Saturday, 28 March 2015

The Dorm

"The Dorm" (2014, Rachel Talalay, Nomadic Pictures) is a college based horror.

Vivian (Alexis Knapp) starts college a semester late. She's shy, self-conscious, reliant on lots of medication that she doesn't truly need, overly dependent on her elder sister and keen on frumpy, unflattering clothing. On her first night, however, she manages to get to know a few housemates who invite her to join them in drinking their "tea". Feeling like she's being accepted, Vivian joins in and soon becomes fast friends with Sarah (Cassie Steele) and the group. Or so she thinks...

Over the coming days, Vivian experiences several transformations as her face, hair and body begin to alter to suit her beauty ideals. She is over the moon... and is quick to become just like the bitchy, drunken, popular twits she'd once despised.

However, soon Vivian begins to worry about these transformations as she learns that she is becoming more and more like her dorm room's previous occupant (who disappeared). Could her new friends be behind this? Is this more of a sinister trick than a happy miracle?

At just over an hour long, the film manages to cover a lot of ground. The themes of outer beauty and society's obsession with becoming beautiful and being accepted are very interesting. The characters aren't all explored to their full extent, but it's a horror film. What do you want?

There's some chilling points and a few gore elements, although the film is more of a psychological thriller than a slash fest. There's also some really effective tension built as our protagonist becomes more aware of what is going on and her friends become more and more... strange.

The main flaws are with the plot. I get what's happening, but I don't understand the motive. The whole premise of the film is just off; why would anyone do the things that start this ball rolling? Seriously?

Aside from that, it's not terrible. It has an odd score and some of the bar scenes are oddly quiet. I'm pretty sure this was done for effect to hone in on our, now very selfish, main character, but it plays out weirdly as if there's something missing.

Some of the ghostly parts are very nicely achieved, however, and this film certainly has some merit as a night-in trashy college flick.

[Image: Nomadic Pictures]

Friday, 27 March 2015


"Clown" (2014, Jon Watts, Cross Creek Pictures, Vertebra Films, PS 260, Zed Filmworks, Eli Roth) is about a father (Andy Powers) who finds an old clown costume in a house he is selling and wears it to his son's birthday party so as not to disappoint him when the real clown cancels.

But, when he tries to remove the costume, it won't budge, having fused to his skin. Every attempt to remove it fails, even when his wife uses some tools to remove the nose.... He seeks the help of Karlsson (Peter Stormare), who tells him that it is not a clown suit, but the skin of a child-eating clown-like demon that is now possessing him.

I liked this film. At only 1hr 40 minutes long it doesn't outstay its welcome and the acting, special effects are story are all excellent. It's also very well paced and suitably dark.

There's some gore and some tropes, but not so many that I'd complain, and some nice demon book imagery. This film also doesn't shy away from some disturbing scenes involving scary clowns, sharp objects and children. so be warned.

I also really, really appreciated the subtle changes in the look of the suit as the film progressed as it became less of an outfit and more skin like. Very well put together.

I recommend.

[image: Cross Creek Pictures]

Monday, 16 March 2015


"88" (2014, April Mullen, WANGO Films) is not really a horror movie. It's more an action movie reminiscent of the likes of "Pulp Fiction" and others.

Whilst yes, it isn't a horror, I still want to mention it here because it's good, it's gory and it stars one of my favourite modern day scream queens; Katharine Isabelle. I love her. I can't help it. Not only because she is super hot and in some of my favourite films, but also because she is downright hilarious and, as proven in this particular film, extremely adaptive as an actress.

Gwen (Katharine Isabelle) walks into a highway diner with an injured hand, a gun, a backpack and no idea what the hell is going on... From there we're taken on her journey between two timelines where we get to know more about who she really is and what has brought her to this diner. As it happens, she's a pretty dangerous lady on the lookout for whoever killed her lover. And, wouldn't you know it, it was probably someone pretty dangerous who did it!

A fun and very violent film with more than one similarity to Tarantino (timeline styling, violence, gang banter....). The characters are all very colourful, very memorable and very disposable. It's stylish, witty and not scared to make you think a bit. The story manages to avoid too much confusion, despite the fractured timeline style, and everything links up nicely by the end.

So, if you're a fan of Katharine Isabelle..., or you like Tarantino-esque films..., or you like action movies.... or gore.... or if you are anyone at all... I recommend giving this movie your time. It's worth it.

[Image: Wango Films]

Friday, 13 March 2015


"Mama" (2013, Andrés Muschietti, Guillermo del Toro, Toma 78, De Milo Productions) is a supernatural horror based on a 2008 short called "Mamá".

Jeffery D'Asange has lost everything financially in the banking crisis and, in a fit of despair, he kills his business partners and his wife and runs off with his two young daughters to a cabin out in the woods where he plans to kill them and himself too. Unbeknownst to him, the cabin is already occupied by something otherworldly, and this otherworldly thing (which calls itself Mama) is all about the crazy maternal instinct, so you can bet your boots that old Jeff doesn't get to off his kids.

The kids are still missing five years on and Jeff's twin brother, Lucas (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), has been looking for them with the help of a search party. They're eventually found still residing in the cabin, but are now completely feral.

After a battle over rights with his sister in law's mother, Lucas and his rock chick girlfriend, Annabel (Jessica Chastain), bring little Victoria (Megan Charpentier) and Lilly (Isabelle Nélisse) to live with them. The only thing is, Mama also tagged along with the girls and she doesn't like to share....

I'm going to jump in first and say that I enjoyed this film, but I wasn't scared by it. It's nicely shot. Annabel and Lucas were relatable and were rounded enough characters. Although, speaking as a rock chick myself, I was a bit disappointed that Annabel was painted as non-maternal quite so much at the start with her 'rock 'n' roll lifestyle' being blamed primarily for this. Thanks for playing to the stereotype, guys, but I don't see anything wrong with enjoying Slipknot and being a mother!

Some of the scenes with Mama are great. She is hidden most of the time and I enjoyed her sneaking about in the background. There are scenes where she quickly crawls about and it is very effective. However, the end scenes showed too much of her and she comes to the same fate as the monster in Jeepers Creepers; less scary. Although there is a hella dark end to this film.

The kids nailed it. They were great. Victoria made a realistic and sympathetic character and Lilly was very convincing and freaky as the feral child. Child centred horror is almost always effective, but the scenes with the kids playing with Mama are haunting in their creepy, creepy innocence.

So yes, it didn't make me wet my pants and it didn't make me check under the bed for creepy, skinny monster mothers, but it was an engaging hour and forty-odd minutes, and I would happily watch it again in the future.

[Image: De Milo Productions, et al]

Thursday, 12 March 2015

The Stomach

"The Stomach" (2015, Ben Steiner, FUME FILMS) is a short horror film standing at fifteen minutes of sheer absurd entertainment.

Frank (Simon Meacock) is a medium who can communicate with the dead in the weirdest way - they speak through his stomach! Frank's brother has been exploiting this talent for financial gain for a while now and Frank is fed up with it. However, when some bad people start using his service to gain information from a dead friend with a grudge, both the living and the dead try to stop Frank from freeing himself.

A mix of body horror, schlock horror and ghostliness, this film is not afraid to be different and out there. The concept is easily as fun and weird as "Basketcase" or other genre greats. The effects are fun, the plot is strange and the short runtime make it a snappy, different head turner.

[Image: FUME Films]

Sunday, 8 March 2015

The Tour

"The Tour" (2014, Alex Mathieson, Damon Rickard, Raedar Productions) is a short horror film that is 15 minutes long.

This compact little film crams a practically whole film plot into its small runtime. But it does this without feeling rushed.

Two young American girls, Cassie (Heather Dorff) and Morgan (Jessica Cameron), are doing a European tour. They have landed in England and have joined a haunted house tour in a small, quiet town. Darkmoor House is the key highlight of the tour; it's steeped in mysterious deaths and disappearances, however, unfortunately the tour does not go inside.

Tom the tour guide (Tom Gordon) takes a shine to Cassie and invites the two flirty girls for a private tour of the house. Once inside, however, things become a lot more sinister than just spooky stories by torchlight...

Managing to create a whole film within 15 minutes without coming a rushed mess is impressive. The scenes are remarkably well shot and the full product is well put together. Whilst the plot came across as quite average, there were actually a couple of well placed twists that made the short stand out against other haunted house stories, and the acting was very competent and believable with every character defining their own personality.

The scenes within the house were effective, if low budget, and there was even a nice jump or two that had the room of viewers twitch.

Scream queens Heather and Jessica, who acted together on other projects, create a good team and a lot of screams. The film benefitted from having a classic feel to it without being too predictable, and came together very effectively.

[Image: Raedar Productions]

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Done In

"Done In" (2014, Adam Stephen Kelly, Dark Art Films, DGL Creative) is a miniature masterpiece in story telling.

Standing at just about 8 minutes long, this film manages to build up character, emotion, a story and also deliver a swift kick to the gut within a split second.

Set in an English manor house, we see a man (Guy Henry) lovingly writing a suicide note to his dearly departed wife. He writes of their lives, his fond memories, his sad memories, his regrets with his son, how much he misses her and will join her. Through the wording of the letter, the glances of photographs and ornaments in the room and the beautiful house we begin to feel that we know this man, and we get a fantastic insight into his character in a remarkably small time... or do we?

An absolutely masterful short that is bound to surprise you and make you expel a shocked laugh. This piece is one of the best shorts I've seen in a while!

[Image: Dark Art Films]

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Call Girl

"Call Girl" (2014, Jill Sixx Gevargizian, Sixx Tape Productions) is a short horror film starring Tristan Risk and Laurence R. Harvey.

The film is shot from the perspective of a webcam and we are introduced to Laurence R. Harvey's character who is planning to exploit his 'date night' with Tristan Risk's character. When the girl turns up, she is left momentarily while he fetches 'protection' only for something shocking to happen. Laurence definitely gets more than he bargained for though!

A really fun short made effective by good acting, an interesting camera perspective, the glitchy camera effects of the 'live feed' and some good ol' gore. A simple but effective plot shows some very competent film making and storytelling at play.

Great stuff! Catch it online!

[Image: Sixx Tape Productions]