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Monday, April 25, 2016

Found (2012) Horror Serial Killer

Found (2012) - A great start, a voice over of a twelve year old Marty (Gavin Brown) explaining how he first discovered the head in the bowling bag in his older brother Steve's room. How the head in the bag changes and that his brother is a serial killer. He wonders if his Steve would kill him if he knew Marty was aware of the heads, probably yes he surmises in his twelve year old mind. If Steve (Ethan Philbeck) is a serial killer he must be crazy he supposes.  So then how does one become a serial killer? The family has its problems above and beyond the fact that Steve is keeping heads in his closet. So much dysfunction they have regular arguments that quickly become shouting matches. This is a very cool premise that is out front from the opening of the film. What do you do if you are a kid and find out your brother is a serial killer?
  This being a family drama that has that premise we have to build the characters up before anything can be resolved. There is the paternal older son conflict so common in families, with the father (Louie Lawless) and Steve struggling with the power dynamics as the younger man comes into his own autonomy. Steve should probably have moved out already but hasn't and we see the larger conflicts blowing up regularly. Marty struggling at school being bullied and wishing for a more stable environment at home. He is a timid kid who is afraid to stand up for himself. Marty talks about his family's secrets in his voice over. Everyone has their private things and nobody likes having their secrets exposed. Mom's (Phyllis Munro) saved love letters from a past lover, Dad's dirty magazines he keeps in the garage, Steve's head in his closet, you know the stuff that goes on in all families.  When Steve learns that Marty is picked on in school by a bully named Marcus (Edward Jackson), he actually is pretty good about supporting his brother and talking to him about not being the kid that is picked on. You can also guess what is probably going to happen to the kid. Through these scenes we see how flawed the family is but maybe not flawed enough to make a serial killer? The two boys though seem to have a good relationship better where even though Steve is a bit off his rocker he trries to lead his little brother to defend himself. Martyand his one sort of friend David
(Alex Kogan) meet at is an old horror attraction, the horror films they talk about and the collection of videos the brothers have. These features show the film makers are really into horror. The horrors of Marty's life are a driving force in a horror fascination but really does he need in his life is the question. We are asked to look at the connection between horror films and the idea of the real thing. Marty encapsulates the struggle through his knowledge of Steve. We see this so explicitly when he and David are watching the movie headless. A film his brother stole from the video store and has in his private collection. As the killer in that film tortures maims and kills a woman and then sexually defiles the head, Marty imagines his brother as the killer. The on the nose voice over at this point takes away from the emotional impact of the scene. We are given this glimpse of a the idea of does horror create the killers but there is strong enough family dynamic to believe horror is the escape not the cause.
There are some cool elements in the film, the posters on Marty's and Steve's rooms, the video store they go to seems to have a great selection, and even the father loves horror films.
  The predictable kid drama with the inevitable showing of Marcus's head to David and Steve finding out about it turns the film in a new direction. Will Steve kill David, Marty, everyone? Will he recruit his little brother? At this point the film should start picking up steam but will it? "You really fucked up kiddo, you really fucked up." says Steve to his little brother. Now a dread settles in to Marty as he worries about what will happen next. Unfortunately Director Scott Schirmer has made a character driven film like this has a tendency to linger on the characters and here we get symbolism of childhood ending, the letting go of past things and starting anew. The melancholy music is symbolic of the problem here, it does not quite fit the film sort of like it is a boxed and could be used on any film. There is nothing particularly wrong with it but it's just not quite right either. Marty transforms but it does not help the pacing of the film, each time the tension is raised we get a quiet scene behind after it that blunts instead of builds. Much like the voice over which is just a bit too on the nose at times so it pulls away from the drama happening on screen.
Overall the film works with the above reservations because the Marty, Steve dynamic works for the most part. Marty is the focal point of the film and I appreciated that he remained the character we are seeing the story through. So often the killer is the eyes of the story there was probably a risk of the focus shifting. Instead we get Marty's response to his brother's behavior which seemed more consistent with the early parts of the film. The off screen kills are a let down I guess budgets kept that from being a thing, but the intensity of the brothers shared scenes make the film successful. When all is said and done it is a competent interesting take on the serial killer shown through family dynamics and a brother to brother bond. Not perfect but certainly worth the watch.
As I have done so far this year; I am doing as an experiment my Twitter account @Soresport is dedicated to following and being followed by people in and behind the scenes. Then I am also hoping some of them follow me back. Lastt week Corin Hardy director of the wonderful film Hallow followed me back, Thanks for that and your great film. It really is an experiment and where I love the horror community it is a way to keep track of what is going on by the people involved in it.  I am now following over 130 people while the followers is only 15 so as you can see people in the biz do not follow just anyone back. :)  

Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Hallow (2015) Horror Monsters

The Hallow (2015) - This film takes something that is an innocent fable and changes it into something complex and frightening that is not expected but totally enjoyed. The hallow is a story about the faerie people but not the little leprechauns we know and love. These mischievous and dangerous beings are territorial demons who do not appreciate trespassers.  So when a conservationist Adam Hitchens (Joseph Mawle) is sent to a small Irish village to look at the forest where the fairies creatures live he, his wife Clare (Bojana Novakovic) and baby are treading into unknown danger. Director Corin Hardy in his debut feature. The Book of Invasions is quoted to open the film "Hallow be their name, And blessed be their claim.If you who trespass put down roots, The Hallow be your name." Shot in Ireland in five different forests the film is about what is under the surface what is under the myths and fairy tales as the director says in his commentary on the Scream Factory Blu ray. The film opens with or male lead hiking through the forest, baby in a carrier on his back and dog in tow marking trees in the forest and taking samples for them. His lovely wife is back at their new abode taking the iron bars off the windows of the house. The music is gentle but with just a hint of foreboding as Adams while looking for the dog crosses a bridge into the deeper part of the forest and comes across a ruined house. In the house is the carcass of a deer with a broken neck in the corner of a room. A fungus on the creature gets the attention of Adam and he takes a sample.
  Meanwhile back at the house neighbor Colm Donelly comes to see Adam while he is away. Played with a stoic intimidation by Michael McElhatton the actor captures the idea of a local who does not want outsiders to be poking around. As the movie progresses we learn the reasoning behind his interest in the new family. He believes in the fairy creatures in the wood and is trying with a grieving passion to get them to understand the danger. He has lost a daughter in those woods and knows the danger. Unfortunately trying to scare people away through intimidation and unfriendliness never works and so his story gets a bit muted in the film. The actors intensity in the role really sells it but the script probably could have done more with him. In the early stages of the film it is a drama with the couple the forest and the community. Outsiders are not particularly welcome but there all the same and these story structures work. Note: Director Hardy makes a note about a visual reference to the movie the Thing, did you see it? After bringing the sludge back to the house we see the dripping black slime coming from the ceiling beams hmmm.... Could that and the talk of the ant fungus have anything to do with the slime? The exposition is about fungus mind control and they have both touched it. This is a nice possible reading of the film where maybe the slime allows the couple to see the creatures?
  As the story progresses we see scary occasions and more warning but it seems our couple is already on the path and so with each event they dig their heels in and try to cope with what is happening instead of cutting and running. We see the creatures a bit here and there and they are getting closer. Still the script is suggesting that the neighbor Colm is responsible for the stranger and stranger occurrences happening. It is a nice idea having the neighbor seem so forceful Clare has this real life threat while Adam has more and more supernatural experiences. Our couple from London can't believe the local myths even as the community tries to warn them but at the same time things are getting weirder and weirder. It really goes on growing in intensity as the couple is besieged by the woodland demons. The sound design in the tension filled scenes really give a mood that puts the viewer into the action.
  The turn into the monster movie is about halfway through the film. Adam thinking still that Colm is behind the power going out in his house searches the place with a loaded shotgun. He is fighting to be brave enough the fight. Then they look at the book that Colm left for them and we start shifting into the supernatural. The idea of the Changling and the reveal of the very creepy looking Hallow makes for a build into the third act that really works well. They try to flee as the creatures close in and they of course in classic horror fashion can not get the car to start. After crashing and realizing the Hallow are real we reach the a heightened fairy-tale. Adam gets infected by the black fungus of the hallow and so we move onto the final part of the film. Adam moves into the transformation reminiscent of Jeff Goldblum's transformation in The Fly.
  It is a fight for survival the couple knows that daylight will be their savior if the can make it to dawn. They know bright light hurt the creatures so how will they manage until morning. The creatures though are finding their way into the home, based on the idea that the creatures are woods based and will be able to do that. We see the rot seeping in through the wood of the house and the couple struggling to get the generator going to drive them away. A wonderfully tense and exciting scene where the creatures are finding routes in and Adam struggles with the machinery. I am really repulsed by the eye trauma possibility and it is so close it is viscerally uncomfortable. Adam is infected and although the family gets a reprieve he has to struggle personally knowing that he is changing into one of the creatures. They get some time to put the iron bars back onto the house, to try to protect themselves during the siege. We get another classic idea of the generator running out of fuel and knowing morning is still too far away.  Adam changing into the creature suddenly may not be trustworthy. The the turn into the finally when the baby is taken this setting up the climactic scenes of this fine monster movie.
  So we get to the the final twenty-five minutes where Adam fights for his humanity, and Clare runs into the forest to get her child from the creatures. I won't go too much further here sharing the finer plot points as this wonderfully entertaining movie should not be spoiled. We get lots of wonderful practical monster effects that are so worth the effort because they look great and real which is lost in so many cgi filled movies. I very much enjoyed this film and wish all of you to go out and find it. The Scream factory blu-ray version I have comes with a making of documentary and commentary by the director. another feature is the art and story boards that make the version good but I would have loved more people in the commentary because the give and take and how people remember things often makes for better stories. Still considering this was Corin Hardy's first go he does a fine job sharing during the film. He has a writing credit with Felipe Marino and the film is really well put together. He does an even better job on the film itself. I am glad to have this one in my extensive horror movie collection.
As I have done so far this year; I am doing as an experiment my Twitter account @Soresport is dedicated to following and being followed by people in and behind the scenes. Then I am also hoping some of them follow me back.  It really is an experiment and where I love the horror community it is a way to keep track of what is going on by the people involved in it.  I am now following over 130 people while the followers is only 15 so as you can see people in the biz do not follow just anyone back. :)  

Monday, April 11, 2016

Writing about not writing 1

Many times in the scheduling of watching and writing about films I find that I don't want to really write about a film I saw. This happens pretty often and usually I just move on waiting for the next movie that stirs some words in me.It happened twice this week which spurred me into thinking about what it is that turns me away from blogging movies. Writing about a good or bad film happens often. The ideas whether I liked them or hated them can illicit a response that I want to record. Somethings though there is nothing the film could be great but I just don't really want to put anything down. The same can be said with viewing a movie that was so bad that writing seems a waste of time. So I wanted to spend a bit of time  talking about two films I recently viewed but could not find the energy or interest to review.
  The Reverend (2011) - Written and directed by Neil Jones from his graphic novel is the story of  a nameless priest played by Stuart Brennan who unfortunately for him is a man chosen to be tested. There is a nice backstory centering around the idea of the bible book of Job that plays out with our young reverend. He early in the film is bitten, intentionally by a vampire and quickly has the thirst to feed. So here we have his dilemma can he be a man who sees this  condition as a test from God and like Job never question God's will? Can he use this curse of having to feed on blood in a way that furthers what he sees as gods will? All of this is played out as he finds the corruption that has infiltrated the little hamlet that he is assigned. The film is well executed with adequate gore and effects but something in this perfectly acceptable horror film just did not connect enough with me to give it a review.
  Juan of the Dead (2011) - Juan de los Muertos (original title) by writer / director Alejandro Brugués is a really wonderful film with political commentary, ridiculous end of the world scenarios and touching relationships between characters. Some how though this was just too complicated for me to write about. There were so many cool little bits and commentary on the world that I felt like I could not do it justice.It's a shame because I think it is a movie that should be seen and reviewed. I should be able to at least talk about some of the great weird scene ideas like the view under the ocean or the cool beheading of the zombies surrounding Juan and his friends. Still when I sat down to do that writing nothing felt right, the phrasing was not there and so I abandoned the review.

As I have done so far this year; I am doing as an experiment my Twitter account @Soresport is dedicated to following and being followed by people in behind the camera for the films I see. Then I am also hoping some of them follow me back.  These films are pretty new. I don't hold much hope for any of them to folow back especially since there are not full reviews here. I do fear that Twitter has become too much of a promotional tool for people in film to actually get those follow backs but hey its an experiment. I am now following over 110 people while the followers is only 16 so as you can see people in the biz do not follow just anyone back. :) 

Monday, April 4, 2016

Shock (1977) Horror Ghost

Shock (1977) - aka "Beyond the Door II": The great Italian director Mario Bava's last film is a strange and ultimately sad film that mixes murder and ghosts and possession to give a unique take on a horror film. Bruno (John Steiner) and Dora Baldini (Daria Nicolodi)  move back into the house where Dora's first husband Carlo committed suicide seven years before by sailing out into the ocean never to be seen again. Coming with them is Dora's son Marco (David Colin Jr.) who is also seven years old so never met his father. Its a beautiful house but the boy seems more drawn to the creepy cellar early in the film. Bruno is supportive of Dora who is very nervous about moving back to the house. She had a nervous breakdown after Carlo's (Nicola Salerno) death and spent time in an asylum. So this is probably not the best place for her but she is making the best of it because Bruno has insisted. So early on you think this may be a story about learning what happened to Carlo and when strange things happen the viewer is left wondering if it is just Dora's mind slipping. We also learn that Bruno is an airline pilot so there will be times when just Dora and Marco at at the house.
  It does not take long for the ghostly shenanigans to start, as the couple make love in the living room we get a shot of Marco seemingly in a trance chanting "pigs, pigs, pigs". The couple never see this so when Bruno heads off for a couple days away at work We see that Dora and Marco get some creepy. Marco makes his swing in the yard move from inside the house and we see a creepy dead hand touching Dora in her sleep. It does not take long for things to start going bad between Mother and Son. At a dinner party the kid says to his mother "Mama, I have to kill you." which really puts Dora on notice. Then later she finds a razor blade between the keys of her piano and discovers that her son has stolen and shredded a pair of her panties, yes things are sort of weird. The film plays the line that maybe something is up with the kid, while also implying that Dora could be losing her mind.
  There are a couple of wonderfully frightful dream sequences in this film and each time the director does not let the viewer know that is what they are when they begin. There is also this mix of supernatural bleeding through from the dream world to the real world. The first has Dora threatened by a box cutter that is floating in the air, it cuts her nightgown and when she wakes screaming we see her nightgown is still cut. A great little piece of foreshadowing for the upcoming climax. Its this crossing of supernatural and reality that makes Dora's anxiety so believable. There is something going on and it definitely is not just in her head. Marco is surely possessed at times and seems to be trying to hurt his Mother, when he is in a trance furniture moves on its own, pictures fall from the walls and doors lock and unlock on their own.  Marco does this bigger thing where he pins Bruno's picture to his swing, and when he pushes it we have cuts to Bruno in his plane losing control of it. Only when Dora stops the swing does Bruno get control back in flight. This really is the start of the third act where all the crazy shit comes together for a big reveal.
  When the climax comes and it does with a hysteric spree, the plot twists and turns through screams bumps and hallucinations in a swirl of confusion. The answer to whether Carlo killed himself is answered as well as whether or not Dora did it. The last few scenes push us the tension so high the audience has to hold their breath to get to the end. It can't be said that this is a great movie, its not. What is it is a competent supernatural thriller with some cool tricks in the camera work, some unexpected plot twists and real ghosts.
Daria Nicolodi who was coupled with Dario Argento and the parents of Fiore and Asia Argento was co-writer of the script for Susperia (1977) an Argento classic. She claims that the story was inspired by real life experiences of her grandmother. "She went to study piano at an acclaimed music academy said Dora "And discovered that it was a front for the study of black magic."
  This was Bava's last film and a good part of it was directed by the assistant director his son Lamberto Bava, who went on to have a good career in film also. In genre he is responsible for directing a couple of my favorites Demons and Demons 2.
As I have done so far this year; I am doing as an experiment my Twitter account @Soresport is dedicated to following and being followed by people in and behind the scenes. Then I am also hoping some of them follow me back.  This film being older who knows if anyone associated is on twitter. I do fear that Twitter has become too much of a promotional tool for people in film to actually get those follow backs but hey its an experiment. I am now following over 100 people while the followers is only 15 so as you can see people in the biz do not follow just anyone back. :) 

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Barbarous Mexico (2014) Horror Anthology

Barbarous Mexico (2014) - "When Warriors felt threatened, they performed a ritual asking for prosperity in exchange for human blood. This was so in the Mexico of the Aztecs, and was so in the Mexico of the Narcos. Rivers of blood were spilled to please the gods." part of the voice over in the beginning of this anthology where a journalist tells us the story of when he got to hear about and see the results of one such Narcos ritual. It sets up the piece we are about to see and I guess the horror is in the visuals because although there is a quiet tension to this first story it always feels like an inevitable build to a gruesome reveal. One of the Narcos an intimidating man (Memo Villegas) tells the reporter (Marco Zapata) of the story of sacrifice where their group takes a bunch of partying students and kills them in the desert as a way to gain prosperity. The visuals are dark and gruesome with the use of a ritualistic stone knife. When the killer speaks during this scene the writer / director (Laurette Flores Bornn) uses a modulator in to make the man sound supernatural as he spews on about satisfying the sun and the god Tlaltecuhtli. ( I am guessing through the context that this is the one they were going for even though the subtitle had a different spelling. It's effective for what it is but the piece lacked something, no real character to grab onto. The journalist is not strong enough even though he is the witness. Titled Tzompantli for the final reveal it is a dark start to a anthology based around Mexican myths and history.
  Story two about desperados who are making an escape after stealing some gold only to pick the wrong place to stay the night. One of the two men shot Martin, (Waldo Facco) during the crime is barely alive so the second man, Jose (Harold Torres) chooses Jaral de Berrios to stop and care for him, a place which is said to be cursed. Shot in the real abandoned hacienda of Jaral de Berrios the piece is heavy on spaghetti western imagery from the first beautiful opening shot to the close up it is really well filmed by writer / director (Edgar Nito). Since the location is so cool we do Nito exercises it with shots and cuts where it is honored. The ghost (Florencioa Rios) is watching the two as they stumble into the building and it does not take long for her to finish off the wounded man. Jose knowing he should leave this place is suddenly in a surreal would where he is seduced by the spirit before meeting his own demise. Strong in its lead up shots and western aesthetic it could have had more ghost but was enjoyable all the same. I could not find a particular ghost myth connected to the location but the "Woman in Black" appears in so many cultures around the world I can see this story being built this way. The final sequence is wonderfully executed with the ghost reveal being a highlight.
  The third story Drena, "Drain" by Aarón Soto we see a woman (Leslie Arce) finding a dead body in a hole. For some unexplained reason she takes the cigarette from his cold dead hand? Sure it is a connecting element and a bit shocking and as you watch this short you realize it is all about the shocking. When she lights the cigarette she is visited by a foul mouthed demon that asks her, no demands that she do something really gross or will face the equally vile consequences of not doing it. The story has such a strange tone and almost no dialog making it interesting if a bit obscure in its intent. The absolutely strange final shots leaves this as one of the strangest tales.
La Cosa Más Preciosa (That Precious Thing) is about a impish demon, an Alux who steals precious things and when a young man brings his virgin girlfriend to the cabins in the area of this creature we get a sick little tale with way too graphic demon junk.  A couple Javier (Rubén Zerecero) and Valeria (Sara Comacho) looking to have sex for the first time take a road trip. They arrive at the cabin and there is a indication from a worker, more a warning that there is something in the woods that steals things. Little do they know that what the creature steals will have horrible consequences for the pair. There were choices made in the making of this story that were odd, shot in a style to make it look like a old seventies film. Dark bits on the film like an old grind house movie that was not cared for very well. It doesn't need it or the reason for it escapes me, maybe when this is on DVD we can interview writer / director (Isaac Ezban) and get an answer.  This short really does get a lot of props for the makeup done on the creature, very well done there. Shocking in its graphic use of violence and rape but showing a closeup of the Valeria's face where she sort of crosses her eyes and the penis in the face shot sort of plays the horrific rape for comedy. I am not a fan of that approach at all. The inevitable final shots of the consequences were very predictable.
Fifth up Lo Que Importa Es Lo De Adentro (It's what's inside that matters) is just a little fucking evil piece of necro-paedophilia based around a Mother (Claudia Goytia) and two children in a city apartment building. She shows kindness to the homeless man Pepe (Ánuar Zúñiga) that her retarded daughter Laura (Dulce Alexa Alfaro) is afraid of calling him the boogyman. We again have a story that quickly becomes tragic as we learn Pepe has a secret and little Laura can't with her communication issues can tell her mother what she sees from the window. Then the story gets really strange as we see how Pepe makes money and what his particular kink is.
 Isla de las Muñecas is a real place and the next film Muñecas by (Jorge Michel Grau) uses the location well creating a story with this tourist oddity becomes a literal tourist trap. Shot in black and white we follow a woman (Patricia Ortiz) who appears to be trying to escape as she hides and then faces off with a large man wearing an apron. It is an effective piece in its simplistic struggle to survive. The turn is sad and the final reveal appropriate for the content with very little dialog it is a wonderful piece of dread.
Siete veces Siete (Seven times Seven) is a really great revenge tale based around a reanimation ritual that I absolutely loved. The sense of place and magic runs through this as the story slowly pieces together not only how the ritual works but what the motivating factor is that drives the scarred man, Rabbit (Ramon Medina) performing it.(I hope I am attributing the actors correctly the character names were not included for the two leads in the credits) Such a well done complete story in a short that uses location and ritual to show what can drive a man to seek revenge over and over. Writer / director (Ulises Guzmán)  gives us the story from when Rabbit steals the body (Agustín Tapia) and takes it to a place of magic. The complex set of rituals bring the body back to life, but it seems the soul is no longer intact so more magic until the being remembers who it is. The turn in this film is wonderful with flashbacks of how this being became important to Rabbit and why he is so driven to have the being remember who it is. The final turn also is very satisfying after we have the full story we know this could just be a beginning for this revenge tale.
Day of the Dead is also a revenge tail about a group of strippers who pay back the bad men that hurt one of their own. Starting with the introduction by the matriarch (Adelita Rockhill) of the place, we see Mexican city Frontera life while she explains how the world is hard and you have to be harder to have any piece of it. Then into the strip club she runs and learn how one of her girls was mistreated by a group of men cut to all the women in make up of the Day of the Dead dancing in the club. Shit goes crazy fast and we experience the chaos of revenge at its finest. There is a bit reminiscent of Salma Hayek in From Dusk to Dawn right before the shit hits the fan. We are suddenly in the mix with special effects and violence to rival that film. Writer Director (Gigi Saul Guerrero) goes all out with the scene making it a viceral gore fest. "Justice can be one of the most gentle lovers, but revenge is a real fucking whore."
  I like more of these stories than I disliked, there is a horrible computer animation between the stories that could have been left out. As anyone who reads this blog I love anthologies and this is one I recommend seeing this one as there are some very well done pieces in it. This particular film collection is full of violence and gore as well as some really decent shock value for people looking for that. If I made attribution mistakes on this film send me a correction, this was a bit incomplete in IMDB.
    As I have done so far this year; I am doing as an experiment my Twitter account @Soresport is dedicated to following and being followed by people in and behind the scenes. Then I am also hoping some of them follow me back.  This film being current and with what I would call some rather popular actors I don't hold much hope for any of them to even notice this review let alone follow back. I do fear that Twitter has become too much of a promotional tool for people in film to actually get those follow backs but hey its an experiment. I am now following over 100 people while the followers is only 15 so as you can see people in the biz do not follow just anyone back. :)