The 2016 Buffalo Dreams Fantastic Film Festival is officially in the books. It’s been a long, but exhilarating 10 days complete with a myriad of films than span a multitude of genres. If you’ve been following our social media, then you’ve already seen every micro review done for the fest this year, but just in case you haven’t been or maybe just missed one or two, we wanted to make sure there was a singular master post containing all 15 reviews of feature films that we reviewed at BDFFF. We had hoped to do more, but time constraints limited us to 15 for now, with the hope of a few more in the days to come, so keep an eye out for additional reviews on our social media feed which can all be identified with the “Bro Knows BDFFF” insignia on them. This has been a blast, and watch out for our official recap the fest which should be up in the next day. In the recap we hand out our own awards as well as list the ones the fest handed out. For now, enjoy the master list of the micro reviews we’ve completed to date, and support your locally made films and filmmakers as well as local festivals.
‘Reunion’ is a well meaning, well written story, whose execution become extremely problematic. Definitely not reinventing the wheel, the paint by numbers outline is bolstered with an excess of variable plot twists that create a unique vision of a classic genre. However solid the story may be, the film fails miserably on production. The sound design is a complete disaster, swapping from different ADR tack lines in one sentence, and eliminating any and all emotion that could have be feigned from the lackluster cast. ‘Reunion’ can take solace in the performances of Maria Olsen and Ruth Reynolds who coincidentally play the same character. Both are amazing, and carry a sincere duality that provokes visceral emotional attachment. This film is a mess, but Reynolds and Olsen make it worth while.
2.2/5 Do Better Bro
‘Diverge’ is a sci-fi drama revolving around time travel, the single messiest sub genre there is. There are a lot of heavy thematics at play here, but none are explored to a degree that leads to any true pay off. The bulk of the story drags its feet, leading to a lot of dull moments that offer little reprieve. The story is mired with plot holes and continuity concerns that measure from minor mishaps to full blown disorientation. The performances offer some relief, but the boorish narrative casts a dark shadow over the film. The climax doesn’t provide any alleviation, and instead raises more questions then answers. The visuals are conceptually sound but lose luster as the film moves forward. This is an intrepid attempt, but it’s many pitfalls appear to keep this film from achieving its goals.
2.25/5 Do Better Bro
‘Let Her Out’ is a Canadian body horror film of sorts, that deals with some supernatural elements. The effects, and the overall production value are top notch, leading to a film that looks the part of high concept horror, but the story drags between moments of terror, and feels a bit monotonous. There are certainly scenes that manage to dredge up real frights, but it’s difficult to shake the feeling that you’ve seen this, all too many times before. The performances are serviceable, though not transcendent, and some of the shifting comes and goes to abruptly. Exposition isn’t always necessary, but the films opening sequence alludes to a more macabre narrative that never felt explored. The value of the visuals will ensure this film finds an audience, but the story will divide that audience, leaving much to be desired.
2.75/5 Do Better Bro
‘Attack of The Killer Shrews’ is the definition of micro budget. A movie shot for almost nothing, proving the adage – you get what you pay for. The opening credits are fantastic. The stop motion claymation style is an eye catching method to draw the audience in, only to slowly let them down. The film has a perplexing pace which stops and goes so much, you’ll need a neck brace. The story is an absurd rip on an absurd classic monster movie, and the effects, which are laughable by design, are still poor. The continuity is broken multiple times, and the acting, save for the performances of the two lead protagonists, is.. not great. Even with all of that, this is somehow still fun. It’s campy, ridiculous, over the top-low brow fun. One thing is certain, you won’t soon forget this movie. Shrews will stick with you, one way or another, whether you like it or not.
2.75/5 Do Better Bro
‘Dead Bullet’ is a dusty film noir set in sin city. Following some of the same beats you might find in a ‘No Country For Old Men’, this film struggles to find its own unique identity. The narrative never feels complete, and there are some nuances and subtleties that miss the target in terms of effect. That said, this is a beautiful movie to watch. It’s very cinematic and the desert landscape plays like a separate character. The different arrangements and set pieces all feel authentic. The cast all have a palpable chemistry and feed off one another, and the characters are well rounded and organically reactionary. ‘Dead Bullet’ succeeds as a visually vibrant performance vehicle, but it’s paint by numbers approach to story telling, prevent this film from greatness.
3.0/5 Not Bad Bro
‘Bed of The Dead’ is a manic supernatural horror film revolving around, you guessed it, an evil bed. Don’t let the basic premise and silly title fool you though, this is a surprisingly smart story. It certainly feels like an adaptation of the 2013 wide release movie ‘Oculus’, only involving a bed instead of mirror. It loses points for originality, but the performances are all solid, including those from the very strong female leads. There is some attempt to add layering and depth, and the development is carefully orchestrated, but the film still lacks its own distinct flare, and sort of feels like a rehash of other, more successful films that have preceded it. While not perfect by any stretch, it still twists and turns enough to keep you engaged throughout.
3.2/5 Not Bad Bro
‘The Dark Tapes’ is an immersive anthology style horror, akin the the V/H/S series. Comprised of a through line story, and another 4 shorts, this offering is both hit and miss. There are certainty some solid scares to be had, but as far as a developed plot, this anthology is batting .500. The production value and performances are all serviceable, but half of the anthology narratives are a complete wash. ‘Cam Girls’ is just no good, and the other poor insert is ‘Amanda’s revenge’. Even so, the shortened segments allowing for fresh perspectives every 10-15 minutes work. The sound design and make up effects are all solid, and this is a well manicured vision. ‘The Dark Tapes’ is a fun little horror flick that produces genuine frights about half the time.
3.45/5 Not Bad Bro
‘Two For One’ is a delightful and emotionally resilient story of love, loss, and responsibility. Telling a somber tale, that carefully weaves the tragedy of 9/11 and how the atypical family dynamic can challenge the soul. Striking some heavy blows on a myriad of important topics, ‘Two For One’ finds levity in some brilliant comedic performances, with precise timing that keeps the audience engaged, without losing it’s message. Director Jon Abrahams manages to capture the spirit of Buffalo in every frame while also provoking a sincere emotional response, that can feel manipulative at times, but manages to resonate all the same.
3.75/5 Pretty Cool Bro
‘Massacre On Aisle 12’ is an absolutely insane, and absurd horror comedy, that will have you bent over, gasping for air, for pretty much the entire film. This micro budget horror produces one side splitting quip after the next, in an unrelenting effort to make you wet yourself. No one is safe from the wildly offensive humor that sticks it to literally every race, creed and color. It’s very cosmopolitan in its derogatorily abusive narrative. The visuals and effects are lacking, but are supplemented with incredible comedic performances. The cast are all maniacally hilarious, and the film is full of strange innuendo. This is definitely not for the faint of heart, or the easily offended, but it’s an absolute blast of a story, that will have you grinning ear to ear long after the credits roll.
3.8/5 Pretty Cool Bro
‘Secret Santa’ is a low budget grind-house style horror film, that nails the look and feel of the classics. It’s absurd, over acted, funny, and even a little scary. Plenty of blood and carnage to be had here. While the story is thin, the antagonist is a little hokey and contextually makes very little sense, and the performances are delightfully laughable, that sort of seems the aim of the filmmaker. This is recycled story that re creates some of the magic of old school genre films like ‘Black Christmas’. The sepia tone scratched up visuals, complete with some humorous cues from the score, only add to the mayhem. This is a fun little Christmas horror that envelops the spirit of its predecessors, and provides some nostalgia along the way.
3.8/5 Pretty Cool Bro
‘Midnight Delight’ is an anthology conversation piece–revolving around strange encounters between various groups of people while at a smoking lounge. Comprised of 9 vignettes, the result is surprisingly exhilarating. Each encounter had its own unique perspective, and the arbitrary conversations are all organic, and flow as such. The characters all feel very real for the most part, and it’s this unique authenticity that makes this play out like a humorous documentary. The performances don’t really feel like performances at all, and the direction lacks flare, but bolsters a surreal look into conversations between strangers, who happen to be baked out of their minds. This feels like a much better, more surreal Gary Marshall film, all about pot, and the amusing encounters of real life strangers.
3.85/5 Pretty Cool Bro
‘#Screamers‘ is a functionally well manicured found footage horror film, that uses the niche genre in a meta approach that provides a unique perspective. Electing to spend a bulk of the narrative on pertinent character development, the audience is granted passage to subtle nuances that similar genre films neglect to portray. The basis for the film isn’t profoundly original, but it is still immersive enough to warrant genuine scares. The eerie atmosphere is bolstered by an impressively creepy setting and back story. The performances all ring organic, and the terror is condensed to a to a tension filled climactic third act that will keep you on the edge of your seat. This is an impressively acted, genuinely frightening horror film with vibrant production and a surprisingly distinctive take on found footage.
3.9/5 Pretty Cool Bro
‘Finish Line: The Rise and Demise of Off-Track Betting‘ is an incredibly informative documentary about the controversial story behind the fall of a betting empire. Brilliantly told through the testimony of those who lived through the end of an era, the organic first hand accounts of the very employees left shattered after a scandalous and potentially corrupt decision reducing OTB to rubble, are endearing and tragic. This could have easily faltered and morphed into a vanity project, but director Joseph Fusco’s passion is what elevates this beyond the ordinary. Extremely well documented journalistic piece, detailing a story that deserves an audience.
4.0/5 EPIC BRO
‘Shortwave’ is an amalgamation of several different genres. It has elements of sci-fi, horror, drama, and human interest all methodically weaved into one intricate and cerebral narrative that will scare the living crap out of you, while evoking a visceral emotional connection. Dealing in Lovecraftian metaphors and a scientific authenticity that only adds to the depth, this is an incredibly tense and thrilling story that will leave you in a cold sweat. Expertly crafted, director Ryan Gregory Phillips channels his inner James Wan to dial up the frights, with a unique vision that leaves you hanging on every frame. The film carries some 3rd act continuity concerns, but the remarkable visuals and distinct story helps keep things in perspective. Simply put, ‘Shortwave’ is an emotionally charged, electric experience that will stay with you.
4.2/5 EPIC BRO
‘Tonight She Comes’ is an electrifying homage to classic slasher horror. With shades of early Craven and Sam Raimi, this is one insane gore fest complete with some the best practical effects you will likely see in any horror movie this decade. This is a masochists dream film, compete with buckets of blood, boatloads of nudity and one shocking twist after the next. Deciding not to muddy the waters with derivative exposition, filmmaker Matt Stuertz leaves some of the story to the audiences imagination, which creates an atmosphere where each viewer has their own unique experience. This is classic horror at it’s finest, and should skyrocket to cult status.
4.25/5 EPIC BRO