Tarnation, Jonathan Caouette, 2003
The recent “movie about my family” trend of documentary filmmaking theoretically has the capacity to create something really remarkable by exploring universal themes on a personal level, but in my experience the results are usually rather disappointing—Tarnation, however, considerably exceeds my expectations. The story is disturbingly tragic, yet manages to avoid becoming maudlin or self-indulgent. The movie is also quite visually complex for something edited entirely on free computer software, though sometimes the plot is sacrificed in favor of aesthetic stimulation. I would have liked to see slightly more exposition through the images (almost all of the actual storyline is conveyed exclusively through rather lengthy captions).
I was a bit disappointed with this B-grade horror movie about an evil child who fools everyone with her syrupy sweet outward appearance. The acting is pretty bad, in some cases verging on the bizarre: the weird, creepy groundskeeper, the mother of a dead little boy who has taken up drinking to deal with her sorrows (complete with hiccups and staggers), and so on. The blonde pigtailed protagonist isn’t nearly evil enough either—essentially, she’s just an exceptionally devious spoiled brat who knows how to get what she wants. It definitely does not justify a running time of 2 hours and ten minutes.