Saturday, 2 September 2017

homer_b - Review By Greg Klymkiw - Scary Creepy Springfield via Winnipeg at TIFF 2017

There is someone in Homer's house in Winnipeg.

homer_b (2017)
Dir. Milos Mitrovic, Conor Sweeney

Review By Greg Klymkiw

At the best of times, three-quarter-inch videotape on U-Matic playback machines seemed degraded, especially when constantly rotating, whirring drumheads would connect with the tape in pause-mode and render all manner of glitches. Even more problematic was an editing process that required constant duping in order to create desired cuts and resulted in further image degeneration.

At the time, watching community cable programs in the 80s, using already-retro equipment (though not that much worse than the "advancements" made in commercial mainstream video broadcasting at the time), felt positively otherworldly. Seeing said tapes some 30+ years later, especially if they'd been duped to straight VHS and simply captured decades later on a digital format without any remastering results in images that have been dredged from the pits of some analogue septic tank Hell.

It's scary stuff. So too is the astonishingly creepy, disturbing and funny film homer_b by contemporary Winnipeg filmmakers Milos Mitrovic and Conor Sweeney (one of the founders of the visionary Astron-6 collective). Gorgeously recreating the aforementioned look of ancient technology, this is one fine addition to the tradition first coined by film critic Geoff Pevere as "prairie post-modernism".

Feeling and looking like the work of a Matt Groening doppelgänger, or more likely, a Winnipeg community cable Matt Groening wannabe, we're greeted with a series of simple, decrepit opening images: a flash of pre-roll video noise, a screen of piss-pale yellow and a quick, crude fade-up of an ugly title treatment over a faded green star, bold-capped typeface in purple and dark yellow with a shimmering slightly askew shadow drop and then, an inelegant cut to black video noise, followed by an even-more graceless cut to a ruffled, white-tea-dyed curtain and a lone standup microphone in the foreground. Organ music on the soundtrack that makes David Lynch's use of Fats Waller sounding positively chipper, accompanies the chilling fade-up on a live action figure approaching the mic wearing a horrifying Krusty the Clown mask.

Things are not right in Springfield, or rather, uh, Winnipeg. If independent cinema from that midwestern Canadian city is to be believed (and why not?), the likes of Guy Maddin, John Paizs, et al, painted a myriad of cinematic treasures that would lead one to believe that nothing, absolutely nothing, was ever right in Winnipeg. (God knows David Lynch himself was happy to utilize his unacknowledged John [Springtime in Greenland] Paizs influences in his depiction of Lumberton in Blue Velvet.)

As the masked Krusty approaches, his voice queerly distorted in the Lynchian Twin Peaks backward-enunciation-played-forward reverberations, relates a childhood memory that most of us would rather forget, the tale of a boy, a pig and vomit. A masked intruder into this scene, making the testicle-cheeked Lady-in-the-Radiator from Eraserhead seem perfectly normal, manages to perk up the creepy quotient, as if it wasn't high already.

We're then treated to a disturbing "commercial" break segment involving masked Homer and Bart Simpsons in a grubby basement. When the "message" is over, we return to Krusty.

He has a warning.

It is one we must all heed.

Someone is in the house.


homer_b enjoys its World Premiere at TIFF 2017.