Canadian Film Fest Double Feature:
The blood-curdling horror movie, The Heretics, just made its world premiere at the Canadian Film Fest. It’s great to see an inspired piece of genre cinema grace the festival with its haunting presence. Directed by Chad Archibald and written by Jayme LaForest, The Heretics balances a mid-80’s, B-movie-schlock type vibe with the measured psychological horror style seen recently in Robert Eggers’, The Witch.
The film focuses on Gloria (Nina Kiri), a young woman struggling to deal with traumatic events from her past. Gloria finds solace in a local women’s support group and in the arms of her best friend and lover, Joan (Jorja Cadence). The night before the lovebird’s anniversary, a disturbed man named Thomas (Ry Barrett) abducts Gloria. Thomas takes Gloria to an abandoned cabin, places her in shackles, and claims it’s for her own good. Gloria grows sicker with each passing moment and it becomes clear that her illness is rooted in the supernatural. As Gloria’s friends and family search for her, the audience is left to wonder who they should root for.
Does the film work? Only some of the time. In The Heretics, stiff performances, clunky dialogue, and painful exposition dumps are in no short supply. Fortunately, the film doesn’t strive to be Hamlet. Archibald does a great job infusing every moment with a bone-chilling sense of dread. You can feel every drop of the blood, sweat, and tears he poured into this project. Archibald’s deep love and respect for the genre manages to come through, even when the film stumbles.
The Heretics is a gnarly slow-burner that aims to please genre movie fans. The film takes its time revving its engines but once it kicks into gear, the movie revels in its unholy subject matter.
Sordid Cinema turned this year’s Canadian Film Fest coverage into a genre movie double feature. Lost Solace, by director Chris Scheuerman, is a “sci-fi-ish” thriller which explores the nature of psychopathy. If you’re into (SPOILERS) Rust Cohle style philosophical debates about light versus dark, then Lost Solace may be just the film for you.
The story follows Spence Cutler (Andrew Jenkins), a ruthless man unmoored from society’s governing laws. Spence bulldozes his way through people and relationships like a snow plow smashing through a patch of road after a blizzard. He is a textbook psychopath and his lack of remorse makes him perfect at playing on people’s insecurities so he can rob them silly.
Spence sets his sights on Azaria, a faun-like young mark whose naivety is overshadowed only by her father’s bank account. All goes according to plan until two things happen: A hot new street drug accidentally imbues Spence with feelings and Azaria’s brother Jory (Charlie Kerr) sees through his facade. Spence must learn to deal with actual human emotions while he attempts to pull off the biggest score of his rotten life.
Philosophers have examined the root of good and evil for thousands of years. Like Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, Scheuerman uses a sci-fi lens to recontextualize those age-old debates. While the answers may be unknowable, our desire to understand these profound questions helps inform the way we treat one another. Scheuerman doesn’t shy away from placing the viewer in uncomfortable situations in order to help them form their own conclusions.
Lost Solace is an intriguing film. Yet, I do suspect that for many, this movie will pose a difficult watch. Lost Solace spotlights an unlikable protagonist, leaving the film’s thematic appeal to keep viewers invested. If you don’t mind spending 106-minutes with a human leech, the thought-provoking material should hold your interest.
For more information on the 2017 Canadian Film Fest go to www.canfilmfest.ca