Raindance Web Fest 2016 reviews: Doomsdate, LARPs, CODED, Last Will and Testicle
Ivan Radford | On 01, Oct 2016
The 2016 Raindance Film Festival takes place in London from Wednesday 21st September to Sunday 2nd October, showcasing web series, VR shorts and indie films from around the world. The Web Fest Awards take place on Sunday 2nd October at 3.30pm. Read all of our reviews of the nominees here – or view the full programme.
Doomsdate – The Series
“As we all know, the world was overrun by zombies two years ago.” That’s Kevin in Doomsdate, who finds himself sharing an apartment block with Carisa in the aftermath of a undead apocalypse. It’s your classic tale of boy meets girl, boy and girl kill zombies.
Of course, these days, the idea of a zom-rom-com has become somewhat familiar, but Doomsdate has an advantage over similar feature films. As a web series, it has no choice but to keep things short, cheap and low-key – and creators Carisa Barreca, Kevin Sciretta and Jeff Hadick use those restrictions as strengths. The lack of undead hordes storming cities keeps the focus on the characters, and – most importantly – the short runtime means they can get a scarily high rate of gags per minute.
Quick cutaways to the neighbours – including crazed Bible-bashers and a werewolf – neatly mix with constant one-liners that are never overplayed. “Florida turned,” observes one in a typically downbeat remark. “Nobody noticed.” “Sick Florida burn!” comes the reply.
That juxtaposition between bloody horror and traditional flatmate humour keeps each of them fresh – and frequently hilarious.
Both veterans of Chicago’s legendary The Second City, Carisa Barreca and Kevin Sciretta spark brilliantly off each other, with Carisa bringing big laughs, as she bumps off her old flatmate. All the while, Katie Rich steals scenes as their aggressively upbeat landlady, who offers them free knives as a moving-in present. “I told them had to move out,” she says of the previous tenants, while wielding a shotgun, “but they didn’t understand because they’re zombies.”
Doomsdate screens at Raindance Web Fest at 1pm, Saturday 1st October. It is nominated for Best Ensemble Cast.
Role-playing geeks have had a hard time of it over the years, so it’s great to see a web series that treats the idea of LARPing seriously.
Not that this is a drama – the scripted web series laughs every chance it can get. But rather than laugh at these people, it laughs with them, from their inability not to mock character names and spells to their barely-concealed crushes on each other. The gang are already amusing on their own, but the arrival of Elizabeth Neale’s Shane brilliantly subverts expectations, as she turns out to be far more aggressive than any of them anticipated. The result is a sweet ensemble piece that asks not just why people play in a LARP, but how they use it to relate to the world. Think Scott Pilgrim. But with capes.
LARPs screens at Raindance Web Fest at 6pm, Saturday 1st October. It is nominated for Best Ensemble Cast.
Last Will and Testicle
Cancer is balls. That’s the message of Byron Lane’s web series, which he wrote after finding a lump on his testicle. Surgery and a Kickstarter later and the result is the wonderfully honest – and constantly hilarious – story of Will, who finds his own lump, a discovery that changes everything, from the way he thinks of his relationship with his boyfriend to the way he interacts with his parents. “You grew in my womb. Your testicles were inside me,” emotes his laugh-out-loud mum, before offering sage advice. “It is normal to be in denial,” says Will. “Maybe we’re not the ones in denial,” she comments.
From the show’s excellent name to the playful use of fruit for the opening credits, you immediately know you’re in safe hands and that wit doesn’t let up, especially when we see Will’s partner’s reaction. Heartfelt and hysterical, this is a moving, sincere show that dares to say bollocks to cancer – and laugh at it at the same time.
Last Will and Testicle screened at Raindance Web Fest on Friday 30th September. It is nominated for Best Writing.
You’ve all heard the one about the idealistic teacher trying to make a connection with a class full of troubled kids. But that staple of sentimental cinema has more space to be explored in a series – despite each episode of CODED only being a few minutes long. We follow Shae (Jarod Joseph), who lands a job teaching five 10th graders, with behavioural issues. Before the cheesy music and emotional breakthroughs can occur, though, CODED isn’t afraid to embrace the spiky implications of such a set-up, finding time to observe the dubious hiring practices of the school and the individual students’ problems (Rada Pop is a standout as “Kitten”), as well as the ethical dilemmas that constantly face Shae. Impressively, we even get a chance to see his home life and empathise with his wife, Marci, who’s very keen to buy a home. The use of still photos to link scenes doesn’t always work, but an underlying vein of dark, subtle comedy means that you’re never distracted from the thorny issues being tackled on screen.
CODED screens at Raindance Web Fest at 8.30pm, Saturday 1st October. It is nominated for Best Ensemble Cast.