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New UK Short Film THE EX Releases teaser trailer

rsz_theex

The Ex is a six-minute short film presenting the weirdest, scariest and funniest first-date imaginable – with a supernatural twist.

Gerald’s attempts to impress his date are quickly thwarted upon hearing the sinister voice of her ex-boyfriend from a framed photograph on her wall. To make matters worse, Gerald’s date does not appear to hear this voice and soon it’s not just his words that are a threat… when the picture itself comes to life.

Written and directed by Martin Stocks and Gareth Brown, the film is an amalgamation of their (many) dating disasters in recent years. The Ex combines awkward comedy with slapstick horror. As it builds towards the climax, with the date spiralling out of control, one suspects there is very little chance of a second date – and every chance someone might not get out of this alive.

“We liked the idea of a man, already struggling with first-date nerves, having to contend with the angry voice of her ex, potentially from beyond the grave. We thought it would be funny for him to be able to hear the ex’s voice – but his date cannot. This also raised the question of whether or not this was all in his head.” – Gareth Brown

The experienced cast and crew were largely working together for the first time on this production, and all made strong contributions to realising this high-concept idea. This included Neal Parsons’ blue-tinged otherworldly cinematography, Ed Harris’ brilliantly frenzied score, Adrian Townsend’s inventive sound design, and two compelling and funny performances from Andrew Shire and Abigail Poulton – who played our three characters.

The Ex was produced by Crossroad Pictures and Scott Lyus, following their festival run with award winning indie-horror Silently Within Your Shadow. The Ex will burst through cinema screens wreaking havoc at festivals very soon!

Stake Land 2 (2016) Review

rsz_stake1STAKE LAND 2 (Dirs- Dan Berk, Robert Olsen, USA 2016)

Starring- Connor Paolo, Nick Damici, Laura Abramsen, A.C. Peterson, Steven Williams, Kristina Hughes, Bonnie Dennison

Out NOW on UK DVD from Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment

Jim Mickle’s STAKE LAND was a surprisingly effective flick back in 2010 as it at least tried to bring back the vampire into a more darker and gritty combination of post apocalyptic western and straight up serious horror. The film carried a bleak almost nihilistic world view in parts backed up with interesting and empathetic characters most notably Nick Damici’s vampire hunter Mister and the young lad he takes under his wing, Martin, played by Connor Paolo as they navigate the ravaged American landscape on their way to find New Eden in Canada, the last hope of a safe refuge.

The film picks up with Martin and the girl he left with at the end of the last film, Peggy (Dennison) now living with a kid of their own. Tragedy rears its ugly head as we learn in flashback that Peggy and Martin’s daughter were slain by a new leader of the religious nutter group, The Brotherhood, who where one of the main human threats from the first film. This new head is called The Mother (Hughes) who has control over the mutant berserker vampires that spread the epidemic in the first place and who The Brotherhood worship as their new god intent on their mission of wiping out the remaining heathens in the world.

rsz_stake2Martin sets out on a quest for vengeance encountering un-trust worthy folk along the way including an elderly couple whose hospitality hides a sinister purpose (seems pretty obvious in the long run) and a band of humans who seem to be trading other unfortunate captive humans and forcing them into fighting. Its this point where Martin meets back up with Mister who has found a feral women he has called Lady (Abramsen) and they soon return back wandering the waste land in search of The Mother, meeting up with two old friends of Mister’s, Bat (Petersen) and Doc Earl (Williams) on a mission that sees them facing persistent struggle and possible doom.

It was surprising to hear that this film originally had its premiere on the SyFy channel in the states, which is more at home to screening first time premieres of films about mutated ghost sharks and the like. The SyFy channel premiere doesn’t really do it justice and despite a few festival screenings this time round unlike its predecessor STAKE LAND 2 goes straight to DVD in the UK. This shouldn’t put anyone off as this is a decent sequel and whilst it doesn’t have the strength of the first one and in some ways less of a budget the film still retains the bleak world view of the original. Naturally in post apocalyptic times we are reminded of the futility of society and its complete breakdown due to collapse in institutions and this sequel keeps up that notion even if I would say borrowing very slightly from THE WALKING DEAD and that series bleak world view, which in turn I felt certainly must have had some of the original STAKE LAND’s inspiration rub off on it in the latter seasons of that show.

rsz_stake3But then post apocalyptic films have always traded on our fears of epidemic, nuclear war and the breakdown of the world and rationale humans turning on other humans an idea which always works well and forever will be present and in current uncertain world climate even more relevant. Paolo and Damici, both excellent in this, reprise their roles as Mister and Martin and its good to see them return since their pairing was one of the first films strengths. A nice connection is played out with the tragic incident at the start that befalls Martin and with one that happened to Mister in the past, who sees Martin change and slowly start to become what he used to be even though he sees a better future and character for the boy. They are backed up with support from Petersen and Williams who lend a pair of bad ass characters also driven numb by the bleakness of the world.

rsz_stake4Directing duo Berk and Olsen handle the film with confidence and pace the story into new territories alongside introducing new past story traits to strengthen the characters even though in some respects it lessens the hidden past mystery of Mister. They also benefit from a great use of the shooting location of Saskatchewan that adds to the vast loneliness of the post apocalyptic landscape and an almost Western-esque feel. Credit should also be given to the make up effects work which manages to be effective adding an ugly look to the vamps as well as making the head vamp, The Mother, look albino in a way and strangely like Tilda Swinton but with long hair and one eye. In the outset this sequel, whilst might not be as sprinkled with the originality of the first film still manages to be an entertaining 81 minutes that delivers some fantastic scenes of mutant vampire action and gore amongst the dramatic human moments.

6.5/10

The Amityville Horror Comes To UK Ltd Edition Steelbook June 26th

rsz_91lasu4s-ql_sy606_The Amityville Horror Comes To UK Ltd Edition Steelbook June 26th

It’s one of the all-time horror greats, it spawned numerous sequels, spin-offs and inspired numerous haunted house copycats. It even became the subject of a top 20 hit single – Lovebug Starski’s Amityville (House on the Hill). And now, almost 40 years after it scared homeowners everywhere witless, The Amityville Horror is finally getting its first ever UK Bluray release in a limited edition Steelbook courtesy of Second Sight.

Stuart Rosenberg’s seminal shocker The Amityville Horror starring James Brolin (Westworld), Margot Kidder (Superman) and Rod Steiger (On the Waterfront), is a genuine horror classic based on terrifying true events, and makes its Blu-ray debut complete with brand new bonus features on 26 June 2017.

When George and Kathy Lutz and their children move to Amityville, Long Island they believe they have found the perfect family home. But the house has a shocking history and within its walls a demonic presence lies in wait that will turn the Lutz’s lives into a living nightmare. Their only hope is to get out before it’s too late.

Prepare to be scared when you visit the original haunted house in The Amityville Horror.

BONUS FEATURES INCLUDE:
• ‘Brolin Thunder’ – A new interview with actor James Brolin
• ‘Child’s Play’ – A new interview with actor Meeno Peluce
• ‘Amityville Scribe’ – A new interview with screenwriter Sandor Stern
• ‘The Devil’s Music’ – A new interview with soundtrack composer Lalo Schifrin
• ‘My Amityville Horror’ – feature-length documentary with Daniel Lutz
• ‘For God’s Sake, Get Out’ – featuring James Brolin and Margot Kidder
• Intro by Dr. Hans Holzer, PhD. in parapsychology (author of ‘Murder in Amityville’)
• Audio commentary by Dr. Hans Holzer
• Original trailer, TV spot, radio spots
• Four reproduction lobby card postcards (SteelBook Exclusive)
• New optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Title: The AmItyville Horror Limited Edition Steelbook Release Date: 26 June 2017
Cat.No. Blu-ray: 2NDBR4067 RRP: £22.99
Cert: 15 Running Time: 117 mins. approx.

Lost Girls: The Phantasmagorical Cinema of Jean Rollin Launches Pre-Sales on Indiegogo

rsz_lg1LOST GIRLS: THE PHANTASMAGORICAL CINEMA OF JEAN ROLLIN Launches Pre-Sales on Indiegogo!

Campaign to run from now till May 17th with amazing perks and special offers! Here – https://www.igg.me/at/lostgirlsbook

Canadian micro-publisher Spectacular Optical has just launched pre-sales for its newest book focused on the career of French fantasy and horror filmmaker Jean Rollin, LOST GIRLS: THE PHANTASMAGORICAL CINEMA OF JEAN ROLLIN, penned by all women critics, scholars and film historians.

With a campaign running on Indiegogo through May 17th at https://www.igg.me/at/lostgirlsbook, Spectacular Optical is offering genre fans an early opportunity to pick up this limited-edition book, as well as a slew of additional perks such as Blu-Rays, soundtracks, books, festival passes, a Rollin Mystery Boardgame designed by cover artist Jessica Seamans (limited to 100 copies!), and – most exciting of all – the ‘Tour de sang’: an immersive tour through eight Rollin film locations in the French countryside!

This collection of essays covers the wide range of Rollin’s career from 1968’s LE VIOL DU VAMPIRE through his 2010 swansong, LE MASQUE DE LA MÉDUSE, touching upon his horror, fantasy, crime and sex films—including many lesser seen titles. The book closely examines Rollin’s core themes: his focus on overwhelmingly female protagonists, his use of horror genre and exploitation tropes, his reinterpretations of the fairy tale and fantastique, the influence of crime serials, Gothic literature and the occult, as well as much more.

rsz_lg2Curated and edited by Samm Deighan (DIABOLIQUE), contributors to LOST GIRLS include some of the most important critical voices to emerge over the last decade of genre journalism: Alexandra Heller-Nicholas (SENSES OF CINEMA), Kat Ellinger (DIABOLIQUE), Virginie Selavy (ELECTRIC SHEEP), Alison Nastasi (SATANIC PANIC: POP-CULTURAL PARANOIA IN THE 1980s), Marcelline Block (ART DECADES), Rebecca Booth (DIABOLIQUE), Michelle Alexander (CINEMADROME), Lisa Cunningham (THE LAUGHING DEAD: THE HORROR-COMEDY FILM FROM BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN TO ZOMBIELAND), Heather Drain (DANGEROUS MINDS), Erin Miskell (THAT’S NOT CURRENT), Kier-La Janisse (HOUSE OF PSYCHOTIC WOMEN), Gianna D’Emilio (DIABOLIQUE) and veteran genre journalist Marcelle Perks (SHIVER, EYEBALL).

rsz_lg3The cover art and chapter headings (as well as the Rollin Mystery Boardgame!) are being created by illustrator Jessica Seamans, known for her work with Landland and posters for MONDO. The artwork features Rollin regulars the Castel Twins among a combination of imagery from his films Fascination and La Rose de Fer.

LOST GIRLS will be a beautiful perfect-bound book, roughly 400 pages and heavily illustrated throughout with stills, posters, ads and other visual ephemera related to Rollin’s films. A successful campaign will ensure that the book can be printed in full colour, as Rollin’s iconic imagery so rightly deserves.

LOST GIRLS is the third book in Spectacular Optical’s ongoing series of limited run film and pop culture books, which includes KID POWER! (2014) and SATANIC PANIC: POP CULTURAL PARANOIA IN THE 1980s (2015) and will precede the previously announced YULETIDE TERROR: CHRISTMAS HORROR IN FILM AND TELEVISION, which will be released in fall of 2017. Supporting partner organizations on the campaign include Kino Lorber, Finders Keepers, Headpress, Shudder, The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies London, Fantastic Fest (Austin), Monster Fest (Melbourne) and The Fantasia International Film Festival (Montreal), where the book aims to launch in July.

rsz_lg4About Spectacular Optical:
Owned and operated by film writer and programmer Kier-La Janisse (HOUSE OF PSYCHOTIC WOMEN) with managing editor Paul Corupe (Canuxploitation.com), Spectacular Optical is a Canadian indie press that specializes in film and pop culture books, in addition to featuring articles, essays and interviews on the Spectacular Optical website on a year-round basis. http://www.spectacularoptical.ca

Dead Air : Puppet Infused Female Led Horror Comedy Launches Funding Campaign

dead airDead Air is a puppet infused comedy horror short film that strives to create a fun ride with its own unique look and feel. And Director Geoff Harmer and writer Peter Hearn have launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds.

Set on a plane travelling to a final gig, Dead Air tells the story of Monster Kitten, an all female punk rock band who end up on a flight with some nasty little creatures who like to bite and infect their victims to the point of all hell breaking loose at 30,000 feet.  With the help of their instruments, a tape recorder, a dodgy crew member and a bottle of piss, the girls try to fend off the evil to get to play their final gig.

Please check out the Indiegogo page here – https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/dead-air-puppet-infused-female-led-horror-comedy-film–2#/

Hunting Grounds (2015) Review

rsz_hg1HUNTING GROUNDS (2015) aka Valley of the Sasquatch

Starring Bill Oberst jr, Miles Joris-Peyrafitte, Jason Vail and David Saucedo

Written & Directed by John Portanova

A father, his son, and his two old friends arrive at an isolated cabin for a weekend of hunting. A trip deep into the forest looking for wild game uncovers a tribe of Sasquatch who are determined to protect their land“.

Bigfoot movies have been making a quiet resurgence recently, with Willow Creek, Exists and countless other DTV titles appearing in the past few years. While Willow Creek did very little for me, spending the whole runtime building great tension but point blank refusing to pay it off, I did have a lot of fun with Exists, which went the more kitchen sink fun route. It still had its flaws, but I enjoyed it.

New to the table is Hunting Grounds, aka Valley of the Sasquatch. And while it’s not perfect by a long shot, it gets enough right to be worth a recommendation.

rsz_hg2The story focuses on the troubled relationship between Roger (Vail) and his son Michael (Joris-Peyrafitte). After the recent death of Michaels mother, their very contrasting personalities are brought to the forefront and causing a strain. Michael wants to go to college and make something of his life, while Roger insists they simply can’t afford it. They drive out into the woods to spend some quality time together, with Uncle Will (D’Angelo Midili) and and asshole hanger on Sergio (Saucedo). But as they venture deeper into the forest, they find out they are on the menu of a clan of savage Sasquatch, and must work together to survive.

I want to focus on how enjoyable Hunting Grounds was so I’ll briefly mention its problems first. The main one for me was the character of Sergio. It’s not the fault of the actor, but the script inserts him to be a huge prick from the get-go, and he kind of drags the other characters with him simply because they don’t chin him straight away! Some of the pacing is a little sluggish, and the score has a real Lifetime Channel feel most of the way. Also, many of the night time scenes are too dark, making some of the action incomprehensible. And finally, lets face it, this one does nothing new. The story beats, the characters, many of the situations, we’ve seen before elsewhere…

rsz_hg3HOWEVER, there is something to be said about doing something we’ve seen before but well, and that’s what happens in Hunting Grounds. The performances are very capable, and the father son dynamic is well thought out, and contrasts nicely when the family of Bigfoot’s lay siege. Which brings me to another aspect, the FAMILY of beasts. It’s hard enough to survive against one in many films, so adding more really heightens the stakes. The man-in-suit FX can be hit and miss, but that adds a level of B Movie charm to it all.

After a slow start, director Portanova really lays his cards on the table, with showdown after showdown in an entertaining man vs nature story that is much more than a SyFy Channel special. Stick with it, and you’ll find an engaging, if derivative creature feature.

7/10

SEED OF CHUCKY, THE DIVIDE & DAYBREAKERS amongst Horror Channel premieres for May 2017

horrorchannellogoSEED OF CHUCKY, THE DIVIDE & DAYBREAKERS amongst Horror Channel premieres for May 2017

Horror Channel has eight prime-time weekend film premieres this May including the network premieres for Don Mancini’s killer-dolls spin-off SEED OF CHUCKY, starring Brad Dourif, Jennifer Tilly & Billy Boyd, Xavier Gen’s unsettling post-apocalyptic horror THE DIVIDE and the epic vampire-battling DAYBREAKERS, starring Eithan Hawke and Willem Dafoe.

There are also UK premieres of José Manuel Cravioto’s pulse-pounding thriller BOUND TO VENGEANCE and Mary Lambert’s evil-spirited gripper URBAN LEGENDS: BLOODY MARY.  Other highlights are first channel showings for Stephen Kay’s monster in the closet chiller BOOGEYMAN, Jamie Blanks’ teen slasher URBAN LEGEND and Ryuhei Kitamura’s mystery-man rampaging NO ONE LIVES.

Full details of premieres in transmission order:

Boogeyman-WEB2Fri 5 May @ 21:00 – BOOGEYMAN (2005) *Network Premiere

Tim (Barry Watson) is haunted by traumatic memories from his past, linked to the death of his father. Desperate to resolve his issues, he returns to the house where he grew up. But while Tim wants to convince himself the ghostly memories he carries are just a figment of his imagination, he is plagued by a crippling fear that can only be resolved by facing up to the ‘Boogeyman’.  Also features Lucy Lawless.

Sat 6 May @ 22:50 – DAYBREAKERS (2009) *Network Premiere

In the year 2019, a plague has transformed almost every human into a vampire. Faced with a dwindling blood supply, the fractured dominant race plots their survival. Meanwhile, a researcher works with a covert band of the undead on a way to save humankind. This classy chiller is packed with many disparate genre influences, not to mention a fine performance from Ethan Hawke and a truly fun turn by Willem Defoe as a futuristic Van Helsing with a Big Secret.

rsz_urban_legend-web2Fri 12 May @ 21:00 – URBAN LEGEND (1998) *Network Premiere

Students at New England’s Pendleton College have their own urban legend — 30 years ago, a demented professor killed six students and then committed suicide in Stanley Hall. But when a real series of strange deaths begins occurring on campus, assertive student Natalie (Alicia Witt) suspects they’re murders based on urban legends and soon realises she’s the next number in the killer’s body count. A starry cast includes Robert Englund, Jared Leto, Tara Reid, Joshua Jackson and Brad Dourif.

Sat 13 May @ 21:00 – BOUND TO VENGEANCE (2015) *UK TV Premiere

A young woman, Eve (Tina Ivlev), is held captive in the basement of a sexual predator (Richard Tyson). Against the odds, she fights back, and manages to escape her malicious abductor. However, after discovering she may not be the only victim, Eve unravels a darker truth and decides to turn the tables on her captor. A subversive revenge tale with an unusual twist.

rsz_urbanlegends-bloodymary-web1Fri 19 May @ 21:00 – URBAN LEGENDS: BLOODY MARY (2005) *UK TV Premiere

A homecoming-night dare turns into a runaway nightmare for a trio of high-school friends who unleash an evil spirit in this terrifying entry in the Urban Legends series from Pet Sematary director Mary Lambert. Abducted by a group of high-school jocks, the trio, although rescued, witness their tormentors falling prey to a deadly but unseen menace. Could it be their imagination or could the spirit of Bloody Mary truly have returned from the grave to seek vengeance? This is the third and final instalment in the Urban Legend series

Sat 20 May @ 22:55 – NO ONE LIVES (2012) *Network Premiere

Fourteen students are murdered and the crime scene offers no clues as to the whereabouts of the one person who could be the only survivor. Months later a gang of robbers screw up their latest heist and mug a couple in a car instead. What they realise too late is that the driver is the killer responsible for the student massacre. Then it’s Psycho vs. Psychos in a taut, tension-laden cat-and-mouse chiller that sees both sides trying to outdo the other.

rsz_seedofchucky-web3Fri 26 May @ 21:00 – SEED OF CHUCKY (2004) *Network Premiere

Billy Boyd voices Glen, the orphan doll offspring of the irrepressible devilish-doll-come-to-life Chucky (again voiced by Brad Dourif) and his equally twisted bride Tiffany (voiced by Jennifer Tilly). Glen heads for Hollywood, where he brings his bloodthirsty parents back from the dead. Much to his horror they go on a spree of murderous mayhem. Cult film director John Waters makes an appearance, as does hip-hop artist Redman. This is the fifth in the popular series of Chucky (Child’s Play) horror comedies and is directed by franchise creator and writer of all five films, Don Mancini.

Sat 27 May @ 22:45 – THE DIVIDE (2011) *Network Premiere

From Xavier Gens, director of Frontier(s), this post-apocalyptic shocker explores the nightmare unravelling of humanity under the most extreme circumstances imaginable when New York City is decimated in a nuclear holocaust. As the survivors sit in the makeshift fallout shelter the ‘divide’ begins. With no one knowing the evil each person in the group is capable of, trust issues arise, paranoia emerges, factions form and values are debased in a brutal and visceral vision of a broken future. Stars Rosanna Arquette, Milo Ventimiglia, Michael Biehn and Lauren German.

Sky 319 / Virgin 149 / Freesat 138 / Freeview 70

www.horrorchannel.co.uk | twitter.com/horror_channel | facebook.com/horrorchannel

Alien Day – April 26th 2017

alienbanner-625x350Alien Day – April 26th 2017

That’s right folks, on April 26th 2017, the 2nd Alien Day will be upon us, and this year, its an extra special celebration, with the brand new film in the franchise ‘Alien: Covenant’ set for release on May 19th in theatres around the world.

So whats actually happening on Alien Day?

At select cinemas round the UK, namely Odeon, Vue, AMC and Cineworld cinemas will be showing Prometheus, and the directors cut of Alien.
An added special feature that everyone will get, is a 14 minute preview, of bridged footage from Alien Covenant.

cineworldHO00004500 - Edited (1)To be one of the special people who gets access to all this Alien goodness, you can buy what is being called the ‘Alien Superticket’
On top of getting a double bill of Alien films, and Alien: Covenant footage, the price of the ticket (varies between cinemas) includes entry to a special screening of the brand new Alien: Covenant on May 11th!! Thats right, you will see the film 8 days before general release.

To get details of the Alien Day festivities in your area, what films are being shown & show times, check the links below:
Odeon: http://www.odeon.co.uk/films/alien_day/17290/#
Vue: https://www.myvue.com/event/alien-super-ticket
Cineworld: https://www.cineworld.co.uk/films/alien-superticket-26-april-and-11-may

AMC: http://www.amccinemas.co.uk/film/?F=142613&C=8627

For anyone like myself who was born after the cinematic release of Alien, this is an amazing opportunity to see the film in full HD quality picture and sound. I can’t wait!
Get your tickets now!

Garden of Fiends: Tales of Addiction Horror – Book Review

gofGarden of Fiends: Tales of Addiction Horror – Book Review

Garden of Fiends pulls together eight tales of addiction blended with horror. Now you might think that addiction is horrid enough on its own, and you’re right. Only in this collection, editor Mark Matthews has selected stories which draw on real life, but don’t rely on it for the horror elements. There are tales of demons and ghosts here, all bound to the struggles addictions bring with them.

Opening with A Wicked Thirst by Kealan Patrick Burke, you’re immediately thrown into a world of panic, where a date is juxtaposed with a brutal drowning. This reads like the returning memories of a blacked-out drunk, with events gradually falling into place as the harrowing story goes on. I had to take a break by the end of this one, it’s a hell of an opener.

The One in the Middle by Jessica McHugh is a hard-to-stomach tale of addicts at their lowest point, forced to sell flesh to a cannabalistic high society. There’s a hint of Burroughs about this one, with sci-fi elements meeting the down & dirty everyday horror, in a city trying not to repeat its own mistakes.

Everywhere You’ve Bled and Everywhere You Will by Max Booth III involves a bleeding body part and a horrific tragedy involving shared illness. This goes past the point of horror into mind-fucking insanity. A skilful blend of many horrors.

First, Just Bite a Finger by Johann Thorsson is a flash fiction piece about being addicted to cannibalism, and it’s a short-sharp shock of a metaphor, feeding into the worries that peer pressure brings.

Last Call by John FD Taff features an ex-alcoholic coasting through life without respecting his journey to quick sobriety. The horror here comes right at the end, less brutal and more tragic.

Torment of the Fallen by Glen Krisch involves a daughter trying to reconnect with her estranged father. You’ll definitely feel the pain of finding a loved one devastated by drugs here, only there’s demonic forces at work too, which hopefully you’ll never feel. Unless you like the idea of being eaten alive by rats?

Garden of Fiends by Mark Matthews is quite simply, a heartbreaker. Here, a father tries to pull his daughter away from an addictive relationship, drifting too close to her world for his own good. The horror and despair conjured by this novella-length offering has tinges of the supernatural to accentuate the horror of loss.

The collection ends with Returns by Jack Ketchum, a ghost story less about addiction than the others, but listen, it’s Ketchum. You know you’re not coming out the other side of this one with a smile. It’ll move you before the midway point, and if you’re a cat person, it might just ruin you.

That rare themed anthology that offers a great selection of stories with no duds, I would fully recommend Garden of Fiends to any horror fan. None of the stories here are frivolous, they all respect addiction for what it is, and that means you’re not in for an easy read. That said, it’s still an essential purchase for the short story aficionado.

Score: 10/10

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B06X9X1WYS
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B06X9X1WYS

And you can follow Wicked Run Press @WickedRunPress

Shut In (2016) Review

rsz_shut1Shut In (2016)

Running time: 91 minutes

Director: Farren Blackburn

Cast: Naomi Watts, Oliver Platt, Charlie Heaton, Jacob Tremblay

Out NOW on UK DVD from Arrow Films

A strong cast head up this psychological thriller whose script was plucked from the 2012 Blacklist; a list of the best unproduced screenplays of the year. So, in some respects, Shut In has a lot to live up to from the very outset.

Naomi Watts plays Mary Portman, a clinical psychologist who has reluctantly agreed to send her eighteen year old son, Stephen, away from home due to his increasingly out of control behaviour. Her husband re-assures her it is for the best but after he and Stephen leave, an argument results in a horrific car accident, killing father and leaving Stephen (Charlie Heaton, fresh from the Netflix hit Stranger Things) unresponsive and wheelchair bound.

rsz_shut2Skipping six months forward, Mary struggles to cope alone with her severely disabled son whilst still running her practice. They live remotely and Mary has little outside help, bar her assistant, Lucy and her therapist, Dr Wilson (a reliable Oliver Platt), who converses with Mary over Skype.

When a patient of Mary’s; nine year old Tom (an underused Jacob Tremblay) runs away from his care home, she finds him having broken in to her car and hiding in the back seat. Wanting to help she takes the child in to her home but he soon disappears in to the night and the hunt for the missing boy begins. Due to the extreme weather and impending storm, it is swiftly believed the boy has died and Mary begins to to be tormented by visions of the child.

As the strain of caring for her son bears heavily down on her, her nightmares escalate. She hears noises throughout the house, believes she sees Tom at her bedroom door and then disturbingly finds scratches on the side of her son’s face. Seeking help from Dr Wilson, he re-assures her that this all just a vivid dream. That stress and the difficult situation is taking it’s toll. Obviously, we realise there is more here than meets the eye and the truth slowly starts to present itself.

Shut In takes the single setting premise and crafts an interesting story around its limitations. Stephen finds himself ‘shut in’ his own body post-accident, whilst Mary has become ‘shut in’ her own home and possibly her own mind.

The film starts promisingly, the story is established quickly and it drip feeds information as it progresses. We learn that Stephen is in fact Mary’s stepson and it was ultimately her decision to send him away. As her guilt eats away at her, the boundaries between reality and Mary’s dreams become blurred and you are pulled further in to seeing things from her perspective. It is in these scenes that the strength of the film lies; the image of Mary bathing Stephen, discovering him alone outside and the ghostly appearances of Tom. Director Farren Blackburn, teases you with the anticipation of the shock and then delivers on that promise, providing some genuine jumpscares. Having directed such UK television staples as Casualty and Silent Witness, it’s clear that Blackburn can create a polished thriller.

rsz_shut3However, is it all rather too polished, if indeed that can be levelled as a criticism? It feels that there could be more beneath the surface of the story that is left untapped. As the film moves in to its final act, it starts to lose some of it’s atmosphere; heading towards a more predictable conclusion than you might have hoped for. You start to question certain characters actions and moments begins to feel plotted. With the limited setting and relatively small cast there is nowhere to hide and although the performances are good, there are no iconic characters or moments that linger with you once the film has ended. By taking very few risks, you are left feeling like you have seen this all before.

Whilst not hugely innovative, Shut In is still a solid piece of filmmaking, albeit probably not one that will resonate in your memory in years to come.

6 out of 10