Monday, 24 March 2014


"Torment" (2013, Jordan Barker, Filmmax Intrernational) is about a father, Cory (Robin Dunne), and his son who go up to their holiday cottage with Cory's new, young wife, Sarah (Katharine Isabelle), in an attempt for young Liam to bond with her. So far, it's not going well.

Things are bound to get worse, however, when they discover that people have been squatting in their home... Recently.

Upon checking out their only neighbouring cottage and finding it suspiciously empty, Cory becomes concerned. But soon, a shocking turn changes the family's lives forever when they discover that they have become the latest hunted prey of an insane family of teddybear mask-wearing killers, hellbent on torture.

A fast and well executed affair with a surprisingly low budget and a good amount of gore, violence and actual characters.

Katharine Isabelle is a favourite of mine and she portrays a fantastically believable female character who is both terrified but capable and doesn't spend the whole flick either screaming or inexplicably kicking ass as if she's Buffy Summers.

Dunne creates a good father character, humanised by his desire to both welcome his new wife into his home and desperate for his son to accept her.

The kid is fantastic. He's a little shit, but he's got good reason.

On the whole the action is great. I wasn't too excited about the reasoning behind the masked 'father's' obsession with tormenting people and building his own little death family, but watching the aftermath was fun.

A film that does what it sets out to do without getting too precious about it.

A definite highlight at Glasgow Film4 Fright Fest!

[Image: Filmmax International]

Sunday, 23 March 2014

The Scribbler

"The Scribbler" (2014, John Suits, Caliber Media Company, New Artists Alliance) is a film based on a graphic novel by Daniel Schaffer (who also wrote the film, so I presume it must be close to the resource material, but I can't say for certain, having never read it...)

The pulls for me were Whedon alumni, Eliza Dushku and Michelle Trachtenberg, a small part played by The Big Bang Theory's Kunal Nayyar and the fact that I enjoy other graphic novel inspired film and TV (Sin City, The Walking Dead, Watchmen, V for Vendetta...) unfortunately, this film is more of a "Suckerpunch" than a "Watchmen" grade, a film that I think packed as much punch as watching your friends play "Bayonetta" while you sit bored on the sofa and drink most of a bottle of Jack Daniels (my old Friday night plans), hoping that they'll tire of watching the protagonists' voluptuous booty bouncing about while they stomp their opponents with giant footwear. Alas, they did not.

Done in the, now apparently accepted style of 'Graphic Novel-esque', we have the cartoonish tones and shades, quiet scenes, odd characters and an undercurrent of detective novella going on.

The plot is simple, the characters are weird and combined, I'm sure they read to make an interesting and intriguing tale. Unfortuntately, I just found the weirdness of the characters unncessary and the plot to seem to need more explaining... Also, I maintain that this is not horror.

Suki (Katie Cassidy) has multiple personalities. She has been released from the mental institute to prove herself by living in the 'sheltered housing' style tower block. She gets there to find that it's a rundown shithole where people seem to be committing suicide on a daily basis.

As she undergoes her odd shocktreatment which rids her of her extra personalities, one strong personality begins to manifest itself more and more; The Scribbler. This personality cannot speak, has longer hair than Suki and scribbles notes and drawings all over the place.

Suki becomes concerned that The Scribbler plans to rub her out and become the dominant personality and asks her promiscuous pal, Hogan (Garret Dillahunt), to help her.

Unfortunately, another of the inmates, Alice (Michelle Trachtenberg) is out to get her....

Odd and too long, the action scenes and infrequent humour were not enough pay off for the long and arduous wait through all the quiet, so-sharp-it-might-cut-itself, dialogue.

Good cast, nicely shot but on the whole not a terribly exciting film.

[Image: New Artist Alliance]

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Video Nasties: Draconian Days

"Video Nasties: Draconian Days" (2014, Jake West) is a documentary about the days after the 1984 Video Recordings Act in the UK and the strict censorship laws and crazy underground horror scene it spawned.

We actually owe the UK censors a lot to be honest. Without their crazy, hyper paranoid and restrictive ways we would never have enjoyed a vast and colourful underground scene which created the horror festivals and allowed some truly awesome friendships to form over a shared love of gore, boobs and being a little bit naughty.

When you look at today's cinema entries, especially the modern horror scene, you're left wondering how the censors could have possibly thought such things as "The Driller Killer" to be worthy of banning, but remember, times have changed.

Nowadays, with the internet an' all, the censors just don't have as much effect as they once did, and it's a damn good thing too.

This documentary will open your eyes to how crazy these times were in the UK, and how much power the censors were allowed, especially certain individuals, under the guise of 'it's for your own good'.

A few good scenes, archive footage and trailers are spotted througout, and we enjoyed that the producers, director, writer etc were all our hosts of the wonderful Fright Fest itself!

It should give you insight, if like me you have not lived through this era, into those times and give you a much greater appreciation for your peers and elders as a UK horror fan. For other non-UK residents, this should certainly raise some eyebrows!

Fun and informative.


Sunday, 16 March 2014


"Afflicted" (2013, Cliff Prowse, Derek Lee, Automatik Entertainment,Téléfilm Canada) is a 'found footage', relatively low budget horror with some excellent jumps.

Two mates (the asforementioned Cliff and Derek, playing themselves) are on a hiatus from college to go on a Eurotrip. They get as far as Paris before an encounter with a lovely lady leaves the rest of their trip tainted by an increasingly nightmarish situation. 

The film builds similarly to its peers but with a charmingly good sense of unease and an excellent and appropriate amount of gore.

The camera work is great, not giving too much of that motion sickness I've come to expect from such films and the story telling is good, if a little long in the build up.

The plot manages to breathe some life into an old story and bring it into today's culture with great ease and style.

The best way to enjoy this film is to go in knowing as little as possible and let the events unfold. 

A fun and creative endeavour from two young and talented film makers. A very good highlight in the ~Glasgow Film 4 Fright Fest 2014 lineup.

[Image: Automatik Entertainment]

Monday, 10 March 2014

The Sacrament

"The Sacrament" (Ti West, Eli Roth, Worldview Entertainment, Arcade Pictures) is a found footage film about the goings on behind the scenes of a secluded religious commune.
We follow two reporters (Joe Swanberg and AJ Bowen) and fashion photographer, Patrick (Kentucker Audley), who are travelling to the 'Earth paradise' that is the Eden Parish commune, where Patrick's sister, Caroline (Amy Seimetz) has been living since getting over her drug addiction.
The Commune is run by charismatic and freaky leader, Father (Gene Jones), who is keen for Patrick to 'visit'. However, the staunch security the three men are faced with is daunting and they soon begin to suspect something sinister is going on in the idyllic farming community.
A tense, sometimes funny and engaging slow burner, which builds up to a dramatic climax. The characters are interesting (especially for a found footage style film) and I thoroughly enjoyed the journey.
It's more of a dark thriller than an all-out horror, however, and draws very much from the horrifying real story of Jonestown, bringing a very melancholy feeling and poignancy to the film.
[Image: Arcade Pictures]

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Wolf Creek 2

"Wolf Creek 2" (2014, Greg McLean, Duo Art Productions, Emu Creek Pictures, Image Entertainment) is the sequel to 2005's Wolf Creek. 

I haven't actually seen Wolf Creek, but I can assure you that that doesn't really matter. The plot is pretty self-explanatory, and no prior knowledge or character backstory is really important. 

Mick Taylor (John Jarratt) is an Australian serial killer with a dislike for... pretty much everyone. But, most importantly, he's not fond of cops or tourists. He drives a big truck (or whatever he can lay his hands on, if the situation calls for it) in which he also chops up his prey.

Two German tourists, Katarina (Shannon Ashlyn) and Rutger (Phillipe Klaus) are backpacking in the outback when they happen upon Mick. Katarina escapes and seeks the help of British tourist, Paul (Ryan Corr), dragging the poor guy into an experience he won't forget as Mick begins to also hunt him.

Well acted, suitably tense with fun special effects this hyper violent film is chalk full of one liners and is gratifyingly gory. I enjoyed this slasher flick as part of the Fright Fest line up but I doubt it would stand so well as a single view as there isn't much to differentiate it from its competition. 

It doesn't break any barriers, attempt to stretch the viewer's imagination or get too thick into a plot. This is a simple, straightforward killing spree at the hands of a xenophobic psychopath with a sense of humour and a questionable taste in music.

Fun, gory, fast. But not the best slasher ever.

[Image: Emu Creek Pictures]

Thursday, 6 March 2014


"Proxy" (2013, Zach Parker) is a film about a young pregnant woman called Esther (Alexia Rasmussen) who is attacked outside of her doctor's office by a hooded assailant and loses her baby.
She begins attending support groups and encounters another grieving mother, Melanie (Alexa Havins), who could be as damaged as she is...
Actually the film is about so much more than that but that would be giving an awful lot away.
Definitely not a horror film, this chiller is a weird, artistic and violent piece which enjoys some gore, splatter and a shockingly brutal opening scene.
There's also a good change in direction, but on the whole the film is very slow to unfold. If you're prone to letting your mind wander you may be unable to sit through the whole slow burning mystery-ride.
However, if you go in with only a vague notion, you can certainly enjoy watching this odd and intense plot unfold.

Monday, 3 March 2014

Film4 Fright Fest - Glasgow 2014

FrightFest Glasgow 2014 (Film 4, Glasgow Film Festival, 28th February - 1st March 2014).

Last weekend was the annual Film4 FrightFest at the Glasgow GFT cinema, Scotland, in the city centre. This was my second year attending the festival and I was not disappointed.

A collection of 11 new films from a variety of directors (known and relatively unknown alike) were shown over the 2 days.

There were freebies (although I didn't manage to snag any this year) and tee-shirts (£15) which I sadly had neglected to order beforehand.

Directors, including Ti West, came along to watch and discuss their new films (Mr. West was also spotted on-and-off throughout the rest of the festival).

Q&As were had, cheering was rife and the riotous giggling of many horror fans enjoying a bloody  on-screen explosion was a delight to behold.

Our hosts, as usual, gave an excellent show. Everything ran on time and the GFT's relocation of the bar to just behind the screen was an inspired idea.

I'll follow this up with some reviews, but not all at once... One of these years I'll venture down to London for the full FrightFest experience!

In fact the only disappointment after last year was that there was nothing quite as good as "Hellfjord" being shown in-between films!