The 5th edition of the Paris International Fantastic Film Festival premiered last night, a somber debut in the wake of Friday’s deadly terror attacks in the French capital where most entertainment events have been canceled this month and many movie theaters remain closed.
While organizers foresaw that many of the expected 2,000 film buffs would not attend, it was a pleasant surprise that many actually did. And it gave us some sense of normality.
With its growing success, the PIFFF is on its way to becoming France’s biggest festival of its genre, and this year’s edition is being held in Europe’s biggest cinema, the legendary Le Grand Rex, where Spectre premiered last month.
The PIFFF opened last night with The Final Girls, which the French have titled as Scream Girls (“nothing to do with Scream,” said one of the organizers), a few hours ahead of its French release. Todd Strauss-Schulson’s second feature film is a sort of Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass where a young girl and her friends end up inside her mom’s slasher movie.
Max (Taissa Farmiga) is grieving the loss of her mother, Amanda Cartwright (Malin Akerman), a scream queen from the 80s who had been attempting to make a comeback as a serious actress before a fatal car accident. During a screening of her most famous movie, Bloodbath, Max and her friends get pulled into the flick and must fight off the film’s killer. But Max, reunited with her mother, wants to save her.
Avoiding satire, the film offers a nod to slasher hyperboles and pokes fun at genre clichés, sexism and 80s hair and even has some tearjerker moments. It is an unexpectedly fun film that indulges in stereotypes and has all the (deliberate) markings of a B-movie. The film also stars Nina Dobrev and Adam Devine.
While PIFFF’s premiere was lighthearted, the official competition really slays. It kicks off today with American movie Curtain, directed by Jaron Henrie-McCrea, and Blind Sun by Joyce A. Nashawati.
The other films in competition include another American production, Some Kind of Hate by Adam Egypt Mortimer, Evolution by Lucile Hadzihalilovic, Der Nachtmar by Akiz, The Survivalist by Stephen Fingleton, Don’t Grow Up by Thierry Poiraud, Bridgend by Jeppe Ronde.
Off-competition screenings include Southbound and the psychedelic, colorful Japanese flick The Virgin Psychics.
The cult film corner is like a horror film fan’s paradise. Screenings include favorite classics like John Carpenter’s The Thing, George A. Romero’s Monkey Shines, Sam Raimi’s Darkman and Philip Ridley’s The Reflecting Skin.
Saturday night will be devoted to Japanimation and mangas, a very popular genre in France.
Other competitions include French and international short films, which include three American productions: The Chickening by Nick DenBoer and Davy Force, Turned by Adam Bolt and Night of the Slasher by Shant Hamassian.
It closes with the off-competition Green Room on Sunday, November 22.