Manipulative neighbourhood psychopaths, cognizant drones and a journey through video game history made for the most experimental day of the LFF so far.

Due to having too much intoxicating fun the night before, LFF Day Three was full of lethargic inactivity, so instead of sitting in a darkened room full of hundreds of strangers I figured it’d be better for my well-being if I stayed at home and vegetated until the evening.

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Thanks to the BFI I was still able to enjoy the festival without having to travel into Central London, so from the comfort of a squishy sofa I accessed the delegate’s digital library, which has a constantly growing selection of streamable festival entries. I decided on Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Creepy (B-): a brooding, domestic thriller that unsettled with an insidious and revolting charm. Teruyuki Kagawa plays Nishino, a husband and a father whose new neighbours – a former crime detective and his wife – disrupt his suspiciously ordinary life. Something isn’t quite right with Nishino, and they both know it. Running concurrently to this domiciliary mystery is another: Takakura’s (Hidetoshi Nishijima) investigation into the disappearance of an entire family six years prior to their move. Both of these plots converge in a satisfyingly eerie and gruesomely vivid way, and Kagawa’s oscillation between maniacal and placid heightened this grim atmosphere, but by the time it heads into its home stretch the impact is lost as it plays into generic serial killer territory. This end can be foreseen far in advance, diminishing what could have been a much better suburban horror, but it still succeeds in serving up some visually haunting images with a cold, factual approach to repugnant murder.

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The last half of Day Three was much more experimental than I had expected. Two events hosted at the IMAX – the largest cinema screen in Britain – split into two acts with multiple live performances from musicians encompassing varying musical genres. Firstly, we had the completely unclassifiable and ungradable 30-minute ‘film’ The Picture From Darkness. Ostensibly a continuous, unbroken shot of static, it transformed into something much more as blinding hypnosis set in. When staring at a screen for this amount of time, shapes and thoughts manifest in your mind, and at times I was convinced I was the only person seeing the faintly silhouetted humanoid shapes within the white noise. These visuals, paired with UK composer Simon Fisher-Turner, became something altogether more frightening and ominous as the time went on, and though thunderingly ‘dull’ insofar as watching static can be, it was scarily mesmerising. Following this was In The Robot Skies, an equally inaccessible experimental film told from the perspective of a drone. Using these autonomous pre-programmed drones to supply panoramic vista’s across the world, and having a live, roaring trip-hop performance from Forest Swords (who also narrated through spoken poetic verse), the film was an interesting though vague piece of cinematic artistry. Reminiscent of films such as Samsara and Koyaanisqatsi, In The Robot Skies’ loose narrative revealed truths and uglienss of the world with natual symbolism. Both of these hallucinatory films were wholly enriched by the IMAX’s colossal screen and the booming surround sound, so it’s an experience that simply wouldn’t work at home.

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The final part of LFF Day Three was also the best. Up first was a brilliant beatboxer by the name of Reeps1, and his combination of this hugely impressive skill and the visuals was perfect. Using an upturned speaker with a fixed camera above, liquid (and later powders) were poured onto it. Every bass and alto made from Reeps1’s mouth vibrated the speaker, throwing the liquids and powders upward, with every break and beat being projected on screen. It was a live, unedited manipulation of the arts, making it a completely unique. Finally, DJ Yoda took to his turntables to take us through the history of video games, from Pong, all the way to flashes of contemporary shoot-em-ups and narrative-led adventures. This was a one of a kind show, each scratch of his deck influencing the clips on the IMAX’s screen, whilst his inspired remixes, from the Goldeneye theme melding into Parappa the Rapper, or original, cheesy songs from classic TV advertisements remixed with the games they’re selling), was a joy. Coming from a childhood of gaming, and even dabbling in my own version of video game remixes with a friend (under the moniker Super Scratch Bros.), this couldn’t have been a more relatably perfect way to finish the third day.

Creepy illustration header by cal.con.
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