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from Inside by Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo

Motel Lx Horror Film Festival in Lisbon

More than forty films from around the world, plus director José Mojica Marins.

For five days earlier this month, Lisbon was invaded by monsters and ghosts. The rules to survive the spooks provoked by the second edition of Motel Lx where written all over the place, like bread crumbs leading the way to safety.

In every corner and bathroom mirrors’ there were lines like “if you are home alone, don’t take a shower. Wash your body in parts”. Or “don’t accept jobs at summer camps”. These sentences set the mood for the horror fans that came to Cinema S.Jorge to see more than forty films and short films from countries like Argentina, USA, Thailand, Norway and Poland, among others.

 The Room Service section kicked off Motel Lx with Neill Marshall’s Doomsday. After The Descent, Marshall went bloody again with a piece that looks like John Carpenter on acid mixed with Mad Max and King Arthur. Although the movie was not a novelty, it was fun to see Rhona Mitra kick ass.

José Mojica Marins a.k.a. Coffin Joe was the guest star of the section Cult of the Living Masters.  The 72 year old Brazilian director is an obscure myth of the genre. His work implemented horror films in Brazil, playing with local superstitions and icons to create the character Coffin Joe. With low budget resources, Marins' movies are gorish and camp, like a South-American Ed Wood. Although they can be laughable and not for everyone's taste, they stand for a very peculiar way of expression.

Motel Lx showed four of Marins' movies, including his latest piece Embodiment of Evil, which he waited forty years to make. It was time well spent if you like odd performances, outrageous plots, a bit of nudity and a lot of blood. If that is not you cup of tea, please skip it.

In the section Abominable New World the festival paid homage to the French roots of horror. From La Manoir du Diable (George Miélle, 1896) to Buñuel and his Chien Andalou, France always had a strong grip on the genre. In 2003, after decades of American supremacy, France took the lead again with Alexandre Aja's Switchable Romance (Haute Tension).

Motel Lx showed four movies that exemplified this new trend of European horror films, including Aja's piece. Inside by Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo was the one most likely to make you spill your guts out. With an extremely violent aesthetic, this movie about women and their maternal instincts is a good example of what the nouvelle vague of horror can do. The performances by Béatrice Dalle and Alysson Paradis are the back bone of the film, making it uncompromising and disturbing.   Another highlight was Hiss, the first Afghan horror movie, which made its European debut in Lisbon. It’s a must see for every fan of the genre that wants to keep up with what’s new.

Black Water by Aussie duo Andrew Traucki and David Nerlich made salt water crocodiles look like Jaws and Lucy McKee and Angela Bettis, the pair behind May (2002), returned to action with Roman, a fairytale horror romance. The cinematography is beautiful and the soundtrack gives it an off-beat feeling.

To wrap up this section we had The Girl Next Door (Gregory M. Wilson). Based on a book by Jack Ketchum, this film made the audience shiver with its suggestion of terror lurking beneath a clean cut 50’s neighborhood. Not advisable to feminists.

Our few last words go to Animal. Showed in the Doc Horror section, this documentary follows bull fights and other popular displays that abuse animals as a form of entertainment. Compiling realistic images, it questions what true violence is and shows that reality is far more horrific than fiction and can compete with any horror film.