Uncommon Enemies (DIR. Alex Hatz)
By: Addison Wylie
A late-night rendezvous between a Nazi (played by James Gangl) and a seductive mademoiselle (played by Melanie Scrofano) is interrupted by a couple of American soldiers. When discovered, the Sergeant (played by Flashpoint’s Michael Cram) and the Nazi hold each other at gunpoint, while the French miss tends to the wounded Private (played by AJ Vaage).
Uncommon Enemies is a comedic period piece that tries too hard to make the audience laugh. Some gestures are inspired (the Sergeant and the Nazi trying to light smokes while holding their weapons still), but director/screenwriter Alex Hatz either allows the punchline to overstay its welcome or have the actors deliver the joke in a clunky fashion.
On the bright side, Hatz’s ho-hum short film has commendable special effects provided by Silent Hill’s Steven Dawley.
Ejecta (DIR. Chad Archibald and Matt Wiele)
By: Addison Wylie
Within the wonderful world of filmmaking, tight-knit groups of devotees form over different productions. Off the top of my head, America has Adam Wingard, Simon Barrett, Joe Swanberg, and AJ Bowen. Canada gets Tony Burgess, Chad Archibald, Matt Wiele, and Jesse Thomas Cook. Sometimes, I wish we could trade.
Tony Burgess is a gifted author and has a fantastic grasp on tension and uncertainty. I reference his perfect adaptation of Pontypool in past reviews for a reason. He has since teamed up with benign auteurs (the aforementioned listed names) to make unorthodox genre flicks.
Burgess has teamed up once again with these fellas in a film helmed by Wiele and Antisocial’s co-screenwriter Archibald. Ejecta is thankfully not in a deplorable state as Septic Man was. It sits alongside Antisocial, a film that’s as middle-of-the-road as horror films go.
The problem with Ejecta is that its potential is squandered into dull retreads of movies we’ve seen before. It’s different when Berkshire County can take a formula and breathe some life into it. Here, the filmmakers believe they’re doing something new when really they’re recycling overcooked conventions found in mysterious thrillers and found footage yarns.
Julian Richings stars as extraterrestrial enthusiast William Cassidy, and he’s the only one who walks away from the production unscathed. Richings has a strange aura that always seems to exist around roles he plays. It’s no different in Ejecta. He’s captivating as an individual who sits in a median between being controlling and having a fuzzy memory.
Unfortunately, Richings is trapped in the film’s halfhearted plots. Burgess, who wrote the screenplay, applies that knowledge he has to supply rock hard suspense and his writing goes hand-in-hand with the suffocating score and the slick special effects. However, he has many characters monologuing in order to rattle off exposition or motivations. It’s a bad habit that early writers quickly learn is a no-no, so it’s odd witnessing Burgess fall in this trap.
Ejecta is a pedestrian sci-fi outing which, I guess, is acceptable. This project could’ve strived to be so much more though. I don’t ever want these filmmakers to settle for “pedestrian”.
Uncommon Enemies and the Toronto premiere of Ejecta screen on:
Saturday, November 29 at 7:00 p.m. @ Carlton Cinema
Click here to buy tickets!
Click here to visit the official Blood in the Snow website!