Graveyards and all that comes with them: Death, murder, mayhem, ghosts, ghouls, goblins, and all manner of evildoers. Such is the delectable selection offered for the Philadelphia Film Festival's Graveyard Shift, a program of 10 genre films.
Screenings include the postapocalyptic song-and-dance pic The FP, a wigged-out cross between The Road Warrior and West Side Story; the Norwegian thriller Headhunters, about a corporate headhunter turned art thief; and Italian director Panos Cosmatos' sci-fi saga Beyond the Black Rainbow, an homage to the films of Andrei Tarkovsky and Stanley Kubrick.
PFF artistic director Michael Lerman guides us through three of his favorites:
Kill List. Britain's Ben Wheatley electrified audiences with 2009's Down Terrace, a funny, tragic, and strange crime drama that owes as much to Mike Leigh's character studies as to Mean Streets.
Kill List "starts off as a somber drama," Lerman says, "and gets sicker and sicker."
Two hit men hang up their semiautomatics to devote themselves to their families. But they are tempted to do one last job. Far from routine, the hit takes the two on a surreal, violent trip. "There are some sequences in there that are just haunting," says Lerman. "I couldn't sleep for two nights after I saw it."
"Kill List" screens at 10 p.m. Oct. 29 and Oct. 31 at the Ritz East.
Michael. Austrian director Markus Schleinzer's debut, Lerman says, is a dark, stark, disturbing, "and really, really creepy portrait of a pedophile" that has been compared to the films of the German master of understated terror, Michael Haneke (Funny Games). It's no wonder: Schleinzer previously worked as Haneke's casting director.
The titular character is a respected, middle-class professional who spends his free time pretending he and a 10-year-old boy he has kidnapped are a regular domestic couple.
"It has the feel of [Haneke's] The Piano Teacher. It's a sharp . . . minimalist character study," Lerman says. "It has no on-screen sexuality or violence, but it's terrifying."
"Michael" screens at 10:15 p.m. Friday and Monday at the Ritz East.
The Yellow Sea. South Korean director Hong-jin Na follows up his explosive debut, The Chaser, with a crime drama about a cabbie who is forced to become a hit man to pay off his wife's debts. An action film to match any of Hollywood's biggest blockbusters, The Yellow Sea "is a true epic," says Lerman. "It has huge set pieces, huge car chases, and amazing plot twists."
"The Yellow Sea" screens at 9:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Rave Motion Pictures University City 6 and at 9:15 p.m. Oct. 28 at the Ritz East.