Saturday, 26 April 2014

Order of the Ram (2013)

"Order of the Ram" (2013, Scott Lyus, Crossroad Pictures, Posh Dinosaur Productions) is a short Satanic cult film from young UK based director, Scott Lyus.

Clocking in at just over 15 minutes this film demonstrates Lyus' potential to create a much longer piece, although it does suffer from some flaws.

Mary (May Kaspar) is a young college student who spends most of her time alone. We're introduced to her in a normal morning as we follow her about her day. The camera work is interesting here with a focus mainly set on Mary, fuzzing out the background slightly so that the audience are drawn to her as the protagonist.

Mary is also apparently a keen nature photographer, a hobby that is destined to put her into an awkward and life threatening situation when she is cornered by the Order of the Ram (a local Satanic cult led by Mother (Danni Scott-White)) who have taken a disturbingly keen interest in Mary.

The Order are convinced that Mary is the ultimate sacrifice required to bring forth Satan, their lord and master. And like all cults, they plan to do just that...

A slow burning film which uses a lot of really nice camera work and a score reminiscent of Hammer Satanic classic B-movies such as "The Devil Rides Out" to tell a story of a lonely girl who becomes entangled in a terrible situation.

The wooded setting is well placed with some nice finishing touches including some wildlife for Mary to photograph.

The approach of Mary in the woods by her captor is successfully menacing. Unfortunately the menace ends here. The subsequent scenes, where the real horror starts, is tarnished slightly by some hollow acting from our cult leader, Mother, who has the most dialogue in the film.

Mary also doesn't give a completely convincing impression of being terrified or putting up much of a fight which takes away from what could have been a very effective scene.

The male teacher, however, plays a really quite creepy character without having to do or say much. He looks completely too happy to be there!

The ending also leaves a feeling of wanting further development. Although a longer feature could focus on what the Order do if they are unsuccessful in achieving their ultimate goal, considering the act it took to find out.... It is abrupt, but it works.

All in all a watchable piece with great potential and very promising for future works with a bigger budget from Mr Lyus.

Catch the film's teaser trailer here:

[Image: Crossroad Pictures]

Tuesday, 22 April 2014


"Nightbreed" (1990, Clive Barker, Morgan Creek Productions) is an oddity of a movie, based on Barker's own novella "Cabal".

Aaron Boone (Craig Sheffer) is a bit mental. His frankly evil doctor, Philip Decker (David Cronenberg), has convinced him that he is a murderer. Aaron dreams of a place named Midian where monsters and murderers are accepted. He longs to go there.

A series of events leads Aaron to the acquaintance of Narcisse (Hugh Ross), a deranged killer, who confirms his belief in Midian and tells him how to get there, whilst giving himself a rather extreme facial....

While Boone searches for acceptance amongst the deformed creatures of Midian, his girlfriend Lori, (Anne Bobby) is trying to find him, unsure as to why he has run off and left her in the first place.

A very typically styled film from Barker, with elaborate sets, wonderfully outrageous effects and makeup and some nice gore. Unfortunately, the plot wears out after so long and the main character is dull.

On the whole, "Hellraiser" is a much better film, and "Nightbreed" pales in comparison, however, I, as usual, enjoy the styling and feel of this film and can see why it has reached Cult status.

I'm tempted now to read the Novella as my research has shown Barker is particularly disappointed with the way this film was cut and edited. Perhaps his true vision is much more disturbing. I also have to admit I have not put myself through the much longer "Cabal Cut" of this film...

B-movie cheesiness and a fun evil doctor in Cronenberg. Possibly one of the oddest love stories ever captured on film, and a lot of interesting effects makeup. If you're looking for something to keep you smiling on a rainy day, you can do much, much worse.

[Image: Morgan Creek Productions]

Monday, 7 April 2014


"Haunt" (2013, Mac Carter, QED International, Revolver Picture Company, IFC Midnight) is a haunted house story.

Evan (Harrison Gilbertson) and his family move into a large house in America. He claims the attic bedroom. He befriends his female neighbour, Sam (Liana Liberato), and together they discover that the house has a dark, dark past, some interesting ghost hunting equipment, some unwelcome inhabitants and...  oh yeah, each other, they discover each other.... A whole lot, actually.

Chalk full of tired and worn horror cliches, "Haunt" will spook the young and uninitiated, but will bore the weathered horror fan and annoy anyone looking for a back story, a good twist or some kind of ending....

Nicely shot, the acting is perfectly fine, it's just not a very creative film. Go watch an episode of Supernatural, you'll get more suspense....

[Image: QED International]

Almost Human

"Almost Human" (2013, Joe Begos, Channel 83 Films & Ambrosino/Delmenico) is an alien abduction movie set in the US.

Mark Fisher (Josh Ethier) is taken, in what turned out to be the best scene of the film, by an alien spaceship. Several years later, he returns a changed man.... or whatever.

His buddy Seth (Graham Skipper) and his ex-girlfriend, Jen (Vanessa Leigh) must now try to stop this rampaging Alien-man.

For a low budget alien flick done by relatively unknowns it's an impressive feat. The effects are admirable and the alien 'roar' is disturbing. It has definitely shown the potential of the director and his team. It doesn't look like a first time effort at all and feels more like an older film.

As a film at a festival, it's forgettable; riddled with bad lines, a slow plot and an overdone theme.

The opening scene is brilliantly done, probably cost most of the film's budget and perhaps raised my hopes a little too high.

[Image: Channel 83 Films]

Thursday, 3 April 2014


"Mindscape" (2013, Jorge Dorado, Ombra Films, Warner Bros., Studio Canal, Antena 3 Films) aka "ANNA" is a fun and intriquing futuristic psychological thriller.

John (Mark Strong) is a detective with the ability to see into people's minds and memories. He's coming back from forced retirement after a traumatic incident in his own life.

John is given the case of 16 year old Anna to work on. Anna (Taiisa Farmiga, who you may recognise from American Horror Story) is a clever, odd and maniulative teen. It is John's job to enter her memories and decipher whether she is the victim of terrible sexual abuses or a scheming and dangerous sociopath.

A slow burner with a wonderful score and some really artistic but fun to watch 'memory' sequences. The plot keeps moving and growing, keeping the audience's interests piqued as we try to guess the next turn in the tale.

Excellent acting and a quiet but strong script makes this film stand out from other futuristic, mind bending thrillers out there.

[Image: Ombra Films]