Seoul Station (2016) Review

rsz_ss1SEOUL STATION (2016)

Starring Seung-ryong Ryu, Franciska Friede and Joon Lee

Written & Directed by Sang Ho-Yeon

OUT NOW on UK DVD & Blu-Ray from Studiocanal

Several groups of people try to survive a zombie pandemic that unleashes itself in downtown Seoul“.

Let’s get this out of the way. I have a confession to make.

I still haven’t seen Train to Busan.

I get it, every other horror fan in the whole entire universe has seen it and raved about it, I’ve seen the trailer and it kicks ass, and as far as I know it’s been available in the UK for a while. I just haven’t gotten round to it, I’m going to soon, I swear. Stop giving me evils. Stop the hate mail. I will watch it eventually.

“So why the hell would I want to review the prequel?” I hear you ask. Well, after a quick bit of research I discovered the animated Seoul was actually made before the live action Busan, yet released later. This is only after a google search so may not be true, but I thought this must be more than a cash in like expected, and I really wanted another good zombie movie.

rsz_ss2And let me just say, animated or not, Seoul Station is a VERY good zombie movie.

Seoul Station unfolds predominantly from the point of view of four characters: young runaway prostitute Hye-sun; her useless computer geek boyfriend Ki-Woong; Hye-sun’s desperate father Suk-Kyu; and a nameless vagrant who is desperately trying to get help for another homeless man, who happens to be patient zero…

Just from the brief character descriptions you can see that Seoul Station is not interested in conventional heroes. Everyone here is damaged, even if they don’t at first appear to be. They are each victims of society before the zombie outbreak, and this is shown best in the early stages as we see seoul Station as a nocturnal haven for the most desperate of society. Homeless, the mentally ill, all abandoned and left to suffer in the building. It’s because these people are ignored by society, the film suggests, that the outbreak is allowed to spread so quickly. Like the best of Romero, Seoul Station effortlessly provides a fascinating social commentary, and goes to some very dark places indeed to make it’s point.

But skillfully the film never becomes preachy or stops in it’s tracks to relay anything too heavy handed. One big difference compared to the low-budget Romero flicks of the past is the set pieces, no doubt helped largely by the freedom being an animated movie allows. Ho-Yeon creates some truly imaginative and visually arresting sequences, the likes of which I don’t think I’ve seen before. Moreover, he truly “gets” zombies, and their behaviour, their expressions of pure hunger, are something to behold. As is the gore, which is plentiful and rightly so.

While I doubt the story is as propulsive and energetic as Train to Busan, which I’ve heard described as a rollercoaster, Seoul Station is still a finely paced dramatic horror that milks it’s situation for every bit of action, tension, terror and subtext it can. It often feels choreographed, almost like a dance, the result of a filmmaker using everything in his toolbox.

After this, Ho-Yeon went onto make Busan, his first live-action feature, and if he’s taken half the craft he displays here with him, well, I’m not surprised it’s gone down so well.

rsz_ss3Any complaints are very minor. The score is a little non-descript and doesn’t always compliment events onscreen. Also, some of the animation can be a little rough around the edges. But it’s nothing really.

A dark hearted and socially aware thriller interrupted by the relentless undead, Seoul Station is an excellent zombie movie, and I can’t wait to see how it plays alongside Train to Busan.

9/10

End of Days, Inc (2015) Review

rsz_1eod1END OF DAYS, INC (2015)

Starring Carolyne Maraghi, Janet Porter, Mark O’Brien and Paulino Nunes

Directed by Jennifer Liao

Written by Christina Ray

A group of laid off workers bribed into working one last night discover that processing the last of their “inventory” will lead to cataclysmic consequences“.

It’s the last day of work at Godfrey Industries. As the workers prepare to be jobless in their own ways, Janet (Carolyne Maraghi) is sad to be leaving, a loyal worker and genuinely sweet soul; Jason (Mark O’Brien) willing to lick all kinds of ass to get a good reference and decent payoff; and Misty (Janet Porter) just looking forward to getting away from the place and the people in it. But Mr Godrey (Paulino Nunes) has other ideas. He invites the workers to a last minute and compulsory “party” at the office, which is unsurprisingly all a ploy to get the staff to finish off processing some more of the inventory…Well, they have to work, basically. But there’s something very odd about all the little slips they are handling. They seem to affect the outside world in disastrous ways, and soon even begin to affect them…

Mr. Godfrey (Paulino Nunes) and Esther (Anna Ferguson) in END OF DAYS, INC.

Mr. Godfrey (Paulino Nunes) and Esther (Anna Ferguson) in END OF DAYS, INC.

End of Days Inc is a very odd little film, the kind of film that no matter how well made, how energetically performed, feels like it never wants to be an out and out success. The comedy is as broad as it is dark, yet the story is small and stagey, almost on the level of a sitcom. It’s too clean, too bright, too processed.

The performers have a thankless job. The story and the tone pretty much order them to go way over the top, and so they all obey. Everyone is professional, and Maraghi and Porter are both incredibly likeable. O’Brien is expertly smarmy as well and has some cracking timing. But the group as a whole feel like cartoon characters. They’re all very witty, yet all very sanitised. It’s an odd balance, a dark comedy playing it as safe as it’s premise will allow.

Director Jennifer Liao directs with polish and an eye for a good gag, but the budget doesn’t allow for the Burton-esque look she seems to be aiming for. Christina Ray, who wrote the very enjoyable Ginger Snaps Back way back when, scripts with pace and verve but again, this feels more like a stage play. Even with the jaunty score that almost plays like a laugh-track, signalling when something kooky is happening, just in case you didn’t notice.

rsz_eod3All in all, End of Days Inc has a fun premise that plays on the idea that the corporations are destroying the world, but it’s far too quaint to be memorable. But it is a fluffy, fast and inoffensive good time, if you’re in the mood for something on the lighter side.

6/10

Dark Cove (2016) Review

rsz_dc1DARK COVE (2016)

Starring Rob Willey, Cameron Crosby and Rob Abbate

Directed by Rob Willey

Written by Dennis Willey and Rob Willey

Five friends go camping on the rugged coast of Vancouver Island, Canada. Things start to go seriously wrong while they party with two Australian surfers

There’s an argument in scriptwriting circles that you don’t necessarily need likeable characters in a film. Screw the save the cat moment, or even being relatable. Hell, most quality TV series now revolve around antihero’s. Because no matter whether the characters are likeable or relatable, there’s always two things the writers never forget to do: make them BELIEVABLE and INTERESTING. But what if you don’t make your characters likeable, relatable, believable or interesting? Well, you end up with something like Dark Cove.

rsz_dc2Five friends head out to the coast for some fun, including the Bromantic Bro Triangle of Joey (Rob Abbate), Donnie (Cameron Crosby) and Quinn (writer, director and editor Rob Willey), and friends Lacey (Jules Cotton) and Jen (Montanna McNalley). They expect a night of shrooms, beers and existential bro chats. And for about half the film, that’s what they get. Until they invite over a pair of Aussie and a Brit with the most bizarre accent I’ve heard in a very long time and a plot begins happening.

I wanted all of these characters to die. I was waiting patiently for a masked psycho or squealing inbred to wipe these fuckers out…but they never turned up. They just let this bunch come out with more inane, juvenile dialogue and play footy, play the guitar and talk about life and shit round a campfire.

Once the dark stuff starts happening, the unbelievable behaviour simply becomes inexplicable. I won’t go into detail and spoil it for you but it’s pretty hilarious, as everyone’s acting kicks into overdrive and completely at odds with normal behaviour. It’s actually enjoyable for all the wrong reasons.

rsz_dc3Technically the film is pretty slick. Willey has an eye and cuts the film well, and aside from the most ridiculous axe attack sound effect, the sound is very professional.

Look, this is an admirably assembled bad film, but I can’t deny, it’s entertaining in a The Room kind of way. Its mercifully short and with a better script this cast and crew will make something great. As it stands, it’s campy schlock.

5/10

Dead Awake (2016) Review

rsz_deadawake1DEAD AWAKE (2016)

Starring Jocelin Donahue, Lori Petty, Jesse Bradford, Brea Grant and Jesse Borrego

Directed by Phillip Guzman

Written by Jeffrey Reddick

Out NOW from Matchbox Films

“A young woman must save herself and her friends from an ancient evil that stalks its victims through the real-life phenomenon known as sleep-paralysis”.

Jeffrey Reddick struck gold when he created the original Final Destination. A smart, original and genuinely scary horror film, helped along greatly by the team of Glen Morgan and James Wong, Final Destination was a huge critical and commercial success that launched a pretty enjoyable franchise. But none of them involving Reddick. So what’s he been up to? Well, he wrote that really bizarre Day of the Dead remake, and a teen horror called Tamara that nobody remembers…And now he’s back again with Dead Awake. Is it as forgettable as those two?

Kate (Jocelin Donahue) is a social worker who begins to investigate the mysterious death of her twin sister Beth (also Donahue), who died in her sleep. Teaming with Beth’s partner Evan (Jesse Bradford), Kate delves into the dark world of sleep paralysis, and quickly discovers a mythical creature which is hell bent on using the horrifying condition to kill her friends.

rsz_deadawake2Imagine for a moment, if you will, if the villain in A Nightmare on Elm Street wasn’t the amazing Robert Englund as the horrifying Freddy Krueger, but a rickety crawling Samara from the Ring remake. Not only that, but the heroes weren’t teens who used their smarts to beat the villain, but a few thirty something mates who can’t move and just let the thing get them.

Well that’s Dead Awake in a nutshell. Sleep paralysis can be used to creepy effect, but not here. It robs the characters of any fight when the demonic entity known as “The Hag” comes crawling up in their faces. Reddick and director Guzman manage to make the sequence quite creepy the first few times it happens, but it becomes quite clear that’s the only trick up their sleeves.

The cast try hard, with Scream queen Donahue squeezing as much life and personality into her underwritten role, and Jesse’s Bradford and Borrego do great, auditions for Charles Manson, the former chilled and morose, the latter bug-eyed and edgy. But more often than not they appear bored when playing exhausted, and like the pace of the film, it can do the same to the viewer. Dead Awake takes itself very seriously, but the lack of fun is a real problem.

rsz_deadawake3Reddick had a great concept on his hands but the execution has no imagination. Every scene that showed the hazards of sleep deprivation just made me hope the Channel Zero crew get around to “The Russian Sleep Experiment”. Now that could be terrifying.

For now, we have this. A shuffling Elm Street retread without the wit and imagination of even it’s remake. If you’re looking for a visually pretty film with nice performances and one or two effective jump scares, check it out. If not, go with the awes Craven one.

5/10

Cam-Girl (2016) Review

rsz_cam2CAM-GIRL (2016)

Starring Erin Nicole Cline, Joe Coffey and Bjorn Jiskoot Jr.

Directed by Curt Wiser

Written by Curt Wiser, adapted from his novel “Box Cutter Killer”

A thriller that revolves around Gessica, a 23 year old webcam stripper who is pushed to the limit when she is held hostage by an unknown gunman“.

Cam-Girl is the latest in a wave of webcam, chat room and adult performer themed horror thrillers, and it’s starting to seem strange why this isn’t being talked about among horror fans. Subgenres come in waves, and often reflect the political or social climate. So what does the rise in cam-girl horror say about society at the moment? Has this profession become more mainstream recently, or maybe social media has made it more accessible and caught the eye of young filmmakers.

rsz_cam3The idea is ripe for film treatment on a budget, automatically carrying a Hitchcockian, voyeuristic quality, with built in sex appeal. But why now? I reviewed the hypnotic BB recently, which was a visually stunning analysis of a cam-girl and the dangers of the job. But in being completely non-judgemental, it perhaps suggested that the job isn’t the problem, it’s the society that frowns upon a person making money doing something they enjoy that is disturbed.

Cam-Girl doesn’t answer the questions in the same way, instead delivering a slick, slasher type scenario. Think a cross between Scream, Saw and Phone Booth, and you wouldn’t be far off. But rather than offer senseless violence and torture, Cam-Girl is more about the psychological analysis of its lead character as Gessica is forced to hold a mirror up to herself and her past, or die.

While far from perfect, Cam-Girl is held together by the solid rock that is Erin Nicole Cline as Gessica. In what is for the most part a one woman show, Cline does wonders with the character, filling her with a naturalism that many would struggle with. And she makes a very flawed (I’m not talking about the cam stuff) character very likeable. In a similar yet less provocative way to BB, Cam-Girl subverts the typical victim character and then toughens them up.

rsz_cam1While it is great to see filmmaker Wiser go the road less traveled, the psychological rather than the visceral, it does leave a few drawback. The pace, particularly in the mid-section, hovers when it should soar, becoming just a little bit too talky. And the film as a whole is surprisingly conservative when it comes to nudity and the exploration of sexuality, especially considering the plot. A strength of BB was its raw realism and expression of female sexual empowerment.

However, upon reflection, Cam-Girl is more about the inner than the outer, and in that sense it’s a resounding success. Sure it has the usual micro-budget issues, dodgy sound and iffy camerawork and editing in places, but it is an entertaining Larry Cohen style thriller with a supremely engaging lead performance, and a few twists up its sleeve.

7/10

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

The Covenant (2017) Review

rsz_cov1THE COVENANT (2017)

Starring Monica Engesser, Maria Olsen and Owen Conway

Directed by Robert Conway

Written by Robert Conway, Owen Conway and Christopher R. Smith

“After the tragic deaths of her husband and daughter, Sarah Doyle moves back to her childhood home with her estranged brother, Richard. It’s not long before Sarah begins to experience supernatural phenomena of a violent and hostile nature. Bewildered and desperate, Richard enlists the help of a paranormal investigator who confirms Sarah has become possessed by a powerful demon. Together, the three men battle to save Sarah’s soul”.

A while ago I reviewed filmmaker Robert Conway’s Krampus: The Reckoning, and felt that, while the film was very flawed and had possibly the worst CGI I’ve seen on film, Conway’s heart was in the right place and there was a director whose love of the genre would push him forward.

So Conway is back with The Covenant, again co-written by Owen Conway, and the rise in filmmaking skill and confidence is actually quite striking since that Yuletide shocker.

rsz_cov2When Sarah’s (Monica Engesser) daughter drowns in the bath in mysterious circumstances, her husband blames her and shoots himself. To cope with her losses, Sarah moves to her childhood home with brother Richard. But it isn’t long before Sarah is being taunted by something strange, and begins to fear she is losing her sanity.

For a film that is clearly no-to-micro-budget, The Covenant is incredibly deft visually, with great compositions and some sweeping camerawork. The editing is tight and controlled and the pace is much more even than some of Conway’s earlier stuff. The grading is a little harsh, but that’s par for the course, and the sound has a few hiccups. But overall on a technical level, Conway is improving.

Engesser has also improved since we last saw her in Krampus, and Owen Conway grows into his role well. But both are helped by a script that is just as interested in characters and conflict as it is scare’s, and while it doesn’t hit the nail on the head with either, it’s a valiant effort. Maria Olsen, still prolific as always, pops up in fine support.

rsz_cov3While the film is never actually scary, it does go to some very unsettling places, dealing with some disturbing taboos that set it apart from the usual possession flick formula.

Look, this ain’t perfect, but for a bargain basement budget, you can do much, much worse. I’m enjoying seeing the confidence grow in these actors and filmmakers, and look forward to what they cook up next.

6/10

Don’t Knock Twice (2016) Review

rsz_dkt_poster_1_sheetDON’T KNOCK TWICE (2016)

Starring Katee Sackhoff, Lucy Boynton and Nick Moran

Directed by Caradog W. James

Written by Mark Huckerby and Nick Ostler

DON’T KNOCK TWICE is released in cinemas and On Demand from 31st March and DVD 3rd April

A mother desperate to reconnect with her troubled daughter becomes embroiled in the urban legend of a demonic witch”.

Welsh filmmaker Caradog W. James burst onto the genre scene in 2013 with stylish sci-fi thriller The Machine, which has gained quite the cult following in the time since its release. Low on budget but high on style, The Machine was a homegrown attempt at a Hollywood quality product and, buoyed by two great lead performances, it very nearly achieved it.

James is back now with Don’t Knock Twice, and this time he’s shed the sci-fi and opted for a very traditional attempt at supernatural horror. From the opening titles to the very last frame, James distinct and slick visual style is evident. He packs every scene with inventive lighting and colour, and visceral camerawork, the whole film a feast for the eyes. It makes a change from the usual gritty handheld that we get, with composed shots that give everything a very high end feel.

rsz_1rsz_054Another aspect that really helps this thick and polished atmosphere is the score from James Edward Barker and genre fave Steve Moore. While sometimes slightly intrusive, the duo have nonetheless come up with an eerie and memorable theme for the film that reminded me very much of Charles Bernstein’s classic Elm Street score.

The performances are great if purposely subdued. Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica, Oculus) conveys much more than the script by Howl writers Mark Huckerby and Nick Olster allows, and Lucy Boynton, who I caught recently in the absolutely stunning February, is equally innocent and edgy as her troubled mothers equally troubled daughter. It was also great to see Nick Moran of Lock Stock pop up, for a stock cop character that becomes much more interesting as the story progresses . As the film went on though I felt slightly disconnected with the characters. It’s not the fault of the cast, with both Sackhoff and Boynton doing great work. But the pace of the film leaves very little room for character development, often in a rush to deliver a trailer shot or a jump scare.

rsz_097This in turn affects the actual scares of the film. If we don’t care much about the characters, we don’t fear for them either. Same goes for the antagonist. The film plays its cards a little too early, foregoing the subtle build up and showing most of the big bad quite early, again, rendering it a little less scary. And while the design is indeed creepy and has rightly been earning praise, it reminded me a little too much of the antagonist in last years risible Lights Out.

It’s a shame that one came first because Don’t Knock Twice is easily the better of the two films. I watched an analysis of James Wan’s work recently, observing how he creates an effective jump scare, and the secret is all in the build up. Wan will milk the suspense for as long as he can, avoiding an onslaught of stingers for one big, terrifyingly effective one. But here, everything that can be a jump scare, is a jump scare. And so, they’re less effective.

rsz_163As it is, Don’t Knock Twice reminded me very much of another British film that attempted to emulate the big budget Hollywood style, action movie Welcome To The Punch. On a surface level, they get everything right, but there’s just something missing. The story lacks originality by default and scenes of exposition stop the film dead. But none of this is enough to take away from what is an ambitious chiller. If you’re a fan of Mama, Insidious, or any one of Blumhouse’s productions, you’ll find a lot of enjoyment in this, and it’s great to see Caradog W. James becoming one of the most visually striking directors on this side of the shore. Hollywood must be calling.

7/10

Doll In The Dark (2016) Review

rsz_doll_in_the_dark_2d_dvd_tempDOLL IN THE DARK (2016)

Starring Amy Crowdis, Robin Taylor and Josh Caras

Directed by Alejandro Daniel

Available now from Safecracker pictures – http://www.safecrackerfilmdistribution.com/

A lonely young woman whose only companion is a creepy life size doll, finds her loose grip on sanity slipping away when she makes a real friend“.

I like to do a bit of research on films I watch before I review them, not for spoilers or anything that might influence the review, but more out of curiosity. What else has the filmmaker done? Where did they start? All that kind of stuff. Sometimes you find stuff much more interesting than that, and in the case of Doll In The Dark, I was a bit shocked.

So here’s what I unearthed.

Doll In The Dark was made in 2009 under the title The Melancholy Fantastic. It did the festival circuit until 2011 and then subsequently vanished into thin air.

That is until co-lead Robin Taylor landed the role of Oswald Cobblepot on hit TV show Gotham, and now it’s being released under the title Doll In The Dark, no doubt to cash in on the casting of a then-unknown Taylor. Now, I don’t mind the title, it seems quite apt to the story, but something else has changed on its way to release and I don’t think it has done it any favours. More in that later though.

rsz_doll1Doll In The Dark tells the quaint story of Melanie Crow (Crowdis), a sweet but lonely woman who lives and interacts with a very crude and creepy life size doll. She treats this doll like a real person, even taking it out for a drive with her every now and then. It’s clear that Melanie is lonely, and more than a little mentally unstable. And then she meets emo Dukken (Taylor) a quirky, confident outsider in black eyeliner who is curious about Melanie and gradually spends more and more time with her. As he gets to know Melanie, he also gets to know her doll…

This kind of film is all about the performances, and thankfully our two leads are on the ball, particularly Taylor who really shows a manic and likeable energy. Crowdis is shaky at first, but her naivety all works to make her character both cute and creepy. Together they make these offbeat characters very relatable somehow.

Writer and director Daniel does fine work with what looked like a very low-budget. His direction is pleasant and focuses on the characters rather than showing off, so it’s all quite low key but hey, it’s a low-key film.

But there was something missing from the overall experience, and I think I know why. Doing a bit of sleuthing, I found there is TWO versions of this film on IMDb. One called Doll In The Dark, another under the original title of The Melancholy Fantastic. The listing under the original title has different artwork obviously, but it also has a different runtime. The original runtime, going off IMDb, was 1 hour 40 mins. The version titled Doll In The Dark, that I watched, was 1 hour 13 mins. And six minutes of that were credits!!!

rsz_doll2So there’s about 30 mins that has for whatever reason been left on the cutting room floor, and I’m a big fan of tight runtimes but here it feels like half the story is missing, most of the nuance, maybe even a whole subplot, and I think it harms the finished product. I’d be very intrigued to see the 1 hour 40 cut.

As it is, Doll In The Dark is a pleasant and well-acted addition to the creepy loner subgenre. Fans of Excision, Love Object and the mummy of them all, May, will find something to like here. It’s just a shame so much of its missing.

6/10

Bornless Ones (2016) Review

rsz_bo1BORNLESS ONES (2016)

Starring Margaret Judson, Devin Goodsell and Michael Johnston

Written & Directed by Alexander Babaev

With the help of her friends, Emily moves to a remote home to take better care of her brother, Zach, who is diagnosed with cerebral palsy. But what they don’t know is that the house kept a terrifying secret that will haunt them one by one“.

Horror movies that riff on The Evil Dead are nothing new. From Cabin Fever to Cabin in the Woods, and last years absolutely amazing Tonight She Comes, it really goes to show just how classic, timeless and inspiring Sam Raimi’s original demonic possession movie was. Hell, we’ve even got a hit TV spin-off over 30 years after its release!

It’s also a great springboard for low-budget genre loving filmmakers to cut their teeth. Isolated location, minimal cast, and plenty of opportunity for outlandish, ridiculous and crowd-pleasing violence.

Writer and director Alexander Babaev knows all this, but his Bornless Ones isn’t a lazy retread.

The script really sets Bornless Ones apart. Things start off seemingly quite sketchy, with cliched and juvenile humour and interactions coming from a young and attractive cast. But all of a sudden, without you really ever noticing, Babaev has established the relationships and backstory for each of the characters in a deft and effortless way. Then the demons are introduced, and these characters and their history’s are beautifully exploited. It’s nothing new, see Event Horizon, but it’s a refreshing change to see it all handled so expertly.

rsz_bo2Just as the story grows in confidence as the film goes on, so do the performances. Judson is an amiable and sympathetic heroine, her focus on her brother making her more than just a final girl. Goodsell grows into a fantastic asshole, becoming a human pin cushion as things get more horrific, and he communicates it with aplomb. Bobby T and Michael Johnston do well, again adding layers to what would usually be thin stock characters. The inclusion of Johnston as the cerebral palsy afflicted Zach adds a whole new dimension to the film.

Special mention must also go up David Banks as a nutso realtor who briefly shows up to add some real humour. But the standout was Mark Furze as Woodrow. So much more than the sex-obsessed character, Furze seems to add lots of little nuances to Woodrow as things go on. He’s a big talent.

Babaev doesn’t skimp on the gore either, with some excellent mostly practical FX that are very inventive and fun. It’s rare that this kind of film shows you something you haven’t seen before!

rsz_bo3On the downside, some of the editing felt a little off, the content cut to blacks giving an episodic feel to the flow, and the CGI used in some of the exterior shots felt unnecessary and could have been done practically.

But other than that, Bornless Ones is a really nice surprise. Tightly directed and well-written, with great performances and some outstanding violence, it’s well worth a watch for horror lovers.

8/10