Joseph’s Boston Underground Film Festival Reviews: SICK OF MYSELF and NIGHT SIREN

Sick of Myself (Syk pike)

★★★★ out of ★★★★★

Directed by Kristoffer Borgli

Scary DVDs! Woo!

You’re unlikely to come across a more toxic cinematic relationship anytime soon than the one between Oslo couple Signe (Kristine Kujath Thorp) and Thomas (Eirik Sæther), she a bakery cafe employee, he an artist who works with stolen furniture, and both of them major narcissists competing for attention at first with their circle of friends — or at least those who put up with them — and then for the public at large. With Thomas having an upcoming gallery exhibit and being interviewed for magazines, Signe discovers an illegal Russian drug that disfigures its users. Aiming for sympathy, she obtains bottles of the drug and begins abusing it, sure enough leading to enough rashes and scarring to place Sick of Myself squarely in body horror territory. The stellar work by the film’s makeup department is not for the squeamish. Writer/director Kristoffer Borgli’s razor-sharp film focuses on mental illness and the quest for fame — no matter how bizarre the method of achieving it — as it puts its characters through acerbic wringers and subjects them to pitch-black humor. The fact that he can keep viewers not just engaged but fascinated in the outcome of such repellent characters is no small feat. Sick of Myself is highly recommended, especially for those with a distaste for the quest for social media recognition and viewers who like their satire in the darkest of hues.      

Nightsiren (Svetlonoc)

★★★1/2 out of ★★★★★

Directed by Tereza Nvotová

Gender politics behind patriarchal societies and their branding of strong women who act out against the system — in this film, specifically as witches — is keenly observed in director/cowriter Tereza Nvotová’s Slovakia/Czech Republic coproduction Nightsiren. After running away from home as a child — an act that tragically resulted in her younger sister accidentally falling off of a cliff — Šarlota (Natalia Germani) returns 20 years later to the village from which she ran away because she received a letter from the mayor regarding an inheritance. From her arrival, it is clear that most of the locals don’t want her there. Her childhood home was destroyed in a fire, so she stays in the cabin of a neighbor who was believed to be a witch. She meets another strong-willed young woman, Mira (Eva Mores), and when two children go missing, the locals’ accusations of the pair being witches grows to deadly levels. Gorgeously shot by Federico Cesca with sumptuous shots of the beautiful nature surrounding the village, a jaw-dropping sequence involving a witches’ sabbath, and chilling set pieces, Nightsiren boasts an otherworldly feel with scenes that ring all too true in today’s world. Nvotová has crafted a haunting film in which snakes and wolves seem tame next to the village’s inhabitants.

Reviews by Joseph Perry

Sick of Myself and Night Siren screened as part of Boston Underground Film Festival, which took place from March 22–26, 2023. 

Categories: Festivals, ReviewsTags: , ,

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