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Split (2016) Review

MV5BZTJiNGM2NjItNDRiYy00ZjY0LTgwNTItZDBmZGRlODQ4YThkL2ltYWdlXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMjY5ODI4NDk@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,675,1000_AL_Split (2016) Review

Director: M. Night Shyamalan

Cast:  James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Haley Lu Richardson, Jessica Sulu, Betty Buckley

Plot: Three girls, are attacked, and kidnapped by a man, that to their mortal peril, is diagnosed 23 distinct personalities. They must try to escape before a terrifying, new, 24th personality referred to as ‘The Beast’, is unleashed.

Split, written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan, is the second time he has worked with producer Jason Blum of Blumhouse productions. Its safe to say that once again the pairing has worked brilliantly, and created another Thriller/Horror masterpiece. Not only is the script and dialogue just exceptional but the acting performance of James McAvoy is pretty much perfect. It’s beyond anything I’ve ever witnessed, from any actor, ever.

His character has 23 personalities that are all completely different to one another and are all as intense, and in their own sense, terrifying in so many different ways. His personalities, in his head, are laid out to us, like 23 people sitting in a support group meeting, and each of them are fighting inside him, to stand in the light. There are a four of them, that are most prominent through the film.

MV5BMTc1NDYyOTA5MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMjE2MDY1OTE@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1552,1000_AL_8ee26fdf6e7d4bd7_5720_D012_00044_R_CROPV2(Hedwig, Aged 9 – Pictured Left)

(Fashion Designer, – Barry Pictured Right)

The first two have an element of innocence to them. These being 9 year old boy with a lisp called Hedwig, and a fashion designer called Barry.

The next two are the most dangerous of the 23…

 

MV5BOWEyM2U3NzctNjNlNS00MTEzLWExMzctNDMwYWU1OGI2NjE0L2ltYWdlXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNDA5NjMyNjY@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,739_AL_(Ultra Aggressive Dennis – Pictured Left)

MV5BZDMyZmQzNmMtNmM2My00ZjAxLWIzMzItM2U0ZTE2ZmVjZmMwL2ltYWdlXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNDA5NjMyNjY@._V1_(Dark, Moody, Violent Miss Patricia – Pictured Right)

They are firstly a man called Dennis. He has the worst possible case of OCD, and is ultra aggressive, and impulsive in his nature. The other is a woman called Miss Patricia who is very unpredictable, extremely firm, and violent at the drop of a hat.

When he appears as Hedwig, he says that Dennis and Miss Patricia keep telling him that the beast is on the move and he is coming to get them. The three girls should be scared because he’s going to come and do horrible things. We also hear Hedwig say that the beast is going to come and protect them, and make them safe. These sentences are very cryptic in their nature but all add up, to one hell of a showdown. Upon meeting the beast, its safe to say, that Hedwig, was absolutely correct, and the three girls, find themselves in a fight for their lives.

The three girls that are captured are also brilliant. Two of the girls are spoiled rich girls and the other is a quiet, reserved girl who keeps very much to herself. The contrast of character traits works really well. The quiet girl is called Casey and is portrayed by Anna Taylor-Joy. Her character, is like a big ball of elastic bands, you can unravel it all you like but you never seem to be able to reach the middle. Throughout the film, we get flashbacks of her as a young girl, and get a real insight into her abusive past. Her character development, like everything in this film, is brilliant.

MV5BZDI2YjgyMzktMzg4NC00ZDA1LTk2YjAtODYzNTI1NzhlNjMwXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMjM1NjkwMDI@._V1_There are so many moments of that Shyamalan magic, that only he does so well. What I mean by that is that he doesn’t just jump from A to B. He tells a story and seems to be able to fit it into a feature length film instead of what most could only do, for example, in a 6 part mini series.. And still none of it feels crammed in or rushed. It all fits and its all relevant.

There are so many little things that happen that at first appear insignificant, but then come full circle, and leave you in awe. It’s very cleverly put together. There are scenes with the character Barry, when he goes to see his psychiatrist, that deserve the upmost attention in seeing the magic at work.

The last film M.Night Shyamalan did, called ‘The Visit’, is slow paced and full of building tension akin to a John Carpenter film. Split is the complete polar opposite. It is faced paced and there is always something happening. The tension you would expect is still there, but delivered in a different way. Instead, its more waiting in anticipation of what is going to happen next in this Roller coaster of a film. You’ll experience a range of emotions watching this film. For me, mainly, it was fear, as to what this guy is going to do next, and fear for what the three poor girls are going to be exposed to and how they are going to overpower this person(s).

Alien Covenant – A Preview !

alien-covenantPreview – Alien: Covenant

Director: Ridley Scott
Actors: Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride, Demián Bichir, Carmen Ejogo, Amy Seimetz, Jussie Smollett, Callie Hernandez, Nathaniel Dean, Alexander England, Benjamin Rigby

Introduction:
The horror film everyone is talking about, is the upcoming Alien: Covenant. Appearing in theatres on May 19th, and if the trailer is anything to go by, it looks like Ridley Scott has responded to pleas from fans, and gone for a full on Alien film. Not just that, but a full on horror film. In saying that, does it have comparisons to any of the previous Alien films? Each of the four, full on Alien films that have gone before it have all been completely different. If anything, parts on the Covenant space craft, have similarities to the 1979’s Alien.

What we are going to do now, is have a look at the trailer in detail, and break it down, making comment on the parts of the trailer, that I found to be important, and relevant. Its very exciting, and I have a few theories. I’ve tried my best to stay away from spoiler articles, so what I’m saying here is my point of view only.

If any of them turn out to be true, then so be it… Read ahead at your own risk!

Trailer Breakdown:

alienwatchThe Crew of The Covenant 

The name of the ship that is taking up the mission is called ‘Covenant’.
The crew is made up of couples, that are on their way, to colonise the planet.
This scene shows the crew getting together, before going into cryostasis.

alienwatch (1)The Ground Team

The ground team move out, to explore the terrain, and are immediately faced with questions.
They come across wheat, and other human vegetation.
How did a planet so far from Earth, that is considered uninhabited, have such things?

alienwatch (2)The Black Pods 

This is important, and a major plot point.
For anyone who hasn’t been following the build up to the film, or missed the Radio 2 interview with Michael Fassbender, these black pods that appear on the ground, are a mutation of the black goo that we saw in the Prometheus.
If you are to stand on one of the pods, an airborne contaminant known as a spore is released and enter your body through you ear.
They are microscopic in size, and do a very similar job, as the embryo planted by a face huggger.
Once you’re infected, you’re gonna have a bad time…
But more on that later.

alienwatch (3)A Familiar Sight: Cause For Concern

We all remember a derelict craft, identical to this one, on the planet LV426, in Ridley Scott’s ‘Alien’ in 1979, and then the exact same craft, in the James Cameron directed sequel ‘Aliens’ in 1986.
We know that whats inside, is the stuff nightmares are made of. This craft is a picture perfect portrait of death.
There should be a sign on the door saying ‘Death Awaits’.
A similar craft made an appearance at the end of Prometheus, when an engineer attempted to take off, but was thwarted by the crew of the Prometheus.
What makes the presumably crash landed craft, in this scene of particular interest, is that in the closing scenes of Prometheus, we see Elizabeth Shaw, and David take off in another engineer ship that was left on LV-223. Is this the ship that Elizabeth and David took off on? Is David here? If so, where is Elizabeth Shaw? David was just a separate head and boudy last time we saw him.

alienwatch (4)Inside The Craft: Engineer Suits

Here, we see the ground crew of the Covenant making what we know, is a bad decision.
We can clearly see in this photo, that there are a number of suits worn by the engineers.
We never saw the inside of the craft that David and Elizabeth took off on, but it was a craft that belonged to the engineers, so… is it too far fetched to think, that there may have been engineers on board?
If so, where are they now? Are they still there? More importantly, we have to ask ourselves that question once again… Where is David? Where is Elizabeth Shaw?

alienwatch (5)Dog Tags… 

I’m going to throw a cat amongst the pigeons and give you my thoughts on what this picture is telling us.
A picture can speak a thousand words, but I will try to be brief.
This was an uninhabited planet, that has a crash landed craft, and now there is a set of dog tags, with their owner, nowhere in sight. I am of the belief that these belong to Elizabeth Shaw, and she has got her wish, and met her maker. This must mean that David, in some way shape or form, is also there, with the black goo.

We know already from Prometheus, what David is willing to do, in his quest for knowledge and learning. He was ready to put Elizabeth Shaw, with the Alien fetus inside her, into cryostasis, so when they return to earth, he could study the alien further. He has first hand, seen what the black goo can do. When you look back at the human vegetation, and the black pods with the spores, it would be logical to say, that there has been some bio-engineering, and experimentation going on, and somehow, David is at the centre of it.

alienaec6390fc3f07936e87555f00f66c26d031c45d1The Spores

Now would be a logical time to discuss these pesky spores.
Right, so remember the black pods from earlier? When you stand on them, they release a spore.
See that tiny black dot in the centre of that mans ear? That’s the spore. It has now contaminated this man, and what will happen next to him, is beyond description… But in any case, i’m going to try.

alienwatch (10)The Birth of The Back Burster

The first four Alien films, gave us plenty of chest bursting action, giving birth to the dreaded Xenomorph.
Covenant brings us a new breed of Alien, known as the Neomorph. As you can probably guess, they burst out of your back, instead of your chest. Sounds delightful doesn’t it? So lets take a look at the Neomorph.

alienFotorCreated1_2The picture on top, is an artists impression of the Neomorph, and the picture below it, is a screenshot from the trailer. As we can see from the bottom picture, they are pale in colour, almost white in contrast to the black Xenomorph. We can also see that they appear to walk on all fours, There are spikes along its back, the elongated head, and scorpion like tail. From we have seen from the trailer, they appear ultra aggressive. Where the Xenomorph is calculated and attacks when you least expect it, the Neomorph appear to attack at will. Needless to say, ultra terrifying.

alienwatch (6)The Eggs

Are you ready for this? A crew member of the Covenant, the person we can see at the rear of the picture with the flashlight, is led into a room full of eggs. A familiar sight? You bet it is.
This is a room of the derelict craft, full of eggs.
More questions? Most Certainly.
How did the eggs get there?
The simple answer is an Alien Queen. But how did she get there? We saw in prometheus, that what came out of Elizabeth Shaw, was the first face hugger, that gave birth to the Deacon. Could the fate of Elizabeth Shaw, be linked with the birth of an Alien queen?
The second question has to be, who is the person leading the crew member into the egg room?

alienwalter_davidOn right, is the android David from Prometheus. On the left, is Walter, who is the new android onboard the covenant. We know that David must be somewhere on this planet, presumably restored to his full working best. But what has David been up to, and who is the person leading the unknowing crew member into the egg room?

alienwatch (7)This is the next shot in the egg room. With the crew member we saw earlier with the torch, standing right next to an opening egg, and we know whats inside.
But who is the person standing in the bottom right? I’m of the belief, this is one of the androids… but my gut feeling, is that its David. As we further explore the trailer, i’ll reveal why I think this is David.

For the unfortunate crew member, we know what happens next.

alienNEF5HozNq2bPIM_1_bThe Sacrifice

This picture is from Prometheus. Its known as the big head room, and is full of canisters of the black goo. It was thought this was a room of prayer and sacrifice.

alienwatch (17)At the back of this picture, we can see a statue, with a big domed building.
What is the building for, and how did it get there? Who built it? Who is the cloaked crusader in the middle of the picture?.
In front of the statue, are what appears to be human sacrifices. Humans I hear you say? Lets take a closer look.

alienwatch (11)They look rather human to me. Is it possible, that unknown to Weyland-Utani, that this planet was already colonised by humans? It’s also got the look of people that have has their backs burst open. A rather terrifying prospect, and reminds me of the colony on LV-426, who also met an unfortunate fate, that time, at the hands of Xenomorphs.

alienwatch (18)The Laboratory

If we look close at this picture, the person or something at the bottom looks to have had some kind of postmortem. There are also, all kinds of diagrams around the room, giving a kind of science lab feel. And of course, to the right hand side, is an alien. We’ll find out the purpose of this room in time i’m sure.

Conclusion:
There is so much happening in this film, and looks like its going to be mega…! Dare I say it, possibly the best since Aliens?
I hope Ridley Scott has got the pacing right, and allows for a coherent story to be told, instead of a mash up of scenes with monsters.
As I’ve said throughout, I believe that David is the key to all of this.
My theory is that David, at length, has studied the black goo from Prometheus, to the extents of what it can do, and what can be achieved by using it, on plants, people, and animals. I think the creatures we are seeing are David’s doing, through some kind of, crazy genetic engineering, and experimentation.
We know the black pods, release spores that kill you, giving birth to a Neomorph, and we have also clearly seen that there are eggs, to create Xenomoprhs.
With that many eggs though, it would make sense then, that there is a queen.

Lets consider the queen for a moment.
This is not a chicken and the egg scenario here.
For the Xenomorph to exist, a queen must be born, to lay an egg, release a face hugger, and so forth.
Did an engineer birth the queen? or Did Elizabeth Shaw? Or is it a product of David?
There are so many questions that I cannot wait to get the answers to! I’m incredibly excited and cant wait for this film to come out!

Ghosts of Darkness (2017) Review

GhostsOfDarkness-POSTER_BILLING - 350-EditedGhosts of Darkness (2017)

Written & Directed By: David Ryan Keith
Produced By: Lorraine Keith
Starring: Michael Koltes, Paul Flannery, Steve Weston, Lisa Livingstone, Liam Matheson, Morgan Faith Keith, Cameron Mowatt, Lindsay Cromar.
Release Date: March 7th, 2017 on VOD, and June 6th on DVD
Trailer Link: https://youtu.be/8FR5Uq9MMiU

Introduction:
Ghosts of Darkness, is the third feature film, to come from Scottish Writer/Director David Ryan Keith, and was part of the official selection of films at the ‘Bram Stoker International Film Festival, 2016.

The two previous feature films, were 2011’s zom/com spectacular, Attack Of The Herbals, and 2014’s bloodthirsty slasher, The Redwood Massacre’, which had the classic tale of teens in the woods, being hunted and slaughtered. Both of the films are clever in their storytelling, and choice of sub genre, with the two films following completely different paths. To that end, Ghosts of Darkness, certainly follows in the footsteps of its predecessors in following a different path, and for me, this film feels like it’s got its serious face on, and has more ambition and maturity to it.

Filmed in Scotland, Ghosts Of Darkness is the first feature film, that the talented Scottish director has made in the paranormal genre. The film secured worldwide distribution, before a scene had even been filmed, with American distribution company Uncork’d Entertainment in August of 2015.

god_promoshot44Synopsis:
On the strength of their reputations, Jack Donovan (Koltes), a paranormal investigator, and Jonathan Blazer (Flannery), a powerful psychic, are paired together in a large manor house with a very dark and shady past, in the hope of solving a mystery, that has had people guessing since the 1800’s.

To do this, Donovan and Blazer will be locked in the house for three nights, to record their findings and prove once and for all, if there really are secrets lurking within the walls. After starting their investigation, they discover that there’s more than one, very real paranormal entity, that means to do them harm. The two men must put their differences aside, if they want to survive their stay at Richmond Manor.

Review:
Ghosts of Darkness, is a celebration and a triumph, for Scottish indie-horror, film making. Do not make the mistake, of thinking this is another film, that’s riding the coattails of paranormal activity. This is a film that stands on it its own two feet.

demon7Creating a film about two men, running round a house chasing ghosts, is by no means an easy thing to do. It could have been so easy for things to have gone stale and fallen flat, but the dialogue is slick, witty and funny. There are moments of major intrigue that build suspense, and when things get going, the non stop action does not let the film fall into the trap of becoming a sleeping aid. The pacing of the film is great. Its not a film you have to be patient with, and then only delivers the frights at the end. Its gripping the whole way through, particularly the relationship between Blazer and Donovan, and the development of their characters. The pair, seemed so at ease, not only with each other, but in the roles they were portraying. Its obvious there was a good camaraderie between Koltes and Flannery, because although their characters are very chalk and cheese, they worked so well together. You are taken on a wonderful journey with the pair, from them butting heads, to forming a mutual respect, and most important of all, a real friendship.

Upon the two protagonists being introduced to us, they both start to go about their work, and have a very different approach towards getting started. Blazer is looking for something to drink, and Donovan gets out all of his fancy gadgets, and goes about setting them up. Little do they know at this point, that within the walls of Richmond Manor, there really are things that go bump in the night.To begin with, the two are dealing with ghosts that merely tease them with noises, apparitions, and actions akin to poltergeist activity. But when demons enter the fray, things go from bad to worse, as they start to prey on their inner most feelings and fears. Things then turn to acts of physical harm, use of sharp weapons, extreme violence, and much worse.

1The special effects and makeup team that worked on this film, need to take a bow. The ghosts and demons look genuinely threatening and scary. The eyes are the window to the soul, and firstly with the ghosts, the big black eyes show us an element of pure evil and bad intentions. The blackness in the eyes, reminded somewhat, of a film called ‘Grave Encounters’, which was terrifying, so this really worked well. The skin, as you would expect for a ghost is very pale, almost grey, and is made up to look dead and scarred. Its been done very effectively and the demons look incredible.

They really are the epitome of evil. If you had one of these walking towards you in a dark house in the middle of the night, you’d have a heart attack. Its hard to imagine that there is actually a person under that make up and that its not something straight from the necronomicon. The time and detail that has gone into that has gone into creating the gaping wounds and decomposing flesh is astonishing.

Score: 8/10

An Interview With Grainne McDermott by Gary Hindley

FotorCreated - EditedAn Interview With Grainne McDermott by Gary Hindley

I have been lucky enough to catch up with Grainne McDermott, to talk about her latest film, ‘I Know You’re In There’.

UKHS: Firstly, welcome to the UK Horror Scene and congratulations on ‘I Know You’re in There’. It’s a fantastic film, and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.  How are you doing today? 

Grainne McDermott: Hi! I’m doing great, thank you!

UKHS: Since it’s release, there has been a lot of buzz around ‘I know you’re in there’. Here at ‘UK Horror Scene’, we absolutely love it. What has life been like since making the film? 

Grainne McDermott: Thank you, that’s so nice to hear!! Life has been pretty cool since the film has been released. I’ve had such a nice response from people online about the film, I love to hear that I’ve creep’d them out!

IMG_3261UKHS: For your character ‘Chloe’, I know you’re doing a lot of sitting still, but did you have to do any research into how to portray the condition (Catatonic Schizophrenia) that she has? 

Grainne McDermott: I did, yes. I looked into Chloe’s diagnosis in prep for my audition to get an idea of how to move or not move. When I got the role, I talked with Robert Gordon (our writer/director) about Chloe and how he wanted her diagnosis portrayed and we collaborated on how to make her the most unsettling.

UKHS: What was it like having to sit so completely still, for such long periods of time? 

Grainne McDermott: The sitting still wasn’t so bad. The not blinking on the other hand…. Anyone up for a staring contest?

IMG_3291 - EditedUKHS: I can imagine, that there would have been times, when the director would have wanted to do multiple takes of certain scenes. What was that experience like, and was it hard to stay in character? 

Grainne McDermott: The only scenes I dreaded multiple takes of were the feeding scenes. I HATED those scenes but I really like playing creepy, so staying in character wasn’t a problem. Occasionally, I would blink and then blink blink blink and we would have to do another take. I tried really hard not to, but after 4 or 5 takes of not blinking, sometimes it just couldn’t be helped.

UKHS: You, and your co-star Will Hurst (who in the film, portrays the character of your brother Tom), were in close proximity for long periods of the movie. What was it like working with Will? 

Grainne McDermott: Will is great! We very quickly developed a brother/sister relationship and had a lot of fun in between takes.We lived in the house that we filmed in during production. We had a small cast and crew so it was very much a family unit for those three weeks.

IMG_3472UKHS: Is the horror genre something you’ve enjoyed working in, and would look to do more of? 

Grainne McDermott: I absolutely love the horror genre! My dad introduced me to the 1930’s and 40’s Universal monster movies, and the Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, Hammer Horror Dracula movies of the 60’s. The first film I worked on (Bloody Homecoming), was a throwback to 80’s slashers, so the horror genre holds a special place in my heart. I have to say, I adore being a creep fest! I would definitely work in the genre again and again.

13920162_1763059340618134_3308006064010099912_o - EditedUKHS: What can we look forward to catching you in next? 

Grainne McDermott: I play the younger version of Chloe Dykstra’s character in the movie “Diminuendo” directed by Bryn Pryor. I’ll also appear in an episode of the horror anthology “DARK/WEB”. Both projects are expected to be out this year!

Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us. It really sounds like you’re having a lot of fun, and really enjoying working in the horror genre. I’d really like to wish you all the best for the future, and in your upcoming projects, and hopefully speak to you again soon.  

Pet (2016) Review

rsz_petPET (2016)

Directed By: Carles Torrens
Written By: Jeremy Slater
Starring: Dominic Monaghan, Ksenia Solo, Jennette McCurdy
Score: 8/10

Introduction
‘Pet’, is an independent, psychological horror/thriller, that is being compared to the likes of ‘Hard Candy’, due to its claustrophobic nature. An announcement was made that the film would make its world premier in March 2016, at the SXSW Festival, and was very well received. ‘Pet’ was released theatrically on December 2nd, 2016 and will be available on VOD and DVD on December 27th, 2016.

Synopsis:
Seth (Dominic Monaghan), is a down on his luck young man, who works at an animal shelter. One day on his way home from work, a girl who he has not seen for years, but had crushed on in school, gets on the bus. She is a beautiful, young woman, called Holly (Ksenia Solo). He starts to stalk Holly, firstly, online on her tinder profile, and then moving on to following her around at nights in the dark, and repeatedly going to see her at work where she is waitress.  Lacking the confidence to ask her out, he decides he has had enough, and kidnaps Holly, and puts her in a cage in the basement of the animal shelter where he works. In this tale full of twists and turns, is Holly who he thinks she is and who will end up the real victim?

rsz_1pet2Review:
This is a full on roller coaster of a film that will have you gripped from start to finish. The further into the film you get, you find out about more about the characters disturbing secrets, and of Seth and Holly’s night time activities. The character development is absolutely superb, and the performances from the films two main characters is brilliant, and both play their parts incredibly well. Their back stories aren’t thrown at you in one big lump, but are more drip fed to you, leaving you locked on, craving more information about the pair, and wanting to know what depths each are prepared to go to, to satisfy their own personal lusts and desires. As more of this awesome story unfolds, the twists are brilliant and well thought out. As you venture into the awesome finale, you’ll be sitting on the edge of your seat in anticipation, of how this power struggle, between the two will ultimately play out.

Dominic Monaghan, who portrays the character ‘Seth’, is presented as a loner and a nobody who is invisible to the world. We see his boundaries completely disappear, as his lust for Holly turns to infatuation and his is mind descends further into madness and obscurity. He meticulously plans the kidnapping and incarceration of Holly, as he works towards what is his ultimate goal of having this girl as his pet, someone he can have power over, and control. You get the sense from him that there may be no limits of what he is capable of. His intentions are not of a sexual nature and he keeps repeating to Holly that he wants to help her. He seems to want to systematically break her down psychologically. But the more he thinks he is succeeding with his plan he is actually playing straight into Holly’s hands, who has got plans of her own.

rsz_pet4Ksenia Solo, who portrays Holly, is the girl that Seth becomes completely obsessed with. From the day she first met Seth on a bus ride home from work, she becomes more and more conscious of the fact, that Seth is popping up everywhere she goes. She finds herself constantly looking over her shoulder and develops a huge sense of paranoia. Once kidnapped, and as each day goes by, we find out more about Seth’s prisoner, and Holly is definitely not what she first appears to be. Seth is presented with some major problems that he could never have anticipated, turning the film completely on its head and presenting the unusual situation which sees the hostage take complete control from the confines of her cage.

The pacing of each scene is brilliant. You’re not left lingering and waiting for something to happen ,in saying that after what are some pretty heated conversations between the two, you have the time to digest the mind games being played and prepare yourself for whatever is coming next.
The scenes filmed in the basement between Seth, and Holly are so intense and enticing and what compliments this greatly is the dialogue, it’s simply brilliant. The exchanges between the pair intensify with each visit, and with this, we see the balance of power shift back and forth between the hostage and her keeper. After they’re through talking for the day, each of them are left with some food for thought, and sit rehearsing how they’re going to play out their next move in this most dangerous game of cat and mouse.

rsz_pet3Final Thoughts:
Although this film was the lowest grossing film of any theatrical release in 2016, taking in a measly $70, I’m struggling to come to terms with how such a good film can slump so badly in the theatres. It may be a lack of publicity, or just a sign of the times, with films being so readily available online… or simply that the film was released at a time, where it was swamped by bigger box office films. This really is one of the best psychological films that has come out in quite some time. Its extremely clever, brilliantly written, and fantastically performed. I expect that this film will do much better when released on VOD and will be one that i’m sure will be appreciated for the fine film that it is.

8/10

Alien Covenant Trailer – An Examination

Aalien-covenant-1280lien Covenant Trailer

Directed By: Ridley Scott
Written By: Michael Green, John Logan, Jack Paglen
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, James Franco, Noomi Rapace, Guy Pearce

Introduction:
Alien: Covenant, will slot into the Alien franchise, as the sequel to ‘Prometheus’, released in 2012, and the 2nd prequel to ‘Alien’, which was released in 1979, with all three films being directed by Ridley Scott. The original film was a meteoric success. It’s one of those films, that is up there as one of the best films of its generation, and even today, the fear inducing, claustrophobic nature of the film, makes it timeless classic, and one to be treasured.

alien-covenant-teaser-trailer-020Synopsis:
The crew of the colony ship ‘Covenant’, are headed for a remote planet on the far side of the galaxy. En route, they discover what they believe to be an uninhabited planet full of wonderment and possibilities. They soon find out, that they are not alone. And where they have landed, is in fact a hostile, dark, and volatile world, full of danger at every turn. The Covenant crew members, to their misfortune, soon discover something they could never have imagined… even in their worst nightmares. Somehow, someway, they must make their escape.

What Do We Know?
Before the trailer for Alien: Covenant was released, there was some delightfully dark artwork released. Below, you will see what has got us Alien fans salivating. Will we see the return of the Xenomorph? Or at least start to learn of their origins? Is this a new breed of Alien?

fotorcreatedFrom the start of production, Ridley Scott made it clear that this movie would be going in a direction similar to the first Alien film. He also said that there will creatures bursting out of bodies, and lots of blood and violence. For fans of this franchise (myself included), this all sounds like great news, but can it be delivered? Its no secret that due to studio involvement on Prometheus, the studio wanted to have a franchise, and milk the Alien cash cow for every penny they could get. So instead of getting the direct prequel to Alien, (like most fans thought) we got a film, that had absolutely nothing to do with Alien.

When a sequel was announced, the big question was always going to be about the direction of the sequel. Would it continue on the Prometheus route, and remain removed from the Alien story line? Or would we finally get a film that will link up to Alien? From the look of the trailer, we’re moving in the right direction for sure. One thing we know for sure, is that the Alien creatures that featured in Prometheus, will not be returning. Only the engineers, and the black goo will feature.

fotorcreated1The Trailer:
The start of the trailer, is very reminiscent of the intro to the first Alien film, showing us long, narrow corridors and walkways. It brings back that familiar claustrophobic feeling. In the below screen shots taken directly from the trailer, we can see one of the walkways, with bloodied footprints, and they’re not from a human.

Very early in the trailer, we’re hit with a bombshell. We see a male, in the midst of a seizure, and then his back starts to burst open. It would seem then, that this is first sign of a new breed of Alien.

Interestingly, Michael Fassbender, (who portrayed the android character, ‘David’ in ‘Prometheus’)  in an interview with BBC Radio 2, let slip that the new type of Aliens that we will see, are called ‘Neomorphs’ or more simply, ‘Back Busters’.

fotorcreated2The next question has to be, ‘How do this new breed of Alien, come to be’? With information sourced from AvP Galaxy, i’ll go ahead and tell you in my own words.

Remember the black goo we saw in Prometheus? The planet, that the crew of the Covenant have travelled to, is covered in this goo, and it has mutated the local ecosystems. Large patches of black pods have formed on the ground, and on trees. As pictured above, if these pods are disturbed, or stepped on, they release spores, which enter the human body through the ear or the nose.
screenshot-2016-12-30-at-16-25-12The alien then grows within the infected human host, and when its time, bursts out through either the back or throat. The Neomorph shares some similarities to the ‘Deacon’ alien we saw at the end of ‘Prometheus. When it breaks out of its human host, it used its pointed head and two dorsal spines, to break free of its embryonic sack. When born, the Neomorphs are white in colour, and at first, they will walk on four legs, and when fully grown, stand up and walk on their two back legs.

This all sounds very exciting then. But… there is more. The crew uncover a huge patch of eggs. And bursting out of them, are the face-hugger. That’s right, they’re back. And I can imagine that can mean only one thing? The return/rebirth of the Xenomorph. There are still a lot of unanswered questions then, which is exactly what a trailer should be leaving you with. I honestly cant wait to see what comes next with this film, and really hope it can live up to all the early hype its receiving.

John Dies At The End (2012) Review

mv5bmtuynziynzc0mv5bml5banbnxkftztcwotm5odg1oa-_v1_John Dies At The End (2012)

Directed By: Don Coscarelli
Written by: David Wong (Author) and Don Coscarelli (Screen Adaption)
Starring: Chase Williamson, Rob Mayes, Paul Giamatti. Arnie Blondestone, Clancy Brown, Glynn Turman
Release Date: 22 March 2013
Score: 9/10

Introduction
‘John Dies At The End’, is a horror/comedy/fantasy film, which stretched my mind to lengths I never thought possible. Not only is this film extremely clever, its absolutely hilarious, and terrifying at the same time.
You’d be forgiven, for thinking that the title of the film, perhaps ruins the ending, and things don’t really end to well for John, but you’ll soon come to find out, that things are not quite as clear cut as they may seem.

Synopsis:
There’s a drug called ‘Soy Sauce’. The sauce for short. The people that use it, or come into contact with it, develop the ability to travel through time and space, to different dimensions. When they come back, sometimes, they’re no longer human, and bring back with them, all manor of demonic creatures, and worst of all, an evil entity, that goes by the name of Kurok, intent on wiping out humanity. The fate of the world, is in the hands of John and Dave. Two college drop out, lay about’s, who’s day job revolves around being demon spiritualist/exorcists, kicking the ass out of anything evil coming over to their plane. The pair are about to embark on a make or break journey to face evil, and save the world.

john-dies-at-the-end_10Review:
From the director of the hilarious horror/comedy ‘Bubba Ho-Tep’, comes ‘John Dies At The End’.
The way the film begins, does not ease you in gently, and this is a good thing. The energy needs to be up to make something like this work, and it does, to great effect. This is one of those films that will immediately encapsulate you. It’s not a film to watch on a Friday night with a beer and a group of friends, who are going to talk through the integral parts of the formation of the plot, and then 10 minutes later, say this film is confusing, and they don’t know whats going on.

The first few lines of dialogue, are both confusing but utterly intriguing and leave you wanting to know more about what this guy is babbling on about. As the story is further introduced to you, in what I can only describe, as some of the most insane, and best delivered dialogue, my ears have had the privilege of hearing, you begin to understand more of how this man known as David Wong, has come to be who he is, and form an appreciation for what he does, what he has been through, and what he is going to go through.

Lets set the scene. David Wong, sits down for an interview with a journalist called Arnie. He wants to make public, the adventures that he and John have been through, Therefore, you can probably guess that the plot centres around a flash back, were David recounts his story, of a series of fascinating, and utterly terrifying events. It revolve’s around he and his friend John, how they came into contact with ‘The Soy Sauce’, and how their lives dramatically changed from that very moment.

john-dies-at-the-end-soy-sauce-550x229The soy sauce, which is also referred to as ‘The Sauce’ is a horrible looking black goop in a syringe, its alive. It will literally grow spores, turn into a small fly and find its way into your body. If you come into contact with it, you’re whole world is going to change, and you’re life is never going to be the same again.  The sauce isn’t evil, and doesn’t use a person as a host. It heightens every sense, and opens up many gateways. Your brain will work faster than any computer, you can communicate telepathically, you can pass between dimensional planes, and scariest of all, you can see the evil creatures that are hidden just out of sight, that are all around us. The kind that you only see in the corner of your eye, if you concentrate hard enough, and you’re unlucky enough to see it. The grease trap of the universe is in your line of sight, and you can fight or die, or, be consumed by evil, and used as a host to serve its will, and then die. Either way, you’re gonna need to get your pistol, and get ready.

In every good film, next to the lead characters, there’s always the person in the supporting role, that just ties it all together nicely. In this film, its the detective. His dialogue is brilliant. Like all the dialogue in the film. not only is it clever, but it has wit, and humour.
One seen in particular, at ‘Robert Marley’s’ trailer, the detective comes into his own, and the film goes up another level from this point.

maxresdefaultThe evil creatures Dave and John are fighting against, and the way the evil trying to consume the earth, always needs a host, to fulfil its will, they all have a feeling of the creature(s) in John Carpenter’s ‘The Thing’. They’re gross, hideous looking things, and the poor souls that become the hosts to these things, once they’re no longer of any use, they meet a truly brutal, and vicious end to their existence.

Make no mistake about it… As wonderful as the fantasy element is in this film, and how funny it is, and how witty, and clever the dialogue is… the horror element is brutal. There is one scene especially, when they pass to another dimension, that sees something you could only attribute to the nazi’s. Human beings are thrown into a mass grave while still alive, and then the rest of that scene becomes animated, like something akin to Tarantino’s Kill Bill… I will say that the violence is not human on human, but there is lots of blood, dismemberment and decapitation. ‘Groovy’.

2016 saw the revival of scary clowns, both in film and popular culture. In this film, there is no clowns, ghosts, or zombies. But if spiders, snakes, and creatures so disgusting, your mind couldn’t even begin to comprehend them, make you squeamish, then you’ll be watching this film through your fingers.

But never fear, because alongside David and John, is their boss, and all round bad ass, ‘Marconi’. The superb ‘Clancy Brown’ portrays this living god superbly. He is a mentalist/spiritualist/exorcist and everything else all in one. With a single thought, or the mere muttering of a single word, he can make a demon literally explode. If our two hero’s find themselves literally up to their necks in it, enter ‘Marconi’ with the solution.

john-dies-review-3Since first seeing this film, it’s one of those that I have always gone back to, and will regularly recommend to anyone looking for a decent film. When I speak about it to people, and they have no clue what i’m talking about, it shouldn’t, but it astounds me that this film never got more coverage than it did. It has a cult following sure, and maybe its better that way. The majority of the better films are. The film isn’t just solid, it isn’t just funny, dark, and outlandish… its completely brilliant and enlightening, and a film that everyone should see at least once in their life.

9/10

Birmingham Horror Con Feb 4th 2017 – A Preview

bcc
Horror Con is coming to Birmingham in 2017, on February 4th, at Edgbaston stadium, with a truly fantastic line up.
All across the UK, those of you, who like us, are in love with everything horror, this convention is your chance to get up close, and meet the stars of your favourite horror films. There will also be a chance to meet many established, and award winning authors, graphic novelists, special effects, prosthetic wizards, and make up artists, who have worked on many feature films, and other exciting projects. You will have the chance to see some of their awesome talents on display, in any or all of the workshops, and live demonstrations happening throughout the day.

There will be a number of exciting exhibits to visit, as well as there being some amazing merchandise for sale, at the many traders tables at the convention, with some unusual, but completely amazing purchases available, made right in front of you, by people with an unholy amount of talent. Where else would you find, this level of awesomeness, all together, under one roof?
Birmingham Horror Con 2017, is surely not one to be missed.

Get Your Tickets Here 

Guests
One of the most anticipated parts of any horror convention, is the guests. It allows fans to get up close and be star struck by their favourite movie heroes, and authors. There are guests appearing, that are stars of  fan favourites. Films such as Nightmare On Elm Street, Halloween, Sinister, Wrong Turn, The Human Centipede 2, Dead End, and a Scream Queen of the classic, British, Hammer Horror films. The authors that are attending, have all worked on major horror projects, and the majority are award winning authors, who have seen their work be optioned by major Hollywood producers to make film adaptations of their writing. Below, are just a few of the exciting guests, you can meet at the convention. For a full preview of the guests attending Birmingham Horror Con, Click Here.

kensagoes

Ken Sagoes IMDb
February 2017, will see the 30th anniversary of ‘A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors‘. To celebrate this landmark, Ken Sagoes, who portrayed the no nonsense tough guy ‘Kincade’ will be making his very first appearance in the UK. He will be signing autographs and is very much looking forward to meeting all his fans. He’ll be discussing his time working on Dream Warriors, and interestingly, how he was the first ever African-American actor, to survive a horror film and return for a sequel, in ‘A Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master’. He will also be talking about his upcoming movie ‘Gorenos’, portraying the character ‘Haywood’. The film will be released in April 2017.

jsugarciaJsu Garcia

Jsu Garcia IMDb
Jsu portrayed the part of bad boy ‘Rod Lane’, in the nightmare inducing, cinematic masterpiece, that is the Wes Craven directed ‘A Nightmare On Elm Street’. The 1984 release, would be the first time, that the world would be introduced, to possibly the most iconic villain in horror film history, in Freddy Krueger. On the advice of his agent, Jsu gave himself a stage name. In the credits sequence at the start of Nightmare, he is listed under the name Nick Corrie. He is looking forward to coming back to the UK, and especially to Birmingham, being a huge fan of the British crime/drama ‘Peaky Blinders’.

tonymoranTony Moran

Tony Moran IMDb
In 1978, John Carpenter gave us ‘Halloween’. And with it, would give us one of horrors most terrifying, and most recognisable movie villains of all time, in Michael Myers. The character, in the credits roll, quite hauntingly, is known quite simply, as ‘The Shape’. It would Tony Moran who would have the honour of portraying the indestructible antagonist.

After doing Halloween, Tony took a long hiatus from acting, but has recently made a return to our screens, starring in the recently released ‘American Poltergeist’, and will also star in 2017’s horror blockbuster ‘Death House’, where he will portray the part of Miguel. 2017 will also see Tony being active in many more projects, as he continues his return. Check out his IMDb, for a look at what he’s up to in 2017.

nickkingNick King

Nick King IMDb
Nick starred as the villain Bughuul, in the chilling, nightmare inducing Sinister films. His portrayal of Mr Boogie, is one that easily makes this character, one of the most terrifying villains to come to our screens in some time. Nick has spent the majority of his career being a stuntman. He has featured in such horror films as Paranormal Activity and Paranormal Activity 3, as well as the massive Marvel comic film adaptations of Thor, and The Green Hornet. He also starred in ‘The Last Stand’, where he featured with screen legend, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Johnny Knoxville.

nickpNick Percival

www.nickpercival.com
Nick is an award-winning Graphic Novelist, who specialises in high-detail comic book artwork and concept designs for Film, videogames and Television. He has worked with all the heavy weights in the entertainment business, having had such clients as Sony, EA, Marvel Entertainment, Microsoft Game Studios, MTV, Warner Bros, Activision, director John Carpenter and Author Clive Barker, just to name a few. Nick created exclusive artwork for the ‘Hellraiser’ comic book series, and designed the new female ‘Pinhead’ character. He also created the original artwork for the ‘Asylum’ horror comic book series. His recent work, has included developing his own projects, including writing and directing short horror films.

davidmoodyDavid Moody

www.davidmoody.net
David has written a number of horror novels, including AUTUMN. The book was a major success, and has been downloaded more than half a million times since being published in 2001. The success of this novel, led to many, equally successful sequels, and a movie starring Dexter Fletcher and David Carradine. Also, renowned film director, Guillermo del Toro, bought the rights to his novel, HATER. He is currently writing new HATER novels and working on the long-gestating movie adaptation.

Spotlight

The spotlight and exhibits section of the convention, details the cosplayers, industry professionals and businesses, that are putting on workshops, and live demonstrations of their talents in special effects, make-Up, prosthetic’s, photography, mould making and much more. Below, we will take a look at some of the best bits you can see throughout the day. To see a full preview of all the cosplayers that will be attending, as well as all the workshops, live demonstrations, and exhibits that will be at the convention, Click Here.

mccMonster Charity Project

The Monster Charity Project Facebook Page

Birmingham Horror Con, has recently announced their new partnership, and show of support for the Monster Charity Project. At the convention, you’ll be able to meet the people behind this wonderful charity, and find out some more information about their activities and the work they do.
After a very successful Biker Scout Helmet Project, a new, very exciting venture is underway, that will see 25, of the top special effects artists from across the country, coming together to customise 25 monster Busts.
These items will then be auctioned off in October 2017, with all proceeds go to Make A Wish UK.
If you wish to find more information about this wonderful charity, click on the Facebook link above.

wohPascal Frank

Pascal Franck Facebook Page
1,2, Freddy’s Comin’ For You…
Meet Pascal Franck. The man who is also known, as ‘The Belgian Freddy Krueger’.
On February 4th, in celebration of the 30th anniversary of ‘A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors’, the man of your dreams will be jumping out of dream land, and straight into Birmingham Horror Con, in full Freddy make up, and will be equipped with all his Freddy props for you to pose with, for your photographic joy. Everybody in attendance, should ‘5,6 get Your Crucifix’ and ‘Get Ready for Freddy’.

horrme1Horrify Me

http://www.horrify.me.uk/
Horrify Me is a truly amazing, and unique experience, and at Birmingham Horror Con, you lucky people will have the amazing opportunity, to see them at work! This award winning studio, specialises in photography, special effects, make up, props, and are geared solely towards everything horror. Do not make the mistake, of thinking that this is just some kind of upmarket fancy dress. Through utter wizardry, and an outlandish amount of talent, they can literally transform you into any your favourite horror film characters. There is literally no limit to what they can do. The end results are mind blowing, movie-quality images,
It’s messy, gory fun having a full horror makeover, and then being instructed into several poses, and being covered in lots of blood. You’ll be snarling, biting, dribbling blood, and trying to look as horrible as possible.
Horrify Me offers an amazing, unforgettable experience that you will simply love! Check out the website for all the available options and associated prices.

wpLive Special Effects / Prosthetic’s Demonstration – Rogue Creations SFX

http://www.roguecreationssfx.com/
Rogue Creations SFX specialise in a huge range of special effects for film, television and theatre.
At the convention, they will be putting on live demonstrations featuring prosthetic’s, special effects, and make up.
Having worked on such films as The Descent, Harry Potter 5, The Zombie Diaries 1 & 2, Knight of the Dead, Predator:Dark Ages, Unhallowed Ground and Shed of the Dead, their services include sculptures, mould-making, special effects, make up, prosthetic’s, and much, much more. For information on Rogue Creations, visit their website.

Merchandise
We all love purchasing wonderful horror merchandise. Whether it be a t-shirt, poster, something that’s a limited edition item for your favourite film or character, or even a personalised item, everyone loves a memento from the occasion. The 2017 convention will see some truly inspired merch for sale. Here is a selection of the traders tables you should look out for. For a full preview of all the traders that will be at Birmingham Horror Con, Click Here.

rsz_bgscbk-1024x1024Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide

Website: http://www.rocknrollsuicide.com
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/rocknrollsuicideuk
Rock n Roll Suicide sell a huge range of horror related products for sale. They sell a large selection of products by Kreepsville 666. These products include bags by Elvira, jewellery by Alchemy and Kreepsville 666, patches, clothing, pin badges and even coffin shaped beach towels. They also sell classic horror patches, from films such as Chucky, A Nightmare On Elm Street, Dracula, Evil Dead, Frankenstein, Friday The 13th, Hellraiser, It, Lost Boys, Nosferatu, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and much more

ccCharlotte Clark

http://www.charlotteclarkdesignermaker.co.uk
Charlotte Clark Designer Maker, creates delightfully dark designer ceramics to complement your home. Her range covers dinnerware, cushions, and ornaments. All the items she sells are all decorated by hand on bone china, and are kiln fired at her workshop, and are suitable for use in microwaves and are dishwasher safe. Have a look at her full range on her website.

rhThe Mini Replica Hut

https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/TheMiniReplicaHut
Tony Owen a.k.a Stumpy is a specialist in custom made, stainless steel sculptures, that are based around movies, games, comic books and more. Tony will be bringing a wide range of his unique, hand made sculptures to Horror con, which will be available for purchase. He will also be taking orders, for sculptures to be made to your own specifications. Check out the website for a deeper look into the work carried out by The Mini Replica Hut. These sculptures are truly beautiful, and unique, and would make an amazing, one of a kind souvenir.

Birmingham Horror Con then, is one of the first conventions of the year, and an event on the horror calendar you are not going to want to miss. Be sure to Get Your Tickets Here, and we’ll look forward to you on February 4th, 2017.

Blessed Are The Children (2016) Review

batc1Blessed Are The Children (2016)

Directed By: Chris Moore
Written By: Chris Moore and Chris Wesley
Cast: Kaley Ball, Keni Bounds, Arian Thigpen
Release Date: November 5th, 2016 (USA)

Introduction:
Blessed Are The Children, is an independent horror/thriller film, set in Jackson, Mississippi, USA. The story follows a young woman, who has accidentally fallen pregnant, and needs an abortion. Due to controversial comments made by business tycoon, and the now President-Elect, of the United States of America, ‘Donald Trump’, there has been much talk and debate about the subject of abortion. He has made it clear in many speeches, that all lives matter, and he wants to put a law in place, to ban abortion. This has of course, sparked outrage. Needless to say then, this film has certainly come around at the right time, when the subject is high on the list of discussion in all levels of society, all round the world.

Synopsis:
After a recent break up from her physically abusive ex-fiancé, Traci Patterson, portrayed by Kaley Ball, accidentally falls pregnant, and is unsure as to who the father is. Her house-mates Mandy and Erin, portrayed by Keni Bounds, and Arian Thigpen, help her in deciding, that it would be best to get an abortion. Upon having the procedure and leaving the clinic, she is stalked relentlessly by anti-abortion fanatics, who were protesting at the clinic. They’re ringing her mobile phone, and leaving threatening messages and wherever she goes, they’re breathing down her neck. They’re the rattle in bushes, the whistle in the wind. Is this sub-conscious guilt, or are Traci and her friends about to find out, that there are things that go bump in the night?

Review:

batc2Blessed Are The Children, is a major throwback to the grindhouse era of horror. It has a major 70’s, B-movie feel to it, which whether intentional or not, works very well. There was very low budget, and the cast of actors and actresses, were complete novices . In the case of the lead actress, and her two house mates, this was their first ever film. In the most part I found this feature a little frustrating, and this is mainly to do with the pacing of the film. There are instances, where scenes that are not of huge importance to the film, drag on a little longer than they should. I didn’t get the impression that the film knew what it was, or what direction it wanted to go in. For the majority of the film, it was a drama, about a girl coming of age, then it got to being a stalker-slasher horror, and the quality of the film improved dramatically. When the two antagonists come into the film, and start being used to proper effect, the fear factor cranks up to 11. There are genuinely scary moments, that will make the hair on the back of your neck stand on end.

From the moment that the stalking properly starts, the fright factor escalates dramatically, and you get a proper feel for what direction the film should have been going in from the beginning. The lead up to these mad men getting to their victims is really creepy. Its not just murder, its the fear they put into their victims whilst they’re stalking them, and hunting them down. It all starts off with following her around, and letting her know, that no matter where she goes, they can get to her, and they are watching. Next comes the chilling, and then more threatening phone calls. Then, they start leaving baby dolls round her house, with pre-recorded messages inside them. They now know, that these mad men can get into their home. No matter what they do, or where they go, they are incredibly vulnerable.

When they arrive, the killing scenes are completely brutal and nothing is left on the table. A straight razor is the weapon of choice, and it is used to devastating effect, and plenty of imagination. This is where the 70’s grind house element really shows itself, in full on gory fashion. In this era of film making in the horror genre, I completely understand that each writer and each director, wants to strive for originality, and to present fresh and innovative ideas, that will provide big interesting twists, that will put their stamp on a film. Sometimes, taking such a bold approach really works.

The idea that has been attempted here, I respect for trying to be original, and for trying to do something different. The thing is, it left a bitter taste in my mouth, and I didn’t know where the film could have gone from this point. A pretty major event with the main character occurs and it really did leave me in a weird space. It was good in the sense that it was something I’d never really experienced before, but at the same time, it felt as if someone had slammed the breaks on, stepped out of the vehicle, and left the engine running.

batc3The story does move on from this event, and does pick up again to approach its conclusion. With the final act, the director has gone for home invasion, and the stalking method that has been used to good effect through the film, is used again here, with a pretty brutal, and blood soaked ending.

4/10

Hell House LLC (2015) Review

hh1Hell House LLC  (2015)

Directed By: Stephen Cognetti
Written By: Stephen Cognetti
Produced By: Joe Bandelli
Release Date: November 23rd, 2016
Starring: Gore Abrams, Adam Schneider, Danny Bellini, Jared Hacker, Ryan Jennifer, Lauren A. Kennedy, Phil Hess, Miranda Robbins

Synopsis
The long since abandoned ‘Abbadon Hotel’, is converted into the ultimate Halloween haunted attraction, called ‘Hell House’. On the highly anticipated opening night of the attraction, there was an unexplained malfunction, that resulted in the fatality of fifteen staff and tour goers. Five years later, a documentary team is contacted by one of the surviving staff members of the Hell House opening night. She has come forward with real time footage of the massacre, which was never handed into the police. With the new footage in tow, we will travel back to the scene of the tragedy, to once and for all find out what really happened.

Review:
This found footage feature, is one of the best constructed, written, directed, and genuinely scary films I’ve seen all year. By looking at the synopsis, you would be forgiven for thinking that this film is the same, tired, haunted house story, that has been done a million times, and follows the same formula that made Grave Encounters a cult favourite.
It gives me great joy to tell you, that this independent horror movie, has a director with the power of free thought. This allows the story to follow his intended path, and have its own story, and make its own rules, with the only restriction being his imagination and his budget. Believe me when I say, that veering off the found footage- beaten path, and being bold, has paid off immensely.

hh3Prior to ‘Hell House LLC’, writer/director Stephen Cognetti, had only made 3 short films, that were low-budget, cop/crime comedies. This is Cognetti’s first feature film and first step into the world of horror. Coupled with a young, enthusiastic cast, the film gives a breath of fresh air, to a format, and sub-genre, that can often be tiresome and repetitive. The pacing throughout the film really works. The way that it eases you in, allows for you to come to grips with the characters, and to get a proper feel for, and digest all the important information being given to you, that builds the scene for the film you’re about to watch.

Throughout, the build up of tension and suspense is exquisite. Whatever evil is lurking, wants to drag the group of friends, kicking and literally screaming, to that point where absolute terror, turns into complete insanity. We see their reality spin clean off of its axis, as the group struggle to keep their heads, in what will become a fight for their lives. You’ll be sat on the edge of your seat, and driven into a nail biting frenzy. The atmosphere of suspense in the film, is reminiscent of techniques used to perfection, by the likes of John Carpenter. That kind of filmmaking is something that can’t be taught. It’s instinct.

hh4The film begins with a happy feeling, as our five protagonists, Paul, Alex, Tony, Andrew, and Sara, get ready to begin their new venture, in turning an abandoned hotel, into a leading haunted house attraction in time for Halloween. Shortly after getting there, they learn of a previous owner from decades before, who had hung himself in the dining room of the hotel. He practised the black arts and saw himself as a vessel for the word of Satan. He was using the basement for occult meetings, and much of the paraphernalia used, was still laying around, as well as satanic artwork and pentagrams drawn on the walls.
After the first few weeks, the original team of five, are joined by two new staff, in male actor Joey, and female actor Melissa. Over a few drinks, they all sit and discuss their plans for the further building of the attraction. This kind of social interaction further adds to the character development, and helps ease Joey and Melissa into the film. At this point, it creates the standpoint of high morale and camaraderie in the group.

hh2In the days and weeks that follow, there is activity of a bizarre, and hard to explain nature. Suddenly, we see the atmosphere amongst the friends start to change for the worst. The cracks in the walls and leaky roof, start to seep in to the once strong friendships within the group. This allows for further character development, to be integrated effortlessly into the film. Only this time, they’re different, more emotional, and temperamental sides of the characters.
That old building that once seemed so big, is becoming very claustrophobic.

Further unexplainable, and now frightening activity, is causing tensions to run high. Friendships have fully splintered, as nasty thoughts sink in, that someone, or something, is being so cruel and vulgar, as to take joy in feeding on their fears, and deliberately making them feel vulnerable. This is of course, until they catch something happening on camera, that could not have been done by anyone in the group. They find themselves arriving at the horrible realisation, that they’re not alone. For the now tired and weary ‘unhappy campers’, feelings of doubt about opening the doors to the public start to niggle, as Hell House starts living up to its name. The walls are starting to close in on the unlucky group.

There is an impending feeling of doom that you can’t shake off. You’ll find yourself, genuinely fearing for the group, and what on earth could possibly happen next to these poor souls. You know you’re about to find out very shortly, and as much as you want to watch, you can’t bare to see them come to harm.

hh6The opening night arrives, and seeing the actual events in full, from the viewpoint of the staff, does not disappoint. There is no anti-climax. For the staff of Hell House, the aeroplane, is about to crash into the mountain, with devastating effects. This is the point where I will discuss the use of practical effects. Quite simply put, they’re brilliant. Being a found footage film, it would be such a school boy error to have gone down the route of CGI. The film has been outstanding up to this point, so it would have such a cheap blow, to have seen something so ridiculous.
The main event features blood, screaming, clowns, druids with big swords, and lots of death. They’re all uninvited, but they’re bad ass perpetrators, and make their presence known when they come to crash the party.

It looks, sounds and feels like hell, and everything in it, is literally breaking loose. Nobody can do anything to stop it. Trying to fight this would be like trying to fight fire with a chocolate axe. In narrow, cramped, maze of hallways in Hell House, the only thing to do, is run, as fast as possible, and hope that the massive crowd of people in front of you, has the same idea. What is unfolding, is a scene of carnage, terror and mayhem.

hh5The staff of Hell House can’t be staff anymore and worry about the lives of everyone in the building. Self preservation is key. They too are under siege, and you the viewer, can feel their full fear through the screen. If you’re easily frightened or of weak stomach, you’re going to want to hide behind a pillow, or find yourself facing many sleepless nights. (You have been warned).

The film will cut back to the safety of the documentary team, and tentatively, you’ll put your cushion down, and attempt to draw breath. This would be a mistake. If you think you’ve seen the ending, and you can rest until the credits, you’re wrong. Like every great horror film, ever made, the villain/evil entity always has one last scare, and/or a big, juicy twist.

The surviving staff member telling the story, brings the found footage element, showing the arrival at hell house, through to the opening night massacre, with cuts to interview questions from the documentary team. Added to that, there are the ‘Real Life’ interviews, with viewpoints of journalists/investigative reporters, police/fire crew, and on site photographers. This really adds to the film and makes it more of a spectacle. As silly as this may sound, it adds a proper feel of realism.

hh7For a novice director and cast, this film throughout, is incredibly well made and acted. I have to say, that I was genuinely… happily surprised. In saying that, if it was a seasoned director and cast, I’d say exactly the same thing. There is a lot of talent being showcased in this film, and they should all be very proud of what they’ve made.

I’ll be sure to be following the future work of this director, to see what he comes up with next. Hopefully another horror. Hell House 2 perhaps? We should be so lucky.

9/10