BiTS: The Child Remains & Art of Obsession

Prefer dread and suspense to blood and gore? Here are two psychological horror picks to round out your Blood in the Snow 2017 experience.

The Child Remains (2017)

Don’t let the Tiffany glass and antiques fool you. A charmingly appointed bed & breakfast becomes the site of gruesome terror in Michael Melski’s The Child Remains (2017). When a couple visits a rural inn for a long weekend to help treat the wife’s post-traumatic stress disorder, their idyllic holiday quickly turns into a sinister mystery story — before deepening into something even more shocking.

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Moody and atmospheric, The Child Remains is a darkly dreamlike, macabre modern folk tale. Chilling sound design and score help to maintain a delicious unease throughout. The gorgeous set design of the inn is a delight to look at, which is fortunate, as this is where the majority of the action takes place. Suzanne Clément and Allan Hawco turn in fine performances as Rae and Liam, the unlucky couple, while Shelley Thompson is fantastic as Monica, the seemingly friendly proprietor who knows a lot more than she lets on.

The Child Remains screens Saturday, November 25th at 9:30 pm, after the world premiere of Kalen Artinian’s Destruction Makes The World Burn Brighter. Moody, gorgeously-shot, free of dialogue, and featuring haunting music by the Heavy Medicine Band, this 6-minute short explores how far one woman will go to save her sick girlfriend in a dystopian near-future.

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Art of Obsession (2017)

In Ryan M. Andrews’s psychological thriller Art of Obsession (2017), Kennedy Sait (ably portrayed by Ry Barrett), an author battling demons in the form of grief and addiction, becomes obsessed with his neighbour Patricia after experiencing hallucinations in which she appears as his muse. When he discovers that her older husband has been beating her, he kidnaps Patricia and chains her up in his attic, claiming that he is saving her from her abusive husband and that the love that he has for her is something bigger than the two of them — that it will live on forever in his art. The arrival of a young queer niece needing a place to stay after coming out to her mother complicates his plan, as does the unwanted attention of his jilted former lover.

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Raven Cousens is superb in the role of Jade, the niece whose presence in the home poses a problem for Kennedy but could prove to be the answer to Patricia’s prayers. Jessica Vano is excellent in a small role as Melanie, a fellow addict whose relationship with Kennedy falls apart after his obsession with Patricia irreversibly crosses the line.

Art of Obsession screens at 4:30 pm on Sunday, November 26th at The Royal Cinema. It follows the world premiere of Alyx Melone’s brilliant and subversive call-out of societal beauty standards in Talking Heads. Alternately hilarious, tragic, and rightfully horrifying, Talking Heads wound up being one of my favourite works being showcased at the festival.

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