Mórbido Fest 2013, Dispatch Numero Dos: The Hitchcockian Spectacle Of GRAND PIANO, The Manic Terror Of PANIC 5 BRAVO

Editor, U.S.; Los Angeles, California (@filmbenjamin)
This weekend saw two of Mórbido Fest's biggest draws: Eugenio Mira's English language thriller Grand Piano, starring Elijah Wood as a pianist with a particularly strong case of stage fright, and actor Kuno Becker's Ambulance-set  horror Panic 5 Bravo.

Eugenio Mira's latest packed the Teatro Emperador in Pátzcuaro, Mexico to bursting Saturday night. The lively evening got under way with Mórbido Fest director Pablo Guisa Koestinger mock-conducting the film's star Eljah Wood as he played a tiny prop piano while Mira filming the shenanigans. One thing at Mórbido is clear: Their sense of humor is playful and often self-deprecating.

Reviewed by Eric D. Snider at Fantastic Fest, the film has a simple and fun premise reminiscent of plenty of Hitchcock thrillers: Renowned but retired pianist Tom Selznick (Wood) returns to the stage for one night, only to be roped into an elaborate heist based around a nearl impossible to play piece and the secret of his old mentor's piano.

The central location of the concert hall is utilized beautifully by Mira and cinematographer Unax Mendía, where the conceit is that Wood is largely confined to his piano, as he must play perfectly or else get offed by John Cusack's sniper-ready criminal. While it's fun to watch Wood sweat it out over the ivories, the film's script by Damien Chazelle doesn't feel fully baked and is too enamored with its -- granted -- stupendous premise to really flesh out its characters. However, Mira's elegant direction with the support of Mendía's operatic cinematography, Jose Luis Romeu's clean cutting and Javier Alvariño's superb production design elevate it above most other thrillers of today.

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