The Killage (2011) DVD Review

killageThe Killage (Australia, 2011)

Dir: Joe Bauer

Starring: Rita Artmann, Joe Bauer, Dryden Bingham

UK DVD – 26th October 2015 from Monster Pictures

Plot: A work retreat goes wrong when a masked psychopath starts to pick the employees off one by one.

The Killage is the first feature film by writer/director/actor/editor, Joe Bauer. Bauer’s vision in The Killage is a spoof of the slasher movie genre, much like Scary Movie. It picks on the tropes and clichés of the slasher movie all the while following those same clichés to reach the film’s conclusion. I went into this film knowing absolutely nothing about it, assuming that the title “The Killage” meant something along the line of a village full of killers, rather than slang term in the sense of “Whoa that’s some immense killage! It’s off the chain.”

killage2Speaking of The Killage’s killage, it does an admirable attempt at the slasher movie ironic death. The stronger examples include the jock (creatively named Jock) being killed with his bar-bells. Bauer tries to match up each archetypal character with a fitting death but some characters don’t really fit an archetype, but also don’t really have a fleshed out character so they get killed with coincidental weapons such as the deck of cards that character was using earlier. The characters are so basic, cookie cutter characters. They are given a singular character trait and that is their whole personality, they are fodder of the weakest variety.

The film does manage to do a lot with what little budget it has. There’s some stand out stuff in their when it allows itself to be imaginative but that imagination didn’t stretch that far. Making fun of slasher movies for being formulaic and cheesy has been done to death. When Scream did it, it was calling out lazy film makers to step up their game. When Scary Movie did it, it managed to make every gross out joke possible. The Killage finds little new material to bring to the table. There was a couple of observational gags that hit the nail on the head but they’re in the minority.

As I said before The Killage follows the exact same clichés that it’s parodying and following that well-beaten path it feels like I’m being begrudgingly pulled along. The characters aren’t very likeable so this is another film where you’re just there to watch them die. That works for some people but I found it a bit tedious.

killage1I can enjoy a good schlock-fest if it’s got something weird and fun about it, film’s like Gingerdead Man where the premise is so silly you just want to watch. The Killage however is like so many other films, trying to beat that puddle of blood and organs that once was a horse called Slasher movie parodies. If you enjoyed Scary Movie, and then Shriek If You Know What I Did Last Friday The Thirteenth, and you’re still hungry for more, The Killage is for you. Whatever you do, don’t get your hopes up for a film about a village full of killers, this isn’t it.

3/10

Chocolate Strawberry Vanilla (2013) Review

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csv1CHOCOLATE STRAWBERRY VANILLA

Dir: Stuart Simpson

Written: Addison Heath

Starring: Glenn Maynard, Kyrie Capri, Aston Elliot, Louise Bremner, Benjamin Grant Mitchell, Kristen Condon

Out now in UK on DVD & BluRay from Monster Pictures UK.

Saturday at Celluloid Screams got underway with this little oddity from Australia. After the Kiwi’s landed a solid hit the night before with the brilliant Housebound, it was time for their neighbours to have a go with this weird psycho-thriller. Following the life of down on his luck ice cream man Warren Thompson (Glenn Maynard) as he goes about his daily business and obsesses over a soap actress (Kyrie Capri) with whom he wishes to develop a relationship. As he works he witnesses the worst of society and he soon crosses into dark territory as his rage builds and his obsessions begin to take control of him.

A strange film, Chocolate Strawberry Vanilla has noble intentions and an extremely strong performance from Glenn Maynard at its centre, but it doesn’t quite hit the mark and begins to feel long and repetitive as it draws towards its conclusion. There is nothing specifically wrong with the film, it is just that it treads ground that has already been trodden better elsewhere. Clearly influenced by the Scorsese/De Niro classics Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy it tries to get under its lead characters skin and understand his increasingly erratic and dangerous behaviour. Looking at themes of isolation, obsession, and the psychosis of a man on the very edge it wants to be a weighty film, and in all fairness for about half of its running time it succeeds. But as its main character begins to unravel so too does the film.

csv2Starting strongly with Warren’s daily routine, leading to him accidentally killing his own cat, these early scenes are incredibly affecting. It gives us subtle, but emotionally arresting insight into Warren’s life and mind set and sets the film up very well. Warren is a likeable but rather sad character that trudges through life unable to ever truly connect to the world around him, and whilst the film is dealing with this it holds its own and has the potential to be something special in its own right. Unfortunately as it moves into its second half and begins to focus on Warren’s obsession with soap actress Katey George (Capri) and his troubles with a family of thugs it, like its lead character, begins to lose its grip. Much of the psychology becomes predictable and the film lays many of its cards out on the table too early meaning that any intended surprises towards the end fall flat, robbing the film of a lot of its power.

That said the film does have plenty of merits. Glenn Maynard is fantastic as Warren, eliciting plenty of empathy for a character damaged by the world around him and unable to relate to reality. Even as the film loses much of its early promise Maynard manages to keep Warren interesting and unusual. The film expects a lot of him as an actor, and he delivers in absolute spades. The film also attempts to inject some genuine emotion and human empathy into its story, something that is often lacking in many horror/thrillers. Whilst it may not manage to hold its weight until the end, the film does at least try to give the audience something more than the standard horror fare or revenge thriller, and for that it should be applauded.

csv3Ultimately Chocolate Strawberry Vanilla is an interesting film rather than a compelling one. A victim sometimes of its own influences, its overly predictable second half is a disappointment after the careful emotional beats of the first. But Glenn Maynard gives an excellent performance as Warren Thompson and saves the film from completely folding in on itself.

6/10

Dark Tourist (2012) DVD Review

Dark.Tourist1Dark Tourist (2012)

77 Mins

Director: Suri Krishnamma

Starring: Michael Culditz,Melanie Griffiths, Pruitt Taylor Vince.

UK DVD Release October 27th from Monster Pictures UK

Produced by Susan Delaurentiis and directed by Suri Krishnamma (‘Bad Karma’) ‘Dark Tourist’ (meaning ‘one who travels with the intent to visit scenes of tragedy or disaster’) is a morbid character study of a person who not only studies and desires darkness and morbidity themselves but is haunted and controlled by a brutally violent and abusive past.

Michael Culditz (from TV’s LA police drama ‘Southland’) plays an unhinged cigarette smoking, egg-munching (and both at the same time) security guard called Jim who loves his job and is prone to the odd outburst of homophobic and racist comments and plagued by a generally hateful train of thought. As Jim quietly seethes with a high-level of contempt for his fellow man we soon learn that he, like David Duchovny’s yuppie photographer in the 1993 Brad Pitt thriller Kalifornia, likes to visit the locations of places where instances of extreme abuse or murder have taken place.

Unlike Duchovny he is not there to document the grimly historic sites, but to wallow in the mire of their atrocities and try and imagine and re-live the violent events that have taken place there. It is in these dark places and by conjuring entities such as his favourite serial killer (played in typically creepy fashion by horror and thriller stalwart Pruitt Taylor Vince) that Jim thrives, like the narrator from Fight Club descending and transforming, not into Tyler Durden, but American Psycho’s relentless and vocation-loving psychotic Patrick Bateman.

darktourist2Melanie Griffiths appears as Betsy (a nod to Cybill Shepherd in Taxi Driver)-a fleeting romantic interest in Jim’s life, but unlike Reba Mclane(The Tooth Fairy’s unwitting muse in Manhunter and Red Dragon) there is no man for Betsy to save from the monster. Jim has no redeemable qualities, no ‘good’ side.

Even in their initial conversation in the coffee shop Jim lies to manipulate her into feeling for him, displaying conventional traits of a true psychopath and only mimicking human emotion. Jim isn’t in a battle with himself, he is a miscreant completely lost to his demons.

In the third act there are shades of The Crying Game and The Killer Inside Me and Jim seals his fate with the vile battery and abduction of a prostitute he feels shame for desiring and he arrives at the ill fated future his lurid and ruinous past has mapped out for him. The destructive unravelling and mental deterioration of a psychopath has been done many times throughout the history of cinema, often in great style like Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, The Killer Inside Me and Taxi Driver, films which also feature a murderous doomed romance, a graphic bloody beating and scenes in which we hear a jaded monologue as a tortured misanthrope stares transfixed at a TV set. But whereas the anti-heroes in those films are devilishly charming curiosities explored with dreamlike romanticism, the character Jim is abhorrent and his dissolution is cruel, monotonous and purely bleak .

darktourist3It finishes on a cyclical ending which implies the circle of violence and the voyeuristic curiosity in violence will continue and Jim has become one of his fascinations. Once you adjust to its grim and unsettling tone the film does have three excellent performances from Culditz, Griffiths and Taylor Vince and some extreme scenes of the old ultra-violence but the tropes are now a little too familiar (vitriolic inner monologues, sexual abuse, religious undertones) and the grimy palette and tone of the film conjures the unease of cheap and nasty straight-to-shelf films like Ted Bundy (2002) or Gacy (2003) rather than the classics it undoubtedly aspires to.

6/10

Found (2012) DVD Review

found1FOUND  (2012) DVD REVIEW
DIRECTED BY: Scott Schirmer
WRITTEN BY: Scott Schirmer
STARRING: Ethan Philbeck, Gavin Brown, Phyllis Munro
CERTIFICATE: 18
RUNNING TIME: 103 mins
UK DISTRIBUTOR: Monster Pictures UK
UK RELEASE DATE: 20th October 2014

“Stuff like this could really warp a person…”

Scott Schirmer’s feature length debut is a bold venture into the weird and wonderful world of ‘Video Nasty’ era cinema, but it fails to hit the punches and actually leaves something of a bitter taste in the mouth (and not in a good way).

Our protagonist here is 12-year-old Marty (on-screen debut from Gavin Brown) who casually explains to us in the film’s opening sequence that his older brother Steve (Ethan Philbeck) is a serial killer; showing us the severed heads his brother keeps in a bowling bag in his closet. It is an impressive opening and one that is played so nonchalantly that it is hard to not be captivated from the off.

Based on Todd Rigney’s novel of the same name, Marty explains that everyone in his family has a secret: his father has a love of adult magazines, his mother has kept old love letters from her past. I’m quite sure that in the novel, such facts allow character development and serve as a contributor to Steve becoming the psychopath that he becomes, but on screen, this information goes nowhere and becomes the first of many plot-based issues.

The core brotherly dynamic between Marty and his brother is reminiscent of that of Michael and Sam (Jason Patric and Corey Haim) in ‘The Lost Boys’ (1987) and it is Steve’s protection of his little brother which provides the twisted logic for him to commit the murders he does. Marty does well at school, but is continually bullied by his fellow class mates and, also, his (supposed) best friend.

found2Upon learning of this, Steve takes it upon himself to deal with his brother’s issues accordingly. It is never fully explained as to why Steve feels so passionately about his little brother, given that Marty spends the majority of the film terrified of him and longing for “the old Steve” and Steve spends as much time protecting his brother as he does threatening to kill him. The confusion continues into the motives behind Steve’s justification for beginning his killing spree. Let’s just say there’s more than a few racist undertones. None of which are accurately explained and such accusations should not and cannot be taken lightly with zero explanation.

Even more confusingly, it is the brothers’ shared love of exploitation films which also serves to be a justification for Steve’s love of decapitating his victims. Owner of hundreds of horror video tapes, and movie posters adorning his bedroom walls, Steve copycats the killers from his favourite movies –all of which have been created by SFX maestros The Clockwerk Creature Company and Schirmer himself- mimicking their every move.
Not *entirely* sure that’s the right message Schirmer wants to be sending out….

But without dwelling too heavily on this, the films within the film are quite the delight and are actually ‘FOUND.’’s saving graces. Schirmer’s love of the genre cannot be denied and the wonderous, visceral creations from The Clockwerk Creature Company and effects artist Arthur Cullipher are to be applauded. ‘Headless’ in particular showcases eyeballs being plucked from the skull and eaten as well as breasts being sliced from the torso. It ‘looks’ fabulous. And the severed heads used are incredibly impressive given the low budget costs of the feature itself. Let alone the films within it.

Genre lovers should give this ago. Undoubtedly. You would be hard-pressed to not identify with Marty on some level – give his love of the macabre and his morbid fascination with death and low budget horror movies. There’s some fantastic scenes that are not to be missed 0 it is just such a shame that they are lost in amongst a plot that doesn’t seem to find the balance between the horror movies the characters are watching and the REAL horror that is going on in their lives. This is a vital component into making this film be a real success. There’s a hell of a lot of heart, here. And Schirmer has given it his best shot.

found3I look forward to his next big screen feature, being, as luck would have it, ‘Headless’. I just hope a schlocky plot does not stand in his way for it.

The DVD extras include: Behind the scenes feature – offering an insight into Schirmer’s adaptation of Rigney’s novel and the ideas that inspired him to create ‘FOUND.’ Particularly interesting to see the creation of the films-within-the-film and the SFX used.

Interviews – with Schirmer
Theatrical trailer.

5/10

Across The River (2013) DVD Review

across the riverACROSS THE RIVER (ITALY, 2013)
Dir – Lorenzo Bianchini
Starring- Marco Marchese, Renzo Garlup

UK release July 14th 2014 through Monster Pictures UK

Monster pictures continue their drive to bring new and exciting genre cinema to fans, with brand new release ACROSS THE RIVER. Premièred at last year’s prestigious Fantasia Festival in Montreal, the film displays director Bianchini’s eye for horror genre traits. Though at the same time it still contains a few faults and flaws and some slow burning moments, which might test some viewers, this still certainly has a lot to be interested in from its initial premise. The story follows wildlife researcher Marco Contrada (Marchese) who is collecting data from various recording devices in an isolated forest located on the Italian/Slovenia border.

We see him carrying out his duties, changing camera batteries, and speaking into a Dictaphone about the current habits of the wildlife in the area. With only his RV as a shelter, Marco is pretty much alone in this wilderness, and these early scenes are well emphasised in portraying the characters isolation and vulnerability. After he finds a fox in one of the traps laid out, Marco sedates it and attaches a camera to the animal, to check where it’s going. Once he’s viewed footage from the fox’s camera, he starts to notice that there is something else around that’s hungry and is preying on the wildlife. He makes his way to the location of the fox, and as he crosses a river, enters an abandoned village.

Naturally an abandoned village in a horror film is not a good sign, and even though after finding some bloodied deer carcass bones, Marco senses that there is something more “predatory” around, but still remains calm and cool, and armed to face whatever it is. But as mentioned before this is an abandoned village and in a horror film setting nothing is what it seems and it’s not long before Marco, finds himself cut off by the river from escaping the village and that there might be something more sinister at work here than he first thought.

across the river 2At times ACROSS THE RIVER is a slow burn to begin with, allowing our focus to be on the central character and establishing his cause in the forest. The slow burn aspect does drag in certain parts, and even in the in the second part where we enter the abandoned village, at times this slightly frustrating leading us to try and gain some idea where the film is heading. Though Bianchini knows his genre well enough to start adding creepiness and tension throughout especially in the abandoned village scenes, where Marco starts to gain some idea of the horrible things that might have taken place in the past in this area. We know full well enough that when we start to see images of girls in ghostly white dresses, where this is heading, yet these scenes of the possible spirits scaring Marco are well handled and deliver some unexpected scares.

But towards the end the film starts to feel slightly muddled and the final resolution confirms this, and even though I liked it’s nightmarish, uneven conclusion in parts, this does leaves us wanting more, and though not ending with a simple conclusion can sometimes be a good thing, in this case we would have liked to have known more and parts of the finale seem loosely and unevenly tied together. Same can be said with the inclusion of scenes featuring an old man (Renzo Gariud) who lived in the village previously, and knows the history and doomed fates that await those who go there, is also slightly muddled and makes me want to see more of this character included.

Still there is much to admire in this film, particularly the cinematography, and D.O.P Daniele Trani manages to capture the isolation and desolation of the forest superbly, making it seem less woodland and more of an area of impending death, where there is no green on the leaves and the only colour that can be found is on the red blood still left on deer carcass bones.

across the river 3Bianchini also knows how to illicit genre scares and tension and despite some slow build up to this, we get scenes of Marco’s night vision cameras, capturing eerie figures in the darkness in the woods, which adds a found footage aspect to the proceedings. Machese is efficient enough in his central role, and certainly has to be as he is on screen for most of the time, yet he handles the proceedings well and works well in stressing the characters loneliness and helplessness.

Despite the flaws mentioned previously, there is much to appreciate in ACROSS THE RIVER, and Bianchini establishes himself as a director who has shown he can handle the traits of the genre and he has crafted an impressive feature, leading us to look forward to what he can come up with next time.

VERDICT- 6.5/10

Murderdrome (2013) DVD Review

 

MURDER 001MURDERDROME (2013) DVD

Review by: Dave Wain

Stars: Kat Anderson, Rachael Blackwood, Jake Brown, Anthony Cincotta

Written by: Daniel Armstrong, Louise Monnington, Trent Schwarz

UK Certification: 15

UK RRP: £12.99

UK DVD Region: 2

Runtime: 72 minutes

Directed by: Daniel Armstrong

UK Release Date: 12th May 2014

Distributor: Monster Pictures

As I live in a cave and rarely venture out into daylight, with my only link to the outside world being my video store which I travel to via an underground tunnel – the concept of what a Roller Derby was had managed to pass me by. For those who don’t know, (which was myself five minutes before typing this) it’s a contact sport played by five members roller skating in the same direction around a track. Gameplay consists of a series of short matchups (jams), in which both teams designate a scoring player (jammer) who scores point by lapping members of the opposing team.

Okay? Cool – so let’s take that and add gore, violence and damnation at the Gates of Hell. We then have MurderDrome.

MURDER 002This low budget Aussie piece of insanity opens straight up on the Roller Derby track before switching to the neon-tinged nightlife that seems to carry a heavy influence from the 1950s despite its contemporary setting. We meet Cherry Skye (Amber Sajben), a devotee of this skate based phenomenon who carries an innocent charm that you immediately fall for. Speaking of falling for – Skye seems to be becoming somewhat smitten with Brad (Jake Brown), which on the face of it is sweet and lovely but we soon discover that Brad’s ex happens to be Skye’s Roller Derby nemesis, Hell Grazer (Rachael Blackwood).

All of the above narrative seems more in context with a piece of coming of age fluff, but here is where MurderDrome plays its trump card as intense love rivalry manages to summon a malevolent demon-spirit no less! Faced with saving her soul, not to mention those of her friends as well, Skye has a nightmare-like battle on her hands and thrown in to the mix is Hell Grazer who is determined to get in the way of the burgeoning romance between the two love birds.

According to IMDb, MurderDrome was made for the ridiculously low sum of $6,000 AUD – that’s just over 3,000 of our English pounds, and it puts films with ten times that budget to shame with the quality of what’s on the screen. The story itself is ridiculous to the point of jaw dropping insanity – but we NEED films like this. Too frequently recently the whole horror genre seems fixated on ‘based on a true story’ or ‘inspired by real events’. Sometimes cinema just has to be a form of escapism where you can switch on a movie and be transported to a world of the fantastic which showcases the imagination and the ingenuity of filmmakers.

MURDER 003Despite the relative inexperience of the cast and crew I felt the look of the movie was just fine, the standouts being undoubtedly the fantastic costumes and also a dazzling (if at times incomprehensible) script that manages to leave you with a slew of quotable lines – I WANT a Frisb-Hat. Overall, if you’re a true genre fan I think you’ll embrace MurderDrome as something fresh and original. With a running time of under 70 minutes (minus credits) it never outstays its welcome, and with cool and funky extras like a picture-in-picture commentary it’s a release that comes recommended.

6.5 out of 10

 

UKHS is 1 TODAY . Here is 12 months packed into a few paragraphs !!

 

Happy Birthday to us , Happy Birthday to us!!

hbtm2UK Horror Scene is 1 year old today.

So just to bore everyone I am going on a little journey……

About 2 years ago I was boring someone at my work about films (nothing new there) and horror films in particular. I then went home and thought that I would set up a blog so I could bore the pants off people I didn’t know too. So The Corpsegrinder blog was started.

After a couple of months my little blog was getting pretty good reading figures and I was receiving comments and praise!! Hold on I thought , I seem to be doing something right and people seem to be enjoying what I was writing. But something was niggling me , and that was I was reading some great articles from British writers yet there was a lack of UK sites that also had a UK bias . Now I am not saying there are not any great UK sites out there (there are many) but I thought I saw a gap in the market so to speak , so I began formulating a plan for world domination.

So to cut a long story slightly shorter , I came up with a name and an idea. The name seemed to encapsulate everything I wanted from the site. I then spent weeks designing a site and then a logo which was done by my wife and inspired by a few things including the New York Hardcore music logo (and a nod to Acid Reign ) and finally perfected by the wonderful Jim Connolly (http://jimconnollydrawsstuff.blogspot.co.uk/) who now has become a UKHS writer and a friend.

And after a little tweaking then UKHS was ready to launch, so on May 6th 2013 to much fanfare (in my house) I pressed the publish button and sat back.

UKHS_logo_with_txt_WEBTwelve months later we have published over 800 articles and 72 interviews . We have had over 1 MILLION unique users. We have interviewed such people as Robin Hardy, Luke Goss, Anthony Hickox, Marilyn Burns, Dick Maas, Cindy Hinds, Jessica Cameron, Pollyanna McIntosh and many many more. Not bad !

But none of this could be done without many wonderful people who give their time AND talents freely , just for the love of genre cinema, literature and music.

I could sit here for about an hour and list everyone who has helped UKHS. But instead I will just name a few people.

Firstly UKHS would be nowhere without a guy called Dave Wain. Dave has been with us from the start and is just a hugely prolific and talented writer, Dave owns one of the last independent video stores and does the new UK DVD releases . I know that without the help of Dave then UKHS would be nowhere near the beast it is today.

Secondly Dean Sills. Dean joined UKHS around August 2013 and was eager to interview genre actors and directors, and as an actor himself he had contact with many people especially British and since then Dean has inundated us with brilliant interviews that really show what low-budget directors and actors really do on and off the camera. Again (as with Dave) Dean has been a major reason why UKHS has been a great success in it’s 1st year.

Also I want to give major thanks to the following UKHS writers in no particular order, but each brings something new and fresh to the site and I am just so proud to have them writing for UKHS . So here’s to  Oli Ryder, James Simpson, Mark Pidgeon, Joey Keogh, Luke Green, Stu Smith, James Pemberton, Stuart Anderson, Chris Cavoretto, Duane Hicks, Geoff Johnston, Jim Connolly, Marek Zacharkiw, MJ Dixon and lastly (but never leastly) Matty Budrewicz. I could have sat here and listed my favourite articles, interviews and reviews but there are just so many that I really couldn’t choose.

cheersNow there have been many people and organisations that have helped majorly and here is a short list of some – Arrow Films, Monster Pictures, Second Sight Films, Koch Media, 88 Films, 101 Films, Weinerworld, Grimmfest, Image Entertainment, Cynthia J Sellers, Wayne Simmons, Peter McKeirnon, C William Giles, Paul Norbury and finally my wonderful and supportive family as without them then I would not be doing this. And lastly a huge HUGE thank you to all our readers, Twitter followers, Facebook likers (is that a word?) and Instagram stalkers. Without you we couldn’t do what we are doing , and without the constant exceptional feedback it just wouldn’t be worth it. To horror fans everywhere THANK YOU and CHEERS!!

On a final note there will be some major changes on UKHS in the coming months as we push forward from being just a horror blog to a more professional outfit and we will have a whole new look and a more interactive and responsive layout (but this will take a few months). But rest assured we will still have the same feel of fans writing about something we all love.

May I please thank everyone involved in the 1st year of UK Horror Scene and if I have forgotten to name anyone specifically please don’t take offence as there have been thousands. The last year has shown me that there are so many wonderful people out there.

Here is to the 2nd year and lets hope it is as fun and successful as the 1st.

Cheers – Andy Deen (Editor UKHS)

Please click the links below for our social media !!

UKHS FACEBOOK

UKHS TWITTER

UKHS INSTAGRAM

 

New Micro-Budget Antipodean Horror Apocalyptic announces Monster distribution!

apocalypticposterNew Indie horror film Apocalyptic has announce it will be distributed by Monster Pictures.

Shot in Australia in 5 days for under $10,000 here is the trailer and for more information please visit www.apocalypticmovie.com or their FACEBOOK PAGE .

Synopsis – A local news crew become horribly involved with a doomsday cult. This is Dark Epics’ next feature film and takes on a dark turn from 2011’s time travel drama ’41’.

 

OK so the film title is a little uninspired but I really enjoyed the trailer and reading through some reviews then I certainly will be keeping an eye out for Apocalyptic.

 

 

 

[youtube=http://youtu.be/Y-XlFgg4Jbg]

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Antisocial (2013) DVD Review

anti1Antisocial (2013) DVD Review

Director – Cody Calahan

Starring – Michelle Mylett, Cody Ray Thompson, Adam Christie, Ana Alic, Romaine Waite, Ry Barrett.

UK DVD release date 14th April 2014 from Monster Pictures UK.

 

Antisocial is a Canadian production which tells the story of a group of students whose New Year’s party becomes more like a siege when a 28 Days Later type virus takes swift and violent hold, turning the outside world into a warzone. As the situation on the streets deteriorates, the only method the protagonists have of gaining information or of contacting anyone else is through an all pervading social networking site, The Social Redroom. But is this essential link to the rest of uninfected humanity playing a more sinister role in the disintegration of society?

In terms of the basic set-up, Antisocial doesn’t offer anything that hasn’t been seen before, in movies such as the aforementioned 28 Days Later or any zombie film you might care to think of; as is tradition these days, it has the obligatory Night of the Living Dead homage, with characters nailing planks across windows.

anti2This is not necessarily a derogatory observation and some of Antisocial’s similarities with other films are its strengths; the main characters start boarding up the house in a pre-emptive move, based on what they have heard on the news and the internet. By having this happen before we have been exposed to the carnage to come, writer / director Cody Calahan very skilfully ratchets up the tension, making us apprehensive of what may be to come, in a way which rivals John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13.

However, as with many genre movies, after a decent build up, what actually follows fails to live up to what has gone before. There are a couple of jumpy moments, with people popping through windows, but the “is he/isn’t he, is she/isn’t she infected” plotting doesn’t quite manage to effectively exploit the air of tension which Calahan has created, although the paranoia amongst some characters is palpable, if a little melodramatic. As is to be expected, you will sometimes be scratching your head at the reaction of some characters to the end of the world; would you skype your mate to tell him you’re being chased up the stairs by zombies? The final reel also gets a bit messy in its execution, but a scene where the main character eventually leaves the house when “safety” arrives with the dawn is nicely shot and beautifully lit.

As the brief synopsis at the beginning of this review might suggest, Antisocial provides a critique of the current omnipresence of social media. This commentary is reminiscent of Romero’s Diary of the Dead and, similar to the great man’s later works, it is about as subtle as a brick in its message. Having said that, it’s difficult to convey social commentary of any sort subtly though the medium of blood and guts, so perhaps that can be forgiven.

anti3Maybe not something you should base your Saturday evening around, Antisocial is, however, definitely worth checking out if you’re at a loose end on a rainy Tuesday night; it’s a solid idea and, although the overall execution is a little bit messy, there are some nice touches.

6.5 / 10

 

Muirhouse (2012) DVD Review

MUIRHOUSE 001MUIRHOUSE (2012) DVD

Review by: Dave Wain

Stars: Iain P.F McDonald, Kate Henderson, Steve Lynch, Libby Ashby, Jack Walsh

Written by: Tanzeal Rahim

UK Certification: 15

UK RRP: £12.99

UK DVD Region: 2

Runtime: 75 minutes

Directed by: Tanzeal Rahim

UK Release Date: 10th February 2014

Recipient of the inaugural ‘Best Contemporary Label’ award at my end of 2013 review (it’ll grow in stature I’m sure!) Monster Pictures released a wealth of top quality independent horror movies last year. From the phenomenal anthology Little Deaths, to the uncomfortably distressing Thanatomorphose – every release seemed to have an element of quality and ingenuity that could only be praised.

MUIRHOUSE 002Their first release of 2014 is the Australian chiller Muirhouse. At the start of the film we’re informed that in 2007 the author Phillip Muirhouse was left alone in a historic house called Monte Cristo. He was there making a documentary that was to accompany his latest book. The first image we see takes us to the end of Phillip’s experience as we see the view from the on-board camera of a police car. As it travels along we can here the muffled announcements from control via the police radio which tells us of an incident at Monte Cristo where three people have been found murdered. As the car pulls over behind a stationary vehicle, we see Phillip staggering in a disorientated manner towards the police armed with a hammer.

With the fallout of Phillip’s visit to the Monte Cristo established, the film sets about detailing the events that lead to this perilous situation. We spend some time with the people that help Phillip make his documentaries as they explain the equipment that is used for such paranormal observations as well as certain rules to be adhered to on such investigations. One of the most important rules is of course do not go in alone – at which point we discover that due to a slight oversight in planning, Phillip will actually be by himself in the Monte Cristo for an hour and a half before his crew arrive there. Phillip has no choice (apart from waiting for them?) but to go in and decides to set up the cameras and relevant tech in preparation for everyone’s arrival. As he gets the haunted location ready, it’s not long before some disconcerting events begin to happen.

I have to admit that Muirhouse is the most disappointing title that Monster Pictures have released. That’s not to say it’s a bad film, just that it falls short of their usual high standards. The first 30 minutes of exposition set up everything nicely and manage to convey a sense of measured authenticity. My first real issue though came with the contrived reason for Phillip being in the house alone – it seemed to directly contradict the professional aspect of the investigation that much of the first third of the film had been intent on setting up.

MUIRHOUSE 003If we overlook this and we focus solely on the 35 minutes that Phillip spends in the house, I found it just lacked any notable tension. There’s a scene just before the credits that finally achieves a notable level of fear, but it’s too little too late. The location is obviously perfect for shooting this kind of film and Iain P.F McDonald is just fine as Phillip. I think with all these elements in place it ultimately left the pay-off all the more disappointing as without doubt this movie had the ingredients to be a memorable horror film.

4 out of 10

 

Extras:

  • The Spirit Level: A look at the Monte Cristo Homestead (At over an hour in length this documentary makes the purchase / rental of the film fully worthwhile)
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • TV Spot #1
  • TV Spot #2
  • Director’s Commentary
  • Lead actor’s Commentary