White Lie Review


By: Amanda Guarragi

White Lie co-written and directed by Yonah Lewis and Calvin Thomas, dive into a character study of undergrad student Katie Arneson (Kacey Rohl) who has been faking her cancer diagnosis, in order to pool money for her own benefit. It is a dark film that spirals into the depths of the lies and the consequences that come from it. The most interesting takeaway is that young Katie doesn’t stop herself and sikes herself out, as she continues to tangle this web of deceit.

First and foremost, the lie itself is pretty unsettling to watch unfold, as it snowballs into something so uncontrollable and bigger than Katie. Secondly, Rohl’s complex and nuanced performance makes this character study so intricate. It allows the viewer to feel uncomfortable with her decision, without fully knowing if she is telling the truth because she is so convincing. It is also the persona that she puts on in front of different people such as, her significant other, her father, the doctors and her peers. She used everyone around her for her own advantage as she was telling this lie.

Courtesy of Rock Salt Releasing

At first you are definitely turned off by the idea that someone could lie about having cancer in order to fund her own goals. Then you really think about what she did and you question, if she is the only one to think of something likes this. Especially considering the world with live in and the desperation that comes with surviving in this economy. Halfway through the film, you have accepted that she is going through this lie, full force and you are interested in seeing how far she is willing to go. This film is a rollercoaster of emotions because of the many complications Katie faces.

White Lie is an interesting character piece and will have you question if there are people out there who would actually do this. Rohl gave a great performance and she brought forth an entire emotional spectrum when handling the lies. The story structure, camerawork and score all bring this film together to create a character that is so chaotic, which makes this film incredibly thought-provoking until the very end.

How the Female Experience is Depicted in the Short Film “Twist”: An Interview with Aly Migliori


By: Amanda Guarragi

Women have shared so many similar experiences with each other for many years and there have been films that have truly captured the female experience. The short film Twist, written and directed by Aly Migliori, analyzes the loss of innocence in this coming of age thriller. It takes the female experience and tells a universal story that women know a little too well. Migliori gives a fresh take and elevates the experience through the use of colours, lighting, minimal dialogue and the score.

Migliori wanted to put these character in a space and in this heightened period all in one night, “I wanted to show the consequences, the learning, the growth and kind of feeling the loss of innocence without any kind of explicit blame or anything. It’s a pretty impactful moment for her, it’s pretty innocuous for the others.” The film takes place at night as a teenager named Hannah (Helena Howard), finishes work at her local ice cream parlour and she walks home alone at night. A car, with three boys pulls up right beside her and they convince her to get in, so they can drive her home.

She takes this universal story, this universal experience and makes a great thriller while addressing a young girls first encounter with the dangers of being a woman. Naming the film Twist was extremely clever because it’s an entendre. Migliori played with the idea of the expectations of the title, both literally and how everything unfolded at the ice cream parlour. She goes on to say that, “The ice cream parlour, this very Americana ice cream parlour has connotations with American nostalgia, American childhood and kind of American censorship. I think this story is kind of resisting that mythology, while playing with it.” That is why the ice cream parlour as the centerpiece of the film worked so well. It felt like a wholesome location because of the nostalgia tied to everyone’s childhood and then Migliori turned it into a place that has scarred its lead character.

Courtesy of First Hunt Films

What was most impressive was how the score elevated the moment Hannah realized what was happening and how this moment would affect her for the rest of her life. All women remember the one moment where everything changed, when their perception of the world, of boys, changed. The score had this teenage pop angst as Migliori described with a sinister undertone that completely worked with Howard’s performance. The connection was so raw and it forces the viewer to remember that specific moment in their own lives.

What really tied everything together was the cinematography and the use of lighting. The choice to light up the ice cream parlour and make that the standout while keeping everything else around the parlour in darkness worked very well. There were bright reds used at the beginning of the film and then as the film got deeper into the story, it got darker, “The red takes on a much darker meaning later on, as the story progresses we’re still using the same colour palette, we’re just shifting it darker and she’s kind of growing up and losing her rose coloured glasses on all of the elements of the female experience.” Watching Hannah go through that experience and having all of these elements change with her made a huge impact.

Twist is a short film that offers so much in such a short period of time. It dives into the female experience and leaves you questioning the moments in your own life. All women have a similar story and no, that is not an exaggeration. Aly Migliori delivers on all fronts and her biggest aspirational takeaway is that hopefully some people find a certain parallelism in their own experiences and feel heard, while also truly enjoying this story.

Ammonite Review


By: Amanda Guarragi

Ammonite is a romantic love story, loosely inspired by the life of British paleontologist Mary Anning (Kate Winslet). Mary owns her own shop, where she sells fossils to rich tourists. Mary first meets her potential love interest, when a tourist and his wife, Charlotte Murchison (Saoirse Ronan) stumble upon a piece of ammonite in her shop. Francis Lee was able to capture the subtleties and beauty of a budding romance but something was missing.

The film is slow and patient. Patient in uncovering the details in the fossils. Patient in processing Mary’s interest in women. Patient in soft touches and stolen glances. All of that was done properly in order to build tension, to anticipate the moment Mary and Charlotte melt into each other, but the film as a whole is dull. Even though Winslet and Ronan gave nuanced performances, it seemed to be their weakest entry in their filmographies.

photograph by Agatha A. Nitecka/RÅN studio
(left) Saiorse Ronan and Kate Winslet

The only time you would feel their love for each other was when they were sexually engaged. Yes, there was plenty of yearning and smiles exchanged with each other, but the chemistry was lacking in that department. It is also very evident, that a man is behind the camera, when filming those intimate, sex scenes and it felt awkward to watch. There was no passion, no love, no lust, all of that was lost in the act of it.

Ammonite is another entry in the sad lesbian romance category, that we seem to have generated over the years. The film had great potential to be something more than it was because of the starpower but it didn’t quite get there. Francis Lee wrote a very simple story that brought these two women together, to experience something beautiful and then it just exits your mind, the second you finish the film.

Sweet Taste of Souls Review


By: Amanda Guarragi

Sweet Taste of Souls has a really unique concept that flips the moving picture frame trope on its head. When four struggling band members stop at a small roadside cafe for a slice of cherry pie, they find themselves imprisoned in the owner’s framed art collection. The film was intriguing from the very beginning and had refreshing moments for the supernatural subgenre in Horror.

Ms. Ellinore (Honey Loren) was heartbroken and defeated when her husband left her. She harnessed these supernatural powers to create a picture perfect life within her art collection, a life that she could never have. The film dives into the psychology of trauma and abuse, while adding a supernatural element to it. It is one of the most refreshing concepts because of how this complex, emotional story ties in with a trope we’ve never fully explored on screen.

Courtesy of Dark Coast Entertainment

The most impressive aspect of the film was the special effects and how they were used in certain scenes. There was a whole process in taking the souls of the characters and transferring into the frame, which was really interesting. It also felt really claustrophobic at times (which was a horrible feeling for me) which worked extremely well for the suspense of being locked inside of a frame.

Sweet Taste of Souls had great special effects, a really complex psychological story and sound design that elevated the story. It had great use of colour, especially the colour red, to pop against a faded background and make you remember that Ms. Ellinore was around the corner. It’s a very fun, original horror film, with a deep psychological exploration of trauma.

Camp Twilight Review


By: Amanda Guarragi

Camp Twilight is a fun mixture of classic slasher films that had its very own twist ending. It’s definitely campy, over-exaggerated, borderline cringey but it works. After realizing their about to fail senior year, 6 high school students agree to a weekend camping trip for extra credit. Lead by Ms. Bloom (Felissa Rose) and Mr. Warner (Barry Jay Minoff), they quickly find out the horrid past of the campsite.

The film felt like a cross between Scream and Friday the 13th, it even had character names like Sidney and the last name of a character named Loomis. It felt like a nice homage to slasher films, especially these classics. It’s filled with similar tropes and a ton of overacting at times, but for some reason it worked. A slasher film that has you yelling at the screen over the stupid decisions campers make, is definitely fun to sit through.

Courtesy of DarkCoast Entertainment

Its writers Brandon Amolette and Felissa Rose really went back to the roots of slasher films. It had a very simple structure with generic characters, that we really wouldn’t mind losing, once the killer went on the murder spree. They also incorporated cops, who don’t really know what they’re doing, which made for really funny moments. Like every slasher film, the kills have to be great and there were plenty of suspenseful moments.

Camp Twilight is as campy as it gets. It is a lot of fun, definitely surprising at times and it has a wicked ending. The score that accompanies the campers, on their disturbing weekend, really tied everything together. It is a lot to take in because there is so much happening but it’s such a fun ride for the genre. As long as you’re yelling at these campers, telling them not to do the inevitable, it is definitely entertaining.