Fantastic Fest: Ex-Drummer, Sauna, Deadgirl, and The Substitute Reviewed

14 straight hours at the Alamo Drafthouse after my first day, and I’m back to spread the word. I’ll start with my favorites and work down.

 Ex-Drummer – If this movie was in English, and had all the X-rated parts cut out, it would be a sensation on par with Memento or Trainspotting. It’s a primal thrash of a movie that takes the punk aesthetic to new levels, while remaining as complex as a Bergman film. The director Mortier looks like he could be the next cinematic visionary from Europe. Sordid characters: check. Offensive in every way possible: check. Excellent soundtrack: check.  Can’t wait to see it again: checkmate.  Rating: 9/10

The Substitute – Elementary school-age kids in Denmark suspect their new teacher is an alien. Here’s the entertaining little Danish brother of The Faculty, but with a flawless presentation, and a hell of a lot funnier. Ending had potential to be much better, so Goonies is safe for now.  Rating: 8/10

Deadgirl – I’m not sure how this picked up a most-likely to-get-distribution award when it is about zombiephilia, which is essentially necrophilia. Well, maybe because it very a well-done and clever movie, with a great cast and soundtrack. Shiloh Fernandez in the lead role looks like a young cross between Brando and Depp, and has the charisma to go with it.  A daring, lurid movie that feminists could sink their teeth into.  Rating: 7/10   

Sauna – Heres a Finnish horror movie with plenty of atmospherics and great photography that is edited in a very challenging manner. It is difficult enough to quickly apprehend the complex political and religious history of Finland that the movie revolves around. There are some chilling scenes here, but they are surrounded by either plot holes or moments lost in translation.  Rating: 6/10



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