Ibiza Undead (2016) Review

iu1IBIZA UNDEAD (Dir- Andy Edwards, UK, 2016)

Starring- Jordan Coulson, Cara Theobold, Ed Kear, Homer Todiwala, Emily Atack, Matt King, Marcia Do Vales

Out NOW on UK DVD from Soda Pictures

Zombies go on holiday and the last place you would expect it to end up at would be in the Spanish party capital. Renowned for being a mecca of massive club nights, cheap booze and drunken horny teenagers who are more commonly seen to end up collapsing outside a club spewing up their guts and being filmed for a tawdry late night holiday expose of boozed up Brits abroad, IBIZA UNDEAD attempts to combine that tradition (sort of) with an attack of the living dead kind. Admittedly horror and comedy can be tricky bedfellows but with a decent and eye catching title can Edward’s film make the heads of genre fans tick whilst delivering gut busting belly laughs and gut munching?

Three mates, Alex (Coulson), Big Jim (Kear) and Az (Todiwala) are off to Ibiza for a holiday of “booze” and “bitches.” Lo and behold though Alex being a cheapskate hasn’t changed the name on the fourth plane ticket and his ex-girlfriend, who dumped him, Ellie (Theobold), is still coming along much to the annoyance of his mates. They meet up with Alex’s big sister Liz (Atack) who has rented a villa to stay at. Rather than hang out with his sister and her mates who don’t want him there in the first place, Alex and the boys hit the town, managing to meet an angry club girl street promoter (Do Vales) who recommends the the best club in town which is run by shady owner Karl (King) who has smuggled zombies into an already over run by the living dead England, onto the holiday island to be part of his club’s main dance attraction. However a shipwrecked boat full of zombies that was caused by the actions of a dimwit underling of Karl and Big Jim’s stupid decision to feed the undead dancers booze sets off an attack that causes the island to be overran by the rotten kind of tourist who wants to dine on the all you can eat buffet of booze soaked youngsters.

iu4Pitching itself clearly as a combination of THE INBETWEENERS and SHAUN OF THE DEAD, IBIZA UNDEAD does manage to pull out some likeable elements and set pieces throughout its flawed, often uneven 95 minutes. The entertaining irony that is obvious in the film and is pitched nicely is that as much as Ibiza in real life has had an influx of drunken loutish debauched British youngsters invading the island and bringing down some areas over many years since its rise as a party capital, in IBIZA UNDEAD its the Brits again who cause the zombie epidemic. Partly through Big Jim giving booze to zombies and dodgy Karl importing them illegally to his club. It’s a nice swipe at British attitudes and loutish behaviour abroad that is reckless and clueless to its effects. There’s also an interesting brief side story mentioned at the start that explains how Britain is under a zombie epidemic currently controlled by the military and that a certain political party is blaming it on immigrants. The film does deliver at least a decent bit of zombie carnage though not much gore, aside from a pretty grim amputation scene that is played for dark manic gallows humour and is one of the highlights of the film as it sets out to shock in its over the top gleeful gory-ness.

iu3Though the use of CGI blood is an annoyance and one thing that still perplexes me as to why filmmakers would use it. Added to this the cast are obviously having fun and enjoying it but there performances are pitched between mildly irritating to annoying especially Kear as Big Jim. Playing a type of Nick Frost Ed character from SHAUN OF THE DEAD, Big Jim is the loud mouth of the group but unlike the character from SHAUN who is clueless to his idiocy, Big Jim just comes off as sounding crass and annoying with his constant boasts of sexual prowess and wanting to find all the “sluts” which seem almost demeaning rather than being funny. Even in a moment, which is well delivered, where Jim exposes some vulnerability to Liz, he soon steps back into his annoying one note bullshit artist role and returns to grate your nerves.

Whilst the film does balance humour and gore reasonably well in certain areas of the narrative, other scenes come across entirely forced and almost uneven. Such as one character, who I wont reveal but still MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD, who makes an unusual entirely selfless decision and soon regrets it due to his own lack of knowledge. Yet rather than suggest that the same character could pop up in a later comic reveal towards the end, instead it ends up on a rather sombre note that perceives a grizzly fate that seems entirely out of touch with the films tone.

iu2Admittedly in a sub-genre that is always cramming out more fresh/rotten corpses off the production line, in the zombie film arena its hard not to admire parts of IBIZA UNDEAD with its attempt to combine a drunken Brit twat’s abroad vibe with laddish humour with gut munching undead. And Edwards works well with the limited budget he has and certainly pitching this at an audience who are fans of THE INBETWEENERS and, well fans of zombies. But in the end the proceedings come off as predictable, flawed and whose characters might drive some viewers to actually not care at all what happens to them and whether they get off the Island or not.

5/10

Dartmoor Killing (2015) DVD Review

dartmoor1Dartmoor Killing (UK, 2015)

Dir: Peter Nicholson

Starring: Gemma-Leah Devereux, Callum Blue, Rebecca Night, David Hayman

UK DVD release – out NOW from Soda Pictures

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dartmoor-Killing-DVD-Callum-Blue/dp/B013JZW7RG/

Plot: When friends Becky (Devereux) and Susan (Night) take a trip to the picturesque Dartmoor countryside for a rambling weekend, their plans are sidetracked by the handsome Chris (Blue). An accident leads to the girls bunking up with Chris in his remote cottage. Chris isn’t everything he seems though and his intentions are a lot darker than they could have expected. He begins to play the girls against each other and soon the two have to fight for their survival.

It seems that one staple of British thrillers is taking advantage of the beautiful scenery and Dartmoor Killing is no exception, filled with countless shots of the wonderful English countryside. Nicholson shows his experience from many years in television, with a very well shot movie. The whole cast and crew has done a great job here, delivering a suspenseful thriller.

dartmoor2While unhinged country folk preying on the visiting city-dwellers is not an original story, Dartmoor Killing manages to keep the audience on edge. Callum Blue is great as the menacing Chris, managing to turn on the charm whenever he needs to manipulate the girls. Devereux handles the majority of the motivation and back story, with a number of flashbacks. It’s a small cast movie with Rebecca Night and David Hayman (The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, Sawney: Flesh of Man) rounding off the major roles. Hayman, who is a veteran actor, is pivotal in this film, delivering important exposition, but in my opinion he is under utilised here.

The flashbacks are used in an interesting way but I did find myself thinking that it was supposed to be some sort of supernatural element as Becky first sees them in an almost ghostly manner which is good in the sense that she is haunted by the memory and thankfully not disappointing when it becomes apparent there is no phantoms involved in this story.

The film has reasonable pacing, although the third act’s cat and mouse between Chris and the girls does out stay it’s welcome a little bit. It’s something that can be overlooked though, the film offers more than the average stalk-and-slasher. The film has it’s ways of unfolding, twisting the plot when you don’t expect it and offering some surprising developments.

dartmoor3As it is a thriller rather than a horror, Dartmoor Killing isn’t a bloodbath. While there is some of the titular killing involved, it’s still a small cast thriller so the violence is sparse, opting for more intimidation from the country psycho.

Dartmoor Killing is definitely one worth checking out although I doubt it’s one worth re-watching. As I said before, killers in the countryside are nothing new and it’s a good watch but there’s not much to get really passionate about. The DVD has a few features, some behind the scenes photos and the trailers. Nicholson shows us what he can do away from television and TV movies with Dartmoor Killing and I definitely look forward to seeing what he does next.

7/10

The Reflecting Skin (1990) Blu-Ray Review

ref1The Reflecting Skin (US, 1990)

Dir: Philip Ridley

Starring: Jeremy Cooper, Viggo Mortensen, Lindsay Duncan

UK Blu-Ray Steelbook release 30th November through Zavvi and limited to 2000 ONLY! From SODA PICTURES!

Pre-Order here – http://www.zavvi.com/blu-ray/reflecting-skin-zavvi-exclusive-limited-edition-steelbook/11162401.html

Plot: Seth (Cooper) is a young boy growing up in 1950s America. What starts off as simple fun days with his friends turns much darker as he has to endure many hardships including the abusive behaviour of his mother. When one of Seth’s friends goes missing, Seth blames the strange neighbour woman (Duncan). He thinks she’s a vampire, an idea that Seth’s father accidentally gets into his head while reading a book. Seth starts to deal with all his problems by blaming his neighbourhood vampire, while the tragedies of the world mount around him.

The Reflecting Skin pre-dates films such as Guillermo Del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth and Terry Gilliam’s Tideland, and deals with the same theme of childhood innocence dealing with tragic circumstances with imagination. Unlike those two films though, The Reflecting Skin doesn’t show the world through that imaginative lens and chooses to show Seth’s imagination in the naivety of his actions. While we can clearly see that the horror that comes to this small rural community is not supernatural, Seth sticks to his innocence.

ref2I have to say that my knowledge of historical America is lacking so this film lacks the universal understanding of the likes of Pan’s Labyrinth where we already understand that they are dealing with the horrors of war (Specifically the Spanish Civil War), but here it seems to be the general small town life of 1950s America but I wasn’t aware there was a problem with roving bands of Greaser murderers/paedophiles. It feels more like a constructed threat based on some kind of urban myth than any historical truth.

The Reflecting Skin is about human suffering and the loss of innocence and therefore is much more of an art film and not a horror film, as a warning for our horror loving readers. If you’re looking for American vampires, try Salem’s Lot. Instead there are human horrors, from mourning widows, repentant child molestors, and traumatised military veterans. The military aspect, visualised in Viggo Mortensen’s portrayal of Seth’s brother Cameron, is a particularly low key tragedy, as he is living with radiation poisoning. He looks like the living embodiment of the suffering in this community, he is wasting away, just as they are.

This is a harsh film, almost every character has their cross to bear and it can get a bit much. I think there’s a line that can be crossed where too much suffering can seem unrealistic and needlessly bleak and this film straddles that line. That is the point that divides the audience of this film and without the context of a war or some other relateable tragic scenario, this film might be too bleak to believe.

Lindsay DuncanPhilip Ridley (most famous for the film, The Krays) writes and directs this film, putting all that he can into it and giving us a very beautiful looking film and a very dark story. The blu-ray is loaded with extras including featurettes, short films, and commentaries that lovers of this film will relish in.

6/10 (Film)

 

FEATURES

First ever official release on Blu-ray anywhere in the world
Newly restored in a high-definition transfer from original elements
All-new retrospective documentary covering the making of the film, including new and exclusive interviews with Philip Ridley and Viggo Mortensen
Philip Ridley’s short films Visiting Mr Beak (1987) and The Universe Of Dermot Finn (1988), available on home video for the first time
Isolated score track
Stills and poster art galleries
Trailers
Further bonus features to be confirmed
Includes a Philip Ridley Signed Art Card

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