Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Nightstream ’20: Landgraves (short)

Is there a more instantly sympathetic occupation for a protagonist than that of music critic (or journalist)? Everyone is with me on this, right? Be that as it may, Jeremie, a young French-Canadian music writer’s latest assignment is a bit of a double-edged sword. It is a high-profile gig, but the titular heavy metal duo is not exactly media-friendly in Jean-Francois Leblanc’s short film, Landgraves, which screens on-demand as part of the Head Trip shorts block during the online genre festival Nightstream.

Fans are excited that Landgraves are finally making music again, after their release from prison. Technically, they were convicted of manslaughter rather than murder, but the details are murky. They tell Jeremie they do not want to talk about it, but of course they do. They just want to tell it in their own time.

Clearly, there is something very wrong about the musicians, but the precise nature of their creepiness it is not immediately evident. Regardless, when Jeremie finds himself snowed-in and stranded at their cabin, it bodes ominously for him. Leblanc and screenwriter Alexandre Auger capitalize on all the established heavy metal stereotypes, while keeping us guessing about what Landgraves has in-store for their guest. They actually take it in a micro direction, but that makes the short rather distinctive, especially given its chilly, sinister atmosphere.

At twenty-two minutes,
Landgraves runs about as long as a vintage 1960’s TV anthology episode and it has a suitably ironic twist to fit the format. In fact, Landgraves is broadcast ready, as it currently stands, so an anthology program could consider acquiring it, especially since given its commercial combination of hard rock and horror (subtitles notwithstanding). Darkly amusing, Landgraves (in the Head Trip shorts block) screens on-demand through today (10/14), as part of Nightstream.