Wednesday, 2 December 2020

Devil's Prey (2020) - Horror Film Review


Devil's Prey is a supernatural horror that was written, directed and edited by Lincoln Casimir in his feature film debut for all those roles. It is a bit of a crazy film, to me it felt like an episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation on drugs. All the pieces are there to tell a logical and well meaning story, but it felt more overly produced than was needed, making for a dizzy and disorientating movie.

Larry (Paul C. Kelly - Driftwood) is a serial killer who targets children. A victim of sexual abuse as a child he sees himself as a victim and someone who is unable to fight against his urges. When a young girl goes missing, two detectives suspect Larry (the girl's next door neighbour) may be involved, but they have no proof. Meanwhile an angel of death, Luke (Adam Silverman) is caught up in a battle of wits with a demon, Roam (John K. Hart - Crown of Thorns), the former wanting Larry to redeem himself, the later wanting Larry to fully commit to the darkness so that he can take his soul away.

This was a crazed movie that never really pauses to take a breath. Within the first few minutes we are introduced to Luke who during a casual conversation happens to mention he is dead. We learn of a missing girl, and the detectives as well as the girl's parents immediately suspect Larry, who then casually (though making it seem like a joke) tells the detectives he molests children. We then spend the rest of the movie split between three chaotic storylines. The majority of the movie in a breath of fresh air follows Larry, who (likely) rapes and murders aside is a bit of a soft character. He has a sick mother in a nursing home, he has the abuse he suffered as a child, and he has constant dreams and visions of both Luke and Roam. He spends the movie flitting around from location to location speaking to people who act completely unsurprised that he is having visions of angels and demons.
The first subplot involves the two bumbling detectives, these swiftly end up relying on a local psychic to help them solve their case for them. Despite closely watching Larry they somehow miss him doing what he does worst, even when it is painfully obvious the man has secrets to hide.
The second subplot is where Devil's Prey is at its most bizarre. Here, Luke speaks to his superior on how best to save Larry's soul, and occasionally has a war of words with Roam.

Tuesday, 1 December 2020

Music Round-up for Autumn 2020


I currently have 65 emails sitting in the news section of my inbox, inundated with news at the moment. This is no bad thing, but does mean some items dating back to the middle of October are reaching their 'sell by' date. It's about time for my monthly news, so I have decided to remove the music news into its own post.

Cassetter's horror track 'Slasher' has gotten a Cyberpunk remix from Extra Terra. The song has been infused with 'grim, futuristic edge spiked with hints of Extra Terra's dubstep style. The remix is out now on all platforms, from FiXT Neon.
FiXT have recently signed Void Chapter. This project comes from Otto Cate, Adam Fielding and Brian Skeel and is said to 'deliver an exhilarating audio journey through dystopian sci-fi worlds'. They have released two full-length instrumental albums, The Sprawl and The Uprising with new vocal based material dropping in 2021.



Canadian hard rock/heavy metal band Boneyard released their new album, Oathbreaker on October 24th. The band are led by vocalist/guitarist/songwriter Pamtera and includes members from previous bands Tyrant, Septimus and Powerslave. Initially they were a cover band but have been creating original music for the past three years. For more information check out their website.

Boston, MA rock band Above Snakes have released a new single, Never Alone, and to go with it is a zombie based animated visualiser. Singer, Johnny Skulls (great name) says the song is about "living a chaotic lifestyle...and just when you're at your worst, that special force pulls you back into reality giving you a new lifeline". The music video for the track released on November 13th.


Ethereal Darkwave duo The Palace of Tears have revealed their new album, Of Ruination. This album features seven tracks 'of somber beauty and otherworldly seduction'. It contains themes of love, death and 'the search for truth in a world filled with grief and the longing for connection'. The track listing is as follows, Terra Ephemera, Thy Womb Full of Black Nectar, Masque L'Intrigue, Tears of the Moon, Cold Dead Skin, Shadows Of Whispering Phantoms, and Of Ruination. It is out now digitally, with a limited CD edition to follow.


Following on from her last single The Day I Died comes Gothic singer, Elle Noir's new song, Like A Black Doll. This is the title track from her upcoming EP. She says the song is about "a traumatic situation of my childhood, which I do not talk about but have been able to elaborate on over the years thanks to music."


Dark Rock artist Sharone has released a second song off her upcoming LP, Morbid Illusion. The track, Fade Away is described as her empowerment anthem and features a video about a wounded warrior confronting death.


Now, Dungeon Synth is a subgenre of music I have never heard of before, but US based Sombre Arcane fit into that apparently. They have recently released a video for their new track, Ancestral Seat Of The Barovian Scourge. The song was inspired by a Dungeons & Dragons module that the band have been playing together for 8 years. That is something to be respected, kinda jealous of that long game!


Another new music video, this time with Dawn of Ashes who have one for their song Sleep Paralysis. They use elements of HR Giger, Zdzislaw Bekinski and Clive Barker, with the video focusing on corruption, police brutality and human rights. This is taken off their new album The Antinomian that came out in July thanks to Artoffact Records.


I have more music news to share, but I will leave it here for the moment, happy listening and see you on the other side of the cassette tape. I say tape, as that is the best my car offers me when it comes to providing me music sources, thank God for smartphones!

Monday, 30 November 2020

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


Another month of this darn year has passed, but in happier news England's second lockdown is about to come to an end, though leaving that to head to Tier 2 which isn't a lot better, but at least me and my support bubble can eat out, and I will be able to get my awful hair cut! I have been trying to cut down on the amount of news mentioned in these round-ups, but with less films seemingly coming out this year it has meant the amount of news I am receiving as increased dramatically!

Video games to begin with. I am currently playing the first person 'walking simulator', Visage. This game, that takes place within the confines of a haunted house was deeply inspired by the fantastic P.T demo.
The latest Call of Duty, Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War came out in November. This thankfully includes Zombies. Currently there is just the one map, Die Maschine that is a wonderful remake of Nacht der Untoten. There is also Dead Ops Arcade 3. This is an overhead level based zombie battling shooter which has you on a mission to defeat the gorilla who kidnapped your pet chicken.
November 5th saw the release of Outbreak: The Nightmare Chronicles, which is the third game in the Outbreak series and has come to Nintendo Switch. This is a third person single player adventure that is inspired by classic Resident Evil and Silent Hill.

A new documentary focusing on the Grindhouse horror classics from the 1970's and 80's has been released, coming from Dustin Ferguson. Stale Popcorn & Sticky Floors features interviews with a whole host of icons such as Lynn Lowry, Brinke Stevens, Mel Novak and more. This was due for release on Halloween.


James Mackenzie's An American Zealot has released an official trailer and poster. This is about a Catholic schoolgirl who plans to murder her best friend's abortion doctor and about the ramifications of deciding to do this.


The director's cut of the great found footage horror Hell House LLC came to Amazon Prime on Friday 30th October. The director's cut includes a host of extras such as cast auditions, scouting of the iconic location, behind-the-scenes clips and more.

The November releases for online subscription service ARROW includes the launch of Ban This Sick Filth! which is a rotating catologue of some of the more controversial horrors, currently includes We Are the Flesh, Orgies of Edo, The Baby, The Woman and Bat Pussy. Other November releases included documentary The El Duce Tapes, the Essential Giallo Collection, the Female Prisoner Scorpion Collection and exclusively, He Came From the Swamp: The William Grefé Collection, which includes Sting of Death, Death Curse of Tartu, Mako: Jaws of Death and more.
The Arrow Video US release schedule for November included Lake Michigan Monster (11/03), Burst City (11/10), Silent Running (11/17), and He Came From the Swamp: The William Grefe Collection (11/24). These all release to Blu-ray.

Terror Films has acquired the worldwide digital rights to Sean Roberts home invasion horror The Night They Knocked. In this one a group of friends staying a remote mountain house get visited by a murderous group of travellers. It was nominated for Best Director and Best Feature Film at the New Jersey Horror Con. This had its online premiere at the Kings of Horror YouTube Channel on November 6th.


This year has been a prolific one for filmmaker and actor Shane Ryan. Choke released in May, followed by Heartbeat, which was followed by the lockdown inspired thriller Sinful, as well as Quarantine Girl. More recently was sci-fi action flick Attack of the Unknown. Ryan is currently finishing up his Ted Bundy Had a Son trilogy. That in itself was a follow up to his Amateur Porn Star Killer series which is due to get a 4th edition DVD release in a few months, along with Ryan's homeless drama, The Girl Who Wasn't Missing from Wild Eye Releasing. Other films of his that are in various stages of development are LGBT coming of age drama, This Girl, This Boy, arthouse horror film Red Oedipal, God Got Ill, The Owl in Echo Park, American Virgins, Trash Kids, Throwaway Girl and the Japanese film Sasebo. On the anthology side of things he has been involved with Philia, Gore Theatre 2, Gore Grind, 60 Seconds to Die 3, Awesomely Righteous & Radical, and made the short Autopilot for the #CormanChallenge

Sunday, 29 November 2020

Human Hibachi (2020) - Horror Film Banned on Amazon - Horror News


Human Hibachi became available by video on-demand from October 23rd exclusively on the film's website. Apparently the film was deemed too extreme to be viewed on Amazon. In the movie a man documents his girlfriend's 35th birthday on his phone, but things take a very dark turn as the night plays out.

Director Mario Cerrito (The Listing) said of his film: "So when I made this film, I knew some of the stuff that I put in it might exclude us from platforms like Amazon, however, I wanted to see my vision through so I wasn't going to let that hold me back. The main goal was to make something different...something that will be remembered and I'll take that over being rejected by a platform any day."

Human Hibachi can be viewed on it's website, here. Mario Cerrito and his team are currently working on a new horror, titled The House in the Pines.

Saturday, 28 November 2020

Neighbor No.9 (2020) - Short Horror Film Review


Neighbor No.9 is a short  German language, Austrian horror film that comes from Wilhelm Müller, who describes himself as a hobby film maker. From his back catalogue it seems he specialises in exploitation films, having had his shorts featured in a variety of anthologies such as Tony Newton's Faces of Fear, Gore Grind, Gore Theatre 2, Grindsploitation 8, and in Shane Ryan's Faces of Snuff and the upcoming Ted Bundy Had a Son. The type of films in these types of collections are not something I personally find appealing at all. I find them downright nasty and a bit pointless, but I guess that is the point, to show the depths of human depravity.

Stefan Schanda plays the titular 'neighbor no.9', a heavily tattooed deviant who lives in a run down attic apartment, the walls adorned with cut outs of naked females, the man himself definitely a bit perverse, as can be seen with the introduction to him laying in bed making love to a pig's head. One day while out shopping he encounters a young woman (Mulier Sine Nomine) whose car has broken down and who says she is an influencer on her way to an important photo shoot. The man however has different plans for her...

Before even watching this I had a good idea where it would end up, and I was correct in my assumptions. This is exploitation and so nothing but bad things were going to happen here. I will say that I thought the design of the man's apartment was very fitting. Nearly the first five minutes of the short has the camera travelling around his flat, taking in all the detail of his own drawings and the posters and cutouts on his walls. This was good set design and really seemed to go with what we are shown of this character. The rest of the movie goes by at a much quicker pace with the body horror starting around ten minutes into this twenty one minute film.

Being presented as an actual short film rather than as a found footage style horror meant there was more time for things to occur, it was all as nasty as expected, with dismemberment, torture, and a knife stuck where a knife really shouldn't ever be (brought to mind the opening of the darn awful Headless). The special effects were not the worst out there, sure some parts looked a bit fake, but there is editing that switches up the real actress and the prop that is done well enough to create an illusion. These types of films often feel a bit aimless, but I admit the end of this was darkly suggestive. Did I enjoy Neighbor No.9? Not really, but then it isn't my thing. If this is your type of film then you will probably get some enjoyment out of this, it is competently made and well put together. Neighbor No.9 is due to come out on DVD in the future.

SCORE:



Friday, 27 November 2020

Progeny (2020) by Shaun Hutson - Horror Novel News


British horror author Shaun Hutson has released a new hardback novel, Progeny. This is a sequel to his best selling 1983 novel, Spawn. Hutson said of this new novel: "Progeny works as a stand-alone novel, but for fans who have read Spawn, there is a whole back story there that adds another level to reading Progeny. I always wanted to go back and revisit some of my earlier work and see how I could develop the work over 35 years later. Spawn was always one of those stories that was left with strands that could be picked up and spun into something more horrific than the original"

The original cover artist for Spawn was called back to design the cover for the sequel, and this is Hutson's thirty ninth novel under his own name. Caffeine Nights Publishing who published Progeny also published a paperback version of his 2019 hardback novel, Testament. There are also eBook and audio versions of these. Check out the website for more details.

Thursday, 26 November 2020

Host (2020) - Horror Film Review


Host
is an English horror film which takes place entirely within the confines of a Zoom call. The whole film was apparently shot entirely on that video call app, which makes sense when you take into account this was all filmed during the first England lockdown earlier this year. The effectiveness of this horror was slightly lost on me for two reasons. Firstly, I have never used Zoom and so haven't ever been in a similar real world situation of talking to multiple people on video calls, and secondly 2014's Unfriended had a very similar idea and so took away a lot of the impact this would have otherwise had on me.

A group of friends are bored during lockdown and so have decided to hire a spirit medium (Seylan Baxter - Macbeth) to hold an online seance with them via Zoom. The medium warns them to take it seriously, but one of the friends, Jemma (Jemma Moore - Doom: Annihilation) can't resist pretending to have come into contact with a spirit. Not long after this the medium loses her internet connection, which is bad as each of the Zoom members begin to experience scary happenings within their own homes. It seems that Jemma's jape has allowed an evil spirit to be summoned, and with no one to help them out the friends must try their hardest to find a way to break their unwanted connection to the spirit world.

At fifty six minutes long I figured the reduced length would help in telling a more concise story. I appreciate now the story that Unfriended brought as Host suffers a bit from the lack of much plot. The friends have accidentally summoned an evil spirit...and that's it. What follows is a roller coaster ride of ups and downs, there are blips of scary activity followed by moments of down time which occasionally frustrated. It kept seeming like anytime the film got unnerving things would settle back down again. I felt like a more relentless pace would have benefitted the shorter run time. It is just under halfway into the movie that the horror really begins and there are some super effective moments. If you have seen Unfriended you will be likely correct on where the film is going to go, and if anyone is going to survive or not. What was unique about this one was having it take place during lockdown, reflected in what characters are talking about and how they act. For instance, at one point a character flees their home, but before doing so they ensure they have put a facemask on.

Wednesday, 25 November 2020

Midnight Releasing - Latest Horror Film News


What follows is an account of the latest horror films released from Midnight Releasing. An account I pertain to be true and which was written in good faith in our year of the Lord 2020.

Without A Body is available to watch online or video on demand via Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, Google Play, X-Box, Vimeo, YouTube, Fandango, Plex and Flixfling. When I reviewed this back in April I said of it: "...this did its job as escapism, to be honest anything that does that in these current times is fine by me".


Also out is the intriguing Lake Artifact. This is about five friends who get trapped in a deadly time loop at a remote lakeside cabin. In my review in July I said "...the unexpected surreal humour added rather than detracted from the film...the often straight faced humour from the cast gave this film a warm feel".


Another one here with Stained. This is a strange modern day retelling of the Shakespeare classic play Macbeth. While it was all a bit bizarre I said of this "There are some decent moments here..."


Finally, a new trailer has dropped for The Devil's Heist. The clues' in the title as this is about a group of thieves who unknowingly rob a bank that is owned by Lucifer and ran by witches! This is directed by Fernando Acevedo and stars Bryan Sapphire, Sandra Rosko, Sheri Davis, and Mike Ferguson.

Tuesday, 24 November 2020

The Odds (2018) - Horror Film Review


The Odds
is a very tense psychological horror that combines elements of the torture porn subgenre of horror. I would be lying if I said I enjoyed this, but what I did appreciate about this was that I was on the edge of my seat for the entire near one hour forty run time. This was written and directed by Bob Giordano in what was his feature film debut for both roles.

A woman (Abbi Butler - And Then It Goes Dark) desperate for money has heard about a secret and highly illegal game in which players participate in increasingly dangerous rounds of a game for a cash price of a million dollars. She manages to get a place in the game and this is where the movie starts. She is told by her game master (James J. Fuertes - Venom) that she is playing concurrently with others from around the world, and that she has to be the sole winner to get the cash prize. With each round more and more twisted than the last she must draw on her inner strength to have the physical and mental will to carry on.

I'm not keen on films that feature a lot of torture or mutilation so wasn't looking forward to those parts. The Odds manages to completely side step that aspect by heavily implying what is happening but doesn't actually show it. Rather than a cop out this was effective, the insinuations work very well, and avoid any subpar special effects. Of the game itself there are around seven rounds (I think). It starts off tame enough with the players having to see who can hold their hand over a candle flame the longest. It would be a spoiler to talk much more about the challenges themselves, safe to say it is revealed very early on the final round is the most deadly, with it a known fact that not all players ever survive the game. Along the way the challenges are nasty, especially one that involves losing body parts, and one involving a foot that I winced my way through (despite nothing actually being shown on camera). It is testament to the actors that I was still fully invested and coiled like a spring with anxiety.

Monday, 23 November 2020

Bayview Entertainment - Latest Horror Releases


I've been getting a bunch of emails telling me about new Bayview Entertainment releases so thought I would share them all here. On the 'HNN Presents' label comes the first bunch. 

Fabula and Profondo are now out on DVD. In Fabula a former detective (Denis Frison) arrives in a small Italian town which has a serial killer on the loose. He soon discovers the killer is inspired by fairy tales, and his investigation leads to a nightmare revelation about the killer's motive.
Profondo sees Leo arriving in a small seaside village. He goes in search of the 'Red Devil', which is a legendary marine animal that has inspired folklore in the area.


Psycho Therapy and Keeping Rosy are also now out under the 'HNN Presents' label. The former is about a therapist who goes insane and starts going after her patients.
Keeping Rosy is a British psycho-thriller. It stars Maxine Peake (The Theory of Everything) as a business woman who snaps and kills her cleaning lady after a tough day at work. Using her coldness she has learned through her daily life she works to cover up the crime.



Toro Loco Bloodthirsty is an action comedy from Chilean genre specialist Patricio Valladares. This follows a grizzled stranger who arrives in small town ruled over by a ruthless crime boss and his paraplegic son. With the help of a young woman, her geeky brother and a drag queen, the stranger sets out to clean the town.
Female Werewolf is about a mentally unstable woman who believes she may be a werewolf. This comes from Chris Alexander and is a HorrorNews.net presentation.



The final two releases from HNN Presents are Bunny The Killer Thing and If He Hollers. I reviewed the comedy horror Bunny back in 2018 and said of it "...this is a film so wonderfully shot and with such a likable cast that I was glued to the movie right up until the very end".
If He Hollers is a Mexican thriller about an innocent bachelorette party that goes very out of control after a group of female friends encounter a cowboy and secretly give him Viagra.



Reap and Insanity are two more horrors from Bayview Entertainment. In Reap a mysterious stranger arrives at a house party and informs the guests that they are all destined to die that night. They are told they must find replacements so that they can escape their destinies.
Insanity has a group of friends heading to an island for a class reunion. There, old grudges from their past come back to haunt them leading to mayhem.


Released on 16th November was Waratah. This one is described as 'An exciting, terrifying, and humorous psycho-thriller'. An ambitious actor and an albino with mental powers are connected by the sweet and innocent Trey Swift.


Finally, on 27th October the lovely Teacher Shortage came to DVD. I have had dealings with the director, Troy Escamilla and can assert that he seems like a great guy who really loves his slasher movies. In my review back in February I said "The soundtrack is killer, the kill scenes look wonderful...this was a blast to watch from start to finish".

Sunday, 22 November 2020

Gemini (1999) - Horror Film Review


I had never heard of the 1999 Japanese horror film, Gemini until learning it was coming to Blu-ray for the first time in Europe and the UK this year. It was directed by Shin'ya Tsukamoto who wrote and directed the cult horror, Tetsuo: The Iron Man. Gemini was a captivating movie which blended the realistic with flamboyant and theatrical performances.

Yukio (Masahiro Motoki) is a well respected doctor whose life was made complete after marrying the beautiful Rin (Ryo). This enigmatic woman suffers from amnesia after she was involved in a house fire, and so it is not known where she originated from. After the sudden death of his parents Yukio is confronted by a strange man named Sutekichi (also Motoki) who resembles him in every way. This man pushes Yukio down a well and takes over his life.

Objectively the story told here is quite simple, but it is shown in a way that kept me guessing as to what was going on. There is a unique look to this film world which is split into two halves, that of the rich people, and those from the slums. Much like the movie The Corpse Bride there is a distinct look for each of these collection of characters. Yukio's world is one of order, people are very ritualistic, show little emotion, and are very measured in their responses to the world. The characters of the slums on the other hand feel like they are stage performers, the rags and make-up they wear all very exaggerated, along with their performances. The scenes that occur within the slums felt like something out of a musical. One of the core themes here is the divide between the rich and the poor. Despite being a doctor, Yukio can't help but feel disgust and disdain for the poor, a belief that his father put into him. This comes to a head at one crazed point in the film when a poor woman arrives at his house begging for help for her plague ridden child. Yukio ends up ignoring her in order to instead see to the town Mayor who had had an accident while drunk.

Saturday, 21 November 2020

Resident Evil: Damnation (2012) - Horror Film Review


I have owned Resident Evil: Damnation for years but have always put off watching it. Back in 2008 I was really excited to learn a Resident Evil CG movie had been made. Resident Evil: Degeneration was as bland as they come though. It had an over reliance on super serious storylines full of action and ridiculous over the top action sequences, with the horror barely anywhere to be seen. I had a strong feeling that this would also be the case for this movie, and sadly I was right in my assumptions. The version of the film I watched had English dubbing as default, so I don't know how well the original Japanese would have fitted.

This works as a precursor to the video game Resident Evil 6, but only as a mild one, giving some minor set-up for characters in that game. Special agent Leon Kennedy (voiced by Matthew Mercer - Sword Art Online, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure) has been sent to a small Eastern European country to investigate claims that bio organic weapons (B.O.W.s) are being used in a civil war there. He is soon told to abandon his mission and leave the country, but he decides to ignore orders and stay. He learns that the rebels are indeed using B.O.W.s, using a Las Plagas (parasitic life form first mentioned in Resident Evil 4) in order to control monsters. They have resorted to desperate measures as they can see no other way to defeat the corrupt government led by President Belikova (Wendee Lee - Ninja Scroll, Akira). Her government it turns out also have access to some pretty nasty bio weapons of their own.

To be honest I didn't really understand a lot of the story, it was never explained very well. At any opportunity Damnation devolves into stupid action sequences, even in scenes where that had no right to exist. One prime example is when Ada Wong (Courtenay Taylor - Mass Effect 2) is having a discussion with the President. Suddenly they start fighting, doing dramatic kung-fu while the camera becomes obsessed with slow mo on every single punch and kick the two do. This absolute seriousness in such a stupid situation can't help but hurt the movie's attempt at telling a mature story. The story isn't even that complicated, it is just told in such a clumsy way that I was never really sure what was going on, it was dull as dishwater.

Friday, 20 November 2020

Don't Speak (2020) - Horror Film Review


Don't Speak
(originally known as Silent Place) is an indie horror film which was written and directed by Scott Jeffrey (Cupid, The Watcher 2). By either of its two titles it should be pretty obvious which successful horror of recent years this one is aping. Of course it is nowhere near the quality of A Quiet Place, however this surprised me with the atmosphere built up, and the bleak events shown.

Rita (Stephanie Lodge - The Watcher 2) arrives at her mum's remote farmhouse along with her family to find the place deserted. It isn't long before the family find things are far from ok. Dad, Alan (Ryan Davies - Heavy Duty) encounters a dying man whose last words warn him to run, while daughter Charlie (Georgina Jane - Cupid) gets attacked by some sort of creature in the barn. They soon learn this deadly creature attacks by sound, and so over one bloody night they attempt to regroup and escape the place.

I have seen a few of Scott Jeffrey's horror films this year and so I figured I would know what to expect. They are not really the highest in quality, often times the acting is suspect, and the indie budget is really obvious. In that respect I was blown away by Don't Speak. It features some good looking make-up effects, acting that on the whole really wasn't bad, and an atmosphere I felt pulled into. In fact the only thing really holding this back from a higher score was the story that didn't really do much. I'm fine with there not being much of an explanation for the events that transpire, but the minute to minute story beats here just seemed to consist of random family members getting separated from each other, and then other family members causing distractions so that whoever happens to be currently getting attacked can get away. If it wasn't for the moody vibe I feel this may have become boring.

Thursday, 19 November 2020

Everyone Laugh at Leanne (2019) - Short Horror Film Review


I recently had the pleasure of watching the M.W Daniels created short horror anthology, End of October. This anthology featured a film of his, October Loner which was quite weird, but not really that surprising seeing as his short in another anthology I saw this year, The Isolation Horrors was also quite weird. This style of horror is effective due to the uneasiness that comes from feeling like you are witnessing a world in which the normal rules do not apply. I was expecting this same style to be in his short horror film Everyone Laugh at Leanne, and I wasn't disappointed. 

Leanne (Kerry Newton) has everything she could want in her life, including a loving boyfriend (Tom Coulston) and great friends. However, one day things take a turn for the violently surreal, but are the horrific events really happening, or are they all a product of her paranoid mind?

I didn't think I would understand the plot, as Daniels excels at abstract stories, I felt this one could be open to interpretation. Initially things felt very down to earth and normal, but as the 13 minutes play out it all gets darker and darker. Parts of this really stood out for me, especially a scene that takes place in broad daylight. The lack of a clear explanation for the events that happen led to me drawing my own conclusions. This could be seen as a straight horror, but it can also be seen as a look at mental health, either perspective working.

With a small cast of five people enough happens in Everyone Laugh at Leanne to keep things entertaining, and there is an unnerving feel that persists throughout, helped along by things shifting up to keep the viewer unbalanced, never sure what is real and what is imagined.

SCORE:

Cupid (2020) - Horror Film Review


Cupid
is a low budget indie horror film that comes from the director of The Watcher and The Watcher 2, Scott Jeffrey. It follows a generic template in that the killer here is a themed one, and that they kill using the theme they are associated with, in this case love.

The myth of Cupid had him saving his love, Psyche, from death by pricking her with one of his blessed arrows. The intro to this film says in actuality the arrow he pricked her with had been secretly poisoned and it killed her. In despair Cupid went to the underworld and teamed up with Death, to become an avenging angel determined to take love away from anyone who doesn't deserve it. In modern day bullied school girl Faye (Georgina Jane - Witches of Amityville Academy) reaches breaking point on Valentines Day after being the victim of a cruel trick. Blinded by anger she performs a spell from the book of Black Magic she happens to have. She wishes for the end to love for everyone who is in the school she is at, but she doesn't really expect it to work. It does however, and now a vengeful Cupid (Bao Tieu - Jurassic World: The Fallen Kingdom) has arrived to literally break the hearts of the chosen targets.

The first half of this felt a little like an extended episode of Grange Hill, acting that was passable but wasn't amazing, the topic of bullying and of improper teacher/student relationships was all so normal compared to usual horror films. It all serves a purpose as to why Faye would resort to such desperate measures. The small cast is split between the nasty bullies, and Faye, her best friend, and a few teachers, most of these characters were not great. I couldn't stand the bullies, Elise (Sarah T. Cohen - Witches of Amityville Academy, The Watcher 2) in particular was just the worst. That does make their inevitable deaths all the more appealing though. I did think to begin with that the school kids would all survive as the bodycount initially is all about the older characters. Thankfully they do factor in to the overall kill count, which included some decent kills. I like how the plot got bended to ensure everyone who (in a film sense) was deserving of death got their time to shine.

Tuesday, 17 November 2020

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season1 (1997) - Horror TV Show Review


I am a huge fan of both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, yet I didn't actually start watching either the main show or the spin-off until they were multiple seasons in. I remember in the early 2000's it would be something that just happened to be on TV as me and my uni friends did pre-drinking on a Thursday night. Nowadays I have seen it a fair bit, it's one of those shows that might feel dated now, but it is still a blast. Season 1 consisted of just 12 episodes (all future seasons would feature 22) and it felt like it was finding its feet in terms of characters and the flow of the episodes.

For the few who don't know, Buffy the Vampire Slayer takes places in a universe where monsters exist, but the vast majority of humanity are blissfully unaware of this. Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar - I Know What You Did Last Summer) is a slayer; a female imbued with superhuman strength and tasked with killing monsters, specifically vampires. Each time a slayer dies a new one takes on their power, and Buffy is the latest. She moves to the town of Sunnydale with her mum, but unluckily for her the town is built on top of a 'hellmouth' which is a literal gateway to Hell, and so supernatural events happen more frequently than elsewhere. The Master (Mark Metcalf) is an ancient vampire who got trapped in the entrance to the hellmouth hundreds of years ago, and is getting close to finding a way to escaping his prison, which will be a terrible thing for the world. It is up to Buffy and her new friends; Xander (Nicholas Brendon), Willow (Alyson Hannigan) the librarian Giles (Anthony Head - Repo! The Genetic Opera), and friendly vampire Angel (David Boreanaz - Angel) to find a way to stop him.

All of my criticisms that I'm going to mention here don't detract from my enjoyment of the show. Heading back to this first season again I found it supremely interesting seeing how it all originated. Some of the characters here are surprisingly well developed, while others spend much of the season heading down wrong paths, only for their development to get course corrected later on. Xander and Willow are both likable characters, yet in this season their storylines are terrible. It starts with episode one, Welcome to the Hellmouth in which their best friend, Jesse is taken (and eventually killed an episode later). This character is never ever mentioned again, the two friends seemingly replacing him with Buffy right away. Xander spends the entire season in love with Buffy, Willow spends the whole season in love with Xander. Neither of these two storylines go anywhere and it just felt so by the numbers, so it is good that these plotlines later get abandoned. Also with Willow, her defining characteristic being she is some sort of hacker thankfully gets dropped in later seasons. Giles was a great character, I had nothing bad to say about him, not so much his counterpart, Jenny (Robia Scott) who first appears in one of the episodes that had dated the worst, I Robot... You Jane in which a demon gets reborn on the internet. Having Jenny and her I.T students sat around PC's with tiny screened huge monitors and talking about 'surfing the web' was quite cringe in modern context.
While Giles and Buffy are both great characters I also enjoyed Angel's inclusion in this season, appearing as an enigmatic person who comes across as a bit neutral in the conflict, before the mid-season reveal that he is actually a vampire. He always felt like someone who was more interesting the less you knew about him. It is Cordelia (Charisma Carpenter) who was the biggest surprise in that she gets the most development over the season. She starts off as a self centered popular kid who gets joy in bullying those she sees as beneath her. By seasons end she is fully clued in to the evils of the world and shows her version of respect for the protagonists.

Monday, 16 November 2020

Survival Skills (2020) - Comedy Drama Film Review


First off, Quinn Armstrong's Survival Skills is not a horror film. A feature length version of his 2017 short film of the same name this plays out in a unique format, blurring the line between fiction and reality. It combines drama with humour, which takes an increasingly darker tone as the story plays out. Due to its weirdness it feels at home on this blog.

The film is presented as a lost training video from the 1980s, with the set-up being that it is an instructional video intended to guide the graduates of the Middletown Police Academy on what to expect in their first year as a police officer. The narrator (Stacy Keach - Prison Break, Escape From L.A) tells the story of fresh faced new recruit Jim Williams (Vayu O'Donnell - voice work on the Red Dead Redemption II video game), optimistic and eager to do his best for the community. Over the course of the year we see his slow unravelling from this chirpy persona to a more jaded and bitter man, mainly stemming from a domestic abuse case he takes too much of an interest in.

This is a strange film to review, as it works both as a proper film telling a proper story, but also coexisting within the constraints of its instructional video format. Characters are trapped within the confines of their roles, but often fight to break out of this. Oftentimes the narrator finds himself battling against Jim's decisions, trying to put things back on track. This brought to mind The Stanley Parable which did a similar concept but as a video game. In that one it was the player fighting against the narrator, while here it is Jim. The narrator tries to course correct events as they go off script, this is shown in a variety of ways. At times the footage will be rewound to try and force Jim to take different actions, or fast forwarded to skip past non important stuff. There are quite a few fourth wall breaking moments where characters will look directly at the camera. The whole film has the look of an old VHS tape, and usually at times when situations on screen get a bit intense the tracking will get lost and distortion will set in to disguise the viewer from what is happening. This also works as a way to show Jim's reality not matching what he has been taught to expect.

Sunday, 15 November 2020

Under the Bed (2020) - Short Horror Film Review


Under the Bed
is the latest short horror from French director Kévin Mendiboure (The Mannequin, The Follower). This time around he is joined by Vincent Darkman (writer of both this and The Follower) who co-directs alongside. Much like The Mannequin this doesn't try to break the mould of short horrors, instead picking a typical idea and crafting an effective enough short around it.

As a child, the woman (Alexia Zahedi - The Mannequin) in Under the Bed was scared of a creature, which she told her mum lived under the bed. Now grown up, over one long night she discovers that the fear of her childhood is very much real.

Despite being a French film there isn't a need to know that language. Get past the introduction and there is no dialogue here, save for screams. The short is just over 4 minutes in length and so quickly gets into the swing of things. It was all very typical, there are false scares, and moments where it seems something terrible is about to happen. I appreciated how it approaches this terror, rather than the very tired approach of having the monster suddenly appear in full view at the films conclusion it is quite early into this that it is shown. This was an effective moment, but it did then lead to a feeling that it was just playing around with the woman rather than being a legitimate threat. The creature design was decent, I especially liked the long fingers of it.

Under the Bed is an effective short horror film, but it doesn't do a lot that was novel or surprising. Instead it is content to follow a lot of the tropes of the short horror genre, though follows them in a competent manner. For its short length alone this is definitely worth a watch.

SCORE:


Saturday, 14 November 2020

Color Out of Space (2019) - Horror Film Review


H.P Lovecraft is the only horror author who has ever been able to genuinely scare me with his writings. His many stories managed to tap into something that makes it feel like you are losing a part of your soul reading them, I find them all to be terrifying. Adapting any of his work always loses the essence of what made them so effective. I have seen many film adaptations over the years and while many have been decent, they haven't been scary. Such is the case with Richard Stanley's (The Island of Dr. Moreau, Dust Devil) Color Out of Space, a modern day reimagining of the 1927 classic short story.

Nathan Gardner (Nicolas Cage - Mandy) lives with his wife, Theresa (Joely Richardson - Event Horizon) and their three children, Lavinia (Madeleine Arthur - Snowpiercer), Benny (Fear the Walking Dead: Flight 462) and Jack (Julian Hilliard - The Haunting of Hill House) out in the country. One night a meteorite crashes near their property. The meteorite brings change to the land, mutating the animals, changing the landscape, and slowly turning the Gardner family insane. Meanwhile, a young hydrologist, Ward (Elliot Knight - American Gothic) discovers that since the strike, the water in the area has been displaying bizarre readings.

This wasn't an easy film to follow, yet a hell of a lot easier than Mandy was (this comes from the producers of that one). To begin with it felt fresh seeing Cage playing a more down to earth role, but this eccentric actor gets to ramp up his performance as the movie plays out. Cracks begin to show with his frequent tantrums, and by the third act he has gone pretty crazy, something that Cage excels at portraying. The story is so weird and it has many moving parts to it. The key concept for all the horror that unfolds is the strange 'color out of space' which is able to affect reality in a whole host of abstract ways. It has the ability to bend time, changing day to night almost instantly, it can affect radio waves and cause people to behave erratically. It also brought with it an unexpected feeling of John Carpenter's The Thing, was a joy to see several monsters that looked they had walked off the set of that film. It includes a small herd of alpacas who get fused together in some sort of painful looking mess, leading to one of the more nightmarish moments.

Friday, 13 November 2020

Numerus Duo (2020) - Short Comedy Horror Film Review


Numerus Duo
 is a short comedy horror film that was written and directed by Nick Fiorella (Safe House). It has had a successful run on the festival circuit, picking up 12 awards and 3 nominations, including Best Short at the Chicago Horror Film Festival. The humour didn't appeal to me, but I can't deny this was a very well made short.

This takes place in a convent school and during a dark and stormy night a group of schoolgirls are taking communion. One of the girls, Christle (Makenna Weyburne - She Watches from the Woods, The Unseen) begins to feel ill after taking the communion bread, and so the priest (Rick Montgomery Jr. - Lake Artifact) excuses her. The girl heads to the women's toilets where it becomes clear a demon is trying to steal her soul.

This begins strong, a biblical quote before heading to the church the short takes place in. It is all played seriously up to the point Christle heads to the toilet. With the possessed girl there was similarities with The Exorcist, though with a different bodily fluid to vomit being used. The humour here is literally toilet humour, and that has never been something I'm keen on. Over the course of the eight minutes there are quite a few gross out moments, I liked how seriously characters were acting for the most part despite the ridiculous nature of the plot. There was also good lighting used, and I thought the look of the possessed girl was decent.

Numerus Duo had great atmosphere throughout, the special effects were mostly good also, I liked the lighting used in the toilet scenes, and overall there was a consistent horror tone despite the subject matter. It was the comedy here that I didn't get on with, though that's just due to my personal preferences rather than any fault in the storytelling. Check out the film's Facebook page for more details.

SCORE:



Thursday, 12 November 2020

Bullets of Justice (2019) - Post Apocalyptic Comedy Film Review


Bullets of Justice
is one of those strange beasts of a film whose comedic value comes from how terrible it is, but with the awfulness of the film being very purposeful. As always with these types of film it is post apocalyptic (see also Cybernetic Showdown and Manborg), and features an extremely serious main lead unaware of how much of a walking caricature he is. This was directed by Valeri Milev (Wrong Turn 6: Last Resort), who also co-wrote it along with the actor who plays the main lead, Timur Turisbekov.

The film takes place in a world where World War III decimated humanity. The survivors of that calamity found themselves faced with a new threat, half pig/half human monsters that came to be known as 'muzzles'. The American and Russian armies teamed up to battle this new foe, and developed a bio-weapon designed to wipe out the pig creatures. Instead they discovered it had the unintended effect of making all humans and muzzles sterile, with the only exception being a near mythical muzzle called 'the pig mother'. Rob Justice (Turisbekov) is a former bounty hunter now working with the last remaining human resistance group, obsessed with finding and killing the pig mother in order to wipe out the muzzles for good.

There are parts to Bullets of Justice that are excellent and there are parts of it that are terrible in a non-funny way. Right from the start the craziness of the world is displayed, opening as it does with a insane looking fight against a jet pack wearing, duel mini-gun wielding pig man, who has a little man hiding inside his jet pack armed with a gun. This really set the standard for the insanity of some of these fight sequences here. All the action scenes were amazing to witness and ridiculous at the same time. A gun fight that takes place with Rob having accidentally teleported half inside a wall, another gun fight in which he starts off naked, and somehow manages to get fully dressed as he fights, before leaping through a wall and landing perfectly in the driving seat of his truck. Moments like that were fantastic to see and show Bullets of Justice at its very best. Despite the effects sometimes looking awful (again, on purpose) there was a unified look to this, from the sets to the costume design it all look great.

Wednesday, 11 November 2020

Vazum - Rated V (2020) - Horror Music Album Review


I don't usually review music and this is my second album in a week I am taking a look at. Detroit 'deathgaze' duo Vazum (Emily Sturm and Zach Pliska) released a new Halloween themed concept album at the start of October titled Rated V. The album is made up of two distinct halves, the first features 6 tracks of doomgaze rock songs, the second half made up of ambient instrumental tracks.

Bad Clown kicks things off and is one the longest songs on the album. Over 9 minutes you get a song that was actually faster in paced than I expected, though still slow and doomgazy as you might expect. Werewolf comes next and I enjoyed this one a lot more. It, like many of the tracks here feels relentless in how the chugging guitars play out, the wolf howls at several points were a fun addition. The third track is Frankenstein Girl and was another good one. Much like the others I love how the music just pounds away and feels like it could go on forever without ever becoming dull. This is followed by Vampyre, which itself is followed by Vampyre Killer, that was the fastest and heaviest track on the album. In a weird way it reminded me of lite rave music, not that it was at all. Witch Lich is the final proper track and returns back to a slower format with a vague Cradle of Filth sound.

The second part of the album is the ambient stuff. I figured I would know what to expect but there was one surprise here. Phantoms reminded me of one of those trashy eighties horror films that happens to have a great soundtrack, while follow up tracks Witch's Breath did what it said on the tin, it was indeed very witchy in feel. Summoner was very ambient, though it does end with what sounds like a demon being summoned. Clown was the surprise track, it was a jovial carnival tune that was creepy, made more so by the sounds of someone crying in the background, the crying changing into out of control uncomfortable laughing as the track progresses. Penultimate track 13th Hour is another background sounding one, with final track Abyss indeed sounding like it is the accompaniment to discovering a gaping maw to Hell in the earth.

At nearly an hour and a half long this is one of the longer albums I have heard for a good while, technically it was like two albums in one which would explain that. All in all it wasn't bad, some the proper tracks were great, while the ambient ones are surprisingly varied despite carrying similar sorts of vibes. Rated V is out now, check out Vazum's Bandcamp page for more details.

SCORE:

Tuesday, 10 November 2020

Atmosphere - The Day Before Halloween (2020) - Film/Music Review


I don't often put up reviews of music albums and with good reason. Of course I love music, but I usually treat it as background noise for doing other things, typically nowadays for tidying my house. I certainly would never listen to something like Atmosphere's The Day Before Halloween, I didn't suspect it would be my thing. I confess to having never heard of them before, going by the press release, Atmosphere are an indie hip-hop group, made up of rapper Slug (Sean Daley) and DJ/Producer Ant (Anthony Davis), and have been going for around 20 years, coming from Minneapolis. They like to branch out from their typical sound and apparently new album, The Day Before Halloween is one such divergence.

In addition to a new album they have also released a film that was directed by Jason Goldwatch. This film plays out over forty minutes with the soundtrack being the group's album. Rather than being made up of original footage this film is a superbly blended mix of infomercials, soundbites, stock footage, interviews and more giving it a nostalgic feel. The wraparound story uses footage from the retro looking horror video game The Convenience Store and has an employee at a convenience store coming into possession of a series of videotapes. Each video she watches at her home features a different track from Atmosphere's new album, and its own unique set of neatly edited stock footage. It starts for instance with a series of static drawings of a child as he embarks on a drug trip. It soon becomes clear to the new owner of the tapes that the original owner desperately wants them returned.

First the visuals, this is attractive in its consistent design, everything about this feels retro, and I enjoyed how this old footage is affected to blend it into the overall feel the music provides. There is lots of drug imagery throughout, often edited together with other footage, such as ecstasy pills floating around in the background, or with stock footage of snowmobiles spliced with someone snorting cocaine so that it looks like the snow from the footage is what they are taking. It never feels overly trippy but there is something grimy and vaguely unsettling by the mix of the two mediums. Like the music itself this part got better as the film plays out. While the story element here is slight it occurs enough that The Day Before Halloween did feel like it was telling one rather than being unfocussed.

Onto the music itself. I don't know much about music, but I loved this album, it got better and better the more I let myself sink into the sound. I enjoyed it enough that I added the album to my collection on Apple Music, I am listening to it as I write this review. The music is chilled and laid back without being sweet sounding. There is an off kilter feel to it that often makes it sound quite dark without it actually being loud and angry. The horror element comes from the sound of the music that features plenty of synth and steady drums that never overwhelms, but becomes the driving force behind the rapping. Eighties synth sounding stuff is always going to appeal to me, the eighties really had the best horror soundtracks. It all ends on Sleep Apnea that to me was the very essence of the vibe this album was going for.

For someone who can't just listen to music and do nothing this was lovely to get immersed in. Since watching this for review I have seen it twice more, and must have listened to the album itself seven or eight times. The Day Before Halloween is out now, here will show all the various ways to get access to it. I will leave it to the press release to close out this review; 'It's menacing. It's murky. It's George Orwell meets Keith Haring at a video arcade, on New Year's Day, 1985.'

SCORE:


Monday, 9 November 2020

Songbird - Horror Film News


The trailer for the new Michael Bay (A Quiet Place, The Purge) produced pandemic thriller, Songbird has premiered. Directed by Adam Mason (The Devil's Chair) and starring K.J Apa (Riverdale) and Sofia Carson (Descendants) alongside Craig Robinson (This Is The End), Bradley Whitford (Get Out, The Cabin in the Woods), Peter Stormare (Fargo, Constantine), Alexandra Daddario (Texas Chainsaw), Paul Walter Hauser and Demi Moore (Ghost).

The film looks to present an exaggerated version of the real world Covid-19 pandemic with Covid-23, a more deadly virus that has caused much of the world to go into a far longer lockdown, and harsher punishments for those who break the rules. The trailer gave me a The Purge type vibe, with a crazed marshall and his biosuit cronies looking to forcibly evict tenants from a building suspected of containing an infected woman. I'm not sure what I feel about this one, on the one hand its themes might be easier to identify with, having such similarities to what is going on in the real world. On the other hand though I don't know anyone who isn't sick to death of hearing about Covid and am not sure if that is something people would want to see. Still, a single trailer is far too little to pass judgement on a movie and so I will keep an open mind.

Songbird is the first feature film to be made during Covid-19 in Los Angeles and is the first major Hollywood film made about the Coronavirus.

Sunday, 8 November 2020

Goodnight, Halloween (2020) - Short Horror Film Review


Goodnight, Halloween
is a short thriller that comes from Luther Bhogal-Jones (Black Spot, Creak). Despite featuring monsters this isn't so much a horror, but does something that is both retro in feel while also being engaging.

The 13 minute short takes place in an alternate reality in which all the creatures of Halloween have always co-existed alongside man. In the 1980's a new government policy has been enforced which allows humans to exterminate these monsters without fear of consequence. The short picks up a year after this bill, with the majority of monsters either dead or in hiding. One of the few surviving monsters is Konel (Jean-Daniel Byrne/Andrew Calverley) who is in the process of desperately trying to upload a file to the web which will prove the governments genocidal program. He is close to succeeding in his mission, but with government agents closing in, and a traitor among the surviving monsters it is a race against time.

Apparently Goodnight, Halloween was 14 years in the making, initially thought up when Skype was just becoming a thing. The style of the short felt very 2020 with the three main characters separate from each other, conversing via a video call. It was also timely that the government leader here seemed coincidently similar to Donald Trump, while characters essentially being locked down in their various hideouts rang true to this crazy year as well. I admit it was a bit hard to take it seriously due to the idea of monsters using technology to communicate, especially when the protagonist is a pumpkin headed leaf creature! Thankfully his design is pretty cool looking, while the witch and vampire he talks to are cloaked in digital effects to reduce their visibility.

Being set in the eighties there is some great synth music going on, I liked the look of everything as well. The alternate part of the world meaning despite being the eighties the internet exists, and also for some reason the letter 'C' doesn't seem to exist. There was a cool design for the computer screens combing retro graphics with more modern technology.

From my memory of Bhogal Jone's previous shorts this seemed the most polished and well filmed. The set design and special effects were both pleasing, and the story, while simple, still remained thrilling. Goodnight, Halloween is free to view on YouTube, so I suggest you check it out and see for yourself the unique blend of styles used for this paranoid digital thriller.

SCORE:



Saturday, 7 November 2020

Far Cry: New Dawn (2019) - Post Apocalyptic Video Game Review (Playstation 4)


I have long enjoyed the Far Cry series of first person action video games and it is one of the few ongoing series in which I have stayed up to date, having played all eight entries. None of the previous games have been reviewed on this site (aside from the zombie DLC for Far Cry 5), after all they are action games and not horror, but with last year's Far Cry: New Dawn enjoying a post apocalyptic setting it meant that it can get reviewed, as that setting is something I am always happy to write about. It's impossible to talk about this game without spoiling the ending to Far Cry 5, so beware of spoilers for that one here.

New Dawn is a direct sequel to the fifth game and takes place 17 years after a nuclear war decimated the world, an event termed 'the Collapse' by the survivors. Hope County in America fared better than many other places, with it felt that being situated in a valley protected it from the worst of the impact of the bombs, while the high amount of prepper bunkers in the area meant more people were able to survive. Over many years two groups emerged who were able to bring back some semblance of normality. The south of the valley saw the emergence of the township of Prosperity where all were welcomed. The north of the valley saw a new community called New Eden, made up of people who have rejected all forms of technology. For years all prospered, until a vast roving group of bandits calling themselves The Highwaymen, and led by twin sisters Mickey (voiced by Cara Ricketts - Far Cry 5, Far Cry: Primal) and Lou (Leslie L. Miller) invaded the county. The group rampaged across the land, kidnapping, murdering and extorting everyone they could. The daughter of the leader of Prosperity, Carmina (Reina Hardesty) had heard about a man named Rush (Patrick Garrow - Slasher) whose group had brought law and order back to many places in the U.S and so set out to find him. She was successful and he agrees to bring a train loaded with supplies and his best soldiers to help defeat the Highwaymen, but he gets ambushed, the train destroyed, the supplies stolen, and everyone killed. All except Rush who is kidnapped by the sisters, and the Captain of his soldiers who escapes and makes her (or his) way to Prosperity.

While this is a direct sequel to Far Cry 5 it is not a main line game, and was released with a budget price. It took roughly ten to fifteen hours to complete and I would say is roughly half the size of 5. The game takes place on the same map as before, but it is vastly changed up so that it is always a cool surprise when you realise a location you have gone to is the same place as the previous game. Despite being post apocalyptic the game world is a beautiful place, full of wildlife, trees and flowers, the locations themselves show the effects of what has gone on. Many buildings lay abandoned, or buried by the earth, the others have been daubed in the Highwaymen's token bright pink graffiti (a great touch being the gangster rap music that blasts out of loud speakers at these places). This is an open world game in which the player is free to explore much of the map from the get go. There are plenty of side missions to do, such as recruiting characters who can fight alongside you, solving little treasure maps to get resources, taking over enemy outposts, and even travelling to seven different American locations (such as Alcatraz) to go on supply runs. There is plenty to do, but the smaller scope of the game can be seen with such ideas as being encouraged to retake enemy outposts, with the only difference being the enemies holding them being stronger. You get perks with which to upgrade your character (such as the ability to take out enemies using stealth) and also currency that you can use to upgrade Prosperity, which unlocks the ability to craft more powerful vehicles and weapons and increase your base health amount.