Friday, 28 October 2016

Crawl or Die (2014)

I like films that have beginnings. This one does not.

"Coolest Creature Design Since Aliens" - see images below

It's not that this is a bad film, as such, more than it isn't a film. Normally, here, I would be writing a synopsis, but I don't know what to write, as I have so many unanswered questions.

Basically the beats of the movie are such: People are in a forest in a gun fight. They climb down a hole. They blow up the hole. People die. Flash back explaining they are transporting the last pregnant woman alive. More people die. Monster. Crawling. Get out of hole.

Huh?

So many questions. Who are they fighting at the beginning? If this is "Earth II" why did we colonize a planet teaming with aliens (that look suspiciously like xenomorphs)? Where was the transport? Why do these tunnels exist? Spoiler: If you shot the last pregnant woman alive in the face (which you did) aren't we all a bit fucked?

Okay, so it's a bit plotless. Lets try something else.

Of the cast, the only real player is Tank (yes, they all have names like that), played by Nicole Alonso (who composed the theme music and produced the movie). Her acting wasn't terrible, but she's clearly not a seasoned actor. It's directed by Oklahoma Ward. Not bad either, but nothing noteworthy.

Creature effects?

Well. Here's some images:

Yep. Even a mouth in a mouth.

Drooling.

To be fair, the creature effects are pretty good, but damn, that's a straight rip off. Director Ward stated on IMDB: 

"Why so ALIEN like - well - the drawings I have - it is not so ALIEN like. But creating my drawing - well lol - we did the very best we could ( and am proud-of) what we physically created. The monster is more spider-like with a dash of metallic alien qualities which in the sequel will be more fleshed out via more time and finances." 

Overall it's a watchable movie, just not really finished. Or explained. And apparently we're getting a sequel. 



And there's a lot of gratuitous ass shots. Quick, bad-ass female protagonist, get down to your underwear! 

Ripley she ain't. And this ain't Alien.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Hallowed Wednesday: Evil Dead (2013)

The final of four utterly terrifying suggestions for you All Hallows Eve viewing...

SHOCK! THE REMAKE!
From director Fede Alvarez (Don't Breathe) and starring Jane Levy (Don't Breathe / Monster Trucks) comes the twisting remake of total classic, Sam Raimi's The Evil Dead.

The set up is simple, but different to the original. This time our group of friends come to the cabin in the woods to help one of them go cold turkey. Cutting off all lines of communication for the same reason is a good way of getting around the now problem of cell phones and the like, and of course there is the Necronomicon, and the unleashing of the horror.

With gore and scares by the bucket, Alvarez's remake captures the essence of the original well, without coming across as a retread like some many other remakes do.

It's gross, sure, disgusting, and bloody. A good Halloween movie to watch with beer, friends, giggles and squeals.

So they're your choices: Evil Dead, Inside, Triangle, or  Eden Lake. Which will it be? Or maybe more than one. Let us know in the comments, and have a horror-filled Halloween.

Friday, 21 October 2016

They (2002)

Completely under the radar, this is one not to be missed:

"They" are absorbingly frightening.

I picked this one up on one of those ten-films-on-two-disks malarkey's in Walmart. "Wes Craven Presents". It never sounds good, does it? On face value this had no right to be good. 

But damn, it is.

Beginning some twenty years previous, little Billy Parks has a monster in his closet, only no one will believe him. It's a strong start. Young Billy, played by Alexander Gould (voice of Nemo, Find Nemo) gives a strong performance from a young actor, 8 at the time. The opening is, honestly terrifying, ranking up there with openers like Nightmare on Elm Street.

Cut to 20 years later, and we're all grown up. Protagonist, Julia, played by Laura Regan (Dead Silence / Minority Report TV series) is friends with slightly deranged Billy, who promptly kills himself after announcing that he was marked by "They" when he was younger. 

This turns the narrative to Julia, and Billy's other friends, Sam and Terry, and allows them to decide whether there is a monster in the closet, or if Billy's psychosis has, well, rubbed off on them.

Directed by Robert Harmon (The Hitcher / Nowhere to Run), the film is deeply atmospheric. It's true to say that there are some standard horror tropes - running up the stairs, not running away, being stupid - but largely this is forgiven in the story telling. It relies on fear, not jump scares. 

The acting is pretty decent all round (particularly creepy artist, Sam). The special effects are extremely well used. Underlying CGI, which isn't great is hidden in darkness and shadows with great effect.

Ethan Embry as Sam

All round this is a good film. It scares. It's intense. I'd like a sequel, to be sure, and definitely check it out.


 

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Hallowed Wednesday: Inside (2007)

The third of four utterly terrifying suggestions for you All Hallows Eve viewing...

Brutal
Another movie recommendation that I'm going to use the word brutal about is Inside, from directors Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury (ABC's of Death 2) and starring Alysson Paradis (Riot on Redchurch Street).

Pregnant, Sarah and her husband are involved in a car crash, in which she and her unborn are the survivors. Four months later, mourning the death of her husband, she prepares to give birth, when there is a knock on the door, late at night.

A slick home invasion movie at it's heart, Inside is brutally violent, and increasingly terrifying. The premise of "I want your baby, and I'm gonna cut it out of you" is hard enough to write, let alone watch. Gory, and heart-wrenching, this French language film is silent for long stretches, eeking out the suspense to unbearable levels.

Another shocking film for the recommendations, only for the strong stomached, and don't watch it if you're pregnant.

Next week bring buckets of blood!

Friday, 14 October 2016

Lesson of the Evil (2012)

Director Takashi Miike (Audition / Ichi The Killer) knocks another one out the park with this twisted tale of horror.

Lesson of the Evil

Popular school teacher Hasumi, portrayed excellently by Hideaki Itô, is smart, handsome, and deranged. He orchestrates a twisted plan to kill, well, everyone, and get away with it. And that's basically the plot of the film.

The movie starts with a fourteen year old boy murdering his parents. It's presented in a similar fashion to the beginning of Carpenter's Halloween, with the exception that you don't know what happened to the boy afterwards. It quickly transpires that the boy was Hasumi.

Cut to present day, and Hasumi works as a language teacher at a school (even research after watching didn't present me with the name of the school), where things are rather...off. Most notably, student-teacher "relations" are somewhat prevalent, there is a vein of bullying, and cheating in exams is common place.

The first 60 minutes of the 129 minute run time is given to Hasumi starting off as the students friend, and slowly becoming more and more intense and creepy. Flashbacks show us that in his time in the US he was killing there, too. Working with another man who was killing for fun, Hasumi finds himself distanced from his fellow killer, proclaiming himself as "not the same".

Then, around the halfway mark, things get dark.

Pitch black.

Hasumi goes on a killing spree with the school. It's hard to watch.

Brutal, and bloody

Miike is no stranger to gut churning horror (*cough* Audition), but the massacre in the school, directed so masterfully, brings only thoughts of real-life similar instances. And Hasumi's plan is pretty flaw-less. 

Going into the movie cold the issue is that for the first hour the film feeds a little backstory, and some disturbing behavior at the school, but little in the way of horror. I might have given up on it, if the acting wasn't so solid. When the movie goes dark, it ramps up to unbearable in places, and is terrifying. 

Given the pace of the first hour, if you don't like subtitles (!) you may struggle with this, but it is worth holding on, for one of the most effectual horror movies in many a year. It would have made my Hallowed Wednesday's Halloween Recommendations this year, had I seen it earlier. 

One to seek out and see.

 
 

  

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Hallowed Wednesday: Triangle (2009)

The second of four utterly terrifying suggestions for you All Hallows Eve viewing...

Mindbending
Christopher Smith (Severance / Creep) directs an cerebral little horror in Triangle, starring the excellent Melissa George (30 Days of Night).

I have to mention the supporting cast of this one, including Liam Hemsworth and Michael Dorman. This film wouldn't work without them, although it is held up by the increasing loss of sanity imposed on George's Jess.

With friends going on a yachting trip, and coming across a seemingly abandoned ocean cruiser, this is a twisting story, and one that needs paying attention to. Perhaps a second watch. It's fun. Has elements of strong horror, but is a beer with your friends and talk about it afterwards affair.

I can't say too much without spoiling it, but if you like horror that you need to think about, some good scares and a bit of blood, this is one for you.

Next week, we're upping the terror with something a little more...stabby.

Friday, 7 October 2016

Code of Honor (2016)

The older Steven Seagal gets the weirder his movies get. I don't mean surreal or anything like that, but it seems that he doesn't try, other people don't try, the studio interferes, they try to do something different and then chicken out and play the old switcheroo at the end. That sort of thing

Code of Honor falls into the later of that list.

Dude, you're like 65.

Okay, so it's a Seagal film, so don't expect too much plot. It is thus: Robert Sikes (Seagal) is an ex-special forces ghost (surprise, surprise) whose wife and child were murdered by drug trafficking hoods. He takes the mantle of vigilante to rid the city of crime.

Sort of a fat Batman, with guns. Oh, so many guns.

The difference here, as opposed to Seagal's other movie <insert any title from the last 15 years here>, is that this "Code of Honor" spoken of in the title is less Klingon honor, and more murdery rampage honor.

Seagal sits on roofs with sniper rifles and rocket launchers and straight up murders everyone in sight. Which is a nice change from the usual mano-a-mano, I'm better than you so will kill you up close. A switch up for a Seagal movie.

Then enter William Porter, ex BFF and protege of Sikes, now FBI agent, who's here to stop him. Two mighty forces shall meet.

And it runs as a standard thriller from that point.

Porter, played by Craig Sheffer (Nightbreed), is a drunk, portrayed as a man who'll do anything to run down a man he's hunted for months.

They cat and mouse, the local police bumble, there's the obligatory Seagal's contractual (I expect) strip club scene.

Largely the acting is uninspired, the direction boring (Michael Winnick also directed some other films I haven't heard of), and the set pieces predictable. Sheffer either dumbed down his acting at the request of Seagal so as not to embarrass him, or he's actually getting worse with age.

Murder! From afar!

Then it all comes crashing down at the end. It transpires that Seagal didn't kill all these guys, and it was Sheffer, with a split personality. OR was it?

It becomes very confused, and not for the first time in a Seagal movie am I left wondering what the hell the end meant.

Sheffer's Porter is revealed to be the killer all along, leaving you with no doubt that Sikes doesn't exist, and is only a figment of Porter's psyche. Except we saw military records documenting Sikes existence. So Porter projected his psyche onto a fallen friend perhaps? That could be it. But then Sikes shows up, and kills himself. And Porter is witnessed (off screen) by a child. 

So he was real?

What?

Still, the theories on IMDB are worth reading.

Note to writer and director Winnick: If you're not Christopher Nolan, and people are theorizing on your action movie because the end doesn't make sense, you're doing it wrong.



Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Hallowed Wednesday: Eden Lake (2008)

The first of four utterly terrifying suggestions for you All Hallows Eve viewing...

Stunning and Terrifying

Eden Lake is British horror movie brought to you by Director James Watkins (The Woman in Black / Black Mirror), and starring pre-fame Michael Fassbender (X-men / 12 Years a Slave) and Kelly Reilly (Sherlock Holmes / Flight).

Basically the set up is that young couple Jenny and Steve are terrorized in the woodlands surrounding Eden Lake while on an idyllic weekend camping getaway. The antagonists are basically youths. They're children.

One of the most harrowing and hard to watch movies of the selected four for Halloween, Eden Lake is grounded and terrifying. Helped by the excellent acting chops of the two leads and the sinister youths (notably Thomas Turgoose of "This is England" fame, 16 when this was made) it's enough to make you never want to camp again.

It's brutally violent, and dark without humor.

I've chosen this film because it will scare you. None of the campness of Friday 13th, or Nightmare on Elm Street, and nothing you'll laugh about with a few beers after.

You'll just sleep with the lights on.

Next week, something a little...lighter.