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The Scope of Horror by Christopher Stewart

The Scope of Horror by Christopher Stewart

October is a distant memory as we draw to the end of November but I can’t help but think back to the Halloween month, when people discuss what’s the best horror films. Numerous top ten lists to decide what to watch on the spookiest night of the year. More lists will be spawning around the web shortly to decide what was the cream of the crop for 2015 as we enter December. This article isn’t to discuss that, everyone is entitled to what they thought was the best this year or what are the best horror films ever. Instead I want to turn the focus on the other discussion, the discussion that determines why some of your favourites aren’t horror.

In every comment section of every top ten article, the horror fans are up in arms. Why is Shaun of the Dead in that list?! Don’t you know it’s a comedy! Why is Se7en there!? It’s a Thriller. Underworld!?! Are you mental? The lines where horror crosses over into other genre are loose boundaries, areas of contention. It seems that some people are afraid to walk too close to the horizons of horror in fear of falling off the side into some genre oblivion. A nightmare abyss where Rom-Coms lurk.

 

I’ve often had to defend the Horror Comedies when it comes to their place on my horror DVD shelf. They are often disqualified due to their inability to generate dread compared to a true horror film. I would say that when it comes to the properties of a horror film, how scared it makes me is not a factor that I care deeply about. If I was to judge my horror film collection based on that sole characteristic, my shelves would be quite bare. It’s more about the content the film offers, morbid tales of monsters and murder are how I would determine a horror film.

That personal boundary is challenged by one specific genre cross, the Action Horror. Films like Resident Evil, Underworld, and Van Helsing, don’t really fall under my personal scope of what horror is. The reason for that is due to the characters’ lack of vulnerability. There’s a similar issue when it comes to horror gaming, one example being Condemned 2. While there are a bunch of monsters raising hell, there’s also a protagonist with an unnatural level of badassery, equipped with either magic powers, genetically modified superpowers, or a long history of kicking ass and taking names. It’s the reason why I wouldn’t classify Predator as a horror film, Arnold Schwarzenegger is a powerhouse who can go toe to toe with his monster. In comparison to Simon Pegg in Shaun of the Dead, Arnie has a much tighter grasp on his situation than Pegg does.

 

The other genre that battles for the classification of horror films is the Thriller. With films such as Se7en, Silence of the Lambs, and Shutter Island, it’s often questioned which camp they fall under. The term Thriller is often joked as being “A horror film with a shot at an Oscar” due to The Oscars long time snubbing of the horror genre. I’d usually determine a thriller based on which perspective the film is being seen from, particularly if it is coming from a police investigation angle. The inclusion of an investigation usually moves the film away from a stalk and kill formula and asks questions to the killer’s motivation and providing the film with a more intellectual approach. However this usually only accounts for films with a human killer, and yet there is the sub-genre of the Supernatural Thriller which tries to “legitimise” paranormal and monster movies under the Thriller header.

 

At the end of it all, horror is still subjective. If you want to only recognise the films that scare you, it’s going to limit your appreciation of an extensive genre. A genre that takes the old folk tales of vampires and werewolves, and splices it with modern life either as side-splitting comedies like What We Do In The Shadows, or as gun-toting leather-fetish showcases like Underworld. The more film makers get weird and wild with the boundaries of horror, the more original stories we’re getting, for better or worse. You just have to decide if you want to step off into that abyss.

He Never Died – The Jason Krawczyk Interview

he-never-died (1)He Never Died – The Jason Krawczyk Interview

Before I head straight into the interview I wanted to give a little back story as to the thinking behind this interview. The Grimmfest film festival in Manchester is held during the first weekend in October and always has a core of new and exciting horror films. I personally have been attending since 2011 and each year I always choose three films that I know are showing and I avoid all media, so I can go in without any preconceptions. This is very difficult when you are the editor of a horror film website!!

Anyway one of this year’s Grimmfest  films was He Never Died starring Henry Rollins. And it just blew me away! Rollins is simply amazing , the small cast are superb and the story is just genius. I won’t give away any more as I want you to enjoy the film as much as I did, BUT when He Never Died is released TRACK IT DOWN, buy it and watch a film that was for me one of the highlights of genre cinema in the last 5 years.

I am well known for waffling ( to speak or write at length in a vague or trivial manner) so I will keep this brief. After watching He Never Died I couldn’t get it off my mind, so I decided to try to contact the writer & director Jason Krawczyk so I could ask him about it. Now one of the great things about the indie filmmaking community and the horror genre in particular is the camaraderie and friendship within it (there are exceptions but then again there is at least one turd in every field of roses), and when I reached out to Jason he was nothing short of amazing. He has been happy to answer my questions, he sent me exclusive pictures and behind the scenes shots and he gave his time freely and for that I must thank him. Sometimes running a website is a thankless task (I know BooHoo me), but at UK Horror Scene we have the best group of writers as well as fantastic readers, followers and friends. And when people like Jason just take a little time to help out then it makes it all worthwhile! So like I said I waffle so without further ado here is the interview!!

HE NEVER DIED SS 5UKHS – Hi Jason and thanks for taking the time to chat to us at UK Horror Scene. Please could you tell our readers a little about He Never Died?

JK– It’s a gritty super natural noir comedy that stars an immortal cannibal that’s exhausted from existing. It’s always been hard for me to nail down an elevator pitch for the film. Kate Greenhouse (she played Cara) said it was Twilight for cynical 40 year olds. I always kind of liked that description.

He Never Died BTS 2UKHS – For me what made He Never Died was the superb casting especially Henry Rollins. Henry just seemed made for the role. Did you have him in mind from the start and what was he like to work with? Did he really get involved in everything as I expected?

JK – Henry Rollins was always the visual representation of the character and he’s always been an idol of mine. I saw a few live shows of his and kind of retrofitted the script for him.

It was surreal working with him. What are the odds that you write something with a role model in mind and then years later your doing it? I have to admit it took about a week for me to get comfortable working with him. But if you ever wondered in the legend matched the man, the answer is a resounding yes. He’s delightful to work with. He’s incredibly creative and collaborative and he never broke from being pleasant and professional. He was humbling to say the least. He set a tone for a great shoot.

He Never Died BTS 5UKHS – Jack (Rollins) is a loner. He sleeps up to 14 hours a day, plays bingo, religiously visits a local diner daily , seems to be suffering from depression oh and is a cannibal. Can you explain a little about your thought process when writing for Jack?

JK – I’ve seen so many suave vampire movies. They always seem so confidant and elegant with themselves, but immortality seems more like a hinderance to me. The zest for life must become dulled over so quickly once you’ve experienced everything over and over again. Immortality much do an incalculable amount damage to your psyche.

Having a character devoid of fear is fun to write. A gun means nothing to him. In fact, he’d probably trade anything to have the sensation of fear again. He would like to feel anything again, but emoting also means the valleys as well as the hills. And the valleys for Jack means piles of innocent bodies, so that’s where the existential crisis comes into play. Is life worth living if you can’t die? I don’t know, but probably not.

He Never Died BTS 6UKHS – Without giving to many spoilers, He Never Died has a lot of religious references . Is this from a personal perspective or just for the story?

JK – It’s primarily for the story. I think He Never Died is as religious for me as “Spawn” was for Todd Mcfarlane or “Preacher” was for Garth Ennis. Religions do come with a fascinating mythos that I think a lot writers are drawn to. The dichotomy of good versus evil and divine unfathomable concepts are ripe for story telling.

UKHS – He Never Died is a very dark film yet full of humour , how did you get the balance right?

JK – There might have been a bit of dumb luck involved, but I do believe that you can’t sway in one direction too fully. When something seems so impossibly dark, it’s time for some levity, and when a scenario is getting too fun, it’s time to ground it. That way, no ones totally satisfied.

I did believe for the humour to work it has to come from a sincere and vulnerable place. Jack is damaged enough as it is and I don’t think being ironic or cynical would have boded will with the character.

HE NEVER DIED SS 4UKHS – The blood, gore and FX are all superb as is the use of Jack’s physicality . Stomach churning at times and Henry gets really involved . Can you explain your thoughts on the use of the FX & stunts in He Never Died.

JK – I do believe that you should do as much as you can with the actors themselves and practical effects before you start adding stunt doubles and VFX’s. Saying that, this movie had an extremely minuscule budget so you have to work with what is pragmatic and not ideal.

There was only one “throat rip” prosthetic and only one pool table crash, so there’s a lot of rehearsal time involved. Forming ideas out of restrictions is a fact of film making so the best thing to do there is listen to as many ideas as possible and think what best incapsulates the scene.

He Never Died BTS 7UKHS – He Never Died has a truly ‘indie’ vibe running through it. Was it a collaborative effort and what are the pros & cons of independent filmmaking?

JK – I approach directing as a massive collaborative effort. It’s pretty easy to talk your head off, but for me, being patient and listening gets some of the greatest results. I try to plan as much as possible in pre-production. So before I’ve started shooting the DP and I have a detailed shot list that makes sure the visual language is consistent and evolves with the characters and the actors and I have rehearsed and discussed their arch and history. Keeping everyone relaxed and able to focus on their craft seems to work the best.

The crew for this film was unbelievable. I couldn’t believe their level of enthusiasm and how talented they were. They made my job a pleasure. The production designer, Diana Abbatangelo, was pregnant during the production and that didn’t slow her down by a millisecond. It was inspiring to say the least.

UKHS – And on filming , how long did the shoot last and was there many night shoots?

JK – It was a 20 day shoot. I always want more time, but just days though, not longer hours. God no to longer hours. I like 12 hour days. If everyone gets a chance to be home and get a full eight hours of sleep, they are so much happier the next day.

Half of the movie was shot in a studio, which was a first for me. I enjoyed not fighting the elements and the proximity to the crew and actors. Sometimes you’re hundreds of feet away from shooting when you’re on location.

The movie was shot in November and December in Toronto, so it was a bit frigid. Henry was a champion though as he didn’t complain once and refused to wear an extra jacket. He had to do a scene, wet, on a day that it was snowing and didn’t complain.

HE NEVER DIED SS 6UKHS – He Never Died is character driven , which is something that is becoming rarer in modern horror. What are your influences in cinema?

JK – I think it’s important to find influences outside of the genre you’re trying to make or just not have an intended genre. “About Shmidt” and “As Good As It Gets” with Jack Nicholson (ironically) was a massive influence for “He Never Died.”

UKHS – Have you sorted a UK release yet for DVD?

JK – I’m not 100% sure on an international DVD release yet, but I do know it’ll be available on VOD on December 18th.

UKHS – What is next for you , anything you can tell us about?

JK – As of right now, Zach and I are in full pitch mode for He Never Died: The Series. I wrote the series out during post production for He Never Died, so that was a fairly ideal landscape to keep me focused. I have to keep in mind that TV is different than movies, so those scripts are subject to change, but hopefully it can retain their themes, humour, and unceremonious violence.

Outside of He Never Died, I’m still writing a cosmic trucker horror that’s been hounding me for a little too long now. That along with my press photography blog everyonequestion.com keeps me busy.

HE NEVER DIED SS 1UKHS – Finally as we are a horror site, what are your 3 favourite horror films and why?

JK – Alright, there’s a ton, but the three that influence me the most are:

Jaws: Jaws is just an immaculately made movie and it still holds up. I don’t know what it is about Jaws, but it just hits every aspect of film making with a sledge hammer. The Spielberg slight of hand “oner” is something I take great inspiration from and Jaws is a great example of it.

The Thing: John Carpenter really set an atmosphere that can’t be replicated. It’s such a slow burn with such a creeping sense of paranoia. The fact that there were no women and they killed dogs early in the film set in an incredibly unsafe vibe.

The Hitcher: The fact that you have no idea what the hell Rutger Hauer is or wants is absolutely amazing. It’s also a beautifully photographed film. I was more entertained than horrified from the Hitcher, but I was mesmerized by it’s execution.

Thank you Jason for your time and help. And again when He Never Died is released please check it out! 

Bound To Vengeance (2015) DVD Review

btv1Bound To Vengeance (2015)

Director: José Manuel Cravioto

Stars: Amy Okuda, Richard Tyson, Tina Ivlev

UK DVD Release – January 18th 2016 From High Fliers Films

A young girl, chained in the basement of a sexual predator, manages to escape and then turns the tables on her captor. She learns he has more girls locked away in various locations and forces the man to show her where they are and free them….

Bound to Vengeance is very well made, fantastically acted and is a really enjoyable revenge thriller. I am glad this film didn’t go down the torture porn route of the I Spit on Your Grave films. The physical and mental torture these girls go through isn’t shown graphically or gratuitously. It’s merely implied or we are shown the aftermath/ after effects, which I think makes the acts seem all the more harrowing for the viewer.

I knew from the moment the credits started, I was about to witness a very well made film. The way the cast and crew credits scrolled in showed a lot of professionalism. I really enjoyed Bound to Vengeance right from the beginning until the very end shot.

btv2Starring a relatively unknown Tina Ivlev, whom I am sure we will be seeing a lot of in movies to come, as the sweet but revenge filled Eve. We learn from splices of “home move” footage cut in between acts of violence and mental torture, that she has a boyfriend and appears very much in love. I enjoyed this aspect of Bound to Vengeance. I was already rooting for this girl to get her much deserved revenge but with the “home movie” edited in, I could see what sort of person she was before she was ruined by this disgusting man.

Speaking of said disgusting man; Richard Tyson does make for one hell of a horrible bastard, No offence Richard, if you are reading this. It’s a compliment to his acting. He plays his character of Phil terrifyingly fantastically. As I said earlier, the sexual violence is implied or happens off screen. But we do get a fair bit of actual blood and guts gore, in good measure too. There is an impaling, a fair few gun shots, the occasional stabbing and a lot of punching and hitting with bricks, planks of wood etc. All of the gore and violence is handled and shown in a realistic manner. There’s no Kill Bill style blood spraying.

The plot of Bound to Vengeance is simple yet effective. This always makes for the best kind of revenge film. There’s no overly complex or confusing storyline. Everything is easy to follow and keep track of each plot point as the story unravels. There are a couple of twists and turns but non which you don’t see coming.

btv3Director José Manuel Cravioto’s does a brilliant job with his English language début feature. His CV consists mainly or short films and documentaries. I think after Bound to Vengeance, we will be seeing a hell of a lot more from Cravioto in years to come. I will be keeping an eye out for every and any film he directs from now on.

If you’re after a revenge thriller which doesn’t pride itself on violence and refrains from showing acts of sexual assault, this film is a must for any thriller fan out there. It’s so well made and acted; It’s definitely going to help explode the careers of the director and leading lady. I highly recommend this film to everyone. Watch it. Be impressed by it. Be shocked by the zinger of an ending and just go through the ride with Eve as she tries to rescue Phil’s other girls.

Rating 8.5/10

Follow me on Twitter @NLouse91

Marshland (2014) Review

Marshland posterMarshland (La Isla Minima) 2014

Director: Alberto Rodriguez

Starring: Javier Gutierrez, Raul Arevalo, Maria Varod, Perico Cervantes, Jesus Corroza

Limited UK Cinema Release from Aug 7th

UK DVD Release 14th September from Altitude Films

“That’s my knife.”

1980 Spain is the backdrop for the gritty police procedural Marshland. Gorgeously shot and tightly plotted this is a film to watch and savor. Dark, brutal and intriguingly political, Marshland is probably best appreciated by those with some knowledge of Spain’s history. I admit I had to pause the movie to go read Spain’s wiki page before returning to the film. Spain 1980 was a time of transition and some upheaval. Only a few years after the death of the dictator Franco and two years from the completion of the new Bourbon restoration. The sins of Franco’s era still loom large and the democracy is still fragile. Still with me? Let’s proceed to the review, I promise this pays off.

Two police officers, politically vocal Pedro (Arevelo) and the older sanguine Juan (Gutierrez) arrive in (according to the synopsis) Spain’s deep south, where two girls have gone missing. Pedro landed such an out-of-the-way assignment because he wrote a letter to the newspaper criticizing an (army?) General. He’s vocally democratic and his convictions have landed him what is basically a water logged middle-of-nowhere. Less is known about Juan, though as the movie unfolds his shady past as part of Franco’s Gestapo (the movie’s words not mine- I know next to nothing about Spain and am sorry for it) is revealed to Pedro. Juan is dying of what is probably prostate cancer and he’s just trying to keep his head down and do his job until the end comes.

Marshland 1The case of the two missing girls becomes a murder investigation when their bodies are found in the marshes. Then the murder investigation morphs into a hunt for a serial killer as Pedro and Juan discover more victims who also ‘disappeared’ and turned up dead. Though most of those deaths were written off as accidents or suicide. Complicating the investigation are the small town’s secrets, cruelty, and corruption.

Juan and Pedro carry on in the face of drug dealers, politics, and dishonesty. They don’t like each other very much, a situation which isn’t remedied by the end. Pedro is tightlipped and serious. Juan, charming and occasionally brutal. Apparently the police in 1980 Spain could do just about ANYTHING they wanted. Marshland in a noir film of the highest caliber. The brooding nature of the subject matter is enhanced by the beauty of the cinematography and the desolation of the setting. The sundrenched empty marshes give way to pockets of agriculture and humanity, but they are a wild place. Unnavigable without a guide and full of short-cuts and secrets. The rich birdlife of the marshes are used as a metaphor for Juan’s impending death and a reminder of his past.

The performances are amazing. The entire production is topnotch and fans of detective shows will want to watch this one. There is not a lot of gore, one user on IMDb compared it to Se7en, but Marshland is nowhere near as over-the-top. But it is restrained and richly nuanced. I would class it more with all the unrelentingly Swedish/Norwegian crime dramas and their imports like “The Killing” (in the US).

Marshland 3I’m not 100% sure on this, but Spain seems to be having a bit of a film renaissance lately. Putting out taught and riveting thrillers and horror , no matter what your stance on REC3… Add this one to your “watch list”.

Kudos for: OMG! Birds!!

Lesson learned: Learn more about Spain.

8/10

Che Gilson’s Netflix Roulette – #4 Killer Instinct (2001)

Join Che as she plays Netflix Roulette and watches a randomly selected horror film. Will it be awesome? Will it be torture? What horrors await?? Find out every month with Netflix Roulette!

Killer Instinct posterTitle: Killer Instinct

Year: 2001

Director: Ken Barbet

Netflix Rating: 2.9

Seen it before: No

First Impressions: This actually looks not too terrible! Also I am old enough remember when Corben Bernsen was the shit. Of course now he is in ScyFy original movies… so, this might be terrible. Let’s find out.

The Verdict: The panty search was a LIE!

OK. From the top: Killer Instinct opens with a crazy guy being hunted down and then lynched. Cut to, a young couple in the woods who are making out. They recap the lynching we have just seen, then the girl takes her top off. These two characters NEVER appear again. They don’t even have the decency to die.

Next scene- introduces Corben Bernsen as head honcho of a meat packing plant which a Big Corporation in attempting to buy out. The corporate shark is played by Dee Wallace and they are the only bright spots in an otherwise dreary trudge through the poorly executed.

Killer Instinct 2BUT back to the plot. A bunch of middle aged teenagers who are the sons and daughters of the Meat Packing luminaries who run the town, have a “dare club”. This week’s dare is to spend the night in the old asylum searching for each other’s panties. Inevitably they are picked off one by one, killed by elaborate traps.

Now this is actually where the movie gets good- no, not the traps, I mean the last ten minutes or so. Turns out the meat packing plant stole the land they built the plant on from a biology professor, got him locked up in the asylum and he was then driven mad and turned into a spree killer, by the asylum doctor. He killed eight people and the townies strung him up. His daughter, set up the whole dare night to avenge her father’s lynching. But then why didn’t her friends realize she was the biologist/spree killer’s daughter?? I don’t know, and neither does the plot.

Unfortunately my initial “this looks halfway decent” assessment was dead wrong. The deaths are boring. The acting is terrible. The “teens” are SO FREAKING OLD! Like seriously! They need to get off set so they can pick up their kids from soccer practice (pardon me- football). The effects are mediocre, just some fake blood and ill-lit make ups. Some of the asylum scenes are so dark I started to wonder if the director was trying to cover the fact that his actors were so old. And OMG how much did that girl spend on candles?!?

Killer Instinct 3It’s definitely a cheap movie. And looks like a made for TV atrocity except it obviously wasn’t. Everyone says “fuck” a lot. All the time. And there is nudity, a couple sex scenes and a vibrator.

Very, very skippable. Also, I’m not sure if you’ll actually be able to watch it on Netflix. I mean I did- it was the movie Netflix Roulette (the app) pulled up. BUT when I actually searched the movie ON Netflix (I like to read other people’s reviews after the fact) I couldn’t find it. Apparently Killer Instinct exists in some black hole anomaly on the interwebs and I was unfortunate enough to stumble in.

Rating: 2/10

Spanish Thriller MARSHLAND reveals Artwork & Trailer

MarshlandApprovedArtworklowMarshland Movie Poster Artwork & Trailer Unveiled

Stunning & Gripping” ★★★★ Empire
“Beautiful & Mysterious” ★★★★ Little White Lies
“Eerie, atmospheric and nail-biting to the very end” The Guardian

Altitude Film Distribution has unveiled the movie poster artwork for acclaimed detective thriller MARSHLAND (LA ISLA MINIMA). Alberto Rodriguez’s claustrophobic film set in post Franco Spain won 10 Spanish Academy Goya Awards and will be released in UK cinemas on 7 August 2015.

MARSHLAND has drawn comparisons to Oscar-winning The Secret in Their Eyes, David Fincher’s Se7en as well as hit TV series True Detective.

The film is inspired by the photography of Seville’s Atín Aya, Bolaño’s crime novel 2666 and US noir movies like Chinatown.

Set in Andalusia’s wetlands in 1980 at the start of Spain’s transition to democracy, two teenage girls go missing in a remote and forgotten town.

Two troubled homicide detectives. Juan (Javier Gutiérrez) and Pedro (Raúl Arévalo) must put aside their differences to hunt a predator who for years has terrorised a community stuck in the past.

MARSHLAND was the undisputed winner at the 2015 Spanish Academy Goya Awards. The 10 prizes included Best Film, Best Director (Alberto Rodríguez), Best Actor (Javier Gutiérrez), Best Original Screenplay (Alberto Rodríguez and Rafael Cobos), Best Cinematography (Alex Catalán) and Best Breakthrough Performance (Nerea Barros).

This Warner Bros Spain production was a resounding box office hit when it opened in its home country last year.

Charlie’s Farm (2014) DVD Review

Charlies Farm DVD 2D - FINALCharlie’s Farm (2014)

Writer & Director – Chris Sun

Starring – Nathan Jones, Tara Reid, Kane Hodder, Bill Moseley

UK DVD & Blu-Ray release June 22nd from Monster Pictures UK

Four friends from the suburbs of Australia’s Gold Coast (including honorary Yank, Tara Reid) decide to ditch the beach for the weekend in favour of camping at an allegedly haunted farm. An absurd decision to us Pommies currently suffering an indecisive British summer, but par for the course for any self respecting slasher movie protagonists. The farm in question is the titular Charlie’s Farm; the location of a series of horrific murders in the 1980s.

The cannibalistic Wilson family who lived there (led by father John Wilson, played by horror icon Bill Moseley) would routinely murder and consume any unlucky backpackers and tourists that were passing through. The local townsfolk, having decided that enough was enough, rolled up at the farm mob deep with pitchforks and shotguns at the ready and the vile Wilsons were slain one by one. Legend has it that the tormented ghost of their ‘retarded’ son, Charlie, now haunts the area.

charliesfarm3In a time when slasher movies are few a far between, us faithful fans of the sub-genre are often left disappointed. Not due to their infrequency but due to their (mostly) poor quality. Thankfully, Charlie’s Farm does not disappoint. Writer-director Chris Sun is clearly a huge fan of slashers himself and knows that to make a good one is not to re-invent the wheel but to do the basics, and do them well.

As far as the plot goes, it is very much by the numbers – You will know who is going to die and you will probably even guess what order they will die in, but the fun part is seeing how they die. Nathan Jones portrays Charlie, the hulking killer who systematically wipes out any and all visitors to his farm in brutal fashion. The make-up effects are excellent and the performances of the actors are brilliant across the board, with a special mention to Trudi Ross who puts in a mesmerising turn as Mrs Wilson, Charlie’s protective mother.

charliesfarm2My only real criticism of the film, if you can call it a criticism, is of Kane Hodder’s strange cameo role. His character adds nothing to the actual story and almost felt as if it had been written in at the last minute merely to capitalise on Hodder’s name value. Other than that I have nothing but love for Charlie’s Farm and very much hope that we get a sequel. Chris Sun’s next film, Boar, not only stars Nathan Jones again but also Wolf Creek’s John Jarratt. Maybe I am dreaming, but I would definitely pay good money to see a Mick Taylor vs Charlie Wilson cross over movie!

8/10

Deshon Hardy’s ‘The Lake on Clinton Road’ gets a VOD release July 17th

locr1I Know What You Did Last Summer collides with Evil Dead in director Deshon Hardy‘s THE LAKE ON CLINTON ROAD.

The first trailer and poster for the film, premiering on VOD and DVD July 17, have been released.

Based on true events, the film follows a group of school friends who discover their holiday house is haunted.

Starring Alan Bendich (TVs Cagney & Lacey), India Autry (TVs My New Roommate), Aram Bauman (The Lost Children), Tina Krause (Zombie Holocaust), Leah Jones (Urban Legends), Stephanie Marrone, and Richard Ryker. Written and directed by Deshon Hardy .

locr2Synopsis:
When 6 friends from Massachusetts finish up classes for the semester, they decide to take a road trip to the Jersey Shore. A birthday celebration at a shore house will be the highlight of their summer, or so they thought. When they get to the house, they realize it’s not the beach house they were expecting. It’s actually in the middle of the woods off a long spooky road, Clinton Road. Clinton Road has been haunted for the past 50 years, this is what Alex, Jillian, Amber, Jamie, Stacy and Mark will soon find out.

The sadness of not having a beach near soon disappears as they all rush outside to see ​the ​lake​ . They prepare to have drunken festivities at the lake but thats when the horror begins. One by one they all disappear. Who will be the last? Who will be the first? Will anyone survive?

THE LAKE ON CLINTON ROAD on VOD and DVD July 17 from Osiris Entertainment.

 

The Cutting Room (2015) DVD Review

thecuttingroomThe Cutting Room (2015)

Directed by Warren Dudley

Starring – Parry Glasspool, Lucy-Jane Quinlan, Lydia Orange

UK DVD Release 1st June 2015 from Three Wolves Ltd

Runtime 76 Minutes

College teens Raz, Charlie and Jess are about to start work on their end of year Media Studies project. Their focus is on cyber-bullying. This leads them to the disappearance of two local girls. After investigating into this story, they are lead to an abandoned army barracks hidden deep in the forest that surround the college. What they find there is a terrifying maze of tunnels from which there seems no escape… and a dark figure hell-bent on tormenting them.

Firstly this film is found footage. But don’t let that put you off as there is a really well written story here and it’s very well shot, with very little nausea inducing shaky cam moments. Secondly it’s British and with the lack of British horror on the market at the moment this was a nice surprise.

Writer and director Warren Dudley has done impressively with a handsome budget of £12,000. The actors played the “natural” Found Footage style acting very well and coming across realistically and believable. The male lead Raz, played by Parry Glasspool, currently plying his trade on TV’s Hollyoaks , was the type of guy you love to hate. He is funny and cocky but does border on really annoying at times. The two other female leads are Charlie, played by Lucy-Jane Quinlan, who is Raz’s girlfriend. Which I only knew because it was mentioned in a “Blink and you’ll miss it” comment. She plays her role very well as the more sensitive and careful character of the central trio. The 3rd of the central cast is Jess, who’s played by Lydia Orange, and is the more adventurous and fun girl in the group but I felt her character was a little underutilised.

tcr2The opening scene is incredibly unsettling and gives you a peek of what horrors are to come. The film opens with a girl, tied to a bench, being tortured. In any other horror film, this would appear normal and we, as an audience, in a world of extreme violence and torture porn are desensitized to the macabre. But there’s a strangely light-hearted and happy song played over this scene. This really juxtaposes what was happening on screen and coupled with the girls petrified screams, makes the scene that much more disturbing and uncomfortable to watch. Although the actress, Mkaya Carrigan, is limited to screams and pleas for help, her acting talent is apparent. So hats off to her for being convincingly terrified.

The Cutting Room plays out as a mystery thriller, for the first half of the film anyway. I found myself trying to figure out the mystery along with our everyday trio. Giving away too much would spoil the film for everyone, but keep an open mind to look for the subtle clues.

The second half kicks into horror mode and doesn’t let up till the credits roll. The end sequence takes place in an Abandoned Army barracks which if I’m not mistaken is pretty much a first for a found footage film. This was filmed at Newhaven Fort in Sussex. When you see it on screen, you will think “What an awesome place for a horror film to take place in”. The winding corridors and mazy labyrinth built into the cliff face make for a brilliantly claustrophobic and freaky set piece. I just wish we spent a little bit longer down there. Kudos to Warren Dudley for putting this location on film.

I managed to speak to writer & director Warren Dudley after watching The Cutting Room and he was kind enough to shed some light on the making of this film. He hand-picked the main cast from around 200 applicants and he shot this film for £12,000 over 10 days. And now his film is on DVD shelves around the Country. I think that is pretty impressive. British Indie Horror is not dead after all.

tcr1I won’t spoil anything else, but if a low budget Found Footage British mystery/thriller/horror, done the right way is what you’re after then look no further as The Cutting Room delivers. Negatives- the underdeveloped relationship between 2 of the leads, not long enough spent in the tunnels and the often irritating male lead.

Verdict – I definitely recommend giving The Cutting Room a watch.

7/10

P.S Keep an eye out for a fun nod to The Blair Witch Project.
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The Voices (2015) Review

thevoices1The Voices (2015) Review

Directed by: Marjane Satrapi

Written by: Michael R Perry

Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Gemma Arterton, Anna Kendrick, Jackie Weaver

Running Time: 103 Minutes

UK Certificate: 15

Format: DVD/Blu Ray (Available 13th July 2015)

Studio: Arrow Films

Ryan Reynolds (Green Lantern, Deadpool) stars as Jerry. Jerry is a happy go-lucky young man who lives in a small town and works in a factory that makes bath tubs. He has a permanent smile and is eager to please, his world is bright and perfect…well at least when he is off his medication.

Jerry has a personality disorder and is working in the factory as part of a court order, which includes meeting with his psychiatrist, Jackie Weaver (Stoker, Silver Linings Playbook), keeping his job and taking his medication. Jerry falls for Fiona, played by Gemma Arterton (Byzantium, Clash of the Titans). When Fiona stands him up on a date, he accidentally kills her and this is where Jerry’s ‘perfect’ life begins to unravel. In a panic, Jerry, puts Fiona’s head in the fridge and talks to her, telling her how sorry he is. Soon his attentions turn to Lisa, Anna Kendrick (Pitch Perfect, Scott Pilgrim), and his one hope for a ‘normal’ life.

thevoices2The issue is that Jerry has no moral compass, he is guided through his life choices by his cat, Mr Whiskers, and his dog, Bosco (both voiced by Reynolds). Boscoe maintains that Jerry is a good, sweet natured boy who doesn’t mean to hurt anyone, whereas Mr Whiskers is a hateful little shit, who personifies all that is wrong in Jerry. Luckily for us the interaction between Jerry, Mr Whiskers and Bosco are truly hilarious and one of the many highlights of the film.

Written by Michael R Perry (Paranormal Activity 2, American Gothic) the script is slick, witty and often dark, pushing the boundaries of ‘black comedy’ and gives plenty of opportunity for Anna Kendrick and Gemma Arterton to shine alongside Reynolds, who is clearly enjoying himself.

The Voices is directed by Marjane Satrapi (Persepolis, Chickens with Plums) who directs confidently on her fourth feature. Her use of colour makes Jerry’s perception of the world stand out, like a living cartoon and switches just as easily to the dark, grim world which we see when Jerry attempts to get back on his medication. The contrast between the two are clever and unsubtle but not jarring, giving us a visual insight into poor Jerry’s mind. What audiences may like about this movie is that, given Jerry’s backstory, you can decide whether Jerry is a victim of circumstance or just fuck-nuts-crazy.

As I have mentioned before Reynolds is clearly enjoying himself. He plays Jerry as a sweet, innocent figure who really means no harm and just wants to fit in. Reynolds shines as the voice of both Mr Whiskers and Bosco and gives them accents so the audience isn’t subjected to just a three way conversation of them all sounding the same. Bosco, his ever loving, supportive dog has a Texan drawl whereas Mr Whiskers has a Scottish accent and really is a nasty piece of work.

THE VOICESThe Voices is a brilliant, funny film, which had me laughing out loud but also caring about what happened to Jerry (and his talking pets). I even tweeted Mr Reynolds to see if we could have a spin off following the adventures of Mr Whiskers and Bosco…still waiting on a reply. The only shame is that it wasn’t given a wider release in the cinemas. I highly recommend it to anyone who likes their comedy a little edgier, a little darker. Make sure you catch this one.

Movie Rating: 9/10