The 4th day of the 2022 South by Southwest film festival was a doozy. That isn’t necessarily a good thing. But my excitement for Day 5 would not falter. I witnessed a striking drama about desperation leading to healing. I experienced utter mayhem with a down-and-out married couple who wanted so badly to become wealthy. Lastly, I got to see a story of vengeance and payback in a thrilling horror film. Day 5 was an improvement, to say the least. Here is a recap:
1) Without Prescription | Director: Juliana Maite
Synopsis: Olivia suffers from OCD, a mental condition that manifests itself through a voice in her head that compels her to brush her teeth constantly. During Christmas Eve festivities in Barranquitas, Puerto Rico, the voice comes back after being dormant for a year. Not having Health Care, she desperately searches for the pills that will control her OCD without a prescription. Through her friend Jessica, who she met years ago in a mental institution, she meets David, the town’s pharmacist’s son, who agrees to sell her the pills. Trapped inside David’s apartment by a rainstorm, two strangers start uncovering truths about each other and start a healing process that doesn’t necessarily involve pills. Principal Cast: Marietere Vélez, Gabriel Leyva, Carola García, Junior Álvarez, Mariana Monclova, Yussef Soto
Review: Without Prescription is a story about how the lack of healthcare can lead to dire actions by those who need help the most. And director Juliana Maite depicts this tastefully. Though the pacing leaves much to be desired, the filmmakers’ storytelling approach results in a narrative that demands sympathy. Plus, Maite doesn’t take the “easy” way out by showing that disorders can be eliminated easily. Rather, she shows how being in a state of absolute despondence [because of it] can be. Check out my full review here!
2) Pretty Problems | Director: Kestrin Pantera
Synopsis: Low cash flow + plan B jobs + a snooze alarm sex life: Jack and Lindsey Simpson are officially stuck. But when they get invited to a Sonoma Chateau by affluent strangers, they end up on the most unhinged weekend of their lives. With the “haves,” anything goes — including their bearings on reality. Can their relationship survive this new wild west of wealth? Do they even want it to? Principal Cast: Britt Rentschler, Michael Tennant, JJ Nolan, Graham Outerbridge, Charlotte Ubben, Alex Klein, Clayton Froning, Katarina Hughes, Vanessa Chester, Amy Maghera
Review: “In Pretty Problems, director Kestrin Pantera and writer Michael Tennant master the themes of self-worth and complacency with delightfully dark humor and exposition. Through Jack and Lindsay, Pantera explores the theory of “greener grass” unlike anything I’ve seen before.” The film takes a sad yet hilarious approach towards analyzing the life of the rich and somewhat famous. But the best part of all is how masked insecurities are prevalent no matter how much money you make… I’m not saying a little extra can’t help, though! Check out my full review over at Film Threat.
3) Bitch Ass | Director: Bill Posley
Synopsis: The year is 1980. Young Cecil is bullied by kids in the 6th Street gang for being fat, shy, and always playing board games. They all pick on him and call him Bitch Ass. On a gang initiation night, they jump him and leave him for dead. Fast forward to 1999. No one has seen or heard from Bitch Ass since, and he has become an urban legend. Now, a new crop of 6th Street recruits are gearing up for another initiation night. They get tasked with robbing a house, but little do they know they’re walking into Bitch Ass’ house, and he has been plotting his revenge by building deadly versions of the childhood games they bullied him for playing. Let the games begin! Principal Cast: Sheaun McKinney, Tunde Laleye, Me’Lisa Sellers, Teon Kelly, and Tony Todd
Review: “Often occupied with humor to pair opposite of its horror elements, Posley’s Bitch Ass takes confident strides towards a steady balance of fun and terror.” With exciting callbacks to Tales from the Hood and Saw, Bill Posley’s feature next-level entertaining. And despite its budgetary limits, the feature reaches new heights with every turning point. I highly recommend this one. Full review here!