Streamer (2017) Review

rsz_posterStreamer (2017)

Directors: Jared Bratt and Vincent Pun
Writers: Jared Bratt and Vincent Pun
Stars: Jared Bratt, Tanya Lee and Brennan Pedde
Runtime: 78min

Synopsis (from IMDb): “When a misguided loner learns that a webcam girl lives in his building, he struggles to build a sincere relationship with both her onscreen and offscreen personas.”

Streamer is a depressing snapshot of contemporary suburban life; a life where we are as connected as we’ve ever been with social media and the internet. Yet we are more lonely than we have ever been. This is the narrative of Streamer, please don’t be worried for my mental health. The film follows Jared (Jared Bratt). He opens by uploading an exposé of his inner most thoughts to YouTube. A frustrated, regrettable decision as some family members ring to see is he alright, adding to both his emotional turmoil and sexual tension.

Jared has found a girl on a webcam (Tanya Lee), this isn’t one of those innocent cam shows either people, this man is frustrated. By pure chance one day, he see’s this girl while doing some laundry in his building. He stays up just waiting and waiting for her to come back online, to watch her silently. From here, Jared’s angst builds to a frenzy as we cannot separate fact from fiction within his mind and growing fantasy.

The social commentary is obvious yet makes for an entertaining watch. Bratt’s performance as (I assume) his fictional self is fantastic, he really drives home the persona of an awkward “nice guy” frustrated at women for giving him no attention yet having zero introspection.

rsz_tanya_frame_captureIn terms of story; I was unsure what direction it was going to take at times, for better or for worse, it did keep me on my toes. Technically speaking this was produced really well, the camera work, considering Bratt was both directing and starring, he knew exactly what he wanted and executed it perfectly. The sense of frustration and claustrophobia came across very well. The whole film was shot in cramped rooms and corridors. This minimalism and repetition of locations added to the overall feel of despair, like being trapped in the Twilight Zone.

Overall if you’re looking for some compelling independent cinema, Streamer might be a film you should check out. Strong performances and an engaging story made for an enjoyable watch.

Verdict: Worth the Stream

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Offensive (2016) Triple Six Festival Review

rsz_offensiveposterOffensive (2016)

Reviewed at the Triple Six Horror Festival Manchester Sunday May 28th 2017

Director: Jonathan Ford

Writer: Jonathan Ford

Stars: Russell Floyd, Lisa Eichhorn, Fred Adenis

Release TBC

Seeing Offensive at Manchester’s Triple 6 festival was an odd experience. We were being treated to the final viewing of the film in its full, uncut glory before director Jonathan Ford pulled it and cut out some of the gore for future release.

After sitting through all 100 minutes of it, you do wonder why the hell Ford has decided to cut some of the gore out? Without it, the film is a pretty poor, by-the-numbers revenge thriller.

The story follows an elderly American couple (Russell Floyd & Lisa Eichhorn) who move to the French countryside and are terrorised by a group of local youths who may caused the death of their uncle, and decide to exact brutal vigilante justice.

rsz_offensivefloydIts hard to gauge where Ford wants this film to sit in the long and bloody history of the revenge movie, ranging from the grindhouse of Last House on the Left and I Spit on Your Grave to the likes of Death Wish and the genre’s high point in Shane Meadows’ Dead Man’s Shoes.

Without the violence Offensive looks an awful lot like a made-for-tv film aired before 5pm on Hallmark. The setting of the French Countryside looks rather artificial, the characters are one-dimensional and the dialogue can be best described as “ropey.” At times it’s hard to tell whether the moments I laughed at were meant to be funny or things had just become so staggeringly silly it lapsed into self-parody.

The dialogue is made more bananas by the somewhat suspect acting. Eichhorn in particular is so incredibly wooden you could furnish an entire house with IKEA flat pack furnishings out of her acting. A scene with the couple discussing the morals of taking revenge against the youths is like an entire petrified forest in an American National Park.

Offensive really fell quite flat in comparison to several far more impressive films at the Triple 6 festival. However, against all five Pirates of the Caribbean films in a weekend festival of bad films, Offensive, particularly without the gore, still wouldn’t fare too well.

ICE (A Tale Of Horror) by Frank Pickering – Book Review

ice1Frank Pickering’s ICE hopes to chill your spine with a tale of tragedy on a mountain leading into a series of haunting encounters with a weird mountain guardian and the odd bit of snowy suspense.

Mountain and arctic environments are rich territories for horror. There’s a threat built in right there, the same as setting your story in space, or in the ocean. Vast, threatening, sometimes unknowable spaces. Places where the everyday person may not go, with risks all around. You can seed fear in reader’s minds just by using an isolated setting, and from that, you can layer on all kinds of thrills.

But you have to have characters you care about. ICE doesn’t present you with any. Killing off a few cringeworthy teenage characters early on barely has any impact. The tragic hero who returns to the mountains an indeterminate amount of time after his partner is killed just gets on with things, so his link to previous events feels pointless. There’s more love here for skiing than the cheeky authorial glee of leading you into a place of terror. It feels less like a journey of fear and more like a description of events, flatly journalistic at times, and never creepy.

That’s a shame, because there’s definitely a love of language in this book, but the sometimes poetic descriptions distract from the mood they’re trying to create. Right from the first line, where personification of a valley doesn’t quite work, reading this novel felt like an uphill struggle towards tension which never pulls taut enough.

There’s no real climax either, no escalation of the threat laying in wait under the mountain. It’s kind of like visiting a museum to see a specific exhibit, finding it replaced with a sign reading this item will be returning soon, shrugging your shoulders and then going home. You may get a faint glimmer of interest, but it’s not going to be handed to you.

There are books out there which handle the combination of icy conditions and creeping dread far better – Thin Air by Michelle Paver, and Ararat by Christopher Golden spring to mind. If you’re looking for chilly thrills, look there, not here.

Score: 3/10

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