Cult Culture in Film Festival

Among all the genres and categories in films, I would have to say I find cult films most intriguing. The term “cult film” is used to describe a movie that “has developed a small, but significant and thoroughly dedicated, fan base that grows over time” (McKittrick). It is especially interesting that although they are obscure and under-appreciated by the major population of viewers, the cult films somehow are  extremely welcomed by a group of dedicated fans, creating a unique vibe of subculture.

However, a film with devoted fan base doesn’t necessarily becomes a cult film. They are limited to a much narrower appeal that attracts niche audience. Many of them are considered controversial due to the edgy narratives and stepping out of the standard technical conventions. In addition, they aren’t necessarily horror films. Although a lot of cult films depict the image of vulgarness, violence and bloodiness, they generally represent the films with strong personal messages and controversies, and also with low-budget.  

With strong characteristics embedded into cult films, they’re usually good despite of being so bad. It isn’t always the high quality and great narratives that the audience is aiming for in a full-length movie. “Plan 9 From Outer Space” (1959) and “The Room” (2003) are considered two of the worst film ever made in the history of motion pictures. But surprisingly, that’s exactly the reason why a small group of people find them extremely entertaining. 

Plan 9 From Outer Space

 Without learning much about the interesting subculture and its history, I booked a ticket of Mandy at MIFF. I have to confess the sole reason I came to notice this movie is the leading actor Nicholas Cage. With nearly a decade of showing up in all kinds of bad movies, Mandy is supposed to be his comeback as praised comments are heard in previous screenings in several film festival. 

Nicholas Cage in Mandy

I think the movie itself carries a charm that is so mysterious that the narrative isn’t as much important. The film tells a story of the hunt of a husband after his wife being capture by a cult group. The story progresses with psychedelic and dazzling shots and depressive and mysterious music. Also the movie features unconventional elements like supernatural creatures and psychotic illusions, bringing the audience a unique experience.

I also find it interesting how the audience enjoys the movie. Even though the movie tells a rather horrifying story with explicit scenes of killing and torture, the audience in the cinema found them extremely entertaining as if they were watching a comedy show, which somehow eased the fear in my mind. Besides, there was some clapping and shouting whenever Cage delivered a good performance, in a bantering sense. 

Nonetheless, it was a fascinating trip I have never experienced before in cinema. The film festival is doing a great job bringing films in various genres from different cultures of the world together. I would argue that the abundance and diversity of films is what keeps a film festival alive as the film festival develops.

Reference:  What Makes a Movie a “Cult” Film?

Boyan Yi

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