Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Mirrors 2

"Mirrors 2" (2010, Victor Garcia, Regency Enterprises, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment) is the sequel to 2008's "Mirrors".

Max (Nick Stahl) is a man recovering from the loss of his fiancée as a result of a car accident.  In an attempt to get his life back on track, Max accepts a job at the Mayflower Department store which his father, Jack (William Katt), has refurbished using some of the original features of the previously derelict building. The opening for a security guard had recently come about due to a gruesome and mysterious "accident" left the previous guard unable to work anymore.

Upon taking the position, Max begins to see strange things moving in the mirrors of the building and beyond. As department store staff begin to succumb to disturbing ends, Max begins to piece together links to a larger mystery with the help of Elizabeth (Emmanuelle Vaugier), who's missing sister (Stephanie Honoré Sanchez) may be the key to the grim goings on.

A surprisingly good sequel to 2008's excellent jump fest. Although the second film doesn't enjoy quite as polished effects,  it enjoys some good character interaction and some effective gore. The mirror harbingers of each death are as disturbing as the original, although once or twice the actions were less effective due to cartoonish style of gore, however, the actual resultant character deaths are, in the main, realistic and gruesome.

A fun, if a little "by the numbers" plot which keeps a good pace and strong leads from Stahl and Vaugier.

[image: Regency Enterprises, et al] 


Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Happy Death Day

"Happy Death Day" (2017, Christopher B. Landon, Blumhouse Productions, Universal Pictures) is a horror comedy homage to "Groundhog Day" following an entitled college girl.

Theresa "Tree" Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) is a student at an American college. She is a member of a Sorority, she parties hard and drinks too much and she's having an affair with one of her lecturers. Basically, she's a typical college movie-biatch. On her birthday, however, Tree wakes to find herself sleeping on the dorm bed of one of her male classmates, Carter (Israel Broussard) (hint, not a cool classmate). Enraged at her drunken shenanigans, she rudely makes her leave and goes about her day as planned. However, that night she meets a masked killer on her way to a party and dies.

But, that's not the end. Tree then awakes to relive her birthday again and again, trying to find out who her killer is before it becomes too late!

A fun film boasting some good old horror carnage, wit and humour and even a likeable protagonist who develops depth and emotional attachment through her journey.

All in all I'd say this film was as sleek as it was funny and, teamed up with "The Final Girls" and "Tucker and Dale vs Evil", we'd have ourselves a pretty damn good night.

[Image: Blumhouse Productions]

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Lord of Illusions

"Lord of Illusions" (1995, Clive Barker, Seraphim Films, United Artists) is a film based on one of Barker's short stories, "The Last Illusion" from the Books of Blood volume 6.

A cult led by a man called Nix (Daniel von Bargen) who possesses magical powers sees a bloody battle in which a group of former cult members take Nix down with the help of a young girl whom the cult had been holding as a hostage.

Years later, Detective Harry D'Armour (Scott Bakula), becomes involved in investigating a string of murders involving the cult's victorious defectors; occultist and fortune teller, Quaid (Joseph Latimore), and popular stage magician, Swann (Kevin J. O'Connor). And what's this? He's enlisted by none other than Swann's wife, Dorothea (Famke Janssen), who turns out to be someone key from the earlier plot! But can D'Armour help solve the mystery of the murderous cult, or will he and Dorothea die trying?

In true Clive Barker style, there's some really nice practical effects in this film and a few sordid scenes and magical battles. While nowhere near the visual splendour of the first "Hellraiser" movie or "Nightbreed", "Lord of Illusions" still holds its own as a visually impressive film with a slow and wandering, but not dis-interesting plot.

[Image: United Artists, et al]

Sunday, 25 February 2018


"Emilie" (2016, Michael Thelin, Uncorked Productions) is an unnerving home invasion thriller preying on the fears of a lot of parents leaving their kids alone with someone new.

When their usual babysitter is unavailable on the eve of their anniversary dinner, the Thompson's arrange for a new babysitter called Anna to take care of their three children. When Anna shows up she seems perfect, but it isn't long before the kids come to realise that Anna is not who she says she is....

A well executed film that really builds some tension as it gets going. "Anna" (Sarah Bolger) is revealed to be a twisted young woman called Emilie who is keen to push the kids to dangerous levels. The film is difficult to watch, particularly as it involves the endangerment of the kids. The kids themselves give an excellent and believable performance.

While the film isn't completely without flaws, the pacing for instance can be a little patchy, it does enjoy an excellent shocking creep factor and pushes the boundaries well.

[Image: Uncorked Productions]

Saturday, 24 February 2018


"Splatter" (2009, Joe Dante, Roger Corman, Netflix) is a short web series from the earlier days of the concept of TV streaming.

Johnny Splatter (Corey Feldman) was a troubled rock star who filmed himself graphically committing suicide. A small group of family, friends and colleagues are invited to his home for a will reading. Each, suspecting that they're about to be handed a massive payout, turn up, despite revealing that they didn't exactly like Johnny much.

Suddenly, the TV springs to life, revealing that Splatter filmed his will prior to his untimely demise... Or, is he back to take vengeance on his unappreciative acquaintances? As the episodes progressed, viewers were asked to vote for who would meet their death next.

The series suffers from its overtly corny style that comes across as a little too sincere, but overall I found the layout, practical effects and over the top characters to be tongue-in-cheek and a bit of fun.  There were, apparently, more episodes but only the initial run of three are available to view easily on Netflix. It is undeniably a disappointing effort from Dante and Corman, but this is likely down to the confines of the schedule and the gimmick.

Horror films have a great and long history of using gimmicks, and this early example of a Netflix original is no different. Feldman's vengeful zombie delivers a demanding "Who's next?" at the end of every episode and, at the time, the audience were given the chance to vote. It's cheesy, but that's what I was there for. I've also just always liked Corey Feldman.

We have the usual tropes and a small cast of characters including the ever awesome Tony Todd bringing us the only seemingly sane character in the bunch. While the short series is hammy and manages not to be particularly innovative, despite its natty gimmick, it delivers its resolution quickly and was certainly part of Netflix's foray into changing viewer's habits and a step towards the innovation and horror series being created today.

[Image: Netflix]

Monday, 19 February 2018


"Radius" (2017, Caroline Labrèche, Steeve Léonard, EMA Films, Peripatetic Pictures, Title Media, Filmoption International) is a supernatural thriller.

Liam (Diego Klattenhoff) awakes to find himself suffering from amnesia after a car crash. He flags down a car looking for a lift only to find, to his dismay, a corpse within. Spooked, he walks on to a roadside diner to find everyone within also dead. Convinced that there is some airborne virus, he makes his way to his home (known to him because of his driving licence) to wait out the epidemic. Soon, however he finds that it is his own close proximity, and not a virus, that is the cause of the mysterious and sudden deaths. Things become even more confusing when a woman (Charlotte Sullivan) finds Liam who not only also has amnesia, but whose own close proximity to Liam stops his deathly curse. As the pair are hunted by the authorities, who are following up on the mass deaths, they begin to uncover more and more about their lives and how their stories are intertwined.

A really excellent yarn that was engaging, twisted and kind of beautiful. The film plays out the mystery at a good pace and we uncover the clues along with the characters. Despite their amnesia, we develop a link with Liam and "Jane" that makes the twists and turns of their journey that much more hard-hitting.

The deaths of the unfortunate humans and animals who encounter Liam's deadly radius are quick but chilling and the bloodless white-blue eyes were a haunting and stylish touch.

A film definitely worth checking out, "Radius" delivers its intrigue and its thrills in a steady balance and manages a couple of pulse-pounding scenes where our protagonists must fight to stick together or else doom those around them.

[Image: EMA Films, et al]

Sunday, 18 February 2018

The Ritual

"The Ritual" (2017, David Bruckner, Entertainment One, Imaginarium Productions) is the film adaptation of the novel by Adam Nevill.

A group of friends go on a hiking trip in the Swedish Wilderness to honour the tragic death of their friend. However, the trip goes from melancholy to menacing when they become lost and begin to realise that they are being chased by a dark and powerful presence in the forest.

"The Ritual" is good for a number of reasons and I'm going to try and get these down with as few spoilers as possible. But, as ever, if you'd rather not know any details before watching I recommend you click away now because there's lots of things I want to say about this film.

Firstly, the film (and I also assume the book, but I'm yet to read it, having only learned of its existence through researching this film) explores a lot of deep stuff. Our main protagonist is Luke (Rafe Spall) who witnessed the murder of his friend, Robert (Paul Reid), first hand and was spared a similar fate only by hiding. Throughout the film we see that Luke is haunted even before the forest with his deep guilt over not doing more to save Robert. He's a broken man who hasn't yet started to deal with what's happened. We also get to learn, as the group's friendships unravel in the stress of survival, that he's not alone in blaming himself for Robert's demise. The main journey of the film becomes not just survival of the forest, but of being a survivor ultimately and pushing past guilt to move forward in life. It's a strong message and "The Ritual" handles it well and with care. Luke is no hero. He's not even a particularly charming or likeable character. He's just a guy trying to live with what's happening. And I found that to be very effective and kind of refreshing.

Our other college buddies consist of; charismatic leader, Hutch (Robert James-Collier); quiet but funny Phil (Arsher Ali) and; the guy who doesn't really want to be there at all, Dom (Sam Troughton). The group dynamic is good and the team come across as genuine old college pals all moving on in their lives. We get a hint of everyone's fears in the movie and the characters are rounded enough to care about. Although personally I feel Phil was a bit short changed in the end.

Now to tackle what I really liked about the film; The scares. It's not a huge dialogue driven piece and the strong visuals make this a good thing. There's been a lot of 'thoughtful' 'quiet' horror recently that's more boring than artfully chilling, but "The Ritual" delivers its scares with style. The setting (actually Romania) goes from beautiful and picturesque to menacing and dark very nicely. We have some horror tropes in the form of spooky signs and abandoned cabins that don't feel overdone and are plot-relevant. We even have a skilful build up of our main antagonist from glimpses through the trees to a full on reveal that is both still scary and wonderfully designed. There are jumps and gore, freaky dream sequences, perilous situations and mythology.

The plot moves along at a good pace and the story actually develops as we go without just repeating the same style of scares over and over again. There are, of course, weaker points but they're all pretty arbitrary. Really, in my view, this film deserves lots of praise.

[Image: Entertainment One, Netflix, et al]