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Movie Reviews: Dances with Films Festival premieres: Driven, Would You Like to Try Again? and Wowzers

In this creep column, I’m focusing my putrid peepers on three vastly different flicks that will be prancin’ across the sinful silver screen this month at the Dances with Films Festival!

Playing Saturday, June 15th at 11:45 pm at TCL Chinese Theatre is:

Driven (2019)

Ride share fright flicks are en vogue these days; and as a relatively new phenomena they are ripe for exploration and fresh ideas, and Driven exemplifies this fully!

Emerson (Casey Dillard who also wrote and co-produced the film) is havin’ the usual ass-pain of a night schlepping around various annoying fares, but things take a turn for the batshit when she picks up Roger (Richard Speight Jr.). You see Rog-baby is lookin’ to dump off a curse handed down through the generations, and now he and E-dawg are in for a night of supernatural shenanigans as they attempt to confront a preternatural evil. Sounds like a Tuesday to your’s cruelly…

The lions share of what makes Driven so successful is the chemistry and interplay between Speight Jr. and Dillard. These cats have infinitely interactions, and the dialog they deliver is top-notch…which is a damn good thing because a shit-ton of this flick features these two parking their asses within the confines of a car.

Speaking of that car, it’s kind of amazing the mileage Director Glenn Payne and Cinematographer Michael Williams get out of that setting. The quarters are close and claustrophobic making our two disparate leads unable to get away from each other…but the lighting and deft camera work keep things interesting and off-kilter no matter how contained the environment may be.

And for all the tension and horror biz at hand, it should be mentioned that Driven is a horror comedy, and a damn funny one at that…but it still manages to keep the spookshow goodness front and center…which as readers of my wicked words will know is no easy balancing act to perform!

All in all, Driven is a fantastic flick full of ancient evil, snark, and heart and shouldn’t be missed by horror hounds that dig on a lil’ humor with their horror!

 

 

Next up on Sunday, June 16th at 2:45pm at TCL Chinese Theatre 6 we get:

Would You Like to Try Again? (2019)

Jennifer (Kate Buatti) decides to beat feet from her unhappy home after receiving some static from her sister Rachel (Olivia Stuck) after a family tragedy. She finds her way to the local arcade; or more precisely the back room of said structure where a seemingly supernatural arcade cabinet lies in wait. Our heroine soon succumbs to the strange machine who’s game may offer her a way to make peace with herself.

Running a scant ten minutes, Would You Like to Try Again? packs enough emotion, nostalgia, and heartfelt sentiment into it’s brief runtime than one would expect…and this results in one hell of a satisfying viewing experience; especially for those of us that sought escape in the pizza scented game palaces where we could be the heroes we could never be in real life…as long as our quarter supply held out.

Writer/Director Michael Felker manages to give equal time to both drama and retro-tinged aesthetics, and sprinkles a lil’ bit of sci-fi goodness on top of the whole affair and he handles all of it masterfully, as do Buatti and Stuck as our beleaguered siblings. Also of note is the gorgeous cinematography provided by Carissa Dorson that gives the proceedings a rich, slick veneer that makes the film look simply gorgeous.

Packed with heart, a sense of the importance of family, a hint of The Twilight Zone, and good ol’ video games; Would You Like to Try Again? is a bite-sized piece of cinematic magic that shouldn’t be missed!

 

 

Finally on Friday, June 21st at 11:45 PM playing at TCL Chinese Theater 1 is:

Wowzers (2019)

Jacqueline (Sam Fox, who also co-wrote the picture along with Director Ace Thor) is havin’ a bit of an “episode”…her home life is a shambles, and her nightmares are even worse! You see, our heroine gets lost in her own subconscious as she traverses a psychedelic landscape (seriously, this shizz could be chroma-keyed behind the Ozz-man in an old Sabbath video and no one would bat an eerie eye) before ending up at a nightclub (the eponymous Wowzers) where psycho-sexual BDSM, pig masks, and chess (one night in bangCOCK indeed…I’ve been waiting my whole life to write that…hey set them goals low kids and you’ll reap great rewards, so says Confucius XIII) are the order of the day…err, night is more accurate I guess. Will our heroine be able to survive her dark ride into her own soul?

Comprised of a fever-dream aesthetic done to absolute perfection; Wowzers could best be described as the result of David Lynch dry humping Dario Argento and then using Panos Cosmatos’ cum rag to towel off (use that as your pull quote, I dare ya)…but make no mistake; Fox and Thor deliver a unique vision all their own that manages to have plenty to say on the darkness of desire and being in touch with the full spectrum of one’s self, while still tickling our putrid peepers with rich, surreal colors and images.

If I had to pick a negative with Wowsers, it would be it’s length. This is a short film, but it runs forty minutes. Think I’m going to bitch about that being too long for a short? Nope, rather I wish they’d shot a bit more and made this flick a full feature because I enjoyed my stay in this dark dream realm so damn much!

While admittedly not for everyone (like my whole fuckin’ column truth be told); Wowsers has plenty to offer for lovers of the more off-the-wall entries in our beloved horror biz, and I’d highly recommend it for fine fiends that dig on the works of any of the film makers I name dropped up yonder!

 

 

 

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