Best of the Fest: Phasma Ex Machina at AIFF

Cody (Sasha Andreev) is a would-be Victor Frankenstein who believes he can bring his beloved parents back from the dead. However, his undead machine needs more power and his ability to work on it is compromised by social service officials threatening to take away his neglected teen-age brother James (Max Hauser). Widower shop owner Tom (Matthew Feeney) unwittingly has the part Cody needs, and when the contraption works better than expected, both their lives change drastically . . . but not for the better.


I can't expect anything filmmaker Matt Osterman spent is anywhere other than on the screen, and yet he makes a mysterious electrical bridge between our world and the next, Tom and Cody's pain and–despite neither resembling the other–Cody and James' brotherly relationship all ring true. The first-time director is helped immensely by the three strong performances at the center of the picture–and the creepy cues inherent in genre films like this. Phasma Ex Machina screens at 10:30 tonight.

Also recommended:

Hole: Ben Saltzman displays a knack for dark comedy with this half-hour gem about two high school graduates who discover a mysterious black hole in a backyard swimming pool and start charging neighbor kids to, uh, experience it. Hole is part of Short Program #6: Fantastic Journeys that begins at 4 p.m.

Previously recommended:

Broken Springs: Shine of the Undead Zombie Bastards (reviewed here) with the short film Clean Carousel (7 p.m.); Skeletons (reviewed here) with the short Cold Turkey, (10 p.m.).

Anaheim International Film Festival at UltraStar Cinemas at GardenWalk, 321 W. Katella Ave., Anaheim, (714) 399-0300; Through Sunday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. General
screenings, $5-$10; special screenings, $12; all-day pass, $15-$30.
Master classes, workshops and panels, $10-$25 each. Closing festivities at GardenWalk
(gala, screening, after-party), 5 p.m. Sunday. $10-$50.

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