Midnight Mania: Freaky

> > May 31 2011

Midnight Mania: Freaky
By Scott A. Gray"Freaky" appears to be analogous with "incoherence" for the majority of the offerings in this Midnight Mania program. Martyris is a stop-motion imagery experience more than an attempt at cohesive storytelling. A doll crosses a caterpillar bridge, a chest with legs in toe. It visits various landscapes and dilapidated dwellings, finding a headless woman firing foetuses out of her crotch into a hole in the wall, a strange insect functioning as a page-turner. Apparently, the doll is a Saint taking care of suicidal creatures, but without the synopsis from the Festival website I wouldn't have guessed.

More obvious but less interesting is Parasitoid. Text informs the viewer that the title refers to an organism that grows inside a host and eventually consumes and kills it. Having disembodied baby screams would indicate a tale of parental sacrifice, but that would have thematic resonance. Instead, we're shown a silly shot of a gap-mouthed guy floating in the wind. He starts following a woman, but this is repeatedly inter-cut with the same shot of him floating with an idiotic expression on his face and images of him pinning insects to the wall. It's pretty easy to see where the story's headed, but why is left hanging in the breeze.

Titled Chaos on the menu, but Caos in the film, two farmers are compelled by unexplained forces after their tractor stops working. Close-ups of wind blowing dirt and rocks to uncover a mysterious hole precede the mechanical failure. The thought process, or lack thereof, of the two men once they're stranded in the field is anything but clearly defined, content to simply depict senseless actions lacking motivation, which, I suppose, is the point.

Amusing, but hardly pointed, is Sticky Ends. A fish headed man spews bubbles of bad luck, one of which settles on a passenger boarding a plane. It seems at first that his bad luck is actually protective, the bubble-marked man being the only survivor of a horrific plane crash. Immediate death would have proved a boon though, as the poor bastard survives a number of horrible situations, only to be given The Lord of the Flies treatment by some sadistic boy scouts.

Playing with how a young boy perceives the world, Turning posits reverse anthropomorphism as a means of understanding the physical ticks of the aged. Three withered old birds visit the lad on his birthday and when recognizing them as human, he becomes transfixed by a glowing projection emanating from between geriatric thighs, presumably of the three old women dancing in their youth. A fable of trying on different skin follows, but the impact is diluted by unnecessary lingering shots of dishes drying.

Ugly and irreverent, The External World is a vicious stab at what kinds of filth can be gotten away with through the excuse of animation not being a medium to be taken seriously. Chunky, sub-videogame-style graphics make light of child abuse, racism, suicide, statutory sexual age appropriateness and a plethora of other seedy activities. Structured like an even more depraved and ADD-addled Robot Chicken episode, scenes flicker past of a piece of shit giving birth to another piece of shit, a doctor writing a prescription for "go fuck yourself" and a hobo bashing his head against a brick, Mario-style, in the pursuit of coins. Scattershot, but occasionally funny in its extremes, The External World is an exercise in cheeky misanthropy.

Finally, for those few interested parties who haven't already seen it, is Umshini Wam, Harmony Korine's collaboration with South African rap caricatures Die Antwoord. Either you find their tongue-in-cheek celebration of trash culture appealing or you don't. Regardless, Korine is a suitable fit, managing to find a few tender moments amidst the wasteful, scumbag behaviour while the ambassadors of "Zef" smoke comically large spliffs, randomly fire off machineguns and pimp-out their unneeded wheelchairs while dreaming of becoming universe dominating rap stars. The only problem is that nobody takes them seriously. Gee, I wonder why?
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