Thursday, 31 January 2019

Charismata (2017) - Horror Film Review


Charismata was written and directed by Andy Collier and Toor Mian. It is an English horror that starts off as one thing and by the end has transformed into something else entirely. For me this was a shame as I really liked what I initially thought it was going to be. It had some scenes of nice atmosphere, but this soon turns into something that felt just too outlandish and silly to take seriously.

London based Police Detective Rebecca (Sarah Beck Mather - Black Mirror, Dark Souls II) and her partner Eli (Andonis Anthony - Assassin's Creed Origins, Assassin's Creed Odyssey) are investigating a grisly series of ritualistic murders they believe to be the work of a serial killer. Despite an airtight alibi she starts to suspect that their first suspect - businessman Michael Sweet (Jamie Satterthwaite) is the culprit and starts to become obsessed with tracking him. Around the same time however she starts to get intense hallucinations that make her question her sanity. Is the pressure of her job getting to her, or is there some far more nefarious explanation?


Charismata is a movie where everyone is miserable as hell, none more so than Rebecca. She has a face like a wet weekend throughout, not helped by her personal life where she is dealing with a messy breakup, and her professional life where her all male work colleagues, as well as the people she interviews act like the #metoo thing never happened (though they take the mick out of themselves just as much as they do her it has to be said). The cast are mostly males with her being the only female who gets more than a couple of lines of dialogue. The crime scenes were atmospheric, especially the first one which was bigged up by dialogue before hand. This felt very similar to Condemned: Criminal Origins to begin with, a similarity I loved as I really enjoy playing that video game. This was helped by some of the more bizarre moments such as various characters getting unexplainable nosebleeds.

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

The Rotting Zombie's Round-up of Horror News for January 2019


New year a new me? Not exactly but change is rarely good. Going to start this months news burst off by saying that the Resident Evil 2 Remake is as great as I hoped. I have always loved the original Resident Evil 2 so it has been a joy to see the changes they have made (both good and bad). I am currently halfway through the B mission, so when that is done a review will be going up. Also I have been streaming my entire playthrough on YouTube at my channel there.

Starting off proper with my monthly news for horror comedy Camp Death III in 2D! This time around the director Matt Frame sat through his film 34 times in a row, a total of 52 hours, 27 minutes, and 23 seconds. This was in order to get publicity for the films release on Amazon Prime this February as well as to raise advertising funds. This event was broadcast live to Facebook, Twitch and YouTube with Frame providing a running commentary throughout.


Lawrie Brewster's latest horror Automata is to premiere at FrightFest Glasgow this March. This new feature from Brewster and writer Sarah Daly of Hex Studios is said 'to be their boldest offering yet, with a lavish, Giallo-esque visual style, a subversive sensibility, and a narrative that spans three centuries.' The film is about an antiques expert who comes under the corrupting influence of a three hundred year old clockwork doll known as the 'Infernal Princess'. Automata will screen on 2nd March.
Hex Studios are also to release the limited edition of Sam Ashurst's Frankenstein's Creature. This is a arthouse retelling of the classic Mary Shelley story that is shown from the perspective of the monster. This was shot in a single take and stars James Swanton as the solo performer. This will be limited to just 200 copies and can be brought here.

A new teaser trailer has been released for Roberto D'Antona's The Last Heroes. The film is due for release in 2019 by L/D Production Company. In this horror fantasy an ancient witch known as Kaisha has placed a dark curse over a town and it is up to the titular group of townsfolk to try and stop her. The trailer piqued my interest.



My next two pieces of news come thanks to my discovery of the spam folder on my Facebook page. First is Badass Bunyip which is an Australian horror from David Black and Gerardo Chierchia that promises to be a 'schlocky, gory horror Christmas movie'. Here Shazza (Tritia DeViSha) and Gazza (Black) encounter a murderous bunyip (a creature of Aboriginal legend) after accidentally choosing an Aboriginal sacred site as the location for their Christmas picnic. Filming has now started on this and judging by the teaser trailer it will be a fun watch when it comes out.



Acid Pit Stop is a zombie comedy that is due for release in 2019 coming from Silent Studio Productions, and which is currently in post production. In a similar vein to Goa Goa Gone and Return of the Living Dead: Rave to the Grave bad drugs at a rave turns the party goers into flesh hungry undead. There is also a trailer for this one.



Knock Knock Knock Knock is a homage to the Italian horror/giallo film genre with nods to the works of Dario Argento, Mario Brava and Lucio Fulci. In this short film  Freya, a troubled woman finds herself plagued by a constant knocking at her door, but is it all in her head? This is stated to be a starting off point for 'a series of visually arresting moments'. Faster Productions have made the decision that if anyone wants to view the short all they need to do is drop an email to fasterproductions@yahoo.co.uk with the subject line 4KANDLES to be sent a link to download the film. This was designed as a reaction to the culture of today where anything can be viewed instantly. I shall be putting up a review of this at some point in the next few weeks.

Finally Steve Fabry has directed a found footage titled The Nightstalker Case. He is also in a band - The Nightstalker, as well as having written two books. Everything he does with these share the same concept, that of an angel who decided to head to Earth to help mankind. The film can be purchased here. It is about three friends researching into an urban legend that has them discovering seemingly supernatural figures.

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

The Road (2018) - Short Zombie Film Review


The Road is a short zombie film that was written, directed, produced and edited by Philip Martin, who also did the cinematography here. I often get the nagging feel that I don't watch enough zombie films anymore, something I feel I should do more of seeing as how it is my favourite genre of horror.

A lost driver (David Parker) finds himself on a remote dirt track that runs alongside a chemical plant. Seeing a body on the road in front of him he stops to see if he can offer aid. This charitable act however may well be the very last thing he does...

Putting the out of place upbeat intro credit scene music to one side The Road creates a real feeling of atmosphere from the start to the very finish. This is achieved I feel with how silent the characters here are, in fact this is almost silent until a perfectly timed interruption. Throughout there is a great ambient track which goes so well with the visuals on screen. It creates a feeling of strangeness, of oppressive otherness that for me just brought forward nostalgic memories of the classic Italian zombie films of the 1980's, though with a quality of filmmaking that those could never be said to have.

Meanwhile the makeup for the zombie creatures was fantastic, it was the right shade of colour to call back to me George Romero's Dawn of the Dead, the female zombie (Megan Robson) seeming like she had walked (shambled?) right in off that movie set. Almost like a quasi contrast you have Daemon Lee as an alternate undead type, one more aggressive in its actions. This is all held together by the lovely camera work of Martin with this being high quality throughout.

At under five minutes long this is something I watched quite a few times in a row, the blending of the visuals and the music were what appealed to me the most. This was apparently filmed over just one day with zero budget and so that makes this all the more interesting to watch. The Road is a dream like short that has really made me want to go back and visit the old zombie classics. Check it out for yourself below.

SCORE:



Sunday, 27 January 2019

Depth of Extinction (2018) - Post Apocalyptic Video Game Preview (PC)


Way back towards the end of September last year I received a copy of turn based strategy game Depth of Extinction. I don't like to review a game until it has been finished, an embarrassing mistake I once made with Persona 4 (twenty hours in I figured I was near the end, turns out the game took ninety one hours to actually complete!). It is now months later and I have been playing this on and off periodically yet the way I'm playing it means a review will likely be years in the future. Due to that estimation I am instead going to put up a preview of this game, the experience I have had with it so far.

This takes place in a post apocalyptic world where thousands of years ago a disaster occurred that led to the human race being forced to exist under the seas. During this time a new technologically advanced group formed who rebuilt the population and created many wondrous machines. Now in present day this group have long passed, humans have split into various factions and rely on the ancient technology to survive. With essential machines fading you are tasked with travelling deep into unknown territory to try and find a way to repair these machines to ensure survival under the dark seas...


This style of game is very similar to the XCOM series, of which it was inspired. You have random characters who undertake missions in small undersea bases populated with all sorts of bad guys such as robots, pirates, smugglers and soldiers. You move using a grid system with the different classes able to move different amount of spaces. When you engage enemies combat takes place in a turn based fashion. Here you can make use of cover to reduce the odds of getting hit, use various class based abilities and use an 'overwatch' ability which means any enemies going into range of your guns will get shot at. Each action you do gives you a probability of being able to hit the enemy. Snipers for instance have a pretty much guaranteed chance of hitting a line of sight enemy from afar but up close they are ineffective, the opposite being true for characters equipped with the shotgun. You also have to factor in reloading. These battles are all important as this game has perma-death. If a soldier should die they cannot be brought back, instead you have to use a new one who will start off as basic as they come losing all the XP and new abilities your seasoned warrior would have had.

The artstyle is pixel based and it looks wonderful, really charming and nostalgic. This goes in tandem with the music which is also nostalgic and fits the action well with an exploration theme and then different music for when the fighting kicks in. Each mission gives you an ultimate objective, but to get there you have to travel in a submarine through a grid like map to get to your goal. Each time you move to a new location it costs fuel, this can be scavenged from locations and brought from traders. If you run out you can call for assistance but it is not guaranteed if enemies or help will arrive to help. Only once did I run out of fuel and luckily the help that arrived was friendly. Being able to choose where you go next en route to your objective gives some variation to the game, also for most the bases you get to you have the option to just skip them entirely, useful if you are overpowered for the mission you are doing.


I have put around ten hours into Depth of Extinction and have had a blast playing it. It is not something I spend hours on at a time but it is fun to pick up and play for a random half hour here and there. I find it peaceful to play, I just get enjoyment out of moving my characters around one by one, I have always liked turn based stuff as real time usually confuses me! Due to the extremely slow way I am playing it I came to the realisation this preview needed to happen, I am going to keep on plugging away at it so one day a review will appear of this! Depth of Extinction was released on 27th September 2018 and is available on Steam, GOG, itch.io and the Humble Store.

 

Saturday, 26 January 2019

Escape Room (2019) - Horror Film Review


Escape Room (not to be confused with the two separate 2017 films of the exact same titles and premises) is a horror that jumps on the moderately recent rise of the 'escape room' experience. For the few who don't know it is a team based real life puzzle game where you are locked in a themed room and must solve clues and puzzles hidden around the place to escape. It makes a good idea for a horror, though with the real life deaths in Poland when a group got burnt alive last year maybe not the best timing (turns out the release of this was delayed by a few months out of respect for that tragic event).

Six strangers that include introverted Zoey (Taylor Russell - Lost in Space), waster Ben (Logan Miller - Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse), trucker Mike (Tyler Labine - Tucker & Dale vs Evil), stock broker Jason (Jay Ellis), ex-soldier Amanda (Deborah Ann Woll - Daredevil, The Punisher) and geek Danny (Nik Dodani) receive invitations to go to a new immersive escape room. With a large cash reward should they complete it, all decide to go to the experience which is based in a large office block. Once the game has started though they quickly come to realise that failure in any of the rooms they encounter results in actual death. With no options left the group must work together to try and find a way to escape with their lives...


At some point on the Super Best Friendcast (R.I.P) last year they had a discussion about how awful the Escape Room films were. I wasn't sure which ones they were talking about but I still went in to seeing this with my expectations set low. You know what though? This was a decent horror movie. It is designed for a certain demographic, there is nothing harrowing or terrifying to be found here, but in the style of Final Destination this is designed just to be a pure fun watch. This combines the cruel and random deaths of that series then crossed with with both The Cube and Saw. Each escape room (of which there are a few) is connected to the previous by some sort of secret door and so you know each time they successfully escape there is something likely more horrific for the group around the corner. In my head this is a prequel to The Cube series, though one that features slightly more explanation for what is happening. Saw also felt like an inspiration, people captured and forced to participate in games for one, but also as I got a sense that just maybe these characters had sordid pasts that in a twisted way meant they deserved to be there.

Thursday, 24 January 2019

A Discovery of Witches: Series 1 (2018) - Horror TV Show


A Discovery of Witches is a British fantasy drama that made me think of a much more mature and normalised Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Based off a book it introduces us to a secret world that exists alongside the humans, one they know nothing about. Series 1 is made up of eight episodes, each around 45 minutes in length. A second and third series have already been approved.

The show takes place in a world where witches, demons and vampires co-exist secretly alongside humans. Diana Bishop (Teresa Palmer - Warm Bodies, Lights Out) is a witch who one day discovers a magical book thought lost to time. This gets the attention of everyone who all want it for their own ends. Matthew (Matthew Goode - Watchmen) is a vampire who becomes interested in her as a result and the two start a forbidden relationship that has the possibility of starting a war.


To begin with I wasn't that taken with A Discovery of Witches. While it features fantastical creatures this is very grounded in reality relatively. The three races alongside humans are witches, vampires and demons but all are less fantastical than the traditional versions. Witches in this world are a seperate being to humans though the only difference seems to be that they are able to use magic. Other than that they look the same and do the same sort of jobs it seems. Vampires have more too them in that like tradition they are immortal and they drink blood, as well as have super speed and some mind control powers. However sunlight doesn't affect them at all and they have no fangs, just looking like slightly more pale humans. Demons are the third fantasy race but rather disappointingly the show does absolutely nothing with them. By the end of the series there had not even been a single throw away line about what makes them different to the average human, I found this kind of frustrating when the other two types are explored so well. On the subject of humans they really don't factor into the show much. The spoken blurb at the start of each episode says how the creatures have to live in secret from the humans but I get the impression if they outed themselves they would swiftly red faced realise that they are in the vast majority as aside from a handful there seems to be no humans whatsoever existing in this world.

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Kill Switch: Serial Escalation (2018) by Sean E. Britten - Horror Book Review


Kill Switch: Serial Escalation is the fourth book of Sean E. Britten's I have read. While I was gifted a copy of this by the author I couldn't get it to work on my eBook reader and so ended up deciding that as I enjoyed the first in the series - 2016's Kill Switch that I would just buy this one as I assumed it would also be good. For those unfamiliar with that first book this series takes place within the confines of a Battle Royale type game show where contestants are made up of the most dangerous criminals who have to fight each other to the death. While this is a sequel there is only the one returning character so spoilers shouldn't pop up too much here. If you haven't read that first book then you should do as it was pretty great, but then the 'Battle Royale' genre is one that I adore currently in my life.

Thao wakes up with no memory of who he was and soon discovers he is a contestant on the latest game of Slayerz (America's favourite bloodsport!). He is partnered up with cyborg and ex-soldier Layla Jackson and together they have to survive the game. The rules are simple, contestants are paired up and have to fight other pairs in a large arena, the last ones alive win. To make things more difficult each contestant is fitted with a special device on their arm, should their partner die then their 'kill switch' will engage eventually killing them also. Initially wary of each other Thao and Layla soon form a bond, Thao convinced that he isn't the sordid monster the show reels made him out to be. Together they go looking for answers for just who he really is, while trying their best to defeat any who come against them.

Sunday, 20 January 2019

Cannibals and Carpet Fitters (2017) - Comedy Horror Film Review


Cannibals and Carpet Fitters is a British horror comedy that features a nice blend of the two styles. There is humour a plenty to be found here, yet there are also moments of legitimate horror. It reminded me of the style of something like Doghouse in this respect, even going as far as to end on a similar note.

A group of carpet fitters latest job is at an old country house in the middle of nowhere. However their hiring is all a pretence to get more victims for the family of inbred cannibals who live there. With the violent family quickly working their way through the fitters it is up to the final few to find a way to defeat them and escape the property.


As the synopsis would suggest there isn't anything original here on paper. However I found this to be very entertaining due to the quality with which it was made. This is well directed, and well paced with not a single moment that felt like it didn't need to be there. Often when people find themselves under attack by a group in a film there are moments that just feel like padding to increase the length. Surprisingly though despite this being a remake of a short 18 minute horror of the same name (also directed by James Bushe) the increased length just leads to more content as opposed to feeling stretched out. The story might be a weakness of this but there were a fair few moments that took me by surprise, such as initially being unsure who the primary protagonists were going to be.

Saturday, 19 January 2019

Curse of the Scarecrow (2018) - Horror Film Review


With a title like Curse of the Scarecrow I wasn't expecting a horror film that would have a bit of a brain about it, indeed I expected some low budget generic horror. This met my expectations in that regard, it was almost so bad it was good, almost but not quite though.

This British horror sees June (Kate Lister - Mandy the Doll) who on the advice of her psychiatrist Karen (Cassandra French - also Mandy the Doll) has decided to go back to her childhood home with her best friend Nancy (Louisa Warren who also directs this) to confront her fears. This is because twenty years previous she witnessed her parents being killed by what she believed to be a scarecrow at the place, it is hoped by travelling back she will realise just how wrong that assumption was. However it turns out the area is cursed, every twenty years the soul of a man strung up on a scarecrow pole to die hundreds of years ago comes back for two days of butchery, and her return coincides with the scarecrows return also...


This is a low budget indie film, I have no problem with that at all. However that doesn't really excuse the lack of imagination that has gone into many areas of this. There are so many horror film tropes here that I couldn't help roll my eyes on occasion. Characters splitting up for no reason happens multiple times and it rarely makes sense. The worst example is someone who wants to go and drive to the nearest town to get help for the other two characters who will be left behind at the farm house. That would be fine if the car was a distance away, yet it is literally ten paces from the front door, I have no idea why all three couldn't have just gone to the damn car, especially when not long previous to that scene they were already in the car and already aware of the danger they were in! It just felt like bad writing. Of course adding in another trope the car wont start, was all so predictable in a frustrating way.

Thursday, 17 January 2019

Close Calls (2017) - Horror Film Review


It is very early into 2019 so I know this won't sound like much, but Richard Stringham's debut feature film Close Calls is the best film I have seen all year. Sometimes watching a movie you can tell right off the bat it is going to be one that just sings to your particular sensibilities, and that was what I was faced with here. Apparently chunks of the story were conjured up while Stringham was on hallucinogens, if that is the case it is quite believable as Close Calls is just plain crazy in the best possible way.

Morgan (Jordan Phipps) has been grounded by her father David (Kristof Waltermire), and so finds herself home alone one dark night while he is out on a date with his snobby girlfriend Brynn (Carmen Patterson). Home alone that is except for her insane grandma (Janis Duley) who is kept locked up in an old wing of the house. The night gets off to a good start with Morgan taking a whole cocktail of drugs, but soon she finds herself being harassed by a deranged caller, and events eventually take a even more sinister turn where she finds her life at risk...


I knew while watching this it would be a tough film to review and it is, this is due to the structure of the piece. When I first started watching this and saw it was over two hours long I admit my heart sank a little bit, I felt that I may be in for a really boring time, yet the dreamlike nature of the entire work was so consistently fantastic that I was just hooked. This is a horror film, but it is one that takes its time to ramp up. For the first hour and a quarter there is a sustained feeling of mild horror yet nothing much really happens. Rather than be frustrating though this added to the dreamlike feel. You know those dreams where you really need to get somewhere but no matter what you do it seems to take eternity? That's the feeling I got here. It is hard to explain but this stretching out of relative nothingness was just enthralling, I loved just getting a glimpse into the messed up world of Close Calls.

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Black Mirror: Series 3 (2016) - Horror TV Show Review


For those who don't know Charlie Brooker's Black Mirror is like a modern day version of The Twilight Zone, but one that primarily uses technology as the instrument of terror. Each episode is standalone with a different cast and storyline going on, one of the few things they share is that they take place in a near future where a specific type of technology has become prevalent.

Season 3 is the first to have six episodes instead of three that Black Mirror and Black Mirror: Series 2 featured. This extended season means that a mix of different styles can be shown. There are both ultra personal stories that focus on a single character, to ones that affect thousands. This is also the first season to feature at least one episode that actually ends happily! For those who know the show you can realise just how much of an oddity that is.


The season kicks off with Nosedive which takes place in a world where every citizen has a social media ranking which affects their social status and what they are able to do. It centres on Lacie (Bryce Dallas Howard - Jurassic World, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom) whose desperate desire to be popular causes her downfall. This is a good example of near future technology as it is something that looks spookily similar to the social ranking system that is currently being trailed in China. This is a great episode but one that becomes more cringy as it goes on, eschewing the typical soul destroying abject terror the series is known for.

Monday, 14 January 2019

Call of Duty: Black Ops IV - Thoughts on the Zombies Mode


Call of Duty: Black Ops IV has been out for a few months now but due to not finishing talking about Call of Duty: WWII's final Zombies map I had been unable to move onto talking about this one. This time around the game is split into three sections: Multiplayer, Blackout, and Zombies.

Blackout is Call of Duty's version of Battle Royale. Up to 100 people are dropped onto an island with the goal to be the last one standing. Classic Black Ops locations are used as locations on this map, including one such location called Asylum which happens to contain within it the Zombies map Verruckt! So depending on where you go in Blackout it is possible to encounter zombies which certainly spices things up a bit. For the Christmas period the zombies were wearing Santa hats which was pretty funny.


Zombies itself then, this launched with four maps. A few weeks back a fifth map was released out of nowhere so I will talk about that too. The launch maps were made up of Voyage of Despair, IXBlood of the Dead and Classified. Voyage of Despair takes place aboard the Titanic just after it has been hit by an iceberg. You play as one of four characters: Scarlett, Diego, Bruno or Stanton who had been on the ship to carry out a heist. During this attempt though an ancient relic got activated which turned most the passengers into brain dead ghouls. The map is long and large with there being multiple floors. As well as the deck there are flooded engine rooms, living quarters, dining areas and various other places. It is wave based as per the norm and being made by Treyarch it is well designed and fun to play.

Sunday, 13 January 2019

What Was Lost (2014) - Short Horror Film Review


What Was Lost is a 24 minute short film that is horror's version of the classic gangster film The Long Good Friday. Not so much with what happens remotely, more that over the course of one day a man's life is ripped down and shattered. While this movie is a few years old now it has recently been released on Amazon Prime, last December in fact. This was directed by Don Swanson who also directed A Wish for Giants.

Joel (John-Patrick Driscol who wrote the dialogue here) has the perfect life. He is married to a beautiful woman, has a well paid prestigious job, and is on the verge of finding a valuable manuscript thought lost to time. Over the course of one day his world is destroyed irreversibly...

Well, isn't this bleak! Starting out I wasn't entirely sure what sort of movie this would be, I always try and keep anything I watch fresh by not reading anything about it beforehand. I figured this may be supernatural due to the search for the manuscript. Instead this is more a thriller that deals with the very human side of existence. The cast is mostly focused on three main characters. First there is Joel, a protagonist who we only see the bad side of, his breakdowns, his misery and his suffering. Yet by his wrongs he is someone you can root for. The other characters include Elsa Carette as Brandi who plays a woman obviously unhappy with her situation in life but who comes across as a bit one dimensional. Anderson (Dustin Kyle) is the third main one who plays a pivotal role in the proceedings and brings a bit of dark humour.

I was interested where the story was going to go, yet I can't say I felt satisfied with where it ended up. This is due to the short taking a slightly more realistic approach with this not being some grand revenge thriller, instead this is quite a morose piece that ends on a real downer, but one which is executed well. To be fair the final shot was something special, especially with the voice over. There were some elements I really liked, a dream sequence fading back to reality was one such part I thought worked well. The score is also great throughout, piano led, it combines to give some decent atmosphere.

What Was Lost was a good enough drama piece, it had a nice central performance, a good soundtrack and some nice ideas, but it isn't something I think I would ever feel the need to go back to now that I have seen it.

SCORE:

Saturday, 12 January 2019

The Gaze (2018) - Short Horror Film Review


The Gaze comes from Ida Joglar who is a filmmaker, editor and video installation artist based in New York. It feels very current in that it fits in perfectly with the #MeToo movement despite being written and shot before that even started, and was based on the directors personal experiences.

Mayra (Siri Miller) is a lab assistant who finds herself sexually harassed by her boss one night while working late. The stress of the event awakens a latent psychic power within her that she puts to good use the next time it happens.

This short horror is obviously making a point. By showing two differing encounters with men in different situations it deals with things that could be seen as nothing, but also could be something. Mayra's best friend plays Devil's advocate throwing out possibilities, but these are used for the protagonist to refute. The culmination of this horror is the literal neutralising of male superiority with the empowerment going to the victim.

This was very well made and with a great performance by Miller. Environments look natural and sterile that puts focus onto the characters themselves. The special effects are effective with the limited times they are used. The plot itself is simple by design but it works as a way to show one such view of what it can be like to be a female in the modern world. I will say that I'm not quite sure of the physics of the ending, I guess you could put it down to the powers of psychic abilities. Regardless it led to a memorable end. The Gaze came out exclusively on ALTER on 13th December last year.

SCORE:



Friday, 11 January 2019

The Nursery (2018) - Horror Film Review


I will be the first to admit that when I started watching The Nursery my hopes were pretty low. This is an indie horror with a typical story, and by around the halfway mark I was plain frustrated with how this was going. So it was a shock some forty five minutes later and the end credits were rolling when I realised this had managed to achieve a complete 180 on my opinion of it.

Maddi Conway stars as Ranae - a cash strapped college student who has decided to take up babysitting as a means to earn money. All she has to do is look after a baby while the parents of the child go on a date, promising to be back around midnight. It isn't long until weird things start occurring and after confessing this to her friends they decide to join her for company. All four soon begin to realise that for whatever reason a vengeful ghost is haunting the property and that it means them harm...


Right from the start I thought the song choices here were really good and well chosen. This is one element that sticks as a constant throughout The Nursery. The hipster style songs that Ranae listens to work as a counterpoint to the unfolding terror, there is a great part early on when the music playing becomes quite distorted for instance. This type of music coming back for the fantastic end credits (black and white clips for each character are played with the image then pausing to bring up their name) was also a delight. It is also the score itself that adds so much. It might be typical horror fare but the music fits the atmosphere like a glove, they blend together very well.

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

The Thing on the Shelf (2018) - Short Horror Film Review


It's been an odd week for my blog in that I have had all the time in the world to be doing blog posts, yet for whatever reason I never got around to doing them. Not really good seeing as how I still have a Christmas backlog to clear. My last review was of Mikal's No Lives Matter, and now it is the turn of another short of his - The Thing on the Shelf which he also wrote and directed.

It is close to Christmas and a mum (Jill Kathryn Lemond) has given her daughter (Aila June Lemond) an elf doll to sit on a shelf in order to make sure she doesn't misbehave. In the middle of the night the girl wakes up to a sudden noise...

I don't really understand the whole elf on the shelf thing that seems to be popular nowadays but regardless of that bit of new child Christmas lore I found this short to be effective. This is just over a minute long but managed to be creepy. I have an unexplainable mild phobia of puppets and so I could feel my skin crawl towards the end of this. As such in my eyes it is a success! The child actor gives an understated performance, while the short length means the zinger is just enough to make you create the rest in your mind. Also I liked that the music goes off key once the horror starts to happen.

In terms of originality this wouldn't win any awards. However The Thing on the Shelf was well put together and was effective as a tiny Christmas horror. With such a short length it is worth a watch.

SCORE:



Saturday, 5 January 2019

No Lives Matter (2018) - Short Horror Film Review


I have a couple of short horror films brought to my attention by Darkly Films, as they are both only a minute long each I bumped them up to the top of my list. No Lives Matter is a short zombie tale that was entered into the Filmstro & Film Riot One Minute Short Film Competition. Director/writer Mikal is no stranger to having to make use of limited time as in the past he has put entries into the even more constrained 15 Second Horror Film Challenge.

Undead apocalypse has swept the city and a band of survivors are fleeing the rotting dead. They end up seemingly trapped in an alleyway and with the ghouls approaching it looks like the end may be near...

I had to watch this short quite a few times to cotton onto just what is happening here, but finally I understand and as a result has made this better, The title is a play on the 'black lives matter' slogan which feeds into this to give better context. This is a comedy horror which only become apparent once I had deciphered this message shown.

The visuals are all really blurry, intentionally so as the camera is focussed on a particular part of the screen meaning all around is fuzzy. This coupled with the great eighties sounding synth soundtrack and editing that cuts moments out leads to something that felt well put together. If I had one complaint it would be that the make-up for the zombies is not consistent, and one of the much younger undead does look quite happy rather than menacing in a lot of the shots she appears in. Still, all in all not bad at all.  Check it out for yourself below.

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Thursday, 3 January 2019

Curse of the Witch's Doll (2018) - Horror Film Review


Curse of the Witch's Doll is a low budget horror that at first I was ready to pass off as not really worth a view at all. However the more I watched the more I found myself not minding what I was seeing. The plot goes to some unexpected places, while among the small cast there were a few actors who I really enjoyed watching.

It is 1942 and Adeline (Helen Crevel - KillerSaurus) and her daughter Chloe (Layla Watts) have gone to live in the countryside after their house in Kent was destroyed by a bomb, a place to live which has been arranged by the mild mannered Arthur (Philip Ridout - Dogged). Soon after moving in strange occurrences start happening, doors shut on their own, and Chloe befriends a sinister looking doll she finds. Then one day while out in the woods Chloe vanishes into thin air, Adeline starts to believe that she has been taken away by the spirit of a witch that she believes resides within the creepy doll found in the house...


This covers a lot of ground throughout its 95 minute run time even if a lot of that ground isn't that original at times, or that well linked together. This seemed like it was going to be a haunted doll film to begin with. Kudos to the team for coming up with a creepy thing that actually looks creepy, even if it has a slight look of a Garbage Pail Kid to it. Unlike the dullard that is Annabelle this one actually moves at times too. It is a shame then that this creation isn't actually put to much use and the whole idea felt clumsily handled.

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Castlevania: Rondo of Blood (1993) - Horror Video Game Review (PS4)


The Castlevania series of video games are one of my all time favourites, nearly each and everyone I have played I have really enjoyed, especially the Metroidvania styled ones. Castlevania: Rondo of Blood originally released on the PC Engine CD exclusively in Japan, it found a Western release on the PSP in 2008 as a re-make. I own that version but I stopped playing about halfway through for whatever reason. Then in 2018 it got another re-release, this time on the PS4. Being a lifelong fan with unlikely hopes of a new Castlevania game getting made I again brought this, but this time I actually played it through to completion.

Rondo of Blood takes place in 1792 where vampire hunter Richter Belmont's love Annette has been kidnapped by the dark priest Shaft who has taken her to Castlevania: the home of legendary immortal vampire Dracula, who he and his followers have recently resurrected.


As always the story is quite brief and small, but that is what I love about these games. Having an immortal vampire as the antagonist is of course a lot of fun, but I also love how the lore affects your view of the game world. Castlevania itself is the physical manifestation of chaos which neatly explains away why it looks different each game. Rather than the latter games Metroidvania style (essentially one gigantic level) this features nine stages that are set in and around the titular castle. Starting off with an exciting cart ride into a nearby village your journey takes you through graveyards, chapels, even a ghostly ship makes an appearance. Each level is divided into various stages that are entered and exited by doors or stairwells.