In March Production Commences on Elliott Maguire’s The Ferryman

rsz_ferrymanTHEY’RE HERE PRODUCTIONS Presents…

THE FERRYMAN

PRODUCTION BEGINS IN MARCH 2017

“THE FERRYMAN”
After a failed suicide attempt, troubled and lonely teen MARA finds herself stalked by a malevolent entity.

As much a psychological drama as a horror film, The Ferryman explores important themes such as depression and alienation in the modern world, while also delivering a truly terrifying cinematic experience. In the writing process I took inspiration from classics such as Let The Right One In and Candyman, to create that deep sense of evil, while creating characters that the audience actually care about”.

“The Ferryman” is set to begin production in March 2017, with a fantastic cast that includes NICOLA HOLT as MARA; GARTH MAUNDERS as ROLAND; SHOBI RAE MCLEAN as JULIA; VELTON J. LISHKE as THE DETECTIVE; PAM ASHTON as THE NURSE; and PHILIP SCOTT-SHURETY as THE THERAPIST.

Shooting will take place in and around Manchester throughout March and April, with the production taking inspiration from Sundance hit “Tangerine” and shooting on the iPhone 7, allowing a level of intimacy rarely seen in the horror genre and pushing this advancing technology to its limits.

You can follow the production on Twitter @ferrymanmovie and Facebook @ferrymanmovie, for all other enquiries you can contact the team on [email protected]

Links
http://theyrehereproductionsltd.co.uk/

Slasher House 2 (2016) Review

14368789_1267178763315526_1562502904226346982_nSLASHER HOUSE II (2016)

Dir: MJ Dixon
Stars: Francesca Louise White, Luna Wolf, Sophie Portman, Jamie B. Chambers, Sam Cullingworth, David Hon Ma Chu

Released by Mycho Entertainment.

Red (Francesca Louise White, taking over the role from Eleanor James) is still hunting her father, The Demon (Jamie B. Chambers), the serial killer who slaughtered her family. Aided by tech-savvy assistant Luse (Sophie Portman), she investigates a number of murders, hoping each one will lead her to her nemesis. On one of these cases that she saves the life of stripper Amber (Luna Wolf), an individual who goes on to become a valuable ally. After crossing paths with a team of heavily armed operatives obsessed with capturing slashers, Red once again finds herself in a series of pitched battles against a host of monstrous adversaries — each leading her one step closer to the truth about the mysterious Slasher House…

Something that has struck me with MJ Dixon’s Mychoverse series of horror movies is his visual style. Think slashers by way of Argento, with a striking colour palette of blood reds and other-worldly greens.   Slasher House II takes his unique style to the next level, with the bright wigs of female leads, Red and Amber, making them look more like anime heroines than live-action characters.

With more money spent on this than his previous films, the fruits of Dixon’s labours are clear to see. As well as enhanced production values in the look of the film, it’s also reflected in some ambitious effects sequences from Bam Goodall (the Gravestone puppet is very cool, while the scenes with Molly Bannister’s, ahem, friends are another triumph) and some great fight choreography. However, if you’re more used to larger budget horror such as Blumhouse’s output, this may seem a little rough.

13769509_1216502365049833_7221261266634105140_nNevertheless, SHII marks a new kind of Mychoverse movie, with a more action-packed, Blade-esque feel. There are some excellent set-pieces in which White shows impressive martial arts moves — but that’s not all she offers. She delivers some great one-liners with a snarky, world-weary ease that makes her Red a very different character to James’s helpless amnesiac from the previous film. Wolf brings humanity and humour to the movie. She’s got an inherent likeability that marks her out as one to watch. While Portman doesn’t have as much screentime as the other two ladies, she makes the most of it.

Dixon writes fine dialogue and tells a suitably satisfying story for his cast that successfully expands on and encourages viewers to revisit Slasher House. It offers twists and turns, while the non-linear structure adds some depth to the storytelling process. I love that this is movie builds on the Mychoverse mythology, including shoutouts to its predecessor while blowing the story wide open to make a bigger, more complex world.
However, this may pose a problem for casual fans in that it relies on the viewer knowing the original movie, characters and mythos. If you haven’t seen it (or the other Mychoverse movies), you might struggle to make sense of this.

Speaking of these stories, viewers of the previous movie will be aware that several of Slasher House’s villains received their own spin-off films in the form of Legacy of Thorn, Cleaver: Rise of the Killer Clown, and Hollower. So, even though we’ve had no official confirmation yet, it’s probably safe to assume that we’ll see more of these new movie maniacs. I’d most like to see a Gravestone solo flick. His scenes were so marvellously executed, Dixon already has the framework to create a must-watch slasher/comedy.

13710015_1211177188915684_1585350713468624285_nMJ Dixon is a fan of horror, sci-fi and action, and all the cool genre-blenders that combine these. His are films by a fan, for the fans. The Mychoverse is a love-letter to the genre… and Slasher House II might just be the best example yet. It’s fun, witty and furthers the rich mythos of the Slasher House universe. Think Blade II meets Halloween with a little Anime thrown in.

I would recommend this movie just on Mycho’s sheer ambition, but it’s a genuinely good film and one I implore you to check out.

8/10

Night of Something Strange (2016) Review

rsz_112819375_994557477247045_1782208119961988031_oNIGHT OF SOMETHING STRANGE (2016)

Dir: Jonathan Straiton
Stars: Rebecca C. Kasek, Trey Harrison, Michael Merchant, Toni Anne Gambale, John Walsh, Tarrence Taylor, Nicola Fiore, Wayne W. Johnson, Janet Mayson, Kirk La Salle, Al Lawler

Released by Hurricane Bridge Entertainment. See it at the Horror-on-Sea Film Festival on 21 January at 5.30pm.

Night of Something Strange opens with a messy sequence in which we discover the origin of an STD that transforms its victims into ravenous rapist-zombies(!). From here we meet a gang of youngsters on a Spring Break road trip. There’s good girl Christine (Rebecca C. Kasek), her best friend Carrie (Toni Anne Gambale), Carrie’s obnoxious boyfriend Freddy (Michael Merchant), nerdy Jason (John Walsh) and pothead Brooklyn (Tarrence Taylor). On the way to a party destination, they choose to stop over in a seedy motel. Also at the motel are bad chick Pam (Nicola Fiore) and her tough boyfriend Dirk (Trey Harrison) who are hooking up for a night of passion. However, unbeknownst to our horny high-schoolers, the infected necrophiliac who kickstarted this whole mess is on his way to the motel…

Inside the first six minutes of Night of Something Strange we are treated to a prolonged sequence of necrophilia, a man urinating in a woman’s face before he violently rapes her, a bloody wound complete with arterial spray and somebody ripping out an unspecified, but gore-soaked part of a woman’s genitalia with his bare hands, then eating it. Then the film REALLY gets going.

rsz_14917277_1155870461115745_3324279579145028734_oIf that sounds a bit much for you, then you should probably steer clear. Night of Something Strange is a shocking movie that is full-on, in your face, and legitimately disgusting at times… and THAT is why it is so good. Think classic Eighties splatter horror-comedy Night of the Creeps crossed with the excesses of South Park — NoSS is chock-full of gross-out moments, from sexual misadventures to a veritable explosion of body-fluids. As such, it’s absolutely hilarious!

It certainly helps that these moments are brought to life with visual effects and make-up far more impressive than NoSS’s modest budget might lead to you expect. But over-performing is pretty much the norm for this movie.

Take the cast — I think it’s safe to say that most of the leads in the movie probably won’t be immediately recognisable to many viewers, but that doesn’t stop them from knocking their performances out of the park. Harrison does a tremendous job of delivering some killer tough-guy lines with a straight face, while the impressive Kasek shows some real potential as a future Scream Queen. Gambale shows real dedication to her craft with a couple of her scenes, as does the simply fantastic Merchant. It is Merchant’s crass Freddy who very nearly steals the film. Merchant is brave, utterly shameless and throws himself into his role with gusto. He’s awesome! Elsewhere, Fiores clearly has fun playing the witchy Pam and she’s a joy to watch.

rsz_12513692_1002519173117542_1525579911595151897_oOf course, the actors are only as good as the material they’re given to work with, and the writing team of director Straiton, Ron Bonk and Mean Gene deliver great dialogue, some brilliant set-pieces and a plot with some pretty out-there twists. The violent monsters are suitably terrifying villains, especially the menacing Wayne W. Johnson as the lead undead sex-fiend, Cornelius. As the zombies mutate even further later in the flick, their genitalia transforming into lethal weapons, they become reminiscent of the ‘sickos’ in Robert Rodriguez’s Grindhouse segment, Planet Terror, and, along with the laughs and outlandish action, the film even manages to pack in some well-crafted scares and some intense sequences.

This is all under the steady guidance of director Jonathan Straiton, whose keen eye for a good shot is a massive contributing factor to the success of NoSS. Bravo sir!

rsz_11157579_843957512307043_3862393676166830435_oAn unapologetic fist (or perhaps another body appendage) in the face, Night of Something Strange takes your typical Eighties splatter horror flick, sticks it in a blender with some late Nineties gross-out humour, and produces a heady, hilarious, horrific cocktail that really does need to be seen on the big screen with a crowd of laughing, shrieking, gasping genre fans. This is the ultimate horror party movie and it needs to be seen the right way!

7/10

Feed The Devil (2015) Review

ftd1Feed The Devil (USA, 2015)
Dir: Max Perrier
Starring: Jared Cohen, Ardis Barrow, Brandon Perrault

Expected UK DVD Release 31/10/2016

Plot: Desperate to make some cash and start fresh, Marcus (Cohen) and Lydia (Barrow) go out into the wilderness to find a secret stash of weed. Getting lost in the woods becomes the least of their problems when they become prey to a figure of Native American folklore.

The first horror film by writer/director Max Perrier, his second feature behind his comedy crime drama, Dead Man’s Luck. Like many other first time horror directors, Perrier goes to the woods and we watch his cast slowly get bumped off in various nasty ways. However the particular evil in this film comes from Native American roots and gives the film an uneasy racial tone. While it might not have been the intention of the film makers to have race focused on in their film, it’s hard to avoid it.

Marcus is particularly racist towards the natives, at one point calling them “Bush N******” and even when he’s helped by the natives he is dismissive and arrogant. Like most horror fans, when I see a character who is incredibly arrogant and unlikeable, I hope that the killer will pick them off quick. Sadly I wasn’t so fortunate as the other members of the small cast are picked off and leave Marcus to fight the evil. It’s hard to be on the side of the racist white guy fighting a figure of Native American culture.

ftd2While the film is well shot with decent cinematography, the film often drags with slow pacing. Marcus and his friends wander around the woods for too long without explanation of the danger they’re in for so long before the audience gets a scrap of exposition, all the while enduring Marcus.

It’s often been debated if a main character in a film needs to be likeable for the film to be good and while I don’t believe they have to be, I think it helps. The film starts off by showing Marcus’s terrible home life, his abusive mother, and his plans to escape that life. However just because someone has hardships it doesn’t make them a good person and it failed to make me care about Marcus. I didn’t want him to succeed and it made the film disappointing as he continued his survival.

If the point of the film was to show white Americans as dismissive against Native American culture and how horrible it is, this film succeeded. It doesn’t feel like that was the intention, instead it’s just another arrogant horror protagonist getting himself into danger by ignoring the warnings of people who know better than him.

ftd3The Native American folklore feels like an after thought, that it could have been any kind of evil in those woods, but this felt like something a little different than the usual Catholic demons, or feral Big Foot. A lot of people might watch this and see it for what is on the screen and not read anything into it what so ever. Sadly I watched it and saw White American culture exerting dominance over Native American culture and I’m not cool with that.

2/10

I Am Alone (2015) Review

I Am Alone (USA, 2015)

Dir: Robert A. Palmer

Starring: Gareth David-Lloyd, Gunner Wright, Marshal Hilton

UK Release TBC

Plot: While filming the latest episode of reality survival show “I am alone” out in the Colorado wilderness, a zombie outbreak occurs. The show’s host Jacob Fitts (David-Lloyd) is out alone in the forest while his producer, Mason Riley (Wright) desperately searches for him. After living through the chaos, Riley ends up in a military stronghold and made to re-watch the footage recovered from both survivors to help the military figure out just what happened.

When it comes to making a low budget horror film there’s some genres that are considered easier to do on the cheap. There are countless zombie movies and found footage films that have been put together on a micro-budget. Those two sub-genres have crossed path many times with the likes of [REC], Diary of the Dead, and The Zombie Diaries to name a few. However just because you can do it, it doesn’t mean that it’s easy to make it good. I Am Alone is the second feature of director Robert A. Palmer, and I can’t comment on his first feature, yet it’s still early days in his career. I’d recommend that in his next feature, he steers clear of Found Footage.

The unique angle that Palmer uses to spin the zombie sub-genre is the crossover with survivalist reality television. Gareth David-Lloyd does his best Bear Grylls, although it mostly involves sitting around camp fires and talking to the camera. The majority of this film is Fitts and Riley making video diaries on the quiet moments from evading zombies. In a survival scenario, you’d think your vlogs might become a secondary priority after ensuring your own survival.

The film also includes a framing device that feels similar to the one in the VHS films, in which a scientist who has Riley locked in a military interrogation room needs him to watch the found footage because Fitts’ transformation into a zombie is slower than normal and the scientist believes that Riley’s intimate knowledge of Fitts might lead to a solution to this mystery and maybe a cure of the infection. It doesn’t really make any sense, watching the footage isn’t going to make Riley know his friend any better, especially the footage of himself. They make Riley watch the footage he recorded himself. Also an autopsy of Fitts would turn up more solutions that watching the footage. Also there’s a problem with the “Found” part of the Found Footage, the footage is made up of video from many different sources, including CCTV footage from various buildings Riley has been to. The military bunker they are holed up in is under siege by the zombies, I don’t know when they found the time to get it all together.

There’s a presumption that Found Footage films are easy to do. They are not easy to do well. I Am Alone makes the mistakes of many flawed Found Footage films. The biggest mistake is having too many cameras. Whenever Riley or Fitts has a moment to pour their heart out to the cameras they have always got two cameras on them at the very least. Fitts in particular who is supposed to be deteriorating mentally, still has the mental capacity to set up a second camera so they have something to edit between. Speaking of editing, the second error this film makes is that it uses too much editing, not only choosing the best angle for the moment but also adding a soundtrack. I’m sure that it was a big priority for the military to pick the best music to convey emotion while Riley watched.

On the zombie side of things, I Am Alone doesn’t bring too much to the table. The main focus is on Fitts’ slow transformation but it’s done much better in films like Contracted. Fitts’ gets the most extensive zombie make up in the cast but it’s very minimal and pretty standard. Everyone else sprayed with a little fake blood and sent on their way.

I Am Alone does try to be something bigger than the average indie zombie film by having multiple running story lines but those story lines don’t add up to anything more than scared men run around with cameras and occasionally make glum video diaries. It tries to be a big movie on a small budget but it doesn’t hit the mark. You would have thought that reality television and found footage would be perfect together, both try to take something fake and present it as real. However it just comes off as something kind of bland.

2/10

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

The Tribe (2014) DVD Review

tribe1THE TRIBE (UKRAINE, 2014)

Director – Miroslav Slaboshpitsky

Stars: Grigoriy Fesenko, Yana Novikova, Rosa Babiy

UK DVD Release – OUT NOW from Metrodome Distribution

It would surprise some readers that we are reviewing a film such as THE TRIBE, especially in an all things horror related website called UK HORROR SCENE. As the film is not entirely genre specified, we do pride ourselves and watching anything that can be challenging, unique and different, and let’s face it we have had two reviews of MAD MAX: FURY ROAD this year and that wasn’t exactly horror based, though genre based at least and a damn good film to boot. One thing from watching THE TRIBE though is that I found elements of genre-ish slight exploitation elements of sex, violence, brutality that can often crop up in art house cinema and can often be as strong or as graphic some gore flicks, though even more so with some scenes being difficult to watch.

A brand new pupil turns up at an all deaf school in Ukraine’s capital city Kiev, for his first day. Pitched in a run down bleak looking school building, populated by teachers who are also deaf, the new pupil soon finds himself initiated and part in a gang run by the older pupils who commit petty crimes, muggings, bully and extort weaker pupils and also most tellingly of all pimp out two of the girls also at the deaf school to drivers at a local truck stop, with the assistance of the woodwork teacher. Only when the new pupil soon ascends in the gang and takes on the role of the pimp that he starts to fall for one of the girls, who are being planned to be sent over to Italy to make even further money through there prostitution and this puts a thorn into the plans of the older leaders of the gang who are soon headed for confrontation with the new pupil.

tribe2Pulling in at almost two hours THE TRIBE might seem a lengthy almost unbearable proposition on paper however the films consistent flow keeps you hooked with the actions of the mostly deaf cast of non professional actors putting in a commanding presence with our focus on their actions rather than dialogue that prompt the story. Yes the films is dialogue free, and soundtrack free and most tellingly at all is without subtitles as well leaving only characters actions to communicate the story to us.

This works, though at first the presence of subtitles wouldn’t go amiss as technically sign language is a language. Though this loss of any on screen text is undoubtedly a stylistic decision as this allows the director and his cast to express rage, anger, love, hate, sex and violence without the need to shout it out with bombast and to capture a world steeped in silence with only the characters squeaking shoes or flaying punches that break the silence.

This is helped along by Valentyn Vasyanovych’s superb cinematography that consists of long one take scenes, capturing the bleak tribalism and rule of the gang as if we are observers to a world we know nothing about, and also perfectly portraying the washed out grey decaying colours of a school that seems to have been forgotten and is slowly falling apart at both internally and literally.

tribe3If anything the sense of a gang, almost mafia esque approach to the pupil’s underworld lends the film a unique sort of crime drama narrative where the criminals and leaders of the group are just as brutal and uncompromising as any non-deaf crooks. These elements combine in scenes of violence, beatings and stark uncomfortable explicit sex that almost has the essence of a genre exploitation flick.

Though THE TRIBE is undoubtedly art house it still seems to carry that curious mix that can be seen in many art house films where scenes of sex and violence can be just as brutal as any exploitation flick. For one scene in particular I found hard to watch is an abortion scene, done by a not so legal back street doctor, that is achieved in one take and displays nasty grit and is a horrifying ordeal for the girl in question, and for the audience. Furthermore towards the end of the film, without giving too much away, there is a scene of violence staged with such a display of fury and savagery leaves the viewer reeling partly helped by its slow stedicam-shot style build up.

tribe4If anything THE TRIBE reminds me most of the work of the superb German director Michael Haneke with a style of bleak coldness capturing this hidden world as we look on and not or cannot look away at the characters engaging actions and their eventual destructive nature. A unique and one of its kind film, this is certainly one that will require a repeat viewing and as even though the actors don’t speak, their actions, to coin an old phrase, speak louder than words.

8/10

Stung (2015) Review

stung1Stung (USA, 2015)

Dir: Benni Diez

Starring: Jessica Cook, Matt O’Leary, Lance Henriksen

UK DVD Release 26th October 2015 from Entertainment One.

Plot:Caterers Julia (Cook) and Paul (O’Leary) are hired to work the party of Mrs Markham and her son, Sydney, at their large mansion home. But the party goes from nice to nightmare when a swarm of mutated wasps crash the party. Worse still, whoever is stung becomes a giant wasp.A ragtag group of survivors including the caterers, the mayor and Sydney fight for their lives and to escape the wasp’s nest before it’s too late.

This film ended the opening night of Fright Fest this year, continuing the trend of bat-shit crazy movies ending opening night since last year’s Zombeavers. I went in expecting Stung to be another goofy, probably terrible, mutant animal movie. Thankfully I can say that it is in fact a very fun film. It takes it’s premise, sticks with it and doesn’t doubt itself for a second. If it had admitted to the audience that it was a silly concept through bad puns and over the top reactions, I doubt I would have liked it as much.

stung2Stung is well cast, Cook and O’Leary are fantastic leads that have charisma in abundance and really lead the film. Their characters and their relationship develops naturally which is a relief amongst so many forced romances in films. Lance Henriksen is great as he aged badass mayor and is a welcome addition for all the screen time he gets. I was worried that his inclusion might be just to have a known face on the screen but Henriksen owns it. Sydney, played by Clifton Collins(Pacific Rim, Star Trek) is another stand-out character, a troubled mama’s boy and later on, the Renfield to the wasp’s Dracula. He is both endearing and menacing.

The other strength of this film is the effects. If they had gone for cheesy looking effects, this film would not have worked so well. They embrace practical and digital effects to bring their monstrous wasps to life and it really delivers. Also the wasps have a kinship to the xenomorphs from the Alien series in that whichever creature spawns it gives it different characteristics. It’s not used too overtly but it’s a nice touch.The set design really brings us into their world, the latter half of the film transforming the sets from rural mansion to nightmarish wasp nest as the hive forms around the characters making it claustrophobic.

stung3Stung is definitely not the film I thought it would be, it turned out to be fun and crazy but not self-deprecating. In fact there is only a couple negative things I can think about Stung. One is that it drags a little near the end, a climactic boss battle that goes a couple stages too long. The only other flaws is some of the more full-CGI wasps look a little ropey, and my pet peeve for “We’re safe now” sex scenes but both of those feel like I’m nit-picking. This is the kind of midnight movie monster I can get behind.

8/10

Subject 0: Shattered Memories (2015) Review

subz1Subject 0: Shattered Memories (Italy,2015)

Dir: Tiziano Cella

Starring: David White, Lauren Jane Matic, Tiziano Cella

For Release Check Website – http://www.subject0film.com

Plot: Lauren (Matic) wakes up next to her illicit lover who has been murdered while they slept. The crime unveils her affair to husband, Robert (White), although it seems Robert knows more than he let on. The killer who is evading the police is a sleeper created by Robert. He is Joshua (Cella), a man looking for answers for the crimes he has committed. Will Joshua discover the project that has turned him into a killer and set things right.

Subject 0: Shattered Memories is the first feature film by Italian director, Tiziano Cella, progressing from a number of short films. Cella has set out to create an ambitious film in Subject 0. It is a slow-burning thriller from numerous perspectives. The film has a reasonable large cast, most of which have plenty of dialogue. It gives the film an inter-connected feel like that of Pulp Fiction, in the sense that it feels like the audience is witnessing many stories rather than one big story as each character gets time to grown in front of the camera. It’s not until later in the film that Joshua becomes the main focus of the film.

subz2While it is ambitious to have all of these characters sharing the screen time, not all of them work. They require the context of Joshua being the killer to make them interesting but because that is not evident for a while, I found myself scratching my head at certain characters wondering what their purpose was. Two characters particularly were Joshua’s neighbour who complains constantly about the noise of his stereo, and a pizza guy who gets an awful lot of screen time for little pay off. Both characters, I assume, are comic relief characters and maybe the humour got a little bit lost in translation.

Speaking of translation, the film is primarily in English however it is clear that some of the actors who struggle with the language have been dubbed and I found the dubbing quite distracting. It might just be personal preference but I would have enjoyed this film more if it was done in Italian with English subtitles if it meant all the actors could act comfortably without struggling with a second language or having to be replaced by dubbing.

Subject 0: Shattered Memories does manage to build up some suspense and some scenes get quite bloody but it loses it’s tension when it jumps away to another character. If I knew I was supposed to be on Joshua’s side the whole time (I was supposed to be rooting for him, right?) I could have become much more invested in the character. It’s not entirely clear who the protagonist of Subject 0 is, which I would say is it’s biggest flaw.

subz3Technically, it’s a well made film, Cella’s practice through short film making has paid off. He’s also the strongest actor in the film and despite my previous opinions on the language barrier, the cast do a great job. Cella’s shown in this film that he wants to make big movies. The score on this film is huge, although maybe a little too dramatic for some of the on screen action it accompanies. Regardless of this, I hope that Cella keeps trying to make film’s as big as his dreams.

5/10

Ghoul (2015) Review

ghoul1GHOUL (2015)

Director: Petr Jákl

Stars: Jennifer Armour, Alina Golovlyova, Jeremy Isabella, Paul S. Tracey, Vladimir Nevedrov, Yuri Zabrodskyj, Inna Belikova

UK RELEASE TBC

Ghoul opens with reporter Jen (Jennifer Armour), cameraman Ethan (Jeremy Isabella) and director Ryan (Paul S. Tracey) heading to the Ukraine to film a documentary, Cannibals of the 20th Century. The group has chosen the locale after hearing tales of how Stalin’s cruel regime caused a famine so terrible that some locals were forced to resort to cannibalism to survive.

The trio’s driver Valeriy (Vladimir Nevedrov) offers them a major scoop — a guaranteed meeting with suspected killer and cannibal Boris (Yuri Zabrodskyj). So, camera in tow, the filmmakers, Valeriy and Katarina set out for the isolated house in the countryside in which the crime occurred, joined by timid translator Katarina (Alina Golovlyova) and local ‘witch’ Inna (Inna Belikova). Upon reaching the farmhouse there’s no sign of Boris, so the group drink a bottle of vodka they discover in a cupboard. As the booze flows the group finds a large pentagram/Ouija board carved into the table and decides to conduct a séance to contact Boris’ victim (despite Inna’s warnings not to), then falls into a drunken stupor.

The next morning sees one of their number missing, and Inna warns them that now the group is trapped in a haunted house by restless spirits…

One of the biggest positives that Ghoul has going for it is its grim and ominous atmosphere. Director Petr Jákl and
cinematographer Jan Suster ensure that the location work feels awash with storm-laden skies and dank mud.

ghoul2Of course achieving a suitable atmosphere is nice but doesn’t do the job if we aren’t given characters to care about. Thankfully the cast are all very good, especially the talented Armour and the ‘local’ actors.

Belikova in particular does a sterling job delivering some material that could have seemed decidedly hokey in less assured hands and really helps ratchet up the fear.

This is an area in which Ghoul delivers. The eerie mystery behind the characters’ plight is unnerving (with the discovered film-within-a-film a stomach-churning highlight for me) and when the story starts to tie into the real life horrors of serial killer Andrei Chikatilo’s reign of terror the frights hit a new level. This source of inspiration may well polarise viewers — the crimes of Chikatilo were sickening and genuinely terrifying, so to mention them as the source material for what is, at heart, a rather inconsequential work of fun fiction could seem in poor taste.

Ditto, the references to the very real and horrific Holodomor, the man-made famine that claimed up to 7 million lives. As such, viewer discretion is advised.

Even the hackneyed first-person flight through the tunnels finale works, proving that even if something has been done before; if it’s done well it can still make an impact. Here Jákl does it very well indeed.

That Ghoul is a Found Footage film may well act as a barrier to some viewers. This is a good example of the genre, but if you’re sick and tired of these films, it doesn’t do anything likely to change your mind. Luckily Jákl is a gifted director and uses every available trick to keep the audience unsettled, from superb framing of shots to an assured, slow-burn pace that takes its time to reveal it’s many mysteries.

ghoul3Jákl is also credited for the story of the film and co-wrote the screenplay with Petr Bok. The pair did a pretty good job too, coming up with realistic dialogue and characters. The story blends plenty of creepy elements to give a decidedly unique (and VERY Eastern European) feel to a genre in which a film needs to work very hard to stand out from the crowd. Some may find the backwards portrayal of the superstitious locals a little condescending, but it certainly adds colour.

With some fascinating folklore combined with the crimes of one of the most prolific serial killers in history, it is easy to see why Ghoul has smashed box office records in Jákl’s native Czech Republic. If you haven’t yet had your fill of Found Footage, this is a heady horror goulash sure to whet most appetites.

7/10