Archive for February, 2017

Giving birth to a snake it’s not all about suicide. It’s probably the most wrong headed thing in all of human endeavour

Director : Various Directorslarge_sk9jhohni5u88smk4njkumcm7er

Year Released : 2016

Starring : Too many to list

Another one from my Youtube “films I want to watch” playlist, “Holidays” is not a film that I’m overly that fussed about if I’m being completely honest. In all reality I should have removed it from that list some time ago because it just never excited me.

However, it was still on there and it suddenly popped up on Netflix. I had nothing else to watch and review, so here you go, a review for a film that I didn’t really want to watch.

Plot

The film is divided into several smaller stories.

Valentines Day (Directed by Kevin Kölsch & Dennis Widmyer) – A young girl who is bullied develops a crush on her swimming coach with disastrous results.

St Patrick’s Day (Directed by Gary Shore) – A new pupil arrives in an Irish school and strangely cradles the stomach of her teacher with her head. The teacher soon finds out that she is pregnant with a snake.

Easter (Directed by Nicholas McCarthy) – A woman tells her daughter about the story of Jesus’ resurrection before bed and promises her that Easter will be the same as last year. During the night an egg rolls into the house and out hatches a demonic Easter bunny that makes the daughter a haunting offer.

Mother’s Day (Directed by Sarah Adina Smith) – A woman can’t stop getting pregnant, regardless of how safe she tries to be during sex. She is directed to a specialist clinic in the middle of nowhere that turns out to be a group of witches. They convince her to carry to term, but they seem to have ulterior motives.

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Father’s Day (Directed by Anthony Scott Burns) – When she receives a mysterious tape from her estranged father, Carol is offered the chance to re-establish their relationship. She is guided to a seemingly abandoned building…….seemingly.

Halloween (Directed by Kevin Smith) – A man runs an online sex cam business who arrives back at his base of operations and verbally abuses his workers. He is knocked unconscious when he attempts to rape one of them. He wakes up to find a vibrator superglued into his bottom and hooked up to a car battery, and they intend on making him feel as degraded as he forced them to be.

Christmas (Directed by Scott Stewart) – A man leaves it until the last minute to buy the latest in TV technology before he sees the last purchaser of it collapse and die. He steals the box instead of helping the man and takes it back to his ungrateful wife. His greatest desires soon come to the surface however.

New Years’ Eve (Directed by Adam Egypt Mortimer) – Two lonely people get together on New Year’s Eve and it goes awkwardly, but that doesn’t stop them ending up taking it home, little does she know that he is a serial killer…..but he is in for a surprise when he goes in her bathroom.

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Worth watching or not really worth fussing about, as I thought?

Those of you that have read my reviews for “The ABCs of Death”, both the first and it’s sequel, know that the anthology method of dtelling stories in films is very hit and miss. In some aspects you never know what you’re going to get and for all you know you might only have to sit through a few minutes of a story you hate before one you like comes along, but had I known that this was that method of film-making going in then I probably wouldn’t have watched “Holidays”. It’s not a style I overly been impressed with previously, but I certainly enjoyed it more than the two aforementioned movies.

It’s hard to really talk about them as if they are a normal film so I’m going to talk a bit about each. Before you watch this film, if indeed you choose to do so, it’s worth noting that the films are not linked to each other in any way whatsoever other than them revolving around various holidays.

I’m going to start with my favourite aspect of any of them and that comes from the “Easter” story and something that I on’t reference often, character design. The Easter Bunny in this section is genuinely haunting and creepy in it’s design. It’s so simplistic, but it looks disturbing in so many aspects, especially in that it has a very stigmata style appearance, with a crown of thorns and impaled hands. It’s a simple design, but it works. It was kind of unsettling in a very simplistic sort of way.

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I really enjoyed everything about “Father’s Day”, it builds exceptionally well throughout and you feel curious about what is coming next. The ending does feel somewhat predictable, but that didn’t stop me not feeling anything negative about it when it did happen. It is not complicated storytelling, and the tape-recording style feels relatively fresh. Visually it is also the best of the various sections.

“Halloween” is also fairly tense once they start taking revenge on their “handler” (for lack of better words). It’s feels much more justified than much of the “Saw” franchise that clearly inspired it, and the best part is that you feel like the character deserves everything that is happening to him, although it would have been better seeing him deal with the long term effects of what has happened to him.

I genuinely enjoyed a lot of the sections, although I found “Mother’s Day” and “Christmas” to be boring and just underdeveloped. “Mother’s Day” in particular is a momentum killer for the film as everything I had seen before then had been very interesting.

Overall, “Holidays” was much better than I thought it would be. I think it would have been more enjoyable had there been a link between the films other than the holiday seasons. The only bad thing about the better sections was that you get attached to the characters and then they’re gone.

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Summary

“Holidays” is a generally decent horror film, that despite it having a few poor sections.approved It is certainly a better-rounded film than both of the entries into the “ABCs” franchise.

I’m going to be generous here and give it the approved stamp. I can see why a lot of people on IMDB (current rating of 5.1/10) didn’t like it, and I think that this will divide anyone that watches it, but for me it works for the most part.

Don’t go in expecting to enjoy every single section of the film. There are sections that in retrospect you’d wished you’d simply skipped through, but there are some that you wouldn’t mind seeing extended into a longer movie.

 

There’s forty-five million pounds of chicken shit dumped into the bay each year!

Director : Barry Levinsonbay_ver2-2012-movie-poster

Year Released : 2012

Starring : Will Rogers, Kristen Connolly, Kether Donohue, Frank Deal, Stephen Kunken, Christopher Denham and Nansi Aluka

I’ve been debating for the last 48 hours whether to actually review this film as I saw that it had a relatively high number of votes on IMDB (more than 20,000) compared to most movies that I review on this site, but then I realised that it might be a while before I get a chance to review another and I don’t want to get into the habit of reviewing one and then taking several weeks off again, so here is it.

I had heard of the film in passing previously but had never actually tried to watch “The Bay” and never even watched a trailer, but then I saw it advertised on Netflix after I had finished reviewing “Land Mine Goes Click” and so I decided to go with it. Little did I realise that it was a found footage film, so I was already anticipating what I was about to watch and not in a good way, but you never know, I had been surprised in the past.

Plot

Donna Thompson (Donohue) is invited to talk about an incident several years prior at Chesapeake Bay in which most of the town dies sudden deaths. She recalls how she was an apprentice news reporter and she believed at the time that she was simply reporting a minor medical issues. It’s peak season at the bay but a lot of people are starting to go into hospital with various boils and infected wounds. Dr Abrams (Kunken) quickly realises that this might be something considerable more drastic when he realises that it is a parasite of some variety that is eating the body from the out and in simultaneous.

Abrams struggles to get an answer out of the government and they eventually start ignoring him as they realise that the town needs to be quarantined. Soon anyone who comes into contact with the water starts falling ill, coming out in boils and mysteriously their tongues eaten.

Can they find an answer in time to save anyone?

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So was it worth while or the same as most other found footage films?

I will give “The Bay” praise in that is is different to most other found footage films that I have seen as it doesn’t go with any of the usual stereotypes of the genre. There are no jump-scares, no more . It is also strange to have a narrator most of the way through the film, but this actually causes the main issue that I have with the film…..it nullifies any attachment that you have to the characters.

When Donna is introducing several characters as they appear on screen, she says that they die by the end of that night, meaning that you are automatically disconnected emotionally from them as you know that they are going to “snuff it” within the next hour and a bit. For example, one of the better and more interesting characters to follow is Dr Abrams, but you know from the first minute you see him that he going to die because we’re told it as soon as he appears. Why should I truly care about a character you’ve just told me is going to die.

This isn’t based on an historical event, such as “Titanic” and any set in World War 2, films where you expect most of the characters you see to die, this is a film where, whilst death is likely, it’s not a certainty, and it ruins it somewhat.

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The pacing really doesn’t help in this sense and it seems all over the place. There is also one scene in which a character is perfectly fine before he notices he is infected…..and then he dies within 20 seconds. It is either an amazing coincidence that he died just slightly after noticing this, but it feels more like an excuse just to kill off a character as one hadn’t died in a while.

I’m caught in two minds about this because I wasn’t actually bored by “The Bay” at any point, but the problem is that everything feels completely inconsequential. It is unlike any other “found footage” film I’ve seen, which is good in some respects, but in others it just doesn’t work. If it wasn’t for make up and prosthetic applied to create the illusion of flesh being eaten, you’d be forgiven for not really knowing what everyone was getting worried about and this isn’t helped by the lack of a major human antagonist. At least in normal “found footage” films there is something even remotely tangible for you to get terrified (or at least form a vague attempt to be terrified about).

I think that the best way to describe it would be “inconsequential” and in a year or so I will have forgotten that I spent just over 80 minutes watching this, with only the occasional browse through the “All Reviews” list reminding me about it.

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Summary

Whilst it does follow the same formula of most other found footage films, which is something to be commended, it is certainly not as engaging as other movies within the genre and I found it really hard to care about what was happening.

I’m not saying that “The Bay” is a bad film by any stretch, but it’s not good either.

If I could use one word to describe it then it would definitely be “meh”.

 

They don’t save whores!

Director : Levan Bakhialandm1

Year Released : 2015

Starring : Sterling Knight, Spencer Locke, Kote Tolordava, Dean Geyer and Giorgi Tsaava

I had first heard of “Land Mine Goes Click” last year when one of my friends said that they had watched it and they loved it, so my curiousity was automatically peaked, so when it appeared on my Netflix I decided that there would be worse ways to spend 100 minutes of my day off.

It’s also a rare chance to watch a film that is set and filmed in a country that you don’t often see represented in English language films, Georgia. I work with a girl from that country and so have a vague idea about the culture, so it will be interesting to see if it is correctly presented, but giving that these type of films don’t usually do that, I’m not going to get my hopes up.

Why do I get a feeling I’m about to waste 100 minutes of my life?

Plot

Daniel (Geyer) goes on holiday with girlfriend Alicia (Locke) and Chris (Knight), but little does he know that they are sleeping with each other behind his back. The day after an inpromtu wedding ceremony, the group’s tour guide Devi (Tsaava) goes to take a picture of them when Chris steps on a landmine. The guide claims he is going to go into town but quickly stops, and Daniel then fakes a phone call to the emergency services, revealing that he knows about the affair and he purposefully planted the landmine. He leaves and Alicia is forced to try and dig a trench for Chris to jump into.

A few hours later a local man named Ilya (Tolordava) comes along and offers to help, but he wants to all of Alicia’s underwear in return. Although initially reluctant, she eventually agrees, he keeps making increasingly disgusting demands, eventually leading to rape.

Can Chris get off the mine in time?

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Any good or a waste of 100 minutes of my life?

There are a few films during my life that I have seen in which the mood and tone changes completely, but I’ve never seen a film that skips from one situation to another so abruptly without giving a satisfactory ending to the first one as I did with “Land Mine Goes Click”. To explain this I’m going to have to tell you exactly what happens, to the next paragraph is ALL SPOILER. You have been warned.

So basically you see Ilya raping Alicia, and then the next thing you know you’re at Ilya’s house. Chris suddenly turns up after Ilya dropped his ID after raping her, and he then proceeds to torture the family as revenge. Unless I blinked and missed it, you don’t see Chris get off of the land mine, and you only learn about Alicia’s fate when Chris is forcing Ilya’s daughter to go through the same degrading experience that Alicia had. It’s such a dramatic shift in tone that it makes it feel like another movie all together. You get why Chris is doing what he is doing, but it feels like such an unsatisfactory end to the main storyline of the film.

Right, spoiler over. So yeah, in the opening two acts of the film, I was unsure whether I liked it or not. The film is well presented and you have a feeling of tension as you know that Chris is relatively powerless to stop what he is seeing. It makes you uncomfortable, but the problem is that whilst it achieves that, not once did I feel that excited or engaged by the film. This is probably due to the lack of character development throughout. There isn’t a single character with anything resembling a secondary characteristic, meaning that they are anything but compelling.

I don’t really have too much to say about this film as again, whilst not awful, it’s not great. I’d heard about it being reasonably decent from friends, but for me it’s nothing more than the 6/10 that is the current average on IMDB (well, 6.2 on there but I’ve rounded)

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Summary

A somewhat disjointed attempt at a horror-thriller starts off promisingly, but it’s almost as if they weren’t sure how to show Chris getting off of the mine and therefore just decided to skip straight by that part. It’s not a bad film and for a long budget films it is certainly on the better side, but it is most definitely not anywhere near getting my “approved” stamp

Racist? I’m not a racist!

Director : Mick Jacksondenial

Year Released : 2017

Starring : Rachel Weisz, Timothy Spall, Tom Wilkinson and Andrew Scott

Hello again all, it’s been a while hasn’t it? The reason for my lengthy break is due to moving home again recently and not having access to the internet. This means that I haven’t been able to scour Netflix or other sources for less-well-known films, and I’ve had to wait until I got a day off from work when I had nothing planned to be able to sit and write a review. Please note that I still haven’t got broadband at my new house and it doesn’t get installed until Friday, but after that I’m going to try to do a lot of reviews in a short space of time.

But anyway, onto the review.

“Denial” is a film that has been on my Youtube playlist of “Films I want to watch” for a long time, but even then I was genuinely surprised that it got a cinema release in my native UK, but I certainly wasn’t complaining and it gives me a chance to review a new film. It was also surprisingly popular at Leicester Square for a film that’s not well advertised, so I was even contemplating not reviewing it for the site, but I decided to go with it anyway as I don’t think it’ll be a film that the majority will know.

This became the 18th film I saw at the cinema in 2017, and only the second that I’m considering for my Top Ten at the end of the year (I’m currently at 21 for the year), that’s how much I liked it.

Plot

Back in the early nineties there was a war of words between historians Deborah Lipstadt (Weisz) and David Irving (Spall) in relation to whether the holocaust really happened. Irving confronts Lipstadt at a presentation she is giving, and later starts legal proceedings against her due to comments made about him in her book. Weisz spends her time defending herself from not only the press and the London based survivors of the holocaust, all whilst trying to find the proof for her legal team, headed by Anthony Julius (Scott) that Irving is what he appears, a Hitler-sympathiser that is trying to embarrass the Jewish people rather than just another racist.

The case starts with Irving representing himself, and over the subsequent weeks Lipstadt has to prove that Irving has lied on numerous occasions, therefore meaning that what was said was not libellous.

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Why is it good?

I’m going to start off with arguably my favourite part of the film and that is the portrayal of the characters. Each actor puts in a great performance of their respective characters, but the stand out character is clearly David Irving, the antagonist. It makes you really dislike Irving as a person, and much like the priests in “Spotlight”, he doesn’t seem to believe what he is doing or saying is wrong. There is a section in which a part of his diary is read out to the court and how he has taught his daughter numerous racist insults, and yet he doesn’t think that he has done anything wrong, and despite hearing what he has just written in his own words, he speaks with all honesty when he utters “I’m not a racist”. You actually believe that he believes that, even though all of the evidence points to the contrary.

I’d be really curious to see what Irving himself thinks of the portrayal of him in the film.

Make no mistake, this is not a film that will gauge the excitement that a lot of other courtroom dramas have in the past, but it is one that builds itself up effectively. Such simple scenes, such as one set in the camp at Auschwitz, give you a real feeling for the wider scale of things. It is a court case that has true implications world-wide instead of just a small scale issue that similar films focus on.

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The subtlety in this film is it’s key attraction, with such simple things helping you build an idea of the character, and one such example of this is right at the end when the court case is over and Irving goes to shake the hands of the opposing side, and they all walk off in disgust. This is an excellent portrayal of what would be a realistic scenario as, if you’d heard a person being racist on such a regular basis for the better part of three months, you’d be very disinclined to shake their hand, regardless of whether you won or not. You can just tell that they all just want to tell him exactly what they think of him, but the simple refusal of a handshake would tell him more than several well-chosen words ever could.

I’ve always struggled with talking about films that I like on here as it’s hard to put into words why I view it with esteem, whereas criticising films is very easy. I’m not going to sit here and claim that this is a brilliant film, because it isn’t quite at that level. It is however a very decent courtroom drama and whilst I will probably never go out of my way to watch it again, it’s one that I would recommend you watch if you get the chance.

If “Denial” is at a cinema near you then I would definitely recommend you spend ninety minutes of your time to watch it.

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Summary

“Denial” is a very good film that focuses on the characters in a courtroom situation, and the fight for the truth, but what I liked about “Denial” is that it showsapproved that the truth is subjective, and this is what makes Irving a very dislikeable antagonist. It’s simple, yet impactful storytelling.

Don’t go into it expecting a twisting plot that leaves you on the edge of your seat, it’s not that in the slightest. What it is however is a movie that will get you emotionally invested and on some levels very angry. I won’t claim to know the ins and outs of the whole case, afterall, I didn’t even know that this was a real case until the film had began, but it got me far more engaged that a lot of similar films did.

This is film-making done right, and whilst it’s nowhere near earning the “perfect” stamp, it’s definitely “approved”.

 

Put that gun down before I shove it down your throat!

Director : Michael Oblowitzthetravelerdvd

Year Released : 2010

Starting : Val Kilmer, Dylan Neal, Camille Sullivan, Paul McGillion, John Cassini, Chris Gauthier and Nels Lennarson

Those that have read the site for a while will know that my favourite film is ‘Willow’ and one of the reasons was the charismatic performance from Val Kilmer as the unwilling hero Madmartigan. I have always found him entertaining, even in movies that weren’t good.

So whilst browsing Netflix I came across this film of his that I hadn’t heard of before and so I got a bit excited. Granted, Kilmer hasn’t, with all due respect, been a major player in Hollywood for quite some time, but that doesn’t stop me looking forward to his releases and even more so given that his last cinema release in the UK came in 2009’s ‘Bad Lieutenant’.

However, those of you who are long term fans of the site might notice that ever since doing reviews of thirty-one horror films in as many days since the build up to Halloween in 2015, I haven’t really reviewed many horror films. This is mainly due to them seeming like a predictable mess. I sincerely hope that this isn’t the same.

Plot

A man (Kilmer) walks in to a police station and calmly states that he is confessing to murder. He remains silent for some time after before he starts playing mind games with various cops. Several start experiencing strange visions and it turns out the man, referring to himself as Nobody, has no fingerprints. Mugshots taken also show nothing more than clothes, and he jumps around from cell to cell with ease.

One of the cops notices that the man looks exactly like a drifter that the same six officers had beaten up a year prior whilst investigating the disappearance of Black’s (Neal) daughter. Minutes later Nobody is describing how he killed his first victim, and as he describes it Jack (Cassini) suffers that fate in the cell block.

As time goes on they realise that every time Nobody makes a confession, one of them dies, and he’s quickly making his way through them.

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A decent showing?

I’m going to start with the only real positive that I can think of for the film that the opening half hour or so. I really liked the build up early on to establish the eerie nature of the movie. It keeps you guessing as to what is happening and how the film will play out. That’s pretty much where my positive review ends.

This is not a good film, not in the slightest. The deaths are the main reason a lot of people get into horror films in the first place, but the body count here feels so lazily done and realised that it is hard not to notice the flaws in the various aspects of them. Once such death comes when one of the characters is trapped in a car and the remaining survivors are struggling to break through the windscreen. Whilst noble in their intentions, the characters are fucking idiots. They must have pumped at least fifteen bullets from different guns into that windscreen, and hitting it with their batons, all without making a slight dent. Surely they’d realise after two/three shots that the glass should have broken and then try in another area?

 

The ridiculous nature of the deaths is pretty much the same all of the way through, with the jump-cut nature of one or two of them, not to mention the obscured view for others, makes it hard to really get a true sense of what is going on. For example, one character is killed on a rooftop, but because it is heavily raining you can’t really tell what is going on.

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For lack of a better words, the long this film goes on the more boring it becomes. I really don’t like describing a film as boring, but unfortunately there are no other words that would be considered appropriate. After thirty minutes I was contemplating going against the 4.1/10 average on IMDB and giving this the approved stamp, but then it lost everything that made it even remotely interesting. This isn’t helped by all of the wooden acting on show from everyone. No-one seems to be enjoying the film making process, and their performances just don’t inspire anything that could be considered noteworthy.

I still enjoy Kilmer’s work, but even he seems exceptionally bored by the movie judging by his passive portrayal during the film’s ninety-one minute run time.

As the film goes on it gets less engaging as you don’t feel sorry for what is happening to the characters. They deserve what they are getting, and even the twist towards the end doesn’t really change that. It’s hard to really get behind these characters to survive and in the way that “Don’t Breathe” presents its central characters. They are pieces of shit so it is hard to feel sorry for them in the slightest.

I’m going to end this review by talking about the ending and how stupid that is. I shouldn’t really have to say this after just saying that, but SPOILER ALERT. Basically the only character left is Black, the father of the girl that they all believed was killed by the man they beat up the previous year. He decides to make himself deaf so that he can’t hear the confessions anymore, but this doesn’t work as he can still hear Nobody. He all of a sudden sees his daughter and it turns out that to defeat Nobody, all he has to do is say his name out loud. He does and then shoguns him through a window. What a poor way to end a film that was rapidly going downhill anyway.

Summary

What starts off as a reasonable horror film slowly turns into a snorefest that I struggled to find a single positive out of.

I can barely even muster the energy to come up with a summary, that’s how boring and forgettable this film is.

If you must insist on watch it, stop after the half hour mark, because fuck all interesting happens after that.