Grimmfest 2020 Online Edition – Day 5 Feature reviews

It’s the final day of Grimmfest 2020 Online Edition and here is our roundup of the closing features screening during the day.

Death Ranch

British director Charlie Steeds has proved to be one of the most prolific filmmakers from these shores, with a host of themes tackled in such a short career so far.

His latest feature Death Ranch sees him venturing into Tarantino territory with a 70s style blaxploitation action thriller.

Three African American siblings on the run from the police take refuge at an abandoned Tennessee Ranch, unaware their hideout is on the hunting grounds of a cannibalistic Ku Klux Klan cult.

Safe to say this movie does not hold back with tonnes of blood for the gorehounds but it also strikes a nice balance between OTT villains and the strong relationships between brother and sister Brandon and Angela.

It is also refreshing to see the use of practical effects, with blood and limbs flying everywhere this is another masterstroke for Steeds who must have had a ball creating this bonkers caper.

Urubu by David Dent

Ibáñez is the son of Narciso Ibañez Serrador, the Spanish film director responsible for, among other movies, the chilling ‘Who Can Kill a Child?’ (1976), which posited that very question when two English tourists confront a gang of murderous children on an island.

Ibáñez Jr frames his ‘reimagining’ of dad’s work with end credits that list the frightening statistics on children born into poverty and war and infant mortality rates in developing countries; as a documentary maker it is perhaps unsurprising that he was inspired by his father’s film and sought to contextualise his remake in this way.

Tomás (Carlos Arrutia), a nature photographer, is about to embark on a two week trip to the Rio Negro area of the Amazon with his wife Eva (Clarice Alves) and their young daughter Andrea (Jullie D’Arrigo). His aim is to photograph the rare Albino Urubú bird. It’s clear from the opening scenes that Tomás is neglectful of both wife and daughter; his only concerns seem to be his camera equipment and the quest for the perfect photograph, so much so that Andrea spends all her time plugged into her devices, and Eva, starved of attention, becomes attracted to Captain Nauta, in charge of the boat that will take them to their jungle accommodation.

When they reach their destination the isolation of their location starts to get to Eva, and Laura begins to be more truculent and distant. It’s a region which has seen a number of fisherman mysteriously go missing, and locals are superstitious (one even gives Andrea a necklace for good luck). Tensions between Tomás and Eva escalate when Andrea goes missing. Distraught, they head out into unknown terrain in search of her, but while they thought they were almost alone, they are surprised to come across a small village, seemingly mostly occupied by children.

Ibáñez’s documentary background is very much in evidence through lush jungle photography and some stunning wildlife footage (don’t worry, there’s no animal cruelty). Narratively the movie is as meandering as the Amazon itself, and most of the film is more or less a three hander of Tomás, Eva and Andrea. The soundtrack, by Arturo Díez Boscovich, does most of the dramatic heavy lifting, occasionally coming across like outtakes from a James Bond score. It’s very difficult to make children appear murderous and scary. Dad may have managed it but there’s little menace in Urubú. Nevertheless the sentiment behind it is sound, and the movie had a great sense of place about it.

Ten Minutes to Midnight

Genre veteran Caroline Williams is front and centre in this tale of disease and DJ-ing.

A late night radio host is trapped inside the station by a violent storm after being bitten by a rabid bat.

The best part of Ten Minutes to Midnight is the fact Williams is clearly given more freedom to really create a memorable character in DJ Amy Marlowe. She is gutsy and takes no crap off anyone but at the same time she is also infected from this bat bite. It is weird dichotomy that works quite as we see her spiral into madness and paranoid, whilst also being firmly dangerous to her colleagues.

While it may feel for the most part like a virus-themed movie, Ten Minutes strays into David Lynch territory in its final third with some trippy sequences which are spellbinding but also bizarre.

Sadly, this is one of the last performances from the late Nicholas Tucci (You’re Next), who provides ample backup to Williams as radio station employee Ernie.

Ten Minutes to Midnight does not waste a frame of its 73 minute running time, making it a fun watch for genre fans.

Revenge Ride

Revenge Ride has its messages firmly tattooed on its arms whilst covered in leather and flying down a freeway.

Maggie (Serinda Swan) is a tough and ruthless member of the all-female Dark Moon biker gang led by the merciless Trigga (Pollyanna McIntosh). After Maggie’s cousin (Vanessa Dubasso) is drugged at a party, the gang rides out for revenge.

Revenge Ride takes a harsh look at fraternity culture and goes all-out to show a fightback, in the shape of an all-woman biker gang.

With branding with hot pokers and shotguns at the ready this is one gang you will not want to mess with. Led by Pollyanna McIntosh, some of the gang are slightly one-dimensional but their collective message is strong, as is the film’s.

This is very much an in and out job, with Revenge Ride saying what it needs to say, spilling some blood, before riding off into the sunlight.

Fried Barry

I must admit I have never seen anything quite like Fried Barry.

Ryan Kruger’s feature follows Barry in what feels like a fever dream/drugs trip as he bumbles from one crazy situation to the next. Essentially he is living like a reckless rock star with a splice of the Greasy Strangler thrown in for good measure.

Fried Barry is certainly a unique concept which feels very David Lynch in its unconventionalism. It is so bizarre that you can’t take your eyes off proceedings. Although its conclusion goes to another level it almost feels logical given the whackiness of the previous 1 hour 39 minutes.

Get your tickets for the final day of Grimmfest 2020 Online Edition.

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