Krampus: The Reckoning (2015) Review

KTR1KRAMPUS: THE RECKONING (2015) Review

Directed by Robert Conway

Written by Owen Conway & Robert Conway

Starring Monica Engesser, Amelia Haberman, James Ray

UK DVD Release – TBC

On Demand from 3rd Nov – https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/krampus-the-reckoning/id1040695365

“Zoe, a strange child has a not so imaginary friend the Krampus who is the dark companion of St. Nicholas.” Courtesy of IMDB

Its official. Christmas is becoming the new Halloween. Besides the excellent TALES OF HALLOWEEN, you’d be hard-pressed to find many Halloween-themed horror releases this year. But Christmas? We have Trick ‘R’ Treat creator Michael Dougherty’s studio release KRAMPUS, William Shatner starring A CHRISTMAS HORROR STORY, and now KRAMPUS: THE RECKONING. Keyword here: KRAMPUS. KRAMPUS KRAMPUS KRAMPUS. If KRAMPUS is not yet a household horror name, he will be by the end of this year…

So how does KRAMPUS: THE RECKONING compare to the big boys? Surprising underdog or worthless cash-in? To be honest, kind of in the middle.

Zoe is a weird girl. she’s a problem child, with a white trash mom and deadbeat dad who treat her like dirt. But they will regret that when, using creepy, well-designed voodoo style dolls, Zoe summons her best bud, the big bad Krampus, who proceeds to melt her parents faces off! The police, led by Detective Miles O’Connor (a chilled out James Ray) are baffled and put Zoe into care, where Child Psychologist Dr Rachel Stewart (Monica Engesser) tries to get the truth out of here.

But Rachel soon realises that Zoe is no normal little girl, and is willing to summon her terrifying pal to do her dark deeds at any given moment…

KTR2It begins with an effective title sequence that is both visually astute and well-written, that classic fairytale feeling of an old lady telling her granddaughter the story of the Krampus on Christmas Eve. With seasonal production design and warm red lighting, it certainly sets a tone.

But then the present day story starts and the quality takes a dip. The visual style changes and that good will starts to fade with slow, drawn out scenes of mumbling dialogue from characters with no defining personality. The pace is fine, but it could have been even tighter, and in fairness, this is actually an interesting story. While it’s easy to poke holes in, the plot takes some interesting turns towards the end that I actually didn’t see coming, showing the filmmakers had more ambition than to just get confused with bigger budget films on the DVD shelves.

But there is one MAJOR issue here that bogs the film down. Is it the direction? No, working with what looks like a tiny budget, director Robert Conway (Exit To Hell) is quite consistent and effective, even if the editing could have been tightened up. Is it the acting? Not really, the leads are game even if their characters are bland, and little Amelia Haberman is just as good as any kid actor in a studio film?

No, the major issue here is the Krampus himself. Not only is he barely even in the film due to long scenes spent on the shrink and the cops flirty banter, but he looks absolutely abysmal. This is easily some of the worst CGI I have ever seen. It’s on the level of Playstation One graphics. And it’s really distracting.

It’s frustrating as, even with a tiny budget, I’m pretty sure some tweaks in his design could have made it possible to be a man in a suit. But instead it’s just really bad visually, which results in laughter when there should be screams.

KTR3BUT if you can look past this, then grab a beer, pop on Krampus: The Reckoning and if you’re a die hard horror fan you should still find things to like about it. It’s got gore, creepy kids, and it’s fair share of nudity. What more do you want on Christmas Eve?

Advice to low-budget filmmakers: CGI is not your friend. Leave it be.

5/10

The Passage aka Lemon Tree Passage (2014) DVD Review

passage1The Passage aka Lemon Tree Passage (2014)

Director: David Campbell

Writers: Erica Brien, David Campbell

Stars: Jessica Tovey, Nicholas Gunn, Pippa Black

UK DVD Release – 5th October 2015 from Metrodome UK

A group of American backpackers on vacation in Australia are befriended by two local guys and introduced to the “true story” of Lemon Tree Passage – a remote stretch of road that is haunted by the ghost of a motorcyclist who appears to warn drivers to slow down. Doubtful of the legitimacy of the tale they decide to put it to the test and go for a late night spin along the famed passage. Of course, they end up with much more than they bargained for and are killed off one by one in violent fashion by a mysterious malevolent entity. An entity that is definitely not there to discourage reckless driving.

The urban legend of the ghostly motorcyclist on Lemon Tree Passage is actually true… to a degree. Apparently it became somewhat of an internet phenomenon a few years ago when a YouTube video of a mysterious headlight following behind a car and then vanishing in to thin air went viral. However, anyone hoping for a film about the apparition of a motorcyclist will be sorely disappointed, as writer-director David Campbell and co-writer Erica Brien merely use this urban legend as a springboard for their own ghostly yarn (and no doubt an excuse to plaster ‘based on actual events’ on the promotional paraphernalia).

passage2There is some nice cinematography throughout the film and Australian actor Jessica Tovey gives an excellent performance as American tourist Maya. This is a well made, slick looking film but unfortunately that is about all I have in the pro column. Not that this is a bad film, it is just gloriously mediocre. There is nothing that you haven’t seen before and nothing that you will be eager to see again, and it does not do itself any favours with its slow pacing and lacklustre deaths. The actions of the characters defy logic every step of the way as it limps along towards its grand finale, which goes off not with a bang but with a whimper. I can only really recommend watching this if you are a fan of Jessica Tovey or a die hard fan of Australian horror.

4/10

Infernal (2015) DVD Review

infernal1Infernal (USA, 2015)

Dir: Bryan Coyne

Starring: Andy Ostroff, Heather Adair, Alyssa Koerner

UK DVD release 24th August from Signature Entertainment

Plot: Nathan (Orstroff) and Sophia (Adair) are a young couple beginning their life together, moving in together, marriage and the birth of their child, Imogene (Koerner).However their marital bliss is short lived as Imogene starts to exhibit strange behaviour. They seek medical help with what they assume is autism and are instructed to film Imogene’s day to day life. The camera captures the dark occurrences of the supernatural happenings around the house as well as the collapse of Nathan and Sophia’s relationship.

Infernal is the second film of director Bryan Coyne (His first being Harvard Park, a baseball documentary)and first feature as a writer. Infernal has a complete absence of baseball but it does keep a hint of the documentary style by being a found footage film. It follows in the stylistic footsteps of Paranormal Activity but I have to say that I wish that it had chose a more traditional film making style. While I can find the merit in a well made found footage film, the choice here doesn’t really work. Many scenes don’t have the motivation required to have the camera switched on and the characters actively refuse to revisit the footage for the majority of the film and when they do it’s always met with a conflict of interest. There is clearly a demonic presence, Infernal makes a bold choice by having physical demons on screen, yet the couple refuse to seek help until it’s much too late.

infernal2Imogene is the focus of all the spooky occurrences of the film, channelling more of The Omen’s Damien than The Exorcist’s Regan. However unlike The Omen with it’s ambiguous nature, Infernal is quick to clarify that Imogene is a demonic force and her parents are right to be afraid. Except they’re rarely afraid,at least at the same time. When Nathan sees something on the footage that’s clearly not normal, Sophia can’t find the time to care. When Sophia wants to get a priest involved, Nathan doesn’t believe anything is wrong with their daughter. It often feels that the two would rather be right than help their daughter, or at the very least save themselves. They spend a lot of time being angry and not much time showing that they are part of a loving relationship.

Nathan and Sophia’s relationship is built up on screen through their proposal and wedding video as a way to stay in the framework of the found footage but it’s not enough to believe that their life is not that hellish before the demons show up. Perhaps without the found footage there could have been at least a montage of their relationship but the film chooses to jump forward eight years after their marriage to get to the action and it felt very jarring.

There are positives about Infernal,it’s got decent production values even behind the shaky camera movements and the occasional dark scene. The sound is always clear and some of the more demonic scenes are well orchestrated.

infernal3The film has potential. The actors deliver good performances but they could have used more material than be angry and be confused. Bryan Coyne has shown us that he can do what so many others have done with found footage/evil children films but I hope that his next film can show that he can take it to the next level.

3/10

Into The Grizzly Maze (2015) DVD Review

itgm1Into The Grizzly Maze (2015)

Director: David Hackl

Starring: James Marsden, Thomas Jane, Piper Perabo

UK DVD Release August 17th from Signature Entertainment

From David Hackl, the director of Saw V comes Into The Grizzly Maze an action thriller set deep in the Alaskan forest. Originally titled Red Machine, the film stars Thomas Jane (The Punisher), James Marsden (X-Men) as two estranged brothers who are reunited when they pair are stalked by an unrelenting grizzly bear.

Guy Moshe and J.R. Reher’s screenplay does it’s best to develop the characters after an opening scene following the younger versions of our leads stroll across a bear. Fast forward quite a few years and it is clear that the brothers have taken different paths in life. Rowan (Marsden) skipped town at the earliest opportunity avoiding any sense of responsibility whereas his older brother Beckett (Jane) has become a man of the law.

The conflicting interests of both brothers and their personal values are used as a means to cement tension as both brothers have to rely on their broken relationship in order to survive the vicious attacks when the hunter becomes the hunted. As the film progresses there are moments where this shines but regrettably it is very hit and miss. However, it is not all doom and gloom as the impressive cast list did a decent job to elevate the material.

grizzly_01Under Hackl’s direction James Marsden and Thomas Jane both deliver adequate performances. As brothers they are wholly believable and they do a decent job to anchor the emotional requirements for their parts. Marsden plays the overshadowed sibling to Jane’s more successful family man who seemingly had a near perfect existence before the arrival of the killer bear. Together they have great chemistry on screen but Jane’s performance felt somewhat phoned in.

In addition, a thriller like this doesn’t need anything extra thrown in to make it solid (see Backcountry for a good example). For some strange reason, the script calls for a few additional surprises along the way in the form of Billy Bob Thornton’s rival bear hunter and small town politics. This wasn’t a good move as it distracts from the core plot and makes it a mash up of a number of different things which don’t fully mesh together well.

All negatives aside, I did enjoy the bear attack scenes. They were surprising, vicious, nicely directed and bloodier than I thought they would be. There are a couple of jump scares along the way that I found to be incredibly effective. These weren’t cheap false scares but actual moments where audiences are stunned because of how unsuspecting they were.

grizzly_02Overall I did enjoy the film despite the obvious disappointments. It’s just a shame that its more powerful moments are drowned by it’s uneven pacing and lacklustre performances. Ultimately, like any good hiking guide will advise, be cautious when heading into the woods so heed this advice if you are thinking about checking this film out.

Extras: None

Score: 6/10

Area Q (2011) Review

areaqArea Q (2011)

Director: Gerson Sanginitto

Starring: Isaiah Washington,  Ricardo Conti, Tania Khalill, Murilo Rosa

UK DVD Release October 5th 2015 from High Fliers Films

This is how the most unbelievable story I have ever covered begins.”

First impressions; That’s the font from Sliders. OMG Isaiah Washington! This will be good. Boy this is cheap. Wow, this is long.

Yikes. I’m afraid my interest in Brazil got the better of me and I volunteered to review Area Q.

Thomas Mathews (Isaiah Washington), an investigative journalist mourning the disappearance of his son, is sent on assignment to Brazil. There are stories of close encounters with UFOs and miraculous healings in a place called Area Q. Named after the plethora of towns with names that begin with “Q”. Many of the abducted describe a bright white light with an orange tinge that seem to happen around a certain rocky “mountain” in the area. Most of the time is spent wandering around Area Q talking to witnesses, investigating dirt circles that are hotter than the surrounding dirt, and the occasional flashback. So, so many flashbacks.

As good as Isaiah Washington normally is, it seemed like he was sleep walking through most of the movie (imagine my horror when I saw he had a producer credit at the end of the film! I guessed he agreed to star in this for a free trip to Brazil…). Or maybe he just didn’t want to outshine his co-stars and held back. Or maybe it was just a bad movie and even he couldn’t save it.

Area Q 2The good parts: Area Q is filmed in Brazil. It’s actually a Brazil/U.S. production and filmed on location. It’s kind of good looking. The film quality is kind of cheap, but the scenery makes up for it. The Brazilian actors seem to be talented amateurs. They aren’t horrible. A few are better than others but no one was painful to watch. The effects are also cheap, but thankfully minimal. And, umm…Isaiah Washington? Sort of?

The not so good: The sound! Arg! The dialogue is barely audible. Which is worse when dealing with thick accents. The Portuguese was subtitled but probably the only way to catch everything would either be superhuman hearing or captions. But, how important is the dialogue really when the plot is a plot everyone has seen before? Benevolent aliens have come to save us from ourselves.

They are kidnapping folks, aging them backwards, and then having them reborn once their programming is complete. The end result? In the words of the film, imagine ten thousand Gandhis (is that the plural of Gandhi?) running around making the world a better place. (OK, maybe those weren’t the exact words). At a run time only minutes shy of two hours Area Q is a long haul. And what was the time spent on? I watched the whole thing (admittedly it took two days and the occasional break for Facebook games to make it through) and I’m still not sure.

Area Q 3The bottom line is Area Q is boring. If it had been forty minutes shorter I would recommend it as a bland but decent Close Encounters knock-off with an exotic locale and Isaiah Washington. But as it stands, no, not recommended.

Kudos for: Brazil

Lesson learned: So that’s how reincarnation works…aliens…

4/10

Hazard aka Hazmat (2013) DVD Review

hazmat1Hazard AKA HazMat (2013)

Directed by Lou Simon

Starring Norbert Velez, Todd Bruno

Hazard is out NOW on DVD from 101 Films!

Hazard begins like any run of the mill slasher, a girl being chased and failing to escape a madman, but it’s soon discovered that this is in fact a twisted candid camera show called Scary Antics. If you have seen the Shannon Doherty hosted TV show Scare Tactics (2003), then you’ll be familiar with the concept. Hosted by Scary Dave (Todd Bruno), Scary Antics allows members of the public to set up their friends to experience true terror at the hands of a television crew, hidden cameras dotted everywhere capture the antics as one scare leads to another.

The latest episode, set in an abandoned warehouse, has been arranged to terrorize Jacob (Norbert Velez), his friends are in on it and working with the TV crew and for the first half of the film we are introduced to all the cast and discover why everyone is there, some are hungry for their fifteen minutes of fame,others are in debt and some are hoping a scare will bring their friend out of his shell.

hazmat2Things take a turn for the worse when Jacob, not knowing he is being set up, decides to defend himself with deadly force as he is attacked by one of the axe wielding ‘cast members’ dressed in a hazmat suit and gas mask. Now fully aware that he is the subject of a prank show, Jacob is furious and quickly sends the TV show in to a new world of reality with the crew shocked that they are now to be the victims of his revenge.

The team of pranksters soon fall victim to the tale of the boy who called wolf as their only hope of salvation thinks he is being set up for a behind the scenes prank refuses to help them. Now trapped in the warehouse with no chance of escape.

The second half of this film shows Jacob unleashing revenge on those who have tried to prank him and I began to think back to shows such as Beadle’s About (1986-1996) and more recently Punk’d (2003 -2012) and how thrilled I would be to see Ashton Kutcher or Jeremy Beadle get punched in their smug bastard faces and Yes Jacob, now wearing the hazmat suit does a good job of offing these as for the cast of this film, there isn’t quite enough there for me to like any of them but then hey, isn’t that part of the Slasher genre, who cares about the story, lets just get to the killing.

The film unfolds with numerous attempts at escape with each one leading to a kill, some of which are well’executed’ for the budget, but with a slasher film I expect to see a kill scene that’s memorable.

hazmat3Hazard is a clever look at how a reality show is planned out, the scripting for the crew is believable and the team seem to be well established and the on-screen chemistry between them is evident. The intended victim Jacob, doesn’t have much screen time before he goes all crazy and dons the suit and mask. As a regular person, he delivers a good performance, he shows the turmoil of being the subject of teasing well, but as a revenge fuelled killer, he offers nothing new. It seems as if the film is pandering to the need for a killer to be masked and silent, perhaps through homage but it comes across as being more cliché.

I love the Slasher genre, its part of my upbringing and although now dated, my allegiance does lie with Jason Vorhees, his mother and the whole Friday the 13th (1980) franchise. I am however willing to appreciate other masked psychos who stand up to the challenge, I was very impressed with the 2011 independent offering The Orphan Killer and I am one of the few who enjoyed the remake of My Bloody Valentine (2009).Now does Hazard tick the boxes and become a worthy contender?

This is a reasonable addition to the modern slasher and it does nicely bring in to play the current trend for reality TV much better than other mediocre entries in to the genre. Sadly though, this film couldn’t quite deliver anything outstanding especially within its final moments.

hazmat4For a homage piece it does well and for fans of the genre, it is a nice addition to a collection. It obeys the rules of a slasher film without screwing with the audience like a clone of the Scream series.

Watch it to reminisce about the classic slashers and then go and watch one of them, but do not watch it if you are expecting to see something new to the genre.

6 out of 10

Army of Frankensteins (2013) Review

aof1Army of Frankensteins (2013)

Directed by Ryan Bellgardt

Starring Jordan Farris, Christian Bellgardt, John Ferguson and Rett Terrell

UK DVD release September 14th 2015 from High Fliers Films

In the aftermath of a savage beating by a street gang, Alan Jones ends up at the lab of a mad scientist, Dr. Tanner Finski, and his sidekick and all round child genius sidekick Igor. Within the lab Jones discovers that he is the key to an experiment that involves Frankenstein’s monster. After the experiment invariably goes wrong, Finski sends Igor back in time to the American Civil War where an inter dimensional portal has allowed a gang of monsters to converge.

In any new take on classic monsters the question will always remain, what can be done differently? How do we get a modern audience to engage with age old material that has been filmed until there’s no more life left in the material (pun intended). In Ryan Bellgardt’s (director of 2011’s Two Movie Guys’ Intergalactic Holiday Showdown) Army of Frankensteins, the director tries to a bit of everything from setting some of the scenes in modern day America to sending characters back to the past, in a time of war, when the USA was fighting itself. Rather than have one Frankenstein’s Monster, have a whole army. This works well and the make up effects hold up.

Bellgardt pays homage through the film to other genre directors and it doesn’t feel disingenuous. Take for example, the shot of Igor, shot from within a car boot, looking up ala any of Tarantinos films especially Reservoir Dogs. These little touches help the film along, feeling like a nod rather than a blatant rip off.

Another nice touch are the scenes with Frankenstein’s vision, I for one cannot remember the last time I saw a film with Frankenstein’s monster vision, think The Terminator without the digital displays. Also the film had some well made effects on the budget that was given ($65,000). Clearly they aren’t blockbuster quality but they have a certain charm.

aof2The film also tries to take on the discrimination between white and black soldiers with one character decrying that the Frankenstein monsters are merely understood and discriminated against because they look different. Its an odd take on the character but a different and well played out take on the age old monster.

With the film set in the American Civil War, as other films have done recently, they brought in the most famous of Presidents, Abraham Lincoln. It was a nice touch to see how they bring the character into the plot and how they pay it off. I wont spoil anything in this here review but , the question is asked, would you change history if you could? What would happen if you could save someone who dies, how would this affect the rest of history? It’s an interesting question and very entertaining.

As the film closes the end titles appear and they are startling up turn in quality, where a low budget film of this nature may stump up for simple black on white, these titles are an explosion of cartoon almost Sin City style look.

I would applaud Bellgardt on his films ambition and his vision for someone so young, the scope of the film is grand with many locations, some with big sets and epic lighting. It is great fun with nice characters  (Igor looks like a steam punk style genius) but this is where the film starts to lose its way a little. As the film becomes more epic in scope we lose the sense of storytelling and it turns into a genre mashup that the effects, cast and direction cant quite cope with. From pantomime style acting and almost joke-like false moustaches, the film does stumble and you feel it almost immediately.

aof3Army of Frankensteins is an award winning film winning Best Special Effects at Action on Film International Film Festival 2014 and Best Fantasy Feature at Buffalo Dreams Fantastic Film Festival 2014.

6/10

Society (1989) Blu-Ray Review

society1Society (1989) Blu-Ray Review

Directed by Brian Yuzna

Starring – Billy Warlock, Devin DeVasquez, Evan Richards

Runtime – 99 minutes

UK Release – Dual Format Blu-Ray & DVD from Arrow Films OUT NOW

Every teenager goes through the stage where they feel they do not quite fit in, but for Bill Whitney (Billy Warlock) his suspicions about his idyllic high society family might well be right.

Beginning much like any run of the mill teen comedy, we are introduced to troubled teenager Billy visiting his psychiatrist, he voices his concerns about a possible conspiracy,his disassociation from his family and thoughts that he may well have been adopted. His psychiatrist attempts to put Bill’s mind at ease but his hallucinations and numerous on screen innuendos are just the first signs in a lesson that will really make you question his own sanity. When his sisters ex-boyfriend attempts to bring to his attention evidence of his family’s incestuous parties, Bill tries to seek help, first from his girlfriend who seems more interested in her own social status and then his psychiatrist who’s best advice is, “you have to learn to accept society’s rules of privacy. If you don’t follow the rules, Billy, bad things happen.” and then to top things off, Bill’s only ally is disposed of in a freak accident.

This is a fair warning that kicks Billy’s suspicions in to overdrive in this weird mix of John Waters style humour, Cronenberg-esque body horror visuals and an ending that is the pure definition of WTF!

society2Directed by the great Brian Yuzna in his first outing as director, Society is a very clever (if somewhat bizarre) take on the class system and how an individual can try to fit in but at the end of the day you are what you are and trying to be something you are not, never works out. Yuzna who is better known for producing the awesome From Beyond and Re-Animator and later went on to direct the re-Animator sequels sequels as well as a favourite of mine, Return of the Living Dead III, shows that he can bring to the screen a very unique vision competently.

This early outing as director allowed Yuzna to hit the floor running, this is a true mind fuck of a film and one that should grace the collection of any Body Horror fan. Sure it has some questionable acting but hey, this is the late 80’s Billy Warlock is one of the Baywatch alumni, there is an ex playboy bunny and the budget was extremely low for the time, needless to say, these folks were hired for looks not talent. But with that being said there is enough there to make the audience connect with Bill and share his paranoia, any normal film would have ended with the Rosemary’s Baby inspired revelation of conspiracy, but this is not a normal film.

The final reel will definitely be engraved in your memory for a long time to come.I cannot write about this film without bringing to your attention the mastermind behind the special effects, Screaming Mad George, who is this film is credited as ‘Surrealistic Makeup Designer’. I’m amazed at how nasty and disturbing the final sequence is and yet there is absolutely no blood, apparently this was one of Yuzna’s ways of getting around the rating system.

Screaming Mad George delivers some truly disgusting imagery that is sure to make anyone squirm, his previous work included Poltergeist II and A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 and 4, a man who’s work on this film seems to be the combined offspring of Peter Jackson’s Bad Taste and David Cronenberg’s Videodrome. The Effects are pure genius, no surprise then that Screaming Mad George has been Yuzna’s go to FX guy ever since.

society3This is yet another great release from Arrow Films, again not sparing on the extras, the Blu-Ray features a collection of interviews with the director, principal cast, the FX crew, there is also a lengthy conversation with the director at the UK World Première, a Screaming Mad George music video as well as a trailer and audio commentary
‘The society that kills to keep it’s existence a secret’.

Society is a great film that is only let down by budget restraints. A classic that I still found disturbing, over twenty years since my last viewing.

7.5 out of 10

And as an extra shout to Arrow Films then please check out the stunning artwork and packaging for Society.

societydvd1 socirtydvd2 societydvd3

Charlie’s Farm (2014) DVD Review

Charlies Farm DVD 2D - FINALCharlie’s Farm (2014)

Writer & Director – Chris Sun

Starring – Nathan Jones, Tara Reid, Kane Hodder, Bill Moseley

UK DVD & Blu-Ray release June 22nd from Monster Pictures UK

Four friends from the suburbs of Australia’s Gold Coast (including honorary Yank, Tara Reid) decide to ditch the beach for the weekend in favour of camping at an allegedly haunted farm. An absurd decision to us Pommies currently suffering an indecisive British summer, but par for the course for any self respecting slasher movie protagonists. The farm in question is the titular Charlie’s Farm; the location of a series of horrific murders in the 1980s.

The cannibalistic Wilson family who lived there (led by father John Wilson, played by horror icon Bill Moseley) would routinely murder and consume any unlucky backpackers and tourists that were passing through. The local townsfolk, having decided that enough was enough, rolled up at the farm mob deep with pitchforks and shotguns at the ready and the vile Wilsons were slain one by one. Legend has it that the tormented ghost of their ‘retarded’ son, Charlie, now haunts the area.

charliesfarm3In a time when slasher movies are few a far between, us faithful fans of the sub-genre are often left disappointed. Not due to their infrequency but due to their (mostly) poor quality. Thankfully, Charlie’s Farm does not disappoint. Writer-director Chris Sun is clearly a huge fan of slashers himself and knows that to make a good one is not to re-invent the wheel but to do the basics, and do them well.

As far as the plot goes, it is very much by the numbers – You will know who is going to die and you will probably even guess what order they will die in, but the fun part is seeing how they die. Nathan Jones portrays Charlie, the hulking killer who systematically wipes out any and all visitors to his farm in brutal fashion. The make-up effects are excellent and the performances of the actors are brilliant across the board, with a special mention to Trudi Ross who puts in a mesmerising turn as Mrs Wilson, Charlie’s protective mother.

charliesfarm2My only real criticism of the film, if you can call it a criticism, is of Kane Hodder’s strange cameo role. His character adds nothing to the actual story and almost felt as if it had been written in at the last minute merely to capitalise on Hodder’s name value. Other than that I have nothing but love for Charlie’s Farm and very much hope that we get a sequel. Chris Sun’s next film, Boar, not only stars Nathan Jones again but also Wolf Creek’s John Jarratt. Maybe I am dreaming, but I would definitely pay good money to see a Mick Taylor vs Charlie Wilson cross over movie!

8/10

Burying The Ex (2014) Review

bury1Burying the Ex (2014)

Directed by: Joe Dante

Written by: Alan Trezza

Cast: Anton Yelchin, Ashley Greene, Alexandra Daddario

Running Time: 89 Minutes

UK Certificate: 15

Studio: Image Entertainment

Max, played by Anton Yelchin (Terminator Salvation, Star Trek), is in a relationship with Evelyn, played by Ashley Greene (Twilight Saga). Evelyn is wanting to save the world in the most organised, eco-friendly way imaginable. She is unstable, irritating and often uses guilt to make Max believe he is in the wrong. Poor Max.

Working in a horror store, Max finds a Satan/genie trinket that apparently grants the wisher their hearts desire ‘the evil way’. Max promises Evelyn, bated by the promise of fancy-dress sex, that they will always be together forever in front of said item. The major issue is that Max is getting ready to break of the relationship, she is a control freak and folding away his classic, imported, movie posters is the last straw. In a freak accident, Evelyn is killed, allowing Max to get out of the relationship without breaking her heart.

bury2After a period of mourning Max moves on and meets the beautiful Olivia, Alexandra Daddario (San Andreas, True Detective), a girl who was seemingly made for him, she’s beautiful and quirky, relaxed and funny, everything Evelyn was not. Here arises the problem as Evelyn rises from her grave, believing that Max will greet her with open arms, after all she still thinks they are together and can pick up from where they left off, regardless of her smell and rotting flesh.

Based on a short story by writer Alan Trezza, the screenplay is witty and fully formed, but doesn’t rely on the usual tropes of a film of this type. Joe Dante directs confidently and with a flair usually seen by younger, indie directors. Dante is known for being able to mix horror and comedy successfully, early successes being The Howling, Gremlins and Piranha. With ‘Burying the Ex’ he continues this skill to great effect.

The three main leads are all wonderfully cast. Ashley Greene is perfect as the crazy, clingy, controlling, undead, Evelyn. Anton Yelchin has true sparks with Alexandra Daddario, they play off each other extremely well and you really feel their connection crackle on screen. The make up for Evelyn is a wonderful use of prosthetics and reminds us of how a little can go a long way, a small amount of CGI is used to create a few body contortions, or at least I believe it was CGI, otherwise Ms Greene is one flexible young lady.

bury3Burying the Ex is a black comedy with heart, a sometimes funny film, which should give the audience a grin, if not a chuckle from time to time. It was nice to see director, Joe Dante, returning to the type of stories that helped him make his name and hope it prompts him to try his hand at something bigger, something akin to one of those wonderful gems from my childhood such as Innerspace, Explorers, The ‘burbs and Gremlins. I can recommend Burying the Ex to anyone who likes things a little quirky, a little fresh or anyone who wants to see if Mr Dante hasn’t lost his touch…FYI he hasn’t.

Movie Rating: 7/10