Viking Night: Stanley Film Festival II

Stanley Night Fever, 2014 Edition

By Bruce Hall

April 29, 2014

Is this picture giving anyone else an Addams Family theme song earworm?

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Hotel Hell
This is the second year in a row I’ve attended the Stanley Film Festival. This works out well, because it’s also the second year they’ve had it, making this one of the longer commitments in my life. I got my first cavity last year and had my first car accident last week. So, this is one of the last streaks I've got left.

Speaking of driving, the trip up the mountain was different this time, making me feel guilty for forgetting about last year's flooding so soon. A long stretch of highway just down the mountain from Estes Park overlooks (and briefly intersects) where the waters rushed through. Trees as thick as professional wrestlers were flattened like grass. Rocks big enough to crush a car had been knocked around like billiard balls. The walls of the canyon were stained and torn ten feet higher than I've ever seen before. A few houses are still laying around, one or two of them considerably to the left or right of where it used to be.

It looked like a goddamned kaiju attack.

On a slightly less depressing note, our hotel wasn’t much better. In fact, we’re still debating whether it wasn’t just a moderately upscale international shipping container. I concede it was a step above having to build my own shelter, but only one step. I tried not to think about the teeming colony of life behind the walls and to just be grateful they steamed the chalk outlines out of the carpet. For the second year in a row, there seems to have been a problem with my exclusive VIP press credentials.


Oh well, we’re not here to hang around our battered hotel room, looking like a life size urban decay diorama. After dinner at the fabulous Stanley Hotel (a dinner which cost me more than the rental car, by the way), it was off to catch our first feature.

What We Do in the Shadows

Maybe you got sick of reality TV just in time to get sick of vampires. And maybe getting sick of super heroes made you forget how completely over vampires you were. And of course now that the zombie thing is so played out, it feels like there aren't enough hours left in the day to hate super heroes. It’s a glorious time to be alive if you’re sick of things, because God knows there’s a form of oversaturation out there for everyone. Whether you've had it with redneck duck hunters, self-important celebrity activists, movies where a single teenage girl in tight pants brings down a sprawling dictatorship, or you just hate shows about little people making cupcakes in pawn shops - your options are almost unlimited.

But sometimes, great minds see windows where others see walls. Sometimes there’s a brief cultural pause where you can turn back the clock and put together a goof on reality TV, vampires, hipsters and Goths - and somehow nail all your targets. What We Do in the Shadows does all of these things and it does them so well that it’s already one of my favorite movies of the year. It is the brainchild of Flight of the Conchords star Jemaine Clement and longtime collaborator Taika Waititi. It is much, much closer in tone to Best in Show than it is to Meet the Spartans. So if you like a savvy, offbeat comedy that can take a tired concept and rip on it until it's special, then this is probably your movie. If not, then I assume you enjoy light beer and prop comedy almost as much as you loved Scary Movie V.

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