FANTASTIC FEST 2022: Magic Spot (2022)

This is the fourth Motern Media movie I’ve watched this week and just might be my favorite. There are so many stories in here all working together toward one conclusion, but this is a mixture of lost love, family tragedy, musical comedy, science fiction and just plain good old fashioned weirdness all mixed up and made into something just about perfect.

This time, we’re in Tussleville, a place where Walter Moore (Matt Farley) hosts a singing show that’s always live, never taped, and has an upcoming appearance by the girl who got away, Alyssa Caitlyn Pouliot (Elizabeth M. Peterson). Meanwhile, Walter and his cousin Poopy (Chris Peterson) — a grown man who walks around with a blanket — learn that Uncle Dan (Kevin McGee), the man whose ghost visited them throughout their childhoods and made them learn the rules of the Magic Spot may still be saved from his place outside of time and given a chance at heaven. The secret? You have to use the Magic Spot in winter because your body needs to acclimate to this dimension’s temperature as when they are an observer in the Magic Spot, they grow beyond cold. This is why Uncle Dan somehow died of hyperthermia in the summertime.

Walter wants to also use the Magic Spot to remember what Alyssa wore the last time they went on a date two years ago, a condition she’s given if he ever wants to woo her again. Maybe it’s cheating using the Magic Spot to see her in the past, but maybe we should also forgive someone in love.

Most time travel movies upset me because they set up a logic and then step all over that logic. In Magic Spot, Farley and Charles Roxburgh have created a movie that works on whatever level you want to watch it: as a Motern Media fan, as a lover of indie film, as someone looking for a romantic comedy, as a time travel story and so on. It’s also got some of the best songs I’ve heard in their movies.

I don’t want to spoil the ending, but I have no problem admitting that I cried. I love that this movie could do that to me as well as the fact that it celebrates analog moments. A TV show that only airs live, a place that allows you to silently view the past, a band that plays in the woods only for themselves, all of these things celebrate the moments in life that reward us without being captured for anyone else.

Whatever these guys make, I’m here for it.

Magic Spot is playing as part of the Burnt Ends part of Fantastic Fest. This is part of Molten Media, which has produced independent feature films since the late 1990s. According to Fantastic Fest, “the idiosyncratic cinema of Charles Roxburgh and Matt Farley pay homage to the regional low budget horror films of the late 1970s and early 1980s as they unravel bizarre tales set in and around lightly-fictionalized small New England towns. Akin to the manner in which John Waters and Kevin Smith cultivated their cult universes out of tight-knit communities of vivid personalities, Charlie and Farley’s films imagine a unique portrait of Americana as they recruit an eccentric ensemble of folksy friends and family to endearingly perform the offbeat vernaculars and campy melodrama of their wittily verbose scripts.”

Fantastic Fest Burnt Ends has awarded the filmmakers with the first annual Golden Spatula in recognition of their creative spirit, and a partial retrospective of their inventive catalog which includes Local Legends and Metal Detector Maniac as well as more contemporary works which pursue a distinct, but just as wonderfully eclectic and wry comic sensibility.

You can get a virtual badge here.

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