Hellbride (2007) Review

hellbride1Hellbride (2007)

Writer/Director: Pat Higgins

Stars: Neil Andrews, Gary Delaney, James Fisher

Synopsis: ‘Lee Parker and Nicole Meadows are all set to be married. There are, however, one or two problems on the horizon. Nicole’s engagement ring is cursed; once the property of a wronged bride who went on a killing spree, the ring has a history of bringing death and destruction to all who come in contact with it. Not only that, but Nicole’s father has become involved in a fearsome dispute with a local mob boss; a situation that looks perilously close to spiralling into bloody violence at any minute. Also in the mix are a massively unreliable Best Man who yearns to reunite with his ex-girlfriend who happens to be the bridesmaid, and an eccentric expert on the occult who has been hunting for the cursed ring for years

I’m a sucker for a good cursed object movie, everything from possessed puzzle boxes (Hellraiser), cars (Christine), books (Evil Dead) and even buttons (Drag Me To Hell). There’s something about the innocence of the object and how it can be corrupted and cursed that fascinates me, it’s a sub-genre like no other in that you cannot simply kill it. You can slay the alien or creature, you can get the better of a serial killer or take out the brain of a zombie but a cursed object takes more of you to conquer it, you have to find out what the curse is and how you can lift it, there’s a higher level of intelligence involved and in the above mentioned films, it’s fun and scary to watch the characters you care for rushing to find the way before they’re sacrificed, slain or possessed/cursed themselves.

hellbride2As I say, I’m a sucker for a good cursed object movie, unfortunately Hell Bride isn’t one of them. I have the utmost respect for anyone who manages to make a movie, even with a non-existent budget like this one, it’s still a mammoth task so I tip my hat to Writer, Producer, Director and Editor, Pat Higgins for getting this out there. The music throughout works well with each scene and the blood effects are great. In a production of this low a budget you don’t expect great acting and you won’t find it here but the two leads are amiable enough to not be distracting. I really wanted to like Hellbride, it’s even shot in my old stomping ground but it’s hard to like a movie that appears to not know what it wants to be.

One minute everyone is cracking jokes as it so desperately tries and fails to copy Tarrantino then the next there’s a plague masked figure randomly killing a random character that no one then notices is either dead or has disappeared. There’s also a pointless side story concerning some local gangsters whose entire story could’ve have been served better by using the main characters to tell it through.

The film is littered with poorly executed flashbacks that bring what little tension there is to a grinding halt. The titular Hell Bride is unfortunately anything but, as she’s reduced to little more than idle threats and bad CGI.

hellbrideHer plague masked henchman is a much scarier proposition though but he is wasted as he is literally plonked into scenes to try and create some tension but poor camera work and direction suck the life out of any terror the character could build which is a shame because the plague masked figure is genuinely disturbing and careful shot choice and lighting could’ve made him have much more impact on the story and characters.

Among such a strong list of contemporaries Hellbride unfortunately languishes at the bottom.

4/10

The Devil’s Music (2008) Director’s Cut Edition DVD Review

devil'smusic1The Devil’s Music (2008) Director’s Cut Edition 

Dir: Pat Higgins

Starring – Debbie Attwell, Chandrika Chevli, Richard Collins

Run Time – 97 Minutes

UK DVD release from Cornerstone Media on Pre-Order NOW – CLICK HERE

The Devil’s Music is a mockumentary (or rather a mock-rock-umentary) which strays into found footage territory. The film ends up suggesting that (MASSIVE SPOILER ALERT WHICH NEGATES YOU WATCHING THE ENTIRE MOVIE, BUT WHICH CAN’T REALLY BE AVOIDED NOW I’VE DRAFTED AN ENTIRE ARTICLE LIKE THIS) Satan is an ex-member of a boy band. Shock! Horror! Could it really be true? I think anyone who’s ever been exposed to Robbie Williams knows the answer to that…..

If you’re after a rip-roaring, gore-soaked thrill ride, then I’m afraid The Devil’s Music is not for you. Featuring a lot of talking heads, it’s not really a horror movie per se, but more a dark drama. Having said that, fans of independent British horror will recognise a few familiar faces, perhaps most notably James Fisher from The Zombie Diaries (2006) and numerous other genre projects.

devil'smusic2The Devil’s Music is made up of two main components; video footage from the last tour of now missing shock-popper, Erika Spawn and the previously mentioned talking head sequences of Erika’s associates pontificating on the past and, in particular, her feud with holier than thou ex-boyband member, Robin Harris. The film is ultimately based around the big reveal of Harris’ real identity, which is a playfully humorous premise, although sometimes slow moving.

A suspension of disbelief on the part of the audience is required in parts, not least in scenes of Harris (supposedly the biggest pop star in the country) “singing”. The dialogue often appears to be improvised, which sometimes leads to awkward exchanges and difficult viewing, but at other times results in some natural and impressive monologues to camera from the “interviewees”.

Numerous story strands involving Erika Spawn’s entourage and their relationships and interactions with each other, as well as the bizarre behaviour of Spawn herself, will keep you guessing as to where the plot is heading, but the movie is not woven tightly enough to fully enfranchise the audience as mystery solvers, so when the final denouement is presented from straight out of left-field, you may find yourself feeling cheated (except you won’t, because I’ve already ruined it for you in the second sentence of this review. As Grandpa says in The Lost Boys, “If you’ve got the TV guide, you don’t need a TV”).

devil'smusic3A humorous premise, an interesting concept for presentation and enough familiar character types to make any indie / metal kid cringe, mean that The Devil’s Music is worth a watch. But it does have the pace of a tortoise pulling a steamroller and has an amateurish feel at times. In a battle of movies with “The Devil’s….” titles, I’d place it ahead of The Devil’s Rejects, but that might be damning with faint praise.

5/10