Saturday 30 August 2014

Truth or Dare (2013) Review

Monday 25th August marked my first visit to Film4 FrightFest. I went to see one film and one film only. That being indie flick Truth or Dare.

Over the past few years female directors have started to stamp their authority on the genre and the biggest names that should spring to mind is the Twisted Twins Jen and Sylvia Soska.

Jessica Cameron makes her directional debut with Truth or Dare, so could she be the next big female name in horror and not just as an actress?

As far as feature length directional debuts go, there's only few I've been impressed with. Off the top of my head, going back only a hand full of years, there's been Soska Sister's Dead Hooker in a Trunk, Matt Farnsworth's The Orphan Killer, Brandon Cronenberg's Antiviral and Xan Cassavetes' Kiss of the Damned.

So, was I impressed with Truth or Dare? Well, going back to the first time I watched the trailer when it first hit the net, and I'll be honest here, it didn't look great. So I was apprehensive going into the film, but looking forward to seeing it at the same time. Put it this way...  

It was worth the hour and a half train journey down to London and being the most expensive cinema trip I've ever been on!

The story is simple yet affective. A group of friends host a YouTube channel called Truth or Daredevils. Jennifer (Jessica Cameron), Michelle (Heather Dorff), brother and sister Ray (Shelby Stehlin) and Courtney Austin (Devanny Pinn) , John (Jesse Wilson) and Tony (Brandon Van Vliet). They make videos of themselves performing truth or dares and often seem to take it too far and maybe even causing death. Of course, the fans love it. While the gang is being interviewed on a chat show, fanboy Derik (Ryan Kiser) gets a little crazy over the guys and soon becomes overbearing and unwelcome.

The group are back together again to film a new episode of Truth or Daredevils and this time they're having a pyjama party too, but as the game starts it's soon interrupted by psycho fan Derek. This is where the fun begins, but only for the viewer. The next course of events sees Derek making the Truth or Daredevil gang do, what can only be described as, some the most fucked up things ever!

Heather Dorff covered in blood. Yummy!

Truth or Dare is pure indie horror goodness and my expectations were exceeded. Yes, there is a lot of blood, gore and a lot of fucked up shit going on, but at the same time it delivers some great humour too. It has some laugh out loud moment and a dark twisted and sick humour too, which is right up my alley. With a lot of movies like this, humour stands as a light relief from the disturbing stuff. While some of the laughs are like this, the majority of it adds to the twisted state of the film and actually makes you cringe in disgust even more. This is down to the very clever script written by Cameron (yes, she co-wrote, starred and directed) and Jonathan Scott Higgins. Bare in mind that this is the first screenplay that both of them have written too.

Of course that script has to be delivered efficiently to be effective too. The cast did their job well and had to do so otherwise we, as an audience, just wouldn't have enjoyed as much as we did. I often talk about character development in my reviews and how important it is. At the beginning of the film it seems light on that development, but as the film and game progresses we get that evolution, which adds to the whole disgust in certain scenes. 

Sick bags given out by Jessica before the screening
One thing I'm sick off in modern horror flicks is when they're filled with annoying characters that I end up hating. OK, so we have to have the bad guy that we're against or want someone to die, but they don't have to be completely stupid to the point that they deserve to die. Thankfully there is non of that type of character in this film. Instead we get Tony (Van Vliet), who's on the moanie side, but at the same time he's funny with it. I have to give Devanny Pinn a mention and the fact that this was her best performance to date that I've seen. Jessica Cameron herself, in the Q&A after the screening, admitted she found it hard to act and direct and felt she didn't give the best she could due to concentrating on directing, but she was still solid. The rest of the cast gave a tight performance, but the one person who stole the show was Ryan Kiser as the deranged Derik. He was fantastic in the role and gave a very memoral performance. It was reminiscent of Jack Nicholson in The Shining in that he went from a relaxed seemingly gentle fellow to a complete raging manic lunatic from scene to scene.

The movie mostly spends it time in a basement and by the end of the film it's covered in blood. The FX are all practical which the movie benefits from. Heather Dorff gets that mangled and covered in blood that she's barely recognisable if it wasn't for here boobs! The most gross and disturbing scene though, involves Devanny Pinn and a wine bottle, but that's all I'm saying. I have to admit, I did feel uncomfortable during certain scenes. The score, which was excellent, also helped in building tension throughout.

Overall, the film has it's twists and turns, dark humour and gore and was bloody good. Truth or Dare is something that Jessica Cameron and all involved should be very proud off. It got a great reception from all the fans at FrightFest.

The lovely Jessica Cameron, Ryan Kiser & I
I did get some video of the Q&A, but as my phone is coming up to being two years old and needs upgrading, it decided to stop working right near the end of the Q&A and wiped the recording. Some of the things mentioned were that during other screenings people were sick and had to rush to the toilet and that the a couple of the cast and crew actually threw up during filming. Ryan Kiser mentioned that he had no idea what he was going to do with his character until the day off shooting. Jessica also revealed that there is going to be a sequel.


Truth or Dare gets 4 Stars

There's no word yet on a release date as it's doing its festival rounds and looking for distribution. In the meantime check out the trailer below and go "like" the Facebook page...

Friday 29 August 2014

WWE Studios Horror & Preview to See No Evil 2

I guess it was inevitable that the billion dollar business of Pro Wrestling would move into film with the many superstars they have working for the company. The biggest of them all, in my humble opinion, would be Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. WWE literally build the foundations of the studio on The Rock's back with their first three features being The Scorpion King (2002), The Rundown (2003, aka Welcome to the Jungle) and Walking Tall (2004). In the past twelve years Dwayne Johnson has risen to be one of Hollywood's biggest stars and he has only been out grossed by Robert Downey Jr.

What's this got to do with horror I hear you ask?
Well, the WWE have put a few of those out too. The first of their horror movies came by the way of See No Evil in 2006 which starred Pro Wrestler Kane. A group of delinquents are sent to clean the Blackwell Hotel. Little do they know reclusive psychopath Jacob Goodnight has holed away in the rotting hotel. When one of the teens is captured, those who remain, a group that includes the cop who put a bullet in Goodnight's head four years ago, band together to survive against the brutal killer. With the sequel on the horizon, which I'll get back to, I thought I'd take a look at the horror WWE Studios has to offer.

It wasn't till 2011/2012 via film festivals when their next horror flick would hit screens. That movie was The Day in which a group of five people working to stay alive in a post-apocalyptic future discover what they think is a safe, abandoned farmhouse, but they soon find themselves fighting to stay alive as a gang of bloodthirsty predators attack.

This was quickly followed by:
Barricade. A father's quiet retreat to the woods with his two children turns into a fight for survival. 

The Call which stars Oscar winner Halle Berry as a veteran 911 operator who takes a life-altering call from a teenage girl who has just been abducted and she realises that she must confront a killer from her past in order to save the girl's life. 

No One Lives starring rising star Luke Evans. A gang of ruthless highway killers kidnap a wealthy couple travelling cross country only to shockingly discover that things are not what they seem.

Oculus. Directed and wrote by Mike Flanagan and based on his own short film. A woman tries to exonerate her brother, who was convicted of murder, by proving that the crime was committed by a supernatural phenomenon. He also wrote and directed Absentia (2011). Now, I have to admit that I didn't even know that WWE Studios was associated with this film before doing research for this article! I actually consider Oculus to be one of this year's heavy hitters and best horror flicks.

The studio's latest offering, which I watched last night, has just been released in the form of Leprechaun: Origins where two young couples backpack through Ireland only to discover that one of Ireland's most famous legends is a terrifying reality.

While I have only seen four out of the seven movies I've found that WWE Studios make, at the very least, an average/decent horror film. No One Lives and Oculus being thier best to date.

Now, this brings to me the only WWE horror film that I'm excited about. As soon as I heard who's directing I got super excited. Then I heard the cast announcement and got even more super extremely excited! SEE NO EVIL 2 has two of my favourite directors and favourite people at the helm. That would be JEN & SYLVIA SOSKA. For those that read my blog and/or know me personally, I absofuckinglutely love the twins and their work.

The two cast members that got me "super extremely excited" are two of my favourite Scream Queens of the modern era,

The cast also sees WWE's Glenn "Kane" Jacobs return as Jacob Goodnight. A group of friends pays a late-night visit to the city morgue to surprise Amy on her birthday. But the surprise is on them when the one-eyed corpse of brutal psychopath Jacob Goodnight unexpectedly rises from a cold sub-basement slab. Their wild party quickly turns into a terrifying slay-fest as the sadistic mass-murderer resumes his savage rampage complete with hooks, surgical knives and power saws.

I can't wait to see See No Evil 2 and where The Twisted Twins have taken it. You can pre-order the Bluray (US) HERE (Release Date: 21st October 2014). There's still no word yet whether it will be region free so for now you UK guys can pre-order the DVD HERE (Release Date: 20th October 2014).

Jen and Sylvia also have a segment in the upcoming ABC's of Death 2 which will be available on VOD starting October 2nd.

In the meantime check out the trailer and a clip below, plus the poster art. Go "like" the tWIStED tWINS PRODUCtIONS on facebook, their Twisted Twins UK page and the SEE NO EVIL 2 Movie page.