I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.
Cole Clay // Critic
ABCs of DEATH 2 | 125 min. | Rated R | Director: Too many | Stars: Too many
When Alamo Drafthouse founder Tim League introduced the second edition in this anthology film franchise, he spoke about it as if it were his baby. He psyched the audience up and promised it would be better than the original. It’s indeed an improvement on the predecessor, with far less missteps. In our Day 1 Recap, we discussed a few of the notable shorts which can be found here, but we will recommend a few others for good measure.
C is for Capital Punishment, directed by Julian Gilbey, is a stark look at mob mentality in the modern world. It’s not only harrowing, but it’s grotesque as anything screening at the festival. Japanese filmmaker Hajime Ohata’s O is for Ochlocracy takes a novel approach to the zombie premise by making the blood-thirsty humanoids judge, jury, and executioner in the case of a renowned zombie-killer. This short was incredibly clever by any standard and evoked audible cheers from the audience. Lastly, Jen and Sylvia Soska’s T is for Torture Porn is essentially a smut film with teeth. This one was bone chilling because it felt so grounded in reality until it turns into a blood curdling tale about feminist empowerment.
The improvement of the film could be credited to producer Tim League’s stricter criteria for entry. Hopefully in the future the franchise continues to improve, but not many people are demanding an ABCs OF DEATH 3 other than hoards of Fantastic Fest-ers.
ABCs OF DEATH 2 screens again at Fantastic Fest on Thursday, Sept. 25 at 7:30 p.m. It opens in theaters on Oct. 2.
This film skates the line between a drama and a comedy unlike any film that has come to festivals in recent years. The title stems from a phrase Wikipedia defines as an “unavoidable accident.” So check that fact for what it’s worth. It follows a Swedish family on a five day long ski trip; all is well until an avalanche metaphorically rips the family apart.
Directed by Swedish filmmaker Ruben Ostlund who focuses his gaze upon the imploding male ego after the patriarch’s primal instincts fail to protect his family. The film is incredibly thought provoking and a frequently funny study of a floundering family dynamic. Ostlund captures beautifully framed long takes that employ both comedic and dramatic tones.
This isn’t the typical film you would find a Fantastic Fest, but it was a pleasant surprise to go into this film with very little knowledge.
FORCE MAJEURE screens again at Fantastic Fest on Monday, Sept. 22 at 11 a.m. It opens in theaters Oct. 24.
All ticket and screening information can be found at fantasticfest.com