Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Dark Cove (2016)








DIRECTOR:
 Rob Willey

WRITERS:


Rob Willey
Dennis Willey

CAST:

Cameron Crosby
Montanna McNalley
Rob Willey
Rob Abbate
Alexandra Brown
James Anderson
Jules Cotton
Eliot Bayne
Ty Stokoe
Ken Hunt

PLOT:

Five mates decide to go camping on the coast of Vancouver Island. Once they arrive, it's meant to be a planned weekend of drugs, drinking, camping, and sex. When the friends come across a strange guy and his two Australian surfers friends, they decide to party later on that night. Things turn decidedly sour when one of the girls is almost raped by one of the surfers, and it descends into a weekend of revenge and the group fighting for survival.







Dark Cove is that age-old horror story of a group of friends who go on a road trip with the plan of fun and sun and are thrown into a situation where they are left fighting for survival. The story is one of the oldest and most overly-used plotlines in the realm of horror cinema. While I don't think that Dark Cove constitutes as a slasher, it still uses this familiar plot device in getting this group of friends into the horrific situation that eventually befalls them.

I think when Dark Cove began, I was slightly enjoying it for the most part. The group of friends and their whole dynamic felt really familiar to me. Just in the sense of how the characters are written. We have the jock, our straight-laced mate, the sex-crazed bloke who likes to brag about his conquests and the girls, one shy and one slutty. The guy who brags about his conquest feels like he would fit perfectly into an Eli Roth or Kevin Smith directed horror film. It's filled with that frat-boy type of humour.

The characters in the movie go for a hike, strip off, kiss, flirt, take magic mushrooms, see some fireworks, and this is when our terrible event takes place. Once we witness the attempted rape scene, the movie sort of just spirals out of control for all of what feels like twenty minutes, and it suddenly comes to an abrupt end. I had paused the movie during the carnage thinking the movie had a good twenty minutes to go, only to realise it had just four minutes left. I was shocked as it feels like it builds up to a whimper and not a bang.

After the attempted rape scene, the movie throws all of the characters into a situation where they do something terrible, this is over and done within a minute. We suddenly move onto the next day, his friends come looking for him, a park ranger shows up, we have a chase or two, a few poorly done kill scenes and the film's villain is dispatched of within a few seconds, and the movie suddenly ends. I was left so unsatisfied and underwhelmed with the film.

The entire plot of Dark Cove feels sort of pointless. It feels like it has no real point for existing. It feels like scenes that have been written and strung together, but there is no building to any of the more significant moments in the film. There is no character development for the Australian Surfers, so when they show up, they are merely evil and are killed off. We also don't feel much for the group either. We don't have any backstory besides one character whose sister was raped a year before.

A massive distraction is the terrible performances. The acting is so over the top that it's almost laughable. The worst is Cameron Crosby who plays our sex-crazed bragger. His constant jokes fall flat. He's the comedy relief, but he's sadly not funny. Also, one of the Australian Surfers guys deserves an award for delivering the most over the top performance of 2016. The scene where he rips his shirt off to reveal a creepy back tattoo while he flexes and screams at the top of his lungs is hilarious, not menacing.

Regarding thrills and chills, Dark Cove is entirely sterile. The movie comes across as more hilarious than scary. The terrible acting throughout the movie also takes away from the more dark scenes towards the end of the film. Once the movie picks up the pace and starts to deliver the stalk and chase scenes, it really takes you out of the film when the characters are chewing the scenery during the scenes where it tries to provide the suspense.

Lastly, we come to the blood and gore in this film. Sadly, there is little to be found in the movie. This may be due to the budget constraints. When I see an axe that is the prominent part of a movie poster, I expect to see a lot of carnage involving that said axe. Minus one terrible scene where someone is hit in the spine with one, which we later see no damage done to the person's back, the movie really doesn't have all that much carnage.







DEATH TOLL:
 3

BLOOD AND GORE:

- A dead corpse is shown.
- A guy attempts to rape a young woman.
- A man is repeatedly punched in the head.
- A guy has a fit and dies.
- Someone is repeatedly hit with an axe.
- Someone is shot in the stomach.







Dark Cove could have been a movie that dealt with the attempted rape of a woman as a serious story of retribution. Yet the movie tries to add all of this fratboy humour, along with cheesy acting all while containing no suspense or violence. The movie also feels like it's horribly pieced together with an abrupt end. The film is immature and a poorly done attempt at the rape-revenge sub-genre. Watch I Spit On Your Grave or Last House On The Left.


Friday, August 26, 2016

The Suffering (2016)








DIRECTOR:
 Robert Hamilton

WRITERS:

Robert Hamilton
Marco V. Scola

CAST:

Nick Apostolides
Phil Amico
Liz Christmas
Elizabeth Deo
Lee Hamilton
Chad Eric Smith
Regan Wilson
Kina Gee

PLOT:

Henry Dawles is a property appraiser who is sent to a rural farmhouse to appraise the home. Once Henry begins to evaluate the farmhouse and meets the strange caretaker and maid who live on the property, a lot of weird things start happening. Henry starts to lose his grip on reality when he begins seeing the demons that are inhabiting this farmhouse. It's now up to Henry to fight for survival as he uncovers the dark secrets of the farmhouse.







When I reviewed The Suffering roughly a year ago. I was pretty hard on the movie's promotional campaign as the first two paragraphs in the original review were myself, giving it a good hiding. I accused the movie of having a pretty terrible piece of poster art. While I wasn't a fan of the movie, I still thought the story was quite original and warranted a much better campaign. The original poster than accompanied my review had a cheap looking skull overlayed over the main characters face and a dark forest setting. It looked like a horrible photoshop job that anyone could rush out.

Updating the review now, I have come across this new bit of poster art that you see in my review and have to hand it to the marketing team as this second one is much more appealing. This also feels much more in line with the story. A movie that deals with a man atoning for his sins is seen burning alive as demonic hands reach out to him. The use of orange in the title of the movie and the fire, the blue background just grabs you straight away. Look what a year does for a movie's promotional campaign. Hopefully, more people jump on this movie now.

We'll start with the positive aspects of the story. The Suffering has a rather neat twist towards the end of the movie. It's not original by any stretch of the imagination and elements of the story have been used before in other, much better movies but I liked the use of components that represent purgatory, atoning for your sins and the whole demon aspect of the plot. As a whole, I don't think it always came together entirely as a concise and complete narrative, but I still found something that I enjoyed about the twist. It felt smarter than what I had expected from this movie.

The acting is solid in this film. The leading performance from Nick Apostolides is the standout for me. I really enjoyed his performance. From the very first frames of the movie, he delivers a performance that is filled with sorrow and regret. I believed his character was suffering and filled with pain. It's explained early on as to why he has been suffering, and this becomes entirely apparent towards the end, and I think Nick Apostolides delivers on that. I hope to see him do more in the future.

Now onto The Suffering's negatives. This film is the definition of a slow-burn horror film. It just so happens to be one of the film's biggest downfalls as well. The movie clocks in at one hour and forty-five minutes. While this isn't considered a very long-running time when compared to other horror movies, it feels like the story which is being told in The Suffering drags on a little too long. A few more scares or moments of suspense may have helped this movie feel like it didn't drag so often. I think the story being so dark and somber and asking the audience to go along for that long felt at times like a chore.

I think this movie could have done with a couple of trims to the story to keep the film flowing a little better. During the first and second act, the movie does drag quite a bit. The story has a few moments where it does try to build the tension and suspense, but it isn't always successful. While the movie isn't terrifying, I'm sure the scene with the bird in the farmhouse will have a few people on the edge of your seat and as equally grossed out. Sometimes, you need more tension and suspense to move things along.

The Suffering regarding gore and bloodshed is lacking. We do have a few scenes that involve blood, but the movie is pretty light on the red stuff. I think this movie is going for more of a slow burn tension over gore which is pretty understandable when you're dealing with the mental breakdown of your central character. So while I would've liked to have seen the film ramp up the violence a touch more, I can understand that this is a movie where suspense is critical.

Lastly, when it comes to the cinematography in The Suffering. I think director Robert Hamilton does an excellent job. This is a low budget film that is pretty much only set in a large farmhouse, and it's surrounding forest, yet Robert Hamilton still manages to make this look like a pretty impressive little production. There isn't that much flair or overly complicated camera work or cinematography, but the movie always seems well made for what I assume is a minimal budget.







DEATH TOLL:
 4

BLOOD AND GORE:


- A rotting corpse is seen hanging from a noose.
- A dead animal corpse is shown on the ground.
- A bird is seen being ripped open.
- A woman cuts open a guys stomach wound.
- An infected wound is shown.
- A guy is dragged away by a demon.
- A decaying baby is revealed.
- An infected gunshot wound.
- A gunshot blast to the head.







The Suffering is a movie that has a somewhat unusual little twist in the third act, a solid leading performance from Nick 
Apostolides and some decent production values for a smaller indie film. The film sadly lacks tension, suspense and is extremely slow. The movie at times drags, and it's the films biggest downfall. I will say though that compared to a lot of straight to video movies, it's a lot better than some of the stuff that I've seen recently. The Suffering at least deserves a once off watch for trying its hand at some form of originality.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Snuff: Diary Of A Serial Killer (2016)








DIRECTORS:


John Reign
Eric Wojtanik

WRITERS:

Eric Wojtanik
John Reign

CAST:

John Reign
Brandy Reign
Zack Ermini
Sierra Reigh
Eric Wojtanik
Rowena Winnie Reign

PLOT:

When Ned's three children go and stay with their mother. Ned decides to borrow his son's camera so he can document the paranormal events that are taking place in his home. As he begins to record the circumstances, the entity begins to slowly drive Ned insane, and it ends up transforming him into a cold-blooded serial killer who begins to start murdering victims in his home. Slowly the bodies start to pile up.



Heading into a movie with a title like Snuff: Diary Of A Serial Killer. I was hoping for a possible mixture of Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer meets 8MM. Based on the poster, though, I went into this expecting something of a much lower budget. While the last part was correct, the rest was utterly wrong. This film is nothing like those other two movies that I mentioned above and when it comes to quality. I feel goddamn awful for even referencing the two movies in relation to this one.

We'll start with the positive aspect of Snuff, which there is only one. What this movie does get right is that it tries to add something a little different to that entire Found Footage 'Paranormal' craze. The sub-genre is overrun with these types of films and has become somewhat tired and sort of predictable regarding formula. Where Snuff tries to add something a little different is that it turns the main character into a villain and we watch his reign of terror.

While the movie follows the same similar 'Paranormal Activity' formula of the house becoming haunted, the date format which shows the increased hostility of our entity and the movie giving us the typical slamming doors and quick cuts. I did enjoy the fact that this is primarily us, the audience, having to sit there for an hour and a half and watch this guy go insane and murder a bunch of people. I liked the switch up, but this is the only thing that I found positive with Snuff: Diary Of A Serial Killer.

John Reign who is the writer, director and leading star of Snuff tries his darn hardest to give it his all with this performance. He tries to show human nature at it's darkest and his character does end up doing some pretty messed up things. I, however, found him manically laughing at the camera every few seconds and him conversing with no one but himself to become annoying, very quickly. Instead of coming across as crazy, he becomes grating, and all creepiness is immediately lost.

This is pretty much a family affair. The acting is amateurish, but this is expected when he's cast his entire family as his family in the film. So to put your own kids in a movie where you brutally kill their mother and your wife who is starring as a prostitute and your nephew who also shares a writer and director credit will be fun explaining to his two young daughters when they are old enough to watch this home movie. I sense therapy will be a big part of their lives when they grow up.

Snuff: Diary Of A Serial Killer does have a few nasty moments to be found in the film. While a lot of the death scenes in the movie have been done better in other films, the grainy, almost home-movie quality of the film may shock some of the more sensitive viewers. Some audience members may even believe the "real" 911 recording at the start. It also might make some viewers feel uncomfortable watching the real serial killer quotes at the beginning of the film.

I didn't find Snuff: Diary Of A Serial Killer scary. The movie does try for a few jump scares at the beginning with slamming doors, quick cuts, and loud noises with the entity we never get to actually see. It's all been done before and better in all of the Paranormal Activity films, so nothing really landed for me when it came to shocks or scares. I did notice a little homage to Poltergeist thrown in the movie with the table and chairs, though which was a neat little moment.

Lastly, I think even if Snuff: Diary Of A Serial Killer had a well-known cast and a much bigger budget, this would be a film that still divides audiences. Like the brilliant Man Bites Dog had us following around a serial killer with its faux-documentary style, it was always laced with dark humour. We questioned where we stood as an audience with onscreen violence. Snuff is a cold, as a snuff film should be, yet this offered no social element. This was just an hour and a half of killing without any intelligence. 







DEATH TOLL:
 4

BLOOD AND GORE:

- Draino is poured down someone's throat.
- A dead body is shown with dissolved throat and face.
- Smacked in the head with a hammer.
- Throat sliced open with a box cutter.
- A prostitute snorts bleach.
- Someone's nose begins gushing blood.
- A woman's hand is smashed with a hammer.
- An arm hacked off with a hacksaw.
- Someone is suffocated with plastic.
- Someone's head is bashed in with a hammer.
- Face smashed in with a hammer.
- Someone is shot in the chest.







Snuff: Diary Of A Serial Killer is a movie that while adding a neat little spin on the Paranormal Activity, Found Footage films, seems to fall short in every other aspect. While the movie may shock some more sensitive viewers, Snuff is still amateurish in quality, the acting is over the top, the central performance from John Reign is grating, and it's just not scary. This should've been kept in the 'Reign' home movie vault. Only watch it if you want to be subjected to such unpleasantness.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Edge Of Winter (2016)








DIRECTOR:
 Rob Connolly

WRITERS:


Rob Connolly
Kyle Mann

CAST:

Joel Kinnaman
Tom Holland
Percy Hynes White
Shiloh Fernandez
Rossif Sutherland
Shaun Benson
Rachelle Lefevre

PLOT:

Caleb and Bradley are two brothers who are visiting their distant father. Their mother has brought the brothers over in hopes that they can have a better relationship with their father. On a bonding trip into the snowy wilderness, they get into a car accident that leaves all three of them stranded. When their father discovers that the two boys will be moving to London with their mother and her new husband, things head south as their father is afraid to lose them forever.
  







Going into Edge Of Winter, I had high hopes for the movie as I'm a big fan of actor Joel Kinnaman. Watching this extremely talented actor on the American remake of the Swedish series The Killing for four years. It made me have a great appreciation for his talents. So whenever I see him headline a movie. I get pretty excited to see what the man does next in his career. Sadly, as with his role in the horrid Robocop remake, Edge Of Winter doesn't provide him with a chance to fully shine.

The most significant issue that Edge Of Winter faces is that the movie is a case of it's all been done before. This isn't the first snow-capped winter thriller set within the vast mountains or forests of America's backcountry. We have seen this type of story done a dozen times before, and it's been done much better. The movie really doesn't offer anything new in the way of storytelling either, so things become very predictable by the time the film reaches its third act.

Due to the plot being somewhat predictable in this movie, there is no real element of surprise or shock. Once the movie begins to take off towards the third act, it's not a surprise as to where the film will eventually end up. Once it does end, it never takes any real risks with its twists and turns. While putting the two brothers in slight danger throughout, a refreshing twist would've been to have had the father perhaps kill his own sons, so they don't ever leave. Now that would've added some much-needed shock value to Edge Of Winter.

Regarding pacing, this movie is extremely slow. I'm all for a slow-burn thriller, but the film really is just sluggish. Even when the film starts to build towards the conclusion, the film stays in neutral. It never ramps up the tension to breaking point. When the brothers are put in danger, the film never really feels like they are in actual peril. The movie for the entire running time flatlines. I had hoped that once their father turns sinister that we would see some terror but it's never given to the audience.

I found that the character development wasn't powerful with Joel Kinnaman's father character in the film. We get little signs that his character is breaking early on in the movie when he discovers that his sons are moving overseas but when he starts to lose it, I'd have liked to see him go all types of Jack Nicholson in The Shining kind of crazy. Had they chose to go with his character becoming murderous towards his sons, I think the movie would have had many more thrills and chills.

The addition of the two travellers being added into the plot feels like they were only added to give Joel Kinnaman's character something to do. To make him look that tad bit murderous and insane. They are there to provide Edge with Of Winter a death toll. They aren't around long enough for us to actually care when his character flips out on them. I think had they come along earlier on in the film or given us more time with those two characters, we may have cared for the both of them a little more when they are quickly killed off.

Visually, I think Edge Of Winter looks decent and is well made for the most part. The movie isn't exactly a visual feast for the senses. But being that this flick is mainly set in the woods and snow-covered mountains, there is a lot of green and white. It's not exactly a lot to work with when it comes to great colour schemes. Edge Of Winter is, however, slick enough and well filmed that it's one of the better aspects of this thriller. A few neat tricks with the cinematography just gives it that little bit more oomph.

Lastly, the acting within the film is great. While I wasn't impressed with some of the development of the characters, the actors within the film are solid. Joel Kinnaman does the best with what he's given, but I'd have loved to see him really lose himself. Tim Holland who is now the new Spiderman is a talented young actor. Percy Hynes White as the younger son is also excellent in his role. I actually think he outshined Tom Holland. Rachelle Lefevre and Shiloh Fernandez were sadly underused in their minimal parts in the movie.







DEATH TOLL:
 2

BLOOD AND GORE:


- A rabbit is shot (offscreen).
- A guy is repeatedly slammed in a car door.
- A guy is suffocated to death.
- A deer is gutted.
- A dead body is shown.
- Someone is repeatedly punched in the face till they die.
- Someone is hit in the head with a rock.







Edge Of Winter joins a very long line of survival thrillers that are set in the snowy wilderness of the American backcountry. The film while boasting a great cast with some solid performances rarely is able to break away from that familiar feeling of seeing this type of story before. The movie offers nothing really new to this overly well-worn tale of the elements taking a toll on one's mind. This is a case of we've seen it all before and it was done a lot better.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

K-Shop (2016)








DIRECTOR:
 Dan Pringle

WRITER: Dan Pringle

CAST:

Ziad Abaza
Reece Noi
Scott Williams
Ewan MacIntosh
Lucinda Rhodes Thakrar
Darren Morfitt
Jamie Lee-Hill
Harry Reid
Sean Pogmore
Daniel Wilkinson
Sean Cernow
Samantha Lyden

PLOT:

Salah is currently studying and has to put it all on hold when he is put in charge of taking over his father's kebab shop after his father is killed during an altercation with a group of loud drunken men. After Salah has his own run-in with an intoxicated man in his store that ends in death, he decides to turn vigilante after the endless nights of having to deal with the drunken club and drugged up youth of the United Kingdom.







After recently moving home to Australia from the UK after two years abroad. It was refreshing to watch a movie that felt realistic in its depiction of the drunken pub and club scene of the UK. I can't tell you how many times that I had enjoyed nights out, getting drunk with my friends and hitting up the local kebab shop for a greasy kebab on the way home. This film does well in representing how rambunctious the people of the UK are when they're pissed.

Going into K-Shop, I hadn't heard much about the film at all. I had only got a glimpse of the poster beforehand. Not witnessing the trailer for the movie before watching it, I had no real expectations about the movie. I had hoped at best, I would at least get a good laugh out of this film based on the plot of a revengeful kebab shop owner. This film's plot came across like a comedy if you interpreted the scenario in that fashion. It was anything but a comedy. This is dark stuff.

I found myself completely hooked after only thirty-minutes into K-Shop. I took this film, hook, line, and sinker. While the film had moments that play for laughs with all the footage of drunken people vomiting in the streets, fornicating in public or drunk idiots flashing their grotty parts at the camera, this is a film that takes itself entirely seriously. This movie is a dark and brutal little tale of one man pushed to the end of his limits. It also felt like it was trying to make a statement of showing the ugly side of public drunkenness.

I think the movie for a vast majority of it's running time was excellent. I never found myself ever really questioning Salah and his motivations. I found myself siding with him a lot. This may be a little awkward as this guy is a killer and does indeed butcher a few people. I also loved that director Dan Pringle went into great detail about how Salah was able to dispose of the bodies. I thought those scenes gave the film some weight as to how he was able to evade the police. I believed it for the most part.

I think the most significant issues that I personally had with K-Shop come down to the ending and the running time of the film. The movie clocks in at almost two hours. I felt a few of the subplots within the film may have benefited from a few cuts to tidy up the story and pacing of the film. As for the ending, I felt like, by the time the end rolls around, it was pretty predictable as to where things were going to go with the storyline. I think the ending will annoy people based solely on where you stand on Salah's action throughout the film, and where you stand morally.

While K-Shop is a movie that you'd class as a low-budget, indie production. This film had some of the most brilliant gore effects that I've seen being used in a movie in a very long time. I have a feeling for the most realistic approach, a lot of the movie's budget went into making the gore as close to practical as possible. When it came to the movie delivering on it's Sweeney Todd type of premise of human beings used as kebab meat, the movie didn't shy away from the gore, and it looked fantastic. Those gore-hounds won't be disappointed.

I found myself on the edge of my seat quite a few times in K-Shop. The movie while having a few elements that do relate to the horror genre such as kidnapping, torture, and cannibalism, this isn't a straight-up horror film. This is more a thriller. The movie had a few pretty intense scenes and used the tension of Salah possibly being caught and his actions catching up with him quite well. I think Dan Pringle crafted a very well made little thriller and used the element of suspense well.

Lastly, the acting is fantastic. Ziad Abaza as Salah is front and centre in the film and I found myself loving every single second of his performance. I really hope that people see his role in K-Shop and he goes on to bigger and better things and secures more leading roles as he is one very talented actor. Reece Noi as Malik is also excellent in his supporting role as a protege to Salah. I thought he was great. Scott Williams who plays the film's villain is charismatic yet sinister, did well as the seedy club owner.



DEATH TOLL: 4

BLOOD AND GORE:

- Footage of people fighting in the streets.
- An old man is pushed to the floor and dies from head injuries.
- A guy falls face first into a deep fryer.
- A few people's hands are chopped off with a meat cleaver.
- A person is hacked to pieces.
- Skin is shown being carved off.
- Body parts are ground up to make kebab meat.
- A throat is slit with a meat cleaver.
- A human heart is sliced in two with a butcher's knife.
- Someone is stabbed in the side.







K-Shop is a movie that I really had no expectations about when I went into the film and came out pleasantly shocked and surprised by how much I enjoyed this tale of one man's revenge and vigilantism. K-Shop is at times intense, has some seriously gruesome and well-done gore fx and a fantastic lead performance from Ziad Abaza. I can't wait to see what nasty little film Dan Pringle has in store for us next if K-Shop is my first taste of this director.


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Paranormal Sex Tape (2016)








DIRECTOR:
 Dick Van Dark

WRITER: Dick Van Dark

CAST:

Darren Munn
Amber West
Dick Van Dark
Ricky Stain
Shaine Sherlock

PLOT:

When Scarlet and her boyfriend Jack decide to make a sex tape, little do they realise that they will capture a demonic entity with their amateurish footage. Soon, Amber starts getting the feeling that this demonic entity is following and watching her. She decides to make more sex tapes to see if she can try and capture the entity. As the presence of this spirit makes itself more well known, Amber begins to lose her sanity.







When I got my hands on a copy of Paranormal Sex Tape. I was under the impression that I'd be witnessing a comedy horror or parody in the same vein as Scary Movie or A Haunted House. The title of the movie itself conjures up images of cheesy gross sex scenes and terrible jokes. The poster is also a clear piss-take of the entire Paranormal Activity series. Not once was I expecting to see anything other than a parody of those films mentioned above?

Once Paranormal Sex Tape begins, I was as shocked as you were to probably discover that this movie takes itself entirely seriously. There is not one ounce of comedy to be found in the film. This is as deadpan as it gets. I think the fact that this movie plays it completely straight is one of the movies first significant problems. Had this played it for laughs, I think I may have enjoyed the film a lot more. Being as serious as it is and with that title, it just makes no sense.

The production quality of Paranormal Sex Tape is amateurish at best. This has all the look and feel of a home movie. I get that it should be due to the fact the film is about the recording of a sex tape but its inferior quality. I would be shocked if you told me that this movie cost more than a few hundred pounds to produce. This feels like the type of production that a real couple and a few mates got together to make as the movie has a lot of scenes that feel very intimate and graphic.

The vast majority of Paranormal Sex Tape's seventy-minute running time are scenes of our couple filming sex scenes spliced together with footage of them walking around London. The film isn't much more than that. The sex scenes within the movie also feel very voyeuristic and almost real. I feel like this movie was one penetration shot away from needing to be sold in an adult shop. While never showing actual penetration, it still felt very gratuitous.

A lot of the scenes that involved sex were also repetitive. Director Dick Van Dark feels like he's been taking filming lessons from watching Gaspar Noe movies. I get that he tried to add some flair to the sex scenes, but it wasn't great. We have a lot of flashing colourful lights, night vision shots, and a swirling camera that never stops spinning. It becomes nauseating. A lot of scenes here just linger on our female star as she shows off her body and acts sexually suggestive towards the camera.

The movie also contains very little dialogue. In the seventy minutes of running time, I found that maybe fifteen lines are uttered throughout the entire film. The characters never really converse other than our main star moaning on camera. With what little dialogue do hear, none of it is ever about their backstory or character development. We are never given an explanation as to where this demonic entity came from or why it wants to hurt the couple. It's all very confusing.

Paranormal Sex Tape also lacks suspense and scares. Every time our demonic entity is on screen and is grabbing at our female lead with the store purchased claws and garments, it becomes unintentionally hilarious. The rape scene at the end of the film featuring the demonic entity who decides to anally rape the boyfriend is also pretty entertaining. While it tries to come across as disturbing, it feels more silly than scary.

Lastly, the acting is absolutely atrocious. Amber West as our female victim who is apparently here for the talents of showing off every part of her body and not for her acting ability. Darren Munn as her virile boyfriend is also here not for acting but the fact he doesn't mind dropping his pants. There is also Shaine Sherlock who plays a drug dealer who likes to masturbate on camera. All in all, this is not exactly an award-winning cast of actors.







DEATH TOLL:
 2

BLOOD AND GORE:

- A woman bleeds from her hands.
- Vomiting up blood in a bathtub.
- A bloody scalpel is shown.
- A demonic spirit rapes a guy and breaks his neck.







When I went into Paranormal Sex Tape, I had imagined a parody of the Paranormal Activity series. I expected gross-out sex scenes and a lot of silly comedic gags. What I got was an amateurish movie made in someone's apartment where we watch this couple fake having sex for seventy-minutes. With terrible performances, poor camera quality and a deadpan tone, this is a misfire and a missed opportunity to take the piss out of the Supernatural genre. You could have gone so many different ways with a title like Paranormal Sex Tape and you missed every opportunity.

Monday, August 15, 2016

The Purge: Election Year (2016)








DIRECTOR:
 James DeMonaco

WRITER: James DeMonaco

CAST:

Frank Grillo
Elizabeth Mitchell
Betty Gabriel
Kyle Secor
Mykelti Williamson
Joseph Julian Soria
Edwin Hoge
Terry Serpico
Liza Colon-Zayas
Christopher James Baker
Brittany Mirabile
Raymond J. Barry

PLOT:

Following a few years on from the previous events of Anarchy. Sargeant Leo Barnes has now been tasked with protecting the latest senator who is currently targeted by the board executives of 'The Purge' due to her campaign for President of the United States Of America and her strong stance against purging. If she can get into power, her mission is to abolish it once and for all. Anyone who is invested wants her dead. They will need to survive the night for her to take the win and bring the purge to an end once and for all.







When it comes to the third movie in any horror franchise. It's rare that you'll ever find that a third entry manages to outdo the original or the sequel if it turns out to be any good. It's also a rarity when a sequel manages to pass the expectations of an original. With Election Year, it appears that director James DeMonaco has done the unthinkable and crafted a third film in a horror franchise that manages to be better than the first film and even comes close to my favourite of the series, the sequel.

The third movie in The Purge franchise gets very political, and at the perfect time, it seems. You can see that Election Year was written at a time which was mirroring the current US political climate. It's just a shame that the outcome of Election Year was a lot better than the outcome of who is now currently ruining the US of A at this very moment. The injection of politics into the story is a fantastic evolution of the already excellent core story of this horror franchise.

The story of Election Year also continues to take the action to the streets. This movie like Anarchy continues to expand the 'Purge' universe that this series has created and does very well in doing so. The film continues to also find plenty of clever ways to add new evil, masked villains into the story without it ever getting boring. The car full of murderous teenage school girls who want candy and are looking to purge is one of the biggest standouts in the third film.

An element that I loved in Election Year that was only touched upon in the third film was the addition of other countries coming into the US to purge. I thought it was an amusing little subplot that while not overly in-depth, it was still a fun touch. It also has the potential to allow other film markets and countries from around the world to start their own purge series and expand the universe if it continues to be as popular as this series has been. I'd love to see what Japan and Australia could come up with concerning a purge film.

I think where Election Year improved on what the first and second movies failed to do was the ending of the movie. This movie brings to end the original trilogy which was written and directed by James DeMonaco. I think the conclusion of Election Year is the most solid of the series. The end is a positive one, but the lead up to it is excellent. I love that the film ended and closed this story off once and for all. It felt like the story was tied up very well without a lot of questions needing to be asked of the audience.

The action is just as ramped up as it was in Anarchy. Election Year may even be more action-packed and visually impressive. What I think was lacking this time around was the tension and suspense. The film felt simply like an action horror movie but rarely had any remarkable or notable jump scares or real edge of your seat moments like I think The Purge and The Purge Anarchy did. It's a little light on the horror front and could have used some more tension.

The violence in Election Year is ramped up to new heights. As these purge films go along, the violence and gore get an upgrade with every new movie. I wonder what the death toll will be when it comes to The Purge 4. For all those gore whores out there that desire blood and violence, you won't be disappointed with the carnage that's on display in Election Year. While it's not extreme, it still has a lot of blood being spilt.

Lastly, the acting is pretty solid in the film. Frank Grillo is excellent as always. Hating one of his performances is hard. The man is a charismatic actor and a solid leading man. Elizabeth Mitchell is the standout in this film. She plays the senator and gives the film a sense of heart. I think her role as the senator is also the most sincere of the cast. Kyle Secor as our primary villain and opposing senator is also great in his small villainous role.







DEATH TOLL:
 54 (Estimated)

BLOOD AND GORE:

- A bloody family is held, hostage.
- An arrow to the head.
- Someone is beheaded by a guillotine.
- Blood covered monuments.
- Corpses are seen strapped to the bonnet of a car.
- Militia are blown up in an explosion.
- People are shot dead.
- Someone is stabbed in the throat.
- A bullet to the ear.
- Three women are run over by a truck.
- People are shot in the face and head.
- Dead bodies are seen all over the streets.
- Someone is stabbed in the chest and neck.
- Trees covered in hanging bodies.
- Someone has their face sliced open with a knife.
- Corpse showed being burnt on the street.
- Someone is shot in the face with a shotgun.
- Someone removes a tracer from a bullet wound.







The Purge: Election Year comes in at a close second just behind The Purge: Anarchy. I found that the film was more enjoyable than the first movie. Election Year is the most political and violent of the franchise. I really enjoyed how topical the plot felt, and the cast was solid across the board. The movie also manages to close the trilogy off in a positive way that felt like it tied up any loose ends. A fitting end for a rather creative trilogy. Let's bring on the next trilogy of purging.


Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Purge: Anarchy (2014)








DIRECTOR:
 James DeMonaco

WRITER: James DeMonaco

CAST:

Frank Grillo
Kiele Sanchez
Carmen Ejogo
Zach Gilford
Zoƫ Soul
Justina Machado
John Beasley
Michael Kenneth Williams
Jack Conley
Edwin Hodge
Noel Gugliemi
Niko Nicotera

PLOT:

It's the latest annual purge, and three groups of people are left trapped on the streets during the murder spree. A father seeks revenge on the man who killed his son while driving under the influence. A mother and her daughter are trying to survive the night after being dragged from their home by the militia, and a couple who are breaking up are trapped outside when their car is tampered with by a murderous biker gang who want to purge. All three groups will come together and try to survive the night.







When it comes to the second 'Purge' movie. It's still my personal favourite movie in the series. After my second viewing of The Purge: Anarchy. I still believe it's the most enjoyable and has held up on repeated viewings. The movie really does take what the first film built on with its rather fantastic and original premise and opens up the world of The Purge series. It's that rare case of a sequel that actually turns out to improve on the original in almost every way.

What The Purge Anarchy does right first and foremost is that we are introduced to a group of characters that I actually cared about and rooted for. Besides the bickering partners who start to grate on the nerves towards the end of the movie. Our father seeking revenge and the mother and daughter fighting for their lives add a different dynamic to the Sandin family from the first movie. I found myself wanting to see all of them make it out of this alive.

Another element that worked for me much better this time around was that Anarchy didn't feel the need to get the characters into all the chaos and carnage under such annoying circumstances like the first one having the son let in a homeless man which in turn caused the death of his own father. This time around, a grieving father is after revenge. The car that the couple is driving has been tampered with to ensure that the hunters can chase them down and the mother and daughter are being hunted for the purge. It doesn't feel as silly this time around.

I think the sequel is a lot more intense than the first film. The first and second act has the movie moving at such a swift pace and throwing the characters into moments of danger with every chance it gets, that it never really has a chance to slow down. The movie is a lot more successful when delivering those on the edge of your seat thrills. The only time that I think those thrills stop is towards the third act of the film.

The ending is where The Purge: Anarchy lost a few points with me. It had me right up until the sale of the characters at the creepy rich people auction. Once we enter the killing floor, I wasn't sold on it. The addition of Michael Kenneth Williams and his crew rescuing everyone felt so over the top and cheesy. I think it killed the momentum. It wasn't until we get back to the mission of Frank Grillo's grieving father where things pick up again. The auction element felt very 'Hostel'.

The acting in the film is solid for the most part. I much prefer Frank Grillo taking over the franchise from the original characters. His character Sargeant is a tough-as-nails leading action star and is one that you can really root for. Jack Conley is also solid and creepy as the films sort-of-evil villain. He plays a character who uses a Gatling gun to mow civilians down. I think while not as scary and disturbing as Rhys Wakefield, he's still a solid supporting bad guy.

Carmen Ejogo as a mother trying to get her daughter to safety is excellent. I hadn't seen her in anything before but enjoyed her performance in the film. Grillo's co-star from Kingdom Kiele Sanchez is ace at the beginning of the movie. Even though her character becomes a bit grating towards the end. Lastly, Michael Kenneth Williams is in a smaller role within the film and is decent even if at times his rants become a bit cheesy during the auction scene.

Lastly, the movie is much grander and more visually impressive than the first film. Bringing the action to the streets was a great idea by the writer and director James DeMonaco. Getting the movie out of the mansion was a genius idea as it opened up the story to so many more possibilities. There are more significant set pieces in the film, the horror aspect is downplayed, but the action feels a lot more warranted. A much better and visually exciting movie this time around.







DEATH TOLL:
 33

BLOOD AND GORE:


- People are mowed down with a Gatling gun.
- Someone's neck is snapped.
- Someone is burnt alive.
- A woman is gunned down by her sister.
- A lot of dead bodies are shown.
- People are shot with machine guns.
- Someone is thrown off the top of a building.
- Someone is hung from a structure by chains.
- A person is shown being bashed with a baseball bat.







The Purge: Anarchy is the rare case of a horror movie sequel that is better than the original. The movie is a much bigger improvement across the board. The drama is a lot more intense as are the set pieces, the action is grander, and the characters and actors are better written and well acted. The film also ramps up the death toll which is always welcomed. The movie does, however, falter towards the third act but is still a most entertaining and better-made sequel.

Friday, August 12, 2016

The Purge (2013)








DIRECTOR:
 James DeMonaco

WRITER: James DeMonaco

CAST:

Ethan Hawke
Lena Headey
Rhys Wakefield
Max Burkholder
Adelaide Kane
Edwin Hodge
Arija Bareikis
Tom Yi
Tisha French
Chris Mulkey
Tony Oller

PLOT:

Set in the near future, the Sandin family have started to settle in for the night during the annual purge. The Purge is the celebrated yearly event where all crime is legal for 12 hours. When the families teenage son lets a homeless man into their home during the purge for shelter and safety, he also brings with him a murderous syndicate who want to kill him, and if the family doesn't abide by their demands, they will even kill the entire family.







When I initially watched The Purge about three years ago, I wasn't a massive fan of the movie. I found the film to have a fascinating concept that had so much potential behind it but fell apart towards the end of the film. It's now three years on, and after watching the movie with the two new sequels to take into consideration, I found that I enjoyed the movie more this time around. I did, however, find out that I'm still not a big of the way the movie concludes.

The winning aspect of these Purge movies is still the overall concept behind them. It's the very idea that in the future, the government that is sworn to protect the populace has allowed a night of which any US citizen can go out and commit any type of crime which includes the most heinous of them, murder, is a terrifying thought. It's probably one of the scariest concepts as it's not too hard to imagine in our climate that it could actually take place.

The first of The Purge films is probably the most horror-centric of the franchise. It's a mixture of home invasion meets survival horror. The next two movies while still very much horror movies in the overall scheme of things decide to take the series in a bit of a more action orientated direction. The two sequels open up the 'Purge' world from the confines of a mansion and into the streets and cities of our nation. I liked that the two follow-up films lend a grander vision for The Purge series.

What I enjoy about the first film is the murderous syndicate known as 'The Freaks'. It's led by up and coming Australian actor Rhys Wakefield. A very charismatic young actor who can also play sinister extremely well. His role within the film is what lends this movie the most intense moments, and it's a testament to how talented an actor he is, hopefully, Rhys gets more roles where he plays the bad guy as he does it very well. I hope to see his career take off in the US.

Ethan Hawke and Lena Headley are also excellent in their respective roles. Ethan is fast becoming an actor to go to for horror films. He seems to be in everything these days. Some choices are a lot better than others. Here in The Purge, he does well with his role. Lena Headley has the most fun, and her final scenes at the end of the film had me cheering and hollering. The scene at the table where she breaks someone's nose is hilarious. The woman can do no wrong in my eyes.

The Purge has a few intense moments, and a couple of strong jump scares. Most of the creepiest moments in the movie that had me on the edge of my seat and had my blood pumping were the scenes once 'The Freaks' had managed to gain access to the mansion. This is where the violence hits an all-time high in the film. While the gore and bloodshed are never extreme, it's a lot of fun to watch Ethan Hawke smashing an axe into someone's spine.

My biggest issues that I have with the film all come down to the third act of the film. The film feels like it's going to build to something substantial and it sort of just ends and it feels somewhat disappointing. Once 'The Freaks' get into the mansion, it's filled with a few quick murders and is all intense for a few minutes when the film decides to throw in what some will consider a twist, and it all just turns to shit. The ending feels like a copout. The audience deserves better than that.

Lastly, my other issue with the film comes down to the writer's character decisions. I know the plot requires 'shit to hit the fan'. That it needs to get to the point that will escalate the story. Yet, it's such an annoying thing when a character does something that you know you wouldn't do and the rest of the characters wouldn't do, but him being selfish or selfless in this case causes mass casualties. It's just a moment that makes you want to see that character die but the movie allows him to live and it's just really annoying.







DEATH TOLL:
 17

BLOOD AND GORE:

- People are shot in the head.
- Footage of people being shot.
- Footage of people being beaten up.
- Someone is shot in the face.
- Someone has their nose broken.
- A man is seen bleeding out.
- People are mowed down with machine guns.
- An axe in the back.
- A large knife to the stomach.
- People are shot in the stomach with a shotgun.
- Someone is shot in the chest and face.
- A letter-opener is inserted into a bullet hole.







The Purge is a movie that on first viewing, I wasn't a big fan of it. After watching this movie for the second time and after seeing both sequels. I have found that I enjoyed the film more this time around. The movie isn't immune to problems as the movie has a pretty abrupt and simple ending as well as some of the dumbest character decisions that I've seen in quite some time. Still, if you can get past those issues, the concept and acting in the film is worth the watch.