity and zero effort. Early in this film, Kumail has taken Emily back
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FANTASIA 2017: THE HONOR FARM

“If we shadows have offended, think but this and all is mended; that you have but slumbered here, while these visions did appear.” Those, of course, are Puck’s famous words from Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. And, having sat through all 74-minutes of Karen Skloss’s bizarre fever dream of a film, it seems like the most accurate comparison. The Honor Farm isn’t a horror film. It isn’t even a thriller. It’s a dreamlike tale of teenage angst, feminine discovery, and the idea of using rituals to create an alternate reality. I could see a lot of people being turned off
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REVIEW: WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES

When you’re watching a film that is, essentially, a battle between apes and humans, and you’re rooting for the apes, you know the filmmaker has done something right. That filmmaker is Matt Reeves and the ‘something’ he has done right is a trilogy that ranks right up there with the greatest of all-time. It’s certainly the most consistent franchise in existence right now and War for the Planet of the Apes closes out his trilogy with the sort of accomplishment and energy that almost seems too good to be true. When so many franchises get mired down in missteps, it’s
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