The Adams family returned to Fantasia this year with “An Adams Family Picture Show,” a Great Depression period piece set among carnies and liars inflicted with trauma from World War I. It’s their biggest movie so far, with extras and sets that recall “Nightmare Alley” (both the original and Guillermo del Toro’s color tribute), in which the Adams use their eye for the weird and the choreographed. “Where the Devil Roams” has at least two music video-length sequences sometimes co-starring a 1931 Ford. Hell yeah.
“Where the Devil Roams” gets more of a discernible path when it sets this family on a rampaging road trip throughout America, parallel to the carnival’s journey. As the trio crosses the paths of individuals who embody greed or apathy, scenes are spiked with blood just as much as they are delicious, darkly whimsical dialogue (“Looks like the devil’s got a new dance partner; don’t step on his toes”). The Adams’ individual on-screen performances help carve such strange individuals who only seem to make more sense when they straddle the gruesome line of life and death.
“Where the Devil Roams” is a little more obtuse as a collection of hard-considered but trippy words than “Hellbender” or “The Deeper You Dig,” but it’s stitched together mighty nicely, with a growing plot about assembling body parts. Their collective filmmaking eye is still so compellingly intentional and full of riches. Whether it’s with the desaturated color palette or later full black and white, the Adams are so gifted at filming bleak Americana, corpses, cloudy days, and rotting hands.
Kim Albright’s “With Love and a Major Organ,” a SXSW 2023 film that made a stop at Fantasia, has a big, gooey heart. That is one of the many endearing and enriching things about this movie, a clever sci-fi comedy for anyone who feels we could all stand to live and love a little more. In one of its many impressive feats, “With Love and a Major Organ” earns the right to be this sweet (and even then, it’s not overly sugary). Julia Lederer’s script is like a more optimistic Charlie Kaufman, but comparisons for this film to any other entities stop there.