The film’s tone is mournful and moody, folded into a story of coming home and not knowing who you are. When Charley becomes aware of what he has done, he has a great deal of shame and terror about it; he wants to be put down. This inner sadness piles on his lost relationship with his lover Sharon (Addison Timlin), his fractured bond with his father, and a corrupt plot from a big wig named Hammond (Marshall Bell) to open a gaudy resort called Hilltop. “Blackout” swirls with these emotional problems along with the whole werewolf thing, which has riled the town in conspiracy and hate (some of the locals assume with no evidence that it’s the work of a man named Miguel [Rigo Garay]). The film’s first half is filled with scenes where dialogue-heavy conversation between two characters lazily takes us back to the past. These visually staid scenes usually consist of two people bantering, and their weak rhythm is broken up by werewolf carnage.
“Blackout” is artful and compelling where it counts most, including a tremendous transformation scene that depicts Charley’s changes as if they were his paintings. The film has appealing big heart even when its violence comes off as more comical or cheesy, with characters sometimes falling into deadly slapstick or clumsily letting the wolf get away. But Fessenden is not precious about these details. As much as some of the movie’s wolf-iest scenes (attacking people, scaring them) might invite a viewer to scoff, they aren’t the main point and can nearly be taken as good gory fun. Even when the movie is little more than Fessenden riffing on the human side of a werewolf story, “Blackout” has a compelling, truly disarming earnestness for its deeply wounded soul to be recognized under its shaggy dog cover.
Fantasia has a firm cat-loving position compared to most festivals, including how attendees will always meow with delight before a movie starts. One can readily imagine the meows of satisfaction from “Booger,” which prominently features a black cat as the means for its curiously weird comedy and body horror.
The character study is by writer/director Mary Dauterman, and it focuses on a New Yorker named Anna (Grace Glowicki). Anna experiences cat-like symptoms while struggling with grief over her recently departed best friend Izzy (Sofia Dobrushin, seen in brief phone vids). Her love for Izzy is contained in the mischievous black cat they found together, Booger, who disappears shortly after Anna returns from the funeral. On Booger’s way out, he leaves a big bite mark on her hand, which gets nastier and nastier, even when she gets a band-aid from Izzy’s mother (played sweetly by Marcia DeBonis). It’s not long before Anna starts sleeping in contortionist-like positions, listening for birds with super-hearing and growing hair from that nasty cut.