BIFF16 REVIEW: Mercy [2016]

“Why would you let her suffer?” It’s practically impossible to talk about what’s happening in Chris Sparling‘s latest thriller Mercy without spoiling it. The writer/director knows, splitting it into three pieces as a result: the first third completely shrouded in mystery, the next a replay from alternative perspectives, and the last the truth of the […]

BIFF16 REVIEW: Off the Rails [2016]

“I’m volunteering my time” It starts as a lark: Darius McCollum led away in handcuffs with smile ear-to-ear. We think this is a guy having fun pretending to be a Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) employee. He knows what he’s doing, never hurts a soul, and gets people where they’re going on time whether by subway […]

BIFF16 REVIEW: 2307: Winter’s Dream [2016]

“I guess Hell finally froze over” The year is 2307 and Earth is three centuries removed from climate change transforming its surface to glacial ice. Humanity has evolved to living underground, improving technology to help sustain their tenuous ecosystem outside of the subzero temperatures. This includes insulation injections to combat cold for up to 48-hours, […]

BIFF16 REVIEW: Tony Conrad: Completely in the Present [2016]

“No LSD needed” When Tony Conrad passed away in April 2016, I knew of him as an experimental filmmaker. It’s hard to be an art student at the University at Buffalo—despite his teaching in Media Studies rather than Fine Art—and not know his name at the very least. But that was all I knew: a […]

BIFF16 REVIEW: Tower [2016]

“Stay away from the university area” My first experience with rotoscope animation was probably Richard Linklater‘s Waking Life in 2001. I found it a fascinating technique retaining the live action movement and reality while allowing the room to add dream-like flourishes of fantasy that fit the frame aesthetically. You don’t care when someone’s head becomes […]

BIFF16 REVIEW: Gold Star [2016]

“I wish I could stop worrying about everything” I know what Victoria Negri‘s debut feature Gold Star is about even if it never quite finds the footing to fulfill its promise. It’s about a young woman trapped in a life she never thought she’d lead as a part-time fitness club employee who’s lost the nerve […]

BIFF15 REVIEW: In the Dark [2015]

“Atheist searching for a miracle” There’s nothing like a good cold open to set the mood and David Spaltro‘s In the Dark gets out of the gate running. It introduces us to Joan (Catherine Cobb Ryan) and Bethany Mills (Grace Folsom)—a seemingly wholesome mother and daughter duo connected by love and respect. The former has […]

BIFF15 REVIEW: They Look Like People [2015]

“You must prepare for the war” **POTENTIAL SPOILERS** I do not consider They Look Like People‘s Wyatt (MacLeod Andrews) being revealed as schizophrenic to be a spoiler. He goes to see a psychiatrist pretty early on and is in a constant battle with himself to figure out what’s real and what isn’t. Rather than be […]

BIFF15 REVIEW: Strange Bird [2015]

“Happy Birthday, Emma” After their screening premiere of Strange Bird at the Buffalo International Film Festival, co-writers Daniel Mecca (who also co-directs with Timothy Ringwood) and Conor O’Donnell explained how much of the short’s final cut was found in the editing room. This makes perfect sense as there’s no dialogue for almost the entire first […]

BIFF15 REVIEW: Emelie [2015]

“Everyone dies at some point” It begins with the abduction of a girl. The scene is quiet and innocuous until it isn’t—a car rolling up to a young girl to ask for directions as children play in the background. The driver says, “Are you Anna?” before a man grabs her and shoves her in the […]

BIFF15 REVIEW: Prescient [2015]

“Things would have been very different if it weren’t for her” Theodore Meridian (Michael Piccirilli) sees the future—a very specific future. If the person he locks eyes with is destined to die within 24-hours, he’ll catch a glimpse of their demise. This power has haunted him since childhood and only his Aunt Kay (Bryna Weiss), […]