From March 23-27, 2016, Boston Underground brought the Boston Underground Film Festival to the Brattle Theatre and Harvard Film Archive in Cambridge, MA. Dirge gained access to 11 short films that “burrow in your nightmares and ruin your day,” and two beautiful and mind-fucking feature films.
(Warning: the following reviews contain spoilers. About people cumming in puppets. If that plot twist is important to you, turn back now.)
Trigger Warning Shorts
Gwilliam (USA, 6 min.)
Opening the Trigger Warning block was Gwilliam, a little gem about a recently released convict who just wants to find a good time. Seek this one out if you’re looking for troll blowjobs and William Tokarsky –of Too Many Cooks viral fame– cumming inside of a puppet that looks like an extra from Mac and Me. I didn’t realize I wanted to see that until it was happening, and now I’ll never forget it.
Hungry (USA, 4 min.)
I still don’t have too much to say about Hungry. A guy is concerned when his “weird” new girlfriend starts going out for hours at night and doesn’t know why. I’ll let Hall and Oates break it to him:
Pudding (USA, 1 min.)
Pudding is what happens when you get your two devil-possessed toddlers into a room and they show each other cool shit. Like that one time there was another little kid living in your son and they have to bust through his chest and show you apples in his hands. Shit happens.
Savasana (USA, 10 min.)
Savasana is the tale of a normal father and husband who also gets blowjobs in yoga class and hallucinates a vacuum giving him a blowie after just one hit off his son’s bong. Just about everyone in the film wants his junk. This is a film that makes you want to be this mustached, middle-class, suburban-living, neo-hippie.
Luxure (Lust) (Canada, 6 min.)
Diving into the world of secret sex societies, Luxure (Lust) is a beautiful film following the anxious and paranoia-filled day of a handsome, white-collar family man on a journey to meet the ultimate sexual desire; in his eyes, anyway. After teasing the audience with an image of an ideal hourglass femme fatale, his target ends up being an other-worldly alien creature with a pubic mound that looks like Guy Fieri’s fat bleached head. Somehow, it’s still titillating. That is good filmmaking.
Heir (Canada, 14 min.)
Heir is something different. A mixture of old-fashioned body horror and psychological trauma, Heir explores one man’s tendency for abuse by externally making him a monster. Seeing the abuser as a literal monster fighting his demons is something to behold. Leading his son, Paul, to meet up with a mysterious stranger, Roland is hiding a terrifying and dark secret. The body horror comes into play when a stigmata-like wound in Roland’s hand begins rotting and spurting what looks like semen. Why he has this affliction, we don’t know. The stranger they’re meeting, Denis, has an even more terrifying secret: a tentacle living inside his arm that erupts when he’s turned on. At least when I think he’s turned on, because it came out in full force when they both saw a young person held as a sexual hostage in Denis’s bedroom. While watching the film, one can only think that Paul will have the same fate, either as a victim or becoming the titular “heir” to his father’s fate.
Sister Hell (Germany, 15 min.)
This was my vote for the best short film of the evening! Sister Hell is a crazy journey of a repressed nun yearning for the outside world full of sex and desire, ultimately making herself the devil’s plaything. The devil, in this case, plays both the violin and accordion as weapons against the nun’s oppressive fellow nuns and priest. Turns out, our beauty is the Whore of Babylon and successfully sends the Mother Superior to an angelic, bloody heaven after kissing her, sealing her fate. Oh yeah, and she ends up pregnant with Satan’s seed.
A.C.A.B. (All Cops Are Bastards) (USA, 3 min.)
In A.C.A.B., a white policeman beats up minorities in slow motion while a narrator recites the Police Officer’s Oath. I know it was supposed to send a message, but the film didn’t offer a different insight into police brutality and was, sadly, forgettable.
Remnant (UK, 14 min.)
What happens when you have a parasitic twin that really wants to escape your body and live a life of sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll? You fucking let it happen! Claire is having terrible insomnia and waking nightmares. Getting sick from lack of sleep, she is seen as unreliable and loses her job. With her life unraveling around her –physically and mentally– she resorts to staying in her bed, experiencing a horrible death full of pain and loneliness. Turns out, the sickness is a full-size parasitic twin that’s been trying to escape her body and live a life of debauchery. Part body horror, part internal struggle drama, Remnant is less bloody and more comprehensible than most on this list, which is why I think it was a perfect pick for this film festival.
Pig (France, 5 min.)
A guy in a mask fucks a pig corpse and another dude’s balloon-knot? Yeah, that’s what Pig is.
Western Women (USA, 14 min.)
Western Women is set in one hotel room during one evening with a man and the woman he purchased, only this isn’t your traditional woman of the night. She arrives in a suitcase outside of his hotel suite door and she, silently, has to endure his list of sexual desires until she’s put back into the suitcase and picked up in the morning. Western Women probably has a deeper message regarding how women, “should be seen and not heard.” While viewers might agree or disagree that this is the intended message, it’s undoubtedly a simple and beautifully shot film.
Sympathy for the Devil: The True Story of the Process Church of the Final Judgment
If you’re interested in new-age cults of the 1960s and 1970s, look no further than Sympathy For The Devil: The True Story of The Process Church of the Final Judgment. Drawing influences from Satan, Lucifer, Jehovah, and God, The Process Church of the Final Judgement was an apocalyptic cult, drawing members from the wealthy and influential young people of London. With testimonies from celebrities such as John Waters, this documentary is rich with information without being drab. Providing no external narration, the story is told only from first-hand accounts of the people who assisted in founding this religious community that would become a part of conspiracy theories into the 21st century.
Kill Your Friends
What would you do to be more successful than your coworkers and friends? In the vein of Trainspotting and American Psycho, Kill Your Friends is a fast-paced, darkly comedic thriller about the London music scene in the late 1990s. Nicholas Hoult plays Steven Stelfox, an A&R agent searching for the next big thing in London’s bustling music scene. Living a hedonistic life of drugs and greed, Stelfox will do anything to keep on top of the music game and becomes obsessed with climbing the ladder to the top. Is he actually killing his friends to eliminate the competition, or is all of this just a drug-induced fever dream of a narcissistic 20-something? Kill Your Friends plays like a very toned down American Psycho with just enough humor to make you not feel guilty about laughing at the dark humor. Despite mediocre reviews prior to its release, Kill Your Friends is recommended if you’re looking for a good time at the movies but still want some substance.
The Boston Underground Film Festival brings out the cigarette-rolling hipsters, the supportive parents and their teenagers, and the studious Harvard-ites into one room to celebrate the art of film, no matter how questionable or depraved.