Albatross: Enjoyable coming of age yarn that plays a little like Tamara Drewe, though for my money it’s a lot more entertaining. The middle aged writer this time is Sebastian Koch, still living off and haunted by the success of his debut novel a couple of decades previously. The object of his desire is Emilia (Jessica Brown-Findlay), a free spirit, aspiring writer and new best friend to his daughter Beth (Felicity Jones).
Emilia is a gift of a role for Brown-Findlay, who will deservedly get a lot more work from this film (I was trying to remember what I recognised her from – turned out to be an episode of Misfits, though she was also in Downton Abbey). Koch and Jones are also strong, as is Julia Ormonds as Beth’s bitter mother. It is perhaps a bit too tidily structured (it’s like, everyone in the film has an albatross round their neck, yeah?) but a very worthwhile watch nonetheless.
Rabies: This Israeli horror starts like many a torture porn flick: a young woman is caught in a trap in the woods, a young man is struggling to free her, a killer is on the prowl. Once the rest of the characters turn up – two couples looking for a tennis club, a couple of cops – it becomes more of a black comedy. On those terms it works pretty well, though it does stretch credulity that so many stupid people could show up in the same remote spot in such a tight time period. The film has some decent jumps among the running around in the woods, and a good punchline, but the high level of fuckwittery on display makes you want to throttle many of the characters.
Troll Hunter: The hotly anticipated found footage comedy horror from Norway. A trio of students are attempting to make a film about an apparent poacher: it’s not really spoiling things to say he turns out to be a troll hunter, secretly employed by the Norwegian authorities to manage the country’s troll population.
My expectations for this were probably too high, and I suspect I’ll like it more on a second viewing. First time round I felt the need for more scares among the comedy, and a subplot about one of the characters becoming ill ends up going nowhere. But the basic concept is strong, and the trolls themselves are beautifully rendered, looking just like you imagined them in childhood.
The Divide: There seem to be a quite a few apocalypses on screen at Edinburgh this year (apocalypti?), and this is the most depressing. After someone – we never know who – drops a nuke on New York, a group of characters hole up in a bunker under their apartment building to wait for rescue, which doesn’t come. Things get gradually worse and worse for them, and the luckless audience. I can’t honestly recommend that anyone see this film, but if you want something that crushes all sense of hope and fills you with loathing and contempt for your fellow man, then this certainly does the job.
Finally, The Caller. A slightly odd selection for the Festival – it’s not bad by any means, but I’m not clear what it’s doing here rather than the shelves of HMV in a box with ‘the stars of Twilight and True Blood’ plastered across it.
Rachel Lefevre moves into an old apartment after splitting from her violent husband, where she starts getting phone calls from a woman who thinks it’s 1977. Our heroine decides it would be a good idea to encourage her to be less of a doormat, only to inadvertantly create a monster – a crazed murderer who who is able to bump off the people she cares about before she’s even met them.
It reminded me of Asif Kapadia’s The Return, in that it’s a straight to DVD premise with greater stylistic aspirations. Lefevre and her love interest Stephen Moyer are both good, but it’s one of those films that will work just as well on TV.