Webcast (2016) Review

webcast1Webcast (2016)

Writer/Director: Paul McGhie

Stars: Samantha Redford, Joseph Tremain and Nicola Wright

Runtime: 95min

Synopsis (from IMDb): “When two young filmmakers suspect their neighbours are involved with the abduction of a teenage girl, they begin to run surveillance on them, and that’s when things start to go wrong.”

Webcast is a found footage/mockumentary style horror thriller, presented as a feature length film. The film starts with two student film makers, Chloe Webber (Samantha Redford) and Ed Dickens (Joseph Tremain). They are initially doing a follow up investigation of the disappearance of Chloe’s aunt many years ago by interviewing the neighbours who knew her at the time. We meet some colourful characters along the way and some are less cooperative with the questions than might be desired, considering how so many years have passed since the incident. In between takes of Chloe on active documentary duty, she records some video journals of her thoughts and catches us up on what has been happening. The camera is always rolling; with this however they uncover some questionable behaviour on film and begin to suspect that the neighbours are keeping a girl against her will, this is when things really start to get interesting.

webcast2The latter half of the film has our two protagonists trying to unravel the mystery of the rather dubious behaviour of the neighbours and the unexplained events, disappearances and illnesses that have certainly ramped up in frequency since they began to poke their respective noses into it all. This is all conveyed very convincingly by a very strong cast who come across very candid and natural. The camera work too is purposeful with no fancy aerial shots and the like that would break the immersion of the videos blog feel.

One main issue I would have with Webcast is that the feature length format does not suit it in the slightest, given that the middle of the film feels a bit bloated with filler, owing to the fact it is presented as a very genuine ongoing video blog. I would propose exactly that; the films own canonical methods as an alternative presentation. As they upload their findings and video at the end of each day. I would split the film up into five acts, also given that the climax itself is the only actual live webcast and in the context of the film is the only way possible that this “footage” made it out for public viewing following the climactic scene. I did personally have to watch this in packets to fully appreciate its style.

webcast3Overall however, Webcast is a competently made horror thriller and a feature debut for writer/director Paul McGhie with an excellent cast on hand too, to really push this from run-of-the-mill low budget horror to a genuinely engaging and entertaining film with subject matter that will really make you rethink how you see your neighbours, or anybody for that matter. If there was a hint less paranormal you could have taken this as 100% authentic docudrama with believable occult leanings. There is enough here to satisfy your horror needs for sure. McGhie is one to watch.

Verdict: Tony Blair Witch Project

7/10

Indiegogo launched for new UK horror SINema

sinema1Sinema is a feature length film that is set and will be exclusively filmed in the North East of England. With a large cast and multiple locations, including a gripping snowstorm finale, it is set to be the largest independent film production the North East has ever seen.

The Indiegogo page is here – https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/sinema-the-movie-based-on-the-best-selling-novel#/story

Critically acclaimed North East director, Kev Harte has been brought on board to create a stunning and gritty film adaptation of Rod Glenn’s original best-selling novel, Sinema: The Northumberland Massacre. The novel dominated the Amazon book charts in 2011/12 and has received widespread critical acclaim, being described as “One of the most heart-racing, jaw-dropping novels I have ever dared to finish” by Crack Magazine and “Masterful writing” by Friday the 13th star and horror icon, Adrienne King.

As an actor as well, Rod Glenn will star as the infamous Han Whitman. Some of local lad, Rod’s recent roles include Ripper Street, Fury, The Fairy Flag, Bliss and The Hollow Crown. We are currently casting the rest of the roles and looking at showcasing a host of local talent. We are in talks with several high profile names to join the cast, as well as casting exciting local talent.

The rest of the cast so far:

Eileen Daly (Razor Blade Smile and recent Big Brother contestant) is playing eccentric landlady, Tess Runckle

Nicholas Vince (Hellraiser I & II, Nightbreed) is playing misunderstood barber, Moe Baxter

Kev Harte and Rod Glenn’s previous collaboration, The Sceptic has been well received, being officially selected in multiple film festivals and also being televised on Eli Roth’s new horror television channel, Crypt TV.

Link to The Sceptic: https://vimeo.com/122644913

Link to Eli Roth’s Crypt TV: http://crypthorror.com/

Twitter Feed: https://twitter.com/SinemaTheMovie

Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/sinemathemovie

*The Plot*

There’s a newcomer to the small Northumberland village of Haydon…a charming novelist and film buff, researching a crime thriller about a serial killer on a rampage in a remote Northumberland community. The only trouble is, it’s a work in progress and it’s going to be non-fiction.

392 men, women and children stand in his way to achieving a sadistic dream.

As the worst winter in more than a century approaches, can two investigating police officers trapped with the terrorised residents stop this monster?

New British Horror Anthology ‘The House of Screaming Death’ Announced.

hosd1New British Horror Anthology ‘The House of Screaming Death’ Announced.

AWARD WINNING BRITISH PRODUCERS KAUSH PATEL AND DAVE HASTINGS are re-teaming this year to unleash a chilling and ambitious new anthology feature film entitled ‘The House of Screaming Death’.

Echoing the distinctive and much celebrated great British Gothic Horror films of the 1960-70s, The House of Screaming Death will uphold their successful traditions with the telling of four macabre tales of terror all told by the mysterious Architect. Each horrific segment delves into explicit corners of the supernatural, summoning such damned creations as the ghostly Lady In Grey, stories of Witchcraft most foul, Vampirism & the Occult.

Producer Dave Hastings of Lightbeam Productions has described the script as “truly splendid & horrific! It has gothic horror soaked right into its pages with each story having a nasty sting in their tail. But the whole project never loses its connection to past inspirations & traditions. This is the old school British Horror I grew up on throughout my youth, but in an exciting and glorious way that both new and existing fans/audiences will enjoy no end! We’re all fans of the classics that came before us, so we want to now bring that horror back to the UK properly as well as giving you many sleepless nights in the process!”

hosd2The House of Screaming Death will be commencing an Indiegogo funding event in May 2015, which will have many great and devilish financial rewards for contributors, while further cast & crew positions will be announced through the official website and social media avenues throughout May and June.

Producer Kaush Patel of Pat The Bull Films notes that “our last film, the hugely successful Checking In, has been seen by audiences worldwide to great continued critical acclaim, and was made for only £2,500 & Won Best British Film at The London Film Awards! Now imagine what we can achieve on this project with a bigger budget! We sincerely hope you will help us tell these deliciously frightening tales of gothic horror we have waiting for you!”

Each segment has a specific writer/director. The Lady in Grey has been written by Troy Dennison who will direct. The Witch in The Mirror was written by Mark Lees and will be directed by Rebecca Harris-Smith. The Vampyre was written by Dave Hastings who will also direct, while the final segment, The Diabolique is the creation of celebrated FX artist Alex Bourne, also directing his story. The mysterious Architect segments will be directed by Kaush along with those scenes scripted by Dave.

Producer Kaush Patel expresses further that “we need to raise our target budget of £7,000. This we hope will be achieved through our massive Indiegogo campaign starting up in May, and all the money we get will be going towards getting the amazing locations we’ve got backing us already if we get the appropriate funding, as well as state of the art equipment and special FX. Everyone working on this project will be doing it voluntarily, both in front of and behind the camera. The cast we have already been talking to are amazing, and our recent casting call is bringing through the door equally fantastic talent who will only benefit the project further. We are very excited!

hosd3Dave also expresses how the team “have already been working on stuff for the past year! During the Indiegogo campaign, we will be releasing some exclusive mini prequels we’ve prepared to each of the tales you will see in the accompanying feature. They work as little mini preludes to what will come in the feature itself, sort of teasing you and hopefully getting you to want to pledge your hard earned money to see more of what happens next! You’ll get an early glimpse of the ghostly Lady In Grey, the otherworldly Necromancers, a look at the horrific events that happened a year before in the village being terrosied by our chilling Vampyre as well as one of the bloody rituals that has grave malevolent consequences on the characters in the final tale. We really want to show people we understand what made those past classic films work and that we have the very best intentions to honour and celebrate them in this new project we truly believe in and think audiences will enjoy!”

hosd4Troy Dennsion, the writer and director of Lady The Grey comments how the team have been described by The London Film Awards as “some of the world’s most innovative and talented contemporary filmmakers, so you can see from that alone hopefully that we are truly passionate about what we do, and only want to make the best possible film for audiences!”.

To keep up to date on all the latest developments of this terrifying new horror anthology, please follow the film through

Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/HouseOfScreamingDeath

Twitter – https://twitter.com/screamin_death

Website –www.screamingdeath.co.uk 

#WhoIsTheArchitect

Infection is Coming ! Terrifying New Trailer for Indie Horror Survivors Drops at UKHS!

sposyerINFECTION IS COMING!

Terrifying First Trailer for Indie Horror SURVIVORS drops at UKHS.

Feast your eyes on the terrifying first full trailer for infection horror SURVIVORS, the next film from the Writer/Director of the UK smash hit monster movie EXTINCTION!

Survivors, a gritty and personal horror film, presents a unique blend of cinematic storytelling and found-footage that puts its characters and story first. “We didn’t want to make just another genre film” says the Director Adam J Spinks “we wanted to push ourselves and challenge the boundaries of what had been done before with this kind of film”

Synopsis:
From Director Adam J Spinks (Extinction) comes “Survivors”, a story about the depth of human courage in the face of an enemy unleashed by the authorities, who are meant to keep us safe. In a world without laws, without order and with nobody watching, how far would you go to survive?

“We’re delighted to be able to share the trailer with everyone finally, over the years we’ve been making it we’ve witnessed a wonderful film come together” says Producer Michael Beddoes “it’s an emotional journey with a dark heart, I know it’s going to have audiences gripping the edge of their seats”.

Survivors stars Joanne Gale (Red Dwarf X, Run FatBoy Run) Simon Burbage (Extinction, Pulp: The Movie, Hollyoaks) David Anderson (How To Live Yours, 3some) Adrian Annis (Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, Eva’s Diamond) alongside Vanessa Mayfield (Outside The Box), Lydia Kay (Christmas Slay) and Rich Keeble (Birds Of A Feather, The Addicted).

For All the latest news about Survivors:
www.facebook.com/SurvivorsTheMovie
www.twitter.com/SurvivorsMovie
www.survivorsmovie.com

Now enjoy the trailer!!

The Twisted Death of a Lonely Madman (2014) DVD Review

14770303938_52d1081ec1_zThe Twisted Death of a Lonely Madman (2014)

Directed By – Will’ Terran

Starring – Stewart O’Reilly, Nicola Posener, Raquel Cassidy

Run Time – 81 minutes

Adam hasn’t left his flat in six months for fear of being attacked. Creating conversational videos of his favourite movie star Starlet Maddinson has kept him just about the right side of sane over that time. Just about. When a straightforward encounter causes Adam’s worst fears to come true, a malevolent psycho begins a campaign of intimidation and intrusion into Adam’s home. As the world shrinks around him and the company of Starlet Maddinson’s image turns on him, reality blurs with nightmare to tear Adam’s private little world apart. – Black Barn Productions

The Twisted Death of a Lonely Madman is a gripping study of agoraphobia & the related issues of anxiety and depression that emerge from Adam’s self-imposed isolation. It was clearly produced on a very tight budget, but the vast majority of this film manages to rise above the constraints this often gives to a film. Anyone who has sat through any number of feature-length no-budget movies at film festivals or the like will know the required mentality where every technical flaw or moment of poor acting can be overlooked, that you can gleam some positives from the sheer fact that they managed to get the film made at all. Twisted Death… does not require this at all. It stands on its own through very finely tuned pacing and a whole host of brilliant ideas.

14956579702_2412e5958c_zTaking place entirely in the confines of Adam’s flat, who is also the only main character and whose bored, deliberately monotone voice provides a narration, this film defies tried & tested ways of keeping an audience entertained for a feature length, but manages it better than many big-budget films with far wider scopes. There isn’t a single scene that feels pointless, or padded out for length; we’re given a half-heartedly optimistic insight into the world Adam has created for himself in his tiny flat, before slowly we get glimpses of the darker side to his solitude and illness. Without stopping him from being relatable, his own paranoia seeping through to the audience as tension is built out of the smallest things. As reality becomes harder to define in Adam’s world, key scenes offer some incredible imagery –one particular scene featuring nothing but his computer was jaw-droppingly intense and I genuinely couldn’t take my eyes off the screen.

Technically this film is impressive too; black and white is often used as an “instant art” attachment by inexperienced film-makers, but here it was clearly considered from the beginning of production, with fantastic use of light and shadows reminding us that even in modern times where Hollywood relies on super-saturated visuals, black and white movies can still be beautiful. Except for in just one scene, the subtle effects are well pulled off, and are very effective in creating a sense of paranoia & providing a handful of genuinely unsettling images. Stewart O’Reilly (as Adam) is the only actor given very much to work with and does a very good job with it, but Nicola Posener (playing Starlet Maddinson) also shows great promise in her brief scenes throughout the film.

14956918355_5434a6f355_zGiven the title of this film, along with the tagline “In The End He Will Die” that clears up any ambiguity there may have been, and the promotional website hewilldie.com, there are no prizes for guessing how this film ends. Spoiling the ending of a film in its promotion is of course an odd deliberate choice, often one consigned to bumbling marketing departments, but here it works to give the movie a certain morbid inevitability, and forces us to ask for the duration of the movie; “how?”. Clues are scattered throughout the movie, but still the final revelations are quite unexpected and shocking, ending what was already an incredibly engrossing, suspenseful film that deals intelligently with the very real issues of mental health alongside the more fantastical nightmarish visuals, on an unpredictable high note.

9/10

For more info click on the following links

http://blackbarnproductions.co.uk

https://www.facebook.com/hewilldie

https://twitter.com/BlackBarnPros

An Interview with Ian Brooker by Dave Wain

BROOKER 001An Interview with Ian Brooker by Dave Wain 

Word is slowly spreading about the excellent British horror film The Casebook of Eddie Brewer. I reviewed it on UKHorrorScene [here] this week and marvelled at its subtle, atmospheric tone complete with plausible narrative and intriguing setting. A primary reason for the success of the picture is the performance of Ian Brooker who plays the aforementioned Eddie Brewer. Ian was kind enough to give an interview this week to discuss the film’s production and what he thinks are the reasons for the films widespread acclaim.

UKHS – Ian, thanks so much for taking the time out of your schedule for this interview. Having just seen The Casebook of Eddie Brewer, it’s a film that really impressed me. You must be very satisfied with it yourself?

IB – I am very satisfied with the way it turned out. However we knew that this was a special project from the beginning. We were fortunate to have a very good script (by Andy Spencer) that impressed everyone concerned with the film. It was well researched, intelligent, well structured with interesting, believable characters in believable situations and had very good dialogue; then there was the talented cast of predominantly Midlands-based actors (Peter Wight is London-based) who were assembled by Casting Director, Sean Connolly; then there was the brilliantly creative camera work, lighting and editing of Director, Andy Spencer, and finally the excellent sound-design and score by composer, Jamie Robertson. It was a collaborative effort and the film works thanks to the time, effort and commitment to the project of all the above.

UKHS – Shot in the winter of 2010-11, it certainly seems like an arduous shoot. How do you feel the conditions at Rookery House influenced your performance?

IB – At Rookery House we didn’t have to create an atmosphere of disquiet and discomfort. It was already there. The cellar was particularly unpleasant: damp, mouldy and airless. The three storied house was large and mostly empty. You certainly didn’t want to find yourself alone in the cellar or in a room on the ground or first floors particularly as the light began to fade in the late afternoons. It was bitterly cold too. There was no central heating and just a couple of freestanding modern radiators in the downstairs modern kitchen which doubled as a green room for the actors. As a result, during filming, hands were red and blue and breath was always visible on camera. Very few of the rooms in the house still had working light bulbs and so by the early evening most of the house was dark. All this contributed to the perfect atmosphere for a ghost story and didn’t require a suspension of disbelief by the cast.

We also had a couple of possible paranormal experiences when we were filming. Actress Louise Paris, who played the sceptic, Dr Susan Kovac, and I were filming the first take of a scene in the upstairs kitchen. We heard heavy footsteps ascending the main staircase from below. It ruined the take as it was captured by the microphone. We stopped filming and Louise and I volunteered to find the culprit and tell him to stop. We went into all the rooms on that floor and found no one. We returned downstairs to the modern kitchen where the rest of the cast were keeping warm – and found that no one had left the room. Later Louise went to the toilet upstairs and -in a scene reminiscent of one in the film – heard someone come into the toilet with heavy breathing. She was so disturbed by the experience she screamed. I was in the downstairs kitchen on this occasion when she came in. She thought that one of us had tried to wind her up. But once again no one in the cast or crew had left the room. Rookery House was a perfect location and inspired us to do real justice to the script.

BROOKER 002UKHS – You’ve spoken about your preparation for the character of Eddie, be it with the script or the change of accent or the change in physical appearance. Andrew (writer/director) seemed to have a very specific vision in mind for him – how easy was this to embrace and develop?

IB – Andy developed his ideas for the film and the character of Eddie Brewer over a ten year period. I only came in a month or so before filming began. Fortunately, I had met Andy in the 1990s and so he knew me slightly and was aware of my genuine interest in the subject of the paranormal. I had been a non-active member of the Society for Psychical Research at that time and had read about various case histories such as the Enfield Poltergeist. I had long been fascinated by real and dramatised ghost stories. I had also wanted to be a paranormal investigator. So when I first read the script I understood what was going on with the different manifestations, the various theories referred to in the script and recognised that the character of Eddie was based upon Maurice Grosse, the main investigator in the Enfield case. If there was any doubt in my mind as to what Andy wanted I would ask for his advice and usually found that my instincts had been right. When I felt that there was a lack of clarity in the script I suggested amendments to the script – sometimes extra lines – that would enable the audience to follow more easily what was going on or what was being said. Andy was very open to my suggestions and script revisions. As an actor/director relationship it was very harmonious and like-minded.

I also appreciated that for a scene of revelation of horror to work for Eddie it was best to underplay it or to internalise it – to make it as real as possible. I worked hard in advance of the shoot to get the mechanics of the performance right so that when I came to film the scenes I didn’t really have to think about what I was doing. I think that allowed it to seem natural.

UKHS – My favourite quote by Eddie is the brilliant “I’ve never heard anyone under forty say anything remotely interesting”. He’s a real traditionalist who resolutely sticks to his principles – a character very much in contrast to the ubiquitous conveyor belt of screaming teenagers that populate contemporary horror films. How did you think Eddie Brewer will be received by audiences today?

IB – I think Eddie Brewer is a fascinating, complex character. There is lightness and humour in the early scenes and ever increasing darkness thereafter. I think through his vulnerability, humour, honesty and integrity, he’s rather appealing to a general audience. Admittedly he has a temper and is often moody but that goes for most of us. There’s no doubt that as a personality he is flawed, but who isn’t flawed? He is a bit of a curmudgeon, but a likeable one. Eddie reacts to the way he is treated by others. I think he appeals to the rebel – the outsider – in all of us – young and old.

The film works on several levels: as a ghost story, character study and as a psychological drama. Even those who don’t particularly like the genre appreciate the film as it offers so much more than the usual run-of-the-mill horror films. They like Eddie as a character.

BROOKER 003UKHS – It’s been interesting reading reviews for the film where critics have namechecked such iconic British horrors as The Innocents (1961) and The Stone Tape (1972). I myself related the picture to similar fare such as Dead of Night (1972) and Saxon Logan’s Sleepwalker (1984) with the films ability to create horror from a seemingly ordinary situation. These comparisons relate the film to a different era of filmmaking – do you think this ultimately will make The Casebook of Eddie Brewer a film that will be etched in to the landscape of British horror for years to come?

IB – The biggest fans of the film tend to be those who like a literary basis to their horror as with the tradition of the English ghost story (M.R. James and his successors) or the original television plays (and adaptations) by Nigel Kneale. These traditions are by nature “old fashioned”, but, in my book, the best adaptations of ghost stories for TV, film and radio, and original plays on a supernatural subject were written and produced between twenty to forty years ago. Today in modern horror films I think there is a tendency to show and tell far too much. Nothing is left to the imagination. And the plots invariably do not make a lot of sense and the explanations offered for the paranormal manifestations are often risible. The Casebook of Eddie Brewer, by contrast, does not spoon-feed its audience. If anything, it puts the viewer in the position of a paranormal investigator who is presented with an array of unexplained data. As with Eddie Brewer, it’s up to the viewer to interpret that data and come to their own conclusions as to its meaning.

I hope the film will find its way into “the landscape of British horror” and that it will eventually achieve a cult following. Many people who have seen it say that it’s a film that stays with you long after you’ve seen it. In my opinion it’s a film that repays several viewings as there are several things going on in the plot that are perhaps not evident on first viewing. It’s a complex film that brings the viewer as close as is possible to the reality of a paranormal investigation. It’s a film about the values of belief, truth, decency, respect – admittedly old fashioned but sound values – in a modern world that places greater value upon the glib and shallow opinions of glitzy television charlatans and dishonest ratings-hungry production companies. There are no easy answers when it comes to the paranormal. At the end of the day, it’s a field that is highly subjective. There is no objective truth in this subject. The paranormal is ultimately unknowable. Eddie Brewer understands that fact, but he comes closer than anyone else to understanding that truth.

I hope word of mouth will enhance the reputation of this film.

UKHS – You’ve chosen self-distribution for the film – or have you? Was this the only means of UK distribution on the table or was it a conscious decision to try this avenue? How is it working out?

IB – We chose self-distribution in the UK. Doing it yourself gives you total control of the product – the artwork for the DVD and bluray covers, menus, discs and the theatrical poster and the content and direction of the marketing campaign. It is hard work – particularly when your main job is as an actor. But when you believe in something – as we believe in this film – it’s worth sticking with it. The film has been available for streaming with the HorrorShow TV since last September. Otherwise, the film is available to buy in the UK on DVD and Bluray through Amazon.co.uk. Both the DVD and bluray packages come with special booklets full of background information on the film and the production including interviews with the key personnel. So far sales have been very good. Later this year the film will be released on DVD and digital media in the USA. For the American campaign a distributor based in Baltimore will be responsible for the promotion of the film.

CASEBOOK 002UKHS – It’s almost four years now since you got the role of Eddie Brewer – it must seem strange when so many projects come and go that you’re still talking about this film and introducing it to people who have not yet seen it?

IB – The Casebook of Eddie Brewer has always been a special project for us. As co-producers, Sean Connolly and I have put a lot of our time and effort into marketing the film and we are delighted with the success that has been achieved. It’s been an Official Selection at seventeen film festivals (ten in the USA) and has won six awards. I don’t know of many low-budget films that have enjoyed the success of our film. But there’s still a lot more work to do. We are always on the lookout for new ways to promote the film.

UKHS – As for yourself Ian, what’s next on the agenda? We saw you playing Harold Shipman in a docu-drama recently – what can we look forward to you working on?

I have a number of projects on the go. I have still to complete my scenes as a priest for a Sci-fi feature film: Kaleidoscope Man. That will probably be in mid September. I have also recently recorded six one hour audio dramas of Pathfinder Legends: Rise of the Runelords for Big Finish in which I play the dwarf ranger, Harsk. We are looking forward to recording the second series. I also have an ongoing part in the new BBC Radio 4 drama series about WW1, called Home Front, which starts this month. I play the captain of a steam trawler in Folkestone in 1914. However, regarding the paranormal, I am now working on another film. I have been developing the story for a feature, working title Familia, with the horror writer, Simon Kurt Unsworth, who is writing the script. It’s quite different from The Casebook of Eddie Brewer. It will be much darker and very disturbing. It’s still early days but Simon and I are confident that we have an excellent and unusual story that will definitely appeal to horror fans. Watch this space……

CASEBOOK 001My thanks to Ian for taking the time out of his busy schedule to chat to me, and I urge you to visit Amazon to pick up a copy of this fantastic film. In a genre over-populated by an endless supply of ‘six teenagers in the middle of nowhere’ styled films, this film gives us something different and we should stand an applaud the tenacity of Ian, Andrew and the relevant people associated with this film to buck the trend.

Support Independent British Horror

The Casebook of Eddie Brewer (2012) DVD review

CASEBOOK 001THE CASEBOOK OF EDDIE BREWER (2012) DVD

Directed By: Andrew Spencer

Written By: Andrew Spencer

Starring: Ian Brooker, Peter Wight, Louise Paris, Alison Belbin, Erin Connolly

UK Certification: 15

RRP: £10.99 (+ P&P)

Running Time: 89 minutes

Distributor: Rookery Pictures

It was a pretty innocuous retweet. As with most of our Twitter feeds the majority tends to scroll through like the ticker on a rolling news channel with us paying sporadic attention to it. For some reason this caught my eye – a RT by MJ Simpson saying how The Case of Eddie Brewer was available to buy. I know the release schedules like an evangelist knows the bible, so a film I didn’t know about instantly piqued my interest. After some digging it turns out that this movie in question is an independent British horror film which is being self-distributed in the UK. Since its premiere at the Flatpack Festival, Birmingham in March 2012 it’s been on the festival circuit for the last 18 months picking up six awards on both sides of the Atlantic. It was hard not to be intrigued.

The film begins with a hi-vis jacketed electrician attending what appears to be a power shortage in the depths of an as yet unnamed building. Before long we see the expected expression of horror accompanied by his torch falling to the ground. It’s a fairly standard opening sequence, but as we move on following the title card the introduction of our main character Eddie Brewer (Brooker) gives us the hope of something a little more intriguing.

CASEBOOK 002Eddie is being followed by a documentary film crew, and when we meet him he’s guiding them around his house as he demonstrates the history of a variety of trinkets that adorn his home. He’s old school – no new-fangled gadgets, no gimmicks, nor a swagger either. He has the demeanour of a lived-in schoolteacher with his checked shirt, pullover and beige jacket bemoaning the younger generation with utterances like “I’ve never heard anyone under 40 say anything interesting”. It’s not long before Eddie and the TV crew get to the building that featured at the start of the film – Rookery House, an eighteenth century construction that’s currently in use by the local council.

The electrician – Ray Riddle (Peter Wight) tells Eddie that upon heading down to the cellar he heard a female crying, possibly a child. Eddie counters this recollection with questions attempting to derail Ray’s story by suggesting a number of possibilities that could logically explain the experience that he had, but Ray is adamant about what he heard. Eddie heads down himself to investigate but with nothing suspicious he heads home to conduct some research. It’s not long however before another incident takes place, and once more Eddie heads over to the potentially haunted cellar. This time he has a supernatural experience himself – which alone represents a breakthrough, but with another case involving a young girl obsessed with Grimaldi the clown, the two situations combined yield something that Eddie could never have prepared himself for.

Made for £10,000, the idea for The Casebook of Eddie Brewer dates back to 2001 when Andrew Spencer shot a ten minute comedy entitled Eddie Brewer P.I. Its current incarnation loses most of the comedy, developing into a typically British ghost story that could easily fit snugly alongside such atmospheric chillers like Dead of Night (1972) or Sleepwalker (1984). The key to the film’s success is undoubtedly the performance of Ian Brooker who brings a level of passion and authenticity to his character while providing Eddie with an air of fragility having experienced the loss of his wife in a house fire a number of years previously.

CASEBOOK 003Andrew Spencer has created a little gem of a movie here. His script (followed nearly to the letter) manages to flesh out the key characters in the film, while the scenes of ghostly activity are shot in a manner that makes the tension palpable while belying the budgetary constraints. My favourite British horror film so far this year is The Borderlands, and coincidentally – shot two years prior – The Casebook of Eddie Brewer has a few similarities such as mature leads, handheld camera work and occasional dark humour. I only mention this as that’s the level this film almost achieves, so I just hope that the reputation of this film continues to spread and it continues to get the acclaim that it very much deserves.

8 out of 10

Extras:
While there are no extras on the DVD, the film does come with a 28 page booklet with musings from writer / director Andy Spencer, lead actor Ian Brooker and co-producer Jamie Robertson. There’s also a wealth of trivia with details of the genesis, the production and other fascinating facts behind the film and the locations used.

The Casebook of Eddie Brewer can be purchased at Amazon – CLICK HERE

Support Independent British Horror

Dark Vision (2014) DVD Review

 

darkvision1DARK VISION – 2014

DIR: Darren Flaxstone

Starring: Bernie Hodges, Suzie Latham, Judith Haley, Oliver Park, Alicia Ancel, Simon Pearce.

Writers: Darren Flaxstone & Bernie Hodges

Preliminary release date – October 2014

Reviewing films like Dark Vision can sometimes be difficult. They come packaged with so much hope and endeavour that you really want to like them, but despite a lot of charm they often come up short in vital areas leaving you disappointed. Coming hot off the heels of brilliant The Borderlands (2014) this is another British faux documentary that mixes TV ghost hunting with occult overtones. Taking its cue from shows like Most Haunted and America’s superior Ghost Adventures it attempts to both satirise and celebrate its influences but ends up a bit muddled, and wastes a fantastic chance to bring a brilliant, scarcely used villain to the screen.

Taking its name from its fictional internet cast ‘Dark Vision’ follows a group of paranormal investigators as they compete to get the most ‘hits’ and win their own TV show. Going deep into the bowels of ‘Baylock’s Folly’, a mansion house built on top of an old plague hospital, they go in search of the spirit of the murderous Plague Doctor William Baylock. Leader Knight is a hypnotist who has a certain control over his crew and is incredibly ambitious and egotistical.

DV2He will go to any lengths to win the contest including faking ghosts, twisting history, hypnotising his crew and putting them in unnecessary danger. Strange things begin to happen and the ghost of the evil, murderous plague doctor is soon on the loose. As tensions rise and fear mounts the mysterious Dark Vision Hub keeps offering messages suggesting that all is not as it first seemed, leading to a chaotic finale involving Satanism, witchcraft, murder and the vengeful ghost of the Plague Doctor.

Despite setting itself up as a fake internet cast, the film settles into a more traditional groove than one might expect. The gothic melodramatics and light titillation suggest that the influences here are more Hammer Horror than The Blair Witch project and this is one of the films main plus points. Lending it a very British flavour it helps it to transcend the usual clichés that often hinder found footage like films. It has a surprisingly playful tone too, never taking itself too seriously but never descending into comedy, intentional or otherwise. There is also the use of the medieval plague doctor as a villain. I have never understood why these characters haven’t made it into more horror movies as they are truly arresting, and frankly terrifying in appearance!

Sadly the film falls down in parts and it doesn’t quite have the grandeur to fully embrace the gothic potential that the set up and location are crying out for. Because of this the film sometimes looks visually cheap; as though it was made as a promo tool for something like The York Dungeon. It’s a shame as Director Darren Flaxstone should be commended for stepping away from the obvious and trying to make a ‘real’ film rather than just 86 minutes of shakey, head-ache inducing mania. It also has a lightness of touch that, whilst endearing, proves somewhat crippling as the film makers try to amp up the scares. It is a rather easy going film at times and, despite its best intentions, is never really scary. Even The Plague Doctor lacks the presence or dramatic punch to ever truly frighten or make an impact.

DV3But despite its failings Dark Vision still emerges victorious on some counts. These films often stand or fall on the conviction of the performers and whilst no one here is likely to win any awards, they do for the most part hold their own. There are a couple of dodgy supporting turns, but Bernie Hodges and Suzie Latham give the film a solid foundation and are both thoroughly natural and believable. Even the lesser performers don’t grate the way they should, coming off as forgivably naïve rather than inept. I can imagine it playing well at festivals where people are in the mood to be wooed by its many charms and people are sometimes more forgiving of a films flaws. It is a very endearing film that in its own small way, and on its own terms is something of a success. However, as a horror film it unfortunately fails to create even the slightest of shivers.

6/10

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