Fantastic Fest 2022 has a great selection of film docs, and one of the most interesting ones is the latest from Alexandre O. Philippe. His resume includes some fascinating examinations of classic films, including 78/52: Hitchcock’s Shower Scene and Leap of Faith: William Friedkin on the Exorcist. His films always focus on an interesting corner of film  and when I heard that he had a new one examining the work of David Lynch, I knew I couldn’t miss it.

This film takes on a bit of a different format from his previous works. It is divided into six chapters and essentially takes on the format of a series of video essays diving into various aspects of Lynch's oeuvre. The common theme is how those works relate or overlap to the 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz.

With participation from Amy Nicholson, Rodney Ascher, Aaron Moorehead, Justin Benson, Karyn Kusama, John Waters and David Lowery, the film covers a lot of ground and discusses some fascinating aspects of Lynch’s work. The academic approach introduces so many different threads to follow and numerous ways of looking at his films. Different themes and connections are carefully drawn out and examined, offering a fascinating perspective on what the various works overlap.

This may not appeal to viewers who are looking for something more ironclad. It’s not a history of Lynch’s work and there is no definitive conclusions drawn. It functions more as a thought experiment and a very thorough analysis of Lynch’s films and a lot of the themes that he has returned to over the course of his career. There is a lot to dive into regarding how he uses space, worlds, characters and the nature of reality  to tell his stories. It’s really nerdy and incredibly fascinating. 

Lynch/Oz Score: 5/5


I could not make it through the festival without checking out the latest from Jaume Balagero. I have been a fan of his for years and was excited to see his new film, Venus. Happy to say, I was not disappointed.

Lucia (Ester Exposito) works as a dancer in a club. When the film opens, we see her ending her shift early, pulling a bag from a locker and preparing to leave. She is interrupted because that bag isn’t actually hers. It belongs to her kingpin boss, is filled with ecstasy, and is about to be the cause of a ton of problems for her.

She is attacked by one of the bouncers on her way out the door, but manages to escape. She heads to her sister’s apartment, which is part of a largely empty building. A handful of residents remain, but the place has definitely seen better days. Lucia prepares to lay low for a few days and figure out her next move. It’s not easy to convince her sister Rocio (Angela Cremonte) to let her crash. The sisters haven’t been in touch in a number of years, and Lucia is a complete stranger to Rocio’s daughter Alba (Inez Fernandez). 

When Lucia wakes up after the first night, she finds that Rocio has left the apartment - no message, no note, and she isn’t picking up her phone. Lucia keeps an eye on Alba over the next few days while she waits for the smoke to clear after her daring escape. It’s not clearing any time soon though; her boss is revving up all of his goons and has everyone on the streets looking for Lucia and her big bag full of drugs.

So far, the film sounds like a crime thriller, and yes, that’s part of it. But it’s also a creepy supernatural story, and that’s the component that slowly sneaks into the proceedings. There’s a lot going on in this strange apartment building that doesn’t immediately present itself. Noises come from the supposedly empty top floor and Alba complains about strange dreams. She also has a box of weird trinkets that she says were delivered to her by a mysterious person who resides somewhere in the building. Lucia brushes it off as a product of her young imagination, but things continue to get stranger.

As the story unfolds clues begin to set in that point to a supernatural conspiracy. The entire story unfolds as a strange celestial body comes into Earth’s orbit and the apartment complex where Lucia finds herself seems to be at the center of it. There are a trio of elederly women who are very evocative of the witches in Lords of Salem that seem to be pulling a lot of the strings. They intend to use the event to invoke the presence of an ancient deity and bring it into our world.

The film bounces around a bit, incorporating elements of crime thriller, supernatural horror and a bit of Lovecraft thrown in for good measure. There’s a level of feminine badassary that I particularly appreciate. Lucia winds up thrown into something bigger than she can possibly imagine, and the way she turns the tables in the finale is pretty fantastic. The film unfolds with the deliberate nature of some of Balagero’s earlier films, like Fragile and Darkness, but with a modern feel.

Venus Score: 4/5


David Hebrero’s Everyone Will Burn is a glimpse at small town life in the face of the apocalypse. Years ago, Maria Jose’s (Macarena Gomez) son tragically passed away. Her marriage fell apart and her husband left, leaving her alone in their small town. It’s the kind of town where everyone knows everyone and nothing can be kept a secret. And rather than coming together to support her, the community decided that she was a pariah (based in part on the fact that her son had always been a bit of an outcast).

Well, nothing except for the massive secret that the town has collectively kept for 40 years. 

One day, Maria Jose comes across Lucia, a strange young girl who crosses her path at perhaps the perfect moment. Maria Jose takes her home with her and learns that Lucia harbors some strange and wondrous powers. She repeatedly says cryptic things about a mysterious father and how she has come here with purpose. But for Maria Jose, she’s simply a child. She is more than happy to welcome Lucia into her home and allow her to fill the void left behind after her son’s passing. 

The film’s driving forces are the mysterious origin and purpose of Lucia, as well as the darker side of small town life. When you have a bunch of already edgy, overly-religious, secret-keeping people and then sic them on the town outcast and her new supernatural daughter, things are bound to get intense. 

The film opens strong with a pretty amazing scene and then reverts to a slow build until its apocalyptic conclusion. Margarita Gomez turns in an excellent performance (as always) and the rest of the cast balances the story out nicely. It’s a little slow at times, but it’s a cool twist on the small town narrative. Not as charming as the ones that Stephen King builds, but still an intriguing look behind the lace curtains and into the darker spaces that tightly-knit communities can try to hide.

Everyone Will Burn Score: 3/5