Sunday, July 23, 2017

Fantasia 2017--The Laplace's Demon--Giordano Giulivi (2017)

Characters lurk in the shadows in Giordano Giulivi's The Laplace's Demon (2017)
More frequently than not, Fantasia world premieres a unique cinematic gem that has been made with passion and wit, and flies under the radar of the films getting buzz during the festival circuit (including Sundance and SXSW).  Giordano Giulivi's cerebral, vintage-look thriller The Laplace's Demon is one of those rare finds that both dazzles the eye and tickles the mind with its innovative approach.  The fact that the film took 7 years to make, and four years to shoot, makes it all the more special.  One wishes that someone would stop throwing money at the Marvel Universe and give someone like Giulivi both the money and the time to make more cinematic art.

Karl's fascination with the ornate machinery of the mansion mirrors his experiments with determinism
I'm stealing from IMDB in my plot synopsis, since frankly I'm not sure I can do it justice: "A glass in free fall. Have you ever thought if it is possible to calculate into how many pieces it can break into? After numerous experiments, a team of researchers succeeds in doing just this apparently impossible task. Attracted to their experiment, a mysterious professor invites the scientists in his isolated mansion to know more about their studies. However, when they arrive, they are not greeted by their host but they are faced with a strange model of the mansion, in which some absolutely normal but incredible actions are acted. The researchers will soon understand to be involved in a new experiment in which they'll have to play a very different role than usual: that of the glass in free fall."

Laplace was an actual 18th century French mathematician, physicist, and scholar, and the film focuses on his fascinating interest in the potential mathematical ability to predict human behavior via a specific formula. A crew of scientists set out to work with the mysterious Dr. Cornelius, but then quickly realize that they are imprisoned in his mansion and are unwillingly part of a nefarious experiment put forth by their absent host.  The rich set pieces of the film's mise-en-scene are accentuated by the magnificent chiaroscuro lighting that heightens the film's tension, as the scientists realize that they are pawns in some deadly game.

The Laplace's Demon comes across as the lovechild of a noir Bava meets The Cat and the Canary
The film plays with philosophical questions of free will and determinism, but does so by paying homage to a variety of film styles and eras.  At times the film seems to play with silent film acting and gestures, while also employing many film noir stylistic flourishes.  Further, the film's mood combines a 30's Universal monster vibe, while firmly taking place in the now (based on cellphones and computer technology).  At the same time, some of the more deliberate editing choices hold on gazes often a bit too long, giving a taste of Lynch's Eraserhead by way of Bava's Black Sunday.  The sometimes hyperbolic, yet dreamy, acting is also reminiscent of Guy Maddin's strange netherworlds.  The film's timelessness really heightens its themes, and produces rich pleasures as it allows cinephiles to soak up the film's many references.  Nevertheless, the film is really unique, and never too derivative, offering a nice little twist at the end and landing on a properly bleak note.  I enthusiastically recommend The Laplace's Demon, and hope you will search out this visually stunning and clever film.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Fantasia 2017--Bitch--Marianna Paralka (2017)

Writer/Director/Star Marianna Palka goes rabid in Bitch (2017)
As anyone who reads this blog knows, I am all in when it comes to women directors, and I'll try to see anything directed by women within reason.  Therefore, I was pretty damn thrilled to see the screening of Marianna Palka's Bitch at the 2017 Fantasia Film Festival, coming off some hot buzz from Sundance.  I've been sitting on my review for a couple of days, mostly because I'm a bit ambivalent about it.  I applaud Palka for making an original, frequently hilarious, sometimes touching film that shines a light on the dazzling performance skills of her ex beau, Jason Ritter.  If you are not familiar with Ritter, please see Embers, a fantastic film from last year's festival (also directed by a woman), in which he shows his more dramatic chops.  He's largely a comedic actor, who you've probably seen on either Drunk History or Another Period.  Jason Ritter rocks, and he rocks hard in Bitch.

Bill Hart (Jason Ritter) spectacularly loses his sh** in Bitch
So you are probably wondering, why the ambivalence?  I highly recommend you see Bitch, for its definitely worth your time and money, but I was a little disappointed by the tonal shift the film takes in the latter third of the narrative.  Surprisingly, IMDB's summary kind of spells it out: "The provocative tale of a woman (Marianna Palka) who snaps under crushing life pressures and assumes the psyche of a vicious dog. Her philandering, absentee husband (Jason Ritter) is forced to become reacquainted with his four children and sister-in-law (Jaime King) as they attempt to keep the family together during this bizarre crisis."

Expectations are set up here.  To some extent, the film is about a woman who, under the pressures of life placed on women, snaps and "assumes the psyche of a vicious dog"--ergo the bitch of the title.  This reaction is based on an actual case in Scotland, and in these troubled times, it's a wonder that this kind of situation doesn't happen more often.

I would snap too if these were my kids
The scenes where Palka, as Jane, "becomes a dog," angrily barking, attacking her family, smeared with her own feces, and baring her teeth, are pretty "horror movie" scary.  Many times a handheld camera assumes her dog POV and you are left rather shaken by her transformation.  Understandably, every one in the family freaks out, including her 4 out-of-control kids and her sh***y husband.  Should they commit her to an asylum or accept this change as the "new normal?"  Bill wants the latter, while Jane's family (her sister and parents) insist that she needs help he cannot give her.

Cautiously visiting Jane/Mom in the basement
Let me be clear here.  You would snap too with this home environment.  The kids are ungrateful brats that scream at each other and burden Jane with everything, and Bill is the most useless human being alive.  Seriously, Jason Ritter's Bill is a borderline cartoon villain, he's so beyond terrible.  He goes to his job everyday (at which he is terrible), cheats with a woman at work, and does not do anything to help Jane AT ALL.  He comically doesn't know how to drive their mini-van, doesn't know which schools the kids go too, and sometimes forgets their names (or that they are even in the car).  Bill's hysterical meltdowns as things go from bad to worse are comic genius, and because of Ritter's skills, you really love to hate him.

Bill is forced to become a better Dad (and husband)

Here's where the film goes awry for me.  Once Jane becomes a dog, and can no longer communicate with others, Bill has to "step it up"--and he does.  He becomes close with his kids, patient with his in-laws, loving to Jane (despite the fact that she still wants to bite him).  Bill goes from being relatively horrible, to a peachy gem, in the course of about 6 months.  Sure he hits bottom (loses his job, is forced to sell his house), and these circumstances are wildly unusual (my wife is a dog), but what starts out being a film about women, and culture, and the pains one must endure, becomes a film about the redemption of another straight white guy, who ultimately wins back the love of his wife by performing the minimum requirements for being a decent father--go figure.

Bitch is inventive, unique, with a soundtrack that runs counterpoint to much of the darkness that infuses the film.  In the first half of the film, the combination of darkness with humor is pitch perfect and truly special.  Once the film slips into sentimental family drama mode, though, I just felt a massive wave of disappointment.  I was not alone in the audience, as other members at Fantasia revealed during the Q & A that they truly wished for a different outcome.  Yet other people absolutely loved it, and thought it hit all the right notes. So, you decide.  See Bitch as soon as it's available, support women filmmakers, and see Jason Ritter's tour de force performance.  He's utterly spectacular here.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Fantasia 2017--Radius--Caroline Labrèche and Steeve Léonard (2017)

Liam (Diego Klattenhoff) gives off a killer vibe in Caroline Labrèche and Steeve Léonard's Radius (2017)
Frankly, I didn't know what to expect from Radius. a Quebec sci-fi thriller that world premiered at Fantasia; there was very little information available, and no trailer so far.  Nevertheless, Radius is a fun, twisty surprise--a clever thriller with plenty of careful plotting, providing little morsels of narration to keep you guessing.

In synopsis, Liam (Diego Klattenhoff) wakes from a car accident to discover that anything within a 50 foot radius of him (birds, mammals, people) keels over dead. His mere proximity wipes out the local populace, but initially he thinks it's just a really nasty airborne virus.  Oh, and he cannot remember anything, including who he is, and just follows the info on his driver's license to get to his "home."  Not long after he holes up in his shed, trying to avoid all contact, a woman shows up at his door, and lo and behold, she stays alive despite being nearby.  Jane Doe (Charlotte Sullivan) doesn't remember anything either, but she figures out that she was in the car accident with him.  Seems that if Jane stays in a 50 foot radius of Liam, she cancels out his killer powers; but separate them, and the jig is up.  This particular quandary ratchets up the film's tension, as intimacy and proximity to others becomes the basis by which people live or die.

The police corner Liam and Jane, who are now considered suspected terrorists
While the premise of the film is compelling enough, if we do not care about the characters, their fate will not really matter too much.  As we identify with Liam's POV early on, we genuinely care about his unnerving predicament.  Questions are replaced by other questions as the story unfolds: who are Liam and Jane, and how do they know each other?  What actually happened during the car accident, to land them with these killer side effects?  Where Radius truly excels is in its careful plotting, as the backstory of these characters is revealed in bits and pieces as their memories return bit by bit.  I think I'm pretty keen on WTF narrative structures, but I did not see the major twist this film unveils AT ALL.  I think much of this twist's effectiveness is dependent on Diego Klattenhoff's strong performance, as he is a character with whom we identify and support throughout the film.  We want to figure out, along with him, and Jane, how all this happened.  Frankly, the "why" of these events is not as important as the revelation of what these characters are to each other--the "who" is more crucial.  I highly recommend Radius, a thoughtful and tension-filled thrill ride, and I applaud Fantasia for giving this little gem its world premiere.  Check it out!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Fantasia 2017--Replace--Norbert Keil

Rebecca Forsythe's Kira commands every frame in Norbert Keil's Replace (2017)
Norbert Keil's body horror extravaganza Replace is one of the most gorgeous films I have ever seen at Fantasia.  Seriously, every single frame was drenched in color, and the settings are glorious, whether a scene takes place in Kira's grunge chic apartment, a dingy (but colorfully-lit) nightclub, or the harsh, but stylish minimalism of Dr. Crober's office.  Like The Neon Demon, Replace is rife with sumptuous imagery that dazzles the eye, and I loved looking at it.  Wow.  At times the film replicated some of the very best giallos that I've seen, and there's a definite Argento look with a Cronenberg vibe.

Kira is understandably disturbed by her body's rapid decay
That said, the film also maintains some similar themes to Winding-Refn's art horror, as it focuses on Kira Mabon (Rebecca Forsythe), a young beauty who mysteriously develops some nasty skin rash where her body starts to decay at a rapid rate.  As this film is a horror film, we get to experience close-up shots with lots of icky sounds as Kira peels the skin right from her body.  The film purports to be a treatise on aging, as Kira's story is interspersed with her voice-over narration outlining her fear and contempt for the aging process.

The mysterious Dr. Crober (Barbara Crampton) may have answers to what's ailing Kira
She is yet another (white, thin) beauty who wants to remain that way forever, and she turns to the mysteriously calm/mad scientist Dr. Rafaela Crober (Barbara Crampton) for help.  Yet Dr. Crober seems to know more than she's letting on, and Kira's inability to remember what happened last week doesn't help matters.

Kira is forced to kill in order to maintain her haunting loveliness
When Kira's bodily deterioration starts to happen too rapidly, and a skin transplant looks to take too long, Kira takes matters into her own hands, and finds replacements for her skin in a series of rather gory and unfortunate murders.  She has become quite the monster.  Still, when we finally get answers to what's happening, the silliness of the film rises to new heights, even if some of the science that inspires the film is grounded in advancements in stem cell research and insights into the aging process.

Sophia (Lucie Aron) is the gorgeous "girl next door" who suddenly falls for Kira
My biggest problem with this film is that it's couched in a quasi-lesbian romance that makes no sense beyond a certain need for gratuitous shots of gorgeous women kissing each other.  I get the appeal (duh), but do we really need to watch monstrous queer women killers YET AGAIN??  Here's another white guy making a film about women and their monstrous desires, and he makes sure that there are as many topless shots of this implausible couple as possible.  It doesn't help that their scenes are shot in such hazy soft-focus with melodramatic music blasting behind them, as if they share some true love amidst the horror.  A critique on the perils of beauty culture and the relationship between femininity and aging?  Not really.

Still, Fantasia has this amazing ability to persuade me to give a film more consideration after I dismiss it for its flaws, chiefly by virtue of listening to the filmmakers talk about their film and the process of making it.  Just as I whispered something about the filmmakers having been totally wasted writing this doozy, Keil and famous genre stalwart and co-writer Richard Stanley (Hardware, Dust Devil) made a case for their film and its particular charms.  The person who really charmed me was Stanley, in his outback biker get-up, hair flowing, and sharp intelligence in his eyes, as he waxed on about gene therapy, the perils of aging, and the site of memory (is it in our brains or in our D.N.A.)?   Wow, okay.  He also suggested that the film nodded at vampirism, and I can see it, certainly.  He's incredibly smart and articulate, and I would have loved to talk to him for hours about whatever.

Crampton did research at the Buck Institute for aging for the role
Barbara Crampton was also onstage with her characteristic warmth and wit, and she let on that the role of Dr. Crober was originally intended for a male character.  While I'm delighted that she was chosen for the part, and certainly there needs to be more roles for women, I think it might have been better to have that part played by a man.  The Neon Demon's one saving grace was that it really emphasized how horrible men are in relation to women's beauty, and that they were really the driving force behind women killing themselves (and each other) in order to maintain their attraction and desirability. Crampton's role as a cold-hearted, ambitious mad scientist who ruthlessly capitalizes on women's vulnerability and vanity in order to make scientific discoveries does not do women any favors, and just perpetuates the idea that women are bitches who will destroy each other in order to get ahead.  Nice.

Replace is equal parts beautiful and problematic
So, should you see Replace?  Yes, if only to form your own opinion about the film, and also because it is truly gorgeous to look at.  The ending elicited an epic eye roll from me, the twist is beyond silly and undermines any romance that the film presents, but I'm still thinking about the film, and find its comparisons to The Neon Demon to be notable and important.  While its gender politics are a hot mess, this intriguing film is definitely worth a look.

Fantasia 2017--Animals--Greg Zglinski

Marital strife creates psychotic confusions in Greg Zglinski's Animals/Tiere (2017)
Fantasia rocked my world yesterday with its first of two screenings of Greg Zglinski's Animals (2017), a powerful and disturbing German film that ups the WTF quotient in terms of narrative twists and turns, all through a female character's troubled narration.  I haven't felt this thrilled and pumped about a German film since Fantasia's screening of Goodnight Mommy in 2015.  While I was disappointed that the director wasn't there to talk about his film, it was probably for the best, because I could just imagine some of the questions posed during the Q & A.  What exactly happened during the car accident?  How does Anna's novel relate to the film's events?  What is going on in the locked room in both apartments (a locked room--paging Freud)?  What's up with the suicidal animals (it starts with a goldfish)?  In my estimation, each and every one of these questions only triggers new ones, producing such a myriad of cinematic pleasures, I'm grinning wildly while I write this review.

Anna's combination of paranoia and ennui anchors the film
Ostensibly, the film follows Anna (Birgit Minichmayr), a children's book author embarking on her first grown up novel while vacationing for 6 months with her husband, Nick (Philipp Hochmair), a chef and serial flirt who she believes is undoubtedly cheating on her.  They rent their apartment out to a rather untrustworthy house-sitter named Mischa (Mona Petri) who breaks every rule they give her, and looks strikingly like the woman who lives on the third floor, Andrea (Mona Petri as well), and the woman at the ice cream shop in Vevey (Mona Petri yet again!)  In fact, the doppelgangers here fly fast and furious, and space and time lose all their boundaries.

Chef Nick decides to butcher the sheep he hit with a car (nice that they shaved it first)
Things go decidedly pear-shaped when Anna and Nick, en route to their house in Switzerland, hit a sheep, landing Anna in the hospital with another head injury (she had bashed her head tripping over a skateboard prior to their journey).  All this head trauma makes Anna not only rather unreliable, but forces her to question what is real and what is not at every turn.  Both Anna and Nick have very weird dreams about being killed by the other, and one cannot tell where dream begins and reality ends, or who is actually dreaming, and who is awake, and when.  This type of confusion leads to some pretty darkly humorous moments, with a creepy-looking talking black cat tying the different worlds together. Such FUN!

Mischa wants to find out what's behind the door
Head injuries abound, as Mischa seems to have her own series of mishaps, falling and injuring herself numerous times.  She encounters Andrea's ex, who insists that she is Andrea (hello, same actress), and there's a suicide that happens, or doesn't, and it's not certain when exactly.  Zglinski deliberately dresses Anna and Mischa in similar clothes, in mirrored spaces, experiencing similarly injuries--all to tie the two characters, and both their confusion and curiosity, tightly together.  Then, there's Andrea, who lives on the third floor, or not, and is Anna's alter ego, or not.  The crazy gets upped to eleven when Anna reads her novel (on which she cannot remember working) and it contains characters named Anna, Nick, and Mischa.  What???

Is Nick more than a catalyst for Anna's fantasies/nightmares?
Unsurprisingly, I zeroed in on Anna's rich and confused interior life, and how both her apartment in Germany (traversed primarily by Mischa) and her house in Switzerland, possess mysterious doors behind which lies...???  The film's mysteries keep one constantly guessing.  That's why I'm not sure how to read Nick's character.  Is he just the cheating catalyst for Anna's paranoia, or has he slipped into this film's alternate dimension/timeloop/marital hellhole along with Anna, after the accident?  Or is he really just a fictional character in Anna's twisted novel?  I have very few answers in this first time viewing, and hope beyond hopes that the film gets a strong distributor so that I can watch it again, numerous times, very, very soon.  A masterpiece, but I guess I shouldn't expect anything less from Fantasia.

Fantasia 2017--The Honor Farm--Karen Skloss (2017)

A lackluster prom night is transformed by shrooms in Karen Skloss's The Honor Farm (2017)
Prom Night can be a great setting for horror films, especially because this "event" in a teen's life is so fraught with both expectation and disappointment.  Karen Skloss's The Honor Farm sets her surreal and dreamy coming-of-age tale on this fated evening, as teen Lucy (Olivia Grace Applegate) and her BFF Alice (Katie Folger) bounce back from their bummer evening to hang out with some "freaks and geeks," including the goth-cool Laila (Dora Madison) and the heartthrob J.D. (Louis Hunter) on their way to the sinister "Honor Farm"--a former prison, now abandoned, that is rumored to have been the site for murder, torture, and ritual sacrifice. Oh, and did I mention that they are all tripping on mushrooms??  That's the kicker, and part of the real charm of the film.
Tripping teens bonding over awesome/nightmare visions
Drew Tinnin from Dread Central writes that the film contains, "Imagery of the occult and moments that would make David Lynch proud;"  and indeed, the film's surrealist and evocative images are dependent on the inclusion of psychedelics to the narrative.  While it may not be the wisest choice to visit a haunted abandoned prison on one's first "trip," Lucy and Alice are in remarkably friendly and supportive hands.  The kids who introduce them to drugs are not horrible teens, and throughout their journey bond in changing groups of two, three, and four.  Yet the majority of the film focuses on Lucy, who early on is established as having a rich fantasy and dream-life.  Her voice-over grounds the film and gives spectators a perspective through which to experience the film's world.  

Lucy's narration and POV really emphasize the female-oriented focus of the film, and as it was co-written by Skloss and her teenage daughter, the film's voice feels very authentic.  The Honor Farm carries forth the wonder and anxiety involved in being a teenage girl, and much of the film's occult imagery replicates some of the pagan goddess/wiccan symbolism out there, while also exploring tropes of femininity and virginity common to the coming-of-age genre.  One of the striking cameos that is uncredited on IMDB is the role of Laura--a woman who appears to be the victim of a sexual assault/pagan sacrifice, but becomes more of a trigger for Lucy's incipient transformation from girl to woman.  I didn't get a chance to ask Skloss (whom, btw, was just so warm, friendly, and cool) at the screening, but I'd swear that brief role is played by Michelle Forbes, who always elevates every work in which she plays a part. If not, she's a definite look-alike, channeling a goddess figure similar to her Maenad character in True Blood.


J.D. and Lucy "meet cute" in the oddest places
The film contains moments that are just a touch too "teenage" for my tastes, as the sudden romance between J.D. and Lucy attests.  Still, I admire that Lucy was portrayed as a young woman with burgeoning desires, unafraid to express them, and all the male characters in the film, while almost entirely supports for the female characters, were not jerks, or dicks, or a-holes (except, maybe, Lucy and Alice's original prom dates).  I think that J.D.'s unabashed sweetness and respectfulness for Lucy was written very thoughtfully and carefully from a female POV to both appeal to and educate audience members on the politics of representation.  One also gets the sense that the experience this group of 8 teens share will create some very strong bonds.


The girls attack with makeshift weapons
While I'm really not a fan of horror comedies, The Honor Farm made me laugh out loud many times, from the pitch perfect representations of tripping on mushrooms (with all of its assorted fascinations), to the spunky, intrepid way the female characters showed strength, curiosity, and resourcefulness.  None of these young women are your average victims, and some of the lines popping out of their mouths not only felt "teen-real," but were downright hilarious.  Further, Sinclair's (Liam Akin's) enthusiastic munching of the entire bag of shrooms led to a spot-on interpretation of an owl, and an impromptu call to one's Mom adds just the right tone.


Teens hide from the crazed Dentist
Not to say that there are not some genuine scary moments in the film.  The "honor farm" itself is the perfect setting for a bunch of claustrophobic scares, heightened by the dimly-lit flashlights employed and the truly sinister underground tunnels.  When some of the kids stumble upon what looks like a ritual sacrifice, with a baby lamb in tow, things take a real turn toward the dangerous and terrifying.  What makes the Honor Farm really unique is that you actually care about these kids, and much of the menace is hoping that nothing too terrible happens to them.  Strikingly, the film never makes certain what actually happens in the film's diegesis (because shrooms), and that ambiguity really makes an artful impact on the film as a whole.  For her debut fiction feature (she has a feature documentary under her belt), Karen Skloss creates a moving portrait of girlhood with all of its fears and pleasures, and places it in an ambiguous dream realm both scary and funny.  A triumph, and I hope she continues to work in the genre for years to come.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Fantasia 2017--Killing Ground--Damien Power (2016)

Every sound is threatening in Damien Power's Killing Ground (2016)
IFC Midnight, a purveyor of some pretty damn good horror movies (The Autopsy of Jane Doe for one) screened Killing Ground (Damien Power, 2016) last night at the 2017 Fantasia Film Festival just a few days short of its release in the U.S. and VOD.  Since I live too far from a proper city to really experience films in theaters overmuch, I depend on IFC Midnight to show me the new stuff.  Their social media coordinator was there to hand out posters and blu-rays and stir up the crowd, which was fun.  AND the film was sold out, so the Fantasia crowd craves horror!  I would say that the film was...good.

Still, not as groundbreaking or innovative as one would like.  The Blair Witch Project (not Wingard's remake) still wins my vote for scariest camping movie, but I do have a penchant for "vacations from hell" horror--with either troubled couples (The Strangers, Vacancy) or ones on the verge of marriage (Echo Lake).  Killing Ground skews toward the latter as the film joins us with Sam and Ian as the cute couple, newly affianced, decide to go camping for New Years in the Australian outback.  Indeed, the setting they choose does seem really pretty, but they arrive to find a tent nearby, and hope that their celebratory privacy won't be spoiled by their neighbors.

Bored Em should never go camping with her parents
The film cuts frequently to two other stories: one concerning teenage Em and her family, including the toddler moppet, Ollie (adding yet another contribution to the baby in peril horror subgenre).  The other story follows German and Chook, two slightly menacing morons who you just KNOW are going to be the unfortunate source of all the danger and violence.  The film gives them little to no backstory: they have a vicious dog named Banjo, German was in prison, and they are both kind of dumb.  That's it.  Why are they violent psychopaths--for kicks it seems.  The film really did remind me of Wolf Creek, albeit not as scary, and with villains certainly not as compelling.

The step toward unique the film takes is by mixing up the timelines of the two "victims'" stories, while intermingling the thugs throughout.  This jumping back and forth through time is really quite effective, and not immediately noticeable (the family is hanging out a few days after Christmas while Sam and Ian arrive on New Year's Eve). What happens in those few days in between is what creates the sharp tension and dread in the film.  We both KNOW what's going to happen, but do not quite KNOW, and that slippage will make you just the right amount of queasy.  The puzzle starts to fit together piece by piece in a way that makes you re-examine some of the earlier scenes moments after watching them.  Kind of cool.

Chook is your garden-variety dumb psycho redneck
Australia's Outback certainly isn't a hospitable place to camp, as thrill killers German and Chook make clear.  While I really like the way the film spends some time with them in order to jumble the linear storyline, and I understand that we are supposed to loath them, these killers are just a bit too pathetic.  I guess I didn't quite appreciate their more quiet menace, and wanted them to be more over the top (a la John Jarratt in Wolf Creek).  These two are just not that scary, and I wonder if that's a side effect of spending too much time with them.  You know almost exactly what they are going to do, rather than being surprised by their shenanigans.

The Baby in Peril trope was not overly annoying
I really do appreciate some of the choices that Power makes in the representations of violence in the film, although I think forgoing the sexual assault and the baby in peril storyline would have helped matters even more.  As expected, the crowd cheered when Sam started to really develop a backbone, relying more on herself than her "doctor" boyfriend to figure things out.  Classic Final Girl moxie.  I think my favorite thing about the film is when Sam realizes that Ian is not exactly the "husband material" she thought he was.  Another "vacation from hell" revealing unfortunate truths.  People, what do I have to say to make happy couples avoid camping in the woods as a way to instill intimacy in their burgeoning relationship!  DON'T DO IT!  Do not go into the woods today, on the advice of some sketchy local, and just hang out in a nice bar in Melbourne instead, holding tight to your romantic delusions.  Killing Ground is fun, but ultimately a little too derivative to properly thrill and chill.