Another Hole in the Head unleashes multiple malevolent ghosts. Plus: our guide to the film fest's horror highlights
After the four-person crew's initial visit to the hospital, director Andrew (Andrew Lau, also credited as Haunted Changi's director) becomes obsessed with the place, returning again and again to shoot more footage and hang out with a mysterious woman he encounters there. Meanwhile, uptight producer Sheena (Sheena Chung), dreadlocked sound guy Farid (Farid Azlam), and "I am filming myself at all times" camera guy Audi (Audi Khalis) feel the after-effects in different ways — all of them bad.
Haunted Changi features a scene where a group of paranormal investigators use a little kid as their supernatural-activity barometer, like a canary in a coal mine. Way creepy, and one of the few novel ideas in a film that's solid without being particularly original. Still, Old Changi Hospital has plenty of built-in atmosphere; a real-real documentary on its history would probably be just as scary as Haunted Changi's paranormal fantasy.
ANOTHER HOLE IN THE HEAD FILM FESTIVAL
June 2–17, $11
3117 16th St., SF
NUGGETS OF GUTS: SHORT TAKES ON ANOTHER HOLE IN THE HEAD 2011
Absentia (Mike Flanagan, U.S., 2010) Daniel has been missing for seven years. His wife, Tricia (Courtney Bell), has dutifully done all the right things, distributing missing-person posters, mourning, seeking therapy, and filling out the paperwork to have him declared dead in absentia. But — heavily pregnant by a new suitor — she's more than ready to move on with her life. In town to help with this task is her younger sister, Callie (Katie Parker), a former drug addict who nudges Tricia to look for new apartments and work on her social life. But is Daniel really dead? Tricia's been having freaky visions that suggest he's still ... somewhere. And what, exactly, is haunting that tunnel down the block from Tricia's front door? Absentia is an indie-horror find: Bell and Parker are totally believable as sisters who stick together despite their complicated relationship, and writer-director Mike Flanagan conjures serious menace from a benign suburban streetscape. Mon/6, 9:20 p.m.; June 12, 5:20 p.m. (Cheryl Eddy)
Apocrypha (Michael Fredianelli, U.S., 2011) Vampires are about as ubiquitous and tired a pop cultural fixture as the Kardashians and it's getting harder and harder to come up with an original twist on such a shopworn staple. That's all the more reason why I wanted Apocrypha, a modestly-budgeted, locally-made indie premiering at HoleHead, to make good on its promising premise that vampires aren't just bloodsuckers, they're also amnesiacs. Unfortunately, director Michael Fredianelli (who also coproduced, edited, cowrote, and stars in the film) makes a hot mess out of this neat idea thanks to weak dialogue, inept direction, lackluster performances, and a virulent misogynistic streak that's far more unsettling than the inevitable torrents of blood. Fredianelli plays Griffith Townsend, a man at wit's end to understand his growing compulsion to bite the women he takes home. Eventually, his path crosses with Maggie (cowriter and coproducer Kat Reichmuth) — an equally confused woman trying to find out how she woke up in Golden Gate Park — with whom he shares a dark, and somewhat obvious, connection. When Townsend's job as a senior editor at the San Francisco Chronicle, rather than all the neck-biting, requires the greatest suspension of audience disbelief, you know it's time to go back to the drawing board. June 11, 3:20 p.m. (Matt Sussman)