Saturday, 28 July 2018

Mama's Boy (2018) - Short Horror Film Review

Mama's Boy is another horror I have been sitting on for a while due to an unavoidable situation. Over this month though through social media I have come to hear that it is both another good short from director/writer Samantha Kolesnik (Friendsgiving) and that it is quite bleak.

Joshua (Malcolm Mills) is a man who has been rather negatively affected by the vast abuse of his mother Catherine (Kara Vedder) over the years, she treats him loveless and not much better than an animal, while instilling in him an almost godly respect and adoration for her. The eleven minute short takes place in two different time periods which both show how her abuse has shaped him into the lost soul he has become.

There is an element of quality to Kolesnik's films that make them artful in the pacing. The camera work here often felt cold to me, the way it slightly sways makes you feel like a spectator simply observing the horror of this one person's existence, which of course fits the bleak tone perfectly. There are some nasty subjects covered here with unavoidable comparisons to Psycho appearing, though with Joshua like a younger and more realistic Norman Bates. Personal favourite scene was the last where Joshua has a one sided conversation that was near perfect thanks to the great soundtrack, and the haunted performance of Mills.

I wouldn't say I enjoyed this as much as I appreciated it, the casting choice for the characters were picked well, like Thanksgiving there is a strong female presence here which seems to be a staple for the type of horror's the director creates. The editing of the scenes of the past and present were handled well with moments occuring later on that shed light on what has happened in present day. While not too much happens in a storyline type of way the performance of Mills is what made this for me, by the end of Mama's Boy it had built up to be quite captivating. For more information about this short check out the website for it here.


Wednesday, 25 July 2018

The World Over (2018) - Short Horror Film Review

The World Over is a 17 minute short horror directed and written by Heath C. Michaels that had a story concept that I just loved. It starts off with a special key, and from there goes to some great places. I have always loved the idea of time travel and alternate dimensions and so what is suggested here pleased.

Heavily pregnant recluse Cass (Tess Granfield) is exploring her basement one day while husband Jules (Brett Keating) is out when she discovers an old weird key. No matter where she puts it, it always revolves to point in a particular direction. She then discovers a hidden keyhole in the frame of a door in her house (which is where the key was pointing) and by putting it in and turning she opens some sort of portal that seems to lead to some sort of alternate reality. Cass and Jules are both scared and intrigued by this oddity, curiosity getting the better of him Jules enters saying he will be right back. Days pass and he hasn't returned, at her wits end Jules decides to go looking for him...

The World Over was quite great, with all the different versions of themselves the couples come across it took me a moment of stupidity to realise when watching the end credits that of course there were only the two actors. There is an inherent creepiness to the portal and it leads to moments of real horror with violence something that does happen. For me it seemed to be a comment on just how far someone would go to be with the person they love, if there are an infinite numbers of yous then you would feel your the most important version, but so would every single other version of you think that of themselves. The director states "..for someone who is isolated with themselves as their only company, I cannot imagine anything more horrific than being with more versions of yourself" which does actually resonate with me who is a bit of a loner.

The acting was good with both the two working well together. Granfield had the more screen time and it was her interactions with her doppelganger that had the most uneasy aspect to them, reminding me a bit of Another Earth's shock ending (and of course Rick & Morty). I would say the actual conversation she has with herself felt a bit like it was designed for the viewer to fill them in just in case they were not following the storyline. While the house it is in felt a little sparse it was the little details that really helped, the subtle differences both in the set decoration and lighting, as well as the subtle differences in the temperaments of the characters helped make things seem different and weird.

This was a original feeling short that kept me focussed throughout with no detail seeming to be there just to fill in running time, a short that makes you think. The World Over had its world premiere at the Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival in South Korea earlier this month, check out the teaser trailer below. This is intended as a proof of concept for for a feature film, and if that is anything near as clever as this it will be a film worth seeing.


Monday, 23 July 2018

The First Purge (2018) - Horror Film Review

Back in 2016 during my review of the third film in The Purge series; The Purge: Election Year I said "..personally if I had a choice I would like to see a prequel, maybe the very first year of the Purge". Well it seems someone was listening as the newest entry in the series is indeed a sequel, the title The First Purge kind of gives it away that this takes place during the very first year. I have always enjoyed this series, even The Purge while squandering the potential it had was interesting, though it boiled down to a cookie cutter home invasion flick. The Purge: Anarchy was a real setting of the style the later films would come, and this follows the format pretty well.

With a prologue detailing the New Founding Fathers (N.F.F) rise to power we get introduced to 'the experiment' which is a night of legal crime intended to let the American populace act out their anger, but restricted just to Staten Island. As is the norm the first third is the lead up to the night with several different groups of characters being introduced. Dmitri (Y'lan Noel) is a leader of a powerful gang who is determined to do his best to keep his men and his empire safe. Elsewhere Nya (Lex Scott Davis) has been protesting about the experiment and is concerned for her younger brother Isaiah (Joivan Wade), who himself sees the night as a means to get revenge on a local psycho who goes by the name of Skeletor (Rotimi Paul). When the night begins it soon becomes apparent though that the N.F.F are determined the event will be a success even if they have to intervene.

The potential of exploring how this event would come to be was mostly explored well. A low income, crime ridden area was chosen as a test bed with the poor citizens offered life changing amounts of money to stay in the area, with added benefits given to those who sign up to participate. The people are microchipped and fitted with contact lenses for their actions to be recorded. That in itself was a stylistic choice as the contact lenses are glow in the dark and no one person seems to have the same colour ones leading to some great visuals. By focusing the event onto a single location it frees up more conversation from the populace of America, and also creates a 'war' room where a team of researchers, including the originator of the idea track the moments of the night. I liked this element a lot, it gave more of a face to the usually faceless government, it reminded me of The Hunger Games.

Friday, 20 July 2018

Found Footage (2014) - Comedy Horror Film Review

Found Footage is a comedy horror that is about as indie as these type of films come. A passion project mainly from director Drew Byerly this was filmed in 11 days and self funded, with a script written by the three leads. The indie side of things is very apparent yet there is an undeniable charm to elements of this. I'm getting sick of saying it but I am having real strife in my personal life at the moment, so anything that can take my mind off things even for a little while is worth far more to my sanity than any effects laden saturated product. It should hopefully be apparent but this falls into the found footage genre of horrors.

Misunderstood self proclaimed genius Colorado high schooler Lawrence (Jared Bess) has recently been gifted a camcorder and so he has decided to make an outlandish project. He recruits his two friends and lackies; flamboyant wimpy Jeremy (Willy J. Sasso), and athletic but dumb Tanner (director Drew Byerly) in order to make a real life Saw style horror in the form of a social experiment. He plans to trick some local bullies into going to an abandoned carpet factory where he is going to lock them in a room and force them to fight each other to the death, all the while filming it so that he can make a master art piece. The only problems being that none of the three stooges actually are bullied, the location they have chosen is due to be demolished within days, and Lawrence's plan has more holes in it than Swiss cheese...

The charm with Found Footage comes from the performances of the three main leads. These are comically dense, prone to infighting and squabbling with no real idea of what they are doing. Most the film centres around these three and their rapport is made believable due to most of their lines being ad libbed. Despite being 'antagonists' they are genuinely likeable due to how pathetic and ineffective their actions are, rather than truly evil. The film is set out as if Lawrence has edited it himself and so you get stupid title cards, weird effects, character introductions, and pacing like it is a proper film, rather than a collection of footage that has been pieced together. You also get a wonderful original soundtrack (partly created by Byerly) that has amateur humming mixed into basic music to make something that delighted every time it turned up. It also starts with a notion that I always enjoy; a later event that makes it seem like something terrible has happened before a rewind to three days earlier.

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

The Last Time I Saw Richard (2014) - Short Horror Film Review

The real world has a nasty habit of being far more horror filled than any movie or book, so after a lengthy break I feel it is time again to take a tentative step back into the world of blogging. The following is a review I wrote a few weeks back when sunrises were still beautiful and the world seemed a promising place of light and joy. You really never do know what you have until it's gone...also my computer's fan sounds like it has melted in the intervening weeks, maybe out of protest of being left on in the hot hot heat of summer without being used.

So I was browsing Shudder looking for something quick to review when I came across the interesting sounding The Last Time I Saw Richard, which is a 23 minute Australian horror that takes place in a psychiatric hospital for teenagers.

Toby Wallace stars as Jonah; a troubled boy who self harms, has terrible nightmares, and is also something of a bully. One day he gets a new room mate called Richard (Cody Fern) who is a strong, silent guy who tries his best never to go to sleep due to nightmares he has. The two form a bond and one night Jonah convinces him to go sleep. He is shocked to discover spectral shrouded figures appear and attempt to climb onto the sleeping Richard, and so sets himself the task of protecting his new found friend from these creatures that haunt him.

As a drama this was good, the two main leads were both good picks for the characters they had to play, and their blossoming friendship felt natural. However as a horror this didn't work for me, the plot didn't really go anywhere, there was no real resolution and some aspects just seemed to be finished with without being explained. The horror comes with the creatures that appear at night, the CGI smoke effects are not the best, though adequate. The best horror comes from the nightmare sequences that Jonah has of him screaming with no eyes in his head.

This was well filmed and edited with some good acting and fine enough special effects but there wasn't excitement for me, it was a bit low key and uneventful and left me not really feeling any empathy for either of the characters. The Last Time I Saw Richard is currently on Shudder so check it out if you so wish, just don't expect too much excitement.


Sunday, 8 July 2018

Bad Timing: Season 1 (2014) - Zombie Web Series Review

Towards the end of last month I received an email telling me about the season finale for season 2 of the zombie based romantic comedy Bad Timing. I hadn't actually ever heard of this critically acclaimed show and so felt a review of both seasons was in order. Season 1 is made up of 15 episodes but in a neat twist each episode is only a couple of minutes long meaning even when the episode didn't resonate with me I knew it was only a short wait until the next one would start. Now excuse me if some parts of this review are hazy, while I watched this on Friday life got in the way and it is only now a few days later I am able to write this.

Bad Timing starts the day of zombie apocalypse, but rather than show the outbreak it instead shows us our two characters who have survived the chaos and managed to get away to a remote desert property. Andy Goldenberg stars as Andy; an awkward I.T guy who managed to get rescued by the beautiful Eve (Aqueela Zoll - Dances with Werewolves) as she made her escape from the office they both worked at. The romantic comedy aspect comes from the fact that Andy has had a crush on Eve for years and now he thinks as they are possibly the last two humans alive that his chance has come. Eventually a third wheel appears who may put some complications on Andy's dreams.

I actually first heard of Bad Timing when I watched the top 20 entries for last years 15 Second Horror Film Challenge. I said then that it was my least favourite of the entries, however within context I imagine that clip would not have been so bad. This show starts off really well. Andy and Eve both covered head to toe in blood and gore sit on a bench swing together as Andy in his awkward way babbles on making a load of inappropriate jokes and culminating in telling Eve he is in love with her. Meanwhile Eve is traumatised and barely able to cope with everything going on. I loved this initial dynamic. Of season 1 Andy is the highlight, his lines are often witty and weird that makes him an entertaining character, plus the fact that he has to make do with wearing women's clothing due to no other alternative was endlessly amusing. Eve on the other hand is the 'straight guy' character so she doesn't really have much humour other than to react to what Andy says.

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Hermit: Monster Killer (2016) - Horror Film Review

I last mentioned Hermit: Monster Killer back at the start of 2016 when it was nearing release and now I have had the opportunity to give it a watch. This was produced by Jonas Wolcher (Cannibal FogDie Zombiejäger) and is a Swedish comedy horror that felt a bit like a creature feature horror from the 1950's.

A meteor crashes in rural Sweden and brings with it a huge deadly monster that seems to exist only to kill. Now the locals each in their own way must find a way to battle and defeat this alien creature, though it seems a grumpy old hermit (Börje Lundberg from Oscar nominated film A Man Called Ove) might be the best prepared...

I first started watching this without subtitles, I had thought that maybe knowing the language would not be required. Well ten minutes in I changed my mind, I felt I was missing out and so I requested a version with English subtitles. This is very much a comedy horror in that every single character here is ridiculous in their own way. They are a bunch of oddballs who fit together well with the over the top ways they act. Most the film are various people either trying to kill, or being killed by the monster and so there are a lot of characters who only tangentially meet up with each other. This did give the movie a bit of a disjointed feel to it at times though eventually characters from each of the seperate groups do meet up for a final showdown with the beast. The hermit was the best character as he was fleshed out with a tragic backstory that still managed to have a funny end to it.

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Veronica (2017) - Horror Film Review

I watched Hereditary last week and really enjoyed it, yet I didn't find it scary despite hearing it was supposed to be. Earlier in the year I heard about a Spanish horror film on Netflix called Veronica that also was meant to be a scary film. You know what? If I had been watching it at night in the dark I think this one I actually would have been creeped out by, even in bright daylight there were a few bits that made me feel unsettled.

Veronica takes place in Madrid in 1991 and is about a 15 year old girl; Verónica (Sandra Escacena) who uses a Ouija board with some friends during a solar eclipse in the hopes of contacting her deceased father. She soon learns she has accidentally summoned an evil spirit that has latched onto her that means harm to her family.

I thought this was a great horror and it got better upon learning a few things. Firstly it was directed by Paca Plaza who also happened to direct the [Rec] trilogy of films, secondly was that this was actually based on a true story. Usually when this is stated it turns out to be very very loosely based on truth while at the same time shouting from the rooftops it all happened. Here with Veronica I didn't even realise it was based on a true story until a series of crime photos are displayed at the films end that were different enough to what I had seen that I did a quick search and found out these crime scene photos are the ones from reality.

Sunday, 1 July 2018

The Exorcist: Legion VR - Chapter 1 'Last Rites' (2018) - Horror Video Game Review (PSVR)

The same guy who recommended I check out The Blobby Witch Project also said I needed to check out The Exorcist: Legion VR as soon as it came out on PSVR. Well I love virtual reality, and I love horror even more and so this was a good fit, especially as the demonic possession sub genre of horror is one of my favourites. The Exorcist: Legion VR is split up into five chapters, each one has you as a detective investigating a different case. I shall be writing a review per chapter, mainly as the first chapter was available as a stand alone purchase (I went ahead and brought the complete package). Currently only three of the five cases are there to play with the others coming later on, a trailer for the fourth case recently came out.

The police station is the hub area that you go to between cases, it is here you get the training room that tells you all about the controls, and also where you are able to go to the evidence room to look at objects from past cases, as well as your office where the chapters can be selected from. Chapter 1 has you going to a crime scene at a church. It soon becomes apparent that a priest has been murdered, items of note have already been marked for your perusal. The main goal in Last Rites seemed to be to collect the items that make up an exorcism kit. This includes salt, holy water, a burner, and of course a crucifix.

I like the graphics here, they give the environments a realistic look to them while use of darkness hides how limited the play area really is. I get the impression that each chapter is going to be quite brief. This one contained two different rooms and took me around half an hour to get through, that was including messing around with everything, if I had purely done the essential objectives I could have been through that in a third of the time. There is a checklist of things to do and on my go there was an objective I missed so there is some replay value there. I liked that there is plenty to read, with text that is meant to be readable. This was fine with printed stuff, but you get access to an exorcism guide that I struggled to make out any of the text in it which was a shame as it felt like I was missing out on story elements.

I had been told this was a scary game but going by this first chapter it wasn't really. There were a couple of moments that mildly scared me but I didn't feel any type of dread. To be fair I was playing on a lazy Sunday evening when the sun was still bright and out, I think for the rest I will make it a point to play at night time. Aside from being able to pick up items there isn't really a lot of interactivity to be found here, I finished the chapter unsure if it is even possible to die or if the horror is all just scripted. I would say if you are planning on getting this as stand alone then avoid unless it is on sale, it is not worth the asking price, even with the reduced price of getting it as a bundle it is not worth it. Regardless I will literally never get bored of holding a crucifix out in front of me and shouting "the power of Christ compels you!" and so for that fact I had a grand old time with this and can look past the short length.