Sunday, 22 December 2013

Face (2013) Review

Taka Arai and Norith Soth's found footage film Face made it's premiere at the Another Hole in the Head Film Festival. Together, Arai and Soth produced, directed and edited the flick which is based on the short story "An Ironic Twist of Fate" written by Mikal Britt.

The movie is pegged as "leaked police evidence" from an event involving a collage sorority and a fraternity.

The film caught my attention straight away with nothing but simple words on the screen...

"The footage you are about to watch was recorded on October 31st, 2012. The Halloween Fear Factory was an annual competition amongst a fraternity and sorority that tailspinned into a gruesome nightmare of carnage and depravity...

The survivors claimed to not recall any details of the crimes. There is debate whether the loathsome acts were the result of drug use or "mob mentality." That the event was recorded by both parties has turned this account into one of the strangest in American History."

Carnage and depravity? Great, That's what I like to see in a film!

The film stars Scott Alin, Karoline Matini, Roby Sobieski, Brooke Diane Flint, Dillon Paigen, Lauren See, and Johnny D'Angelo. The main antagonist Matt, leader of the frat, is a real piece of shit and Jamie, the head of the sorority, fell victim to Matt in last year's event. Names of the characters are really not important though as there's no real character development, but that's not a bad thing. It's simply not needed in the movie. By 15 minutes in, I already hated the frat boys. They're pigs and had already committed numerous crimes including sexual assault! I was routing for the sorority girls straight away.

So the main plot here was the competition. The age old battle of boys vs girls. The previous year's Halloween Fear Factory was won by the Fraternity, so they already expected revenge from the sorority. Most of the film is occupied by partying and drinking etc. With the fact that the film takes place at a party it means there's a soundtrack, something that we wouldn't normally get in other found footage flicks. Mikal Britt, a writer/musician, provided the music in the film which adds a sense of chill and enjoyment to it, even though what's going on is the opposite.

With a few twists and turns, the film slows down the tension as it concentrates more on the story, but the fun soon kicks in again around 45 minutes in. Now, I kept thinking to myself "Come on girls, you can do better than this!" I wanted more than what I was seeing and initially took this as a sign of weakness about the film. But just over the hour mark I got what I wanted. In fact, at one point I actually said out loud "Did she just do what I think she did?!"

I had to rewind it to watch it again. This was due to 2 things. 1 - I wanted to make sure I was right. 2 - Because it's filmed in the manner it is, it was a little hard to make out.

This leads me to point out that if you're NOT a fan of the shaky found footage sub-genre, you might not like this movie. This however has no bearing on the overall feel and quality of the film. I don't mind found footage at all. It very cleverly uses footage from different sides, giving us a perspective story of both frat and sorority. And without spoiling it, the use of a certain camera angle was brilliant, something I can't recall seeing before. I have to admit I didn't see it coming, although most of the film is predictable. The script is kept simple and the acting flows quite naturally, holding your attention and making ready for the big pay off.

From the Press Kit:

The project also had the help of Bloody Disgusting's very own Mr Disgusting (and producer on V/H/S). The overall result was an enjoyable watch and a very solid addition to the found footage sub-genre. The ending made the impact I was looking for throughout the the whole film. With a total run time of 1 hour and 14 minutes, it worth checking out. For further news of release dates, keep it locked to the Maven's Movie vault of Horror's Facebook page.


Face gets a very respectable 3 Stars

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Fright Meter Awards 2013 Nominees

When it comes to film awards, everyone looks towards the Oscars as the pinnacle of achievement. The only thing wrong with the Oscars? Our beloved genre of horror is often or completely overlooked! That's where the Fright Meter Awards comes into play. Along with myself, there's 35 plus committee members made up of genuine horror fans, bloggers, actors, writers, directors and producers "making the Fright Meter Awards truly the most prestigious horror award given."

From mainstream to independent, big names to newcomers, popularity or form of release, nothing is overlooked and if it's worthy of a mention, we consider it. So without further ado, here are this year's nominees...


The Conjuring
Insidious Chapter 2
The Lords of Salem


The Conjuring
Evil Dead
V/H/S 2


The Conjuring
Evil Dead
Insidious Chapter 2
The Lords of Salem


The Conjuring
Evil Dead
Insidious Chapter 2
World War Z


American Mary
The Conjuring
Evil Dead
Frankenstein's Army
V/H/S 2


American Mary
The Conjuring
Insidious Chapter 2
John Dies at the End


The Captured Bird
The Girl at the Door


American Mary
The Conjuring
Evil Dead
Insidious Chapter 2


Tristan Risk for "American Mary"
Julianne Moore for "Carrie"
Lily Taylor for "The Conjuring"
Isabelle Nelisse for "Mama"
Nicole Kidman for "Stoker"


Ron Livingston for "The Conjuring"
Lou Taylor Pucci for "Evil Dead"
Rhys Wakefield for "The Purge"
Epy Kusnandar for "V/H/S 2"
Rob Corddry for "Warm Bodies"


Katharine Isabelle for "American Mary"
Vera Farmiga for "The Conjuring"
Jane Levy for "Evil Dead"
Sharni Vinson for "You're Next"
Mia Wasikowska for "Stoker"


Patrick Wilson for "The Conjuring"
Patrick Wilson for "Insidious Chapter 2"
Elijah Wood for "Maniac"
Matthew Goode for "Stoker"
Jeffrey Combes "Would You Rather"


Jen & Sylvia Soska for "American Mary"
James Wan for "The Conjuring"
Fede Alvarez for "Evil Dead"
James Wan for "Insidious Chapter 2"
Chan-wook Park for "Stoker"


American Mary
The Conjuring
Evil Dead
You're Next

For more details about the Fright Meter Awards the full list of contenders head to the website -

You can also find two pages on facebook here - Fright Meter Horror Movie Reviews & Awards and here - Fright Meter Awards

Thursday, 19 December 2013

David Cronenberg: Evolution

Body. Mind. Change. BMC Labs, in partnership with visionary filmmaker David Cronenberg is proud to announce their first commercial product - POD (Personal-On-Demand). I was lucky enough to be selected to partake in the experimental project and when I received my prototype POD for testing, I couldn't wait to get started! Here's a copy of the letter I received...

"POD can learn all the complexities of the human emotion to best serve you. When your POD is properly calibrated, it is integrated directly into your neurological processes via a minor, non-obtrusive incision just below the base of the skull. POD will effortlessly discover your needs, desires, and loves. POD is your intuitive companion, enhancing life and storing the best that the world has to offer for immediate recall at any time."

Does it sound to good to be true? Does this technology really exist? Well, to find out more check out MINDBODYCHANGE.CA and register for your very own POD today!


Of course this is all part of a promotional pack as part of the David Cronenberg: Virtual Exhibition which goes live this week! "Learn more in the 4th floor Gallery at Toronto International Film Festival Bell Lightbox."

To find out more simply click the links in RED.

A big thank you goes to Jonathan Bunning for sending me out the promotional kit. You can also check out BMC Labs on Facebook.

The big question is, if this kind of technology existed today, would you consider having it done?

Thursday, 12 December 2013

A Look Back in Horror - My 2013 Review

It's that time of year again! 2014 is fast approaching and behind it it leaves the ups and downs of 2013 in horror film. This year covered three remakes of classics, two of which I loved. James Wan sat in the director's chair twice and then announced he won't be directing a horror film again. I also got to see a few films at a festival this year. So here's my guide to what I liked, loved and hated...

I'll Start with the Worse.

13/13/13 was doomed from the start. Why I hear you ask? Well, the film is from the company that gave us such classics as The Haunting of Whaley House and Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies. I am of course being facetious! Yes, good old The Asylum once again delivers the shit we need never watch and wish we hadn't when we did. The acting is so poor that it's hard to tell if the script is decent or not. The only saving grace is James Cullen Bressack's direction.

Nobody Gets Out Alive. The title says it all really. After watching it you'll wish were dead! You can read my review HERE.

Two sequels next, both nothing to do with their respective predecessors. Fright Night 2 had the same characters as the original Fright Night (1985) and the 2011 remake, but the story was completely different and didn't follow on. If it was called something else and the names of the characters changed, I might of liked it, a little. Even Jaime Murray, who's been great in everything else she's been in, was below par.

The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia, same place, different story, worse film! Check out my mini-review HERE.

Texas Chainsaw 3D, sequel to the 1974 masterpiece, deserves a mention here too. I thought it was average at best, and my word Alexandra Daddario is hot, but the horrible and shameful line that she delivers at the end just ruined it for me... "Do your thing cuz!" Really, REALLY? What were the writers thinking?!

Also worthy of the worse list is Hallows' Eve starring the beautiful Danielle Harris which is the only positive about it, Bloody Homecoming, Sorority Party Massacre which in all honesty was that bad I couldn't actually finish it (that hasn't happened in a long time!), ultra annoying The Purge and Sadako 3D, that was kind of a pointless reboot/re-imagining of The Ring. That's my worse list over!

Onto the Best...

Now, before I go any further, I simply have to give this next film another mention. It hit the festival circuit last year, and I saw it at one, but got it's general release this year on DVD/Blu-Ray and VOD. I'm talking about Jen and Sylvia Soska's (read my interview with The Twisted Twins here) American Mary. I love this film and it topped my 2012 list! You can read my review HERE.

It's remake time. I hope you all know how I feel about remakes by now. When done right, I welcome them. And for those that don't, there's only one thing worse than a remake, people that piss and moan about them!

When it was announced that there was to be a new Evil Dead, it caused a lot of disorder among Deadites around the world! Plus, if Sam Raimi does go ahead with the other two films he's talked about, then technically, the new Evil Dead will be a sequel as the timelines will cross, or so the rumours go. Anyway, I digress. Boasting some outstanding practical FX and some very solid performances, it hits my list for one of the years best. You can read my full review HERE.
Maniac, remake of the original 1980 movie, stars the unassuming Elijah Wood as the killer, albeit he's rarely actually seen throughout the film! Mostly shot from Frank's POV, this is an unsettling film with a fantastic retro feeling score.

The Fun Stuff...

Bad Milo! was a complete blast from start to finish. Comedy horror at its silliest with an ass demon causing carnage and mayhem, what more do you need to know?!

Eddie: The Sleepwalking Cannibal is another comedy horror that delivers fun with lots of gore thrown in for good measure. Excellent performances were giving from Lindhardt and Smith, even though Eddie has no lines. Lars provides comedy timing and Eddie gives us the blood!

 Best of the Indies...

Neil Jordan's beautifully crafted vampire drama Byzantium has undertones of Interview with the vampire and a rich story. You can read my full review HERE.

Antiviral has two things in common with the aforementioned film, besides being brilliant, it also stars the excellent Caleb Landry Jones who plays a technician at The Lucas Clinic which provides their clients with the ultimate step in fandon. You can read my full review HERE.

Best of the Mainstream...

James Wan's first film of the year, The Conjuring (Insidious Chapter 2 being the other), came with lots of frights and thrills and pulled in $316,700,141 at the box office, well over it's budget of $20 million. You can read my review HERE.
Stoker is Chan-wook Park's (Oldboy, Thirst) English speaking directional debut and also Wentworth Miller's writing debut. The result? Sheer brilliance in every aspect. The slow burn psychological horror delivers great acting, tense scenes and a suspenseful score.

Other movies worth a mention that I enjoyed include Rob Zombie's acquired tasting The Lords of Salem (read my review here),  Astron-6's Manborg, the near perfect but let down by some poor CGI Mama (read my review here), V/H/S/2 (a hell of a lot better than the first film), British flick Lord of Tears (read my review here), my guilty pleasures of the year All Hallows' Eve and Would You Rather (read my review here) and, why not, Insidious Chapter 2 as it is better than the first film.

But wait, I've not finished yet! Before I reveal my favourite of 2013, here's a look at two films I caught at this year's Mayhem Horror Film Festival.

British indie flick The Borderlands is a religious/supernatural found footage piece that's high on tension and scares. You can read my full review HERE. It's arguably the most important found footage film since The Blair Witch Project!

The Demon's Rook features pagans, demons, zombies and a hero with a most manly beard. More indie goodness here with some great make-up and practical FX. Read my review HERE to find out more.

So here we are at the end of my 2013 review. Now you could call me slightly bias with my top pick as it's in my favourite sub-genre, but I don't care! I've seen it three times via VOD and recently got the chance to see it on the big screen, which just made me fall in love with it even more.

Here you go, my favourite film of 2013...

Xan Cassavetes' feature film directional and writing debut Kiss of the Damned is uber cool and super sexy. With a sensual touch of styling, this vampire movie pays homage to the Euro-trashy vamp flicks of the 60s/70s. It's not just my favourite film of the year, it's now one of my favourite Vampire films, ever! You can read my review HERE.

Check out the trailer below...

What are your thoughts? What are your worse and best horror movies of the year? Let me know.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Lord of Tears (2013) Review

I always look forward to British independent horror, and Lord of Tears was high on my list to watch since first hearing about it. The film premiered right here in the UK (Whitby) at the Bram Stoker International Film Festival.

Set in the picturesque Highlands of Scotland, the film follows school teacher James Findlay (Euan Douglas) and his journey to past truths. Upon the death of his mother, James inherits the old family mansion, but a letter from his mother included in her will warns James not to revisit the home of his childhood.

He seeks advice from best friend Allen (Jamie Scott Gordon), who has problems of his own, and confides that a certain part of his childhood is missing from his memories. Against the warning in his mother's will, James heads to the house to see what he can dig up.

On arrival he meets Eve (Alexandra Hulme), a spirited woman, who he befriends. Over the course of the next few day, Eve starts to bring out the more cheerful side of James. But as night falls James is plagued by disturbing and far too real dreams of an Owl Man, that he fears is somewhat linked to more than his past.

The further James and Eve delve into the past, the stronger the presence of something dark and disturbing grows. When the truth becomes clear, James tries to make sense of what he sees right in front of him, but the past comes back to do more than just haunt him.

The first thing that instantly struck me from the very beginning was the eerie and rather sinister score. It creates a compelling feel of dread and fear throughout the entire film.

Secondly, the Cinematography was spellbinding, both devastating and spectacular and all at the same time in certain scenes! The dream sequences and flashing imagery give a an overwhelming foreboding feel which increased with the added score. And with an undertone of Gothic feeling, it really is very stimulating to eyes.

Onto the performances. This really is the only negative thing for me. I just couldn't warm to Euan Douglas. I understood his character, his motivation and that really was down to the excellent writing. I guess it was his inexperience as an actor as his delivery seemed a little to forced for my liking. Now, you would think that this would affect the rest of the film, specially since Douglas is the lead. In this case, not at all. This is testament to Sarah Daly delivering an incredible screenplay.  

Gordon has very little screen time as Allen, but he still has considerable impact and although we never see his face onscreen, David Schofield provides the voice for the ever so creepy Owl Man. His voice over narration is entrancing. I have to add that, as a beard grower and connoisseur myself, Jamie Scott Gordon beard is magnificent!

Then there's the leading lady, Alexandra Hulme, with her classically beautiful 50's "Pin Up" style. Quite frankly she stole the show! She goes from innocent to sensual to caring throughout the film. She even gives an almost dream like performance a in couple of scenes.

This of course is helped along by some superb and clever direction from Lawrie Brewster. Brewster also produced some of the best editing I've seen. What may seem as random imagery is a very clever set up for the important parts of the movie. That's all I'll say without giving anything away!

This is a bit of a psychological slow burn horror, and that's always a good thing when done right, as it was here, which meant the film held my complete attention. With some interesting use of mythology and a major plot twist that even me, a seasoned horror veteran didn't see coming, this is definitely one to watch.


You can head over to the website here and order a copy. Check out the Facebook page here and give it a "like." In the meantime, check out the trailer below...

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Fright Meter Awards 2013 Official Longlist

It's nearly nomination time for time for the Fright Meter Awards committee. As a senior committee member, I can't wait to hand in my ballet come December!

The Fright Meter Awards are presented annually by the Fright Meter Awards Organisation, a non-profit organisation dedicated solely to honouring and recognising excellence within the horror genre. The nominations and winners are determined by members of the Fright Meter Awards Committee.
Members consist of horror fans, bloggers, actors, producers, directors, and others, making the Fright Meter Awards truly the most prestigious horror award given. The Fright Meter Awards aim to select and nominate worthy films regardless of budget, means of release, or popularity.

The eligibility requirement for a film to be eligible for the Fright Meter Awards is that it must have had its UNITED STATES theatrical, DVD/Blu-Ray, VOD or television (if made for television) release anytime between December 1st to November 30th of each year.

The winners will be announced on February 22nd, 2014.

From the Press Release:
The following 200 films have been chosen as the official contenders for this years awards. All of the nominees will be taken from this list.

100 Bloody Acres
Cameron Cairnes & Colin Cairnes
13 Eerie
Lowell Dean
Gilbert Chan
6 Souls
Mans Marlind & Bjorn Stein
9 Miles Down
Anthony Waller
Abandoned Mine
Jeff Chamberlain
The ABC's Of Death
Jimmy Loweree
Adam Chaplin: Violent Avenger
Emanuele De Santi
Nicolas Lopez
All Hallows Eve
Damien Leone
All The Boys Love Mandy Lane
Jonathan Levine
Alyce Kills
Jay Lee
An American Ghost Story
Derek Cole
American Mary
Jen Soska & Sylvia Soska
Among Friends
Danielle Harris
Quin Davis
Brandon Cronenberg
Apartment 1303
Michael Taverna
The Awakening
Nick Murphy
Ryan Lee Driscoll
Axe Giant: The Wrath Of Paul Bunyan
Gary Jones
Babysitter Massacre
Henrique Couto
Bad Kids Go To Hell
Matthew Spradlin
Bad Meat
Lulu Jarmen
Bad Milo
Jacob Vaughan
The Battery
Jeremy Gardner
Larry Fessenden
Berberian Sound Studio
Peter Strickland
The Big Bad
Bryan Enk
Black Rock
Katie Aselton
Bleeding Through
Henrique Couto
Blood For Irina
Chris Alexander
Blood Runs Cold
Sonny Laguna
Bloody Homecoming
Brian C. Weed
Butcher Boys
Duane Graves & Justin Meeks
Neil Jordan
Cannibal Diner
Frank W. Montag
Kimberly Peirce
Anthony DiBlasi
Cherry Tree Lane
Paul Andrew Williams
Chilling Visions: The 5 Senses Of Fear
Eric England, Nick Everhart, Emily Hagins, Jesse Holland, Miko Hughes & Andy Mitton
Ciaran Foy
Cockneys vs Zombies
Matthias Hoene
Coffin Baby
Dean Jones
Cold Prey 2
Mats Stenberg
The Collection
Marcus Dunstan
The Colony
Jeff Renfroe
Come Out And Play
The Condemned
Roberto Buso-Garcia
The Conjuring
James Wan
The Conspiracy
Christopher MacBride
Eric England
Cool As Hell
James Balsamo
Justin Dix
Creep Van
Scott W. Mckinlay
Curandero: Dawn Of The Demon
Eduardo Rodriguez
Curse Of Chucky
Don Mancini
Dark Circles
Paul Soter
Dark Feed
Michael Rasmussen & Shawn Rasmussen
Dark Skies
Scott Stewart
Dark Touch
Marina de Van
Dead Before Dawn
April Mullen
Dead In Tombstone
Roel Reine
Dead Mine
Steven Sheil
Dead Sushi
Noboru Iguchi
Yudai Yamaguchi
The Depraved
Andy Fetscher
Detention Of The Dead
Alex Craig Mann
Devil's Pass
Renny Harlin
Do Not Disturb
B.C. Furtney
Doomsday County
Joe Badiali, Art Brainard, Shawn Haran & Steven Shea
Dario Argento
Luca Boni & Marco Ristoni
Eddie: The Sleepwalking Cannibal
Boris Rodriguez
Elfie Hopkins: Cannibal Hunter
Ryan Andrews
Steve Stone
Olatunde Osunsanmi
Evil Dead
Fede Alvarez
The Evil Inside
Pearry Reginald Teo
Richard Griffin
The Expelled
Johannes Roberts
Alastair Orr
The Factory
Morgan O'Neill
Frankenstein's Army
Richard Raaphorst
The Frankenstein Theory
Andrew Weiner
Fright Night 2: New Blood
Eduardo Rodriguez
The Frozen
Andrew Hyatt
Andrew Goth
Gangsters, Guns & Zombies
Matt Mitchell
Ghost Team One
Ben Peyser & Scott Rutherford
Girls Against Boys
Austin Chick
Jon Wright
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters
Tommy Wirkola
Harold's Going Stiff
Keith Wright
Hatchet III
BJ McDonnell
Hate Crime
James Cullen Bressack
Vincenzo Natali
A Haunting At Silver Falls
Brett Donowho
The Haunting In Connecticut 2: Ghosts Of Georgia
Tom Elkins
The Haunting Of Helena
Christian Bisceglia & Ascanio Malgarini
Terron R. Parsons
Hell Baby
Robert Ben Garant & Thomas Lennon
J.T. Petty
Holla II
H.M. Coakley
Home Sweet Home
David Morlet
Horror Stories (Moo-seo-woon l-ya gi)
The Hounds
Maurizio del Piccolo & Roberto del Piccolo
House Of Good And Evil
David Mun
I Didn't Come Here To Die
Bradley Scott Sullivan
Alex Chandon
Glenn Ciano
Inhuman Resources
Daniel Krige
Insidious: Chapter 2
James Wan
Iron Doors
Stephen Manuel
I Spit On Your Grave 2
Steven R. Monroe
Larry Wade Carrell
John Dies At The End
Don Coscarelli
Jug Face
Chad Crawford Kinkle
Kiss Of The Damned
Xan Cassavetes
Kiss The Abyss
Ken Winkler
The Last Days On Mars
Ruairi Robinson
The Last Exorcism Part II
Ed-Gass Donnelly
Last Kind Words
Kevin Barker
The Last Will And Testament Of Rosalind Leigh
Rodrigo Gudino
A Little Bit Zombie
Casey Walker
David Dunn Jr.
Lord Of Darkness
Ricky Wood
The Lords Of Salem
Rob Zombie
Loss Of Life
David Damiata & Michael Matteo Rossi
Magic Magic
Sebastian Silva
Andres Muschietti
Steven Kostanski
Franck Khalfoun
Ake Gustafsson, Fredrik Hedberg & Jacob Kondrup
Mimesis: Night Of The Living Dead
Douglas Schulze
Mischief Night
Richard Schenkman
Missing (Sil jong)
Sung-Hong Kim
The Monkey's Paw
Brett Simmons
The Mooring
Glenn Withrow
The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones
Harald Zwart
Patrick Rea
Night Of The Living Dead: Resurrection
James Plumb
No One Lives
Ryuhei Kitamura
Nothing Left To Fear
Anthony Leonardi III
Brian Cunningham & Matt Niehoff
Yiuwing Lam
Plus One (+1)
Dennis Iliadis
President's Day
Chris LaMartina
The Purge
James DeMonaco
The Rambler
Calvin Reeder
Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead
A Resurrection
Matt Orlando
Robert Schwentke
Sadako 3D
Tsutomu Hanabusa
Saturday Morning Massacre
Spencer Parsons
Scare Zone
Jon Binkowski
Greg White
Shadow People
Matthew Arnold
Julian Richards
Ben Wheatley
Silent Night
Steven C. Miller
Simon Killer
Antonio Campos
Sinister Visions
Henric Brandt, Doug Gehl & Andreas Rylander
Sin Reaper
Sebastian Bartolitius
Skinwalker Ranch
Devin McGinn
Todd Levin
State Of Emergency
Turner Clay
Conor McMahon
Park Chan-wook
Storage 24
Johannes Roberts
Roger Christian
Sushi Girl
Kern Saxton
The Taint
Drew Bolduc & Dan Nelson
Texas Chainsaw 3D
John Luessenhop
The Thompsons
Mitchell Altieri & Phil Flores
A Thousand Cuts
Charles Evered
Till Sunset
David Woods
Takashi Shimizu
True Nature
Patrick Steele
Francis Ford Coppola
Sean Bardin & Robert Cooley
The Unbroken
Jason Murphy
Under The Bed
Steven C. Miller
A Vampire's Tale
Drew Cullingham
Vamp U
Matt Jespersen & Maclain Nelson
Visible Scars
Richard Turke
War Of The Dead
Marko Makilaakso
Warm Bodies
Jonathan Levine
We Are What We Are
Jim Mickle
The Wicked
Peter Winther
Sonny Laguna & Tommy Wiklund
World War Z
Marc Forster
Would You Rather
David Guy Levy
X- Game
Yohei Fukuda
You're Next
Adam Wingard
Zombie Hunter
K. King
Zombie Massacre
Luca Boni & Marco Ristori

Monday, 4 November 2013

The Machine (2013) Review

The Machine, is my third and final review from Mayhem Horror Film Festival.

Now, there is an to exception to me reviewing this movie as it's a Sci-Fi Thriller and not Horror. But I as it was part of the festival and I enjoyed it a great deal, I simply had to share it with you.

This British film is written and directed by Caradog W. James, who's previous work includes a handful of short films and the comedy feature Little White Lies. I was lucky enough to shake his hand and congratulate him on his film shortly after the screening!

The movie follows a scientist called Vincent (Toby Stephens). He works for the Ministry of Defence at a time where they are on the brink of a cold war weapons race with China. His job is to develop an advanced weapon using artificial intelligence. He's developed a brain chip that can be implanted into the brain of injured soldiers, but when a glitch manifests itself with deadly consequences Vincent enlists the help of A.I. expert Ava (Caity Lotz).

Under the watchful eyes of their boss Thomson (Denis Lawson) and his assistant Suri (Pooneh Hajimohammadi), Vincent and Ava set about creating the perfect android. During the process, the co-wokers become close and Vincent reveals that he's also using the MOD's funding to research ways to help cure his daughter's illness.

The end product is "The Machine" with full free thinking and learning capabilities. But it's not long before Thomson steps in and makes some controversial decisions that leads to everything Vincent has worked hard for to crumble around him.

The film is very atmospheric from start to finish. The cold blue lighting and soft focus lense work helps create a very solemn mood that all the best Sci-Fi flicks have and the cinematography is absolutely spectacular. My eyes were constantly glued to the screen!

It wasn't just the visuals that were great, the script was too. It was of the highest standard and didn't just fill our heads with technical jargon and unbelievable plotlines. The threat of an arms race, nations rising to power through technological advances is a very real thing in the world we live in today. The characters are so well written, that each of them can be related to. It also gives you a very real feeling that this isn't actually that far into the future. The firearms used are on par with today's advanced guns, the lead actors drive newer cars that we see on the roads today and a lot of the gadgets used could be the next generation tablet/iPad type technology.

The cast was a varied collective, but performed brilliantly together. Lawson played the main antagonist, displaying a mild but menacing demeanor. Stephens in the main role gave a great deal of depth to his performance. He was the angry scientist, the doting father and the warm caring friend. Hajimohammadi's role is worth a mention too, although not a great deal of screen time compared to the rest of the cast, she's delivers a creepy and an important performance. But it was Caity Lotz that stole the show! She's not just the sassy A.I. expert we see at the start of the film. She also plays the role of "The Machine" for reasons I won't give spoiler too. She's elegant, child like, formidable and deadly in the role and performed all her own stunts!

The direction was simply fantastic, for all of the above reason too. And even though the movie was made for under £1million the SFX/CGI is second to none. I honestly could not fault this film!


The Machine gets 5 Stars
Check out the clip below...

Sunday, 3 November 2013

The Borderlands (2013) Review

Here's my second review of the day and the third film shown on Saturday November 2nd as part of Mayhem Horror Film Festival.

The Borderlands is more indie horror goodness that comes to us from right here in the UK. I was lucky enough to meet producer Jennifer Handorf, the writer/director Elliot Goldner and the 2 lead actors Gordon Kennedy and Robin Hill at yesterday's event. They were pretty damn cool to say the least!

What we have here is a religious/supernatural found footage piece. Now before you start moaning saying "Not another one," this isn't your normal shaky cam job. This film brings quality from all angles.

Deacon (Gordon Kennedy) and Gray (Robin Hill) are part of a team of investigators employed by the Vatican. Gray is the "tech" in charge of the recording equipment and all kinds of electrical toys. Deacon is the religious believer and debunk expert with a bit of a dark past.

The two men set up temporary home in a cottage in the beautiful British country side while they await their team leader, a priest called Mark (Aidan McArdle). They've been sent to investigate claims of a miracle by local priest Father Crellick (Luke Neal), who has presented some video evidence of his own. But the team is there to determine whether or not a miracle is what really happened.

The location of the event in question is the local run down church. Father Crellick has a very small congregation and is in the process of refurbishing the building. The team set up cameras and sound recording equipment throughout the church and do a full sweep of the property and grounds.

They struggle to explain their findings and as time goes on Father Crellick's erratic behaviour causing more concern. With more digging into church records comes the discovery of something darker than what they had expected, which is when they call in Father Calvino (Patrick Godfrey) from Italy. Further investigation and research only brings to light some sinister history and along with that comes disturbing and life threatening events.

The first thing I noticed about the movie was the very natural acting from the talented cast. The two main leads delivered memorable performances from the very well written script. Hill plays the non-believer with ease and provides the comic relief to Kennedy's tense and solemn character. Their characters are at different ends of the spectrum, but arc together progressively throughout the film. And this is testament to the exceptional writing and direction by Elliot Goldner.

The only negative point I will raise is that it's a little predictable in places, but this is compensated by the real presence of tension. The simply practical effects, the sound FX and score helps create some genuine fights too. I don't jump easily and it's very rare that any new film has that effect on me, but this movie accomplished it, even if it was only once. The real pleasure I took away from it was the one feeling I love to hate getting from such a film. 

That's the feeling of being "Freaked The Fuck Out" and this happened to me more than I care to admit. I get that chill up my spine that eventually moves to the back of my neck then through the top of my head ending up making my eyes misty with pressure. I don't like that feeling, but as far as watching horror goes, it's the ultimate scare to me. This has only ever happened to me twice before. The first time was when I watched the 1982 classic Poltergeist. I was 11 or 12 years old at the time! The second time I was hit with the feeling was watching Paranormal Activity when it first came out (Yes, I can hear some of you sneering!).

The movie doesn't just simply give us scares and jumps. It also causes you to think about your own believe system, whether or not you believe in one almighty god or have more traditional believes, like myself, that are routed in paganism.

This is Goldner's first feature film and he accomplished something that most seasoned of directors completely fail on! Even the camera work is smooth compared to a lot of other found footage flicks. Goldner scares us with what we can't or don't see rather than splashing our eyes with cheap thrills. To me, all of this is a sign of greatness!


The Borderlands gets 5 Stars

Unfortunately the film is so fresh there isn't a trailer yet! So I'll just treat you to a photo...

From Left to right: Robin Hill, Gordon Kennedy, Me, Jennifer Handorf, Elliot Goldner