Archive for the ‘Comedy Horror’ Category

Vaginas are like coupon books for alcohol!

Year Released : 2015he-never-died-poster
Director: Jason Krawcyzk
Cast : Henry Rollins, Kate Greenhouse, Jordan Todosey, Steven Ogg and Booboo Stewart

I often think of stories that I think would make interesting films, and over the years I have come up with a variety of different genres and ideas, and one a few years ago was of a man who did something several thousand years ago that he was cursed with immortality and forced to watch all those that he loves die, and then becoming emotionally detached as he realises the futility of starting new friendships and relationships. Of course I was never going to do anything with it……but it appears that someone else had pretty much the exact same idea as as soon as I saw the trailer for “He Never Died”, it looked exactly like what I had thought.

So here I am, a few days before the new year, writing a review for a film that interests me heavily and in the hopes that it won’t be awful….then again, I don’t go into films hoping that they’re awful, although as you would be able to see from my recent Bottom 10 of 2015, I do go into films expecting them to be bad.

Hopefully it won’t be the case with “He Never Died”….I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Plot

Jack (Rollins) is misanthropic after being alive for several millenniums. He is impossible to kill and wounds heal in minutes. He has lost touch with all humanity and doesn’t care for interacting with anyone, whether it be Jeremy (Stewart), his supplier of a mysterious package from the hospital, former employer Alex (Ogg), or Cara (Greenhouse) a waitress who is quite clearly attracted to him.

One day a mysterious girl (Todosey) appears at his door before running off without saying anything. He soon gets a call from an ex-lover who reveals that the girl was actually his daughter. He goes in search with her, eventually finding her after she hooks up with a random stranger, he agrees to let her stay for a few days but resists any attempts to bond.

She is soon taken by mysterious gangsters and despite not really being interested in fatherly responsibilities, Jack goes in search of her.

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As good as I’d hoped?

Well the good news is that it definitely wasn’t like my idea in many ways, so if I did choose to go with it then I could still do my film and not be accused of plagiarism (as far as I’m aware), and in that sense I was relieved and could just sit back and enjoy (or at least try to enjoy).

So let’s start with the ultimate problem with films such as this though is the main character. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with Jack in most senses and Rollins does an excellent job portraying him, but when your main character can’t die, and doesn’t appear to feel pain, it’s hard to really get emotionally engaged. If you go into every situation knowing that the character is going to be fine then it takes a lot of the tension out, hell, he even spends a few scenes with bullet holes in the middle of his head.

That is my only real problem with “He Never Died”.

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As mentioned above, Rollins is fantastic and wonderfully deadpan in his portrayal as Jack. The wit is brilliantly written and is the same type of sense of humour and automatic response mechanism that I have. For example, when he ex phones to ask what he did to piss Andrea off to the point where she disappears, he simply says “I opened the door and she ran off.” It’s so simple and yet so wonderfully appropriate and expertly delivered that I couldn’t help but chuckle. Infact that is pretty much the first fifteen to twenty minutes, and I can actually see myself being that grumpy when I reach the same sort of physical age that Jack is at (around 45-50).

Then we get onto the support cast. All do their job very competently, but there was one that caught my eye and it’s surprising given that his role is so minor. I was sat there for ages trying to figure out where I knew the actor who played Alex from, it was really bugging me, and then I realised that it was Steve Ogg portrayed Trevor in the critically acclaimed Grand Theft Auto 5. Ogg’s portrayal as Trevor was nigh on perfect, and whilst his role is considerably reduced, he successfully steals the scenes that he is in.

“He Never Died” looks fantastic and the soundtrack works to supplement what you’re seeing on screen,

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Summary

“He Never Died” is a very enjoyable dark-comedy and has some excellent acting from Henry Rollins. He delivers a approvedwonderfully dry performance that it really brings you into the disdain that the character has for the situation that he finds him in. The invincibility factor does make the scenes in which he’s fighting in slightly less engaging, but other than that he is an excellent character.

The film itself is very slick and stylish, whilst also staying humble throughout and the characters are written very well indeed. The dark comedy throughout and the writing is superb, and other that the invincibility thing, I couldn’t really find anything wrong with “He Never Died”.

Definitely recommended.

Once you go Norse, you’ll never remorse

Year Released : 2014file_605864_burying-the-ex-poster-640x948
Director : Joe Dante
Cast : Anton Yelchin, Alexander Daddario and Ashley Greene

It occured to me that what I haven’t done a lot of during this run of horror films is review a horror film that is mixed with another genre, and based on that I have decided to go with comedy horror “Burying the Ex”.

I must admit that I first heard of this around a year ago and wasn’t interested in it whatsoever, but I’ve decided to give it a chance because I figure “what’s the worst that could happen?”

As well as the above, it occured to me recently that despite having featured in two of the biggest sci-fi franchises of all time (Star Trek and the Terminator), Anton Yelchin has never really kicked on as you would expect, and he has a considerable lack of hits, so it’ll be interesting to see if I can spot a reason why this is the case, if indeed it’s caused by anything other than a personal choice on behalf of him. I would also recommend one of his other films (Alpha Dog) as he is excellent in that.

Plot

Max (Yelchin) works at a local gothic accessories shop and thinks nothing of it when he takes a delivery of a seemingly harmless model of a genie. He places it to one side but it is later found by his vegan girlfriend, Evelyn (Greene), and again without thinking anything of it, the two make a promise to be together forever. Neither notices the model’s eyes turn red and it start smoking. Soon after they go to get ice cream as a store that sells horror-named ice cream (such as Frankenberry) and Evelyn launches into a rant at Olivia (Daddario), the server behind the counter.

The two of them get into a fight and in his absense, Evelyn re-decorates their apartment to be 100% environmentally friendly, including folding up Max’s previously pristine movie posters. After talking to his brother, Max phones Evelyn to make things up and asks her to go to the local dog park with him so that they can talk, but Evelyn fails to look properly when crossing the road and she is battered into by a bus. Evelyn dies minutes later.

Soon after the funeral Max runs into Olivia again. They start a relationship, although Max doesn’t tell her what happened to Evelyn, but whilst walking through a cemetery together, Evelyn resurrects. She visits Max and he is understandably terrified and confused. Evelyn reveals that she now knows that her resurrection was caused by the genie status, but she now have considerable more insufferable than before and he must find a way to rid her from his life.

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So were my initial instincts of not being interesting correct?

I am mixed on Burying the Ex because it has a lot of positive and very macabre moments, but there are other sections of the film which were tedious beyond the point of reasonability.

Let’s start with the positives and Anton Yelchin again delivers for me as the socially awkward guy that can’t find it in his heart to tell his girlfriend how he feels, even when she’s turned into the undead and doing various sex acts to her is effectively necrophilia. Much like a lot of his other roles, he effectively catches the nervy nature of the character and the insecurities contained within. Yelchin was perfectly cast in the role as the guy with an unusual taste in things, such as his choice of job. He is becoming getting to that point where I expect him to be cast in a socially awkward, or ambitious nerd/geeky style character.

In terms of the actual film itself, whilst not fantastic it kept me interested for a long period of time and although it did feel a little dragged out towards the end, it was at least a relatively original concept and was unlike anything I had seen before (at least nothing that I can think of off of the top of my head anyway). For that I give it a lot of kudos, it was trying something relatively new, and again, I will cavaet that by saying that I can’t think of anything similar, so my apologies if I am incorrect with that statement.

The soundtrack is also very effective and at first I thought Phosphorscent’s “Song for Zula” was a strange choice for a song to be playing over a funeral, but then as it transitions into Max’s mourning for Evelyn it actually starts working very well. I had never heard the song before, but having listened back to it since watching the film I can definitely say it fits the mood of the scene excellently.

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Now that the pleasantries are over, it’s time to get onto the negatives and I have to start with the biggest question that comes to mind and that is why were Max and Evelyn ever together? They have precisely nothing in common and I refuse to believe that they would have ever gotten together in any situation as they are just that different. She thinks he needs to grow up from his fascination over gothic/macabre stuff, and he gets increasingly frustrated with her veganism and obsession with the environment. It’s hard to emotionally get invested in a couple that you’re never convinced should be together anyway.

Then we get onto the complete irrelevance of Oliver Cooper’s Travis to the story, other than a bit of comic relief. You could take the character out of the film and the majority of the story wouldn’t even be slightly impacted at all. The character is just the stereotypical slacker style character that you get in a lot of these types of film and if there’s something that I never want to see in horror films, it’s stereotypical and cliched characters.

Despite my earlier praise of Yelchin’s portrayal of the character, the character in question is somewhat tedious to watch. His life would be so much easier if he truly wanted it to be and it wouldn’t have been too hard for Max to actually tell people the reality of the situations. For example, there is no actual reason for him not to tell Olivia that Evelyn is dead. I can understand him not wanting to tell Evelyn that he wants to break up with her because he’s scared, but there is genuinely no reason for him to keep Evelyn’s death from Olivia.

Infact, it’s almost like two completely different films as before her death it is just a mildly annoying comedy-horror, but afterwards it starts bordering on tedium as Evelyn keeps referencing to people that she is already dead without actually telling people she’s dead. This becomes a common theme throughout the entire film as for some reason people just start skirting around the issue.

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Summary

Burying the Ex just seems to have several issues with various aspects of it’s story and although it flows relatively nicely and keeps me interested in the story, it is obvious why it’s only got average marks on IMDB. It’s not awful by any stretch, but it has too many issues to even start considering giving it the approval stamp.

All of the characters’ issues could have easily been solved if Max just told people how he feels, and that is why the film ultimately didn’t work for me. It relies entirely on Max being unable to tell people the truth of the situation.

Watch it if you must but there are far better zombie films out there.

 

We’ve got to drag the Mexican around?

Year Released : 2015Stung e Poster 768 x 1280
Directors : Benni Diez
Cast : Clifton Collins Jr, Jessica Cook, Matt O’Leary, Lance Henrikson

As I enter the fifth day of my horror review marathon leading up to Halloween (I have a special review planned for that day), I have actually managed to get ahead of myself in terms of schedule (I’m actually submitting this on Sunday and timing it to Monday lunch) and this means that I could potentially get in more than the 31 reviews that I have planned for the month….but I don’t want to get ahead of myself.

One of my favourite horror films from my youth was the Jeff Daniels movie “Arachnophobia”. I first saw the 15 rated horror in December 1991 when I was just 7 years old, probably one of the reasons why it has stuck with me all of this time. Not that I’m scared of it at all, and never have been, but it was one of my favourite films during my youth. I might review it for this site at some point as it has a surprisingly small amount of votes on IMDB.

Whilst some horror films based on creatures can be a bit silly, sometimes they can be most fear inducing because if it’s something that could potentially happen, i/e something that’s realistic, then that is probably the most terrifying aspect of any film.

That being said, the trailer does make this film look a bit silly.

Plot

Sydney (Collins Jr) is throwing a high society party with Paul (O’Leary) and Julia (Cook) as the bar staff. Paul spends time getting drunk and high with the various other staff members, all before noticing an unusually large wasp flying around. The wasp is quickly killed by Paul, but another seemingly stings Sydney and soon mutated wasps start invading the area and stinging various others. Whilst trying to escape, Paul encounters a woman that splits in half to reveal a huge wasp inside of her.

Several guests manage to get into the house just in time and they think they are safe, however, it turns out the Sydney’s mother was also stung and splits to reveal a wasp. Sydney himself then soon partially transforms, although he retains full consciousness of what he is doing.

As the evening progresses, numerous members of the group die off until it’s just Paul and Julia left, but how long can Paul survive when he is eventually dragged off to the nest that Sydney’s mother created?

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Decent or just another creature flick?

Very much a film in a similar style to films such as Slither, there is an element of people out there who will love this and an equal amount who will hate it. Whilst I don’t fall into the latter category for Stung, I’m nowhere near liking it, that despite a very promising start.

In many ways this is enjoyable and at first I was genuinely surprised that the rating on IMDB was so slow, however, as the film went on I found myself getting less and less interested and whilst it’s not an awful film by any stretch, it is one that loses a lot of momentum.

There are a few reasons for this and unusually for me I’m going to start with the negatives.

Let’s start with the antagonist of the film, Sydney. From the very first time you meet this character you know that there is something really strange about him and he couldn’t have been a more obvious antagonist (even though he wasn’t initially seen as one) unless he wore a “I’m this movie’s bad guy!” Whilst having a good guy turning into a bad guy isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but you have to really make the character interesting in the first place.

Sydney is just a bland character in a film that already struggles to make it’s characters, even the two main protagonists, that interesting, and ultimately he is a poor antagonist. The character development in the film is so poor and by the end they are really struggling to make you care about any of their struggles.

Unfortunately the characters just aren’t interesting and even now I am not sure what Lance Henrikson was in the film for, his character is so unnoteworthy that it makes you wonder if he just agreed to do the film as a favour, and indeed if he was just included to give the film a very stretched bit of star power.

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That being said, there are some moments that I genuinely enjoyed during Stung.

The length is pretty much spot on and the film just seems to flow by, going very quickly. The good thing about these sorts of films is that you can walk away from your laptop/TV/whatever for a few minutes, come back and be caught up within a few seconds. You can’t do that with a lot of films, hell, imagine trying to do that in your first time watching Inception.

It flows very smoothly throughout and very little feels forced or like an unnatural progression, and this is in no small part to humourous and often sarcastic, for example, below is one bit of dialogue that is so simple and yet tells you everything that you need to know about the early relationship between Paul and Julia.

Paul is in the middle of trying to flirt with Julia and this happens;

Paul : I know a joke!

Julia : Good for you!

It’s so simple and yet so effective. The dialogue is comfortably the best aspect of the film and if there was one major positive to take out of it, it’s that.

Other than that though, whilst it flows and has decent dialogue, there isn’t really a lot to get excited about with Stung, it’s just kinda there. It’s not awful, it’s not great, it’s just kind of in the middle and it’s a bit of a movie with with the noise “meh” could apply.

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Summary

A film that tries hard and has amusing dialogue, but unfortunately offers precisely nothing new to the genre and that’s probably it’s biggest flaw. It’s completely unoriginal and goes back to the proverbial well far too often to be enjoyed thorough.

Whilst not an awful film and being generally watchable, it’s one of those films that you will watch and then never have the urge to watch it again.

If you have a spare 80odd minutes then you could do a lot worse than watching Stung, but then again you could do a lot, lot better.

Let’s throw another egg-nog on the fire!

Year Released : 2015christmas-horror-story-entertainment-one-dvd
Directors : Grant Harvey, Steven Hoban and Brett Sullivan
Cast : George Buza, Rob Archer, Zoe De Grand Maison, Amy Forsyth, Adrian Holmes, Olunike Adeliyi, Jeff Clarke, Stephen Kook, Jessica Clement and Percy Hynes-White

Nothing says Christmas like watching a film on October 3rd about a demon who hates the holiday. This is my third addition to my month long goal of writing a horror review every day leading up to Halloween, however, I’ve yet to give the approval stamp, I hope that is about to change.

With a high-anticipated major Hollywood film starring Adam Scott about to be released about the legend of Krampus, I was quite surprised to find another film released in the same year about a subject that I had never heard of before.

For those that don’t know, Krampus is basically the anti-Santa, and this makes for an interesting antagonist as it’s not something that I believe has been majorly tried in films before….I could easily be wrong, but I’ll be honest, I can’t be bothered to look it up.

Plot

On Christmas Eve, four groups experience a different set of horrors…

Story 1 : Santa Klaus (Buza) is preparing for the usual Christmas rush when one of his elves becomes seriously ill and dies, even though elves supposedly can’t die. Santa is distraught and confused, although it soon becames a matter of life and death as the elf reanimates as a zombie and starts infecting the others elves. Santa believes that there are darker forces at work and his first choice suspect is Krampus, the Christmas demon, although the true darkness of what is happening is more than he can imagine.

Story 2 : The Bauer family are making a trip to Jeff’s (Clarke) mother’s house to give their well wishes to her. It turns out that they weren’t invited and Jeff soon starts asking her for money. They are thrown out after Duncan (Hynes-Whites) breaks a statue of a demon. As they are driving home, Jeff swerves to avoid something and the family has to trek back to his mother’s house, although they all start getting killed off one by one.

Story 3 : A year ago policeman Scott (Holmes) found a crucified man and a mutilated woman whilst exploring a school and has been in shock since. He decides to take his family to get a Christmas tree from the local forest. His son vanishes before reappearing from a tree. Scott and his wife Kim (Adeliyi) notice that their son’s behaviour is off, and it isn’t long before a phone call reveals all, but by then it’s potentially too late.

Story 4 : A group of kids decide to go into the school that Scott had found the bodies in the previous year and document from within. Whilst there their principle turns out to be still in the building and they hide behind a “staff only” door. Whilst behind there they discover that a woman had claimed to have had an emaculate conception there in the past and died whilst trying to abort it. It’s around this time that Molly (De Grand Maison) starts acting strangely.

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The first good addition to the horror review marathon?

Yes, definitely. Christmas Horror Story was a delight, but unusually for me I am going to start this review by talking about the only negative that I found in the entirety of the 100 minute run time, the complete irrelevance of William Shatner’s character.

Shatner plays a radio host that whilst is amusing when he is on screen, has precisely zero relevance to the story with the exception of the most minor of minor payoffs at the very end of the film. His character offers nothing to the film other than comic relief and whilst Shatner did a decent job of making me laugh (kudos to you, Mr Shatner), the fact he is advertised as the main star in the film is laughable given that his total run time in the film is two minutes, if that.

Other than that though, Christmas Horror Story was definitely a surprise in terms of how enjoyable it was. Let’s start with the basics and the fact that it’s completely separate storylines that have minor connections. For example, the kids from the school section of the film are friends with the girl from the travelling family in another, whilst also investigating an incident that links to the other family. Granted, the links aren’t extensive, but they are there, and it makes it seem like one larger story-arc, whereas in reality that isn’t that much connection.

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Krampus is also only an antagonist in three of the four stories, but that is a good thing because it makes the scenes with the school kids have a different feel than the rest of the film. I love that not all of the stories has a traditional happy ending either. Infact, I would say that only one of the four (I’m not going to say which) has a happy ending, and that makes such a nice change given it’s very uncommon in a Hollywood film to have antagonists winning, or indeed something much darker with the Santa Klaus arc.

The Santa Klaus story is by far the most interesting given how it ends, and even though the ending isn’t hinted at at all, it’s actually kind of brilliant in many ways because it gives you a great insight into a character. I really wish I could talk about the ending, but I can’t without giving away the entire thing and this film will be getting my approval stamp below so I don’t want to put you off watching it by spoiling the ending.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the best ending that I have ever seen, far from it, but the darkness and morbid nature of the end of the Santa Klaus section, the last of the four stories to end, brings the film to a nice conclusion. You have a bit of everything with each of the stories, and not one of them is a bad end. You feel like you’ve invested in these characters because you get a bit of each of their stories and then you move on to another before returning later.

The film treats it’s audience with respect and not only made me laugh, but on a few occasions did make me jump. The jump scares aren’t your typical jump scares as they’re nowhere to be seen when you’re expecting one, and then they come when you’re nice and relaxed and because of this there are a few moments where you genuinely feel a bit scared, only for a brief second or two, but definitely more scared than I usually get when jumpscares are involved. However, the creepiest moment for me was when the girl who died having an abortion is seen holding her dead baby (picture below), it crept me the hell out.

None of the four stories takes precedence over the others and they all have a similar amount of total run time, this makes your connection with the stories from all four characters even more impressive.

The biggest compliment that I can give the film however is that it feels like it could easily have been a mainstream film. It’s presented in a very professional way and is filmed using mounted cameras, and combine that with the bone chilling soundtrack makes for an impressive level of production.

Even the child actors don’t manage to ruin it!

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Summary

An excellent small budget horror film that delivers on laughs and scares.

It has production values like a mainstream film and this can mapprovedake all of the different when taking a low budget/independent film seriously. Although it no doubt has a low budget, hence the lack of any stars, it has made great use of exactly what it does have to use and even though it has a relatively high run time of 100 minutes for a horror film, it’s 100 minutes well spent.

Definitely recommended.

 

Since you’re all going to be dead soon anyway, I should tell you. I hate every single one of you.

Year Released : 2014cooties-711x1024
Director : Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion
Cast : Elijah Wood, Rainn Wilson, Alison Pill and Jorge Garcia

The zombie franchise is one that has, no pun intended, died a very slow death in recent years due to a plethora of predictable and boring approaches to the subject matter. Ranging from the Paul Anderson’s horrible Resident Evil films, the bland final installments of George A Romero’s “of the Living Dead” series and countless found footage films, the genre really hasn’t been having a good run recently, and even the Brad Pitt hit “World War Z” has done little to improve the general perception of things.

Growing up I was a huge fan of the genre and have probably seen more than 100 films based on the zombie theme. Resident Evil is to this day the only film where I have ever listened to the director’s commentary, and I feel passionately that if done right, this is a great genre, hence why the first review I ever wrote on this site was for a zombie film, but the number of decent zombie movies never really increases by the years, with very few even making it into the high tolerability range.

So I wait here with anticipation to see if a cast of well known actors can pull off a decent horror flick…..I’m not going to hold my breath as I’ve seen plenty of films with decent casts be abysmal, but I suppose I should give it a chance.

Plot

Clint (Wood), a writer who has spent the last few years in New York, has returned to his home town of Fort Chicken to take up a teaching job whilst writing his next book. Within minutes of starting he has already alienated him from most of the staff, with the exception of Lucy (Pill), a childhood friend, who is genuinely pleased to see him.

Meanwhile, a student bites into a chicken nugget in the canteen and starts showing signs of illness. Clint walks into his first lesson with his new class and is immediately antagonised by Patriot (Cooper Roth). Patriot then turns his attentions to the girl who ate the chicken nugget after she starts breathing heavily, and she reacts by biting a huge chunk. After taking Patriot to the nurse, Clint and Lucy sit down for a meal in the staff room, completely unaware that the playground is full of children attacking each other and the few adults that remain. They do eventually realise what is happening when socially awkward teacher Doug (Whannel) comments.

The teachers all realise that they need to escape the school to survive, but they also stumble across some unaffected children that have seemingly started adolescence, and Doug theorises that the virus is only affecting those that have yet to go through puberty. With this and the knowledge that they can’t be turned, the teachers all try and break out, all the while watching helplessly as the children make short work of unsuspecting parents that are coming to pick them up.

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Is it a decent zombie film or the typical nonsense?

There are a lot of parts about Cooties that I like, but there is also a bit that I dislike and therefore I am slightly torn over whether it was decent or not.

Let’s start with the positives and there is no better place to cement the foundations of the positive part of this review than talking about Elijah Wood. Wood’s portrayal as the neurotic main character is near perfect, it suits him right down to the ground and it was almost like he was born for this role. Wood has that great ability to portray a character who is very needy and self-absorbed, but is somehow still likable.

There is a scene right at the beginning where Clint is getting the children in his new class to read out the manuscript for his new book and it sums the character up perfectly. He is eagerly anticipating a positive review from the children and the level of excitement on his face is wonderfully caught by Wood, but deep down there is also the underlying sense of ego as he doesn’t realise it’s inappropriate to waste the lesson time with personal endeavors. There is literally no realisation in his face that what he is doing serves no-one but him.

He is just one of a wonderful cast of characters and Rainn Wilson is the standout performer after Wood. He plays Wade, a character that I’m not entirely sure I can sum up easily due to the complexity of his nature. The character develops so much during the film and is completely different by the end. You don’t really get characters that develop that much during a relatively short run time, although it does make the character seem a bit inconsistent at time.

There subtle jokes that the film pulls off are quite clever, such as Wade appearing to be your typical jock style teacher, only to turn out to be horrendously bad at basketball. In many ways it is not only amusing, but does add something to the character, i/e the bravado isn’t justified or backed up in any way whatsoever.

And finally on the positive side of things is something that you don’t see that often in zombie films, infact I can only think of two others with a similar trait, and that is that the zombies use tactics to get what they want. This adds a new element of danger to the film as you know that they’re not completely mindless, they are capable of killing people and the characters could die at any minute. That’s what I want in a horror film, I want to feel that characters could die at any minute, hence why I loved Lost After Dark. If I know which characters are going to survive within the first five minutes, what’s the point?

Mini Spoiler for You (go past the picture to avoid) : All of the main characters survive

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All of that being said, there were a few things that left me slightly away from the “liking it” feel and the first of those was the very last scene. I’m not going to go too far into it because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but it is blatantly obvious that the filmmakers are leaving it wide open for a sequel, and sometimes it is just not needed. It’s perfectly possible to make a movie that doesn’t need a sequel and it still be a success.

For example, my Top 5 films of 2014 were (in order of 1-5) Nightcrawler, Wolf of Wall Street, Guardians of the Galaxy, Gone Girl and X Men DOFP, three of those will almost certainly never have a sequel, and they don’t need them. Not every film needs to be left open to the possibility of a sequel and sometimes laying that foundation if a sequel isn’t really justified. Because of the way it ended Cooties doesn’t really feel like a finished film and I was left largely unsatisfied with it, almost making the previous 80odd minutes that I had invested feel almost worthless.

Whilst I liked it on the whole and did find it relatively amusing, there were also a few jokes that were obvious nods to the previous work of some of the actors and they are delivered in a way that the watcher is meant to go “I see what you did there” and it feel completely natural, but it rarely works. The example in Cooties is when Wade calls Clint a hobbit, an obvious nod to Elijah Wood’s role as Frodo in the Lord of the Rings trilogy (and the brief cameo at the beginning of The Hobbit). It’s a nod that just isn’t needed, it doesn’t add anything of substance to the film and is an obvious attempt at being funny….and unfortunately it just doesn’t work.

At times the story also feels like it is standing still and long segments pass where not a lot is actually happening other than the characters having a chat, and whilst this allows for good character development, the slow nature of the film meant that the second half of it’s near 90 minute run time felt almost like a slog towards the conclusion, and if anything the film was about 10 minutes too long.

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Summary

A fun zombie romp that quickly loses it’s mojo about half way through and limps towards an unnatural finish. The ending feels largely unnatural and disconnected in so many ways from the rest of the story. This causes many issues, not least of which is that the final 15 or so minutes feels like they’re setting up a sequel rather then concentrating on finishing off the film they currently have.

That being said, Cooties is one of the more original zombie films I’ve seen in a while and maybe it’s due to the antagonists being children, something which is very rare in comedy.

I’d say if you’re a fan of zombie movies then you’ll probably enjoy this quite a bit, but the ending felt almost unwarranted and for that I can’t give it the normal approved stamp.

He looks like a gay skeletor!10959955_10152700010107473_3193791095247802319_o

Year Released : 2015
Director : AJ Wedding
Cast : Nathan Reid, Gabriel Tigerman, Luis Jose Lopez, Dante Spencer and Jen Yeager

How often do you hear about an independent film where a sequel has already been confirmed before the first is even released? I had no intention of watching The Jokesters before I read that fact because it’s a sign of overwhelming confidence and arrogance. Whilst I can understand mainstream films confirming that they’ll be part of a series before the first is even released, such as films based on books (Hunger Games, Twilight, etc) or the Marvel Universe, an independent film doing it is very rare and I had to see if the over-confidence was justified.

It is also exceptionally overconfident when you take into account that this is a found-footage/video camera style film and they have a history of being awful, with the odd exception here and there.

To put that into some sort of context, I recently started working at a cinema and on Saturday night, following watching showings of Ant Man and Andre Rieu’s Maastricht concert, I went to watch a film from the found-footage genre that I can’t name at the moment due to contractual reasons (I’ll be name it in my end of year review of mainstream films). Beforehand I spoke to several friends that were on shift at the time and said that the genre was so predictable that I could say five things that were guaranteed to happen…..and all five happened.

I could count the amount of truly decent found footage style films on one hand and still have fingers to spare….and two of the ones that were used would be taken up by the first two REC films.

Anyway, I digress…….

Plot

Nick (Reid), Andrew (Tigerman), Chris (Lopez) and Ethan (Spencer) are creators of the overwhelming popular “Prank Masters”, a Youtube channel that sees them play pranks on each other and the members of the public, such as making one it’s members believe that he has been buried alive. The popularity of the channel continues to grow and grow and the guys meet fans each day.

After a successful latest series, Chris, Andrew and Nick decide to pull the “Cabin in the Woods” prank on Ethan following his wedding. The prank would basically be to do a home-invasion on Ethan and his wife and they picture it as the perfect way to end the series. Ethan’s wedding goes relatively well, that despite a supposedly horrendous speech from Nick (which isn’t shown). Ethan and his new wife (Yeager) go away for their honeymoon, completely unaware of the prank that awaits them.

After a road trip in which they prank each other and some girls at a convenience store, they arrive at the Cabin in which Ethan and his wife are staying. The pranks work before Ethan pulls a shotgun out and forces the group to reveal themselves. Ethan is far from impressed and it sets in motion a chain of events that will lead to tragedy.

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So was it worth an announced sequel before this film was even released?

The short answer is a resounding no. Whilst Jokesters isn’t an awful or boring film, it is not fun, scary or particularly engaging either.

Let’s start with the positives and I have to open with something that I love to see in a film, especially films of this nature, the characters are grown and developed so well. In a relatively short run time of barely over 70 minutes, you learn a lot about the four main characters and considerably more than you do in a lot of mainstream films that are more than double the run time.

I felt a genuine connection with the four characters and there was an undeniable bond between them, and this is a great testament to what is a largely enjoyable screenplay. The pranks that they perform, such as letting the girls that they meet in a store do the intro, only to steal their bikini tops and drive off, are actually quite amusing and whilst it’s not something that I would personally watch on Youtube, I could imagine that channel would become quite popular.

The screenplay allows for great character development and relationship building. I watch quite a few Youtube channels on a regular basis, such as Markiplier, JackSepticEye, JacksFilms, Matthias, Steve Kardynal and Chris Stuckmann, and in many ways you gain an affinity with these people. When you see them work with each other in videos, you feel a sense of joy because you’re watching true friendships with common interests, and the film captures that so well. You like these guys and that helps you gloss over that not a lot really happens until they get to the cabin.

Arguably the biggest surprise for me in the film is that because it doesn’t really fit into the horror genre, more on that in the negative section, it doesn’t have a lot of the stigma and predictability of most found-footage films. The presentation feels free and flowing, and actually feels like a genuine piece of found footage, rather than simply something that thinks it can pass as found footage simply because it has a “Property of the xxxx Police Department” screen at the beginning of the film.

However, that’s really where the positivity ends and my biggest gripe is that the film doesn’t really fall into any genre. It advertises itself as a comedy horror, but it’s not really either. It’s not doing anything that comedies would do, other than the aforementioned pranks, and there definitely aren’t any scares or horror, at least not until the final few minutes of the film anyway. I’ve put it into the comedy horror category on the basis that that’s what it claims to be, that despite no evidence to back it up.

Whilst I praised the screenplay and character development earlier, the run time of barely over 70 minutes (from the start of the film to the start of the credits) is dominated by character development, which is fine until you realise that the ending feels exceptionally rushed. I’m not going to spoil the ending but it feels so incredibly disconnected from what has happened in the previous 65 or so minutes that it’s almost as if they realised that they were running out of time and had five minutes to do what they were going to do.

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I don’t blame the writer of the screenplay for this, I blame the director. If you are going to have such a short run time, at least make the ending seem realistic and not seemingly out of the blue. I can’t tell you why it feels so out of the blue without spoiling the ending and I really don’t want to have to do that, but believe me when I say that if you do watch this film, you’ll be looking back at the rest of the film and look confused as to where it came from.

I’m not sure how I feel about various parts of the wedding ceremony, such as Nick’s supposedly horrendous speech, being cut out as I think that this would have made for a far, far better and more interesting build up to the ending. The speech left a level of acrimony between Nick and Ethan, but you never truly engage with that level of antagonism because they never show the speech.

Whilst in some films it is better to leave certain aspects to the imagination, there really wasn’t any need to do it here and it could have even helped you understand the ending even more.

And finally, other than the ending there was one thing that left me confused and that was the title. Not this isn’t something that I comment on regularly but the title of “The Jokesters” is unusual because it’s not mentioned once during the film, as opposed to at least 40 mutterings of the channel’s name of “Prank Masters”. Although it’s only a minor thing and not that important, it’s a little strange that they didn’t use that as the name.

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Summary

This is the first film since I introduced the new ranking system that I can’t give a positive rating to. Whilst it’s not awful, there’s not really a story going on and it takes until the final fifteen minutes for any semblance of a worthwhile plot to emerge, and by then it’s too late.

Jokesters spends too long establishing the characters and there is a good chance that by the time something starts happening, the majority of people will have turned off by then.

I wouldn’t say that it’s best to avoid the film all together if you come across it, but be prepared to sit there for more than an hour of the 72 minute run time (from the opening to the time the end credits start) without anything really happening.

Pregnant teenagers are never funny!

Year Released : 201detention1
Director : Joseph Khan
Cast : Josh Hutcherson, Shanley Caswell, Spencer Locke and Dane Cook

There are times when I am debating whether to actually watch a film or not. For example, I went to the cinema for the first time in over 3 months on Friday to watch “Child 44” (it was ok, not great) and I was unsure whether to actually watch it up until the point where I put my card in the machine and entered my PIN number. Sometimes the decision is tough, but that decision becomes a lot easier when you see that someone has described the film you are about to watch as “Scott Pilgrim meets Scream.”

I was sold on Detention there and then. I didn’t need to know any more, I went out and found the film online, paid my £2.99 to watch it and away I went. I must admit that I am glad I found a film that actually looked very interesting as, to be honest, seeing so many crap films in recent months has demoralised me a lot. You may have noticed that it’s very rare that I give a film a positive review, and I think at the time of writing, the last positive review with very few negatives was nearly a month ago when I watched the quirky Summer of Blood (click for review).

But anyway, I digress. For once it was nice to see a film that looked like it would appeal to me just from the trailer alone, however, as I mentioned in several recent reviews, a good trailer doesn’t necessarily mean a good film.

Plot

Riley (Caswell) is your typical teenage outcast at Grizzly Lake High School. She is getting close to having her leg cast removed for an unknown injury and intends to celebrate by dancing with Clapton (Hutcherson) at the prom. Riley has been attracted to Clapton since childhood, but Clapton doesn’t feel the same about her, instead being infatuated with Ione (Locke).

Meanwhile, several students start getting killed off by a copycat killer from fictional slashflick “Cinderhella”. As the students slowly get killed off one by one, school principle Verge (Cook) refuses to let the school’s reputation suffer due to the murders and the activities of the students, especially after the video of one of the students being killed also features many from the school. Verge demands that all the students that appear on the videos attend detention during the prom.

During the detention, a previously unknown student finally figures out a mathematical problem that he was set in 1992, subsequently realising that a bomb is due to go off in a matter of minutes. To stop the bomb going off Riley has to go back to 1992 as it turns out that the giant bear is actually a time machine. Can she stop it in time?

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Sounds unusual….

It sounds unusual because it is really. I was sat for nearly 20 minutes trying to figure out what to put as the plot because there are so many different aspects to it. In that sense it is quite unique and if you went into it not knowing what you were amount to watch, you could never be able to guess what’s going to happen It is unpredictable and that is what kept me interested. You literally don’t know what’s coming. For example, you see the bear at various points during the film but you will never, ever guess (well, you will now if you’re reading this and then watch it) that it’s a time machine.

I love films that are impossible to predict. I mentioned earlier that I’ve watched too many films recently which were awful and one of the main reasons is that they are predictable. I recently reviewed my 70th film for this website, most of which I had never seen before reviewing them, and I would guess that out of the 60 or so that I hadn’t seen before, I could tell you exactly how the film would end within twenty minutes of the film beginning, and that is never, ever, a good thing. The best films are the ones where you can’t see how it is going to end, even if the hints or there.

For example, The Shawshank Redemption is widely considered one of the best films ever made and (Spoiler Alert) although the hints are there, the fact that he escapes and gets out is one of the best endings in the history of cinema because you never see it coming. Another example I could use is Fight Club when it turns out that (Spoiler Alert) that Tyler and the narrator are in fact the same person. As I say, they are great endings because the hints are there but you never connect them until the conclusion of the film.

Don’t get me wrong, Detention has no-where near the level of cultural or emotional impact of the aforementioned, and comparing it on any other level with them would be farcical. The only reason I do mention the films in the same breath is because they are unpredictable and this is the same. For the first time in a long time, I was never actually bored. Even with films that I positively review, I regularly found myself getting a bit bored and wanting it to end, but with Detention I found myself engaged in the story throughout, even if it was a little far fetched.

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The dialogue constantly surprised me and on occasions actually made me laugh. I’m not the person to laugh at films, even when I find them funny, so to achieve that is noteworthy for me. I’m going to share with you some of the more unusual and random lines during the film, even if some of them have no context whatsoever;

  • “I make 40+ G’s a year, plus dental. You may not have a skittle.”
  • “It is not normal for seamen to glow in the dark!”
  • “I’d like to start off by saying that this girl’s argument is ridiculous! Vegetarians who eat fish are hypocrites! She thinks because fish may feel no pain they don’t value their lives. Absurd! And notice how she expresses almost no sympathy for chickens. That’s because Americans hate chickens. For example, KFC serves popcorn chicken to assure the customers that the chicken was blown to bits, yet the meatball sub at Subway isn’t called “popcorn cow.” Americans want chickens to die! Lame! Personally, I do feel sympathy for animals, which is why I choose to only eat baby animals. They have not lived as long, and they are not leaving as much behind. Baby clams, chicken wings, baby seals – no… big… loss! If we don’t eat meat, we lose out place in the food chain. Eating animals gives us confidence as humans.”
  • “It breaks my spirit to see that bra size wasted on someone like you.”

It is certainly one of the more unusual set of dialogue that you will see in a film, although sometimes it does actually feel like it’s being random for the sake of being random.

That is my one criticism of the film really, random doesn’t necessarily mean funny. I mentioned earlier that this film has been compared by some to Scott Pilgrim vs the World and I can sort of see why. It has a similar visual style, such as text popping up on screen, some quirky elements to the script and moments that you don’t expect, but they are used exceptionally well in Scott Pilgrim vs the World. You never get the feeling in that film that they’re using it for the sake of trying to be funny or unique, whilst not adding to the film, which is something that I can’t say about Detention. On occasions the randomness does feel forced and therefore not organic.

However, as I say, that is my only real criticism of the film and other than that I feel it works quite well. It does polarise those that watch it, hence the score of only 5.8/10 on IMDB, but I quite liked it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nothing like the high school based films of the 80s or 90s, which is ironic given that the film constantly mentions and is partially set in the latter.

Infact, up until the point where they travel back in time, you are constantly wondering what the obsession with the 1990s is as it is constantly mentioned and referenced, and most of the soundtrack is from that decade. It’s not even as if the film is actually set in the 90s, in which case I’d understand. It is set in 2011 and again, up until when they travel to 1992, it seems almost strange that the 90s is CONSTANTLY referred. Obviously when the film travels to 1992 and you realise that Ione is actually her own mother and therefore lived in that period that the constant referencing makes more sense……even if Ione turning out to be her own mother (you have to watch it to try and understand it) doesn’t.

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Summary

Despite being likened to it, this is nowhere near as enjoyable as Scott Pilgrim vs the World and at times it does feel like it is being approvedrandom for the sake of being random.

Other than that though I can’t really complain about Detention. It is unpredictable and largely enjoyable. I can see why some wouldn’t like it but for once I wasn’t clock-watching when watching it and that is such a relief. There are a few moments where I did actually laugh and that is the sign of a good comedy, especially given that I don’t have a very extrovert personality and tend to not laugh if I hear something amusing.

For once I can actually recommend a film, which is such a nice change, and if you fancy watching something a little different then you won’t go wrong with Detention.

Being unsatisfied is a sign of ambition

Year Released : 2014Untitled
Director : Onur Tukel
Cast : Onur Tukel, Anna Hollyman, Dakota Goldhor, Jason Selvig and Dustin Defa

A few days ago I reviewed a film called Suburban Gothic and called it one of the most bizarre films I’ve ever watched, but now I have found one that is quite possibly even weirder, but in a very, very, very good way. I’m not going to lie, looking at the poster/DVD cover, I was not even slightly convinced that I would like this film, but I did like that it mocked it’s own main character so openingly, so I decided to give it a chance.

I’ve reviewed various types of film on this site including zombies, monsters, ghosts, dinosaurs and various others, but I never thought to myself that I would watching a film about a socially awkward, sex obsessed man who turns into a vampire. Vampire films, a lot like zombie films, vampire films tend to be hit and miss, you’ve got the brilliant Interview with a Vampire, the reasonable, if slightly average Daybreakers, and the less said about the Twilight franchise, the better.

I’m not even entirely sure how to write this review because it’s a film that just breaks into so many new aspects of characters in films that I have never seen before and that is what I love. I love seeing something new. There are too many similar style films these days, highlighted by my recent review for Hollows Grove, so it’s nice to see something unique for a change.

Plot

Jody (Hollyman) proposes to the socially awkward Erik (Tukel) but he says no as he has no interest in getting married. Jody subsequently dumps him and gets with literally the first man that comes along. Erik starts dating again straight away but alienates the three women with his off-colour humour and views of the world. Feeling down his luck, Erik goes on a sorrowed walk before being approached by a stranger and after a brief discussion, Erik reveals that he wishes to die. The man suddenly lunges at Erik and bites him.

Erik wakes up bloodied at work and is quickly fired for not attending a meeting, but he soon finds a new lease of life and re-dates the three women from before, each successfully and he appears to have turned his life around. He soon realises that he is now a vampire and doesn’t fight his urges, regularly biting strangers and acting on his sexual desires, including having a four-some with the aforementioned dates.

Despite his increased success in love and sex, Erik is still obsessed with Jody and will do everything to get back with her, but can he win her back with his new sense of bloodlust?

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So…..

I’m going to start this with the only negative the I can think of from the film and that is that is starts on a ridiculous premise and quite possibly one of the biggest clichés in cinema, and in life in general, a woman no longer wanting to be with a man who doesn’t want to get married. I can appreciate the fact she doesn’t want to stay with him after he always says he doesn’t want kids, but it was already a deal breaker for her when he advised that he doesn’t want to get married. The reason for this is that it is kind of ridiculous and clichéd that a woman thinks that the only way to prove your love to someone is to get married to them.

The fact that Jody splits up with him simply because he doesn’t want to get married is ridiculous. It is a massive cliché that marriage is the be-all and end-all of relationships as far as women are concerned. As one of Erik’s early dates sex, marriage isn’t for everyone but that comes after they’ve already introduced the cliché of a woman who thinks the only way to show that you love someone is to marry them, and literally breaks up with him within three minutes of him saying that he doesn’t want to marry her.

He doesn’t want to break up with her, he makes it clear that he still wants to be with her but she just isn’t interested and it made me hate her as a character, and within the first few minutes this wasn’t a good thing. She shows throughout the entire movie that she just isn’t a likeable person at all and her immaturity after they break up is beyond tedious.

Erik is very odd, I’m not entirely sure how to sum him up properly because he just…..*exhales breath in an exasperated fashion*, I really don’t know. He’s a middle aged man and yet doesn’t have a single social skill. In a way it’s quite enjoyable to watch, whilst almost making you want to face-palm throughout, which funnily enough is the reaction that he induces in most characters.

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I thought I was socially awkward Erik makes me look amateur. Soon after he splits up with Jody, he goes on a date and within the first two minutes is suggesting to his date that an Asian gentleman is hiding a bomb in his background on no basis other than the fact the gentleman is Asian. Understandably this brings a negative reaction from the date  , he also later tries to have sex with her after calling her a dumbass. He also asks a black lady if she has ever dated a black man after admitting to her that he hates Tyler Perry’s films without having ever actually seeing one.

Tukel does an amazing as the socially awkward man. I’d never personally heard of Tukel before this and yet found him to be very engaging and warming as a character. Despite all of his social awkwardness, inability to act like a normal human being or even not try and sexual harass his female co-workers, he is actually a remarkable character. Tukel plays him really well

The early dates are amazing to watch, they are smooth, transition exceptionally well and feel real. Erik also does the “Groundhog Day” feel of how he uses what his previous dates have said in other to try and secure sex on the subsequent dates. Infact, almost like Groundhog Day you are just waiting for him to somehow mess it up with what he says or does, and typically on the one that does prove successful in terms of him getting sex, he fails to perform to her liking and that’s it for that relationship. Another cliché right there.

So onto the rest of the film. When Erik is turned into a vampire, I love that the only thing that you can hear is Erik’s heartbeat and how it slows down until he collapses on a nearby staircase. The early part of his transformation is also fascinating to watch as he completely changes his personality to be very aggressive at work, leading to his firing, and his subsequent first victim, whom he bizarrely starts a conversation about his education with, whilst at the same time trying to drain the kid of his blood.

The casual conversations through feeding on humans continue when he recounters the vampire that turned him and they discuss the pollution in the water whilst feeding off an unsuspecting victim. Despite the situation, it’s a remarkably warming scene where you see that Erik is no longer socially awkward and has found a sense of belonging, and I love that. It’s great to see the character developing over time. As the film goes on he actually finds some happiness and that is comforting because despite his quirks and awkwardness, Erik is actually very likeable.

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Summary

Before watching this, I was desperate to find a film that I actually enjoy and that’s exactly what I got from this. There are one or twoapproved moments that were tedious and the first five or so minutes were exceptionally frustrating, but after that I thoroughly enjoyed this.

This is definitely more of a realistic vampire film than the Twilight franchise, but has the fun factor that a lot of the other vampire based films, afterall, there is a conversation between Erik and a character called Penelope compare Jesus Chris to Jiminy Cricket (the character from Pinocchio, you wouldn’t get that in any other film of any variety, and I love the random aspects of this film.

If you’ve got a spare 86 minutes, I’d definitely recommend this.

People went thousands of years without cell phones, you guys can last two days!

Year Released : 2014MV5BNTMzMzc4ODc1M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTM0MTgxMTE@._V1_SX640_SY720_
Director : Jordan Rubin
Cast : Cortney Palm, Rachel Melvin, Bill Burr, Lexi Atkins and Hutch Dano

There’s an old saying of “don’t judge a book by it’s cover” and that definitely rings true in some cases. Some of my favourite films over the last 10 or so years have been those that I never thought I would like, such as “Kiss Ass” (I thought it was going to be a parody similar to Scary Movie), but more often than not the films that you think are going be terrible are just that.

I lost all hope that the film was ever going to be any good when I was doing a Google search for the poster and three of the first four were mock posters where the quotes were taken from people criticising the film. In no circumstances should three of the first four results (I didn’t even put the word poster into my search) should be posters mocking the film.

There are people that say that the best way to die is quickly, you know, just get it over with, and that is the case with this film because it’s absolutely diabolical, but at least it’s over quickly, having a run time of just 68 minutes and 4 seconds from the start of the film to the end credits.

It’s not often I turn off a film before it’s finished, but came very close.

Plot

Jenn (Atkins) has just split with her boyfriend following pictures of him kissing another girl appear online, and her friends take her for a weekend away in a log cabin to get over it. After initially enjoying their weekend, their respective boyfriends all turn up, including Jenn’s ex, Sam (Dano).

As the truth about the situation with Sam emerges, the characters suddenly find themselves being attacked by undead beavers. Numerous attempts at escaping fail as the beavers bite down trees to create barricades on the roads out and to set traps.

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Oh dear

Advertised as a comedy horror, this is far from being either scary or amusing. Infact, I’d say the scariest part is that this film was somehow made and greenlit by a studio. I’ve seen some poor films in my time, some of which I’ve reviewed on here previously but at least they all had something to offer, “Zombeavers” had nothing. With “Frank” I at least got the chance to rant about how films that look good aren’t necessarily anywhere near the level of compliment, and with “Zombie Apocalypse” I at least got to laugh at how stupid the characters were, I didn’t get anything with this other than a feeling of frustration.

Even at just 68 minutes long, this film dragged due to the long, drawn out attempts at being funny that fail to raise even the remotest chuckle. This starts as early as the opening scene when two van drivers are plodding along and one of them shares that he once dated another man for a week and loved it, with the exception of the sex. The way he says it was obviously intended to make the scene amusing, but it just falls completely flat and it stays like that throughout. Later on in the film they board the cabin’s windows with wooden planks, even one of the characters points out that beavers chomp through wood and therefore what’s the point? Am I supposed to laugh at that point?

The script is almost painful and goes to places it doesn’t really need to go, with one example coming just before the 20 minute mark when the three main characters are playing “would you rather” and one asks the other “would you rather watch your mum get murdered by your daddy or get raped by your daddy whilst your mother had to watch?” Maybe it’s just because I’m getting older but I don’t think I would have found it appropriate or amusing even in my 20s, or even pushing it further, my teens.

I wouldn’t actually be surprised if this script was written by a fourteen year old boy who had looked at far too many of his dad’s porn collection. The whole film is just so full of immature content that it becomes almost impossible to like the film. Within the first 25 minutes you’ve had a girl who can’t keep her clothes on for more than five minutes, two of the three male teenage characters are obsessed with sex and can’t come up with a mature response to anything, someone responding to female characters saying “we’re just looking for beavers” and responding with “yeah, aren’t we all?” whilst scanning his eyes down the scantly clad women’s bodies.

Don’t get me wrong, nudity isn’t necessarily a bad thing in film and used correctly it could actually add something, such as when the girl is being stripped in “Interview with the Vampire” when she is being attacked by vampires in the middle of a theatre production, showing how vulnerable the character is in that situation. Nudity, if used correctly in film, can be beautiful and not feel like it’s just catering to the younger members of the audience, but again this film feels like it was made for pubescent teenage boys.

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Whilst the film causes many of it’s own problems through having a stupid plot and characters,  it’s biggest sin is the consistent use of horror cliches, such as one of the aforementioned issues with female characters being more than happy to consistently take her bikini top off, getting locked out of their house when the wind blows the door shut, cheesey one liners with innuendo, the redneck characters who are obsessed with hunting anything that moves, the camera angle changing to the perspective of the attacker when they are stalking their prey, the main character seeing the beavers but when the others investigate there is nothing there are first, I could go on.

One of the most disappointing parts of the film is that despite an extremely short run time 68 minutes of 4 seconds from when the film starts until when it goes to the credits, nothing really happens until nearly half way through the film (around the 32nd minute mark to be precise). Whilst the story not getting started until just after the 30 minute mark isn’t uncommon in a lot of films, you have to do something special in those 30 minutes if your film only lasts 68 minutes. It gives no time for the characters to develop beyond the immature nature that they portray in that opening 30 minutes.

After that 30 minutes, due to a few factors, the film reminds me of the New Zealand made “Black Sheep”, a film about sheep that start attacking people, the difference between the two is that “Black Sheep” is actually enjoyable. It is amazing that two films that have such similar storylines can be so far apart in terms of quality, and it’s not even a budget issue as I wouldn’t be surprised if the budget for “Zombeavers” was higher than “Black Sheep”. The characters is in the latter are well developed, have a good back story and the sheep don’t look like they’ve been made on a computer from the late 1990s.

I’m going to end this section by sharing one of the mock posters for the film, a take on the excellent Joaquin Phoenix film “Her”.

Zombeavers Awards Her

Summary

If you’re between the ages of 13-16 you might enjoy this film due to it’s extremely immature content, but if you’re not a boy going through puberty then you will see this film for what it is, complete and utter trash. Recently I reviewed “Zombie Apocalypse” and I am seriously struggling to figure out which film is worse. At least “Zombie Apocalypse” made me laugh about how stupid the characters were.

In many ways I can’t believe that they made this film without the intention of making it in such an incredibly poor manner. There are so few parts of this film that suggest that it was intended to be anything more than straight-to-DVD and it thoroughly deserves those posters with the quotes about incredibly poor this film is.

I can’t find a single positive to take from this film and that is saying something.

Can you believe that? What’s he supposed to do, you tell a teacher and they tell the bullies off and that gives them an excuse to come after you. You tell your parents and they just say stand up for yourself. Darren couldn’t stand up for himself

Year Released : 2009poster_tormented_poster2
Director : Stephen Prentice
Cast : Alex Pettyfer, Tuppence Middleton, April Pearson, Calvin Dean, Tom Hopper and Dimitri Leonidas

I mentioned in a previous review that I used to work in a cinema and one of the perks of doing so was that I could watch films for free. During my 11 months working there I watched many films that I wouldn’t have considered seeing otherwise and Tormented was one of them. It’s not that it looked like a bad film (that despite it’s current rating of 5.2/10 on IMDB) but rather that it wasn’t my type of film.

It turned into a rather pleasant surprise and whilst it isn’t one of the best horror comedies that I have ever seen, I would certainly recommend it for a few hours entertainment.

Several of the cast have since gone on to bigger and better things, with Alex Pettyfer starring in several Hollywood films such as Beastly, I Am Number Four, Magic Mike and several others, whereas Tuppence Middleton is in the upcoming film adaptation of Jupiter Ascending.

Plot

Soon after the funeral of pupil Darren Mullet (Dean), school head-girl Justine (Middleton) starts dating the popular Alex (Leonidas) and finds herself suddenly thrust into the popular group in school. The group is mainly mixed towards the inclusion of Justine due to her previous “good-girl” reputation, especially Bradley (Pettyfer), the leader of the group.

Whilst everything seems normal at first, several students start getting tortured and killed by the ghost of Darren. Although they refuse to believe what is effectively right in front of them, the group continues to be troubled by Darren’s ghost and after initially not understanding why this group has been targeted, Justine soon discovers that the group were actually responsible for his death after bullying him for several months, with the main aspect of the bullying coming from his attraction to Justine.

Justine must choose between leaving her new group to their fate or helping them.

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So why do I like it when most don’t

Well for me it’s very different from the American style school based horror films, such as “The Faculty” and any number of slasher flicks that are filled by identikit characters , each of these characters is actually written quite well. For example, Justine is written as a girl that you’re never entirely sure if you actually like her or not. Early on she is revealed to someone who tries to say the right thing, even if she literally has no idea what she’s talking about when she mourns Darren Mullet at his funeral before seconds legend being called the fact that she didn’t know who he was.

The casting for the role of Justine was tremendous as she is definitely upper-middle class and you definitely believe that Middleton would be an excellent candidate for not only her school’s head girl in real life, but also that she is generally viewed as a geek from the popular kids in school. I don’t mean that in a negative way at all, it was almost perfect casting for that role.

Bradley is also very well cast and after a false dawn with Stormbreaker in the mid-2000s, this film arguably restarted Alex Pettyfer’s career as his next two pictures were “I Am Number Four” and “Beastly”, were two relatively high budget films for their genres and both relatively enjoyable. Pettyfer is brilliant as Bradley, really showcasing that ego of the “big guy in school” that usually accompanies the most attractive men in the the school. He seemingly plays the role with ease and makes you route for a character who is portrayed as an antagonist. The charisma he brings to the role, even when saying something threatening, was actually refreshing to see.

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If you know British schools and the way that the social aspect works, it actually makes you look at tormented and realise that, ignoring the part about the ghost, the film is actually very realistic, although there is definitely a high level of stereotyping. For example, the character of Marcus, Bradley’s best friend, is stereotyped as the athletic but rather stupid

One of my favour aspects about the film that make it stand out are some of the hilarious death scenes. One in particular always makes me laugh and that’s the first one. Sophie, played by Georgia King (daughter of actor Jonathan Hyde of Titanic, Jumanji and many others) is the first main character to bite the dust when she thinks that a teenage boy is watching her get dressed, approaching him before realising it’s the ghost of Darren, falling into the pool and then the ghost proceeds to sit on her, not allowing her to move and eventually drowning. All the deaths are imaginative and really well put together considering the budget.

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However, despite all of the above, the aspect I enjoyed most about the film is that as the film progresses you do actually stop feeling sorry for Darren, who is supposed to be an protagonist, and actually start wanting the antagonists to survive. It’s quite an interesting play and whilst at first Bradley the group are very easily to dislike, you soon find yourself routing for them and at the end you actually realise that Darren, despite what happened to him being a tragedy, it isn’t really until how the film ends that I realised when watching it that he was actually a very vindictive and twisted individual. It’s not many films that make you question who you should actually route for, the supposed protagonists or the obvious antagonists.

Despite all of it’s good attributes, there are a few negatives.

I appreciate that the film didn’t have a high budget, even by British film standards, but the ghost of Darren wasn’t even slightly convincing, nor scary. I know the film is a horror/comedy but even then it has to look realistic to become a believable film. One of the key successes to films like Ghostbusters, obviously ignoring the huge difference in budgets, is that their ghosts looked realistic, even the puppets. Darren, although played with gormless excellence by Calvin Dean, is just not convincing and even when you seen the posthumous clips of him being bullied, you never actually believe that the character would be capable or willing to go around killing people who bullied him.

There is also the problem with the sub-characters. Characters such as Nasser and his group of emo-stereotype characters aren’t developed at all, and Jason, Darren’s best friend before he died, is your stereotypical nerd. He is always whinging, complaining and has a definitely “the world is against me” attitude, and if anything it puts me off getting behind him as a character as well.

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Summary

It’s certainly not a bad attempt at horror for a relatively young cast. There are many positives about the approvedfilm and it is genuinely enjoyable, afterall, where do you get to see someone try to subdue a ghost in the showers with a cricket bad? It’s never going to get any film of the year awards but I found it to be a pleasant movie experience.

With a rating of just 5.2/10 on IMDB (at the time of writing), it would be easy to be put off by this film but I would recommend hanging in there as this isn’t just your typical horror/comedy, the moral message of don’t bully people because you never know what might happen is excellent and very well portrayed.

I won’t make light of the fact it is clearly aimed at a younger audience (25 and under), but I thoroughly believe that you don’t have to be young to enjoy it.