The horror and fantasy film festival has recovered a large part of its audience after the pandemic, offering an overview of the current state of the genre
After the 54th edition of the Sitges festival, the most important on the planet when it comes to talking about fantasy and horror films, just when the capacity of the rooms has returned to 100%, it is time to review some of the most celebrated titles during the mammoth event. Its extensive programming prevents being able to see all the selected titles on the big screen, but you can always choose from among so many offers those proposals that will probably set trends and visit the billboard in the coming months. With a 76% increase in ticket sales compared to 2020, a black year for conventional film distribution, some passes have hung the full-capacity poster, such as the expected ‘Last night in Soho’, the new by Edgar Wright , which has definitely decided to join the mainstream after ‘Baby Driver’. Here he rolls with media and head, offering an intoxicating visual spectacle that hides a somewhat tricky story, with an ending as effective, and gimmicky, as predictable. It will sweep the box office, the young students concentrated in Sitges were very pleased, astonished at the technical display of the film, starring brilliantly by Thomasin McKenzie -ojo a su carrerón, with estimable works such as ‘Do not leave a trace’ – and Anya Taylor-Joy , fashionable after the success of the series’ Gambit de dama ‘- do not miss his enigmatic talent in’ Purasangre’-. Both actresses undoubtedly have a great future ahead of them.
The fun and uncomplexed ‘Veneciafrenia’, by Álex de la Iglesia, also swept ticket sales, as did ‘The Innocents’, one of the favorites among the prize pools and which finally received a special mention. A delicacy that refers both to the indispensable comic ‘Nightmares’, by Otomo, and to the national classic ‘Who can kill a child?’, By Narciso Ibáñez Serrador. An unsettling children’s story, the work of Eskil Vogt, overshadowed by the winning film in the Official Selection, ‘Lamb’, by Valdimar Johánnssonla, a rural drama with fantastic touches that is carried away by horror in its last passages. Noomi Rapace, also a winner of the best actress award, plays a devoted mother who cares for a very unique baby. He sowed uncertainty in the stalls and left no one indifferent, which is to be welcomed, such as the unusual, cruel, dirty, sordid, sticky, gore, lysergic, hypnotic, twisted, infernal and disturbing ‘Mad God’, a brutal viscous feast perpetrated with the technique of stop motion animation by Phil Tippett, renowned supervisor and special effects technician who has left his mark on the ‘Star Wars’ saga, among other hits in the history of cinema. We have probably not seen anything sicker in this edition of Sitges, but there have been other equally delirious proposals, among them ‘After Blue’, by Bertrand Mandico, a lysergic bet that caused the stampede of some spectators of the projection. The jury singled it out as an immediate cult title.
The contest opened with the wildly empty ‘Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon’, an elongated video clip that lured the young jury with its supposedly modern aesthetic. Gregg Araki did the same in the ’90s, with more grace, sex, and drugs. Ana Lily Amirpour’s career seems like one of the great bluffs of contemporary fantasy. Luckily, the visceral ‘Titane’ could also be seen the same day in Sitges, to raise the level of the day in the main auditorium along with the estimable ‘Censor’, which starts better than ends, but is equally interesting. ‘The Feast’, with an irritating tempo, also gets lost along the way, but contains some disturbing, well thought out and better framed images. ‘Halloween Kills’ recalled the spirit of Carpenter, with a chilling political reading. There are grotesque deaths, as the canons mandate, although they are never enough for slasher fans. The atmospheric and nightmarish oriental ‘Limbo’ rightly won the award for best photography, sporting a ravishing black and white texture. A suffocating thriller that literally takes place in garbage.
A still from ‘The Innocents’.
Asphyxiating also becomes ‘Luzifer’, whose leading partner, an older woman and her son, live isolated in the mountains. An unexpected threat brings out the darkness that inhabits the human being. ‘The Deep House’, the latest from Lexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury, part of a sensational idea, a ghost story with an underwater haunted house. The actors don’t cover the record and the aquatic terror fades, but it does show some truly terrifying underwater scenes. ‘The Trip (The trip)’ has already been released on Netflix and was one of the most applauded films at the Catalan festival during its screening. A hilarious black comedy riddled with bloody gags not suitable for weak stomachs. ‘Coming Home in the Dark’ opens with a chilling punch. A family outing is attacked by strangers for no apparent reason. The development of the plot loses steam but maintains the attention, unlike the anodyne ‘Séance’, the umpteenth film about some students in a residence that ends in a bloodbath. The anime had its space in Sitges, with the premiere of the beautiful ‘Belle’, by the Japanese filmmaker Mamoru Hosoda (‘The boy and the beast’). A total spectacle, like the Italian bet ‘Freaks Out’, one of the surprises of the event, forgotten in the list of winners. A group of eccentric people who work in a traveling circus have extraordinary powers that they are forced to use to defend themselves against the Nazis in the middle of World War II. The action scenes are overwhelming and the characters extremely endearing.
Not to sleep
In 2021, the award for best script and the audience award, which are not usually evenly matched, went to ‘Silent Night’, one of the funniest ever seen in Sitges. In addition, the four episodes of the renewed ‘Stories to not sleep’ were screened. Of the four installments of the project shot to date, sponsored by Amazon Prime Video, ‘Freddy’ stood out on its own merits, a chapter directed by Paco Plaza, who did a double by presenting ‘La abuela’ in her natural habitat. Both works were well received by a dedicated audience that twisted their noses with the soporific and disappointing ‘Demonic’, directed by Neill Blomkamp, for whom talent does not seem to work without great means. ‘Eight for Silver’ is a different story with werewolves, period and slow pace. ‘Barbaque (Some Like It Rare)’, or how the owners of a butcher shop manage to save the business by turning vegans into chops, worked very well among the audience gathered in the dark room wanting to applaud good moments of black humor and hemoglobin. ‘Offseason’ sent Lovecraft low, offering the respectable a kind of decaffeinated ‘The Wicker Man’, while ‘Violation’ left more than one viewer with their mouths open for its forceful message and surgical violence.
‘The Medium’ became long, the found footage is already tiring, but ‘She Will’ captivated, who was left, greatly. It has some captivating scenes, although the narrative is perverted. ‘Earwig’, already seen in San Sebastián, caused some snoring in the stalls, but we must not detract from its merits, rather the opposite, to its ability to disturb the public without prejudice, showing some captivating images. ‘The Great Yokai War Guardians’, by the ineffable Takashi Mike, took the audience award in the rogue Midnight X-treme section and was the perfect culmination, the last session, for many festival goers in an extraordinary edition, in all the senses .. A highly entertaining proposal, aimed at children, with some visual ideas and an art and costume design that is as crazy as it is fascinating. Much to see presented in Sitges in an atypical year that we can understand as a clear point and apart. The terror returns to normal.