Sydney Underground Film Festival 2015 - feature highlights!


Fri Sept 18, 8:30pm (Cinema 4) & Sun Sept 20, 3pm (Cinema 3)

Based on the hard truths of one Arielle Holmes (who plays herself, as Harley) who penned her exploits under the title Mad Love in New York City, and capturing the raw essence of a junkie’s life on the streets Heaven Knows What is a grim study of desperate love and the inherent loneliness that shrouds such a fragile existence. It is the mundane routine of searching for the next fix, the angry chaos that spikes the day-to-day grind, and the small jagged pleasures of those heroin hits. Directing brothers Josh and Benny Safdie bring the kind of powerful authenticity that hasn’t been seen since the likes of Paul Morrissey. It’s the kind of movie that begs you to ask why am I watching such depressing squalor and yet there is an elusive beauty that permeates this contemporary tale that floats timelessly and tragically. Caleb Landry Jones co-stars as Harley’s volatile boyfriend Ilya, the other object of her affections.



Sat Sept 19, 10:30pm (Cinema 3)

Taking five years to make (I was wondering why Frozen artwork was appearing in the background of so many shots) Adam Green’s mockumentary (and, indeed, the tongue is definitely lodged in cheek) is a highly entertaining monster movie collaboration with artist Alex Pardee who specialises in depicting all manner of grotesque beasts from other realms. In this case, Green and his production partner and cameraman Will Barrett follow a nutcase by the name of William Dekker (Ray Wise) who knows where the monsters hide, underground in The Marrow. Digging Up the Marrow melds the found footage sub-genre with the basic concept of Clive Barker’s Nightbreed and comes out with an amusing treatise on just what are monsters? There are some genuinely tense and creepy moments, even if it’s hard to see what the hell is going on in the thick of the darkness. Turns out Green is quite the comedian, whilst Wise is obviously relishing his inspired lunacy with aplomb. And those Pardee monsters are something else! 


Fri Sept 18, 6:30pm (Cinema 3) & Sat Sept 19, 10:30pm (Cinema 2)

Quite possibly the most original horror movie of the year, certainly the most brazenly surrealistic, and I soaked it up with glee.  The hardworking Canuck Bruce McDonald returns to the horror genre, after the existential Pontypool, and delivers one hell of a cool ride. This is the Halloween concept I came up with twenty-five years ago, dammit! A teenager, Dora (an excellent Chloe Rose), is left to fend off a bunch of demons in the guise of masked children, who are after more than just lollipops and chocolate. There are no treats here, just nasty tricks. It looks and feels like End of Days, the sky awash in red, and the trusty town sheriff (Robert Patrick in perfect grizzled mode) might not have what it takes to protect our pregnant angel. A brilliant original score by Todor Kobakov & Ian LeFeuvre soaks the movie in a truly nightmarish atmosphere. Think Dario Argento and Lamberto Bava trapped in an American cul-de-sac on All Hallow’s Eve. There’ll definitely be tears before bedtime, and there will be blood. Hellions is definitely one of my favourites for the year! 


Fri Sept 18, 8:30pm (Cinema 1) & Sun Sept 20, 5pm (Cinema 4)

Sick of rom-coms? The Baine brothers will provide you with the perfect cure. This is one dark romance, black as a kettle, the comedy smeared in coal, the kisses tasting of copper. A date flick for the sexually adventurous, a horror movie for the lonely-hearts, Nina Forever is sarcastic, and oh, so sweet. Ben and Chris have made numerous shorts, but now they apply their talents to a feature and the result is one of the best fucked-up genre flicks of recent years. Rob (Cian Barry) is struggling to deal with the accidental death of his girlfriend, Nina (Fiona O’Shaughnessy). He meets Holly (Abigail Hardingam), who almost immediately takes his mind off Nina. Until Nina’s broken and bloody body materializes through the sheets of Rob’s bed whilst he’s making love to Holly, and proceeds to spout her displeasure. Holly is bewildered, and Rob is in despair. Holly and Rob want to be together, so they need to deal with Nina. Yes, deal with Nina. With excellent performances, and a striking narrative and visual style (sensual!) the Baine brothers have created quite the exploration of identity and affection. Just who is screwing with who?  


All Sydney Underground Film Festival screenings are at The Factory, Marrickville. Tickets and complete information available from the site, click here