[MOTELx 2017] A European Action Thriller And A Teenage Trip Down Memory Lane Make The Fifth Day of MOTELx

At the day before last of MOTELx — Lisbon International Horror Film Festival, you could start to hear certain mummurs regarding the variety of this year’s programming, that on its 11th edition, bet of a different set of films. But then again, the film panorama is constantly shifting into new ventures, and just like previous years, this MOTELx is running strong.

Starting the day off with Bliss, a Filipino production about a burnt out actress that suffered an accident while shooting her latest film. As she recovers, she realizes that she’s stuck in a house with no exit, while dealing with certain people in her life and a very suspicious nurse, in a film where director Jerrold Tarog explores the pressure and psychology of fame.

In this thriller, with a few supernatural elements, we accompany Jane and the demons that torment her hard life, in the rise to fame. To new audiences, the concept of following your dreams in an industry like this, might hinge to Hollywood, but there are more and more reports from countries in Asia, where beauty equals a career filled with cash

So here, we get a very visual taste of what the mind of someone who’s done fame her entire life and the consequences that come from pushing yourself, in a movie that will keep you guessing at every turn, leaving behind enough clues for you to figure it out.

M.F.A.

M.F.A. was a highly-anticipated film. Not only because female director Natalia Leite did an amazing job in her previous film, Bare, but because this was a new approach to the “rape and revenge” storyline that pops up from time to time in film and TV.

Francesca Eastwood plays Noelle, a art student who is seeking for her own voice, until she is raped by a classmate she found cute. She tries to do the right thing, but is quickly second guessed and labeled as a crazy person. So she decides to face her rapist and make him pay, by causing his accidental death.

The story would be over, except she finds out she’s not the only one who’s gone through a similar situation on campus, and someone is covering it up, forcing her to take justice into her own hands.

In a brilliantly written, directed and executed film, where we are mere witnesses the brutal reality in colleges, where the victims are urged to keep quiet and move on, even as they campaign the opposite.

At every step we take Noelle’s side as the new vigilante, while she juggles her art projects and classes by day, and justice serving by night, in a movie able to get your blood boiling from anger, while never falling into a clichéd version you’d see in a Law and Order episode. M.F.A. is probably of the best films I’ve seen this year.

Cold Hell (Die Hölle)

Straight out of Germany and Austria is Cold Hell (Die Hölle), a breathtaking action thriller set in the darker corners of Vienna, as Özge, a young taxi driver of Turkish origins and eager Muay Thai fighter. One day she witnesses the murder of her neighbor and is seen by a killer that won’t stop at nothing to find and kill her.

From here develops a cut-throat story of a woman trying to protect herself from whoever is after her, while dealing with the rest of her troubles in life, as police don’t believe she’s in danger. But she’s also not as fragile as she seems, entirely capable to defend herself with her martial art training.

What we have here is a thriller with an amazingly strong female lead, as actress Violetta Schurawlow fights her way throughout a quick-paced film, that takes us through an alternative view of the Austrian city, the same way we saw Paris with Liam Neeson in Taken. But Cold Hell does one up on him, because Schurawlow is unstoppable at every turn and she’s pulling all the punches for survival.

Academy Award-Winning director Stefan Ruzowitzky brings us an amazing showstopper of a film, with authentic fight scenes and car chases, a ruthless serial killer and a solid ensemble cast, with everything, and more, that we could expect from a movie of these particular characteristics.

Jason Bourne watch out, Özge Dogruol is here!

68 Kill

Liza isn’t your typical girl. Well, she is if your typical girl is a crazy, psycho, gun-wielding, woman. Chip is Liza’s boyfriend, that sees the best in her. He also shovels shit for as a job, so when the opportunity to steal 68,000$ from one of Liza’s clients, comes along, Chip sees the bad side of his sweetheart and things will never be the same ever again. This is, 68 Kill.

The plot sets off to go in the wrong direction, because we need a story and a few motivations, but what follows is a pretty crazy adventure, that is the pure definition of politically incorrect.

Naturally, stuff gets uber-crazy when Chip decides that enough is enough and maybe it’s a good idea to rethink life decisions.

What we get is a grotesque, but witty movie with two actors who could definitely use this change of pace from their TV counterparts.

It has its moments, some better than others, but it never, at any time, does it not take the path it wants to take, without thinking twice of hurting anyone’s feelings, in a way only writer and director Trent Hagga knows how to. The soundtrack also seems to help quite a lot in making the film gripping at every turn.

All in all, it’s a pretty solid film. It’s funny to watch, there’s some casual action, some crazy characters in crazier situations. In fact, I don’t think I’ve seen something is stupid-fun since Crank.

Boys In The Trees

Halloween, 1997. Grunge was a thing and internet was still something new. It’s also Corey’s last night as a high schooler, alongside his asshole best friend and their skating entourage. But when Jonah, an old school friend that’s is constantly bullied, takes Corey for a walk down memory lane, they’re both reminded of how the dark, quiet streets of the suburb really are.

As the two go through a few memories and scary stories, their friendship is slowly restored and the teenagers are faced with a few supernatural moments.

Moments these that appear at unexpected times, such as the musical homage of the popular Mexican date, Dia de Los Muertos, among other parts, where we get hints of what is really going on in this reality. Always nuanced and hardly ever obvious, once you realize where this is going, there’s really no turning back.

Possibly the best thing about this movie is its amazing ’90s soundtrack, featuring Bush and Rammstein, with the latter having quite the visual trick or treat surprise you’ll never be expecting from a movie with teenagers, and so nicely done.

When all is said and done, Boys In The Trees is a delightful not-so-teen movie to watch, with several young adult moments that are put into perspective, especially when you realize this could’ve easily been inspired by a true story from 20 years ago. For Nicholas Verso debut movie, there really couldn’t be anything as cool as this!

Sad to say, but tomorrow’s last day at MOTELx is going to be an ending with quite a blast, meeting My Friend Dahmer, Turkish gore-fest Housewife, the return of Pennywise in IT and a midnight session with Game of Death.

Originally published at creators.co on September 10, 2017.

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Ricardo Du Toit

Ricardo Du Toit

Aspirant filmmaker and pop-culture geek! Follow me on Twitter @RicardoDuToit

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