Saturday, 13 February 2016

Before Dawn (2013) - Zombie Horror Film Review

I've been meaning to watch Before Dawn for years now, I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to see Emmerdale's Paddy (Dominic Brunt) battling the undead, I even did a news post on the film back in 2013 (here). As it's my birthday at the time of writing (13th February) I thought there was no better time for watching a zombie horror. You can tell this is a zombie film as the cover features thousands of zombies and a ruined cityscape despite not featuring either (I just do not understand why the vast majority of zombie films feels the desperate urge to feature that as their cover image).

Brunt stars as city dweller Paddy...sorry, I mean Alex who after leaving his young children with their Nan heads out to a remote cottage in the countryside with his wife Meg (Joanne Mitchell). The couple have been having relationship troubles and Alex hopes a romantic weekend away is just what they need to sort out their issues. Even before life threatening trouble begins things aren't going smoothly for the two, but it is the arrival of the undead that dashes the final hopes of Alex for saving his marriage.

Brunt and Mitchell are married in real life and so this lends a more realistic dynamic to the troubled film couples situation, it is said that the idea of doing this zombie film came from an actual disagreement the two had over how to make a good zombie film. As well as star in Before Dawn Mitchell is credited for the story, while Brunt is the films director. This had quite a slow start, those expecting immediate action will be disappointed as for the first half hour or so it is all drama, and actually did remind me a bit of a soap opera. Like the mystery of just how zombie apocalypse supposedly came about there is also some mystery on just why the marriage is not going well. There are hints of infidelity, and of maybe Alex losing his job being the cause, and both characters are certainly flawed people but it is never explicitly spelled out.

There are a few hints of the terror to come but when the horror does arrive it is swift and unexpected. The undead of Before Dawn are very much aping the style of the rage infected from the 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later films. The zombies are full of boundless energy being very fast on their feet, while their constant growls and jerky head movements seem to portray a great deal of anger. The editing is also very reminiscent of those popular films with short snappy cuts during action sequences that give a sense of confusion and panic over just what is happening. The zombies themselves while short in number all look fantastically messed up with red eyes and deformed teeth and coated in blood, they do truly look freaky as heck and so delight.

The action occurs in short spurts, a chase sequence, a prolonged encounter in an enclosed space, a short siege all come about and don't outstay their welcome but satisfy in their visceral stylings (such as a poker through the face of one of the ghouls). The meat of the film is instead Alex's failing marriage, it is sad that even when things are not going well his wife still seems to have given up. She just doesn't give Alex a break, while he just can't seem to see how bad things have gotten between them. When things go south he is still so preoccupied with this personal situation that he makes some really bad decisions that have some very tragic consequences. For all his flaws you do care about Alex and made me wonder what I would have done differently if I had been him and mad with grief. The plot is simple enough, it is inferred that this swift zombie apocalypse is wide spread yet we are never shown much of this other than a second hand account by a wandering side character (Alan French also of Emmerdale). In a way this works, by showing such a limited view of the outside mayhem we are made to be as insular and preoccupied as Alex whilst also conveniently saving on budget.

After a somewhat slow start this turned into quite an interesting, though ultimately bleak little English zombie film. I'm unsure of the drum and bass music that starts up during the zombie attack sequences but the make up on the undead is pretty stellar and the small cast were well chosen leading to an interesting film that maybe occasionally cribs too much from more popular examples in the genre.


Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Party Night - Horror Film News and Teaser Trailer

Back in November I mentioned the slasher horror Party Night that is coming from Fright Meter Films, and now I have some more details on it including a Kickstarter campaign that is currently running. The film is the product of Troy Escamilla (the founder of the Fright Meter Awards) and so I am slightly biased, but on the flip side by my interactions with him I can tell he is very passionate about horror so I hope this succeeds for him.

The general plot of the film is that six friends having a party at a remote house attract the unwelcome attention of a sadistic killer. The press release states that what makes Party Night perfect for Fright Meter Films first feature is that it is quite simple in it's structure with only seven characters in the script, and 85% of the film takes place in the one location which saves on cost.

There has been a few new cast and crew additions since last I spoke of this, Timothy Sullins is to direct in his first directing role for a feature film, while some cast members have been chosen in the form of award winning Tommie Vegas (voted Best Actress in the PollyGrind Underground Film Festival of Las Vegas) playing Molly, Billy Brannigan, Holly Seymour, Ryan Poole, and Anthony Nolte in a minor role.

As I said a Kickstarter campaign is running, it is due to run until 10th March with a goal of $10,500 hoping to be raised. So far with 31 days to go $869 has been attained, as incentives there are a variety of rewards on offer starting at the tiny pledge of just $1. If you want to check out the Kickstarter page then head here. Anyway check out the teaser trailer below and see what you think.


Monday, 8 February 2016

Fright Meter Awards 2015 - The Winners

Finally at last comes the very last post I will do about the Fright Meter Awards 2015 nominations. At the end of January the overall winners for each of the 13 categories were decided, for each of the winners I will include whether they were one I personally voted for or not just to try and make this a bit more interesting.

Best Horror Movie: It Follows 

I voted for this to win so was cool it did, It Follows really is such an original film.

Best Director: David Robert Mitchell (It Follows)

I actually voted for Ted Geoghegan (We Are Still Here) but don't mind at all David winning that one.

Best Actor in a Leading Role: Mark Duplass (Creep)

I voted for him to win and am very happy he did, he is superb in Creep, well deserved.

Best Actress in a Leading Role: Nadia Hilker (Spring)

Another one I voted for, both the lead actors in Spring were pretty great.

Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Leigh Whannell (Cooties)

Again the one I chose, his character is so weird but has all the best lines.

Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Deanna Dunagan (The Visit)

And again another one. There really was no other choice for this category as Dunagan was stunning and made a very average film more bearable to watch.

Best Screenplay: The Final Girls

I voted for What We Do In The Shadows, it's a shame it didn't win as personally I think The Final Girls is over rated and wastes a lot of the potential it had with the central plot.

Best Make Up: Bone Tomahawk

I voted for Crimson Peak, I don't feel Bone Tomahawk's make up was anything special but I guess I don't mind it winning.

Best Special Effects: Crimson Peak

Stung was my choice, I just did not think the special effects of the ghosts in Crimson Peak were even remotely good and so I couldn't in good faith give that a vote.

Best Score: It Follows

Glad this won, it was a great year for film soundtracks but this one fitted the tone of It Follows perfectly.

Best Editing: Unfriended

Once again one of mine, Unfriended could have been terrible but it works thanks in no small part to genius editing.

Best Cinematography: It Follows

I voted for Crimson Peak but do not mind at all that It Follows picked up yet another win.

Best Short Horror Film: Chomp

The Package was my choice, frankly I think Chomp was god awful, no idea why people seemed to like it so much, it's dull as dishwater and nowhere near as funny as it thinks it is.

So out of the 13 categories 7 of the ones I wanted to win did win, a landslide victory for It Follows. I can now finally shut up about the Fight Meter Awards until next December!

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Goosebumps (2015) - Horror Film Review

I have never actually read any of the Goosebumps books by R.L Stine, they came a bit too late for me, I had moved onto Point Horror that was aimed at teens rather than the child demographic his books aimed for (all heresay of my own making). I do recall watching some of the TV episodes of the show, always seemed a bit cheesy. Any fears that not knowing his work would impact on my enjoyment of this film seem to be ill founded though.

Zach (Dylan Minnette) and his mum have recently moved to a small American town, he soon befriends his next door neighbour; Hannah (Odeya Rush) whose domineering father (Jack Black) makes Zach fear for her safety. Eventually he and his geeky best friend Champ (Ryan Lee) break into the house to check on the girl but in doing so stumble across a strange collection of Goosebumps books. Opening one of the locked books the boys accidentally release a monster, it seems that each of the books has trapped within it a Goosebumps monster. They soon learn Hannah's father is in fact R.L Stine; the author of the books and that his imagination as a child was so strong that he summoned into the world the monsters he writes about. One of the escaped entities is a ventriloquist dummy named Slappy, this twisted creature soon releases all of the monsters in a bid to get revenge on Stine for locking him up for so many years...

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

You Are Not Alone (2014) - Horror Film Review

You Are Not Alone (directed by Derek Mungor) was released back in 2014 over in America but this month sees it's UK DVD release. It is a slasher film, but one with a difference, the whole movie is shown from the perspective of the main heroine, something that I personally have not seen before (of course I watched P.O.V last year but that's not a slasher).

Natalie (Krista Dzialoszynski) has returned to her home town to celebrate the fourth of July celebrations, she plans to meet up with friends and party. There is a curfew in effect though as a killer is on the loose, and soon the paths of these two people cross...

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Alien Trilogy (1996) - Horror Video Game Review (Playstation)

First off, this is going to be a slightly different review in that I never actually completed Alien Trilogy, or rather I did, but my route to the end saw me skip the last five levels leading up to the final boss. This was because I got stuck on a super hard level, but also that I felt I had seen everything the game had to offer. Alien Trilogy is a first person shooter that combines the first three films into a simple plot.

Rather than follow the story of the films this instead puts all three together. You play as Ellen Ripley who in this story is a marine, she is sent to a remote colony to investigate why it has gone silent. Arriving she discovers deadly Xenomorphs have killed everyone, it isn't long before all her squad are also killed. With Bishop providing driving duties Ellen goes on a mission to stop this alien threat. Starting off at the colony itself (Aliens), she then heads to the nearby prison (Alien 3), before finally investigating a crashed alien spaceship that seems to be the cause of the outbreak (Alien).

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Satan's Coming For You (2015) - Short Horror Film Review

Last December I mentioned upcoming short horror My Master Satan which is coming out sometime this spring, and in exciting news is going to be a full length anthology now. That film is actually a sequel to Satan's Coming For You which was released 2015 and so I felt a review of that was in order.

Satan's Coming For You shows a day in the life of two psychos; Bubba (Matt Marshall) and his friend Alister (Dakota Bailey who also wrote and directed this short). Starting off with a visit to a cemetery to dig up Bubba's deceased wife the duo then take some acid and during their trip see Satan and so decide to go out and kill in his name.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Spring (2014) - Horror Film Review

Phew, so Spring is the final film I needed to watch for the 2015 Fright Meter Awards (that I literally never shut up about), now that's done I can finally concentrate on stuff I have been sent for review! Spring is up for nomination in the Best Horror Film, Best Leading Actor, Best Leading Actress, Best Screenplay, Best EditingBest Cinematography, and Best Director categories, so quite a darn lot.

Lou Taylor Pucci stars as Evan; an American who decides to go on holiday to Italy after a series of bad events (including losing his job, and his mother dying of cancer). While there he befriends a local girl; Louise (Nadia Hilker) and begins a whirlwind romance. However the girl hides a dark secret that may just be too much to deal with...

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Stung (2015) - Horror Film Review

As is often my saying; another day another film up for nomination in the 2015 Fright Meter Awards. Stung is up for best special effects and is a creature feature film. I never like insects in films, they gross me out rather than make me fearful but here the insects are so large as to become un-gross.

Paul (Matt O'Leary) and Julia (Jessica Cook) are two caterers who have been hired to help out at the garden party of a rich lady at her remote countryside house. Things are going fine until later on in the evening when suddenly a swarm of giant wasps burst out a nest in the ground and start attacking the guests. The victims of the wasp stings immediately get turned into carriers of even larger wasps; ones that get to be as big as ponies, and rip out of the victims body. Soon Paul and Julia and a couple of other survivors (including Lance Henriksen as Mayor Caruthers) have barricaded themselves in the basement and must come up with a plan to escape the mutants.

Monday, 25 January 2016

The Voices (2014) - Horror Film Review

The Voices is a bizarre black comedy that mixes elements of Psycho with Dr. Doolittle. Ryan Reynolds who stars in it is up for nomination in the 2015 Fright Meter Awards and so was yet another film I had to see for that process.

Reynolds plays Jerry; a friendly loner who has suffered with severe mental health problems in the past. He sees a psychotherapist but unknown to her he has stopped taking his medication and so hears voices, mostly that of his evil cat Mr Whiskers (voiced by Reynolds), and his good natured dog Bosco (again Reynolds). After accidentally killing co-worker Fiona (Gemma Arterton) Jerry starts to question if he should give into his instincts and kill again, or if he should strive to be normal.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

We Are Still Here (2015) - Horror Film Review

We Are Still Here is a horror film that is up for a variety of nominations for the 2015 Fright Meter Awards (yup, I'm still banging on about that). It is a ghost story with a slight twist to it that takes place in the 1970's.

Anne (Barbara Crampton) and Paul Sacchetti (Andrew Sensenig) are a grieving couple who recently lost their teenage son in a car accident and have moved out to the countryside to start a new life. Anne starts to witness unexplainable events in her new home and comes to believe their son Bobby's spirit is with them, and so invites her psychic hippy friend and her husband Jacob (Larry Fessenden) to come check out the property. However it soon becomes clear that an evil presence resides in the house, one that wants to kill all who enter...

Friday, 22 January 2016

The Adventures of Shuggy (2011) - Horror Themed Video Game Review (X-Box Live Arcade)

The Adventures of Shuggy is not a horror game, one look at the cutesy graphics will be enough to tell you that. However it is indeed a horror themed game and the inclusion of zombies clinched the deal on me reviewing it. This is a mostly single screen puzzle platformer, to do each of the 100 levels you have to collect all of the green gems contained within them.

Shuggy is a vampire bat who inherits a spooky old mansion. Upon arriving at the house he discovers it is full of evil ghosts and creatures and so before he can move in proper he must travel around to all corners of the place to evict them.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Night Kaleidoscope - Horror Film News and Trailer

Night Kaleidoscope is award winning director Grant McPhee's third feature film and the first to be in the horror genre. The Scottish film was shot in just one week and mostly at night at that, which is fitting seeing as this is a film about vampires. The press release states 'Night Kaleidoscope transforms Edinburgh's cobbled backstreets into a dark dreamscape brimming with supernatural menace, where reality fuses with the surreal in a psychedelic haze.'

Written by Chris Purnell and Megan P.Gretchen Night Kaleidoscope is a story about a jaded psychic investigator named Fion (Patrick O'Brien) who is called upon by the police to help solve a series of brutal murders. He soon discovers that a vampiric couple are the ones responsible and with the help of a girlfriend of one of the victims he sets out to stop them...

Filmed on a micro budget and using punk sensibilities this indie film is said to be 'a truly original and unusually beautiful horror film'. The trailer (included below) is well edited together, reminded me more of a music video than a trailer but it didn't repel me. If the movie itself has this same strong use of editing and cinematography then Night Kaleidoscope could be one to look out for.