KillerSaurus (2015) Review

killersaurus1KillerSaurus (2015)

Directed by Steve Lawson

Starring Julian Boote, Adam Collins, Helen Crevel and Steven Dolton

Out on UK DVD from 88 Films

When a scientist runs short of funding for his life-saving medical Bio – Printing research, he accepts an offer of investment from a shadowy military organisation. In return, he is forced to use his technology to create the ultimate battlefield weapon – a full size Tyrannosaurus Rex. After an horrific accident in which the dinosaur massacres his research team, the scientist shuts down the project. However his investors demand results and it can only be a matter of time before the deadly T-Rex is unleashed upon the world.

Back in 1993 one of my most vivid memories was visiting my local (independent) cinema, the Monaco in Rhiwbina, Cardiff to watch the majestic Jurassic Park. Although not my favourite Spielberg movie, take a bow ET, I was engrossed by the film from the opening shot to the last. I was swept up in the rush of dinosaur enthusiasm, learning about each and ever dinosaur and hunting for amber in the local emporiums. Although my dinosaur enthusiasm has waned over the years, my love of dinosaur films has certainly not.

killersaurus2This leads me to 2015’s Killer/Saurus, an ambitious film, a film with no shortness of ambition. Almost immediately I was struck how well the film looked. I watched this on a HD stream and the film looked clean, with sharp contrast and a good use of colour and composition. Looking at the cast and crew I can see that the director was also the cinematographer, no small feat. From the small number of independent B-movies I have reviewed this fact certainly stood out, so I immediately engaged with the movie from the start.

The score is ominous and works. It sounds big and cinematic, and is appropriate to the film. Sometimes I look at purchasing such scores and find it difficult to source, for example this soundtrack is nowhere to be found on places such as iTunes.

The script is perfunctory and simple, very perfunctory in fact. In a film like this, on a budget of this size, although claiming to be a ‘creature feature’ its very much ala a bottle episode of a well made TV show. You know the episodes, mid season, budget saving, 2 or 3 people in a room all shouting at each other. In this instance, the script has to work, otherwise the viewer is instantly bored and loses interest. In this instance I was very much bored. I’m not one to have see action every other scene, but a script has to keep me engaged, and this one didn’t. Lines such as “Never underestimate the power of instinct” and stolen from the ultimate creature feature, Jaws, “smile you sonofabitch!” don’t ring true and comes across as false and, indeed, lazy.

killersaurus3The budget, although small, has been used well. Notably one scene comes to mind where a character is decapitated and thrown across a room. So as to cut down on costs, the head has a gas mask on it, so no need to show gore or blood on it. Kind of ingenious if I’m honest.

In conclusion, with an above average look with cinematography and an engaging score I was initially engaged with Killer/Saurus, and thought I would enjoy it from beginning to end. Unfortunately it did not engage me for very long. The actual T-Rex of the movie is barely in it which is frustrating.

5/10

Survival Instinct (2016) Review

survival1Survival Instinct (2016)

Written & Directed by Steve Lawson

Starring: Helen Crevel, Andrew Coughlan, Jay Sutherland & Sam Smith

UK Release theatrically by Film Volt (February 2016)

What’s it all about? Ex-Con Weaver takes his son, Rex, on a deer hunt in The Lake District to teach him to be a man, but when they come across a couple of friends travelling to a wedding the plans change.

A low budgeter that sets out to surprise us with its twists and provide us with a villain who is understandably disturbed. I have the impression that writer/director Lawson wanted his audience left feeling some sympathy for Coughlan’s Weaver. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite come off and as a whole the film never quite achieves its aims.

In order for a film like this to work we need to feel tension and suspense and for all the hard work put in by those involved there is none. Weaver is a messed up dude, no doubt, but once he starts hunting Stacey (Helen Crevel) it never feels like she is going to be caught, mainly because there’s still a good deal of the film left to run and there wouldn’t be much to do if her caught her right away now, would there?

survival2The camera work is a little too static which makes the chase feel flat and unexciting which is a shame as the story is set up nicely enough has a fast pace and a lean running time. Crevel, who also starred in Lawson’s previous pic KillerSaurus, is fine in the lead role of Stacey, but her turn from weak to strong, finding her Survival Instinct, felt a little too convenient whilst Coughlan as Weaver isn’t quite menacing enough to be a great bad guy. Effort is made to give him a back story, offering an insight into his behaviour, however it matters little due to what has come before. Smith as his son Rex, comes across ok in a decent performance, showing nervous innocence as he reluctantly follows his father on his crazed hunt.

Jay Sutherland has a smaller role as Thom and is fine in what he delivers. We just never really care for anyone and although the film tries to twist itself into a clever finale it is all rather predictable and by the time the fireworks have finished there’s a feeling of having seen it all before, but done better.

survival3In fairness, the film has a low budget and it’s never easy when restricted by expense. Corners have to be cut, concessions have to be made and there are limitations you have to suffer in order to get the film made. With that in mind credit must be given for getting the project into a flowing, neat movie. It’s not a terrible piece of fiction. It is well put together, it just doesn’t hit it’s marks and it could have made better use of it’s location too.

I’ve not seen any of Lawson’s previous movies, but he appears to be an active filmmaker and KillerSaurus has a fun title so I may give it a look if I happen across it some time.

5/10