Cinema/TV, Film Notes

Frightfest review – Black Mass

Frightfest review – Black Mass

Sometimes, it seems like we’re cursed to sit through a Ted Bundy film every year.

Filmmaker Devanny Pinn states she’d like us to think of the victims not him, which is fair enough – though her Elephant-like approach (prowling camera, improv-sounding chat, lots of shadow, lots of physical detail but little context) means we’re detached from the character listed in the end credits as Me (Andrew Sykes), whose face is seldom clearly shown but is in every scene, but also at one remove from everyone he spies on, runs into, tries to chat up or kills.  In 1978, Bundy was in Florida after a jailbreak and walked into a sorority house in the middle of the night carrying a chunk firewood and assaulted and/or killed several young women.  One of the witnesses describes the intruder as a ‘black mass’ and Pinn goes out of her way to show what an awful, inadequate creep Bundy was even before she shows the killings (a tough watch).

Way back in Ted Bundy (2002) – an early FF selection – director Matthew Bright made a point of showing how a lack of paranoia made the 1970s a hunting ground for sharks like Bundy and there are moments here which suggest how easy things were made for him before awareness got round that the spectre of the serial killer stalked America.  Even in the small hours, the sorority house wasn’t locked.  A girl is casually happy to accept an obvious wild story about why he’d like her to get in his car (he’s pulled that fake cast on the hand stunt seen in The Silence of the Lambs) and only saved because someone else is watching too closely But it’s also true that for the first hour of the film, ‘me’ registers as such a creep that he’s paradoxically treated as less of a threat – people he talks to don’t necessarily believe his line (he pays for small items with a credit card and ID which blatantly aren’t his) but also just reckon he’s one of any number of bottom-feeding liars who hang around bars claiming to be what they aren’t and accept being bounced into the street as their lot.

Here’s the FrightFest listing.


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