This has been my third year attending the Hot Docs Canadian Documentary Festival and, this year, students were admitted free of charge! I was lined up to see about 20 movies because they’re free – so why not? I ended up only seeing two. Better than nothing, I suppose.
Fear Itself (2016)
Directed By Charlie Lyne
This documentary looks into how fear is created and used within horror films, and serves as an overall look at horror as a genre. As a horror fan, I was pretty excited for this documentary. The film began with the voice of a young woman over clips from various horror films. I thought, “Okay, great. Cool intro.” Except that intro never ended. The entire film was her talking over these clips. There was absolutely no structure. I was dreadfully bored throughout the entire film because, as my friend pointed out, you never cared about what the girl was saying. Plus, her voice wasn’t appealing to listen to, and when you did take the time to listen to her, many of the clips they used were taken out of context or made no sense in relation to what she was saying. I think the concept had great potential, but the delivery completely destroyed it. While, overall, I found the film to be a bust, there was one point mentioned that caused me to pause and think for a bit.
The film mentions that if given the chance to be invisible, most of us would do things that are considered immoral. The only thing stopping us from committing these immoral acts is that people are watching. Is that how fragile our humanity is? I thought this was an interesting point because it’s true. We all say that, if we were invisible, we’d steal and watch people undress, among a countless list of other seedy acts. Which begs the question: are humans inherently evil? Are we only “good” because we have no other choice? What does it even mean to be a good person? A lot of us distance ourselves from evil, “no no, I’m a good person”. If you haven’t said it, you’ve probably thought it. But what if you do something terrible for the “right” reasons? Do you only have to be 51% good to avoid being evil? Philosopher John Locke thought of humans as being born with a blank slate or empty mind. We are neither evil nor good; we are nothing. Through life experiences, we grow to become good or evil. Ultimately, I think we are still nothing long after birth, and long after the world has influenced us. [Editor’s Note: JEE-ZUS!] But we as humans need to define and categorize in order to survive without losing our minds. Ultimately, good and evil are nothing but social constructs that don’t actually exist beyond society. Of course, this then results in the question, well what about serial killers? Or, people who do things that are truly “evil”? Quite frankly, I don’t have an answer. A part of me is disturbed by those people, while the other part thinks about how would we look at them in a world where good and evil doesn’t exist.
[Admin’s Note: This was one of the movies I had wanted to check out as well, but now I’m glad I didn’t get to see this one.]
Diving Into the Unknown (2016)
Directed by Juan Rein
This documentary surrounds the story of Finnish divers who lost two friends in a diving accident. The film captures the preparation and journey of the remaining men as they retrieve their friend’s bodies. All these men have a bond rooted in their love for diving, and it’s incredible to see how their friendship, sense of commitment to each other, and passion for diving all collide in order to prepare for another life threatening mission. They know they could die trying to get their friends, but not trying, in a way, would be worse. You root for them every step of the way while admiring their courage and bravery. Rein also makes you deeply aware of how traumatic events affect different people and can change your outlook on life. While I don’t quite understand the appeal of diving, the film’s interest lay elsewhere, instead being a heartfelt film about the trials, tribulations, courage, and friendship that comes with such a dangerous passion.
Captain America: Civil War (2016)
Directed by Joe & Anthony Russo
Captain America has always been my favourite Avenger, and I’m sure some of you are giving me side eye, but I love Chris Evans portrayal of him. All of Captain America’s films have gotten better and better – this one was no different. One of the central themes finally addressed is that actions have consequences. Sometimes this gets overlooked in many movies, particularly those with superheroes. Destroying cities has a grave impact in multiple aspects, and the film did a great job of exploring the complexity of that. This theme set up the central conflict that presented an interesting ethical dilemma. The thing about ethical dilemmas is one side is never amiss more than the other. At no point could you single out a specific person and say they were in the wrong. Everyone had their reasons for their actions and everyone’s mindsets were logical and relevant to their characters. Everything came together extremely well, the action was absolutely amazing, the balance between comedy and maturity, and pretty much everything worked perfectly. Plus, Spider-Man and Ant-Man were hilarious scene-stealers, which has made me extremely hopeful for the next Spider-Man.
Final Destination (2000)
Directed by James Wong
Final Destination is one of those films I think critics got completely wrong. Is it the best movie? No, but if you hated it, you took it too seriously. The suspense and tension Wong is able to build is incredible and makes the movie a ton of fun to watch. The subtle lingering on different objects, or slowing down a shot all created this sense of questioning what is going to happen. There are multiple times he uses this to trick you into thinking you know what’s coming, until the last second where it goes in a different direction. The VFX are kind of terrible, and many of the deaths are illogical and unrealistic, but in a way that’s the point. It’s supposed to be overly dramatic and laughable at points. My sisters and I were laughing, my mom was cringing at the brutality, and my niece alternated between both, but in the end, we were all wildly entertained. If a film can at least achieve that then something was done right.
[Admin’s Note: I legitimately love the series. They’re kind of silly, and super gory, but that’s also the point. Straight and simple. You can’t avoid death, and in these films, they show that in complicated and bloody ways.]