Boston Comic Con 2014: Day Two

Ryan Smythe ‘15 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

As fabulous as the floor show is, there is a disparity between the number of hours it is open, and the total number of booths there are to see. Eventually, there won’t be anything new left to see. Fortunately, Boston Comic Con hosts a film festival in a room back behind the main hall. Don’t expect a fancy set up and reclining seats like a regular movie theater boasts, but a baker’s dozen screenings that come free with admission to the event? The rows of basic hotel chairs facing a pull down screen and a projector are more than satisfactory. A minor scare of a missing projector had the showrunner dashing back and forth from room to floor for a solid hour had the potential to throw off the time sensitive schedule, but with an audible sigh of relief, the projector found its way back before the 10:30am start time.

Opening the day is the YouTube webseries LARPs: The Series. Incredible cinematography and staging makes up for any shaky deliveries and timing by this new show, and the charming cast quickly gets a handle on the material. By as soon as episode three, the characters already show signs of strong development to compliment the witty banter. The easiest comparison is to Role Models, especially with the focus on balancing the real world with their fantasy world. Unlike the movie, LARPs explains a lot about the lives of LARPers, especially their interactions with condescending outsiders. With such strong characters and a compelling plotline, the currently in production season two is an exciting prospect. Director Julian Stamboulieh and writer Jon Verrall did hint at a possible change of channels prior to the release of season two, keeping the details close to the chest for the moment.

Unfortunately, the second showing couldn’t keep to the standard set by LARPs. Dink, a 25-minute short film focusing on the discovery of superpowers of titular character Dink who, along with his best friend Art, tries to figure out what to do with them. His power, the ability to see accidents before they happen, has the potential for some fascinating scenarios and awkward interactions as he tries to convince people exactly why they should not do something. Instead, it shoved the entire backstory of Dink into a quick monologue by the camera-happy Art, made their interactions with each other feel about as friendly as an average conversation with a customs official, and left the entire audience awkwardly laughing at the end that failed to tie up any plot points.

This disparity of quality between the showings continued on throughout the day which, with most of the films running under 10 minutes and an enthusiastic audience, turned out to be a very good thing. After a predominantly solid morning of films, the afternoon brought about the screening of Cowboy Zombies. This film is everything that a condescending passerby might think about the films shown in a small room at a comic con and more. Wooden acting, terrible camera angles, and a plot that barely makes sense is not a good combination to have in a time that The Walking Dead sets a high bar for zombie stories. The entire audience, in the style of Rifftrax and Mystery Science Theater 3000, began commenting on every shaky plot point or poorly delivered line, making what should have been a dreadful hour and a half viewing more fun than it had any right to be.

My Name Is Jonah, a documentary focusing on the real life of Myspace celebrity Jonah Washnis, stole the day from LARPs as the most incredible showing. With its opening minutes feeling very much like a cross between Rambo, Walker, Texas Ranger, and This Is Spinal Tap, it silenced the riled up crowd and commanded their complete attention. After this, as co-director Phil Healey admitted after the screening, misleading opening, My Name Is Jonah slowly, and with a subtlety not present at the start of the film, peeled back the outlandish character that is Jonah and revealed a dysfunctional upbringing, troubled family ties, and one of the most fascinating human beings hiding in upstate New York.

It’s films like My Name Is Jonah and Cowboy Zombies that make the film festival at Boston Comic Con worth attending. Yes, the possibility of a miserable movie is a constant threat, but the combination of an entertaining audience and greater films surrounding the flops is too great of an opportunity to pass up at a three-day convention. The chance to meet the filmmakers is a bonus, though for their sake it was a very good thing the cast and crew of Cowboy Zombies didn’t attend this screening.


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