Unfortunately due to unforeseen circumstances we weren’t able to attend the festival this year, however our buddy Santi did the hard work for us and provided these reviews:
Usually I attend the festival purely as a fan, but this year I was there in an ‘official’ capacity due to the guys from Corridorstyle not being able to attend to to a family emergency, so I packed my pad and pen and stepped into the breach. I’m not normally as social as they are, so I’ll leave the tales of stumbling out of bars at 4am to them for next year, and I’ll just focus on the films that I saw:
Monday 12th October
Having arrived mid-afternoon it was my aim to catch at least a couple of films on my first day so I decided to go for an all-Asian evening:
18:30 – Retiro – Helios
This was billed as the HK version of Ocean’s Eleven mixed with the Bourne films and that’s pretty much what we got. As usual with a lot of HK action films, there were elements that didn’t need to be there, but as pure piece of action entertainment it was definitely worth a watch.
20:45 – Retiro – Office
The Chaser is one of my all-time favourite films, so when I found out that it’s writer had directed this it was a no-brainer that I was going to see it. Hong Won-Chan’s debut didn’t disappoint, it could’ve quite easily been a straightforward run of the mill thriller about a serial killer, but some directorial subtlety and a some good performances really tied this together
All-in-all not a bad start to the first day.
Tuesday 13th October
After a fairly early night and a decent night’s sleep I was able to have a lie-in and relaxed breakfast/lunch and I was happy in the knowledge that I was going to be spending a good chunk of the day in one of my favourite cinemas, The Auditori
12:30 – Tramuntana – Strangerland
I have to admit to having mixed thoughts about this at first as I’m not really a fan of Nicole Kidman, but I do like Hugo Weaving and the premise sounded interesting. Unfortunately what I got was a tired story of a marriage pushed to the brink in small-town Australia with very little substance, definitely would not recommend.
14:30 – Auditori – The Hallow
As a regular visitor to Frightfest I’d seen a lot of buzz coming from that festival about this film and I wasn’t disappointed. An extremely creepy story about what lurks in the woods at a remote Irish farm, great performances from the cast (in particular the two leads Joseph Mawle and Bojana Novakovic) and hopefully more to come from director Corin Hardy
16:30 – Auditori – Endorphine
I’m a sucker for anything involving time travel or time manipulation, and this one didn’t disappoint. This is exactly the kind of thing that I come to Sitges for, something that challenges you, makes you think and often don’t fully understand first time around. Already looking forward to seeing this one again
19.15 – Prado – Valley Of Love
In hindsight, I’m not sure why I went to see this as I really don’t like Gerard Depardieu. It’s an extremely pretentious French film about a couple who have lost their son and meet up in the desert to talk about it. Not much more to say, I really didn’t like it and this was my first walk-out of the festival.
Wednesday 14th October
A morning at The Prado. I know it’s hot and uncomfortable, but it’s a truly beautiful cinema and always a great experience.
10:30 – Prado – Slow West
I do love a western and the director used to be in a band I love called The Beta Band so I was quite looking forward to it, but really, the title of this film should’ve just been Slow. Lots of pre-festival buzz and a great cast but for me there was just something missing. I do love a good western, but even that couldn’t get me excited and I ended up being quite bored throughout. However, the one thing in it’s favour is that it’s a great looking film so I’d be interested to see what the director John Maclean does next.
12:30 – Prado – Elstree 1976
I will pretty much watch anything to do with Star Wars, so when I found out there was a documentary on at Sitges this year about it this film was the first on my list of must sees. Unfortunately, this documentary about the bit-part actors and extras of the film seemed like it was just scraping the barrel, and there was no real ’story’ to any of it, and a lot of the actors seemed to really feel that the characters they played were more important in the Star Wars universe than they are.
19:15 – Tramuntana – Hitchcock/Truffaut
Another documentary, another disappointment. I was hoping for an insight into Hitchcock’s directing process but felt really let down by this and I don’t feel there was enough raw material or story to justify a feature-length documentary.
00.45 – Retiro – Bone Tomahawk
Today’s highlight and I absolutely loved it. Kurt Russell in a Western hunting cannibalistic mutant native-americans, what more could you ask for in a film?
Thursday 15th October
After a very late night it was a very early morning and I’ve got to own up to having a mid-afternoon ‘siesta” back at the hotel to keep me going until nighttime
08.15 – Auditori – Victoria
Hands down my favourite film of the festival so far. I really only wanted to see it from a technical perspective due to the whole ‘one-take’ thing, but I didn’t expect to invest in the characters as much as I did and enjoy the journey they went on. Ok, the plot was a little unbelievable, but as a group they were so likeable and the film was so well made I can forgive that.
11:00 – Auditori – Demon
I really wasn’t expecting to enjoy this story of a bridegroom who is possessed by a demon in the middle of his own wedding, but I have to admit I really liked it. Ok, it’s not particularly doing anything new or groundbreaking but I thought the story was clever and it was really well-made.
13:00 – Prado – Coin Locker Girl
Pre-festival this was one of the films I was looking forward to the most, but I have to admit to feeling a little let down by it. I think I was expecting something a bit more weird and Park Chan-Wook esque but it seemed fairly formulaic and straightforward.
21:00 – Auditori – MacBeth
Ok, it looks great and has good actors in it, but sometimes that’s not enough. I found the Shakespearian language really hard to follow and there was an awful lot of moody scowling. Another walkout (as I was tired!)
Friday 16th October
My final day with just enough time to fit in a couple of films before the flight home.
10:30 – Retiro – The Invitation
Really liked this and it was well worth missing breakfast for. It reminded me of Primer (even though I know it’s nothing like it!) and I thought Logan Marshall Green was great in the lead. Creepy and violent it was a perfect Sitges moment.
12:30 – Prado – Tangerine
My final film of the festival. Sean Baker’s debut which was shot on an iPhone 5S is an achievement in itself, but the fact that he manages to make a coherent, enjoyable story shows that there is surely big things to come from him, great soundtrack too!
So to sum up I’ve seen some pretty great films and eaten some pretty great tapas (as always). For me the standout film was Victoria, but honourable mentions also go to Bone Tomahawk and The Invitation.
Thanks to the Corridorstyle guys for letting me do this, hopefully in 2016 normal service will be resumed and we’ll be sharing a late-night copa in El Cable.