Depraved and Riot Girls screened at the 2019 Fantasia International Film Festival. Both are scheduled to open this fall. I'll have full reviews closer to the time of their respective releases. For now, here are capsule reviews.
Depraved - Noted horror filmmaker Larry Fessenden delivers a thoughtful update of the Frankenstein story with his latest effort. Henry (David Call) is a traumatized war veteran/demented genius who has figured out how to bring the dead back to life. His creation is Adam (Alex Breaux), a stitched-together man with a stolen brain inside his head. While his actions are ethically questionable at best, Henry at least tries to teach Adam some appropriate skills. His business partner Polidori (The Blair Witch Project's Joshua Leonard), on the other hand, proves to be a corrupting influence. Depraved partially deals with the traditional “you shouldn't play God” idea. Its real strength, however, is as a metaphor for fatherhood, specifically the way male role models can shape a child (or, in this case, a creature) for better or worse. Breaux nails a tough role in this smart, engaging chiller.
Riot Girls - Jovanka Vuckovic's sci-fi action film imagines an alternate mid-'90s universe in which all the adults have been killed by some sort of virus, leaving the young people to run society on their own. Punks Scratch (Paloma Kwiatkowski) and Nat (Madison Iseman) are from one side of a small town's tracks. They venture into the other side to rescue Nat's brother, who has been kidnapped by Jeremy (Munro Chambers), the sadistic leader of a gang whose members are all adolescent jocks. Riot Girls has good performances, cool comic book-inspired visuals, and a subtle theme related to socioeconomic disparity that should ring a bell with its target audience. There's some good stuff here, although the movie would have been strengthened by showing in greater detail how the story's teen-run world operates.
Riot Girls is unrated, but contains language and graphic violence. The running time is 1 hour and 21 minutes. Depraved is also unrated, and contains language, bloody violence, and mild sexuality. The running time is 1 hour and 51 minutes.