FANTASIA19 REVIEW: The Art of Self-Defense [2019]

I want to be what intimidates me. There was definite trepidation upon learning writer/director Riley Stearns‘ follow-up to Faults would be a comedy. That’s not to say his debut wasn’t funny, however. It was. But where its humor arrived from the matter-of-fact nature of the characterizations he utilized to turn his tale of cult deprogramming upside down, it remained a darkly suspenseful nightmare flirting with the supernatural in ways that forced our laughter to cease by lending those disquieting moments conviction beyond their inherent absurdity. I therefore worried billing The…

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REVIEW: Faults [2015]

“What did you lose?” There’s an inherent paradox to the universally held idea of cults being destructive. So quick to deem what occurs within them unnatural—namely a leader using his charisma to indoctrinate the weak into a “family” that understands them—we forget to acknowledge how much of our own lives follow the same pattern. As children we look up to our parents, grandparents, role models, etc. As adults we seek validation from bosses, peers, and spouses, measuring our success on a scale built upon what a public we hold as…

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