Short takes on IndieFest standouts
Antiviral (Brandon Cronenberg, Canada, 2012) Yes, that Cronenberg. The spawn of veteran filmmaker David makes an auspicious feature debut with this, uh, Cronenberg-esque body-horror tale. In the stark, gloomy near-future, celebrity worship has become so out of control that healthy people visit special clinics to be injected with diseases gathered from superstars. When he's not offering "biological communion" via shared flu germs plucked from blonde goddess Hannah Geist (Sarah Gadon of Cronenberg Sr.'s 2012 Cosmopolis), medical technician Syd (Friday Night Lights' Caleb Landry Jones) is working black-market deals on the side, peddling illnesses to a sketchy broker who works out of a butcher shop that sells steaks grown from celebrity muscle cells. And if that sounds gross, just know that as Antiviral's clever, sci-fi noir plot twists itself into ever-darker (and gorier) contortions, there's plenty more stomach-turning mad science ahead. You done good, son. Sat/9, 7:15pm; Tue/12, 9:30pm, Roxie.
Berberian Sound Studio (Peter Strickland, UK, 2012) It's the 1970s, and frumpy British sound designer Gilderoy (a flawless Toby Jones) has, somewhat inexplicably, been hired by a flamboyant Italian filmmaker to work on his latest lurid genre piece, The Equestrian Vortex — about a girl who realizes her riding academy is haunted by witches. Any resemblance to 1977's Suspiria is entirely intentional, as writer-director Peter Strickland crafts a meta-horror film that's both tribute to Argento and co. and a freaky number all its own, as Gilderoy begins to realize that the "vortex" he's dealing with isn't merely confined to the screen. Fans of vintage Euro horror will appreciate the behind-the-scenes peek at the era's filmmaking process, as well as Strickland's obvious affection for one of cinema's most oddly addictive genres. Bonus points for the Goblin reference. Fri/8, 9:30pm; Feb. 13, 7:15pm, Roxie.
Bound By Flesh (Leslie Zemeckis, US, 2012) Following up her 2010 burlesque doc Behind the Burly Q, Leslie Zemeckis (wife of Robert, director of 2012's Flight) tackles another subject sprinkled with the tarnished glitter of a bygone era: conjoined twins Violet and Daisy Hilton, vaudeville and film (1932's Freaks) stars who were exploited from birth by a series of shady guardians. When they finally earned their freedom in a landmark emancipation trial, their triumph was short-lived; not only were they ill-equipped to negotiate the perils of show biz on their own, they also suffered from grown-up-child-star syndrome, having tasted a level of fame early in life that they'd never reach again, though not for lack of trying. And, of course, they were conjoined twins — so amplify every possible life obstacle by about a million. Though Bound By Flesh suffers a bit from its limited source materials — be prepared to see the same photos of the Hiltons used over and over throughout the film — it nonetheless tells a tragic, fascinating, and utterly unique tale. Feb. 16, 5pm; Feb/ 17, 2:45pm, Roxie.