Sunday 22 October 2023

Mayhem Festival Reviews - Day 4 - Sunday 15th October

RIVER (2023)

The final day of the Mayhem Festival kicked off with a screening of the Japanese sci-fi comedy RIVER. Set in and around a hotel and spa, somewhere in rural Japan, the staff and guests find themselves stuck in a permanent time loop, reliving the same 2 minutes over and over again, causing a lot of confusion.

Several staff members find the rooms they are cleaning keep un-tidying themselves, a couple of guests having lunch find their rice bowl never empties. A waitress trying to heat up some sake finds the bottle stays luke warm and some poor chap in the bathroom finds he is unable to rinse the shampoo out of his hair, no matter how long he stays under the shower.

With the guests starting to panic, the staff try to calm them, whilst a couple of the kitchen staff, who also happen to be science graduates, try to figure out what's going on.

A very bizarre, offbeat comedy, which was rather reminiscent of the film “Groundhog Day”, this was another crowd pleaser, which had the audience in fits of laughter. The film is apparently a sequel of sorts to an earlier film “Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes”, which I intend to check out shortly.

View the Trailer on YouTube.


The second film of the day was a radical change of pace, which was a screening of Director Franck Khalfoun's NIGHT OF THE HUNTED
Not to be confused with the Jean Rollin film of the same name (or the old Robert Mitchum film “Night of the Hunter”). A young girl, travelling home in the small hours of the morning, stops to fill up at a service station. Only to find herself trapped in the building, whilst a psychotic sniper starts taking pot shots at her.

With her mobile phone out in the car and the landline to the building cut, she finds herself having to figure out a way of either escaping, or calling for help. As the sniper continues to taunt her over a two-way radio, whilst taking random pot-shots at her.

A simple premise, but an extremely effective thriller, as you're continually wondering why this person is shooting at her, whether she will actually escape and if any other wayward travellers may stop and find themselves in the same situation.

The film was produced by Alexandra Aja (Director of “Switchblade Romance” and more recently “Crawl”) and Director Franck Khalfoun previously Directed the remake of “Maniac” (2012) and the similarly themed thriller “P2”. So if you've seen any of those, you know what you're in for and would thoroughly recommend checking this one out, which was certainly well received by the audience.

The film is available to stream on the Shudder network and will be available to purchase on Disc and Digital Download in November.

View the Trailer on YouTube.


Next up was the horror-thriller TRIM SEASON from Director Ariel Vida. In which a group of young women are hired as seasonal workers at a remote marijuana farm in the mountains.

As they are all strapped for cash, it seems like the ideal job. Well paid, free accommodation, food and all the joints they can smoke.

But they soon realise there is something decidedly odd about the eccentric lady who runs the place, Mona (Jane Badler, from 80s sci-fi show “V”), which they discover when one of them steals a special blend of weed from her, which has dire consequences.

It seems this is no ordinary dope farm and Mona is no ordinary farmer, and when the others attempt to leave, its not the armed guards they have to worry about.

An extremely impressive directorial debut from Ariel Vida, who previously worked on music videos and a number of short films. Bringing an unusual mash-up of stoner horror and witchcraft to the screen, which was like watching a Dario Argento version of “Reefer Madness” and was well received by the audience. 

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The penultimate film of the day also proved to be another one of  the more unusual films of the festival. Thomas Cailley's french sci-fi drama THE ANIMAL KINGDOM.

Set in France, large numbers of people have started mutating into animals. Birds, reptiles, wild cats etc. The government's reaction to this, has been to round them all up and stick them in special “hospitals”.

The plot primarily revolves around a chap called Francois and his son Emile, who have just moved to a new town as Francois's wife, who is mutating herself, has been taken to one of the new centres close by.

But matters are complicated when she and a number of the other mutants escape from the centre, into the nearby forest and his son Emile, also starts to exhibit signs of mutating and the film follows Francois as he tries to search the forest for his wife and conceal his son's mutations, whilst holding down a job.

A very strange film, which appears to be an examination of how people to react to others who are “different”, but is done is such an abstract way, this metaphor will probably be lost to most. Indeed, it was only after chatting to some others at the festival about it that it suddenly made sense.

Described as an adventure film, I'd say it's more of a drama. It's certainly not “The X-Men” at any rate and I found this one a bit slow to be honest. But was certainly well received by the rest of the audience.

View the Trailer on YouTube.


The festival concluded with the New Zealand Comedy-Horror LOOP TRACK from Director Thomas Sainsbury, which provided some much needed light relief to the days events. An introverted man, Ian (played by the Director himself), decides to go on a hike through a national park, looking for some peace and solitude to clear his head.

Unfortunately, and despite his best efforts to avoid other people on the trail, he soon has a group of annoying people tagging along with him and driving him insane with their inane chatter and pointless conversations

But, as the group presses on, Ian becomes convinced someone, or something is following them. Of course no one else believes him and he begins to wonder if it's just his mind playing tricks on him. But when people start going missing, could he actually be right? Or is one of them a killer, or could it even be him, with his fractured state of mind?

An amusing outback horror, which I found was rather reminiscent of the TV show Peep Show in places. Definitely one for fans of horror-comedies, which was also well received by the audience.

View the Trailer on YouTube.

And that concluded the Mayhem Festival for another year. Once again a huge thankyou to Chris Cooke, Steve Shiels and Melissa Gueneau for another fantastic festival and of course the staff of the Broadway Cinema for hosting the event and will hopefully see you all again next year.

For more information on the festival and other special events throughout the year, visit:

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