Archive for the ‘Horror Films’ Category

In two hours we want thirty of you dead. If thirty of you are not dead, we will end sixty of your lives ourselves. Five, four, three, two, one.

Year Released : 2016

Director : Greg McLean

Cast : John Gallagher Jr, Tony Goldwyn, John C McGinley, Adria Arjona, Melonie Diaz, Josh Brener, Owain Yeoman, Michael Rooker, Sean Gunn and David Dastmalchian

So one of the things about working at a large cinema is that there is generally always room for smaller films to come in, and I was genuinely delighted when we got “The Belko Experiment”. I had seen the trailer for this several months ago, but I was genuinely surprised that we were showing it.

Those long term readers will know that survival/last man standing films interest me quite a lot due to the psychological aspect to them, especially when the characters are build correctly. For example, I’ve recently been rewatching “Circle” after it got added to Netflix (it’s a rarity that I will rewatch a film that I’ve reviewed on this site, even if I have liked it) and appreciated it more than I did last time as without a main character, you appreciate how they’ve built various characters very well, and even knowing who survived in the end didn’t change that.

But anyway, now that my cinema chain is no longer showing “The Belko Experiment”, I am finally able to talk about this, ad you’ll find out why in a minute.

Plot

As they had into work the employees of Belko are puzzled as to why anyone who is a national of Columbia (where the company is based) is turned away by an unknown security unit. Other than that the day is running relatively normally until a voice comes over the intercom saying that they have to kill two people in the building or suffer consequences. Everyone treats it as a prank until huge metal sheets raise and cover any possible exit. The employees fail to kill two of their own, so the voice fulfils his threat and kills four at random.

Soon after the voice returns and says that if thirty of them aren’t dead within two hours, then sixty of them will die. Realising what a real threat this is, the group starts heading in different moral directions, with a group lead by Barry (Goldwyn) attempting to gain access to the weapons. They eventually split the large group into smaller ones and start executing people in certain groups (such as the over 60s), but that isn’t enough as only 29 are killed, and those that aren’t killed in the subsequent punishment are told that it is now a case of last one standing.

So why did you have to wait to review it?

Now, I know that some of you will know that I have reviewed films in the past that my cinema chain has been showing, but the reason that I was able to talk about those films was because I was about to give them the approved stamp, and a largely positive review, but unfortunately that isn’t going to be the case here. I am not contractually allowed to criticise any film that my chain is showing.

On paper this is my type of film and I have reviewed many similar for this site, such as “Circle”, but the problem with “The Belko Experiment” is that it has far, far too many forgettable characters, and one-dimensional ones at that. I am going to liken it to “Circle” in the sense that as mentioned above, “Circle” doesn’t have a main character, nor does it ever claim to, you are never sure who is going to survive, but unfortunately that isn’t the case. The primary protagonist and antagonist are obvious throughout the entire film. As the rounds go on, there is somewhat of a lack of engagement because you know which two are going to survive right until the end, so in that sense it is disappointing.

However, other than that it’s actually not a bad effort. I do like the moral conundrum and it left me curious how I would react in the situation, and ultimately I found myself leaning towards the logic of Barry and his group. If you don’t kill, you’re going to be killed and you need to get used to the idea. The way that they deal with those who they view as expendable of a no-nonsense approach that you would need to take, so in that sense I can certainly appreciate it on some level.

I also have to single out John C McGinley as Wendell. He is fantastic. Obviously the majority of people will know McGinley from his time on the TV show “Scrubs” and his comedically genius portrayal of Dr Cox, but in this he is menacing and would make an excellent primary antagonist in virtually every other horror film. In an otherwise forgettable cast of characters, he stands out.

To be fair, no-one puts in a bad performance, the problem is that some characters are simply too irrelevant and forgettable. Before writing this review I had completely forgotten the vast majority of the character names, I only saw the film a few weeks ago. That’s not to say that they aren’t enjoyable to watch, such as Sean Gunn’s conspiracy nut Marty, but realistically you know that characters such as him are never ultimately going to survive the story.

It is a shame that it was just too predictable.

Summary

A high level of predictability plagues this film throughout and whilst you’re never bored, the lack of a central character that makes other films more engaging would have been very welcome. Even in the trailer you can tell who the likely character(s) to make it to the end are, and that level of predictability just isn’t enjoyable to watch.

No-one puts in a bad performance, but there certainly isn’t anything about “The Belko Experiment” that stands out as being unique.

I really wanted to love this, but I just couldn’t.

Year Released : 2010

Director : Mark McQueen

Cast : Craig Fairbrass, Myanna Buring, Danny Dyer, Jaime Murray, Shane Taylor, Shane Taylor, Bart Ruspoli, Craig Conway, Lisa McAllister and Colin Salmon

Being English I have a strong affection for many British horror films, including 28 Days Later, The Cottage, Tormented, Severance and Creep, but alternatively there are some awful ones as well, Night of the Living Dead : Resurrection, so whenever I find a horror from my home land then I do get somewhat excited.

After finding “Devil’s Playground” on Netflix I got the feeling that this was trying to achieve the same success that the aforementioned “28 Days Later” did given it’s raw appearing nature, but the cast doesn’t fill me with excitement or optimism.

This will turn out to either be great, or a pile of crap. I get the feeling I know which.

Plot

Cole (Fairbrass) is a problem solver for Peter (Salmon), the CEO of a major medical corporation. The company has tested a new drug on 30,000 volunteers, but it caused major medical issues for the vast majority of them and now Peter is determined to get to the bottom of it so he can avoid being sued, but whilst examining one of the infected he is bitten, as is Cole. Cole manages to obtain the last three vials of anti-virus that will hold off the infection 18 hours at a time.

To find a permanent cure, he knows that he will have to find the only volunteer who reported no side effects, Angela (McAllister). She herself is still trying to get over her husband Joe’s (Dyer) imprisonment for killing a teenager, although he is adamant that he did it in self defence.

Cole does eventually find her, as does Joe after he gets bail, and the trio end up working together with some other survivors in order to escape on a helicopter with limited space in east London, but the other survivors start to team up against them as they get paranoid thoughts about being left behind.

As good as “28 Days Later”, or even remotely unique?

There is not a chance in hell that anyone will watch this and think that it is on a level even close to that brilliant zombie-like (28 Days Later is not a zombie film) movie, or even the slightly less engaging and interesting sequel. The one thing that I will say is that I have never seen a zombie film that features so many of the infected knowing parkour.

Throughout the near 100 minute run tie is zombies running over and jumping over objects that they have purposefully gone towards to jump over, even though it would be considerably easier to simply go around, especially when they’re chasing food.

That isn’t the only oddity about this movie as there is a big plot hole at the beginning of the film. The company that produces the medication that eventually zombifies the population is getting sued by those who took it, but the problem with that is that they are volunteers and would almost certainly have signed paperwork that doesn’t make the company liable in the event of side-effects. I’ll grant you, it’s not a major plot hole, but right from the off it is starting to have a lack of sense.

Unfortunately the problems don’t stop there as most of the characters are horrendously one dimensional and aren’t built even slightly well. It becomes a bit tedious as you don’t feel any semblance of sadness when certain characters start dying. Their lack of intelligence doesn’t help with this either as they know that people who have been bitten will turn, but they keep them around anyway. These people are basically fodder for the zombies, and it is effectively natural selection in all of its glory.

I like to try to come up with at least one favourable comment per review, but unfortunately there isn’t really a lot that is going on here that is that exciting, or even remotely interesting. I was sat there late at night, bored by one dimensional characters and action that is so stop-start that you could easily turn it off and not feel remotely sorry about it.

There are some great British films out there. This isn’t one of them.

Summary

Full of characters that aren’t interesting, several relationships between actors played by people with no chemistry, and an overall boring story, “Devil’s Playground” is one of the least imaginative zombie films I’ve seen. It offers little new to the genre, and it is something that I’ll have completely forgotten about by the time I watch the next zombie film that I’ll review.

I am really struggling to come up with a single positive about it, and based on that I have to say that it is probably best if you miss this.

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

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.

Every apocalypse deserves an after-party!

Director : Steve Barkerthe-rezort-1-500x760

Year Released : 2015

Starring : Jessica De Gouw,  Dougray Scott, Martin McCann, Elen Rhys and Claire Goose

You know when you see a trailer for a  film and you know exactly what films have influenced it, that’s basically the cast with “Rezort”. It doesn’t take a genius to see that this is clearly inspired by the “Jurassic Park” franchise and is basically the exact same film, but with dinosaurs replaced by zombies. As you can probably tell, I’ve actually watched the film before starting this review, which is very rare for me as I tend to want to do just the opening section first, and leaving the rest until afterwards.

I’m not going to say at this stage whether I liked it or not, but it would appear that if I do then I would comfortably be in the minority as “The Rezort” currently has an average rating of just 5.1/10 on IMDB from just over one thousand votes, comfortably a low ranking film.

So, before I get onto telling you whether I joined the majority, or was in the minority, I suppose I should tell you about the plot.

Plot

Several years after a worldwide outbreak of a zombie virus was finally stopped, one woman (Goose) saved several of the zombies that were created on an island just west of Africa. The resort, called ‘Rezort’, allows people to take their frustrations out on zombies, but one of the guests (Rhys) implants a virus into the system and it causes all safety measures to fail. All of the zombies are suddenly free to roam the island.

A group of tourists are trapped out in the park and their guide realises that ‘Brimstone’, a weapons based purge of the island, has been implemented and they only have a few hours to make it to the dock for a boat that is supposed to get staff off of the island. This is made even trickier when all staff on the island are killed, meaning that virtually no access routes to the boats are actually free.

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So, am I in the minority of people who liked it?

Whilst I will say that there were the odd bits here and there that I did like, I am definitely more in the camp that don’t like this film.

Now let’s address the obvious, this is basically a zombified rip of off the “Jurassic Park” franchise, right down to even minor things. Now don’t get me wrong, finding inspiration from another film is not a bad thing, afterall, my favourite film “Willow” has obvious inspirations from the “Lord of the Rings” novella by J.R.R. Tolkien, but unlike that “Rezort” doesn’t use that well.

Here are the similarities/blatant rip offs;

  • There is a boat that takes the staff members off of the island
  • There are fences separating large areas of the park
  • The computers are struck with a virus by someone who seemingly merges into the background
  • None of the other supposed computer experts can fix this
  • The characters end up in the control centre, trying to avoid those that are eating them
  • The characters go out into the park in a safari jeep
  • There are two annoying youths who are the only people competent with computers in their group.

I could go on and I’m sure if I was making a list as the film went on then I could easily fill a A4 piece of paper.

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The problem with this film is that is feels completely unoriginal and doesn’t offer anything that I haven’t seen before. Everything, even the bits which aren’t a blatant rip off of Jurassic Park scenes, feel like something that I have seen numerous times before and it’s hard to really get excited about watching it. Infact I would go as far as saying that whilst I wasn’t bored, I certainly wasn’t enthralled.

This isn’t helped by a bunch of stereotypes that are portrayed as characters. For example, Dougray Scott’s “Archer” is given little, if any, character development or story. He is just this guy that is a sharpshooter, rarely missing, but I couldn’t tell you a single thing about the actual character outside of this characteristic. In many ways he is similar to the character of Muldoon in “Jurassic Park” but without any semblance of a secondary characteristic. For example, Muldoon is quite clearly a very stern and to the point character, but he is humanised by a clear fear of the dinosaurs, especially the raptors, but Archer just seems to take everything in his stride. It feels effortless.

Deaths feel completely uninspired and out of the blue. There is very little tension created in the build ups to several the death of some of the characters, and the zombie attacks sometimes literally came out of nowhere.

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Summary

Even if you can ignore the blatant rip of the “Jurassic Park” films then you’e still unlikely to join a film that will feel very familiar. There is very little originality in the run time of this film and in the end I found myself not really caring about the fate of those on the screen.

There isn’t any real tension or anything remotely resembling a worthwhile plot.

As it’s on Netflix at the moment it’s not like you’ll need to go out of your way to watch it, but I would certainly not actively recommending that you select it for playing compared to the other zombie films that are currently on there.

Director : Pearry Reginald Teocurse-of-sleeping-beauty-poster

Starring : Ethan Peck, India Eisley, Natalie Hall and Bruce Davison

You know when you see a film advertised that would be perfect for the low budget TV station ‘The Horror Channel’ in the UK but it has somehow found its way onto Netflix? That’s what you have with ‘The Curse of Sleeping Beauty”.

Even just looking at the Netflix image I get the feeling that this is going to be a horrible film. I could be completely wrong, but it basically just looks like a gothic version of the “Sleeping Beauty” fairy tale, but done with very little skill or affection. It does look visually distinctive, but it takes more than just looking ok to actually be a good film, and I get a feeling that in several hundred words, when I start the summary section, I won’t be overwhelmed by a great film.

I hope I’m wrong, but I doubt I will be.
Plot

Thomas (Peck) has been having a recurring dream in which he sees a beautiful woman (Eisley) sleeping, but he wakes before he can kiss her. One day he gets notified that an unknown uncle has died and left him a large house, using the word ‘curse’ several times in the process. The letter urges him to never go into the basement, but Thomas has very little intention of keeping the house and gets it valued.

Soon after first entering the house he dreams of the woman again, but this time he is able to kiss and wake her. She says that she is somewhere in the house and needs to be awoken in the real world so that they can be together. Thomas finds himself no longer able to stay away from the house for a few days without getting deathly ill, but he can’t stay there for long as an evil spirit has now awoken.

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So is this destined for “The Horror Channel”?

I have little doubts that this will end up on that channel as it is without doubt their type of horror film. Don’t get me wrong, I love “The Horror Channel” but there is little doubt that the majority of the films on there aren’t that good, so “The Curse of Sleeping Beauty” suits that perfectly. I am genuinely surprised that Netflix picked this is up.

The main problem with “The Curse of Sleeping Beauty” is that is completely lifeless and has precisely zero charisma. It’s just kind of there. Ethan Peck is a poor leading man and whilst India Eisley definitely has the look, especially in the final few scenes, her acting leaves a lot to be desired. I love that the film actually tries to look great, such as actually using camera podiums and tripods (therefore avoiding the problems of on the shoulder cameras shaking all over the place), and the lighting is actually great, but no-one that appears on screen will come out of this movie with any kind of positive credit.

There is very little to keep you interested in the film, and nothing sums that up better than the fact that after about fifty of the eighty-six minute run time, I was able to leave my house and go to the shops to buy a drink. There was no urge to see the film all of the way through, and one of the reasons for this was that not only is the story told in a boring way, it is exceptionally predictable. I was able to call the ending from near enough the beginning of the movie, and not just the obvious part of him finding her in the real world.

I really don’t know what more I can say about this film. It’s far from the worst film that I have ever watched, and it’s certainly not anywhere near as bad as a lot of the films that I have reviewed for this site, but that’s the only praise that I can really give it.

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Summary

Poor-acted snorefest that looks great, but has very little else going for it.

The cast is full of people who probably have a history of modelling, but have no acting skill to back up their looks. That sums up the film really. Visually decent but with nothing to back it up. It’s filled with jump-scares and predictable plot points that make it more tedious to watch. Even at a mercifully short eighty-six minutes, “The Curse of Sleeping Beauty” definitely drags.

Just don’t waste your time.

 

Sometimes I think I am invisible!

Released : 2015backtrack-01

Director : Michael Petroni

Main Cast : Adrian Brody, Robin McLeavy, George Shevtsov, Sam Neill and Chloe Bayliss

The longer term readers of this site will know about the Youtube playlist that I have that contains films that I want to watch and review (if small enough and unknown enough to warrant being on this site), and one of the longest serving videos on that list was the trailer for this mystery/horror movie starring three actors I generally enjoy watching.

One of the three is Robin McLeavy, who was magnetic as the dangerous and mentally disturbed Lola in “The Loved Ones”, one of my favourite horror films that I have reviewed for this site (I’m now in a mood to simply rewatch that instead). If you ever get a chance to watch that movie then I would highly recommend it.

But anyway, yes, this is a film that I have been wanting to watch for a while and as I’m determined to do more reviewing than I did in 2016, I thought I’d start working my way through the aforementioned list properly, and the first one that I was able to locate was this after trying a few at random. Rest assured that all on that list will be watched at some point or another, and potentially reviewed, with maybe the exception of “Zon 261”, which I heavily fear will never actually be made.

But anyway, let’s see if this was worth the wait.

Plot

Peter (Brody) is a psychiatrist who has recently moved to try and move on from his young daughter dying in an accident. There he inherits new patients from friend and mentor Duncan (Neill). One day he gets a visit from a mute girl named Elizabeth (Bayliss) who says nothing before leaving a note that simply reads “12887”, however, when researching Elizabeth, he realises that was the dates of her death, 12/8/87, and more worrying, all of the new patients that Duncan gave him also died around that date.

He approaches Duncan about it, but it turns out that his friend has also been dead for some time and also died on the same date as the others. Peter decides to revisit his old town to try and recover mentally. Peter runs into his old friend, but they soon argue bitterly about it and Peter becomes even more riddled with guilt as he realises that all of his patients were passengers on board a train that the two accidentally derailed when they were teenagers.

Feeling guilty, Peter goes to the police station to report the incident to officer Barbara Henning (McLeavy), daughter of one of the victims of the train accident. Peter is soon visited by the ghost of Duncan again, but it turns out there is more to the death of his daughter, and the train accident, than meets the eye.

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Worth the wait?

In short, no.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some decent bits about the film, such as the element of Peter being partly responsible for the deaths of all of those people who he was given as patients by Duncan, adding a great level of depth to the character, but the problem is that the film is largely boring.

I don’t like using that word when describing films of any variety, but it goes to just over half an hour into the film and it dragged so badly that I just wanted it to be over because it was just tedious. The film is presented in such a lifeless, unimaginative way that it is really hard to get invested in the movie, characters or indeed the intended emotional depth that they try to bring to the film.

“Backtrack” starts off interestingly enough, and it’s slick and stylish in it’s presentation, but realistically it gives you the twist of the train journey, and then another twist, and another, and another, so much so that it made writing the plot summary above quite tricky.

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Then again, the film is so concerned with fitting in as many twists and false-revelations that it be hard to shoe-horn that in. Whilst it wasn’t hard to follow, “Backtrack” definitely became tedious the more it went on as it kept changing things. For example, in the space of seemingly a few days, Peter goes from meeting the character to Elizabeth to practically handing himself in to the police for something he hasn’t been able to admit since his teens. If you’re going to evolve your story, at least make it feel natural and not forced beyond the point of having no sense of realism.

By the time you get to the final twist of the film, the point of having a twist has lost all realistic meaning and when it is revealed what really happened on the night of the train wreck, you no longer care because it is just yet another twist. The best twists, and by that I mean the ironic ones, are ones you don’t feel are coming, such as the ones in films such as “Fight Club” and “The Sixth Sense”, but one of the other reasons they’re so effective is because they don’t have a twist every fifteen minutes or so.

But anyway, back to the characters and the rest of the story. Every emotion feels false and unnatural, other than those revolving around Barbara when she realises that Peter caused the accident that resulted in her mother’s death. McLeavy is unsurprisingly charming, although she isn’t given the chance to show her full range of an actress with a largely uninteresting script.

The thing is that no-one is actually putting in a bad performance. I can’t look at a single performance and say that they were bad, but ultimately there is only so much that good actors can do with a film that tries to be more than it is. I believe a quote from Christopher Lee sums it up quite well, “Everyone is in bad films, the key is not to be bad in them”.

“Backtrack” is a film that I never intend on watching again, and I can’t think of a single reason to recommend it to you.

Oh, and by the way, if you’re going to watch this because you’re a Sam Neill fan, don’t bother. His screen time is five minutes, at most.

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Summary

“Backtrack” certainly tries its hardest to be a unique psychological horror film, but it fails to get the basis premise of a horror film right, in other words, make it interesting. There is a great level of emotional depth in the near ninety minute run time, but this is countered by a largely dull and lifeless script.

No-one is actually bad in this film, it’s just a bad film. There are too many twists and false “true” versions of what happened that by the time you actually get to what has happened, you don’t really care, and no film should ever make you not care.

Australian cinema has much better films to offer, so if you’re going to watch one then please watch something else.

When we start something, we finish it!

Director : André Øvredalautopsyofjanedoe

Starring : Brian Cox, Emile Hirsch and Olwen Kelly

So after taking a few days to rest after writing more than 35,000 words for my end of year review, I decided to jump at the chance to watch “The Autopsy of Jane Joe”, a film that I saw the trailer of some time ago.

This film is one that is actually seemingly known on an ok basis in America as it has a decent amount of votes for a relatively new film, but over in my native UK I couldn’t find anyone that had even seen a trailer, so when I got the unexpected chance to watch and review it, I thought why not.

Readers of this site will know that I’m not really big on horror films, they’re overly predictable and easily replicated. There are very rarely any horror films that I find entertaining, and there was only one release at the cinema in 2016 that I found interesting and that was “The Witch”, which finished at number eleven in my top one hundred.

What looks interesting about “The Autopsy of Jane Doe” is that I can’t recall seeing another film like it, so there is an least a seeming originality about it, and I that proves to be correct.

Plot : Austin (Hirsch) and Tommy (Cox) are a father/son team of morticians that are given an unusual case one night. The body of an unknown woman (Kelly) is wheeled into their autopsy room after being found buried by several layers of soil. There are no outwardly obvious signs of anything that would kill her, although her wrists and ankles are both fractured. What makes it even more obvious is that despite being dead for seemingly some time, rigor mortis has not set in, and bloody rushes to the surface when they cut into her to start the autopsy.

Despite being perfectly normal on the outside, the body is beaten, bruised and heavily scarred on the inside, with lungs that are more burnt that someone who smoked consistently for thirty years, and a rag contained within her intestines that is perfectly in tact, that despite the fact it should have been easily dissolved by the stomach acid.

Pretty soon unusual events start occuring, such as doors opening by themselves, people being seen in panoramic mirrors that simply aren’t there, and more worrying, electricity failing around the building, trapping the pair inside.

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So, is it original and a surprisingly good horror movie?

There is definitely something different about “The Autopsy of Jane Doe”, and whilst there is a reliance on jump scares that seems overwhelmingly familiar, there is the uncommon element of suspense that you don’t get often in the genre. I found myself intrigued by what was on show throughout the film and it is very far from boring. You’re there with the characters throughout, learning as they learn. The film feeds you bit of information in pieces, meaning that you never have the full picture as an audience member until the end. This is different from a lot of horror films that give you too much information early on.

I think that is one of the problems with a lot of horror films these days, they’re too keen to get the information to you that there is no real way to actually feel like the next surprise could be just around the corner. For example, there were quite a few horror films in the 80-71 section of my look at 2016 and not a single one of them tried to build as it went along, with only the first and third act really proving even remotely (and I do use that word very generously) interesting and good for development, whereas “The Autopsy of Jane Doe” concentrates on building the two central characters in the first act, and having the second and third acts to build momentum and establish the information.

It would be hard to think that a film set largely in one room and only has two characters (well, characters that are alive at least) that feature prominently could be as intriguing as I’m making it sound, but it is like an 86 minute puzzle, and each piece makes you more curious, so much to the point where it isn’t until the very end that it all fits together. Whilst the ending is a little out there, it certainly isn’t predictable and I never saw it coming, nor the origins of the body. It was very refreshing to be surprised by the ending to a horror film.

Cox and Hirsch make an interesting double team and whilst I don’t believe for a second that they make a convincing father-son combination on screen, they do at least have a decent enough chemistry, which is again something that can be rarely said about some other films from the genre.

My only real issue with “The Autopsy of Jane Doe” is the aforementioned jump scares, which are most definitely used to no real benefit to the story. They have made it tense in places with other scenes, such as when you can hear the bell tagged to a corpse slowly ringing closer and closer, but they then counter that with unnecessary jump scares.

Oh well, can’t have everything.

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Summary

It’s nice to start 2017 by giving my “approved” tag to a horror film, which is somethingapproved that I don’t do often.

Whilst “The Autopsy of Jane Doe” is far from perfect, the aspects that make it like a puzzle that needs to put together sets it apart from most other horror films that I have seen recently. You learn as the characters learn, and you certainly aren’t force-fed information like a lot of horror films.

This is certainly one of the better efforts in the genre in recent years.