Monday, 23 February 2015

Open Water (2003) - Horror Film Review

The problem with most horror is that it is not really 'feel good' stuff to watch. I decided to watch Open Water which turns out isn't really horror and is more of a survival/disaster film but also was not 'feel good'.

Daniel (Daniel Travis) and his girlfriend Susan (Blanchard Ryan) head to the Caribbean on holiday to do some scuba diving. They head out to the middle of the ocean with a scuba group. Due to an incorrect head count the couple are accidentally left behind, they come to the surface to find the boat gone and their troubles only go down hill from there.

The basic plot for Open Water is actually based on a real life event that took place in Australia. The reason for being abandoned and a bit later on in the film use what actually happened as reference points. I don't know why but I figured there would be more of a horror slant to this. The quote on the front of the DVD box reads "Blair Witch meets Jaws' which made me figure some sort of supernatural type goings on. Meanwhile the blurb on the back of the box makes it seem like the two are at the mercy of nefarious people who are purposely playing with them. The truth is far more mundane.

The problem with having a film mostly shot in the middle of the ocean is that there is not a lot to look at. Even at a 77 minute run time I was done with it all ages before the end credits roll. It doesn't help that due to not actually being able to leave the actors all alone the shots used are all quite close up and you never really get the impression there is not a boat a few metres out of shot (which there would have been for the actors safety). The part of the sea they are in is quite busy so there always seems to be boats just out of reach and planes flying over to keep making the characters have hope.

Once the couple find themselves stranded the film seems to loose steam. Lots of things happen to the hapless duo to keep things interesting but it seems like a check list of problems is being crossed off. Jellyfish sting them, they get attacked by sharks, they fall asleep and drift off from each other, they argue with each other but these events all unnaturally flow together. You know things are not great when a mid film highlight is a character puking up.

Lots annoyed me about Open Water. Susan doesn't realise sea water is not a wise thing to drink for one; really? That completely baffled me and seems like it was put in as the script writer thought the audience would be imbeciles and so wouldn't understand why the two were dehydrated with all the water around. A lot of the scenes have something happening underwater and so one of the characters would have to wet their goggles, put them on, swim down, see the problem and come back up to explain to the other character. That got tiring fast and must have happened at least seven or eight times. On the subject of pointless things early on there is an aborted sex scene which I am certain was just put there to show Ryan's flesh off for some lazy titillation, this was just not needed.

The plot is unavoidably thin, it irritated me that no one would realise the two were missing but I guess as that was the part of Open Water that was based on true events it is hard to complain about. If I was given the film and asked to make a more streamlined version then I reckon I could easily cut it down to 10 minutes. The camera quality was also not the best, a lot of it, especially the land based sequences look like they were filmed on hand cameras, at least the special effects were all real and not CGI based.

When it comes down to it, no matter how awful being in that situation would be in real life, watching two annoying people floating around being miserable for an hour does not make for great entertainment. In the end it all seemed just a bit pointless.


Wednesday, 18 February 2015

The Generation of Z: Apocalypse (2015) - Zombie Interactive Theatre Experience News

After sell out shows in New Zealand and at the Edinburgh Fringe The Generation of Z: Apocalypse is heading to London. Tickets go on sale for this on Friday 20th February but I have been provided with a code that will allow you to buy tickets for this event at a special price tomorrow (Thursday 19th February). More on that later.

The storyline for the show is that in 2015 zombie apocalypse has swept London in the form of the Z virus. With society collapsing humanity is in for a fight. The show is immersive and puts the audience into the story, Your choices can effect the shows narrative and outcome.

The show is to take place in a purpose built venue in Whitechapel and spans over a 25,000 square foot bunker. It is described as "a thrilling 75 minutes of high velocity storytelling that will terrify even the hardiest of thrill seekers" and is not suitable for those under the age of 16 as it features shock, tension, and realistic depictions of gore and violence.

To get early tickets for this cool sounding event head on other to and enter the code EXTINCTIONISNOW tomorrow (Thursday 19th). You are also able to get the £25 preview rate on standard tickets and early bird access tickets on Thursday also. Performances start on 4th April and run till 5th July.

If your still unsure then check out the frankly awesome trailer below...


Thursday, 12 February 2015

Silently Within Your Shadow (2015) - Horror Film News

Scott Lyus (the director of short horror Order of the Ram) has another film he is currently working on. It is another short horror but this time about a ventriloquist's dummy and has a big name attached to the project. Personally puppets for some reason I find real freaky.

Silently Within Your Shadow is described as "a dark, twisted love story that explores the idea of jealousy; and the struggle between choosing passion for art or romantic love". I am guessing that Hugo; the dummy of Lucette does a Chucky (from Child's Play) and becomes murderous once it looks like his owner is going to abandon her job for a love interest.

Lucette is played by Sophie Tergeist, but the better news is that legendary horror actor Bill Moseley (The Devil's Rejects, Exit Humanity) is to be the voice of Hugo! This short film has a Kickstarter campaign to get the funding needed to be created. It currently has £320 of its £6,000 goal and has 34 days left to go. If your interested in funding this, or to find out more the Kickstarter is here.

Check out the concept trailer below...

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Bodom (2014) - Horror Film Review

Bodom is Hungary's first ever feature length found footage film and also the first Hungarian film I have ever reviewed. Here at The Rotting Zombie HQ found footage don't always get a warm welcome as it seems a genre bereft of any new ideas.

In 1960 at Lake Bodom in Finland four youngsters camping there were attacked in the middle of the night with only one survivor. The attacker has never been caught. In 2009 two students; Annikki and Pietari head to the lake to do a thesis about the strange murders but their trip ends with horrific consequences.

Bodom is set out like a documentary rather than just a collection of pieced together camera work. This actually made a decent change to the usual formula. Picture The Blair Witch Project but with later interviews with the friends and family of the missing people inter cut. This works in not only splitting up the shaky cam footage that can often get tiring but also works in that there is a legitimate reason for the footage to be around. There is nothing worse than a found footage film where the found footage of the piece makes no sense for existing neatly edited together. Also appreciated was the ending in which the documentary attempts to explain the events and reveals some decent information. Characters in the interviews display foreshadowing of events to come that really help create a sense of mystery.

Now it is hard to judge the acting ability as it is not in English but to me it seemed to be good, it certainly never seemed like these were fake characters. The subtitles for the most part are decent, a few slight errors (such as the decision to subtitle sound effects at some points). The majority of the film has just the two characters of Annikki and her acquaintance Pietari who really do not seem to like each other even before anything sinister happens. Any conversation they have seems to dissolve into arguments and your left wondering why they even decided to go out to remote Lake Bodom together, especially when it appears that there may be a reason from their past why they really should not be together. These arguments make them seem more real.

At 65 minutes in length Bodom does not have time to get boring or stale. The usual format for these things takes place with around the first 45 minutes nothing sinister really happening at all. There is a slow build to the terror which suddenly occurs. The plot and reasoning behind what happens is drip fed and is never fully explained and on some levels makes no sense but I felt leaving questions behind made for a more atmospheric story regardless. For once it seems that the reason for the madness may not be supernatural in origin that I felt was a good decision. This is certainly from the 'people lost in woods' side of found footage and not the 'demonic possession in rich peoples house' type. The flip side to this build up is that there isn't really enough time for the pure horror part of the film to shine in full and some plot elements seem a bit tacked on.

I liked the documentary format of the film, I liked the overall plot and the playing with audience expectations. Bodom looks crisp when it needs to, looks rough when it needs to be (I love how an explanation for abrupt camera cuts is given), and the fact that the Bodom murder from 1960 the students are researching actually happened in real life was a nice touch. This film is not going to keep you up at night with fear, nor can it be said to be completely original (lots of shaky cam and night vision for instance) but it is competent and enjoyable regardless and so is worth a watch.


Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Call of Duty: Black Ops - Call of the Dead (2011) - Zombie Map Discussion

With the Call of Duty map packs once again going on sale I saw an opportunity to pick up one of the remaining zombie maps I don't own for Call of Duty: Black Ops. I got five maps in total, four normal and one zombie map, it was only the zombie map Call of the Dead that I was interested in.

In Call of the Dead you play as one of four real life actors; Danny Trejo (Rise of the Zombies), Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street), and Michael Rooker (The Walking Dead). It takes place on a remote Siberian island where the four are filming a zombie flick with George Romero directing. However the fake scene is invaded by real life zombies who attack and kill Romero before anyone realises what is happening.

Call of the Dead is different to other zombie maps in that you have the persistent threat of the George Romero zombie. He is a giant and carries with him a large stage light that is electrified, he will slowly walk towards you where ever you go. Should you make the error of attacking him he will change into a more zombie like monster and charge after you, eventually calming down after a set time has passed.

I realise I am going into far too much detail for what is just one map so will wrap things up. The level is split into three sections. The middle part where you start is a small island with water on one side, the longer you stay in the ice cold water the more you start to freeze which results in your screen being obscured with ice. In a cool touch (literally cool) zombies can turn into blocks of ice should they spend too much time in the sea. The left part of the level features a huge tanker locked into the ice. From the engine room of here the power can be turned on, though I admit I have no idea what this does. The right side of the level features a giant lighthouse, the top of it features a dead end as a warning.

As always the game consists of rounds, each round featuring more zombies, and more health for them. There are windows to keep boarded up, weapons avaliable to purchase with points you get for undead slaying, and additional doors and walkways to open up. You play until you die, there is no end.

While even the reduced price of £8.23 is an extortionate amount for someone only interested in 1/5 of the maps I do feel Call of the Dead is a solid and well designed level and imagine I will have lots of fun with it in the future.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Swords of Insurgency (2015) - Horror Web Series News and Trailer

Swords of Insurgency is a post apocalyptic web series filmed in Virginia that has just had it's first official trailer out. Details on this seem pretty scarce but from the trailer it looks like its about a woman who manages to escape from a brutal high security prison into a world where ninjas, cowboys and bandits all fight each other with samurai swords, mallets and other types of deadly weaponry. Something to do with rebels fighting a harsh controlling regime according to the website.

It looks the part with some sharp images and interesting use of camera angles, while it also seems to have plenty of blood even if it did look like it was mostly computer generated. May well be one to watch out for. Check out the trailer below..