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Mayhem 2015: Day Three (Part One)

19 October 15 words: Harry Wilding, Ali Emm
Parasyte Part 1, He Never Died, and the Scary Shorts got us through to Saturday evening
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Parasyte Part 1 from Japan is an adaption of Hitoshi Iwaaki’s bodysnatcher-like graphic novels about an invasion of alien parasites that enter human hosts through their ears or noses, and take over their brain. However, our lead character, Shinichi has one burrow into his hand instead, leaving his brain intact and the totally awkward situation of having a talking alien hand.

The film is unmistakably Japanese in its theme and execution, right from the humour to the gore. It is wonderfully silly at times (well, the idea for a start) but there are also some great themes about growing up, motherhood, ethics, and what it is to be human.

The CGI isn’t great, but it somehow doesn’t matter, because it is so over the top anyway. Though, it remains grounded enough when needed, such as Shinichi’s scenes with his mother; which also never felt over-sentimental.

Splitting the film into two parts was probably a good idea, judging by how this first one was constructed – this was the origin story, like in a superhero movie, so there was time to let the characters breathe and to really get to know them as an audience. Bring on Part 2. Harry Wilding.

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Henry Rollins: built like a brick shithouse, as sardonic and dead pan as you can get, but a thoroughly nice chap. Ignoring the last point, he was the perfect person to play a cannibal in Canadian horror, He Never Died.

Living his life in a fixed routine ensures that he keeps human interaction to a bare minimum and maintains control over his cannibalistic urges. You know, like bingo, eating veggie food at a local diner, sleeping a lot, and the odd blood bag purchase from a hospital intern to quell the cravings. You wouldn’t say he’s a happy chappy, but he’s got things tied up.

A visit to his flat from some local crime syndicate thugs, plus a surprise visit from a teenaged daughter who he never knew existed, and all of a sudden his routine crumbles before his very eyes.  After what is a well-paced but slow start developing characters, it all kicks off at the end – as you’d expect – with most of the gore left to the imagination, but some great sound effects to aid you on your way.

The story isn’t exceptional, but the filmmakers' aim to create a film in which you can sympathise with a loathsome central character was pulled off. It’s also very funny, aided by Rollins’ dry as dust delivery. Although, the audience laughing at every line he delivered did detract somewhat, but that was probably quite unique to this particular screening.

So… Worth a watch? Yeah. Thoughts that with it being so character driven, it might be better as a TV series? Yeah. Going to make you laugh? If you’ve got a certain sense of humour, yeah. Just don’t invite a couple of hundred Rollins fans to your house to watch this with you, it might seem like a good idea, but it’s not. Ali Emm

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Lab Rats

The Scary Shorts, where Mayhem began, continues to be central to the festival and the quality was as high as ever.

Lab Rats (UK, David Wayman): The Nottingham, and world, premiere of this local horror film went down very well. It is the story of a few animal activists who infiltrate an animal testing lab and get more than they bargained for. Full of some great (crowd funded) gore effects, this dark comic horror was a good start to the selection.

Himiko the God Slayer Versus the Daemon Legion of Azure Dragons (Japan, Hikaru Tsukuda): A hilarious short in which Himiko, the Godslayer, fights the Guardian Gods to protect the world. The Gods in question are very obvious toy crocodiles and she destroys them with a very obvious water pistol and many many Himiko...kicks!

Ultravioleta (Spain, Paco Plaza): Although it is an idea seen a few times before, this film about a painting restorer who uncovers a sinister hidden painting is perfectly executed from the co-creator of [REC], as it is handled with the right amount of subtle build up and style.  

Solitudo (UK, Alice Lowe): A phenomenal short film from Alice Lowe (Sightseers), in her directional debut. She also wrote the film and stars as the quiet, lonely nun tending to the grounds of a ruined abbey and is terrorised by an encroaching darkness.  A haunting atmosphere is created with some beautiful cinematography, visual trickery, and an excellent score.

Surgery (UK, The Clemen Bros): A well executed, though somewhat predictable, short film which is full of some gruesome torture techniques acted upon a helpless, but perhaps deserving, young man.

The Herd (UK, Melanie Light): This short with local links is a brutal allegory for the meat and (particularly) dairy industry, in which human women are farmed in the way that cows are. It is incredibly well designed film, in terms of how it looks and how it mirrors the treatment of animals for human food and drink. I doubt it’ll make vegans out of anyone who sees it (excuses will be made) but it certainly brings the issue crashing, unapologetically, into everyone’s consciousness.

Juliet (France, Marc-Henri Boulier): A great film about A.I., in a very similar vain to the recent Channel 4 series Humans. The film is mostly told through adverts for the fully realistic sexbot, Juliet, and her subsequent updates (Juliet 2, etc) and spinoffs (Romeo etc). High production values throughout, with original storytelling and a clever ending.

Count Magnus (UK, Richard Mansfield): Another world premiere! This adaption of a classic horror story from M.R. James is done completely with shadow puppets – and very well done at that. Haunting and visually interesting.

Heir (Canada, Richard Powell): This story of fatherhood and paedophilia was well made and pretty brutal, but I’m not quite sure what it was trying to say, which made it a somewhat frustrating watch.

Kobold (Australia, Nicholas Verso): A kind of dark update of the Pied Piper, the film shows the consequences of the half arsed and distracted style of parenting your kids. Something like that anyway; it felt a bit ham fisted, but it did keep me interested enough for its seven minute running time.

Crow Hand (USA, Brian Lonano): A very funny punctuation mark on the night’s scary shorts. A man finds a crow ornament on the floor of a supermarket car park. His girlfriend warns him against picking it up, but he does not listen – with hilarious, and gory, consequences. “Croooowww Haaannnd!!!”

Parasyte Part 1, He Never Died, and Scary Shorts showed at Broadway Cinema on Saturday 17 October 2015.

Mayhem Film Festival

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