Minore - FrightFest European Premiere
Director: Konstantinos Koutsoliotas
Starring: Davide Tucci, Daphne Alexander, Nicolas Bravos, Maria Nephele Douka
Written by: Konstantinos Koutsoliotas, Elizabeth E. Schuch
Produced by: Lilette Botasi, Dimitris Hatzivogiatzis
Cinematography by: Dmitris Stabolis
Original Score by: David Kemp, Giannis Zouganelis
When mysterious creatures invade a Greek seaside port, a misfit band of musicians, tourists, bodybuilders, and grannies unite to save the city in this quirky action-comedy.
Horror films with links to the works of H.P. Lovecraft have always been a staple of the genre and in recent years we have seen a rise in those either based directly on his work (like Colour out of Space) or those that borrow from its mythology (like Grabbers). The latest is the Greek based effort 'Minore' which is set on a coastal Greek village threatened by otherworldly creatures that have emerged from the mist above the sea. As the invasion amplifies and becomes more deadly, it is up to an eclectic band of locals to unite to save their village (and the world) from total destruction.
Billed as a horror/comedy, 'Minore' explores these genres and more as it delves into drama and fantasy too, however in doing so it spreads itself a bit too thin. Rather than blending together they sometimes jump from one to another in such a manner that it can be quite jarring. We jump from the main character William's (Davide Tucci) search for his father, to the hijinks of a local bodybuilder/Conan the Barbarian wannabee (Manolis Spyrou) to the mystery surrounding the horrors that are about to invade the village. As separate plot strands they strike in such a blunt manner they fail to allow the film to flow naturally which softens their intent. It makes it difficult to know when the comedy is intentional or not, when it is trying to be scary or not or whenever it is trying to land a particular emotional beat. Obviously these aspects of the film are subjective in terms of how they land but here they unfortunately miss their mark.
The primary focus of the film is on a charming group of characters who come face to face with horrors beyond their comprehension and one thing that director Konstantinos Koutsoliotas does well (alongside his co-writer Elizabeth E. Schuch) is in the manner in which he instilled a sense of community amongst them. You don't doubt for a second that they are neighbours who have lived their whole lives with each other despite the vast differences in their personalities. The opening montage which moves from character to character tells you everything you need to know about each of them with little to no dialogue, which is a credit to Koutsoliotas as a director and the performances from the cast who have such great chemistry together. The score from David Kemp works really well at establishing a sense of place in the film too adding some authenticity to the locale.
Whilst this dedication to characterisation is admirable, especially for this kind of film which is usually lacking in it, you get the feeling that Koutsoliotas is overdoing it as a lot of the scenes with the characters interacting with each other at the local bar seem repetitive and drawn out especially when you feel like you are watching the same performance by the band on multiple occasions. It grinds the film to a halt offering nothing new to the film as a whole. It also damages the impact of the comedic and dramatic beats of the film as a lot of the jokes and emotion get lost in a lot of cumbersome scenes. It almost makes you wonder if all of this unnecessary character building is going to pay off when the inevitable creature attacks happen.
The creature designs are really out there in terms of being essentially floating eyes with tentacles but also feel unique. Some might view the effects as being shonky but their schlocky quality gives the film a real throwback quality as they feel like they are lifted straight from the 80s. On top of that it works a long way at staying true to Lovecraft in the sense of them being something beyond human understanding which comes across in how they move and interact with the characters. Usually a restrained approach to unveiling these creatures is worth merit but here you wait over an hour before they reveal themselves which dampens their impact. Having said that, the scale and scope Koutsoliotas brings to the grand finale is admirable as the small band of survivors face off against a god like behemoth from another dimension which is impressive for such a small scale film. Another aspect of the film that delivers the goods is in the gore department as characters are dismembered, leave behind gooey corpses and even have their face ripped off which is in one of the films most darkly funny scenes.
There is quite a bit to admire about Konstantinos Koutsoliotas horror/comedy effort but his management of the various genres it explores and his over commitment to characterisation labour the film. By the time the creature feature mayhem is in full flow it isn't as impactful as it should be even though it is the highlight of the film. For such a fun premise it is a let down but there is still a fair amount to enjoy.
- Joseph McElroy
'Minore' received it's European Premiere at FrightFest '23 on August 26th