Mulla Xul (2012) – By Matthew Saliba

"Mulla Xul" is the directorial debut of Philippe Bourret and it’s an audacious one at that. Not only did he choose to pop his filmmaker cherry in the midst of a "48-Hour Moviemaking Contest," he chose the virtually unfilmable subject matter of H.P. Lovecraft to base his story off of to boot! Was he successful in both counts? Well, he did manage to win the "Grand Jury Prize" of the contest which is a mighty fine feather to be placed in any filmmaker’s cap, particularly a young and up-and-coming one such as Bourret. As for capturing the Lovecraftian mood and atmosphere, well, in all fairness a very admirable attempt was made at doing so.

With only 48 hours, less really, when you consider the time that went into writing, casting and post-production, Bourret sort of had his back against the wall in regards to how ambitious he could really be. So instead of a nightmarish visual palette of reds and blues echoing Dario Argento’s "Suspiria" and a sound design straight out of a David Lynch film, we get a fairly pedestrian approach in terms of flat lighting and a soundtrack that appears to be only coming out of one speaker (though I’ve been told this is a problem that varies from screening room to screening room).

The actors are a bit of a mixed bag, though the sublime Lisa Di Capa is absolutely captivating as always. I should I know, as I directed her in my last film, "Amy’s in the Attic."

Now I don’t want to harp too much on the negative aspects of the film, especially when viewed in context of the "48-Hour Moviemaking Contest." I would personally love to see Bourret take this story and completely reboot it, bringing on a team that can really do justice to the look and sound this story deserves. And more Lisa Di Capa please! And other fine actresses of her ilk.

With the unmitigated balls he possesses to choose H.P. Lovecraft of all people as inspiration to draw a quickie short film on, Philippe Bourret has proven himself to be a filmmaker well worth keeping your eye on. Unfortunately, the film is currently not available online, but it is currently making the film festival circuit, where it recently wowed audiences in Quebec City at the Vitesse Lumière Festival and right here in Montreal at the Mascara and Popcorn Art and Film Festival.