With an incredible Day 3 of the 2022 South by Southwest behind me, my excitement for more films heading into Day 4 was at an all-time high. Unfortunately, Day 4 did not match expectations. After beginning my day with a cute story about young warriors fighting an alien invasion, I had to end it with characters making insanely stupid decisions… It be like that sometimes. Here are my Day 4 reviews of SXSW 2022
1) Slash/Back | Director: Nyla Innuksuk
Synopsis: A sleepy hamlet nestled in the majestic mountains of Baffin Island in the Arctic Ocean, wakes up to a typical summer day. No School, no cool boys (well… except one), and 24-hour sunlight. But for Maika and her ragtag friends, the usual summer is suddenly not in the cards when they discover an alien invasion threatening Pang. Principal Cast: Tasiana Shirley, Alexis Wolfe, Chelsea Prusky, Frankie Vincent-Wolfe, Nalajoss Ellsworth
Review: In director Nyla Innukasuk’s coming of age story Slash/Back, a kick-ass group of teenage girls fight off shape-shifting aliens while coming to terms with who they are. This endearing film contains quite the bit of girl power and sass to pair with some killer fight sequences. And though the pacing is uneven, there’s a lot of charm to this low-budget adventure that often resembles elements of John Carpenter’s The Thing. For that alone, I’d recommend this.
2) The Cow | Eli Horowitz
Synopsis: Upon arriving at a remote cabin in the redwoods, Kath and her boyfriend find a mysterious younger couple already there — the rental has apparently been double-booked. With nowhere else to go, they decide to share the cabin with these strangers until the next morning. When her boyfriend disappears with the young woman, Kath becomes obsessed with finding an explanation for their sudden breakup— but the truth is far stranger than she could have imagined.
Review: Winona Ryder is exceptional in damn near everything she does. But even an amazing performance from her cannot save whatever this was supposed to be. I’ve never been afraid of liking a movie with awful characters, but the somewhat creative concept can’t save this from its own stupidity. Not only did the film take a while to get to where it needed to go, but it tripped along the way then fell flat on its face. Do with this information as you please.
3) A Lot of Nothing | Director: Mo McRae
Synopsis: James and Vanessa, seem to be happily married, successful, and comfortable in every way. They are rocked to their core while watching the news one night when they see cell phone footage of their neighbor committing a crime. In a state of shock, and with opposing points of view about how to address the issue, they go on a highly combustible journey to ‘do something.’ Principal Cast: Y’lan Noel, Cleopatra Coleman, Shamier Anderson, Lex Scott Davis, Justin Hartley
Review: Nothing annoys me more than people jumping to conclusions and making up their mind about something they only know one or two facts about. A Lot of Nothing is exactly that. To say that this film annoyed me to no end would be the understatement of the year, in fact. Maybe that was director Mo McRae’s goal–to showcase how ridiculous jumping to conclusions is. And if it was, bravo surpassing the effectiveness of his mission–it was a job well done. I just hope viewers can separate reality from fiction because this ventures off into some sensitive territory.