Monday, 23 July 2018
Back in 2016 during my review of the third film in The Purge series; The Purge: Election Year I said "..personally if I had a choice I would like to see a prequel, maybe the very first year of the Purge". Well it seems someone was listening as the newest entry in the series is indeed a sequel, the title The First Purge kind of gives it away that this takes place during the very first year. I have always enjoyed this series, even The Purge while squandering the potential it had was interesting, though it boiled down to a cookie cutter home invasion flick. The Purge: Anarchy was a real setting of the style the later films would come, and this follows the format pretty well.
With a prologue detailing the New Founding Fathers (N.F.F) rise to power we get introduced to 'the experiment' which is a night of legal crime intended to let the American populace act out their anger, but restricted just to Staten Island. As is the norm the first third is the lead up to the night with several different groups of characters being introduced. Dmitri (Y'lan Noel) is a leader of a powerful gang who is determined to do his best to keep his men and his empire safe. Elsewhere Nya (Lex Scott Davis) has been protesting about the experiment and is concerned for her younger brother Isaiah (Joivan Wade), who himself sees the night as a means to get revenge on a local psycho who goes by the name of Skeletor (Rotimi Paul). When the night begins it soon becomes apparent though that the N.F.F are determined the event will be a success even if they have to intervene.
The potential of exploring how this event would come to be was mostly explored well. A low income, crime ridden area was chosen as a test bed with the poor citizens offered life changing amounts of money to stay in the area, with added benefits given to those who sign up to participate. The people are microchipped and fitted with contact lenses for their actions to be recorded. That in itself was a stylistic choice as the contact lenses are glow in the dark and no one person seems to have the same colour ones leading to some great visuals. By focusing the event onto a single location it frees up more conversation from the populace of America, and also creates a 'war' room where a team of researchers, including the originator of the idea track the moments of the night. I liked this element a lot, it gave more of a face to the usually faceless government, it reminded me of The Hunger Games.
Friday, 20 July 2018
Found Footage is a comedy horror that is about as indie as these type of films come. A passion project mainly from director Drew Byerly this was filmed in 11 days and self funded, with a script written by the three leads. The indie side of things is very apparent yet there is an undeniable charm to elements of this. I'm getting sick of saying it but I am having real strife in my personal life at the moment, so anything that can take my mind off things even for a little while is worth far more to my sanity than any effects laden saturated product. It should hopefully be apparent but this falls into the found footage genre of horrors.
Misunderstood self proclaimed genius Colorado high schooler Lawrence (Jared Bess) has recently been gifted a camcorder and so he has decided to make an outlandish project. He recruits his two friends and lackies; flamboyant wimpy Jeremy (Willy J. Sasso), and athletic but dumb Tanner (director Drew Byerly) in order to make a real life Saw style horror in the form of a social experiment. He plans to trick some local bullies into going to an abandoned carpet factory where he is going to lock them in a room and force them to fight each other to the death, all the while filming it so that he can make a master art piece. The only problems being that none of the three stooges actually are bullied, the location they have chosen is due to be demolished within days, and Lawrence's plan has more holes in it than Swiss cheese...
The charm with Found Footage comes from the performances of the three main leads. These are comically dense, prone to infighting and squabbling with no real idea of what they are doing. Most the film centres around these three and their rapport is made believable due to most of their lines being ad libbed. Despite being 'antagonists' they are genuinely likeable due to how pathetic and ineffective their actions are, rather than truly evil. The film is set out as if Lawrence has edited it himself and so you get stupid title cards, weird effects, character introductions, and pacing like it is a proper film, rather than a collection of footage that has been pieced together. You also get a wonderful original soundtrack (partly created by Byerly) that has amateur humming mixed into basic music to make something that delighted every time it turned up. It also starts with a notion that I always enjoy; a later event that makes it seem like something terrible has happened before a rewind to three days earlier.
Tuesday, 17 July 2018
The real world has a nasty habit of being far more horror filled than any movie or book, so after a lengthy break I feel it is time again to take a tentative step back into the world of blogging. The following is a review I wrote a few weeks back when sunrises were still beautiful and the world seemed a promising place of light and joy. You really never do know what you have until it's gone...also my computer's fan sounds like it has melted in the intervening weeks, maybe out of protest of being left on in the hot hot heat of summer without being used.
So I was browsing Shudder looking for something quick to review when I came across the interesting sounding The Last Time I Saw Richard, which is a 23 minute Australian horror that takes place in a psychiatric hospital for teenagers.
Toby Wallace stars as Jonah; a troubled boy who self harms, has terrible nightmares, and is also something of a bully. One day he gets a new room mate called Richard (Cody Fern) who is a strong, silent guy who tries his best never to go to sleep due to nightmares he has. The two form a bond and one night Jonah convinces him to go sleep. He is shocked to discover spectral shrouded figures appear and attempt to climb onto the sleeping Richard, and so sets himself the task of protecting his new found friend from these creatures that haunt him.
As a drama this was good, the two main leads were both good picks for the characters they had to play, and their blossoming friendship felt natural. However as a horror this didn't work for me, the plot didn't really go anywhere, there was no real resolution and some aspects just seemed to be finished with without being explained. The horror comes with the creatures that appear at night, the CGI smoke effects are not the best, though adequate. The best horror comes from the nightmare sequences that Jonah has of him screaming with no eyes in his head.
This was well filmed and edited with some good acting and fine enough special effects but there wasn't excitement for me, it was a bit low key and uneventful and left me not really feeling any empathy for either of the characters. The Last Time I Saw Richard is currently on Shudder so check it out if you so wish, just don't expect too much excitement.
Sunday, 8 July 2018
Towards the end of last month I received an email telling me about the season finale for season 2 of the zombie based romantic comedy Bad Timing. I hadn't actually ever heard of this critically acclaimed show and so felt a review of both seasons was in order. Season 1 is made up of 15 episodes but in a neat twist each episode is only a couple of minutes long meaning even when the episode didn't resonate with me I knew it was only a short wait until the next one would start. Now excuse me if some parts of this review are hazy, while I watched this on Friday life got in the way and it is only now a few days later I am able to write this.
Bad Timing starts the day of zombie apocalypse, but rather than show the outbreak it instead shows us our two characters who have survived the chaos and managed to get away to a remote desert property. Andy Goldenberg stars as Andy; an awkward I.T guy who managed to get rescued by the beautiful Eve (Aqueela Zoll - Dances with Werewolves) as she made her escape from the office they both worked at. The romantic comedy aspect comes from the fact that Andy has had a crush on Eve for years and now he thinks as they are possibly the last two humans alive that his chance has come. Eventually a third wheel appears who may put some complications on Andy's dreams.
I actually first heard of Bad Timing when I watched the top 20 entries for last years 15 Second Horror Film Challenge. I said then that it was my least favourite of the entries, however within context I imagine that clip would not have been so bad. This show starts off really well. Andy and Eve both covered head to toe in blood and gore sit on a bench swing together as Andy in his awkward way babbles on making a load of inappropriate jokes and culminating in telling Eve he is in love with her. Meanwhile Eve is traumatised and barely able to cope with everything going on. I loved this initial dynamic. Of season 1 Andy is the highlight, his lines are often witty and weird that makes him an entertaining character, plus the fact that he has to make do with wearing women's clothing due to no other alternative was endlessly amusing. Eve on the other hand is the 'straight guy' character so she doesn't really have much humour other than to react to what Andy says.
Wednesday, 4 July 2018
I last mentioned Hermit: Monster Killer back at the start of 2016 when it was nearing release and now I have had the opportunity to give it a watch. This was produced by Jonas Wolcher (Cannibal Fog, Die Zombiejäger) and is a Swedish comedy horror that felt a bit like a creature feature horror from the 1950's.
A meteor crashes in rural Sweden and brings with it a huge deadly monster that seems to exist only to kill. Now the locals each in their own way must find a way to battle and defeat this alien creature, though it seems a grumpy old hermit (Börje Lundberg from Oscar nominated film A Man Called Ove) might be the best prepared...
I first started watching this without subtitles, I had thought that maybe knowing the language would not be required. Well ten minutes in I changed my mind, I felt I was missing out and so I requested a version with English subtitles. This is very much a comedy horror in that every single character here is ridiculous in their own way. They are a bunch of oddballs who fit together well with the over the top ways they act. Most the film are various people either trying to kill, or being killed by the monster and so there are a lot of characters who only tangentially meet up with each other. This did give the movie a bit of a disjointed feel to it at times though eventually characters from each of the seperate groups do meet up for a final showdown with the beast. The hermit was the best character as he was fleshed out with a tragic backstory that still managed to have a funny end to it.
Tuesday, 3 July 2018
I watched Hereditary last week and really enjoyed it, yet I didn't find it scary despite hearing it was supposed to be. Earlier in the year I heard about a Spanish horror film on Netflix called Veronica that also was meant to be a scary film. You know what? If I had been watching it at night in the dark I think this one I actually would have been creeped out by, even in bright daylight there were a few bits that made me feel unsettled.
Veronica takes place in Madrid in 1991 and is about a 15 year old girl; Verónica (Sandra Escacena) who uses a Ouija board with some friends during a solar eclipse in the hopes of contacting her deceased father. She soon learns she has accidentally summoned an evil spirit that has latched onto her that means harm to her family.
I thought this was a great horror and it got better upon learning a few things. Firstly it was directed by Paca Plaza who also happened to direct the [Rec] trilogy of films, secondly was that this was actually based on a true story. Usually when this is stated it turns out to be very very loosely based on truth while at the same time shouting from the rooftops it all happened. Here with Veronica I didn't even realise it was based on a true story until a series of crime photos are displayed at the films end that were different enough to what I had seen that I did a quick search and found out these crime scene photos are the ones from reality.
Sunday, 1 July 2018
The same guy who recommended I check out The Blobby Witch Project also said I needed to check out The Exorcist: Legion VR as soon as it came out on PSVR. Well I love virtual reality, and I love horror even more and so this was a good fit, especially as the demonic possession sub genre of horror is one of my favourites. The Exorcist: Legion VR is split up into five chapters, each one has you as a detective investigating a different case. I shall be writing a review per chapter, mainly as the first chapter was available as a stand alone purchase (I went ahead and brought the complete package). Currently only three of the five cases are there to play with the others coming later on, a trailer for the fourth case recently came out.
The police station is the hub area that you go to between cases, it is here you get the training room that tells you all about the controls, and also where you are able to go to the evidence room to look at objects from past cases, as well as your office where the chapters can be selected from. Chapter 1 has you going to a crime scene at a church. It soon becomes apparent that a priest has been murdered, items of note have already been marked for your perusal. The main goal in Last Rites seemed to be to collect the items that make up an exorcism kit. This includes salt, holy water, a burner, and of course a crucifix.
I like the graphics here, they give the environments a realistic look to them while use of darkness hides how limited the play area really is. I get the impression that each chapter is going to be quite brief. This one contained two different rooms and took me around half an hour to get through, that was including messing around with everything, if I had purely done the essential objectives I could have been through that in a third of the time. There is a checklist of things to do and on my go there was an objective I missed so there is some replay value there. I liked that there is plenty to read, with text that is meant to be readable. This was fine with printed stuff, but you get access to an exorcism guide that I struggled to make out any of the text in it which was a shame as it felt like I was missing out on story elements.
I had been told this was a scary game but going by this first chapter it wasn't really. There were a couple of moments that mildly scared me but I didn't feel any type of dread. To be fair I was playing on a lazy Sunday evening when the sun was still bright and out, I think for the rest I will make it a point to play at night time. Aside from being able to pick up items there isn't really a lot of interactivity to be found here, I finished the chapter unsure if it is even possible to die or if the horror is all just scripted. I would say if you are planning on getting this as stand alone then avoid unless it is on sale, it is not worth the asking price, even with the reduced price of getting it as a bundle it is not worth it. Regardless I will literally never get bored of holding a crucifix out in front of me and shouting "the power of Christ compels you!" and so for that fact I had a grand old time with this and can look past the short length.
Saturday, 30 June 2018
I liked the idea behind It Stains the Sands Red but I admit I did go into this expecting it to fail, I was more intrigued how this would play out. Basically this is a movie about one solitary zombie, and it's unending pursuit of a woman across a desert. The fact that the undead never get tired, never sleep, can keep going forever means that even one of the slow shambling type can over time erode a persons will with their constant chasing.
Molly (Brittany Allen - Jigsaw) is the girlfriend of a small time criminal who is en-route to a remote airfield near Las Vegas where he is to meet his boss and get on a plane out of America. A zombie virus has swept the continent and with no sign of aid it is everyone for themselves. The car getting a tyre stuck in a hole is the start of the worst few days of Molly's life. Her boyfriend is attacked and killed by a lone ghoul, she flees into the desert but is horrified to find this creature following her relentlessly. Now she is on a forced march to the airfield some 30 miles away, all the time the zombie hot on her heels...
Aside from nice quality camera footage and some nice little music video style sequences the best thing about It Stains the Sands Red is sadly the title itself. I figured I would be bored, that woman vs zombie would soon turn dull. There is always just about enough going on to keep things from getting boring, this would be a good thing were it not for the fact I just plain did not like Molly. I didn't understand her actions, I didn't pity her mistakes, and by the end of the second third I straight up found myself opposed to her silly ideals despite the efforts of the camera and the sound to try and put me on side with her.
Friday, 29 June 2018
I had been planning to put up a review of zombie horror film It Stains the Sands Red today, however upon getting back from my lunch break a friend recommended I instead check out The Blobby Witch Project for review instead. I once got a DVD called The Bogus Witch Project which (witch?) was a collection of short films parodying that cult movie of a similar name. It was trash with every single film being garbage and so I didn't hold out much hope for this one.
A man is making a video about a abandoned cottage that was used as a tourist attraction when Mr Blobby (a large TV mascot popular in Britain in the 1990's) was in fashion. In modern day (well, 2014) the place is a ruin that is covered in graffiti and has signs of being used for illegal parties and for homeless people to sleep in. As the man explores the cottage he soon discovers to his horror that the owner of the building is in attendance and is none too pleased that someone is in his home...
This is just over three minutes long and I was surprised that it is played more seriously than I expected. I always found Mr Blobby to be unsettling in the first place and so to have him show up in a horror setting with that distinct weird voice was actually effective. The pacing isn't the strongest with this one though, the actual appearance comes just 30 seconds before the film ends and so while it was great the lead up to it felt a little bit laboured. I felt maybe if there had been unnoticed appearances earlier on it would have benefitted the anticipation of the horror. Also I felt a night time shoot would have added a lot of atmosphere.
Still this was an effective little horror that had a subject matter that was unexpected. I really liked the juxtaposition between the innocence of the original setting and the modern day ruin that gave it an ominous vibe. I really loved the last half minute of this, especially as it was scary yet at the same time funny in the surrealness, check it out for yourself below.
Thursday, 28 June 2018
I've made it my task to do at least twenty blog posts per month, something which I feel the need to achieve even when things are more quiet. Last Tuesday came the third DLC map pack for Call of Duty: WWII and so should have been when the third Nazi Zombies map dropped (well technically the fourth). Instead we get The Tortured Path which confusingly is separate from Nazi Zombies and plays quite differently from what I had come to expect. This new mode is made up of three different maps, each map being a different 'chapter' within The Tortured Path. Each map consists of ten rounds, culminating in a boss round, you can only access the other maps once the one previous to it has been finished.
Chapter 1 is called Into the Storm and takes place in a small European village during day time. Compared to the typical Zombies map it is quite small, it consists of some ruined buildings including a windmill and some streets. Because of this small size all areas are opened up from the start, also different is that item boxes on walls are randomised but weapon specific, so each one acts as its own little puzzle box. As you progress through the rounds different weapon types such as snipers and LMGs get unlocked and there is also a way to pack-a-punch the guns. This reminded me a bit of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare's Exo-Survival mode in that there are different challenges you are required to do in rounds. These include such tasks as repairing three different radios, protecting a location from zombie attack, killing special zombies and a load more. If you fail one of these challenges (that are time specific) then it is game over, nearly every time I failed Into the Storm it was due to failing these challenges.
The plot is much less important this time around, at least with chapter 1. The intro cutscene is brief and mostly made up of static images, it details how all of Europe has fallen to a zombie plague, and how a special task force was created to combat this undead threat. Into the Storm has you as one of four voiceless new recruits that include three men and a woman. Weirdly the intro cutscene seems to cut out before it has finished making it seem unfinished. Also weird is that they have decided to introduce a new levelling system that clumsily co-exists with the previous one. I really don't know why the creators decided to make a whole new Zombies mode rather than a new map in the Nazi Zombies mold, maybe they felt the mechanics were not working in their favour. As it is despite the strangeness of the changes this mode is quite addictive, the ten round limit and the randomised loot and challenges give this a lot of replay value. While the map is a lot smaller it is cool that there are three of them. Below is my first solo play-through of Into the Storm, I haven't actually unlocked the other two maps yet but as soon as I do I will add to the post with my thoughts on those...it turns out I forgot to actually save my footage of my playthrough, it will be added sometime soon!
Update 1.0 (30/06) - They have now added in voices for the characters in this mode, this has helped add a lot as them being mute felt off. From what I can tell the soldier that looks like he is wearing a general's uniform is American, the camouflaged male is Russian. I think the two women are either English or American but I haven't been either of those since the update so I'm not sure at the moment.
Update 1.1 (01/07) - I have now recorded a half decent stab at 'Into the Storm' which I shall be including below.
Wednesday, 27 June 2018
I've tried to see Hereditary quite a few times over the past few weeks, however a lethal cocktail of a really busy work and bad insomnia has caused me to be too tired to go each time I have planned to. This is a movie that has gotten into the public consciousness, a feat that not many horrors manage to do, even my mum had heard of this film when I said to her it was what I was going to see tonight. While many have proclaimed it to be 'this generation's The Exorcist' and how scary it is I would disagree. However it is still a damn fine horror film that I got a lot of enjoyment out of.
Usually I would go into the plot somewhat here, however I can't really reveal too many details as the trailer itself for this movie refreshingly gave nothing away. Early on there are some plot twists that I just cannot go into. The gist of this is that Annie's (Toni Collette - The Sixth Sense) mother dies, this death leads to the beginning of a series of tragic events for her family, events that affect her husband Steve (Gabriel Byrne - End of Days), and her two children; thirteen year old Charlie (Milly Shapiro) and the older son Peter (Alex Wolff). Annie suffers the most with it seeming that some sort of evil presence may have appeared within her household that wishes her family harm...
While Hereditary wasn't a scary film it was well on the way there by the time the credits rolled around. I don't know if it is because I have seen so many horrors, or if the plot felt a little bit familiar but it never went enough in any direction to really make the hair on the back of my neck stand up. That isn't to the fault of director and writer Ari Aster (this is his first feature film he has directed) as this is expertly made with plenty of detail to really hammer home the themes and emotions here. The casting choices are perfect, especially with the core cast of the family themselves. Collette is fantastic and gives a stunning performance as the grieving mother, she is believable which is the best thing about her role, and also is refreshing that she isn't really a good character with the film dealing with lots of resentment on all sides of the family. I also thought both Wolff and Shapiro were fantastic too. With Wolff his performance is more down to the physical acting he does, the fear shows on his face deliciously at times. With Shapiro she is just plain enthralling, there is just something about her that made her perfect as the weirdo loner.
Tuesday, 26 June 2018
I am experiencing a slight drought at the moment when it comes to items I have been sent to review. The upside of that is that I am finally getting time to work though the horror films I have pegged to watch on Netflix and Shudder. Today was the turn of Annihilation, this turned out to be a really well made and interesting film that pleasantly surprised me.
Lena (Natalie Portman - Black Swan) is a biologist whose soldier husband Kane (Oscar Isaac - Ex Machina) vanished a year previous while on a covert operation. One day he mysteriously appears in their house and before collapsing states he has no idea where he has been, or how he came to be back at the house. While taking him to hospital soldiers take her and Kane into custody and she ends up at a military research site next to a strange phenomenon. Two years ago an environmental disaster occurred in remote America, originating at a lighthouse. Since that time a force named as a 'shimmer' has slowly spread outwards. Anyone who enters the shimmer doesn't return and it is not known what happens to people who enter. Looking for answers Lena teams up with an all female group of scientists who plan to head to the lighthouse at the epicentre of the event to try and find a way to stop the shimmer from expanding any further.
I really enjoyed Annihilation, I loved how intriguing the idea behind it was, and how it never explains much of just what is going on. There are so many enjoyable elements here that create a thick level of mystery that is only observed by the five strong team rather than solved. It uses one of my favourite types of plot devices in that in present day Lena is in an isolation room being debriefed by a hazmat wearing scientist about just what happened. The film goes back to the present quite a few times as the film progresses which adds in questions that make you want to know more. For instance she is told she has been gone four months, yet as far as she was aware it had only been a week or so. Also she appears to be the only survivor so by that fact it makes you want to know just what happened to the rest of the characters.
Thursday, 21 June 2018
Once again it is that time of the month when I give out some nuggets of news for your ocular approval. I like the word 'scattershot' and so I shall be applying that erm with the approach to the news for June. First off to the land of video games where I noticed there is a new map for the ever giving wave based zombie survival game Killing Floor 2. This new map is set on a steampunk themed flying airship and is fittingly called Airship. I love that Killing Floor 2 regularly adds free maps but often they kind of look like they should be free, not so with Airship which has a fantastic design, it is one of the better looking maps for game. This map is also objective based with a mini story going on over the rounds you play, rather than just kill everything you must fix parts of the ship as well as defend certain areas at set times. On PC there is also a second free map Endless Lockdown, this is yet to appear on the PS4 version but hopefully at some point this summer.
The press release was a bit low on solid details but Dirge is a new horror film that was directed by Richard Oakes and Adam Leader. It takes place in 1970's England and has Charlie (Neal Ward) and Olivia (Nadia Lamin) heading on a journey into isolated woodland where they must face their darkest fears. This is a psychological horror that is about 'questioning ethical principles of our society, how we deal with mental illness and the duality of love and ego'. I love the concept trailer for this, it is quite fantastic so I hope the film itself lives up to the ideas shown there.
I last mentioned Five Wild Animals back in February when a teaser trailer for this was released. It is a horror about a group of friends who travel to a remote mountain town for a Halloween party. It is due to premiere this Autumn but in the meantime so new stills have been released, a few of which I shall include below.
The 25th June marks the four year anniversary of Videogram (Magnus Sellergren's project that is made up of music based on eighties horror synth). To celebrate the anniversary SelectaVision is releasing the Choice Cuts 2014-2018 compilation on CD and on Digital. The fourteen track album takes songs from all official Videogram releases and includes some additional bonus tracks. Pre-orders for the digital release are available here.
There is a new Go Fund Me campaign to raise funds for Albert Pyun's new film Bad Ass Angels and Demons. Set at the end of the world 'the Bad Ass Angels fights the demons to establish the dawn of a new generation for Planet Earth'. For any Jean-Claude Van Damme fans it will be interesting to note that Pyun directed 1989's Cyborg. The campaign was started to raise funds for equipment and special effects needed for the film, the amount needed has already been raised but you can still contribute here if you so wish.
Dark comedy Vidar the Vampire (first mentioned back in August last year) came out on VOD on 12th June. It is about a 33 year old bored Christian farmer who wakes up one evening to discover he is a vampire. There was a new trailer at the start of the year so I will include that below.
Blacklava Entertainment has released a new trailer for the upcoming region free DVD release of Triptychon of Fear. This is a trio of 'gloomy and horrifying stories' from Grindhouse Entertainment. The first story is about a drug addict duo who crash while fleeing the scene of a crime and find untold horror. The second story is about a man who finds himself trapped in an old attic by a mysterious force. The final story is about a woman who has ran home after being chased by a ominous stranger, once home she starts to suspect she may have imagined the figure chasing her. This DVD is due out on 13th July.
An Idle Mind is the Devil's Playground that I gave a respectable 8/10 back in March has now been released on DVD on Amazon, BestBuy, Barnes & Noble and more online retailers. The film felt like a lost Twilight Zone episode (on a side note I have recently brought the complete The Twilight Zone on Blu-ray, most exciting for me!) and is about a long term shut-in who has a huge fear of people, but one day finds his house full of strangers he cannot get rid of.
Finally FraXtur is an upcoming post-apocalyptic TV series that stars such people as Denis Richards (Starship Troopers) and Dallas Page (The Devil's Rejects). It is about a bunch of millennials who find themselves in a post apocalyptic wasteland where not only lack of food and water is an issue, but also violent tribes and terrifying monsters. Bad title aside this does sound like it could be interesting.