Tribeca Film Festival 2014: Totally Twisted

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Totally Twisted is one of the nine short film programs in the Tribeca Film Festival this year. The theme of the program was summed up with three words: “Fun. Creepy. Weird.” Read on for a rundown of each individual film included in Totally Twisted.

The 30 Year Old Bris

Part cross-cultural romance and part sex comedy, The 30 Year Old Bris is a silly little fluff of a film about Brad (Nick Fondulis), an uncircumcised man, who wants to propose to his devout Jewish girlfriend. Unfortunately, she does not believe his religious conversion to Judaism will be complete unless he undergoes one last important physical change. Brad has to decide whether to lose his girlfriend to a nice, circumcised Jewish boy or go through with a 30-year-old bris.

The 30 Year Old Bris is entertaining and gets a few really good laughs. The funniest scene involves a parade of phallic symbols including sausages and balloon animals, and the film’s epilogue hits a sweet spot usually reserved for David Wain comedies. On the downside, the characters are a bit too broad and stereotypical, and it doesn’t break any new ground in cross-cultural romances. With the right expectations, The 30 Year Old Bris is fun, but don’t expect anything new.

Trust Me, I’m a Lifeguard

Trust Me, I’m a Lifeguard feels like the Childrens Hospital writers created an old-fashioned beach party comedy, minus Annette Funicello. Sam (Tyler Hollinger) and Murphy (Christian Keiber) are best friends and possibly the worst lifeguards ever. Their perfect summer might be ruined, however, by a rogue dolphin who has taken a liking to Murphy and a sexy foreigner Stratos (Brett Azar) who has taken a liking to Sam’s girlfriend Sandy (Katie Henney).

I am a huge fan of Childrens Hospital and that style of completely absurd humor, so I ended up watching Trust Me, I’m a Lifeguard several times over on the online press screening library. On the surface, it is completely idiotic, but the film only seems idiotic because the story tropes it is skewering are overused and dumb. Anyone who has watched TV in the past ten years will recognize these characters and situations from Sandy’s vaguely foreign boyfriend to Murphy’s fear of the water, which he must overcome in a time of crisis. What sets Trust Me, I’m a Lifeguard apart from something like The 30 Year Old Bris is its willingness to go all-in and play up these story tropes in the most ridiculous way possible. “My father hates you for what you represent.” “Life? Saving people? Suntan lotion?”

Peepers

Oh, Peepers. This movie totally took me by surprise and ended up being one of my favorite films of the whole festival. In a few short minutes, Peepers examines the idea of adulthood and how most “grown-ups” are just faking it with color-coordinated bookshelves and Pinterest-inspired decor. A young couple believe that they are being watched by “peepers,” and they grow increasingly insecure with their ability to act like grown-ups. There is no wine in their wine glasses, and they are too nervous to eat their gazpacho. (Who eats cold soup anyway?) Their sudden unraveling is hysterical and brilliantly acted. I look forward to seeing what director Ken Lam and writers/stars Laura Grey and Jordan Klepper come up with next.

Remora

Landon (Rob Mathes), a recent recluse, is interrupted from his solitude by his brother Kevin (Tyler Lueck). Kevin is marrying Landon’s ex-wife Audrey (Dana Salah), and while he doesn’t expect Landon to attend the wedding, he needs his brother’s blessing. Very quickly, however, Kevin realizes that gaining his brother’s blessing is the least of his worries as Landon has gained powerful and uncontrollable supernatural abilities, powers that could destroy everyone Landon cares about.

Remora is a great story idea, but it shouldn’t have been produced as a short film. The concepts of brotherly love and betrayal beg to be explored further, and there isn’t enough time to delve into Landon’s powers. The imagery of objects and people exploding into dust is frightening and well-done, but as a short film, Remora feels incomplete.

The Body

In The Body, Alfie Allen plays a hit man working on the scariest night of the year, Halloween. While trying to dispose of his latest victim, he runs into an old classmate who compliments his costume and insists on dragging him to a Halloween party. He becomes the life of the party, despite his best efforts, and soon he is surrounded by friends, a sexy young woman, and the ever-present body of his last victim.

The Body is one of the better horror films at the Tribeca Film Festival, outclassing many of its feature-length counterparts. The premise is dark and clever while still being well-suited for a shorter format. Unlike Remora, The Body is self-contained, and it has a satisfying ending with Allen driving off into the distance for one last kill.

One Please

One Please takes place in a neighborhood clearly inspired by the colorful retro look of Edward Scissorhands where the local ice cream man requires bloody fees for a frozen treat. A young girl hears the song of the ice cream truck and goes running to her mother. With only a moment’s hesitation, the mother takes a knife, which she had been using to cut vegetables for dinner, and she cuts off one of her own fingers. The girl skips merrily out to the ice cream truck with her mother’s finger and exchanges it for ice cream.

The best part of One Please is the production value. Visually, it promises more than its story ever really delivers. The ice cream man is supremely creepy, but his motives behind collecting bloody fingers in jars is unclear. There is also no explanation for why the parents are willingly giving up their fingers so their children can buy ice cream from this particular ice cream truck. Aside from the film’s final visual gag of a greedy child devouring two ice cream cones, there isn’t enough payoff in One Please.

Sequence

Billy (Joe Hursley), an ordinary cook at a local diner, wakes up one morning to find that everyone in the world had a horrifying dream about him. His girlfriend is terrified of him, the patrons at the diner are physically sick at the sight of him, and his boss stutters that maybe he should take the day off. Soon, the people of the town are turning violent, believing that whatever terror played out in their dream will happen in real life.

I enjoyed Sequence because it surprised me. At key moments, it didn’t take the direction I was expecting, and besides that, Hursley is a very likeable leading actor. Writer and director Carles Torrens never reveals what was in that dream. Instead, he allows the audience to imagine what could have possibly happened to make a whole town turn on such a nice young man. Sequence is a short film with a great premise that fully delivers and gives a few good twists along the way.

May
09
2014
Rachel Kolb • Staff Writer

I love movies, writing, and breaking into song in public. You can follow me on Twitter @rachelekolb or check out more of my work at http://rachelekolb.wordpress.com.

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