Thursday, 12 January 2017

Top 10 British Horror Movies

The League of Gentlemen's Tubbs & Edward Tattsyrup

As my regular readers should know, over the years I have done a few top ten list. The majority of them are normally part of my "Top 10 Countdown to Halloween." But alas, life has been full, hectic and pretty damn good, so my blog some somewhat been on the back burner. Anyway, I'm catching up on a couple of things over the next week. I'm posting now, what should've been last year's countdown to Halloween!

As per usual, I took to Facebook, to gather the votes, take the survey etc. But this time I only used my own group on Facebook and it's members for their opinions. The group is called UK Horror Fans United and is made up of horror fans that live in the United Kingdom and Ireland. As the picture says "ARE YOU LOCAL?" The idea was to bring together "local" fans of the genre in one place, unlike every other Facebook group which is made up of anyone and everyone. Anyway, I digress...

This top ten is the best of British horror films from across the decades. There's a couple on the list that are co-productions, but that's fine, they still had British backing and finance. Let's begin...

Number 10

Eden Lake (2008)


Nursery teacher Jenny and her boyfriend Steve, escape for a romantic weekend away. Steve, planning to propose, has found an idyllic setting: a remote lake enclosed by woodlands and seemingly deserted. The couple's peace is shattered when a gang of obnoxious kids encircles their campsite. Revelling in provoking the adults, the gang steals the couple's belongings and vandalises their car leaving them completely stranded. When Steve confronts them, tempers flare and he suffers a shocking and violent attack. Fleeing for help, Jenny is subject to a brutal and relentless game of cat-and-mouse as she desperately tries to evade her young pursuers and find her way out of the woods.

Written and Directed by James Watkins.

Starring Kelly Reilly, Michael Fassbender, Tara Ellis, Jack O'Connell, Finn Atkins, Jumayn Hunter, Thomas Turgoose.






Number 9

28 Days Later (2002)

Animal activists invade a laboratory with the intention of releasing chimpanzees that are undergoing experimentation, infected by a virus -a virus that causes rage. The naive activists ignore the pleas of a scientist to keep the cages locked, with disastrous results. Twenty-eight days later, our protagonist, Jim, wakes up from a coma, alone, in an abandoned hospital. He begins to seek out anyone else to find London is deserted, apparently without a living soul. After finding a church, which had become inhabited by zombie like humans intent on his demise, he runs for his life. Selena and Mark rescue him from the horde and bring him up to date on the mass carnage and horror as all of London tore itself apart.

Director: Danny Boyle
Writer: Alex Garland

Starring Cillian Murphy, Toby Sedgwick, Naomie Harris, Noah Huntley, Christopher Eccleston.






Number 8

The Desent (2005)

After a tragic accident, six friends reunite for a caving expedition. Their adventure soon goes horribly wrong when a collapse traps them deep underground and they find themselves pursued by bloodthirsty creatures. As their friendships deteriorate, they find themselves in a desperate struggle to survive the creatures and each other.

Written and directed by Neil Marshall.

Starring Shauna Macdonald, Natalie Mendoza, Alex Reid, Saskia Mulder, MyAnna Buring, Nora-Jane Noone.














Number 7

Mum & Dad (2008)

Mum and Dad, and their 'adopted' children, Birdie & Elbie, work at the airport. The family live off whatever they scavenge from cargo holds, offices and hotels - including a steady stream of transient workers who populate the airport's soulless hub. When Lena, a young Polish office cleaner, is befriended by Birdie, she gets drawn into a nightmarish world of torture, murder and perversity. Imprisoned in a suburban House of Horrors and designated a 'Mummy's Girl', Lena's only options appear to be to become part of the family - and join them in their insanity - or die.

Written and directed by Steven Sheil.

Starring Perry Benson, Dido Miles, Olga Fedori, Ainsley Howard, Toby Alexander, Micaiah Dring.










Number 6

Shaun of the Dead (2004)


Shaun doesn't have a very good day, so he decides to turn his life around by getting his ex to take him back, but he times it for right in the middle of what may be a zombie apocalypse... But for him, it's an opportunity to show everyone he knows how useful he is by saving them all. All he has to do is survive... And get his ex back.

Director: Edgar Wright
Writers: Simon Pegg & Edgar Wright


Starring Simon Pegg, Kate Ashfield, Nick Frost, Lucy Davis, Dylan Moran, Nicola Cunningham, Peter Serafinowicz.












Number 5

Dog Soldiers (2002)

A British Squad is sent on a training mission in the Highlands of Scotland against Special Operations squad. Ignoring the childish "campfire" stories heard about the area, they continue with their mission and come across the bloody remains of the Special Ops Squad, and a fierce howling is pitching the night sky... With two mortally wounded men, they make an escape, running into a zoologist by the name of Megan - who knows exactly what hunts them. What began as what they thought was a training mission turns into a battle for their lives against the most unlikely enemies they would have expected - werewolves.

Written and directed by Neil Marshall.

Starring Sean Pertwee, Kevin McKidd, Emma Cleasby, Liam Cunningham, Thomas Lockyer, Darren Morfitt, Chris Robson.







Number 4

The Wicker Man (1973)

A young girl has been reported missing on Summerisle, a remote Scottish Island and Sergeant Howie is sent to investigate. On arriving on the Island Howie sees how the islanders live and is a bit unnerved because they are all weirdo's in their own rights. No one knows who the missing girl is and Howie is sent on a wild goose chase by the islanders trying to get to the bottom of it. He eventually seeks out Lord Summerisle who is also barking mad, and learns that the islanders live by different rules and philosophies which Howie very strongly disagrees with. But Howie has been lured to the island as the perfect sacrifice with the pretence of investigating the missing girl.

Director: Robin Hardy
Writer: Anthony Shaffer

Starring Edward Woodward, Christopher Lee, Diane Cilento, Britt Ekland, Ingrid Pitt, Lindsay Kemp.







Number 3

Hellraiser (1987)

Clive Barker's feature directing debut graphically depicts the tale of a man and wife who move into an old house and discover a hideous creature - the man's half-brother, who is also the woman's former lover - hiding upstairs. Having lost his earthly body to a trio of S&M demons, the Cenobites, he is brought back into existence by a drop of blood on the floor. He soon forces his former mistress to bring him his necessary human sacrifices to complete his body... but the Cenobites won't be happy about this.

Written and directed by Clive Barker.

Starring Doug Bradley, Nicholas Vince, Simon Bamford, Grace Kirby, Andrew Robinson, Clare Higgins, Ashley Laurence, Kirsty Cotton, Sean Chapman.












Number 2

An American Werewolf in London (1981)

Two American college students are on a walking tour of Britain and are attacked by a werewolf. One is killed, the other is mauled. The werewolf is killed but reverts to its human form, and the local townspeople are unwilling to acknowledge its existence. The surviving student begins to have nightmares of hunting on four feet at first but then finds that his friend and other recent victims appear to him, demanding that he commit suicide to release them from their curse, being trapped between worlds because of their unnatural deaths.

Written and directed by John Landis.

Starring David Naughton, Jenny Agutter, Griffin Dunne, David Schofield, Brian Glover, Rik Mayall.










Number 1

Alien (1979)

Sometimes the scariest things come from within

In the near future, during its return to the earth, a commercial spaceship Nostromo intercepts a distress SOS from a distant moon. The seven-member crew are woken up from the hypersleep and the spaceship subsequently descends on the moon. While exploring the moon, a three-member team of the crew discovers a derelict spaceship and a huge chamber inside it containing thousands of eggs. When a curious team member goes too near the egg the parasite inside the egg attacks him, rendering him unconscious. He is brought back aboard, the spaceship takes off. After a little while the parasite dies and his host wakes up seemingly unruffled. Everything returns back to normal - but not for long.

Directed by Ridley Scott.
Written by Dan O'Bannon & Ronald Shusett.

Starring  Tom Skerritt, Sigourney Weaver, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, John Hurt, Ian Holm, Yaphet Kotto, Bolaji Badejo.





There you go. What do you think to the list? Agree, disagree? Leave a comment below.
Honourable mentions: Nina Forever, The Shining and Dracula (1958) were just outside the top ten.

Thanks to everyone that took part on UK Horror Fans United Facebook group.

(source for film plot summary: IMDB)

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Mayhem Horror Film Festival 2016 (Part 4): Day 4 & 2017 Dates


Day 4 began with Don't Kill It, starring Dolph Lundgren and directed by Mike Mendez (Tales of Halloween, Big Ass Spider!).


This was the UK premier of the possession horror comedy and unfortunately I had to miss this one. It received a lot of praise from the Mayhem audience Here a quote from a friend's blog that was there...

"I have to admit I wasn't really expecting much but it blew me away. It was a perfect start to the Sunday." Johnny's Cult Films

The second film out of the 4 on Sunday came out of Japan. Kiyoshi Kurosawa's (Cure, Pulse) aptly named film, Creepy.

Kurosawa returns to J-Horror territory with this very unsettling and nerve wracking film that begs the question "do you really know who your neighbours are?"

Takakura (Hidetoshi Nishijima), an ex cop turned criminal psychologist, receives a visit from an old colleague concerning a missing person case. Even with the distraction of his teaching job and settling into his new home with his wife, the investigation into the missing person case takes Takakura onto a journey that leads him right back to his own street and onto the doorstep of his Creepy neighbour Nishino.

The performance from Teruyuki Kagawa as Nishino is simple fantastic. The film is well written and could've taken a couple of turns in the final act. Thinking back, the two choices that popped into my head right at the end, either one of them would've work just as well as each other. 

The third film, and in my top three of the festival, was I Am Not a Serial Killer.

Director Billy O'Brien was in attendance for this showing and did a Q&A afterwards to.

The film stars the young excellent up and coming actor Max Records as a troubled teen with homicidal tendencies and movie veteran Christopher Lloyd as the friendly wise old man. The pair play so well on screen together in this brilliantly crafted film.

As a number of murders break out in the small Midwestern town, people are pointing fingers at freaky Max who has an interest in all things serial killer related. In order to keep his name in good standing he tries to hunt down the real killer, but what he finds is more than he could possibly prepare for.

The film is widely available now, so if you haven't seen it, then I highly recommend grabbing a copy.


After a break for the annual Flinterrogation, the hardest horror and cult cinema quiz there is, we were introduced to the final film of the festival by the two directors, Jeremy Gillespie, Steven Kostanski (best known for their work as part of the Astron-6 collective (Manborg, Father's Day), and producer Casey Walker.

The Void was the perfect film to end the weekend. 


The movie follows police officer Daniel Carter (Aaron Poole) and a group of staff as they defend themselves against a violent cult that threatens an isolated hospital only to find the real horror is already inside.

Poole (The Conspiracy, The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh) gives a dominant performance, but is still supported by a great cast in this brilliantly directed movie that boasts an absolute showcase of practical FX and bloody gore. Tense and atmospheric from start to finish, the film has the feel of such classics from the 80s like Hellraiser, The Thing, and The Keep. An unintentional homage to such films, as the directors said in the Q&A afterwards that growing up they were more influenced by Japanese horror.

I loved it. It was my favourite film of the festival even though my top three, The Void, The Devil's Candy and I Am Not a Serial Killer are all very different from each other. This film made me feel like a kid again watching horror with wonderment, intrigue and intensity. I'm going to pre-order the DVD/Bluray as soon as humanly possible!

So there we are, another year of Mayhem. But fear not, there's this year to look forward to! This morning they announced this year's festival will be held on Thursday October 12th to Sunday 15th. I'll be there once again. Hopefully you'll be there too.

Check out Part 1 of Mayhem 2016   HERE, part 2 HERE, and part 3 HERE.

Mayhem Film Festival was founded in 2005 by filmmakers Steven Sheil and Chris Cooke. They screen the best in contemporary horror, science-fiction and cult cinema and television from around the world. Featuring premieres, previews, masterclasses, international special guest filmmakers, and unique live cinema events, the festival has developed a reputation as one of the strongest and most innovative genre festivals in the country. They are based at Broadway in Nottingham, one of the UK's leading independent cinemas and creative hubs.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Mayhem Horror Film Festival 2016 (Part 3): Day 3




Day 3 kicked off with an Italian superhero type thriller called They Call Me Jeeg Robot.

Directed by Gabriele Mainetti, written Menotti and Nicola Guaglianone, all three have made their full feature debut with this film. Part Sci-Fi, part Fantasy, part Thriller, the story follows Enzo (Claudio Santamaria), a lonely and misanthropic small time crook, uses the superpowers gained after falling in the Tiber river to chase down a crazy gangster called "The gypsy" (Stefano Ambrogi).

The lead cast are absolutely fantastic and delivery memorable performances, but standout performance for me was from supporting actress Ilenia Pastorelli as the adorable, yet slightly crazy Alessi.

There's plenty of action, but there's also a lot of emotional content too, which put together makes for a highly entertaining film. If you like foreign films then this should be high on your watch list! I loved it and thought it was a great start to the day.



On to the second film of the day...

Pet, comes from the director of Apartment 143 Carles Torrens, and  Jeremy Slater, the writer of The Lazarus Effect and The Exorcist TV show. Now, I liked The Lazarus Effect and Apartment 143, but by the end of this film, I ended up hating the story and how it turned out. As per IMDB...

"A psychological thriller about a man who bumps into an old flame and subsequently becomes obsessed with her, leading him to hold her captive underneath the animal shelter where he works. But what will the victim have in store for her assailant?"

OK, let me say this first, I thought both leads, Ksenia Solo (Lost Girl) as Holly and Dominic Monaghan (The Lord of the Rings) as Seth were excellent in their roles.

Right, there's gonna be a small spoilers here so scroll past if you wish...


The main character Seth ends up being manipulated by Holly in only a way a man can be, which I hated. Why? Because I hate those kind of weak ass men and hate the woman that try to do that. Just a personal thing. Anyway, Holly ends up being a complete nut job and Seth is pretty much a fucking wetbag momma's boy. So my thoughts are along the line of, what exactly are we meant to feel about the characters? Much the same as Fede Alvarez' Don't Breathe, I ended up feeling neither sorry nor rooting for either character, but instead thinking they were both idiots and pretty much deserved what they both got. I felt a bit cheating by the ending I guess.

The next film was from British actor/writer/director and comedian Gareth Tunley (Kill List).

"A homicide detective goes undercover as a patient to investigate a psychotherapist he believes is linked to a strange double murder. As his therapy sessions continue the line between fantasy and reality begins to blur."

Had a bit of a gripe with this one too. It started off really strong, very dark and depressing, but the longer it went on it seemed to go off on a tangent that really didn't make much sense in the end and I feel it didn't quite accomplish what it set out to be. I'd put that down to the writing to be honest.

What kept my attention throughout though was the excellent lead performance from Tom Meeten who's actually best known for his comedy work. 

I would like to see what Gareth Tunley has in store next to see if his writing improves, because on the plus side I did enjoy his direction of the film.

Following The Ghoul was Mayhem's regular Saturday afternoon slot, the short film showcase...

What I'm going to do here is mention the shorts that stood out the most for me, but you can check out the full list by CLICKING HERE.

Sandman
Directed by Liam Banks.
Duration: 5'30. Country: UK.
When Sandy is woken from a strange dream nothing could have prepared her for the nightmare she finds herself in now she's awake.

This reminded me a little of last year's Lights Out (now turned into a full feature this year) which was simple yet effective. However, Nottingham local Liam Bank's short  is a lot more creepy and plays with the Sandman and the bedtime/fear of the dark ideas very well. It has some rather nice visuals and made use of some good misdirection.


Strangers in the Night
Directed by Conor McMahon.
Duration: 12'00. Country: Ireland.
Two lonely people find the love they were searching for. Well, one lonely person and one banshee!

This was a rather memorable cute little tale that had some fun moments.

Nasty
Directed by Prano Baily-Bond.
Duration: 15'09. Country: UK.
It's 1982. Twelve-year-old Doug is drawn into the lurid world of VHS horror as he explores the mysterious disappearance of his father.

A tribute to the video nasties of the 80s. Pure enjoyment. That's all I need to say!




The Home
Directed by L. Gustavo Cooper.
Duration: 7'02. Country: US.
Set in Ireland at a 19th century home for pregnant women out of wedlock, THE HOME tells the story of a young pregnant woman fighting for her sanity (and her unborn child) as an ancient evil descends on the convent.

Quenottes (Pearlies)
Directed by Pascal Thiebaux & Gil Pinheiro.
Duration: 12'35. Country: France.
In every body's mind, the little mouse (or Tooth Fairy) is a benevolent and generous character... What if it isn't ? What if it is actually a neurotic psychopath obsessing about its collection of dental trophies? If a tooth is missing, it must be replaced. By any means necessary...

The Stylist
Directed by Jill Gevargizian
Duration: 15'00. Country: USA
Claire is a lonely hairstylist with an unnerving desire to escape her disappointing reality. When her final client of the evening arrives with the request to look perfect, Claire has plans of her own.

This stylish, slick and stunning looking short is very well made and is a nice little twist to, what otherwise wouldn't interest me, hairdressing. In fact, this was in my Top 5 short horror films of 2016.



It was back to the features after the Short Film Showcase with what would be the best film of the festival so far, The Devil's Candy...


From the director of Australian flick, The Loved Ones, Sean Byrne brings something different compared his first and very well received debut feature. Something even better! Heavy fucking metal (you should all know by now that I'm a metalhead)! Mayhem 2015 gave it's audience a treat with the New Zealand horror Deathgasm, which was so much fun. This time though we were in for something serious and frightening.

The film follows struggling artist Jesse Hellman (Ethan Embry) and his family, wife Astrid (Shiri Appleby) and daughter Zooey (Kiara Glasco) as they move to a rural Texas farmhouse that has a barn for Jesse to get creative in. But when he starts to paint, his mind becomes disturbed with satanic images and this over spills on to the canvas. The house's sinister past soon catches up with the family though as former tenant, the mentally disturbed Ray (Pruitt Taylor Vince) pays them a visit.

This movie is beautifully shot with some fantastic imagery, well written, brilliantly directed, and Byrne puts his stamp on the, stale of late, haunted house / possession sub-genre with impressive style. The thrashing soundtrack brings an impact to an already intense film. Embry plays and looks the part perfectly. Both Appleby and Glasco bring something different to the table within the movie and as for Pruitt Taylor Vince, well, he's his usual creepy as fuck self!

I missed the last film of the day, the late H.G. Lewis' 1963 Blood Feast as I had to leave, but The Devil's Candy was a perfect end to the day.


Check out Part 1 of Mayhem 2016   HERE and part 2 HERE.

Mayhem Film Festival was founded in 2005 by filmmakers Steven Sheil and Chris Cooke. They screen the best in contemporary horror, science-fiction and cult cinema and television from around the world. Featuring premieres, previews, masterclasses, international special guest filmmakers, and unique live cinema events, the festival has developed a reputation as one of the strongest and most innovative genre festivals in the country. They are based at Broadway in Nottingham, one of the UK's leading independent cinemas and creative hubs.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Mayhem Horror Film Festival 2016 (Part 2): Day 2


Day 2 of Mayhem started off with what I would call the weird and wonderful...

We Are the Flesh is a Mexican film written and directed by Emiliano Rocha Minter and is his first feature.

Straight from the Mayhem flyer:
"Wondering around a ruined city for years looking for food and shelter, two siblings discover an older man who promises to take care of them and, as they begin to create a womb like cave for him, a disturbing sexual relationship emerges."

More fantasy than horror, this distursing and shocking tale is extremely visceral. It's up front and in your face and never shies away. Besides the hard nature of the nudity (pun intended), the writing and acting stands out throughout the film and the very end is a rather nice touch to a film that seems too bleak to be real.

That said, the best way I could sum this up is what I said straight after watching the film...

"It was a load of nonsense, but very naughty. I quite liked it."

The following film was a complete change of pace. A UK feature called The Rezort.

British director Steve Barker (Outpost) returns to the Zombie genre with a script written by Paul Gerstenberger (Bad Meat).

Part Zombie film, part political statement, the film manages to stay fun throughout. The concept is a refreshing change and actually the best thing about the movie. Set ten years after the initial outbreak, The Rezort is an island off the coast of Africa which is inhabited by Zombies. You pay for five star treatment in a luxurious hotel and get to shoot the walking dead, all done under the watchful eye trained experts. As you can imagine, things go awry, people die and truths are discovered.

Wasn't overly impressed with it, but I did enjoy it. Definitely worth a watch if you like you're Zombie films with a little more depth than outright action.


Up next was The Greasy Strangler, which has been doing the rounds at a lot of festivals this year.

This is a horror comedy that's completely over the top, but also pushes the boundary of bad taste.

Big Ronnie and his son Brayden run a Disco walking tour. When a woman takes the tour, it creates competition between father and son for her love. Throw an oily, strangling, murderer in the mix and let the chaos ensue.

The was funny in parts, offensive and also irritating. For the most part, it felt a little bit Monty Python mixed with The League of Gentlemen and Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer, but less funny and more annoying. Having said that, it's definitely worth a watch, but I feel it's nothing really original.





The last film of the day was a classic from 1965. Mario Bava's Planet of the Vampires.


It was first time seeing this movie and yet another reason why I love Mayhem so much. Getting to watch old movies, restored, remastered (under the supervision of Nicolas Winding Refn; Drive, The Neon Demon) and on the big screen is an absolute treat. And especially with this one as I love Mario Bava films.

After landing on a mysterious planet, a team of astronauts begin to turn on each other, swayed by the uncertain influence of the planet and its strange inhabitants.

This Sci-Fi Horror is super stylistic, super eerie and super campy. It looked beautiful on the big screen and I enjoyed it very much. The film is well known for influencing (I've also heard the term "ripped off" a few times) Ridley Scott's Alien (a favourite of mine also) and you can certainly tell it was heavily influenced by Bava's film.

So that rounded off day 2 nicely. Check out Part 2 of Mayhem 2016   HERE. Keep posted for day 3...


Mayhem Film Festival was founded in 2005 by filmmakers Steven Sheil and Chris Cooke. They screen the best in contemporary horror, science-fiction and cult cinema and television from around the world. Featuring premieres, previews, masterclasses, international special guest filmmakers, and unique live cinema events, the festival has developed a reputation as one of the strongest and most innovative genre festivals in the country. They are based at Broadway in Nottingham, one of the UK's leading independent cinemas and creative hubs.

Friday, 14 October 2016

Mayhem Horror Film Festival 2016 (Part 1): Day 1



As if October wasn't the best month anyway, my birthday and Halloween, it also marks the epic event that is Mayhem Film Festival which kicked off yesterday with the hypnotising live performance from The Duke St. Workshop.


Presented by Nottingham's own Kino Klubb, the live music performance was delivered by The Duke St. Workshop with Laurence R. Harvey (The Human Centipede 2, The Editor, Banjo) reading from HP Lovercraft over the top of the music.

Whilst the music was being presented, hypnotic, translucent, neon images were projected on the screen. Along with Harvey's eerie yet inviting voice and a very John Carpenter Esq / 80s horror movie score, the visuals made for a rather trippy and mesmerising show. Something of which I remember for a very long time.

A truly one off experience, but you can get hold of the recording on vinyl and CD. They sold pretty quick last night, but I managed to get my hands on a beautiful purple LP.



The first film of the evening was the French cannibal film, Raw.

If you've read the reports about this film then you'll have read that audience members in Cannes film festival and Toronto International Film Festival had fainted etc. during it's showing.

I can safely say, as a long time horror, the film actually made me hungry! OK, not for human flesh of course. But all that aside, it was a very refreshing take on the cannibal sub-genre from writer / director Julia Ducournau.

The coming of age tale follows Justine (Garance Marillier) during her "rookie" week of veterinary school and her growing need to consume human flesh even though she's vegetarian. Along with the flesh eating, there's a couple of shocking moments, but there's also a few laughs along the way. Great acting and brilliantly written, Raw is definitely worth watching.



The final film of the evening was the UK premier of Kimo Stamboel & Timo Tjahjanto's Indonesian action thriller Headshot.

Starring The Raid's Iko Uwais you know straight away you're in for some ass kickery goodness! This time though Uwais shows us a bit more of his acting skills. That's not to say there's less action. Far from it. With some absolutely brutal and bloody fight scenes and stunning camera work that puts you right in the middle of every fight comes a story redemption and revenge.

Definitely one for the serious martial arts film fan.





That's it for day 1 of Mayhem. Keep your eye out for day 2's post shortly.

Mayhem Film Festival was founded in 2005 by filmmakers Steven Sheil and Chris Cooke. They screen the best in contemporary horror, science-fiction and cult cinema and television from around the world. Featuring premieres, previews, masterclasses, international special guest filmmakers, and unique live cinema events, the festival has developed a reputation as one of the strongest and most innovative genre festivals in the country. They are based at Broadway in Nottingham, one of the UK's leading independent cinemas and creative hubs.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Blair Witch (2016) Review



It seems like an eternity since I wrote a review. Life has been hectic to say the least and my blog has been on the back burner, so to speak. So, here's my first review since October 2015!

I've been to see Blair Witch tonight. It seems like this movie has just sprung out of nowhere with very little press and promotion, especially considering how big The Blair Witch Project was! Now, talking of the first film (I rewatched it last night), I didn't think a great deal of the first film, although I did like a couple of parts and thought the ending was good. However, I do appreciate how important the film was to the horror genre looking back. And, yes, I did like Book of Shadows!

This sequel is directed Adam Wingard and written by Simon Barrett. There's films so far have been a bit hit and miss for me. I didn't like You're Next, but i really enjoyed The Guest.

Blair Witch sees James (James Allen McCune) going on the trail for his sister Heather who disappeared in the first film. Being lazy, if you didn't know, here's the synopsis from IMDB...

"After discovering a video showing what he believes to be his sister's experiences in the demonic woods of the Blair Witch, James and a group of friends head to the forest in search of his lost sibling."

That's all the info you really need to know as regards the storyline.

Look, I made this for you. Try not to snap it...

There's no point going into more characters, names etc. etc. There will be a couple of spoilers in this review, but nothing that will ruin it for you. OK, my thoughts, not good I'm afraid. It's pretty much a rehash of the first film, but with a few extra characters thrown in. There's more going on, a lot quicker this time, and less subtle which I feel was a good point in The Blair Witch Project. It's got more tech like head cams, a helicopter drone video thing, walkie talkies, GPS gadgets and updated video equipment in general, so yes it's a found footage flick. But the whole thing felt like the rest of most modern sequels where everything is ramped up and supposedly bigger and better. Quite frankly it's filled with cheap jump scares that started to grate on me to be honest. Loud noises, even louder noise and more cheap thrills that one could shake a stick at!

A couple of spoilers here...

They all end up at the house at the end of the first film, which you see on the trailer anyway. A lot more time is spent in the house. You see the witch! Yes, all the things that you'd expect in what seems like this modern era of horror we're heading towards of watered down shit for kids who have too many feelings. There's nothing original, nothing scary, nothing worthy of any note about this film. Actually, I'm lying, I did like the thunder, lighting and rain sound effects. There, that's the only thing I found enjoyable. But then, I like the sound of thunder, lighting and rain anyway.

Her acting at this point was so bad she even scared herself!

It actually became laughable towards the end, mainly due to the poor acting from the hysterical Lisa (Callie Hernandez) who blubbers more than Heather did, but at least that was believable. I don't know what more to say. Honestly, it seems like in this new era of political correctness, social justice warriors ruining everything for everyone, and the generation of movie goers (yes, the latest edition of fucking teenagers!) being all to too touchy feely, our once beautiful genre of horror is becoming (and has been for a few years now) more and more watered down as to not offend anyone. Plus, it's more apparent that the studios just want bums in seats to keep the profits as high as possible instead of making something note worthy. Seriously, there's only a handful of horror films out this year that I've actually enjoyed and 3 of those I saw at a horror film festival last year.

I stood looking at the huge Blair Witch poster in the cinema lobby after watching the film. Reading what other critics/reviewers had said about...

"One of the scariest movies ever made"
"A new beginning for Horror films"
"Chilling and intense, a truly terrifying cinematic experience"

NO! Don't believe the hype. Or maybe I'm just that much of a seasoned horror fan and/or too old (nearly 40) that it takes something seriously special to impress me. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed Lights Out, it was fun. But there's been nothing for years that has genuinely frightened me or really disturbed me. Anyway, here's the official part...

BLAIR WITCH IS MODERN HORROR FOR MODERN FANS IN AN ERA OF DUMBED DOWN, CHEAP SCARES & NOTHING NEW FILM MAKING

 Blair Witch gets a big fat 1 out of 5 stars!

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Mayhem Film Festival 2016 Short Film Showcase Announcement



Mayhem Film Festival have announced this year's short films for their Short Film Showcase which is held on the Saturday. Here's the line up...

A Father's Day
Directed by Mat Johns
Unexpectedly reunited with his daughter amongst the ruins of the world as they knew it, a father is determined to make this day special, even if they are already dead.

Sandman
Directed by Liam Banks
When Sandy is woken from a strange dream nothing could have prepared her for the nightmare she finds herself in now she's awake.

White Lily
Directed by Tristan Ofield
A tense ship captain and co-pilot set out to investigate a comet, when a technical fault cuts to the core of their relationships problem…

Strangers in the Night
Directed by Conor McMahon
Two lonely people find the love they were searching for. Well, one lonely person and one banshee!ate a comet, when a technical fault cuts to the core of their relationships problem…

Dawn of the Deaf
Directed by Rob Savage
When a strange sound wipes out the hearing population, a small group of Deaf people must band together to survive.

Nasty
Directed by Prano Baily-Bond
It's 1982. Twelve-year-old Doug is drawn into the lurid world of VHS horror as he explores the mysterious disappearance of his father.

The Home
Directed by L. Gustavo Cooper
Set in Ireland at a 19th century home for pregnant women out of wedlock, THE HOME tells the story of a young pregnant woman fighting for her sanity (and her unborn child) as an ancient evil descends on the convent.

The Stylist
Directed by Jill Gevargizian
Claire is a lonely hairstylist with an unnerving desire to escape her disappointing reality. When her final client of the evening arrives with the request to look perfect, Claire has plans of her own.

The Procedure
Directed by Calvin Lee Reeder
A man is kidnapped and forced to endure a strange experiment. Frank Mosley (UPSTREAM COLOR) makes a surprising, brutal cameo.

Quenottes (Pearlies)
Directed by Pascal Thiebaux & Gil Pinheiro
In everybody's mind, the little mouse (or Tooth Fairy) is a benevolent and generous character... What if it isn't ? What if it is actually a neurotic psychopath obsessing about its collection of dental trophies? If a tooth is missing, it must be replaced. By any means necessary...


Mayhem Film Festival (Horror, Scifi & Cult Cinema) is held in Nottingham at the Broadway Cinema from 13th to 16th October. Check out the Mayhem website HERE to find out more info on films, tickets and more.