A certain strain of urban loneliness is at the center of two movies playing a new film festival that takes place at the recently renovated Ridgewood Presbyterian Church, now operating an art space called the Stone Circle Theatre. It may be over a decade since movies played at the iconic and historically landmarked Ridgewood Theater, but this weekend, at any rate, at least two indie movies are playing a few blocks away.
In the first, a debut horror movie by a Brooklyn director named Alexandra Spieth, rolls into the new Ridgewood Off-kilter Film Festival following a year-long tour through pit stops at the Atlanta Horror Film Festival, Female Eye Film Festival and the GenreBlast Film Festival, among others.
A low-budget nightmare journey that evokes the continued legacy of Get Out among indie filmmakers, Spieth’s Stag sets its sight on the anxieties and insecurities of female friendship.
Jenny, played by a frantically relatable Mary Glen Fredrick and described by the movie’s tagline as “an urban loner,” is invited to depart her largely empty apartment and isolating, pre-pandemic data entry job for a former friend’s bachelorette party. But joining the crowd is not all that it’s cracked up to be, Jenny discovers; by the movie’s end, it’s hard to imagine that her anxieties are not founded. Held amicably together by handheld cameras and sticking largely to a single shooting location, Spieth’s take on mumblecore horror succeeds in capturing the small details of isolating, Brooklyn ennui. The exaggerated performances of its cohort of post-collegiate actors are a plus too; like, say, the early Evil Dead movies, it’s not a horror movie that’s afraid to get silly.
Less connected to realism but with even more silliness to spare is Jeremy Finch’s La Bufadora, a debut feature from a Bushwick-based director who also happens to be behind putting together the small festival in neighboring Ridgewood. In an earnest email, Finch tells me that “off-kilter means unique, artful, and independent of commercial entities,” a notion that he connects to his own movie, which is off-kilter in its own handmade ways.
A rollicking 90 minutes of low-budget special effects and varying western imagery, Finch’s movie brings to mind the tone and ambition of the more explosive movies of Alejandro Jodorowsky, or even more contemporary efforts like Ana Lily Amirpour’s unfairly maligned The Bad Batch or Harmony Korine’s last decade of neon-colored mayhem. These are movies about outsiders exploring the facile boundaries between themselves and the world they cast themselves against.
As an interlocutor, Finch has picked up a local actor named Kyle Knight, whose bespeckled cowboy performance gives DFW on acid, exploring whatever “off-kilter” cosmic bliss Finch is able to put together on a budget. At some point, he runs into aliens and later, I think, gets put on trial. Who hasn’t?
“Stag” and “La Bufadora” are both playing the Ridgewood Off-kilter Film Festival on Saturday, Sept. 9 at the Stone Circle Theatre at 59-14 70th Avenue in Ridgewood. Find tickets here.
Top image take from “Stag”
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