Thursday, 23 June 2016

Ava's Possessions

"Ava's Possessions" (2015, Jordan Galland, ODD NY, Off Hollywood Pictures, Ravenous Films, Traction Media, Momentum Pictures) is a horror comedy about a support and rehabilitation group for people who have been possessed.

Ava (Louisa Krause) was possessed by a demon called Naphula for 28 days, and during that time she did some bad stuff. Now demon-free (but not demon-proof) Ava has to attend a therapy group to avoid jail time. Her friends and family are having a hard time forgiving her for the demon's behaviour, despite knowing that she was not in control of her faculties during that period. Ava tries to remember her missing 28 days and avoid the demon which is still lurking around her trying to find a way back in, but she might not like what she finds out and her attempts to help a friend may cause more trouble.

It's an interesting concept; the post-possession movie. What happens after the exorcism? Very creative. Whilst amusing, I'm not convinced by the 'comedy' description of the film, however. as I didn't find it particularly funny, but I'll admit it's satirical and it touches on some dark stuff. The strong parallels drawn with the demons of alcoholism or substance abuse are really quite clever.

The premise is good, but the plot gets bogged down too much in other sidelines and loses its track. Low budget and cheesy, but not gory, the film is very different to what I had anticipated. It's ok, but it could have been more of a game-changer, had the story had more clarity.

[Image: Momentum Pictures, et al]

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Human Form

"Human Form" (2014,, Doyeon Noh) is a South Korean horror short about the dangers of plastic surgery.

Inhyung (Si Yeon Kim) is a young girl who is obsessed with getting facial plastic surgery to look like everyone else. Her family and almost all people around her have had fashionable surgery to give them doll-like, creepy faces. In her desperation she is tempted by less reputable sources....

A creepy film which is inspired by the popularity of plastic surgery in Korea, as well as a study on self-image and peer pressure. The premise behind the film is unsettling, but it's the doll faces that really get you. They are really well done. Especially Inhyung's mother's face, which is the most freaky.

The ending left me feeling hollow: it definitely did its job!



Monday, 13 June 2016

Dead Alive

"Dead Alive" aka "Braindead" (1992, Peter Jackson, Wingnut films, Avalon Studios Limited, The New Zealand Film Commission, Trimark Pictures, PolyGram Filmed Entertainment) is a slapstick horror comedy set in New Zealand. 

Lionel (Timothy Balme) lives with his overbearing, controlling mother, Vera (Elizabeth Moody). Vera is enraged when Lionel falls in love with the shopkeeper's daughter, Paquita María Sánchez (Diana Peñalver), and follows them on their date to the zoo. Whilst hiding, she is bitten by a rabid rat-monkey, whose bite begins to turn her into a rabid, rotting corpse. Lionel tries to hide his murderous zombie mother and carry on dating Paquita, but his mother escapes, causing all kinds of trouble around town and spreading her zombie virus, wherever she goes.

A fun, ridiculous film with zombie babies, guts, gore, lawnmowers and slapstick comedy. It stays firmly in the B-movie realm with cheesy lines, silly action and very fake blood flying everywhere. A genre favourite with deserved cult status.

[Image: WingNut Films, et al]


Tuesday, 7 June 2016

The Dead Zone

"The Dead Zone" (1983, David Cronenberg, Dino De Laurentiis Company, Lorimar Film Entertainment) is an adaptation of a Stephen King story.

Johnny Smith (Christopher Walken) is a schoolteacher in the small American town of Castle Rock. After spending the day with his girlfriend and colleague, Sarah (Brooke Adams), he declines her offer to spend the night at her place and drives home in a storm. He is involved in a terrible accident and ends up in a coma.

Five years later Johnny awakes not only to find that Sarah has married another, but also that his coma has caused Johnny to develop certain psychic abilities. He reluctantly helps the local police with some cases, but his abilities lead him to more and more trouble. Johnny decides to try to use his powers to stop a huge catastrophe, but he may not live to tell the tale...

A relatively slow moving film, that remains engrossing regardless of its pace. Walken brings the role to life in his usual characteristic and intense manner. More of a thriller than a horror, the film manages to make you almost forget entirely that you're watching a film about supernatural abilities: it seems so matter of fact and normal. It's also quite true to the source material and feels like its made by a master, despite being more mainstream than Cronenberg's usual films.

Poor Johnny gets the fuzzy end of the lollipop in this film. Poor guy.

[Image: Dino De Laurentiis Company, et al]

Monday, 6 June 2016

Finders Keepers

"Finders Keepers" (2014, Alexander Yellen, HFD Productions) is an evil doll/possession movie based in a large old American house.

Alyson (Jaime Pressly) is a single mother who moves herself and her daughter, Claire (Kylie Rogers), into a large old house with a dark past so that she can focus on her writing. Claire is sad to be leaving her old home and school behind and, upon finding a creepy old doll left behind by the previous home owners, becomes extremely attached to it to the point where she seems like a completely different kid. In fact, is the doll possibly more than just a doll?

Evil dolls are a popular theme again, it seems. And Lilith the doll is pretty creepy looking to give it credit. She's a bit underutilised, however, with very few creepy doll scenes. The main issue is, however, that the film doesn't build up much sympathy with the characters. Claire's pretty upset at moving home, and I can appreciate that, but they made her come across as a bit of a brat before she even became possessed and it's a shame because Rogers did an excellent job otherwise. Jaime Pressly was pretty believable in her role as concerned parent also.

The film wavers a bit in plot and rules with the doll getting tossed about a fair bit without harming Claire, but then becoming voodoo doll-ish as and when it suits. And the plot twists rely on a few great leaps in logic that just don't add up. The ending is pretty unsatisfying also, leaving a lot of unanswered questions.

The film has gore, but isn't particularly scary, losing a lot of creep factor through being a tad too predictable. In the main, it's a good effort, but not one I'd rewatch in a hurry.

[Image: HFD Productions, Syfy]