Grimmfest Friday 2nd October 2015 – A Review

Grimmfest Friday 2nd October 2015 – A Review

gf2015Friday is always my favourite day over the years at Grimmfest. I believe this is because it is the first full day of screenings and I am not overtired ! So after a good 6 hours sleep I rolled up at The Odeon Printworks around 11.30am and ready for 7 feature films back-to-back (although I ducked out of Scream to get some dinner and stretch my legs. So make it 6 films). After visiting ‘The Hub’, which was an area for Grimmlins to hang out and had traders and the guys from Bitlord with their horror gaming , I then settled myself in the main auditorium for some German Angst!

german_angst-thumb-300xauto-38521_1200_1696_81_sGerman Angst (2015)
Directors – Jorg Buttgereit, Michal Kosakowski, Andreas Marschall.

I won’t go into too much detail as we will be having a full review coming soon. But German Angst is a tryptych of short films from three wonderful and controversial directors. First up is Jorg Buttgereit’s Final Girl which focuses on a young female and her Guinea pig. I loved the camera angles, the story and as always the unconventional wit of Buttgereit.

Second comes Make A Wish from Michal Kosakowski. Many may not know Kosakowski as he has no features to his name BUT check out his amazing documentary Zero Killed (2012) it is stunning. But Make A Wish has a pair of deaf/mute lovers investigating an abandoned factory when they are confronted by a group of right wing Nazi extremists. This leads to a chain of events that truly shocked me and left me physically shaken. Stunning cinema.

Last up was Alraune from Andreas Marschall (Masks, Tears of Kalli). A hugely ambitious and visually stunning film .A man chats to a woman online and they arrange to meet in a local nightclub. As he arrives he spots her dancing and becomes involved in a bathroom clinch where she suddenly leaves. He follows her to a mysterious private members sex club where he must make decisions that could change him forever.

Three very different and very challenging films that may not be for everyone. There are no pulled punches here. I need to watch German Angst again I feel to fully understand and enjoy it. An uncomfortable watch that will have you thinking about it days later , believe me!! 7/10

lgcLandmine Goes Click (2015)
Director – Levan Bakhia
Starring – Sterling Knight, Spencer Locke, Dean Geyer.

After Scream (which I missed) was Landmine Goes Click, a film I was really looking forward to. Over the past month on UK Horror Scene we have had a review and also an interview with director Levan. I have also heard from people who loved it and also hated it, there doesn’t seem to be a middle ground.

So LGC starts with three young American tourists hiking through the gorgeous Georgian (Europe) countryside. When they stop to have a photo taken one of them steps on a landmine!

Right I will not say anything else about the story . As LGC is an absolute gem of a film, it is like riding the Wild Mouse at Blackpool Pleasure Beach , you are travelling at high speed and then get suddenly thrown in another direction . After 20 minutes I felt like I could quite easily have walked out, the three (main) characters were annoying, the story seemed to be going nowhere and I had no empathy with the guy stood on the landmine. Then BAM something changed! LGC went in a different direction and things started to get darker and very uncomfortable , then BAM it happened again.

Levan Bakhia timed it perfectly and honestly had me cringing in my seat. At times truly unwatchable . LGC is a heavy, dark feature that just drains your emotions and by the end I was exhausted. And from a film that starts with 3 kids on a hike that was some journey.

A must see but beware it may take you to places you don’t want to go and haunt you in ways you never expected . 8/10

Wow after reeling from Landmine Goes Click I only had 15 minutes until the next film .

he-never-died (2)He Never Died (2015)
Director – Jason Krawczyk
Starring – Henry Rollins, Booboo Stewart, JordanTodosey.

As I mentioned in my review of Thursday, I always leave a few films as unknowns. These are films that I have actively steered clear of reading reviews and watching trailers for, and one of those was He Never Died. All I knew about it was Henry (Fucking BLACK FLAG) Rollins was in it.

Jack (Rollins) is a man in a rut. He sleeps a lot, and watches TV. He visits a local diner on a daily basis and loves a bit of bingo. Oh and did I mention he eats people? Well he is on the wagon at the moment and picks up ‘his fix’ in a car park from a rogue hospital intern.

Rollins is just perfect in the role of Jack, what stunning casting. I always think of Rollins as OTT and ‘In Your Face’ but here he is a man of very few words, in fact he is almost monosyllabic. He lives alone and keeps himself to himself, he has locked himself away from real life. That is until his daughter turns up at his doorstep and Jack’s life starts to spiral.

It is very difficult to try to explain He Never Died without giving too much away. So I won’t. But enough to say that Rollins puts in a turn that is unbelievable. Jack is a role that most actors would just turn down flat and in fact most actors could not do. It is a very physical role and one that has Rollins doing unspeakable things, and all the time he very rarely leaves his grumpy demeanour.

The cast are all superb and the dynamic between Jack and his daughter Andrea (Todosey) works so well and you can see the tiny cracks start to appear in Jack’s tungsten hard shell. Maybe he is human after all ?

After watching He Never Died I read a little and found out that director/writer Jason Krawczyk has penned a full season and wants to turn it into a TV series. HELL YEAH! The story and how it ended lends itself perfectly for a series as long as the Fuck You attitude and the no compromise when it comes to blood and gore is continued.

I won’t drone on about He Never Died but enough to say just watch it when it comes out and it should have had at the very least a limited cinema run. An absolute diamond that was all the more special as I knew nothing about it! 9/10

Cherry-Tree-Movie-Poster-David-KeatingCherry Tree (2015)
Director – David Keating
Starring – Naomi Battrick, Patrick Gibson, Sam Hazeldine.

Oh dear, where do I start? Cherry Tree is the story of Faith a teenage schoolgirl who finds out her father is dying of Leukaemia. She is then approached by her school hockey teacher Sissy who is also the head witch in a local coven. Sissy explains that she can save her father as long as she agrees to have a baby for her.
Of course Faith agrees and so begins 90 minutes of silliness.

Cherry Tree was just dreadful. I very rarely slag films off but from the start ,to the ridiculous ending, it was just so very poor. Poor story, acting (apart from Naomi Battrick) and visuals. The film is set in Ireland yet has a majority of actors with English accents?

Basically there are lots of cherries in the film often with a blood sauce , and eating one means to rub seductively (and messily) over ones lips first. Then there are centipedes everywhere, and I mean everywhere. Lots of centipedes. Lots!

Cherry Tree just seems to be schizophrenic it is just all over the place , it tries to have horror moments, then comedy, back to satanic imagery, then schoolgirls in the showers, then try more comedy, then schoolgirls in slo-mo at a hockey match, then a spooky house oh and lots of centipedes. Lots!

So safe to say I hated Cherry Tree. And the reason I hated it is that it could have been so much better but it fell into the ‘lets put as many witch/satanic tropes as we can’ hole , and it was a massive hole. Naomi Battrick was the only shining light, she is a great actress and stood out a mile.

After the subtlety and wit of He Never Died, Cherry Tree really never stood a chance. 2/10

tkTurbo Kid (2015)
Director – François Simard ,Anouk Whissell ,Yoann-Karl Whissell
Starring – Munro Chambers, Laurence Leboeuf, Michael Ironside

Now on to Turbo Kid. As I said earlier some films I shy away from before festivals, but that was not the fact with Turbo Kid. At UKHS we have had reviews, trailers, competition, press releases and more for TK. And I was soooooo looking forward to it, I just prayed it lived up to the hype.

Set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland we are immediately introduced to The Kid (Chambers) who is a young scavenger on a BMX. The Kid is a comic book obsessed hoarder who spends his days scavenging for items he can trade for water. On one of his travels he meets up with Apple (Leboeuf) a young and completely bonkers woman. She immediately slaps a wristband on him and declares they are friends, The Kid rides off quickly. So imagine his surprise when he wakes and finds Apple there. The wristband was a tracking device.

The two become firm friends and the dynamic between them is just wonderful. Unfortunately their world is run by Zeus (Ironside) a one-eyed leader who rules by fear and pits people against each other in a fight to the death. And this leads to an adventure that is bloodsoaked to the extreme and just so utterly utterly wonderful. I from now on will be spoiler free as this is a ride to be enjoyed.

I am really having trouble trying to succinctly review Turbo Kid as it has so much going on in it. The 80s vibe is throughout and just nails it, from the opening credits to the end it looks, feels and is 99% better than all 80s films.

Chambers and Ironside are fantastic but Laurence Leboeuf is the absolute star, she plays Apple (what a pun btw) with such wide-eyed childlike enthusiasm that you just cannot help but love her and feel complete empathy for her character.

Turbo Kid is such a wild ride that hits every target and leaves you feeling not just enthused but uplifted too. I felt like a kid again and for that a huge 9/10

The-Hive-Poster-stundpage-235x300The Hive (2015)
Director – David Yarovesky
Starring – Gabriel Basso, Talitha Bateman, Stephen Blackehart.

So onto the last film of the night and now it was gone Midnight and I was a little cinema-lagged. When writing this piece I tried to remember Hive. But I couldn’t . Was that me? But I wrote all the above with no notes so then how can I remember 5 other films with no notes yet not even the premise for The Hive let alone any details.

So after reading a couple of reviews and the IMDB/Grimmfest synopsis here we go.

The Hive starts with a young man who awakes with full amnesia in a room. There are notes written in his handwriting on the walls and there is a dead woman in the corner.

This is just the start as The Hive is a multi-layered feature that deals with infection, amnesia, romance, death and much more. In fact there was just too much going on especially after 12 hours of cinematic viewing.

The camerawork was very quick with few scenes lasting more than a handful of seconds, it is for want of a better word MTV! Fast scene-to-scene and then going from one time to another. The FX were absolutely top-notch and by the look of it all physical where possible. Some really grimy and nauseating moments were all the better for the physical FX.

Personally The Hive had too much going on from the constant shifting of angles to the over complicated storyline. But a very interesting and imaginative take on the zombie/virus genre that mixes sci-fi & horror very well.

I will when I get the chance watch The Hive again and maybe I will change my views but for now it is a 5/10.

So there we go. A very tiring but amazing day with some stunning films. And again it ran like clockwork so massive thanks to the Grimmfest/Odeon teams . German Angst was unique, Landmine Goes Click will live with me for a long time. He Never Died is a triumph and Turbo Kid was magnificent. Cherry Tree just bombed and The Hive was maybe on a little late to be fully appreciated. But all in what a day of totally different genre films so huge kudos to the Grimmfest programmers. And after what was 5 hours sleep I will return for my write-up of Saturday . Phew!!

Landmine Goes Click (2015) Review

landm1Landmine Goes Click (2015)

Director: Levan Bakhia

Starring: Sterling Knight, Spencer Locke, Dean Geyer

Sarke Studio

European Première – FrightFest 28th August 2015

Dare to step off

When three friends decide to take a vacation through the country of Georgia, off the beaten path, little do they know of the events to ensue. Daniel (Dean Geyer) and Alicia (Spencer Locke) are expecting to get married, happily backpacking through the wilderness with Daniel’s best friend Chris (Sterling Knight) before the special day, but when the relationship turns sour the trip takes a much darker turn. If the thought of stepping on an un-triggered landmine makes you squirm, then what follows may be hard to digest.

I was initially underwhelmed with the beginning of the movie and was not sure much potential was going to show throughout the running time of the film. The opening twenty minutes was a cliché mess of poor writing and acting that seemed to be headed toward a typical American horror film with younger actors. However, I’m glad I stuck it out and waited as the script tightened back up with some sharper writing and more believable performances as time elapsed. To boot, the plot, seemingly centred around a landmine and the poor wretch who stepped on it, evolved past the obvious into something a little darker than the expected Saw-booby trap setup.

landm2Once the plot lines up, the film turns from a simple isolation horror story into a film of depraved madness and revenge. Kote Tolordava steals the film as Ilya, our purveyor of aforementioned madness, and his arrival spins the story arc into a test of will, both for the viewer and the characters, that mirrors such films as Funny Games or Last House on the Left. Although the cast is light I never felt as though something bigger would have meant better and was hooked as soon as the film intensified. Even the shaky acting during the opening was excusable as both Spencer Locke and Sterling Knight give out some uncomfortable, intense performances for the remainder.

Sound is minimal, highlighted at tense moments and only for a matter of seconds. This fortifies the acting and allows Kote to remain the centrepiece during all key moments save for the ending. His dialogue is a shining example of how much can be done with so little, as Ilya goes from likeable to terrifying in a manner of minutes. There is a surreal quality to some of the more off putting scenes, as though a character like Ilya would not be capable of the atrocities he commits. The effects are also brief and lightly handled, but who needs gore and over the top theatrics when raw acting and visceral scenes push the film’s value beyond the superficial?

landm3I was surprised by Landmine Goes Click, and after watching the film will seek it out for my ever growing horror movie collection. Some films take time to sink in, stumbling through a few rough patches and missteps along the way. As unnerving as it becomes, this is a movie worth watching. If you do not mind indulging in the bleak or stepping outside of your comfort zone, push through the first portion of the movie and continue trekking until you find what you are looking for. I guarantee it will not disappoint.


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