Tuesday 27 November 2018

Cam (2018) Review

Cam girl Lola, real name Alice (Madeline Brewer), is trying to break into the top 50 girls on the site she broadcasts through by showing her tits and faking her own death. Adoring fans, or rather pathetic men, shower her in money for this. Till eventually her account is hacked and copied. The rest of the film is Alice trying to find out what the hell is going on.

This is yet another straight to Netflix film via Blumhouse, who seem to pump out any old shit nowadays (with the exception of a handful of movies). That's normally enough to put me of to be perfectly honest. Anyway, on this movie is first time director Daniel Goldhaber who's also credited with writing along side and first time writers Isa Mazzei and Isabelle Link-Levy. Their collective lack of experience shows heavily in this film.

The movie was interesting for the most part and had lots of potential as it could've gone down a really dark psychological path, but in the end it does nothing but glorify the fact you don't need talent to gain fame and fortune, which is so typical in this Internet age. There's even a massive plot hole. 

Slight spoiler here, but trust me it makes no difference. As regards Lola's hacked account, within the movie (and apparently in real life too) it's suggested that these cam sites do this all the time to exploit more money by copying accounts and have them become virtual accounts. But how is this possible within the workings of this film? The fake account looks and sounds exactly like Lola/Alice and is broadcasting live, being able to interact and take requests from the men watching. She also appears with a dead girl (also a copied account) in a live show. There is no logic to this and the writers completely ignore it. The only real positive thing about this flick is Madeline Brewer's performance as the erotic performer as she pretty much holds up the whole thing on her own shoulders.

As I mentioned previously, this could've gone down a darker route with her possibly having a mental breakdown and developing a split personality or something along those lines. But no. There's no moral outcome to this seedy little film because once she regains access to her original account, deletes it, opens up a new account, she carries on as if nothing happened! Instead of covering the dangers of the Internet, the addiction it can lead to or the harm of leading a double life can have on ones self and those around you, it only celebrates how important it is to be popular. There is no moral to this film other than that.

As regards the 15 certificate, with the subject matter of the film alone, it should've been an 18 as you have to be 18 and own a credit card in order to access these sites. It's filled with nudity, sex toys being waved around and the lead actress riding a mechanical vibrator machine at one point. Maybe I'm getting old, but I certainly wouldn't sit and watch this film with my 15 year old son or daughter. 15 year old boys will probably spank off to this film and 15 year old girls will probably want to become cam girls after watching it. When the age of consent is 16 in the UK, how can a film like this be aimed at younger teenagers as it quite clearly is.


Cam gets 2 out of 5 Stars

Sunday 18 November 2018

Mandy (2018) Review

Mandy stars Nick Cage, playing Nick Cage, in an epic Nick Cage film. This may be enough to put some people off, but this film, if purely for it's stunning visuals and mesmerizing score is worth watching at least once. Pinks, greens, blues and a multitude of colour washes cover the screen in this trippy tale of plain old revenge. I've seen the film on both small and big screen before writing this which I'm glad I did.

Director Panos Cosmatos goes out of his way to blow our minds and excite our senses with scenes of what seems like an acid induced trip. The films starts with a very peaceful look into the lives of Mandy Bloom (Andrea Riseborough) and Red Miller (Cage) who live a tranquil life style as close to nature as can be. This dream like existence quickly descends into a hellish nightmare as the "Jesus freaks" pass through their neighbourhood. Jeremiah Sand (Linus Roache) has his eyes on Mandy and recruits LSD bikers that look like they came straight out of a Hellraiser film to kidnap her.

This doesn't work out as expected which leads to Mandy's death and what the Jesus freaks believe to be the end of Red. In turn, Red tracks down the bikers, a chemist and the rest of the culprits involved in an alcohol and LSD induced fury.

On the surface to some, this may seem simple, but I found a lot of hidden meaning. Jeremiah can be likened to Charles Manson (even going as far as to quote the now infamous "pigs" phrase). The bikers, 4 of them, could easily be the 4 horseman (even the way they ride the bikes as if rearing a stead) of the apocalypse and the Chemist, having created the LSD they're all into could easily be a god figure.

Unfortunately, there's only 3 scenes of any real emotional content to go with all of that. Red in the bathroon after losing Mandy. He's quite obviously an ex alcoholic, having turned down a beer in the opening scene and having a hidden stash of vodka in the bathroom which he downs and lets out a roar of emotion that only Cage can produce invoking the inner demons of his past, which he held off because of his love for Mandy. The scene with the Chemist, played by the always awesome Richard Brake, in which he reads Red's mind and along with setting a Tiger free, sets Red (who's wearing a tiger t-shirt in an earlier scene in somewhat of a Jesus on the cross pose) free to do as he pleases with the Chemist's (or God's) gone bad creations. All this then leads to the final scenes in which we see and feel Red descend into the blissful madness he has chosen to be part of after his acts of righteous revenge.

The movie felt like it was influenced by many directors, films and of course the 80s (in which it's set) cinema era itself which seems to be very fashionable nowadays. The story telling "chapter" separation of Tarantino, Clive Barker's Hellraiser, Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers (animated intervals amidst the madness), Mad Max, Texas Chainsaw Massacre (probably the weakest scene) and the bathroom scene could easily have been taken straight out of a Kubrick flick. As much as the film looked and sounded both beautiful and transcendent, it felt a little messy because of this and seemed to be missing a certain something that could've and should've made this movie a masterpiece.

I so wanted this movie to blow me away, but in the end I was only a little moved. I think this will be a Marmite movie to most people. Having said that, I'm still going to give it a generous 4 stars because...

Edit: So it's now January of 2020 and I've watched Mandy around 5 times now. I've actually got it playing as I write this. The more I watch it, the more I love it and with what I've been through personally since first watching it, the more I can relate to Red and Mandy's relationship. So, it's not a generous 4 Stars, it's a very well deserved 4 Stars.

"They were weirdo, hippie-types, whole bunch of 'em. And then there was some muscle - it didn't make any sense. There were bikers, and gnarly psychos, and... crazy evil." Red Miller

Mandy gets 4 out of 5 Stars

Wednesday 5 September 2018

Mayhem Film Festival 2018 - Full Line Up Announced

5 September 2018

Mayhem Film Festival reveals full line-up for 2018 edition
Mayhem Film Festival is proud to announce the full line-up for its 2018 edition, which will take place at Broadway, Nottingham on 11-14 October. The festival showcases the best features and short films in horror, sci-fi and cult cinema, through premieres, previews, and guested screenings each year.

Mayhem 2018 starts as it means to go on with Scottish zombie musical Anna and the Apocalypse, which opens the festival on Thursday 11 October, and will be followed by a Q&A with director John McPhail. Aislinn Clarke will present a screening of her found-footage chiller The Devil’s Doorway, set in one of Ireland’s notorious Magdalene asylums. Writer-director Marc Price (smash-hit zombie flick Colin) will also attend the festival to present his action-packed crime-thriller Nightshooters, where things get messy when a hapless film crew on a late-night shoot accidentally record a gangland execution.

Mayhem’s 14th edition will play host to no fewer than three UK Premieres, with exclusive first screenings of Nosipho Dumisa’s Cape Town-set Hitchcock homage Number 37, slow-burning science-fiction indie Prospect, and – as previously announced – Shinsuke Sato’s live-action manga adaptation Inuyashiki.
Already proving popular following last month’s announcement and certain to be festival highlights are Panos Cosmatos’ cosmic fever dream Mandy, starring a truly top-form Nicolas Cage, and Japanese box-office sensation One Cut of the Dead.

Delving into the archives, Mayhem is pleased to present a rare screening of Erik Blomberg’s strange and supernatural 1952 Finnish folktale, The White Reindeer, and the Dario Argento-produced 1985 cult classic Demons.

This year’s edition also includes screenings of horror anthologies Nightmare Cinema and The Field Guide to Evil – both previously announced – as well as preview screenings of Brazilian director Dennison Romalho’s macabre mortuary horror The Nightshifter, Nicolas Pesce’s darkly comic Piercing, starring Mia Wasikowska, the hilariously bad-taste splatterfest Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich, and haunted-house horror The Witch in the Window. Colin Minihan’s grueling survival thriller What Keeps You Alive will close the festival.

The ever-popular short film programme and Mayhem’s fiendish film quiz, The Flinterrogation - hosted by author David Flint - both return to round off this year’s line-up.

Early Bird passes will remain on sale at the discounted price of £65 until 10AM on Monday 10 September,  at which time individual tickets, day passes and full festival passes – at the standard price of £75 – will be made available. 

For more information, please visit www.mayhemfilmfestival.com

Mayhem Film Festival takes place on 11-14 October 2018 at Broadway, Nottingham.

The full line-up and schedule for Mayhem 2018 is available below:


7.30PM ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE + Special Guest John McPhail  Dir. John McPhail, 2017 (UK) with Ella Hunt & Paul Kaye 

10PM NIGHTMARE CINEMA  Dirs. Joe Dante, Mick Garris, Ryûhei Kitamua, David Slade and Alejandro Brugués, 2018 (US) with Mickey Rourke & Richard Chamberlain


2.15PM THE WHITE REINDEER Dir. Erik Blomberg, 1952 (Finland) with Mirjami Kuosmanen & Kalervo Nissila 

3.45PM PIERCING Dir. Nicolas Pesce, 2018 (US) with Mia Wasikowska & Christopher Abbott 

6.15PM NIGHTSHOOTERS + Special Guest Marc Price Dir. Marc Price, 2018 (UK) with John-Paul Ly & Rosanna Hoult 

8.30PM PUPPET MASTER: THE LITTLEST REICH Dirs. Sonny Laguna and Tommy Wiklund, 2018 (UK/US) with Udo Kier & Barbara Crampton 

10.30PM MANDY Dir. Panos Cosmatos, 2018 (US) with Nicolas Cage & Andrea Riseborough


12PM ONE CUT OF THE DEAD Dir. Shin’inchiro Ueda, 2017 (Japan) with Takayuki Hamatsu & Harumi Syuhama 

2PM PROSPECT - UK PREMIERE Dirs. Chris Caldwell & Zeke Earl, 2018 (US) with Sophie Thatcher & Jay Duplass 

4PM NUMBER 37 – UK PREMIERE Dir. Nosipho Dumisa, 2018 (South Africa) with Irshaad Ally & Monique Rockman 

6.45PM MAYHEM SHORT FILM SHOWCASE Dir. Various, 2018 (International) 

9PM THE DEVIL’S DOORWAY + Special Guest Aislinn Clarke Dir. Aislinn Clarke, 2018 (UK) with Lalor Roddy & Helena Bereen 

11PM DEMONS  Dir. Lamberto Bava, 1985 (Italy) with Michele Soavi & Nicoletta Elmi


12PM INUYASHIKI – UK PREMIERE Dir. Shinsuke Sato, 2018 (Japan) with Noritake Kinashi & Takeru Satoh 

2.30PM THE FIELD GUIDE TO EVIL Dirs. Ashim Ahluwalia, Can Evrenol, Severin Fiala & Veronika Franz, Katrin Gebbe, Calvin Reeder, Agnieszka Smoczynska, Peter Strickland and Yannis Veslemes, 2018 (New Zealand)  

4.45PM THE WITCH IN THE WINDOW Dir. Andy Mitton, 2018 (Canada) with Alex Draper & Charlie Tacker 

6.15PM The Flinterrogation Hosted by author David Flint 

7.15PM THE NIGHTSHIFTER Dir. Dennison Ramalho, 2018 (US) with Daniel De Oliveira & Fabiula Nascimento 

9.30PM WHAT KEEPS YOU ALIVE Dir. Colin Minihan, 2018 (Canada) with Hannah Emily Anderson & Brittany Allen 

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 22 February 2018

Mayhem Film Festival 2018 - Save the Date

Mayhem Film Festival announce this year's dates...

11-14 OCTOBER 2018!

Via Email:
"We are delighted to announce that we will return for our 14th edition this autumn, from 11-14 October at Broadway, Nottingham.

We're in the initial stages of planning but as always, you can expect previews, premieres, guests and special events, as we work to bring you the best of horror, sci-fi and cult cinema over our four-day weekend. We'll have more information on Early Bird Passes and film submissions soon, so watch this space for more from us. In the meantime, here are a few films to watch out for in the next few weeks...

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.

Left to right: Chris. Me. Steven

You can check out my previous posts about past Mayhem events by CLICKING HERE

For general enquiries: mayhemfilmfest@gmail.com
For press & marketing enquiries: m.gueneau@broadway.org.uk

Wednesday 14 February 2018

Red Eye (2017) Review

I'm always cautious when going into low budget horror films, especially seeing some of the extremely positive comments over social media, but even more so for this particular film as I backed it on Indiegogo. Yes, my name is in the end credits.

In the past I have been accused of writing extremely nice, not completely honest, overly positive reviews when it comes to films that are made by my friends on social media. It's actually only me that's made that accusation during watching this film. Going back over some of my older reviews from a few years ago and after re-watching said films I am guilty of it. However, it is only a couple of films that I received as DVD screeners back when I was reviewing a lot of films. There was a film a while back that I backed (made by a friend on social media) and I didn't even write a review as I wasn't impressed at all. 

But the older I get (I'm now 40) and with the thousands upon thousands of films (not just horror) I've watched over the years, it isn't very often I find a new film that, even though I may enjoy it, that I find myself being impressed with from a critical point of view. It's with this critical view that reviews should be written, not letting fandom, personal feelings, politics, or friendships affect how one writes an honest review. Over the past year my reviews have been written with this in mind. This review will be brutality honest (without being a dick), to the point and short. So, once again, I digress! Back to Red Eye...

Here's Tristan Clay's (Director and Co-writer) plot outline:
"Red Eye is a legend Gage Barker use to be told as a kid. When he found out there was some truth behind this legend he gathered a group of friends to hike in the backwoods of Black Creek, WV to help him use this as the basis for his first film project. To what extent will they go to make this project a reality? Will their passion bleed through? Or cross the line?"

As a first feature and knowing that writers Tristan Clay and Destinie Orndoff (also played Rykyr in the movie) are big horror fans I expected something, at the very least, interesting. 

Story: Friends hiking in the woods making a documentary. Nothing original there by any stretch of the imagination. It's been done before and done well. Red Eye added nothing new or note worthy to this type of story. It was also predicable to the point of wanting it to hurry up.

Script: The script was way over thought and written. The film was overloaded with too much character development. It was uninteresting, and wasn't needed for this type of film. It became overdrawn. The over use of movie references became tedious and didn't come off as being cool nor made any real homage to horror films in general as one would expect. Again, been done before. Scream delivered that in perfect fashion and was applicable at that point in the genre's history.

Direction: It was far from anything special. I noticed that a lot of angles could've been used to make certain scenes more interesting. I didn't notice anything to suggest that Clay has a "keen eye" and that's still considering this is his first full length feature.

Cast: The acting wasn't the worst I've seen, but was still sub par. My main gripe was the fact that Clay failed to utilise the most experienced people of the project, Jessica Cameron and Heather Dorff, to his or the film's advantage. I felt Hayden Wilberger as Jake was a bad casting choice for that particular role. Being completely honest, he came across as effeminate. However, if Orndoff gets more experience I think she could turn out to be a decent genre actress. Got to start somewhere, right?

Soundtrack & Score: While I am partial to heavy metal and have always said "heavy metal and horror go hand in hand" the music wasn't used appropriately. It often seemed out of place or miss-timed. The score was very generic and added no tension to any of the film where eerie scores are often utilised.

Special FX: Yes, it was a tight budget, but the blood and gore FX were decent for a low budget flick.

Kill Scenes / Action: Nothing here was even that gruesome for the seasoned horror fan, or that hasn't been done to greater effect even with less of a budget. In fact, some the "pushing" or "hitting" lets call it, looked downright amateurish. The necrophilia scene wasn't needed and once again added nothing of value, not even shock value. It was dull and laboured. And one scene in particular made no sense being in there and only looked like the director wanted to add some unnecessary violence towards a female cast member. Both scenes didn't fit the narrative. 

Heather Dorff. Crying. Pretty much sums it up.

I understand it's low budget. I think the final figure on Indiegogo was just over $12000. I have no idea how much or if they put their own money into the project as well. Either way, it made no difference to the outcome. The movie was extremely poor considering every aspect and I didn't enjoy anything about it. And I've seen modern horror movies made by first time directors / writers for way less than 12 grand or around that figure, and without other people's money that at the very least were interesting or added something a little different to the genre. Off the top of my head... Jessica Cameron's Truth or Dare. Liam Regan's My Bloody Banjo. Matt Farnsworth's The Orphan Killer. The Soska Sister's Dead Hooker in a Trunk. Ben & Chris Blaine's Nina Forever. These all had something memorable about them and are different from the normal shite that passes for horror nowadays, whether mainstream or indie and regardless of budget. Is this the sad state that modern horror is becoming nowadays? It's only a handful of films, if that, a year that stand out now.

I did say to my Mrs half way through the film that it looked and felt like it was made by school kids as part of a film class (which I wasn't far off the mark with). I'm sorry to say, I think these kids need to go back to drawing board and take into consideration all the constructive criticism from what they would call "negative" reviews before asking for people's money again. 

Red Eye gets Half a Star out of 5