Sundance Review: Magic Magic - Flixist

Sundance Review: Magic Magic

1:30 PM on 01.27.2013


Some laugh at what scares them. This act can be perceived as obnoxious and puzzling to someone else in a theater, but it feels completely natural during Magic Magic: A hypnotizing balancing act between horror and comedy (but never a horror-comedy -- e.g. Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland).

Awkwardness and unpredictability provide the links between genres, with Michael Cera and Juno Temple's performances acting as conduits. They bring out laughter from me -- whether it's derided from fear or comedic timing, I'm still uncertain.

Magic Magic
Director: Sebastián Silva
Rating: NR
Country: USA/Chile
Release Date: January 22, 2013 (Sundance Film Festival)

There is an irrelevance that persists throughout Magic Magic; this complete disregard for artistic intent, closure, and consistency is what keeps the film buoyant. It's an oddity deserving of a primarily Spanish-speaking performance from Cera.

As with Crystal Fairy, director Sebastián Silva and Cera's other collaboration, Magic Magic follows a group of friends on sabbatical, becoming increasingly distant due to Brink's (Cera) quirks and the presence of a strange girl growing increasingly hostile (Alicia, played by Temple). Trade in horror for Crystal Fairy's psychedelic flirtations and you have something like Magic Magic, a film that is always perplexing but never boring.

Alicia is no different than the rest of the group of friends (a mix of native Chileans and Americans abroad), in that she just wants to relax, except she can't due to insomnia. Alicia's anti-social behavior complements Cera's hilariously perverse, obnoxious character, until she becomes an actual threat to the party. Even when Alicia attacks, I found myself laughing, unsure if I was alone or not in doing so. I never found myself rooting for either party, nor did I sympathize with the Chilean friends that just wanted a vacation. Magic Magic's story is one of those train wrecks that elicits morbid curiosity instead of empathy. It's a dark film, but one that feels as if it can be illuminated with the opening of a cellphone.

Magic Magic is anti-horror horror. It's mumblehorror. Violence is dealt with as nonchalantly as Cera delivers his lines: lazily drawn-out with a disregard for theatrics. I can't think of any other film that effectively conveys an ominous tone while frequently providing comic relief, without relying on slapstick or surprise. Most of this is due to Cera, who fits seamlessly into a character that is simultaneously repulsive, pathetic, adorable, and sympathetic. Whenever he is on the screen, I found myself laughing -- maybe out of fear, maybe out of comedic delivery (I can't remember which.)

Magic Magic's inconclusive end and aimless middle may turn away impatient viewers, but the film's ambiguous nature, carefully walking a line between comedy and horror, thrilled me until its end. A theater sharing one great hearty laugh is great, but I prefer a theater divided -- unsure of whether it's okay to laugh and uneasy with those that do. If you also adore that awkward state, Magic Magic will satisfy. It's a gorgeously shot, strange film that leaves me uncertain of what to label it and happy that I won't have to label it anything at all.


Magic Magic - Reviewed by Allistair Pinsof

Exceptional. This film is an exceptional representation of its own genre, and anyone and everyone should love it. Expect to see it on year-end lists.

Get comment replies by email.     settings

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our comment moderators

Can't see comments? Anti-virus apps like Avast or some browser extensions can cause this. Easy fix: Add   [*]   to your security software's whitelist.

Allistair Pinsof

This blog submitted to our editor via our Community Blogs, and then it made it to the home page! You can follow community members and vote up their blogs - support each other so we can promote a more diverse and deep content mix on our home page.

Was it epic? Vote it up

Allistair Pinsof

First trailer for Barely Lethal sure is lethal

First trailer for Black Mass starring Johnny Depp

First trailer for Takashi Miike's Yakuza Apocalypse

Ads on Flixist may be purchased from:

Please contact Crave Online, thanks!



The All-American Avengers

by Jackson Tyler


Snaxist: Kellogg's Avengers: Age of Ultron Cereal

by Nick Valdez


Comic Book Movies 101: Avengers: Age of Ultron

by Matt Liparota


Will Darth Vader return in Star Wars: The Force Awakens?

by Matt Liparota


Why It Sucks To Go To The Movies In London

by Jackson Tyler


Flixist Discusses: Neill Blomkamp

by Jackson Tyler


FlixList: The Top 10 Movie Robots

by Nick Valdez


FlixList: Ten NEW Cartoons that Deserve Movies

by John-Charles Holmes


6 things we want from Neill Blomkamp's Alien project

by Per Morten Mjolkeraaen


Movies That Changed Us: Super

by Jackson Tyler

Back to Top