FrightFest Review: MINORE
Gonzo Greek horror
As much an ode to Greek culture, as it is to pop culture, cult cinema, and the pulps that have shaped horror over the years, Konstantinos Koutsoliotas’ Minore also becomes the latest addition to the long line of Lovecraftian horror. The story is simple: William (played by Rufus Sewell’s dead ringer, Davide Tucci) is a sailor who arrives ashore, only to discover mysterious creatures invading the seaside town. In the company of a band of misfits — a barbarian, an artist, gangsters, a waitress — the audience is drawn into a hybrid mix of horror, comedy, and existential crisis. Co-written with Elizabeth E. Schuch, the film plays out in both Greek and English language, drip-feeding an impending threat ‘from beyond’ as we spend time with the colourful array of characters. Brandishing their ‘weapon of choice’ — from mandolins to a broadsword — much like a Leone movie, it’s all in the faces with these distinctive characters; everyone appearing like a chiselled sculpture or a more menacing work of art.
There are obvious comparisons to B-movie classics along with Lovecraftian parallels to Italy’s Caltiki: The Immortal Monster from 1959; doses of Guillermo del Toro, and a spattering of Peter Jackson’s Brain Dead. This is literally a comic book brought to life and, more specifically, echoes the McGuffin (no spoilers) planted at the heavy metal heart of Daniel Warren Johnson and Mike Spicer’s series Murder Falcon. You see, whether some influences are coincidental or not, it is more than clear how much of a sponge Koutsoliotas is. He provides the slice of philosophy one would associate with his country of origin, but wrapped up in an explosion of inspiration that is looking as much outside of its place as it is its time.
In one scene the gangster asks the artist: "What is your practice for your iconography?" It is immediately shot down with a masturbatory reference that most may find ironic with the amount of unfiltered visual references Konstantinos (so effortlessly) casts off. Considering this, the main criticism is in how the film’s final act descends into the surreal and the cerebral and, in the process, tends to lose a tonal balance, even some of the characters we spend so long with lost in the ether, the humour dissipated. One moment it’s pure pop, the next a Jodorowsky trip. However, each character still has their moment in the sun, with William brought to the forefront just enough to shine that little bit brighter than the rest of his comrades.
It makes complete sense that Koutsoliotas’ previous work as a compositor and visual effects artist — working on the likes of Guardians of the Galaxy, 1917, and Nightmare Alley, to name a few — is a major part of the film’s aesthetic. In fact, James Gunn’s Troma-influence must have carried through here; even some of the tacky effects an acquired taste. Where it lacks in highly polished CGI, his eye for where to place the hint of an alien world (and its monsters), helps detract from something that would fall apart in less capable hands. Therefore, while incorporating a more modern myth of The Old Ones — that "have passed through the cracks" — the film allows itself to explore, and give room to, something far more conceptual and nightmarish amongst its mix of genre.
The drawn-out nature may ‘alienate’ some audiences — impatient for the carnage to ensue — but it is in these quiet moments and the more subtle visuals throughout that inject a sense of melancholy we tend to see in the likes of Gareth Edwards’ Monsters and Benson & Moorhead’s indie work. Whacky, fun, and gruesome in the sun, Minore is destined to become a cult classic; a great mix of Greek Odyssey (and oddity) served as a venerable tapas of every film flavour and horrors imaginable.