Posts Tagged ‘torture’

Playing Russian Roulette with his pecker is one of his new favourite games

Year Released : 2017

Director : Bradley Stryker

Cast : Alex Turshen, Keenan Henson, Caitlin Stryker, Bradley Stryker and Krista Donargo

It is not often that I review a film that has an average rating of less than 3/10 on IMDB, but here we are. I got randomly sent the trailer for this feature and thought it looks relatively interesting, but the 2.9/10 rating has left me with strong doubts that this will prove to be enjoyable.

Of course having a low rating on IMDB means precisely nothing until you’ve seen it. I’ve seen a lot of films with low ratings on there and enjoyed them, infact the first film I ever reviewed for this site was “Exit Humanity”, which had a very average 5.2/10 at the time, and I loved it. Then again, there have been times where I have said that the low rating is still too high for some films.

I guess we’ll just have to see.

Plot

Abby (Turshen) is reluctant to go on holiday until she catches her boyfriend having sex with another woman. She decides to travel to Thailand after all, and within hours she has her bag stolen, but it is returned by Ben (Henson) and Jewel (C Stryker), tourists making a documentary about backpackers. She soon receives a photo of her sister Penny’s (Donargo) feet.

A few days pass before Abby goes to have a video chat with Penny, but she is horrified when she sees her being held hostage by a man in a clown mask, but Ben tries to convince her that it is part of a known prank in Asia in which someone wants someone close to them to start appreciating life, or the right priorities in life.

As time goes on Abby starts to believe that it isn’t actually a prank and convinces Ben and Jewel to go with her to find Penny, but soon afterwards they receive a package with a video of Penny claiming to be fine, even though she is on the verge of tears. Ben admits to his camera that he doesn’t have the heart to tell Abby that the package it arrived in also contained some severed fingers.

How long can Penny survive?

So is it worth a 2.9/10?

Whilst I was watching this I decided to have a look at some of the comments from those that have watched the film already, and one thing that came to mind straight away is something that I have commented on in the past, in other words, people who are involved in the film, or related to them, have given it a good score, and that’s all that is proping it up at 2.9.

The reason I am so sceptical is because, putting it nicely, “Land of Smiles” is a boring, disjointed, piece of shit. Let’s start with the most confusing aspect of the film and that is that it can’t seem to make its mind up with whether it is a found footage movie or not. There are some scenes that are presented in that fashion, whereas others aren’t, I refuse to believe this nonsense from the throw-away line of a guy making a documentary about backpackers so his camera is ALWAYS on.

This lack of a clear structure is made even less convincing by the eyebrow-raising cringy acting from all concerned. For example, when Abby has her bag stolen, she is just stood there with a gormless look on her face whilst they remove the bag very slowly and casually off of their back, she doesn’t do anything to stop it and then they just canter off without Abby even so much as putting up a half-hearted chase. If you want me to care about your character and her plight then at least make it look like she cares herself.

I would normally suggest that the cast just aren’t capable of acting, but Alex Turshen was in another film that I reviewed a few months ago, Boy Meets Girl, and she was decent then, so I don’t get it. It is almost like she just decided “fuck it” just before filming started.

I think that is arguably the biggest reason why this fails as a compelling story, the characters just aren’t that interesting, or even well written. There is very little that actually compels you to get behind any of them, nor even feel sorry for Penny as she is getting tortured, and even then I’m being VERY generous with that. All you’ve seen of Penny for the majority of the film is, other than her sat there whilst the clown makes threats, is that she didn’t like Abby’s boyfriend and acted like a spoilt child when Abby declined to go on holiday with her. Even the Saw franchise built up it’s torture victims better than this, well……some of them anyway.

For me the biggest insult is that whilst it uses the beautiful location of Thailand to make it look very decent for a low budget film, it seems to use it purely to distract you from the poor dialogue on screen. There is one scene in particular that seemed to have the camera set up so far from what was happening so that you could admire the hilly island in the background of the shot, rather than focusing on the characters having a yoga session and an uninteresting conversation.

Other than the use of the location, I can’t think of a single positive about “Land of Smiles”.

Summary

Poor acting, awful dialogue, an uninteresting story and boring characters, I can definitely see why this is rated as 2.9/10 on IMDB at the time of writing. I wouldn’t go as far as saying that this is the worst film I’ve seen for this site, nor would it break into a bottom five position, but there doesn’t change it from being awful.

If you’re looking for an example of good film-making with an exotic location, don’t choose this. Other than the beautiful location of Thailand, there is precisely nothing interesting in this movie at all and it is a waste of ninety or so minutes of you time.

Just avoid.

Hi Jason, how’s your day? You’ve got something on your lips, oh, it’s a huge whore!

Year Released : 2015old37
Directors : Alan Smithee
Cast : Kane Hodder, Bill Moseley, Catherine Blades and Jake Robinson

Way back in September 2015 I started this website with a review for a horror film called Exit Humanity. It is still one of my favourite horror movies and one of the reasons for that is the excellent villainous performance from Bill Moseley.

Whilst randomly looking for a film to watch for my run of horror films leading up to Halloween, I stumbled across this, another horror film starring Bill Moseley. Now looking into it, a horror film staring Moseley isn’t that uncommon and he appears in a LOT of movies within the genre, and the same with co-star Kane Hodder, so I knew that I was about to watch people who actually knew how to act in a horror movie.

However, the big drawing point to Old 37 was not the cast, it was that it has a score of 6.4/10 on IMDB. Now don’t get me wrong, 6.4 may sound very average, but for a horror film, especially an independent and low budget horror film, that is very reasonable and in many ways refreshing. Most of the horror films that I review have ratings of less than 5/10, so to see 6.4, albeit from just 141 reviews (at the time of writing) made a nice change.

Also, I am keeping up my average of posting one a day and haven’t missed a day so far, although I have left this one last as there is less than half an hour until midnight.

Plot

Back when they were children Jon Roy (Hodder) and Darryl (Moseley) were taken on their father’s perverted road trips to traffic accidents. Whilst there their father would purposefully kill those and lick the wounds of those around. They were both tortured on a regular basis by their father, including having lye poured into open wounds. Despite all of this, they followed their father’s passions and now hunt down and kill those that have called paramedics.

Meanwhile, Catherine (Blades) and Angel (Brandi Cyrus) are trying to figure out teenage life, although Angel soon separates herself when Catherine grows jealous that she has befriended the popular group of kids, a group that includes Catherine’s crush, Jordan (Robinson). Angel is killed during a stunt when Brooke (Alexander) purposefully causes the cars in which Angel is balancing between to separate. Soon after, Sam has now tried impress Jordan by getting breast implants and trying to look more like Brooke, but this leads to them running over an old lady.

As time goes on and the relationships change between the characters, Sam’s mum starts dating Darryl, and Darryl quickly recognises Sam as the girl who was in the car speeding away from running over his mother, and he decides to take his revenge.

Old37feat

Worth the higher than average mark for a horror film?

There are many aspects of the film that I do find worthy of making it score higher than the average horror film, however, there are numerous aspects that I find to be the typical and/or demeaning.

Let’s start with the positives and where better to start than with the opening scenes. Old 37 goes straight into the action with disturbing images and I couldn’t believe what I was watching when it happened. It was bloody, gruesome and intriguing all at the same time. I never thought I would watch a film in which a man claiming to be a paramedic sticks his fingers into an open wound and licks them afterwards. It’s one of those that make you sit up and take notice, it grabs your attention straight away and that is something that I can’t say about most films.

The antagonistic brothers are by far the best part of the film, but then again that’s not saying a lot given what I will talk about later, and they feel genuinely threatening. As the film progresses you see more about their personal history and how they got to be why they are like they are, such as lye being poured into open wounds and Darryl purposefully wounds his brother by breaking his nose and chipping his teeth out with a chisel.

I also love the film’s unique soundtrack and for once I didn’t recognise a single one of the commercial songs that they use, which is something that I can’t say often, and when there isn’t any music playing there is a ambient tone that fills you with tension, and fills the chase and brutality filled scenes.

old37 (1)

Having said all that, there are still numerous problems with the film, probably the worst being that all of the female characters are portrayed in such a negative light. No don’t get me wrong, despite being transgender I am not a feminist, which may sound a bit strange, but even then the way in which the female characters are portrayed is almost downright insulting.

Samantha is superficial and totally relies on Jordan’s approval to justify herself, even changing everything about herself and getting breast implants to try and simply impress a boy. Angel is shown to be a follower of stupidity when she decides it’s a good idea to stand on the doors of two separate cars and effectively surf, almost to the point where you say “You deserved that for your stupidity” when she dies, Brooke is a spoilt “daddy’s girl” and one of the most one dimensional antagonists I’ve seen in a long time and she was irritating to the point where I cheered when she was killed about half way through.

Some of the most successful female characters in history have been strong and independent, or have at least developed into that sort of person throughout the film, and yet all the female characters in this film have the feeling like they have to rely on the approval of the man that they’re attracted to in order to survive. They are validated by the approval of a guy who is known for sleeping around and you genuinely don’t care about any of them.

What’s strange is that the two sides of the story don’t feel connected until the final 15 minutes, very much like Mysterious Skin you are fed two very different stories, with a different look, feel and storyline, and then they are brought crashing together in the final 15 minutes through the loosest of loose connections. Granted throughout the film you see Darryl and Jon killing some of the teenagers when they’re in the cars, but other than that the two stories don’t really meet until Darryl starts dating Sam’s mother.

OLD37CROSS

Summary

Whilst Moseley and Hodder work their characters brilliantly, I genuinely don’t care about any of the main characters throughout the film as they are shown as weak, dependent on others and worst of all, completely stupid.

The film would have had a lot more promise and respectability to it there been a strong protagonist for you to get behind, but when your main character is someone that is validated by how they look and how a boy values them, it devalues a lot of the hard work that goes into the rest of the film.

It might be worth watching just for the antagonists, but don’t expect to get too excited or care about the people they’re killing.

The test is simple in comparison, yet it will determine who leaves this room with a contract of employment, and who leaves with bus fare home.

Year Released : 2009Exam-film
Director : Stuart Hazeldine
Cast : Jimmy Mistry, Luke Mably, Colin Salmon, Nathalie Cox and Pollyanna McIntosh

I would like to think that I have a good knowledge of British cinema, and I am always surprised to see a British film receive straight to DVD treatment as even when I worked in a cinema, the most boring and tedious English films still got at least one week of being run at each cinema, but Exam didn’t have that. I am normally sceptical of these kind of films but the advert on TV made me very intrigued and I went and purchased it with low expectations.

It has a largely unknown cast, with the two best known to the worldwide audience being Jimmy Mistry (2012 and Blood Diamond) and Colin Salmon (several James Bond films, Resident Evil and Alien vs Predator) but other than that the best that the rest of the cast has been involved in is small parts in films (such as Luke Mably in 28 Days Later and Pollyanna McIntosh in Robin Hood), but sometimes having a relatively unknown cast is not a bad thing and in this film it works very well.

Whilst Exam isn’t going to top anyone’s “best film of the year” award, you are constantly sat there as puzzled as the characters as to what is actually going on in one of the most unique psychological thrillers in recent years.

Plot

Eight strangers are invited for the final stage of a job interview. They are lead into a room with eight tables and a piece of paper and are met by a man simply known as “The Invigilator” (Salmon). He explains the rules of the interview, such as the candidates are not allowed to spoil their papers, either on purpose or accidentally, nor are they allowed to communicate with anyone who works for the company. They are told that there is one question that they need to answer and they have 80 minutes to answer it.

Upon his departure the characters realise that the pieces of paper are actually blank and they don’t know what the question is. One candidate decides that it is a simple case of writing an essay about why they should get the job, and she in very promptly removed from the room and is disqualified.

Shocked by what has happened, the other candidates remain puzzled as to how to answer a question that they don’t know the answer to and decide to work together, although that proves more difficult than they could have imagined.

exam

So do they ever figure out what the question is?

Well one of them does, but to reveal all of that would spoil the film and actually mean that you didn’t get to experience being as puzzled as the characters as they try and figure out what the question is via various methods.

Most of the characters are excellently written and from the first scene in the film, where they are all shown at their homes preparing for the interview, you get to know some of their traits from that, such as that a religious man that isn’t afraid to get violent as he washes blood off of his sleeve, another is laid back, as he chews gum and flips a coin, and so on. Infact, the film only really makes you curious about one character, and the rest are actually explored quite well, especially the character of “White” (Malby). Early on he decides that there’s no point in learning each other’s names and instead refers to them all by what he deems their most obvious physical trait, such as hair or skin colour, the latter of which really riles the non-white members of the group.

“White” is easily the most enjoyable character of the group to watch and doesn’t hold back and try to be professional like the others, ranging from his racist comments, right through to getting some of the other candidates disqualified through manipulation. He also cleverly deduces that whilst it’s worth working together, you have to make yourself stand out as not once has it been clarified how many positions are going. There could be one, there could have been eight, in that sense he treats it like the TV show “The Apprentice,” working in a team whilst trying to shine.

Each of the characters are very different in many ways that their interactions with each other become increasingly interesting as time goes on. For example, at one point “White” needs medication and because of his behaviour throughout the rest of the film, and even the internal conflict of some of the characters in that situation means that you genuinely don’t know if they will actually give him his medication.

promoimage

 

Infact, there are two tortures scenes in the film, and the second one involves “Brown” and “Dark” when it is revealed that the later already works for the company and is an internal candidate. “Brown” isn’t convinced that she is there for genuine reasons and tries to force an admission out of her by going to paper-cut her leg and then her eye open. That scene is tremendously well acted and you genuinely feel that Mistry got a thrill out of torturing her based on how well it is done. Obviously I’m not saying he enjoys torturing someone, but it is arguably the most thrilling and intense scene in the film.

Another interesting aspect of the film is the characters trying to figure out the vague meanings of what the invigilator and how his words can be interpreted. For example “if you spoil your paper, intentionally or accidentally, you will be disqualified” and after they examine the sentence, they realise that although they can’t damage their own paper in any way, they can damage each other’s without risking being chucked out. Alternatively, during the torture sequence they consider throwing him out of the room as that would see him disqualified under the rule “if you choose to leave the room for whatever reason, you will be disqualified,” however, they don’t do this because he wouldn’t be choosing to leave the room.

Throughout the film you are lead to believe one thing and it turns out to be something completely different, in that sense you never know what’s coming and that leads to some interesting aspects of the film. Neither us as the audience, or the characters themselves, ever get a full idea of what’s happening. Unlike some other films we never see what’s happening in the background that the characters can’t see, so we’re left guessing as much as the character.

exam_2009_480p_brrip_ac3_xvid-vision_20100610-21500504

There are two major things I have with the film and one of them might be a tiny bit of a spoiler. One of the characters that remains at the end isn’t really developed that well. It’s like in horror films when a character makes it to the end that hasn’t really been involved for most of the film, sometimes it works, such as Ripley in “Alien” but the majority of the time it doesn’t, and it becomes ridiculous. Infact, as I write this sentence I am 42 minutes into watching the film for the purposes of reviewing it and this character has only said two sentences, and both were pretty meaningless. Each of the other seven candidates that remain as this point have either already been developed well, or are intriguing, but this character is just bland, uninteresting and the majority of the film is spent with them in the background, not really contributing.

The second is something that bugs and that is that the way they get to some of the solutions to the problems they face is a bit far fetched. For example, it is pointed out that all the candidates are very intelligent, which is fair enough, but there is a scene early on in the film where they start thinking that light will reveal the answer and this eventually involves into them hitting the lights with chairs, revealing blacklight and infrared. It becomes very far fetched.

vlcsnap-2010-12-13-21h37m42s27

Summary

An enjoyable 95 minute film that constantly makes you question what you think you know about what theapproved film is about and what is being said. It becomes a bit tedious at time but not once, except for right at the end, do you fully understand what is happening and that’s what makes you keep going.

It may be very low budget, but low budget isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If I had to liken this to any other film it would be the incredible “Cube”, it’s claustrophobic, the characters don’t really know what’s going on (although in this they actually have a way out) and you’re constantly left guessing as to what is happening.

“You’ve got 10 seconds to go or Daddy’s gonna nail it to the chair”

Year Released : 2010loved_ones
Director : Sean Byrne
Cast : Xavier Samuel, Robin McLeavy, John Brumpton, Richard Wilson and Victoria Thaine

Making less than $35,000 worldwide, most of which was in it’s native Australia, it’s not particularly surprising that most haven’t heard of this film which most of the western world would describe as splatter films or torture porn.

To give you some idea of what is meant by those terms, I’ll highlight some of the better known films from that genre, “Hostel”, “A Serbian Film” and arguably most famously, the Saw franchise. So, I hear you ask, what makes this film different from the aforementioned collection of very poorly received films?

For a start, unlike the majority of others in the genre, there is actually a very good story behind the torture and subplots including what happened to the main antagonist’s former boyfriends, the relationship between the main protagonist and his mother, as well as the very heavily hinted pedophile nature of the father figure towards the antagonist.

With a virtually unknown cast at the time of release, “The Loved Ones” gives you a great chance to view the acting skills of some very youthful actors, as well as early glimpses into one or two that have since gone on to star in Hollywood, such as Xavier Samuel, who played Riley in the Twilight franchise and a role in the upcoming Brad Pitt film, “Fury”.

Plot

Lola (Robin McLeavy) appears on the outside to just be your typical teenage girl. She enjoys being feminine and appears to be a very friendly girl, that is until she she asks Brent (Xavier Samuel) to go to the prom with her and gets rejected. Whilst Brent gets on with the rest of his day, Lola suddenly starts revealing her true nature and it isn’t long before Brent finds himself being kidnapped.

Waking up in a strange house that has been decorated to resemble a prom night, Lola reveals that she doesn’t take rejection well and will make Brent realise that they are meant to be together, along with the help of her father  (John Brumpton), who is simply referred to as “Daddy” throughout the film. Almost more torturing for Brent is that sat next to him is a vision of what lay in store as there is mute woman with a huge and charred hole in the middle of her forehead.

Whilst Brent’s friends and family are searching for him, he is being subjected to being tortured by Lola and Daddy, including, amongst other things, nailing his feet to the floor so that he can’t escape and filling his voice box with bleach so that he can’t scream for help. As the film plays on Brent continues to get tortured and the twisted nature of the relationship between Lola and Daddy becomes more disturbing as the film progresses.

eGVtOW82MTI=_o_the-loved-ones---trailer-bande-annonce-vohd

In many respects the film isn’t as fucked up, but there there are quite a lot of scenes where you feel that you can’t watch anymore but feel that you have to just to see what is going to happen next, especially when you realise that Daddy performed a home-made lobotomy on Lola’s mother via drilling a hole in her head and pouring boiling water into the hole.

This is different to other torture porn films though as most of those are filled with characters torturing others for the pure sake of it, but in The Loved Ones you get the feeling that Lola and Daddy are genuinely mentally disturbed. They aren’t pissed at the world or want to teach people a lesson for some morality lesson, such as the Jigsaw character in the aforementioned “Saw” franchise, Lola and Daddy are pissed at Brent as Daddy’s pedophilia towards his daughter has included convincing her that she is perfect and boys that reject her advances need to be taught to appreciate her, and the fact that they do that by injecting bleach into someone’s vocal cords shows how mentally disturbed they are.

The relationship between Lola and Daddy makes this film though, whilst disturbing in it’s nature, it’s probably the strongest father/daughter relationship that I have seen in film for a long day. I must admit that having spent this review thinking of why I think this film is very different to others in the genre, I would say that this is the reason, and when you find out what happened to all of Lola’s previous love interests (revealed towards the end of the film), you realise that Lola and Daddy’s relationship has been that strong for a long time.

“The Loved Ones” isn’t your normal torture porn/splatter film simply because the characters are developed properly. The “Saw” franchise didn’t do that, one of the reasons that the series, despite lasting seven films, was received horrendously by critics and fans alike from film three onwards. “Hostel” certainly didn’t do character development, nor did “A Serbian Film”, this is the first film I have seen where a character gets tortured for a major portion of the film and get the torture isn’t the main attraction of the film.

Thelovedones

There are a few negatives though. There is a completely unnecessary sub-plot in the film where Brent’s friend gets a date and the film flips to that date throughout, constantly interrupting the flow of the rest of the film to the point where it’s like a car that is going 100mph and then stops for a red light, and it takes a long time to get back to up 100mph before it has to stop again suddenly.

When the film comes close to it’s conclusion, you find out how the date is relevant to the torturing, but it’s is the most tedious link I have seen in the film and was neither previously hinted at, or even really has an impact on the outcome of the film. Don’t get me wrong, it’s always nice to see an underdog get a date and do well on it, but given that it had precisely no meaningful impact on the film, the film could have done so much better without it.

the_Loved_Ones_Goth

Summary

“The Loved Ones” is one of those films that you either love or hate. It is unapologetically violent and it approveddoesn’t hold back on showing you what is happening. There is nothing left to the imagination, but for me the most enjoyable part of the film is that the excellent acting from the young cast, especially McLeavy, is compelling. You genuinely believe that she could happily torture you whilst maintaining a generally pleasant attitude, and that is a testament to her acting quality. There are far too many young actresses these days who play roles in horror films that play it so incredibly poorly that you never genuinely believe that they are in danger or in Lola’s case, causing the danger.

In my opinion some of the best and most original horror films are those that have no influence from America, such as the Spanish film “REC” (which I would love to write a review for on this site but it is too well known) and a whole plethora of English horror films, and if this is the standard for future films from Australia then their future is bright.