Sunday, 23 November 2014

Starry Eyes

"Starry Eyes" (2014, Kevin Kölsch, Dennis Widmyer, Snowfort Pictures, Parallactic Pictures, Dark Sky Films) is all about the fame game.

Budding young actress, Sarah (Alex Essoe), is becoming desperate to catch her big break. Her housemates, also actors, have all given up and are planning their own indie film instead of looking for paid work, but Sarah has bigger dreams. Finally she thinks she's found her chance, but is she willing to make the necessary sacrifices to reach her goals?

A film that is very slow to get started, I was starting to think I'd made a mistake when the plot began to speed up and drag me right back in. A really masterful film which creates a dark and sinister build up to a quite shocking and impressive payoff.

The effects are impressive and the actors create some really well rounded characters, despite minimal screen time. Essoe is an excellent leading lady, proving herself to be very diverse and able to hold an audience in thrall.

Well-trod ground in terms of the inspiration, but a truly unique film that I enjoyed. I don't want to give too much away, so rest assured that if you let this film run, it's worth it.

[Image: Dark Sky Films]

Tuesday, 11 November 2014


"Ouija" (2014, Stiles White, Platinum Dunes, Hasbro, Blumhouse Productions, Universal Pictures) was last Halloween's rush-job jumper brought to you by Hasbro.... Yep, you guessed it, it's pretty much a really long toy commercial...

Laine (Olivia Cooke) and her best pal Debbie (Shelley Hennig) used to love to play with a ouija board. Then they grew up and got into just filming everything ever (from the mundane tasks of cleaning their attic to their highschool conversations) with a digital camera instead, and the ouija board was banished from their minds.

Unluckily, it resurfaces again when Debbie cleans said attic, and the spirit she contacts with it is less than fluffy. Soon the whole gang are being hounded by this vengeful ghost, but is everything as it seems....?

...Of course it is. This film was nothing but a string of tropes. So predictable was every clichéd scene that my boyfriend and I began shouting out what was coming before it happened in order to actually entertain ourselves.

Another thing is it's complete lack of pacing. The film takes forever to get to the point, and then wants to bombard you with typical horror fayre thereafter. By the time the action hit I was bored.

The big 'twist' is so obvious it isn't even worth being wary of spoilers and the teens are extremely catalogue-y.

Generic as all hell. I recommend for teens and sleepovers, and that's all. And, how unscary is the name Doris? Seriously?!

[Image: Hasbro, et al]

Monday, 10 November 2014

Dracula Untold

"Dracula Untold" (2014, Gary Shores, Universal Pictures, Legendary Pictures) depicts the origin tale of Dracula.

Vlad Tepes, the Impaler, Prince of Transylvania (Luke Evans) seeks some unorthodox help to defeat his Turkish ex-captors and maintain the freedom of his homeland and its people. Much to his detriment, as we all know.

I wouldn't call this a fantastic vampire film, but I equally won't bestow on it the bile that many online bloggers have. Yes, the film is not Bram Stoker's Dracula, but it never claims to be. Yes, there are historical inaccuracies, but it's not a documentary. In fact, I found it to be a refreshing take on a classic tale, even if it does often delve into the more comic book action genre than anything resembling horror.

It's not a serious film, nor an accurate historical character study, nor even a horror movie. But it does well to capture the era, the desperation and shows a more human side to the famous character than previously investigated in the rather bloated world of vampire cinema.

Evans creates an attractive Vlad, but Charles Dance steals the show however, with his fabulous talent for creepiness with a touch of bitter disappointment and that fanged grin.

Image: Universal Pictures

Monday, 3 November 2014

The Babadook

"The Babadook" (2014, Causeway Films, Cinetic Media/eOne Films International, Jennifer Kent) is the story of an unlucky family who become plagued by a nightmarish creature after reading from a mysterious, creepy children's storybook.

Amelia (Essie Davis) is a woman who has had a tough hand in life; the early death of her husband has been something that she has struggled to cope with. Couple that with a her imaginative but unruly, undisciplined child, Sam (Noah Wiseman), and you have a pretty sad tale.

A slow burning and depressing tale, the film is more about feeling and presence than scares and I found that the lack of action did become a bit monotonous after a while. However, the scenes with the creepy shadow monster are really quite chilling and atmospheric and there is a horrible reality of the fear of bad parenting and the black pit of grief in there too.

The acting is great. The characters feel realistic, if slightly unhinged, and there's even a few nice jumpy bits. I especially liked the styling of the story book which in itself is terrifying.

Mr. Babadook could be a terrifying monster, joining the infamous ranks of our other favourite boogeymen. Unfortunately, the slow, artsy style of the film did take away some of the pace of the story, even if it did make for an elegant looking end product.

A great debut piece, and a thoughtful take on a boogeyman story, but style overtook substance a little too much in my view.

[Image: Causeway Films]