Saturday, 9 June 2018

Hereditary

"Hereditary" (2018, Ari Aster, PalmStar Media, Finch Entertainment, Windy Hill Pictures) is a supernatural horror centred around a very unusual family.


When her mother, Ellen, dies, artist Annie (Toni Collette), feels guilty that she is not sad. Her mother had been a very difficult person to love, after all. Her husband, Steve (Gabriel Byrne), is supportive and her teenaged son, Peter (Alex Wolff), is fairly indifferent. But her young daughter, Charlie (Milly Shapiro), who was closest to her grandmother, is inconsolable.


Annie and her family are a strange bunch at the best of times, but little Charlie is an unusual child with a somewhat morose interest in death. Throughout the film we begin to learn or catch glimpses of just how strange the family's lives have been. When tragedy strikes the family again they begin to understand that there is something darker at play here, and it may all stem from Ellen...


A really enthralling film that kept me captivated throughout. Although the plot doesn't deliver constant pulse-pounding terror, the characters are just odd enough and the plot just emotional enough to keep you on the edge of your seat.


Annie is a study in dysfunctionality, perfectly and movingly performed by Collette who keeps the tension and emotion dialled up to 11 with a believable and oddly sympathetic effect despite some of the character's actions.


Shaprio gives a very memorable and haunting performance as the disturbing young Charlie, and Wolff really brings the events affecting Peter to a level that surpasses typical horror movie levels. Byrne's father character is against all odds, trying to keep the family going. The film is superiorly acted on all counts.


Although the final scenes may seem to go to sudden and extreme lengths in quick succession, as a 70s horror fan, I felt that it really paid an excellent but modernised homage to the genre.


Definitely worth catching in the cinema, it may not terrify you, but it will certainly stay with you for a while...


[Image: PalmStar Media, et al]
Hani

Satanic

"Satanic" (2016, Jeffrey G. Hunt, MarVista Entertainment) is a supernatural horror.


A group of college kids (Sarah Hyland, Steven Krueger, Justin Chon and Clara Mamet) take a detour on their spring break trip to Coachella to check out some Satanic Panic sites in LA. On the way, they make some dubious decisions, meet some creepy characters and accidentally find themselves involved in the mysterious and deadly workings of a cult of devil worshippers.


A fairly slow film that has some good points, but all in all did not contain enough gore or brains to make it anything ground-breaking.


The good: the film boasts a few seemingly practical effects. It also manages to give most of the main characters fairly equal screen time and not pick a particular favourite until nearer the end. The locations are all also very effective and create some nice scenes, and the film has a fun little twist that didn't come out of nowhere, but gave the end a nice kick.    


The bad: most of the action happens at the tail end of the film resulting in a fair bit of build up that loses steam a little over halfway before picking up again. Our group of protagonists are also fairly unlikeable losing some of my viewer sympathy. Liking the characters isn't always a 'must-have' in horror, but sometimes it's a plus.


Our protagonists are also a bit dim (again not uncommon in horror films) and make some terrible, terrible life choices which kind of lead them from bad situation to bad situation. Whilst, as plots go, this is fairly fool-proof, it did make the situation of the group of wannabe true-crime extraordinaires seem less tragic when things started to go wrong for them.


While not bringing anything new to the B-movie genre and suffering a little from the pacing, "Satanic" delivered a watchable piece suitable to a slow Netflix night.


[Image: MarVista Entertainment]
Hani

Friday, 25 May 2018

Kanika

"Kanika" aka "कनिका" (2017, Pushkar Manohar, Ankit (Sunshine)) is a supernatural revenge horror from India. It is in Marathi language and is available with English subtitles.


Kaushik (Sharad Ponkshe) is a well-off doctor working in his own hospital. He is greedy and happy to flaunt laws in order to receive more money. After his security guard leaves, citing ghosts, Kaushik begins to see the spectre of a little girl haunting him. Soon, he begins to lose friends and colleagues under mysterious circumstances. His wife, Vaishali (Chaitrali Gupte) begins to worry that her husband has lost his mind... The little girl is after revenge, but possibly death is too quick?


The film covers a very polarising subject: abortion. It's a subject that can be difficult to understand across different cultures, genders, religions and social circles. Within different groups, issues with the subject can vary greatly. The main theme behind this film is to shine a light on the practice in the region of terminating pregnancies because of the gender of the child and its resultant social standing. In the case described within the plot, the mother did not want to do this and thus, a vengeful ghost is born.


I have not had as many opportunities to watch Indian horror as I have Japanese, European and American. The film is fairly low-budget with a few plot holes and some long winded dialogue, but it does have a certain charm to it. Our protagonist (or maybe he's the real antagonist?), Kaushik, is a fairly unlikeable person; A greedy and cowardly man who displays some fairly humorous behaviour in his attempt to save himself. There's also a scene with a treadmill where they made the actor mime walking which was decidedly distracting.


Kanika herself has a few good moments where she appears in different places, and similarly to the vengeful spirits within The Grudge and Ring franchises, her appearance is bedraggled with hair covering her face. There are a few scenes where she's not used as effectively and her story does not reach a fully satisfying conclusion.


All in all, the film is fairly low impact. It's not scary enough to make it a thrilling horror, it's not daft enough to venture into the cult B-movie arena and, although it carries a strong social message, it is not delivered particularly well - opting for a more sledgehammer style.






[Image: Ankit]
Hani

The Babysitter

"The Babysitter" (2017, McG, Netflix) is a comedy horror with plenty of gore.


Cole (Judah Lewis) is a 12 year old kid who gets bullied a lot at school. His only solace is that his babysitter, Bee (Samara Weaving), is super hot and pretty cool. And she also plays down the part where she's his babysitter. When his parents go on a weekend away, Cole creeps out of bed to spy on Bee and her friends having a party in the living room, but he soon discovers that the teens are up to something much worse than drinking alcohol.... human sacrifice. Can Cole get over his crippling fear of, well, everything in time to save himself? And will he finally get his first ever kiss? Only time will tell in this gory flick.


While it's far from a genre-defining, ground breaking innovation, the film delivers exactly what it needs to; humour, gore and a host of disposable characters who get to die in a bunch of gruesome ways. Our collection of would-be Satan worshippers cover all the usual stereotypical bases (eg. jock, cheerleader, etc...). Only Bee and Cole truly stand out as characters who break stereotype.


The film spends a good while setting up the relationship between Bee and Cole. He fancies her. He's awkward. She's easy going and a little wild. Cole tells Bee all of his secrets, while unbeknownst to him, she uses this against him any way that she can.


When the murder and mayhem begin the film does not scrimp on the gore and we see a lot of innovative kill scenes which expertly mix humour and ick-factor without becoming too silly.
Gore aside, the film also makes use of interesting camera perspective, a lot of 80s-feeling tropes (despite being based in present day) and just enough character depth to instil a sense of betrayal from Bee when we find out her intentions.


All in all, I found "The Babysitter" to be a fun and worthwhile watch which I've even revisited on occasion.


[Image: Netflix]

Hani

Monday, 21 May 2018

Troll 2

"Troll 2" (1990, Claudio Fargasso, Filmirage) is an infamously bad film about a fairly strange 'average' family taking a holiday in a town that's not only boring; it's infested by goblins. Luckily the goblins are vegetarians... Also, noteworthy that this film is not a real sequel.

Joshua (Michael Stephenson) appears to be an everyday kid. If an everyday kid talks to the ghost of his deceased grandfather, that is. He lives with his mother and father; a misguided couple who don't seem to comprehend what a vacation is; and his teenaged sister.

The family head to the town of Nilbog (genius, right?) where they are creepily welcomed by the locals. But luckily for them, Grandpa Seth (Robert Ormsby), warns Joshua that the townsfolk are actually goblins in disguise and that, if the family eat the food offered to them, they will be turned into vegetation which the goblins will eat!

Can they avoid a fate worse than death? Can they escape the clutches of the world's most melodramatic witch/goblin (Deborah Reed)? Why can't the goblins just grow their own vegetables like everyone else?

A horror comedy so bad that it's perfectly watchable. The acting, with the ironic exception of young Joshua, is entertainingly stilted and the outlandish plot manages to be both mediocre and hilarious. The goblin costumes are also reminiscent of homemade Halloween costumes. A real trashy movie that every B-movie fan should see; even if it's just for a good laugh.


[Image: Filmirage]

Hani

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

ABRUPTIO: Support the online crowdfunder

"ABRUPTIO" is a feature film using puppets. It was written, produced and directed by experienced husband and wife team, Evan and Kerry Marlowe.


The film is an homage to 70s horror and centres around a man (puppet) waking to find that he has had an explosive device implanted into his neck by a devious mastermind. He must do what he's instructed, no matter how unsavoury, or risk being blown up!


Viewers will be familiar with many of the cast (which includes some personal favourites of mine) including James Marsters, Robert Englund, Sid Haig, Jordan Peele, Hana Mae Lee, Christopher McDonald and Rich Fulcher.


Prop and effects nerds like me will also recognise the name of creature creator Jeff Farley who has worked on many well-known titles including 1989's Pet Sematrary.


The film is nearing the next stages and, if like me you fancy helping out, Kerry Marlowe has recently set up an online crowd fund on Seed&Spark to keep the project moving on (and finance some more fake blood, which I'm fully on board with).


You can find the fund over on www.seedandspark.com - here
You can also find more information about the project at www.abruptio.com


Let's help get this movie made!



Hani

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday

"Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday" (1993, Adam Marcus, New Line Cinema) is the ninth film in the franchise, which, including "Freddy vs Jason" and the 2009 reboot, now contains twelve films in total. It is also not the first in the list to claim to be the "final" (see 1984's "The Final Chapter").


The oft resurrected, hockey-masked antagonist, Jason Voorhees (Kane Hodder), is killed by an FBI operation. Once in the morgue, however, the wiley undead killer manages to possess the coroner and go on a rampage through the town, jumping from body to body in the process. Hunting him down is bounty hunter, Creighton Duke (Steven Williams), who believes that someone of Jason's bloodline can be the key to his final demise. If he's right, however, they could also be the key to Jason resurrecting himself in a brand new body....


A schlocky film that doesn't waste any time with a lot of character building and goes straight into the gore and killings. It's chock full of hints to other franchises too with an Evil Dead Necronomicon at Camp Crystal Lake which has since been explained as an Easter Egg justification for Jason's strength and longevity, and, of course, a small cameo from Freddy Krueger... well, part of him, anyway, as a lead-in towards the 2003 film.


It's a definite B-movie sequel with lots of cheesy dialog, some scenes that drag on and a meandering plot that does not always navigate plot holes well. We also, obviously, miss our physical Jason-stalking as he possesses others throughout the film. While the gore is fun and the characters ridiculous enough to be entertaining, the film as a whole is definitely not one of the better Friday entries.




[Image: New Line Cinema]

Hani