Danishka Esterhazy (director)
10 March 2019 (released)
10 March 2019
FrightFest Glasgow 2019
My first ever trip to the city of Glasgow, the film festival and FrightFest proved to be a triple whammy as all impressed greatly. It’s a lively city, the film festival had some cracking films and FrightFest was an intense experience with not much time between films; draining but coffee and the odd beer meant that the effects of fatigue were nulled.
As to the films, well not all are going to hit the sweet spot and there were a few that didn’t. Having said that there were no real clunkers. What did come through once again, and it bears repeating, was the richness and depth of the horror genre as it goes from wild and wacky, through thoughtful and arty, to exploitation and boundary-pushing. And lots in-between.
A word on Lords of Chaos. This was an extra film and as it has a national release date – many of these films won’t be seen in the cinema again – will be subject to a full review then. Briefly it tells story of a black metal band and a small scene in Norway that imploded due to a toxic mixture of personality, egotistical and music differences, that led to violence, suicide and murder. It’s complicated, genuinely tragic and based on factual events.
While not one of the most original premises - the grooming of children (girls in this case) for others to use. The Handmaids Tale is the obvious reference, Level 16 however does have a few original ideas and a visual palette of blues and greys that complements the overall ambience as the girls are educated/indoctrinated in the hope that they will eventually lead fulfilling lives.
Beginning when the girls are much younger, one of them for an act of kindness is punished, setting up that this establishment is as much about discipline and order as education. The film then jumps forward to when they are sixteen and preparing for Level 16 and some sort of freedom. It’s here that Vivien (Katie Douglas) is re-united with Sophia (Celina Martin) still haunted by her inaction earlier on.
Under the supervision Miss Brixil (Sara Canning) the girls are basically programmed in to servitude, as the perform chores, watch films that they have seen so many times they can recite and taught to believe that ‘outside’ is toxic. They are drugged into sleeping for long periods of time. Sophia still has her wits about her, stop taking their pills and sets about finding out what is going on in the institution and beyond.
The true purpose of the Academy and what is behind it is revealed slowly (It could possibly have lost around 10 minutes) but director Danishka Esterhazy maintains momentum and the attention as it leads to the inevitable revolt. The performances are very good all round especially the young cast.