It’s time to assemble the Brattle Balcony Crew. Three weeks out from opening night, the Boston Underground Film Festival posted their first wave of titles coming to the Brattle Cinema in historic Harvard Square March 22nd through the 26th. The time for cinephiles to embrace all that is weird, macabre and unnerving is almost at hand.
Coming off a month that celebrates the contributions of women in genre films, it feels appropriate and satisfying that the festival will be bookended by female driven creations. Fans of Ben Wheatley’s delightful black comedy Sightseers have ample reason. For excitement this afternoon. Alice Lowe will be pulling triple duty as star/writer/director of the Bloody and comic horror romp PREVENGE, which kicks off the festival Wednesday March 22nd. On Sunday night, BUFF shuts out the lights with Marianna Palka’s BITCH, a film the fest organizers describe as “a disturbing dive into doggone delirium.”
In between there’s a lot to love. Trent Hegga returns to BUFF with his latest crime thriller 68 KILL about a home break in and road trip getaway gone haywire. The Astron-6 team returns to BUFF with the New England premiere of THE VOID. The Conspiracy’s Aaron Poole stars as patrol officer who gets sucked into an inhuman, galaxy spanning conspiracy one night while doing a routine grounds check. Moody, atmospheric and downright chilling, this film has hopes of scratching that Carpenter itch. Australia springs another crime drama onto the crowd with HOUNDS OF LOVE. This one tells the tale of a 17 year old girl abducted and held prisoner by a criminal couple with explosive anger issues. The key to her survival is her wits and her ability to drive a wedge between the criminal lovebirds. DAVE MADE A MAZE looks like a bizarre stop motion comedy about a guy with hoarding issues, at least as far as I can tell.
Local filmmakers also get their own time in the spotlight. Cape Cod filmmaker Skip Shea brings his very personal film TRINITY to BUFF. The film tells the tale of a young man who bumps into the priest that molested him. The incident kicks off a waking, Kafkaesque nightmare in a movie filled with metaphors and searing anger at the hypocrisy of organized religion. Chris Hallock returns to program the popular, annual HOMEGROWN HORROR short film block which serves up two hours of outstanding and terrifying films from New England. Local filmmaker Izzy Lee debuts her latest collaboration with her writing partner Hallock with FOR A GOOD TIME as part of the demented Trigger Warning shorts block Friday at midnight.
So far the announcement looks like a solid return to form for BUFF. Last year, while solid, lacked a number of titles that bowled me over, aside from the closing film TRASH FIRE. Part of that comes from the nature of Boston Underground. It’s the furthest thing removed from an “us too” film fest. The programmers at BUFF go far off the beaten path to find and present some of strangest and most exhilarating that other festivals either leave behind or find themselves playing catch up at a later date. This can make for some incredible under the radar films getting highlighted. One of my favorite BUFF experiences was seeing little known Love on the Rocks. It features a dominatrix specializing in the art of hypnotism putting a serial killer under her spell and turning him into her own personal puppy. Go ahead and google it. The result that comes up is not the film that played BUFF. There’s next to nothing out there on this film yet it remains one of my all time favorite viewings at any festival, anywhere. That’s what you get when you support and attend BUFF.
For the next two weeks you can purchase a BUFF pass at a discount and get some swag by supporting the festival Kickstarter. The normal festival pass price is $180 but a $130 pledge nets you a full pass and admission to any other parties and special events. That’s a nifty savings fifty bucks. If you can’t make it to the whole event but want to check out a handful of titles, $55 nets you a five film punchcard.