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 random guy and his two Australian surfers buddies, they all decide to party later on that night. Things turn very sour when one of the girls is almost raped by one of the surfers and it becomes a weekend of 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 used tropes in the realm of slasher 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 befalls them.

I think when Dark Cove began, I was rather enjoying it for the most part. The group of friends and their dynamic all feel very familiar. We have the jock, the straight-laced guy, 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 humor.

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

After our attempted rape, the movie sort of throws the characters into a situation where they do something bad, this is over and done within a minute. We move onto the next day, his friends come looking for him, a park ranger shows up, we have a chase or two, a few badly 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 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 bigger moments in the film. There is no character development for the Australian Surfers, so when they show up, they are simply bad and killed off. We also don't feel much for the group either. We don't have any backstory besides one character who's 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 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.

In terms of thrills and chills, Dark Cove is completely sterile. The movie comes across as more hilarious than scary. The terrible acting throughout the film 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 deliver the suspense.

Lastly, we come to the blood and gore in this film. Sadly, there is little to be found in the film. This may be due to budget constraints. When I see an ax that is the prominent part of a movie poster, I expect to see a lot of carnage involving that said ax. Minus one terrible scene where someone is hit in the back with one, which he 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 ax.
- 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 fratboy humor, cheesy acting while containing no suspense or violence. The movie also feels like it's horribly pieced together with an abrupt end. The movie is immature and a poorly done attempt at the rape revenge sub-genre.


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 appraise the farmhouse and meets the strange caretaker and maid who live on the property, a lot of strange things begin happening. Henry starts to lose his grip on reality when he begins seeing demons inhabiting the farmhouse. Henry will need to fight for survival as he uncovers the dark secrets of the farmhouse.







I have to hand it to director Robert Hamilton. Looking at the poster for his film The Suffering, you would assume you're about to witness a cheap, run of the mill, ghost story with the skull and forest on the poster. It's the type of poster that I've seen used in countless low-budget horror movies and most of the time, they usually turn out to be rather terrible. While I personally didn't love The Suffering, I still can admire its attempt at some form of originality.

When speaking about the movie's poster and promotional campaign. This is a film that warrants and deserves a better poster than what it's stuck with. It's rather misleading to the quality of the actual core story that is found in The Suffering. This is much more deserving based on the fact that while it's essentially a haunted house and ghost story, it's not a simple, run of the mill ghost story. It has a little more depth than most straight to video horror movies.

We'll start with the positive aspects of the story. The Suffering has a rather neat twist towards the end of the film. It's not original by any stretch of the imagination and elements of the story have been used before in other, much better films but I liked the use of elements that represent purgatory, atoning for your sins and the whole demon aspect of the story. I think it didn't always work as a whole but I still found something to enjoy with the twist.

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 film, 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 is suffering and becomes fully clear towards the end and I think Nick Apostolides delivers on that.

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 long running time when compared to other horror movies, it feels like the story that is being told in The Suffering drags on a little too long.

I think this movie could have done with a couple of trims to the story to keep the movie 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 very scary, I'm sure the scene with the bird in the farmhouse will have a few people on the edge of your seat and grossed out.

The Suffering in terms of 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 understandable. So while I would've liked to see the film ramp up the violence, I can understand that this is a movie where suspense is key.

Lastly, when it comes to the cinematography, I think director Robert Hamilton does a solid job. This is a low budget movie 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 neat little production. There isn't much flair or overly complicated camera work or cinematography but the movie still looks well made for what I assume is a very small 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 rips open a guys stomach wound.
- An infected wound is shown.
- A guy is dragged away be a demon.
- A decaying baby is shown.
- An infected gunshot wound.
- A gunshot blast to the head.







The Suffering is a movie that has a rather interesting little twist, a solid leading performance from Nick 
Apostolides and some decent production values for a smaller indie film. The movie 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.


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 kids go to stay with their mother. Ned decides to borrow his son's camera so he can document the paranormal events that have been taking place in his home. As he begins to document the events, the entity slowly sends Ned crazy and transforms him into a serial killer who begins to start murdering victims in his home. Slowly the bodies began 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 expected something of a much lower budget. While the last part was true, the rest was completely wrong. This film is nothing like those two movies that I mentioned above and when it comes to quality. I feel awful for even throwing in those titles in with this movie.

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 this whole Found Footage 'Paranormal' craze. The sub-genre is overrun with these types of films and has become rather tired and sort of predictable in terms of 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 essentially 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.

John Reign who is the writer, director, and main star of Snuff tries his darn hardest to give 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 that him manically laughing at the camera every few seconds and talking to himself becomes annoying very quickly. Instead of coming across as insane, 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.

Snuff does have a few nasty moments to be found within the film. While a lot of the deaths in the movie have been done better in other films, the grainy, almost home-movie quality of the film may shock some 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 start of the film.

I didn't find Snuff: Diary Of A Serial Killer scary. The movie does try for a few jump scares in 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 in 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 film with the table and chairs, though which was neat.

Lastly, I think even if Snuff: Diary Of A Serial Killer had a better cast and a bigger budget, this would be a movie that still divides audiences. Like the brilliant Man Bites Dog had us following around a serial killer with its faux-documentary style, it was still laced with dark humor. 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.


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 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 have 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 real father is afraid to lose them forever.
  







Going into Edge Of Winter, I had high hopes for the film as I'm a pretty big fan of actor Joel Kinnaman. Watching this talented actor on the American version of The Killing for four years made me have a great appreciation for his talents. So whenever I see him headline a film. 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 give him a chance to fully shine.

The biggest issue that Edge Of Winter faces, is that this is a case of it's all been done before. This isn't the first snow-capped winter thriller set within the 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 comes to its third act.

Due to the story being rather predictable in this film, there is no element of surprise or shock. Once the movie begins to take off towards the third act, it's not a shock or surprise as to what is coming and how the film will eventually end. Once the movie does end, it never takes any real risks with its twists and turns. While putting the two brothers in slight danger throughout, a cool 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.

In terms of pacing, this movie is extremely slow. I'm all for a slow-burn set 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 feels like they are in true danger. The movie for the entire running time flatlines. I had hoped that once their father turns bad that we would see some terror but it's never given to the audience.

I found that the character development wasn't very strong with Joel Kinnaman's character in the film. We get little signs that his character is breaking early on in the film 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 travelers being added into the story feels like they were added to give Joel Kinnaman's character something to do. 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 them a little more when they are quickly killed off.

Visually, I think Edge Of Winter looks decent and well made for the most part. The movie isn't exactly a visual feast. Being mainly set within the woods and snow-covered mountains, there is a lot of green and white. The movie looks slick enough though 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 keen on some of the development of the characters, the actors within the film are solid. Joel Kinnaman is great with what he's given but I'd have love 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 great in his role. I actually think he outshined Tom Holland. Rachelle Lefevre and Shiloh Fernandez were underused in very small roles.







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 long line of survival thrillers which 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 well-worn story. This is a case of seen it all before and 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 who is currently studying has to put it all on hold when he is put into the position of taking over his father's kebab shop after his father is killed during an altercation with a group of rowdy drunken men. After Salah has his own run-in with a drunken man in his store that ends in death, he decides to turn vigilante after the constant nights of having to deal with the drunken club and drugged up youth of the United Kingdom.







Being that I recently just moved home to Australia from the UK after two years abroad. It was refreshing to see 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 myself had enjoyed nights out, getting drunk with all my friends and hitting up the local kebab shot 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 film before watching it, I had no real big expectations about K-Shop. I 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 plot in that fashion.

I found myself completely hooked only half an hour into K-Shop. I took this movie, hook, line, and sinker. While the movie had moments that play for laughs with all the footage of drunken people vomiting in the streets, fornicating in public or even drunk idiots flashing their grotty parts at the camera, this is a movie that takes itself completely serious. This movie is a dark and brutal little tale of one man pushed to the end of his limits. It also felt like the movie 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 solid. I never found myself ever really questioning Salah and his motivations. I found myself siding with Salah a lot of the times which 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 my biggest 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 ending rolls around, it was pretty predictable as to where things were gonna go with the story. I think the ending will annoy people based solely on where you stand on Salah's action throughout the film and you stand morally.

While K-Shop is clearly a movie that you'd class as a low-budget, indie production. This film had some of the most solid gore effects that I've seen being used in a film this year. 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 like promise of human beings used to make the kebab meat, the movie didn't shy away from the gore and it all 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 relate to the horror genre such as kidnapping, torture, and cannibalism it isn't a straight-up horror film. This is more a thriller. The movie has 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 well made little thriller and used the element of suspense well.

Lastly, the acting is absolutely fantastic. Ziad Abaza as Salah is front and center in this film and I found myself loving every single second of his performance. I hope that people see his role in K-Shop and he goes onto bigger and better things and secures more leading roles as he is one very talented actor. Reece Noi as Malik is also great in his supporting role as an almost protege to Salah. I thought he was also great. Scott Williams who plays the film's villain is charismatic yet sinister, did well as a 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.
- 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 movie 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 footage. When Amber starts getting the filming that this demonic entity is following and watching her. She decides to film more sex tapes to see if she can try and capture the entity. As the presence of this entity makes itself known more, 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. The title of this movie conjures up images of cheesy sex scenes and terrible jokes. The poster is also a clear rip-off of the Paranormal Activity series. Not once was I expecting to see anything other than a parody of those films mentioned above.

Once Paranormal Sex Tape began, I was as shocked as you were to learn that this movie takes itself completely seriously. There is not one ounce of comedy to be found in the movie. This is as deadpan as it gets. I think the fact that this movie plays it completely straight is one of the films first major problems. Had this played it for laughs, I think I may have enjoyed the film a lot more.

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

The vast majority of Paranormal Sex Tape's seventy minutes is 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 film also feel very voyeuristic and almost real. I felt like it was one penetration shot away from needing to be sold in an adult shop. The movie 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's 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 the swirling camera that doesn't ever stop spinning and it becomes nauseating. A lot of the scenes also 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 film. The characters never really converse other than our main star moaning at the camera. With what little dialogue we are given, none of it is ever about 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 rape the boyfriend is also pretty hilarious. While it tries to come across as disturbing, it feels more silly than scary.

Lastly, the acting is absolutely terrible. Amber West as our female lead is clearly here for her talents in showing off every part of her body and not for her acting talent. Darren Munn as her virile boyfriend is also here not for acting but the fact he doesn't mind dropping trou. There is also Shaine Sherlock who plays a drug dealer who likes to masturbate on camera. All in all, this is certainly not 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.







Paranormal Sex Tape managed to do something that I thought was impossible and that was to take the title of Worst Horror Movie of 2016 away from Empire State Of The Dead. The movie has terrible acting, an amateurish production, no story, scares or tension and some of the worst sex scenes ever put on film. I've seen better production in actual porn films.


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 The Purge: Anarchy. Sargeant Leo Barnes has now been tasked with protecting the latest senator who is being targeted by the ministers and board executives of the purge due to her campaign for president of the United States Of America and her strong stance against the purge. If she can get into power, her mission is to abolish the purge for good and anyone who is invested in the purge 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 film in any horror franchise. It's rare that you will ever see the third film top the original or even come close if the sequel turns out to be great. It's also very rare that a sequel manages to pass expectations. 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 original and even comes close to my favourite of the series, the sequel.

The third film in The Purge franchise gets very political and at the perfect time, it seems. You can see that The Purge: Election Year was written at a time that 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 about to run the US of A. The injection of politics into the story is a fantastic evolution of the already great core story of this horror franchise.

The story of Election Year also continues to take the action to the streets. This movie like The Purge: Anarchy continues to expand on the universe that this series has created and does very well in doing so. The movie 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 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 was touched upon in the third film was the addition of other countries coming into the US to purge. I thought it was a clever 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. I'd love to see what Japan and Australia could come up with in terms of purge films.

I think where Election Year improved on what the first and second film failed to do was the ending of the film. This movie brings to end the original trilogy which was written and directed by James DeMonaco. I think the ending of Election Year is the most solid of the series. The end is a positive one but the lead up to it is great. 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 from 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 impressive or notable jump scares or true edge of your seat moments like I think The Purge and The Purge Anarchy did. It's a little light on the horror front.

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 film. I wonder what the death toll will be when it comes to The Purge 4. For all those gore whores out there that desire bloodshed and violence, you won't be disappointed with the carnage that is on display in this film. While it's not extreme, it still has a lot of blood being spilled.

Lastly, the acting is solid in the film. Frank Grillo is great as always. It's hard to hate one of his performances. 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 major 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 film. Election Year is the most political and violent of the series. 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.


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 purge. A father seeks retribution for the man who killed his son during a DUI. A mother and her daughter are trying to survive the night after being dragged from their home by a militia and a couple who are breaking up are trapped due to their car being tampered with by a murderous biker crew who want to purge. All three groups will come together and try to survive the night.







When it comes to the second 'Purge' film. It's still my personal favorite film in the series. After my second viewing of The Purge: Anarchy, I still think it's the most enjoyable and has held up on repeated viewings. The movie really does take what the first film built 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.

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

Another element that worked for me much better this time around was that The Purge: Anarchy didn't feel the need to get the characters into the Purge under such annoying circumstances like the first film having the son letting in the homeless stranger which in turn caused the death of his own father. This time around, a grieving father is after revenge, the car that the bickering couple is driving has been tampered with to ensure that their 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 have the film moving at such a solid pace and throwing the characters into several moments of danger that it never really has a chance to slow down. The film is a lot more successful when delivering those on the edge of your seat thrills. The only time that I think those thrills stop are 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 acting in the film is solid for the most part. I much prefer Frank Grillo taking over the film series from the original characters. His character Sargeant is a solid leading action star and is one you can 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 creepy 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 great. I haven't seen her in anything before but enjoyed her performance in the film. Grillo's co-star from Kingdom Kiele Sanchez is great at the beginning of the film. Even though her character becomes a bit grating towards the end of the film. 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.

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 writer/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 bigger set pieces in the film, the horror aspect is downplayed but the action feels a lot more warranted. A much better and visually interesting film 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 building 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 movie is more intense with its set pieces, the action is grander and the characters and actors are better written and well acted. The movie also ramps up the death toll which is always welcomed. The movie does, however, falter towards the end but is still a largely entertaining 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 a yearly event where all crime which includes murder, 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 also kill the family.







When I originally watched The Purge about three years ago, I wasn't a massive fan of the film. I found the film to have an extremely interesting 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. The very idea that in the future, the government that is meant to protect us 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 very scary 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 series. It's a mixture of home invasion meets survival horror. The next two films while still very much horror movies in the overall scheme of things decide to take the series in 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. 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 very 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, he gets more roles where he plays the bad guy as he does it very well.

Ethan Hawke and Lena Headley are also great in their respective roles. Ethan Hawke 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 Purge has a few intense moments and a couple of solid jump scares. Most of the moments in the film that got me on the edge of my seat and had my blood pumping were the scenes once 'The Freaks' manage to get into the mansion. This is where the violence hits an all-time high in the film. While the bloodshed is never extreme, it's a lot of fun to watch Ethan Hawke smashing an ax 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 large scale and it sort of just ends and it feels rather 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 doesn't feel deserving, it feels more like a copout.

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' and it needs to get to a point that will escalate the story but it's such an annoying thing when a character does something that you know you wouldn't and the rest of the characters wouldn't do but his 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 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 ax 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 film that on first viewing, I wasn't a big fan of it. After watching the movie for the second time and after seeing the two 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 lifeless ending and some of the dumbest character decisions I've seen in some time. Still, if you can get past those things, the concept and acting in the film is worth the watch.