Saturday, April 29, 2017

SLASHER.com (2017)








DIRECTOR: Chip Gubera

WRITERS:

Chip Gubera
Chelsea Andes

CAST:

Jewel Shepard
R.A. Mihailoff
Ben Kaplan
Morgan Carter
Rebecca Crowley
Adam Boster
Delious

PLOT:

When Jack and Kristy finally decide to meet up after chatting on an online dating app. Kristy surprises Jack by telling him that she's rented a secluded cabin in the woods for them to spend the weekend together. When they arrive, they are greeted with an odd and creepy family that owns the lodge cabin business and their relaxing weekend now descends into a weekend of survival horror. If they plan on surviving, they must get out before it's too late.







Online dating websites and applications have the real possibility of being a genuinely frightening experience. The amount of Grindr, Tinder and Plenty Of Fish screenshots and horror stories that you see posted online, to the real-life stories that I had heard from friends and even experienced for myself makes online dating a real horror story. The scariest aspect of it all is that you never really know who you're a meeting when it comes to that time. It could be a real life killer or the man of my dreams.

Slasher.com plays around with the idea of online dating apps but never really takes it that far. The movie opens with a woman being murdered and we get news reports of a serial killer who is killing women that are using dating apps but that's about it. We are quickly introduced to our two leading characters who meet for the first time and the movie pretty much does away with the whole dating app horror element. Here we have two incredibly annoying characters who have met very quickly and now this is where the movie really begins.


If I had been chatting to a woman on an online dating application and she showed up to my home and told me she had rented a cabin in the woods for a weekend away, I'd be showing her the door. But Jack isn't thinking with the brain in his head and we see our weak-willed man jump in a car and head off into the wilderness to get laid. Now, this is where the movie turns into your typical, run-of-the-mill, fight for survival in the wilderness, backwoods horror story.

Once the movie introduces us to our creepy redneck family, this is where the movie provides us with three of the most repugnant and disgusting characters that I think I've seen so far in a genre film all year. We have a matriarch who likes to masturbate with a spoon and lick it, a father who makes sexual advances towards his daughter (It's never really clear, though) and a daughter who likes to try and sexually harass the visitors to her parent's cabins. There is not one really likeable character in the film. I couldn't find one that I wanted to root for here.

The movie quickly descends into our two characters fighting for survival against the twisted family. The movie really doesn't offer anything new for the first hour and ten minutes. It's people being tortured by rednecks, as people run through the woods and innocent random supporting characters are brutally killed off. It's generic and a story we have seen countless times before. You won't be greeted with anything remotely surprising which made the first three-quarters of this film utterly dull.

At an hour and eleven minutes into the movie is where we get a half decent twist. Due to being so bored by the first hour and ten minutes. I had completely forgotten that the movie opens with the subplot of a serial killer murdering women who the killer has met on an app. This comes back into play and it sort of ties the opening scene to one of our major characters. It's not an original twist by any means and it's been done before but for me, it sort of caught me off guard to the point where I was surprised by it. So for that, I think it deserves a point for at least messing with me.

With this twist being added to the mix, the movie then goes and does away with it by giving us an ending that feels tonally uneven. Had they just had the character reveal play out with the killer going through with the plan he had all along, it may have been darker and more disturbing. Instead, we are given all four characters a ride off into the sunset as one big happy 'new' family that I'm sure was meant to be disturbing but it doesn't come across that way in the film. It's just an odd ending to a film that feels like it tries to throw in several twists after one successful one.

Visually, I think Slasher.com has some nice drone shots. This is a very low budget movie for a vast majority of its running time and you can see they had limited funds. However, I did enjoy a couple of the drone tracking shots. Panning up the side of an apartment complex to panning up off a creek bed really gave this film some visual flourishes. It's just a shame that the director and cinematographer felt the need to use a drone for every second shot as it feels like there is an overabundance of them by the end of the film.

Lastly, I want to talk about the acting. I did not enjoy the performances whatsoever in this film. It doesn't help that not one character is written to be likeable. I found myself by thirty minutes into the movie wanting to see the entire cast killed off. The only actress that I think will stand out in the movie is Jewel Shepard as the evil and villainous mother 'Momma Myers'. She does some twisted stuff in this film and you won't look at spoons the same way again.







DEATH TOLL: 13

BLOOD AND GORE:

- A woman is stabbed to death.
- A captive man is bled out.
- A man is fed another man's blood.
- A woman's dirty panties are used as a gag.
- A police deputy is stabbed in the throat.
- A woman is stabbed in the stomach.
- A man is stabbed up through the chin.
- A man is stabbed in the leg with a pocket knife.
- A man is repeatedly hit in the skull with a rock.
- A woman falls onto a machete.
- A mass grave is found in the woods.
- A man has his throat slashed.
- A man is slashed across the leg and arm.
- A man is stabbed with a branch.








Going into Slasher.com, I didn't know what to expect. With a pretty neat poster, the poster art for the film turns out to be a lot more entertaining than the film itself. Filled with repugnant and gross characters, a boring first hour and ten minutes and terrible acting, a couple of neat visual camera angles and a surprising twist couldn't save this one from being a backwoods horror movie that we've seen a million times before but done a lot better.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Galaxy Of Horrors (2017)








DIRECTORS:

Dennis Cabella
Javier Chillon
Todd Cobery
Andrew Desmond
Benni Diez
Marcello Ercole
Richard Karpala
Justin McConnell
Antonio Padovan
Fabio Prati
Ethan Shaftel
Marinko Spahic

WRITERS:


Dennis Cabella

Javier Chillon
Todd Cobery
Andrew Desmond
Benni Diez
Marcello Ercole
Richard Karpala
Justin McConnell
Antonio Padovan
Fabio Prati
Ethan Shaftel
Marinko Spahic
Dolores Diaz
Jean Philippe Ferre

CAST:

Adam Buller
Luke Sorge
Rob Kerkovich
Fabio Prati
Ben Temple
Elle Gabriel
Olli Banjo
Alias Hilsum
Julio Perillan

PLOT:

Trapped in a damaged and failing cryogenic pod, a man is forced to watch a series of horrific science fiction tales before his life support systems run out.







Going into Galaxy Of Horrors, I was pretty excited to watch it. I'm a firm believer that us horror fans don't get enough horror movie anthologies. So when I first learned that Galaxy Of Horrors was a horror anthology movie that blended both science fiction and horror. I was ready to see what nasty little short films they could come up with as the possibilities seemed endless. In space, no one can hear you scream and I was hoping for some solid space horror.

One of the most important things in a horror movie anthology are those wraparound segments. I think for the movie to be somewhat successful, you need the short films to be connected by some form of story and Galaxy Of Horrors does a pretty neat job of connecting all the segments. The fact that our main character is slowly dying in a cryogenic pod while having to be subjected to horrific videos and images worked well. It added its own element of horror.

EDEN: The first short, Eden comes flying out of the gate. We have an Earth that is covered in a poisonous air, warring factions, political parties and infected zombies. While the short film is a fast paced and at times bloody affair, it feels a little all over the place. The short film has so much packed into such a short amount of time that it could've been stretched out into a feature film and it probably would've faired a lot better. As a short, it feels overstuffed and underwhelming.

IRIS: The second short film is my second favourite segment in Galaxy Of Horrors. It's a simple story of a serial killer burying a woman's body in the woods. Only the horrific twist is that his phone's intelligent assistant 'Iris' has been watching his every move. With a character who shows no remorse for his evil crimes, it may be a piece of A.I. that has a conscience and starts to dish out its own brand of justice. While slower in comparison to Eden, this is a much more clever and savvy little short. The karma filled ending is a cheer worthy moment.

FLESH COMPUTER: The third segment of Galaxy Of Horror is a prime example of style over substance. For me, this was all about the visuals on display. With imagery that felt reminiscent of David Cronenberg with the flesh computer to a nice scene involving a fly being crushed by a hand in close up, slow motion was neat. While the CGI is pretty underwhelming, I did enjoy what they tried to do on a budget they had. Light on story but heavy on the visuals.

PATHOS: This is my favourite of all eight segments. Pathos is easily the most visually striking of the lot and has the most interesting and intense of all the stories. A time bomb waiting to happen in terms of pace. I think my favourite aspect of this segment is that it feels like the brainchild of visionary director Jean-Pierre Jeunet who directed the great Delicatessen, City Of Lost Children, Amelie, Alien: Resurrection and A Very Long Engagement. Just a visual feast for the senses.

EVELESS: The shortest of all segments packs one of the mightiest punches. A short about a world where women no longer exist and two men are trying to create one. It's one part Children Of Men with the futuristic vision that I'd expect from director Vincenzo Natali. While not heavy on visuals, this is a dark, bleak and visceral little segment with one of the most gruesome looking C-Section scenes I think I've seen since the French shocker Inside.

THEY WILL ALL DIE IN SPACE: On my first viewing of this segment, this was my least favourite and least memorable of the lot. I had to rewatch it again before I did my review as I didn't remember much about it. On second viewing, this was a lot more horrific than I remembered. The grandest in terms of scope delivers one of the nastiest little reveals of what happens when you run out of food on an adrift space ship. An enjoyable segment where less is more.

ENTITY: When a female astronaut is ejected from her vessel after it blows up in deep space. She is left to drift through the vast darkness of space. What starts out as eerie isolation becomes more sinister as she comes into contact with something evil. This is another short that is simply gorgeous to watch. Planets, black holes and big bursts of bright colours make this a beautiful segment to witness. When it comes to the story though, it left little to be desired.

KINGZ: The final segment Kingz is one of the more high-octane and action-packed segments. While the short has a lot of violence and some solid gore, it left me cold. The characters in the short left little to be desired and the final few seconds with the alien creature reveal felt a little lacklustre. Like the first segment Eden, this is so fast paced and opens and closes the anthology with a bang but it all feels bookended with the least ambitious of the segments.







DEATH TOLL: 16

BLOOD AND GORE:

- A soldier is shot in the eye.
- Two news anchors shoot themselves in the head on live TV.
- A naked woman vomits up blood all over a group of doctors and walls.
- Soldiers are eaten by a zombie.
- An alien creature bursts out of a man's body.
- Someone is repeatedly sliced with blades.
- A drone drills into a man's skull.
- A man has a C-Section and a baby removed.
- Someone has a hole punched through their chest.
- Someone's neck is snapped when hit with a shotgun.
- A man is stabbed in the neck with a knife.
- A man is stabbed in the chest with a screw driver.
- A man has his fingers severed when someone stomps on them.
- A man falls off a cliff and smashed his head against a rock.
- A computer's laser dissolves a full grown man.
- A man is disconnected from a computer and dies.
- A man is killed with a shotgun blast to the skull.
- An infected man blows himself and a soldier up.
- The president is shot in the head by a small child.
- A man is seen dragging a dead body through the forest.








Galaxy Of Horrors is an enjoyable horror movie anthology for the most part. I found that Pathos, Eveless and Iris were the standout segments for me. Kingz, Eden and Flesh Computer were my least favourite of the segments. They Will All Die In Space and Entity both showed promise but had their flaws. Each segment in this anthology has positives and negatives. Still, for an hour and forty minutes, you could do worse than this anthology.



Thursday, April 27, 2017

It Stains The Sands Red (2017)








DIRECTOR: Colin Minihan

WRITERS:

Colin Minihan
Stuart Ortiz

CAST:

Brittany Allen
Juan Riedinger
Merwin Mondesir
Kristopher Higgins
Nico David
Andrew Supanz
Michael Filipowich
Dylan Playfair

PLOT:

As the zombie apocalypse begins in the city of Las Vegas. A troubled woman and her gangster boyfriend who are driving through the desert get their car get lodged in the sand. Going nowhere fast, all Hell breaks loose when a lone zombie manages to find them and kill her boyfriend. Molly must now fight for survival against a zombie on her trail and the harsh Vegas desert.







In today's current horror climate, the zombie film is no longer a rarity. With at least four hugely successful TV shows and a slew of zombie films making their way onto DVD or cinema screens, they are very much apart of today's popular culture. You can't swing an axe without knocking over at least one or two zombie movies every month. So It Stains The Sands Red, welcome to the overpopulated chopping block.

I'll be the first to admit that It Stains The Sands Red felt pretty refreshing when being compared to a lot of other zombie films. Gone are the huge desolate city street shots and hordes of flesh eating zombies that we've all come to know and love and they've been replaced with only a handful of characters and a harsh and unforgiving desert setting. This is one of the more low-key zombie films that I think I've seen in recent years and for that, I think I enjoyed it more than I thought I would before seeing it.

After watching It Stains The Sands Red. I feel like this could've been the next chapter in the undead life of Bub the Zombie from George A. Romero's Day Of The Dead. If he had escaped the underground compound and roamed the desert in search of human flesh. Some of his intelligence may have subsided due to years of roaming a desolate landscape without much sustenance. This is just my fun little theory as I thought the zombie character of Smalls showed signs of intelligence and emotion and I really liked that about this film.

Now we come to the character of Molly. A troubled woman with a dark past. At first, I thought she was annoying. As the film went on, I started to really like her. I thought that even though some of her methods of escaping death were pretty disgusting, she was still resourceful and pretty smart. There is one scene involving a tampon that is easily one of the most stomach churning scenes in the film and now joins Tonight She Comes in delivering one of the more disturbing scenes in horror involving a bloody tampon and menstruation.

What I really found myself enjoying over the course of the film was the relationship between Molly and Smalls. What starts out as sheer terror and survival, slowly grows into something resembling a friendship. I like that they both relied on each other and after a while, they can't see their existence going on if the other one isn't around. It almost felt like a Stockholm Syndrome sort of situation happening. I do like that the filmmakers also kept the threat of Smalls being a monster who may turn on Molly. It kept that sense of uncertainty around the entire time.

Now, this movie isn't without its issues. The first being that early on, Molly could have done away with Smalls many times. We see her character hop up onto rocks and onto higher ground to escape his clutch. With many huge rocks around and her at a large advantage, why not bust his skull open and eliminate the threat? We wouldn't have had a movie if she had taken that route but it would've saved her a lot of energy and time had she just killed him early on. She would've been able to focus on other things other than that flesh eating zombie that is after her.

We also have several characters who come into contact with Molly and Smalls. We have annoying army officers, the band of highway criminals who end up raping Molly in a pretty nasty little scene and several others who come and go without much of an introduction. Besides Molly and Smalls, we aren't given much in the way of character development so we don't have anyone to root for besides our two main characters. Even with flashbacks to Molly's past and the ending, I didn't care for her finding her son or even if he was alive or dead.

Visually, I found It Stains The Sand Red to be rather impressive for such a low budget Zombie movie. I think they used their desert location well and got the most out it. We get a lot of gorgeous scenic landscape shots. I think they also used a lot of creative drone angles from above. The opening pan through Las Vegas was very memorable. I also thought that the make-up effects in the film were well done. One scene involving a zombie chewing off someone's face was incredibly well done.

Lastly, when it comes to the acting, I thought the acting was pretty good. At first, it took me a while to warm up to Brittany Allen. Her character comes across as pretty annoying and abrasive at first but as the film goes on, I started to really enjoy her resourcefulness. I think by the time the film finds its rhythm, I wanted to see this woman survive. Juan Riedinger as Smalls the zombie gives us a lot of emotion under all that zombie makeup. I found that I also cared for his character.







DEATH TOLL: 7

BLOOD AND GORE:

- A zombie is shot in the chest and neck.
- A man has his neck torn out by a zombie.
- A zombie chews on a man's intestines.
- A zombie eats a bloody tampon.
- We see a burnt and charred corpse.
- A man is seen with his brains bashed in by a rolling pin.
- A woman uses a power drill to drill right through a zombies forehead.
- A woman severs her infected finger with a rock.
- A zombie has its face bashed in with a wrench.
- A zombie has its head crushed with a rock.
- A woman is raped.
- A man's neck and face are ripped open by a zombie.








While It Stains The Sands Red has its issues with questionable character decisions, little to no character development for any of the supporting characters and our lead going from one scenario to another without much of a plot, this still felt refreshing in a sub genre that feels very oversaturated. A low budget zombie film with plenty of neat visual tricks and some solid gore. It's a testament to the writers on have us caring for an actual zombie just as much as our heroine. I recommend this just for something different when it comes to the zombie film.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Get Out (2017)








DIRECTOR: Jordan Peele

WRITER: Jordan Peele

CAST:

Daniel Kaluuya
Allison Williams
Catherine Keener
Bradley Whitford
Caleb Landry Jones
Stephen Root
Marcus Henderson
Betty Gabriel
Lakeith Stanfield
LilRel Howery

PLOT:

Chris and Rose are a young interracial couple who are in love. When Rose takes Chris to meet her parents at their rural estate somewhere upstate, they are happy to learn that her parents seem very accepting of their relationship. When her parents spring a friendly soirée on the couple, things start to become increasingly uncomfortable and bizarre. Chris starts to think the family may be harbouring a much darker secret.







I was, unfortunately, one of the only people this year to miss Jordan Peele's critically lauded low budget psychological horror film on the big screen. When it was released to such overwhelmingly positive reviews and a huge box office take. I felt like all the hype may have been a bit much. I kept putting it off until it was too late. Missing this movie on the big screen was a serious error on my part because after I watched it, I was completely blown away and think it would have been great with an audience.

I'll start my review with the negative of Get Out. There is so much to love about this film and so little to dislike about it, that I want to get what I thought was the bad out of the way first. We have a character in this film who is the best friend of our leading character who is also the comic relief. On one hand, he's fantastic as he appears to be the voice of reason who is trying to get our lead character to understand the situation he has gotten himself into but on the other hand, he feels like he's also there to crack jokes as some form of levity which felt uneven at times.

What works so well in Get Out first and foremost is that this movie gets under your skin from the very first scene and never removes itself once there. This is one of the most thoroughly uncomfortable experiences that I've had watching a movie in a very long time. It never once feels perverse or gratuitous in what's happening on screen but just from what is happening in today's social and political climate, the themes in this movie feel very confronting and this makes the experience very uncomfortable to watch for our lead character.

When it comes to the suspense and tension, I think the movie is extremely successful in building both. I think Jordan Peele has moved away from giving the audience cheap jump scares and just slowly built the tension up. As the lead character becomes more suspicious with his new surroundings, we the audience are right there with him as he starts to feel his racial paranoia build. I think this speaks volumes and is a testament to Jordan Peele's screenplay and his love for horror cinema.

While Get Out starts to delve into the weirder stuff early on with the hypnosis scene, shit doesn't really hit the fan until we have the reveal at an hour and ten minutes into the film. This is where the movie starts to go haywire for our leading character. While I guessed the reveal pretty early on. I must commend Jordan Peele for crafting one of the most sinister character reveals that I think I've seen in a genre film all year. Just the scene with the keys and the switch up with the character chilled me to my core even though I was expecting it.

One thing that I wasn't expecting from Get Out was the third act to be so violent and bloody. While not as extreme in comparison to a lot of horror movies today. I was so invested in the well-built tension that I was expecting this to be more suspense and low-key but was pleasantly surprised when the blood started to flow. This delivers a few nasty little surprises. One scene that involved a set of deer antlers was a cheer-worthy moment. Every single time someone is killed in this film, I was eating it up. Easy to enjoy when everyone is so despicable.

The acting in the film is excellent. Daniel Kaluuya is an actor that I wasn't aware of until Get Out. With 40 credits to his name and movies that I've seen, I feel pretty ashamed that I didn't notice him because he is a fantastic lead. I suspect after Get Out, he will be everywhere. Allison Williams who I'm well aware from her time as Marnie on Girls is also great in this film. [SPOILERS] Come time for all those end of year lists, her character will be listed on some of those Best Villain lists. She has the best reveal in the film. It was fun to watch her play more evil and sinister.

The supporting cast is rounded out by the incredibly talented Catherine Keener who plays the matriarch of the family. A woman who is warm and welcoming but as the film goes on, you grow to hate this woman. I thought Catherine Keener looked like she was having an absolute blast with this role. Bradley Whitford was also fantastic as the surgeon, husband and father. I thought his character was the most uncomfortable to watch as he was trying to be cool around Chris but he looks like he also had a really fun time playing this character.

Lastly, I think Get Out on a visual level is excellent. I think for a first-time filmmaker, Jordan Peele has an excellent eye for visuals. A lot of this film looks gorgeous. The scenes where Daniel Kaluuya is strapped to the seat while watching the TV. I thought they gave me serious Kubrick or Lynch vibes. While not going as weird as those two filmmakers, he has given us something extremely original in concept. I also need to mention that the soundtrack and score are fantastic in this film.







DEATH TOLL: 7

BLOOD AND GORE:

- A lady hits a deer with her car.
- A man is choked out and kidnapped.
- A man's nose starts bleeding.
- Someone's skull is surgically removed and the skull cap is thrown in a bucket.
- A woman is hit by a car.
- A man blows his own head off with a rifle.
- A woman is shot in the stomach.
- Someone is hit in the head with a ball twice, bleeds out.
- Someone is stabbed in the throat with mounted deer antlers.
- A man is stabbed in the hand with a letter opener.
- A man who is in surgery burns to death.
- A woman smashes her head into the car dashboard when it crashes.
- Someone has their head stomped on.
- A man is stabbed in the leg with a letter opener.
- A woman is stabbed in the eye with a letter opener.







Get Out is a movie that lives up to the hype. Jordan Peele has delivered what I think is pretty close to a perfect film. The movie is a psychological masterpiece. The movie gives us enough sharp social satire that feels very relevant in today's political climate. The movie also has enough tension, suspense and bloodshed to keep all horror fans happy. Boasting a fantastic cast and some excellent visuals, I can't wait to see what Jordan Peele does next and I hope it's another horror film.


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Mummy (2017)








DIRECTOR: Alex Kurtzman

WRITERS:

David Koepp
Christopher McQuarrie
Dylan Kussman
John Spaihts
Alex Kurtzman
Jenny Lumet

CAST:

Tom Cruise
Russell Crowe
Annabelle Wallis
Sofia Boutella
Jake Johnson
Courtney B. Vance
Marwan Kenzari
Neil Maskell
Javier Botet

PLOT:

When an ancient tomb is discovered underground in the unforgiving desert. Little do all those who decide to take the sarcophagus from its resting place realise that they have just unearthed the tomb of an ancient Egyptian princess who had her destiny unjustly taken away from her. After a millennium of resting in anger, she will soon awaken in present-day London and bring with her ungodly terrors that defy human comprehension. An army sergeant and an archaeologist will team up and try to stop her reign of terror.







When it was first announced that they were going to remake The Mummy, again. I'll not deny that I was a little hesitant. I'm a fan of the Brendan Fraser films, and I even enjoyed the old Universal Monster movies when I was a young child. It's been such a long time since I last saw those classic films that my enjoyment is mainly concerned with the late nineties and early noughties Mummy films. When news first broke that this would be going in a much darker direction and more in line with a horror and the set-up of the Dark Universe, I got a little more excited for the film.

As casting was announced, I could see the internet fanboys not being happy with the news that both Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe were cast in the lead roles. As someone who doesn't have an issue with Tom Cruise, I was excited to see what he would bring to this new film. In saying that, I knew immediately that with his casting, this would be following more in the footsteps of the heavy action, Brandan Fraser films and not the old school Universal Monster films. We would be getting big action set pieces and dazzling special effects.

Once The Mummy was released into theatres, and the reviews started to pour in, it wasn't pretty. The box office opening also left a lot to be desired. Was this the end of the Dark Universe before it had even got off the ground? Critics and moviegoers alike were deeming this an absolute disaster. As I write this review, the movie has a rotten 15% on Rotten Tomatoes. After watching The Mummy, does it deserve all the harsh criticism being thrown at it? No, not at all. While it's a bit middle of the road for me, it's not 15% on Rotten Tomatoes bad.

The most positive thing that I can say about The Mummy is that it was never boring. It never stops moving. If this film has one thing going for it, it should entertain on an action and spectacle level. From the huge explosions in Middle Eastern villages to high octane, car chases through the woods. Or cities being decimated by sand storms and planes crashing in fields. This moves so quickly that it should have people entertained for its running time. The speed at which it moves should cover up a lot of the flaws of the thinly plotted story. In saying that though, I don't go into a movie with a name like The Mummy expecting some Citizen Kane level mastery.

If comparing this to the previous Mummy films, I found the Brendan Fraser movies a lot more entertaining than this beast. But this was always going to be a double edged sword. Most current audiences would only remember the late nineties and noughties Mummy films. I think only real die hard horror fans were hoping for something more in line with the Universal Monster movies. With Tom Cruise in the lead, his fans have come to see him perform amazing stunts and show off what an impressive action star he can be. I think from either side of the fence, both parties would have found things to dislike about this film.

While this movie's main goal to start setting up the Dark Universe. We get very little story to do with Russell Crowe's Dr Henry Jekyll and his organisation The Prodigium who are there to contain and examine evil forces. I think had they spent more time giving us insight into the mysterious organisation, we may have had a movie that felt more Universal Monster and less Stephen Sommers Mummy. I think with this movie trying to be darker in tone yet having our main character be so goofy and trying to cater to the Brendan Fraser fans, it's all a bit tonally uneven. I have to hand it to all of them for at least trying to give us a darker entry which does have some horror movie elements.

I also think an issue that this latest incarnation of The Mummy faces is that we don't get enough of that character. She is the main villain of the film, and we get very little of her. Minus a few quick scenes where she is draining the life out of humans, or she is chained up. There is really only the opening scene and the big sandstorm sequence where we get a lot of time with her. I would've loved to see her go a bit larger than life. They could have taken her to more darker places. This is Tom Cruise's show, so we have to focus on his character the most.

Lastly, the acting was alright here. Tom Cruise looks like he's having fun letting go of his serious side and giving us something goofier here. This is more Tom Cruise Edge Of Tomorrow and Tropic Thunder than it is his Mission Impossible. Sofia Boutella as the Mummy tries to give us a character with depth, but there isn't enough of her. I'd have liked to see her be a bit eviler as well. Go all the way. Russell Crowe feels like he just phoned this in and Annabelle Wallis gives it her best with what she's got to work with. It's summer blockbuster fun, no one is gunning for an Oscar here.







DEATH TOLL: 26 (Estimated)

BLOOD AND GORE:

- A man has his throat slashed.
- A baby has its throat slashed.
- Two men are sucked out of an aeroplane before it crashes.
- A man is stabbed with a spear.
- A woman drowns.
- The Mummy kills four guards who are guarding a door.
- A man dies and reanimates after being bitten by a camel spider.
- People are killed by zombified corpses.
- A man is hit over the head with a metal book.
- A man is electrocuted to death.
- Two pilots and a soldier are killed in an aeroplane crash.
- A man shoves his fingers under another man's rib cage to break his ribs.
- Lots of zombified corpses have their heads smashed to pieces.
- A man is shot to death.
- An army captain is stabbed twice in the chest.
- The Mummy consumes men that die and reanimate as zombified corpses.
- Zombified corpses are ripped in half.

(All violence is PG-13 Rated)







The latest retread of The Mummy doesn't quite hit the mark for me. Is the movie the massive clusterfuck that everyone is claiming it to be? No. This feels extremely light on story and plot and with so much backstory to set up for their origin Dark Universe film, they've tried to cram a lot into such a short running time. This has now resulted in a convoluted story. Had they just tried to set up the characters or the organisation a bit, I may have appreciated this a bit more. What this movie does have going for it are a brisk pace, tons of action and some genuinely dark happenings. It's not great, but it's not all that bad. As a tentpole, it delivers on the spectacle.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Killing Ground (2017)








DIRECTOR:
 Damien Power

WRITER:
 Damien Power

CAST:

Harriet Dyer
Ian Meadows
Aaron Glenane
Tiarnie Coupland
Aaron Pedersen
Maya Strange
Liam Parkes
Riley Parkes
Stephen Hunter

PLOT:

When newly engaged couple Sam and Ian decide to head out of the city and go to the bush for a relaxing camping trip. They expect to be celebrating New Years with some serenity. When they arrive, they notice another campsite by the lake. As the days go on, they discover that something terrible has happened when a baby boy is found on the path. The couple will soon realise that they will need to fight to survive when two local hunters return to the crime scene.







Being Australian, it always makes me so proud when I see our country produce and release a new horror film. We are so known for doing these dark suburban dramas and thrillers that we rarely see us produce a genre movie. Over the last decade, we have been delivering some really great stuff, and in 2017, I think we may have even just delivered two of the years best genre efforts. With five months of the year left, I can safely say that I see Hounds Of Love and Killing Ground making my end of year list. We continue to outdo ourselves.

Going into Killing Ground, I was very aware of the hype. I had heard a lot of positive festival feedback about this movie. I didn't want to get myself worked up, but I seem to always have a soft spot for homegrown horror films. After recently sitting through and loving Hounds Of Love. I was extremely excited to see if we could produce not one but two excellent horror films this year and after watching Killing Ground, I can confirm that we are two for two this year.

Running at a short but very taut hour and a half, Killing Ground is a movie that never lets the audience come up for a proper breather. The story introduces us to all of our characters over two separate timelines. Telling the stories in a non-linear fashion, we are introduced to our couple, the family of four and our two villains. These stories are intercut and play out which eventually come colliding in a moment that is both chilling and horrifying. I'm not easily uncomfortable, but the scene involves a small baby boy that will have audiences on the edge of their seats.

I think the film is very successful in introducing us to characters that we actually care about and want to see survive this ordeal. The six people who come into contact with these two evil and violent criminals are all well-rounded and written characters that I felt incredibly sorry for them as they are put through some horrendous things. While never graphic, it's implied that they are raped, and we see most of them get tortured. There is also one scene involving a crying baby boy that will have some people who don't like violence against children, walking away from this movie. 


From the very first moments that the movie began, this had an incredibly eerie vibe. Nothing ever seemed right, and for that, I was on the edge of my seat for a lot of the story. While the movie does take a while to get to the violence and gore, the build-up is extremely unsettling. This is one of the most intense films that I think I've seen all year. I was pleasantly surprised that this movie didn't contain even one jump scare and was able to maintain this intensity all based on only tension and suspense.

My biggest problem that I had with Killing Ground is the ending. Writing this review only hours after watching the movie with the ending still fresh in my mind. It has me really torn on the film. It's not an ending that gives us closure or a resolution. It's an ending that leaves us with questions, and I'm still thinking about what it means. It's not an ending that kills the overall film, but it leaves us questioning the relationship between our couple. Have we just witnessed their end? It's all left up in the air. I think it will be something that divides audiences.

The acting in the film is solid. It took me a few minutes to really gel with our leading actress Harriet Dyer but once she gets going and into survival mode, I was loving her character. Ian Meadows as her boyfriend has the most complicated arc in the film. His character also plays heavily into the final few seconds of the movie and leaves a lot in doubt. Maya Strange who I love from the Aussie comedy Garage Days has one heart-wrenching performance, and I loved her in this flick, and Tiarnie Coupland probably has the toughest role in the film. Her character is a teenage girl and is subjected to some stuff that while implied, it's heartbreaking. I think the way the characters are just disposed of is incredibly difficult to watch.

Lastly, our two villains are played by 
Aaron Pedersen and Aaron Glenane. Both actors deliver two evil and terrifying performances. Both actors commit to their roles and do some pretty deplorable things on screen. They give their all to the roles and do them serious justice that I actually hated these two characters. You love to hate them, and I wanted to see them die horribly and I think this movie does a decent enough job of subverting our expectations on what we have come to expect from the villains. Just when you think one is going to be the eviler of the two, one outdoes the other in their despicable acts.







DEATH TOLL: 7

BLOOD AND GORE:

- A woman and a teenage girl are raped by two men.
- Someone is shot in the eye with a rifle.
- A woman is shot in the shoulder and head.
- A teenage girl is shot in the head.
- A man is shot in the chest and head.
- A man has his wrist sliced open with a swiss army knife.
- A man throws a baby against the ground.
- Someone is shot in the shoulder.
- Someone is bludgeoned to death with a rock.
- A police officer is shot in the head.
- A police officer is shot in the heart.








Killing Ground is another winning horror film from the land down under. The movie is a taut and intense little film about the horrors of camping. The movie is an incredible edge of your seat thrill ride from beginning to end. It contains some pretty dark and brutal acts of violence towards women and children that may upset some people and the acting from all involved is fantastic. The only issues that I still have with the film is that ending which I think will divide audiences. Maybe in time and with a couple of repeated viewings, that will lessen. As a harrowing piece of cinema, this needs to be seen by all horror fans.


Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Bye Bye Man (2017)








DIRECTOR: Stacy Title

WRITER: Jonathan Penner

CAST:

Douglas Smith
Lucien Laviscount
Cressida Bonas
Doug Jones
Carrie-Anne Moss
Faye Dunaway
Michael Trucco
Cleo King
Leigh Whannell

PLOT:

When three friends move into a large old mansion off campus. They discover a side table that has the words inscribed on the inside of it saying "Don't think it, Don't say it" over and over again. This leads them to uncover the origins of a mysterious figure called 'The Bye Bye Man'. They begin to start to see nightmarish hallucinations after uttering his name. The figure is believed to be the evil behind all unspeakable acts.







The Bye Bye Man was released at the beginning of the year and into what most would consider being the studio dumping ground known as January. They dump the movies that they have no faith in, in hopes of making a few dollars off of the property. After watching this movie, while I think it has a lot of problems. I'm wondering if the studio was actually trying to make a quick buck with this or were they afraid that their latest investment may have been a bit too weird for a lot of mainstream audiences.

I only raise this question because after viewing The Bye Bye Man, it feels very odd for a movie that was released on 2,200 screens and heavily promoted to be dumped into January where this may have been a bigger hit around Halloween season. I now feel that either the studio knew that they had a stinker on their hands but on such a small budget, they probably had the chance to make it back or even more over the horror season. I think this feels more like a situation of the studio not knowing how to place and market this property as this is one strange little film.

One thing that I found that I enjoyed about this movie was that it was seriously dark. For a studio produced horror movie, it took a couple of risks. This mainly concerns the extremely dark ending for the film. It spends close to an hour and forty minutes while building to something that I thought was going to be wrapped up in this neat, happy little package and it's not at all. The entire film on a tonal level is just dark and bleak. There is not one moment of levity, and for that, I kind of liked it.

Where Bye Bye Man sadly misses the mark is that we learn nothing at all about this villain. This is clearly the origin story of this character, and you had the potential to introduce a new horror icon into popular culture, and you spend not even one single moment explaining him. By the time the credits roll, we don't know anything about him. I think this falls back on the fact that they had a possible plan to create a big franchise with this new villain and with that in mind, just decided to focus on laying out some of the lore and would dive deeper into his origin if this franchise took off. What that does in the meantime is give us a movie that makes no real sense.

When we are presented with no mythology or backstory on our villain, please make sure that the characters who we have to spend time with are somewhat likeable. Here they have chosen four very annoying college students, a sassy librarian and the iconic Faye Dunaway. With this story being steeped in darkness, it gives us an entire cast of cold and emotionless performances. The only person who looks like they are having fun is the sassy librarian. Even she is killed off in such gruesome fashion that you can't help but feel even more depressed.

An element of the film I enjoyed was the Leigh Whannell opening scene. While this opening scene doesn't do anything to tie us into the villain and his origin, I thought it was a great way to open the film and set the tone. This opens with him brandishing a shotgun and killing his neighbours and friends in an idyllic sixties suburbia. I thought it was visually impressive and creepy if not a tad bit poorly acted by the entire cast of supporting characters. Along with the dark ending for the film, it feels like the movie is bookended by probably the most intense moments The Bye Bye Man has to offer.

Visually, I think The Bye Bye Man is pretty impressive. While there are a couple of scenes that feature one of the most poorly constructed CGI skinless hounds that I think I've ever seen put on film, it's not enough to kill the rest of the visuals that happen in the film. I loved all the nightmarish sequences where we saw characters without eyes. I also loved the long tracking house shots that happen throughout the film. If anything, I have to give a hand to director Stacy Title for delivering something not boring but with a little bit of flair.

Lastly, the acting in the movie is all over the place. You manage to secure two iconic stars like Faye Dunaway and Carrie-Anne Moss, and you give them supporting parts with pretty much nothing to do. Cleo King as the sassy librarian is probably the most enjoyable role in the movie. Leigh Whannell also looks like he's having a blast getting his Amityville on. Doug Jones is unrecognisable as The Bye Bye Man, and because we get nothing about his character, he is given nothing in the way of a performance. We also have the three main stars who were all really annoying to me.







DEATH TOLL: 11

BLOOD AND GORE:

- A woman is shotgun blasted in the chest.
- A disabled man is shotgun blasted in the back.
- Two women are shotgun blasted in the back and stomach.
- A family is shown covered in blood after a car accident.
- A woman is hit by a train.
- A man is smacked in the side of the head with a baseball bat.
- A woman is hit by a speeding car.
- A man drinks drain cleaning and vomits up blood.
- A woman's hands are shown covered in blood.
- The back of a woman's skull is missing, and brains and blood are shown.
- A woman is seen with no eyes and blood is seen pouring out of the socket.
- A woman is seen holding a bloody knife with two people dead on the floor.
- A man is shot in the stomach.
- We see a nightmarish vision of a woman who is all cut up and bleeding.
- A man shoots himself in the head.
- A woman is thrown over a bannister and has no eyes.
- A woman is repeatedly stabbed in the face with scissors.
- We see a nightmarish vision of a woman burning alive.







The Bye Bye Man had the potential to possibly introduce a new generation of horror fans to an iconic new horror villain, and instead, they give us a movie where the main villain is given no backstory, some poorly explained mythology and terribly unlikeable characters. By the time the movie ends, we learn nothing about the title character. If it weren't for the visual flourishes and an extremely brutal opening and bleak ending, we might have had one of the worst movies of the year with The Bye Bye Man.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Tonight She Comes (2017)








DIRECTOR: Matt Stuertz

WRITER: Matt Stuertz

CAST:

Larissa White
Jenna McDonald
Adam Hartley
Nathan Eswine
Dal Nicole
Cameisha Cotton
Brock Russell
Frankie Ray

PLOT:

When a woman goes missing in the woods, her two friends decide to head to her last known location where they had planned to meet up for a night of drinking, sunbathing and laughs. When they arrive, they meet a group of strangers who have been drawn to this mysterious cabin in the woods. When a mysterious naked woman descends on the group of strangers and the cabin, they will need to fight to survive if they plan on making it out of this alive.








It is worth mentioning, first and foremost that Tonight She Comes has the honour of having one of the coolest looking posters of any horror movie that I've seen this year to date. The poster is eye-catching and colourful. It's a real standout. It gives me an Evil Dead, Cabin in the woods meets eighties slashers vibe. For that alone, it secures a point with me. Right now, if I were to make a list of the best horror movie posters of the year, Tonight She Comes would secure a spot on the list.

The movie opens with a woman covered in blood and alone in the wilderness. She is also pregnant. What follows is a scene where the woman repeatedly stabs herself in the stomach. This opening moment is brutal, nasty and eye-opening. I was ready for some twisted and dark horror. It's not long before we see a guy sitting in the back of a car, where the camera moves to his crotch, and we see him pleasuring himself in the backseat while his friend is driving. After this scene, it's clear on what type of horror movie you're about to witness.

This little horror flick feels like it's coming from a place that feels more in line with the Kevin Smith and Eli Roth school of horror filmmaking. We have a flick that is heavier on the dick and fart jokes than it is on the balls to the wall horror. While I love both of those filmmakers and love a good horror comedy, this can sometimes kill the vibe of a horror film. What could've been a dark and disturbing film, feels cheapened when you have endless scenes of juvenile jokes and gross-out moments added into scenes that could have been scarier.

Here we have scenes where a guy masturbates over two women who are sunbathing by a lake. The guy then decides to kiss and take photos of a naked female corpse he finds in the woods. That doesn't even come close to the ritual scene that takes place. You are unlikely to see a more stomach-churning ritual this year. Urine, semen, and a blood-soaked tampon are consumed to start a ritual. If the director's goal was to go and throw as much gross-out stuff at the audience as possible, it has succeeded in that respect. But as a horror film, it came across as childish.

What the movie doesn't contain is a single likeable character. From the best mate who defiles a corpse to these two slutty college girls who spend half of this movie trying to bang the cute mailman. They are all despicable human beings. We also have a house full of rednecks that randomly show up. Not one of these people is a person I'd root for or like to see survive this ordeal. The closest we come to someone who shows any bit of courage and leadership is the redneck daughter, and yet, she is still as gross as the rest. Even our villain who is a naked woman who is seeking revenge is given little to do besides giving birth to something demonic.

The biggest issue that I have with Tonight She Comes is that it's a movie that doesn't really answer a single thing it ends up raising. We don't ever get closure by the end of the film on basically anything that happens. We get the faintest bit of exposition, and a dialogue-heavy scene before the ritual takes place but other than that, a lot of what is shown, never really makes much sense by the time the credits roll. I don't mind a movie that tries to not give us all the answers, but when it's none of them, I was left a little annoyed more than anything.

Where Tonight She Comes really delivers is with all of that gore. This is one incredibly bloody and gruesome movie. A lot of great practical effects are used instead of badly done CGI. I can't hate on the makeup and gore effects in this film as I thought they were great. The ritual scene is probably the best use of this where all the characters are slashed, shot and maimed. We also have a couple of final kills that are nasty. I love myself any scene where someone has their eyes gouged out. So kudos to the effects team.

Lastly, when it comes to the acting, it was very hit and miss. I think the actors are let down by the script. The dialogue is incredibly juvenile, and the script calls for a lot of the performances to be over the top. So a lot of these performances come across as forced. The one that still sticks out to me the most is the old hick. His accent was so distracting that I couldn't take anything that he had said seriously. It felt like he was laying it on so thick that it was very comical. So a dialogue-heavy scene played more unintentionally funny.







DEATH TOLL: 7

BLOOD AND GORE:

- A woman is seen covered in blood and covered in stab wounds.
- A woman is slammed up against a tree while in a sleeping bag.
- A woman's naked body is found in the forest.
- A man is slashed and killed.
- A woman gives birth to something evil.
- A woman's face is melted away by acidic blood.
- Someone slices their own wrist.
- A woman cuts her brothers throat to drain him of blood.
- A woman is repeatedly stabbed in the stomach with glass.
- A woman has her eyes gouged out.
- A woman repeatedly stabs herself in her pregnant belly.
- A woman is stabbed in the arm with a screwdriver.
- A woman's throat is torn out.
- A man's body is found with his head completely crushed.
- Someone is shotgun blasted to the chest and stomach.
- A woman drains her bloody tampon and drinks it.







Tonight She Comes is a movie where the poster art for the film is much better than the finished product. With terribly childish dialogue, a cast that is let down by a less than stellar screenplay, a plot that doesn't have any resolution and utterly unlikeable characters. The outstanding blood and gore and synth-filled score can't save this film from falling below average. Had they tried to tidy up the story and have it make some sense, the rating may have been a little more positive.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Devil In The Dark (2017)








DIRECTOR: Tim Brown

WRITER: Carey Dickson

CAST:

Dan Payne
Robin Dunne
Daniel Cudmore
Michael O'Brien
Briana Buckmaster
Rebecca Reichert
Owen Brown
Marshall Archibald

PLOT:

When two estranged brothers reunite for a hunting trip in British Columbia. They get a lot more than they bargained for when they are stalked and hunted by a mysterious and terrifying creature. As tensions reach breaking point due to the underlining issues that the brothers have with each other. They must try and band together and survive before they fall prey to this unknown evil.








Looking at the poster for Devil In The Dark, it really doesn't do this film any justice on how gorgeous this film looks on an aesthetic level. Looking at the poster for this flick, I assumed I was about to witness a Syfy channel movie production. It seemed pretty cheap with the monster on the poster appearing like he was photoshopped into that creepy forest setting. I'm not going to lie, I was pretty worried when I pressed play on that remote. I had feared the worst.

Devil In The Dark is a movie that sadly missed the mark for me. There are things that I really enjoyed about this film but the bad outweighed the good by the time the end credits began to roll. I think as a second feature film, this shows a lot of promise by a director who has a very keen eye for visuals. I found that the movie on an aesthetic level was actually a joy to watch. One of the things that I will take away from this is that I will keep an eye on Tim Brown and see what he does next.

The highlight of Devil In The Dark is definitely the cinematography. There are a lot of gorgeous shots of the British Columbia wilderness and mountains. I thought the way that they used the camera in the film was effective in building tension. We have a lot of shots that pan out or rotate overhead to reveal how vast the wilderness is and how easy it would be to get lost out in these mountain ranges. I thought these tricks were successful in leading the audience into the third act of the film.

Now onto the issues that I had with this movie. Firstly, I wasn't a massive fan of the whole estranged brother storyline. It seems that when it comes to horror cinema and the plot revolving around two family members reuniting, it always seems to be filled with bad blood and mounting tensions. Why can't we have a story where two family members reunite because they want to see each other and want to spend some time together. I really thought that one brother was far more annoying than the other and I felt myself only caring for one of them. The fact that they bicker and argue for the entire film weighs heavy on my lower score for the film.

Another problem that I had with the story is that it really doesn't make all that much sense once the third act tries to wrap itself up. I think its heavy on the metaphorical interpretation and it will really divide the audience. The ending shot before the final credits roll also left a lot to be desired as it had me asking more questions than not. I think the writer had a few really solid ideas that were trying to play things on a more psychological level, but they just sadly couldn't bring the story together in the end. It feels like they tried to add a few too many ingredients.

The last issue that I wanted to bring up is the awful CGI creature effects. Once we hit the third act and the creature starts appearing more often on the screen, I thought it was underwhelming. The more we see of it, the more disappointed I became with it. Instead of using practical makeup effect, they GCI the creature, and it lessens that impact of how terrifying this creature could have been. A note that I took down while watching it was that it felt very similar to the Hannibal TV series. When Hannibal is shown as the deer man, it's a lot creepier in the series.

The acting in the movie is actually pretty great. The movie spends most of the time with Dan Payne as the older brother, and Robin Dunne is his younger brother. While I found the dynamic of the two annoying due to all the arguing. I can't deny the acting. I think that Dan Payne is fantastic in this movie. He delivers a performance wracked with guilt. I believed every emotion he gave me. As for Robin Dunne, I also think he was solid. While his character is a little more hard to take and like, I think by the time we get to the end of the film, I felt for his character.

Lastly, I want to talk about the atmosphere in the film. For a movie that builds up to the reveal of a terrifying monster, I think this movie was a lot more successful in its gradual slow burn approach. I found the earlier scenes a lot creepier than the final attack scenes. I think the vast landscape cinematography was far eerier than all the creature reveals. While it has a couple of jump scares, it didn't really do all that much in sending chills up and down my spine.







DEATH TOLL: 1

BLOOD AND GORE:

- Someone has their arm broken back into place.
- A man is dragged off by a monster.
- A man is impaled on deer antlers.








Devil In The Dark is filled with some excellent cinematography of the British Columbia wilderness and has a couple of solid leading performances from Dan Payne and Robin Dunne. It's sadly let down by a story that doesn't make all that much sense and one character who is terribly unlikeable. I will definitely be keeping an eye on director Tim Brown as I think he shows a lot of promise. With a little more focus on tying up all the loose ends, we may have had something pretty special. I recommend this movie for the eerie camera work.