Wanted to take a minute away from our constant Tweeting and viewing and socializing over the first weekend of the Tribeca Film Festival, and comment on a couple of the movies. Daniel Benmayor’s Paintball was a pleasant surprise, a high-octane shoot ’em up that plays like a weird hybrid of Deliverance and Hostel (and a videogame). The English-language Spanish production revolves around a group of anonymous consumers dropped into a forest on a safari-like paintball tournament. After a few minutes of regular play against their opposing team, real bullets start flying. The team must band together to save themselves and uncover who or what is trying to kill them… and why. I dunno if the film is going to resonate with all fans of bloody genre cinema, but I dug the hell out of it. It kept me gripped with high tension and inventive deaths.
The most anticipated horror film at Tribeca, Ti West’s The House of the Devil, premiered Saturday night. This is Ti’s fourth film, after the festival hits The Roost, Trigger Man, and his still-unreleased sequel of Cabin Fever. Ti is a talented filmmaker, a guy making low-budget horror movies in the vein of his mentor, indie horror veteran Larry Fessenden. I would argue, though, that The House of the Devil is Ti’s best film yet. A combination of the babysitter/slasher genre and the satanic cult genre, the film plays like When A Stranger Calls meets Rosemary’s Baby. Featuring a breakout performance by actress Jocelin Donahue, the film centers around a college girl in the 1980s who takes a mysterious babysitting gig in a creepy house for a creepy couple. After building some great suspense and haunting sequences, West brings it all to a blood-soaked climax. The House of the Devil (which also features strong supporting turns by Greta Gerwig and Tom Noonan) should appease any critics of indie horror, who feel the genre doesn’t make the most due to a lack of budget. This film looks good, plays well, and scares just enough.