Monday, July 06, 2015

Producers Mem Ferda and Adam J. Merrifield Create a Bloody Tag Team in K-Shop

Tagline: "The Night is Over."

K-Shop is a horror thriller from director Dan Pringle. A trailer for the film was released in late 2014. The clip shows drunkards harassing a kebab owner. Not much later, a movie poster was released for the film (seen left). The graphic alludes to one shop owner's solution, to rowdy clubbers, murder. Now, two stills from the film are hosted here. And, producer Mem Ferda has something to say about the film.

Ferda compares the film to Sweeney Todd (2007). Ferda states: "I can only describe it as an intoxicating, super-slaughter, Sweeney Todd-esque ride that cleverly has a stab at British binge drinking." The bloodshed will be close and personal. As well, Ferda relates part of the film's social or moral message. He goes on to say: "It is high time a socially relevant film like this was made, highlighting the significant problems of drink culture that is prevalent amongst our teen society today." Those teens will not fare well, in Dan Pringle's latest film. More on the film's visual style and themes can be seen in two stills and the short teaser trailer, hosted below.

Release Date: TBA.

Director/writer: Dan Pringle.

Producers: Mem Ferda and Adam J Merrifield

Cast: Ziad Abaza, Scot Williams, Darren Morfitt, Reece Noi, and Kristin Atherton.

A teaser trailer for the film is available here:

A homepage for the film:

K Shop Movie

A fan page for the film is available here:

K Shop on Twitter

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Sunday, July 05, 2015

There is No End to the Rabbit Hole with The Pact II: A Movie Review

*full disclosure: a Blu-ray screener of this film was provided by IFC Films.

Directors/writers: Dallas Richard Hallam and Patrick Horvath.

Cast: Caity Lotz, Camilla Luddington and Scott Michael Foster.

It is strange to see a trailer as part of the film you already possess. It is even stranger to see that trailer mislabelled as The Pact (2012) and not The Pact II. Unfortunately, this is only the first step in a strange viewing experience, involving the Judas Killer. This time, the Judas Killer, who was killed in the first film, has a murderous admirer. More bodies begin to turn up, all around the protagonist, June (Camilla Luddington). But, who is this new killer? There will be many misdirections to lead you down the wrong path and all of the obfuscation grows tired, during a second viewing. A theme of surveillance is touched upon, but there are too many unfleshed and forgotten ideas here. Even the usual horror tropes were not enough to unsettle this viewer.

In the previous film, Annie Barlow (Caity Lotz) killed her father, the Judas Killer. In the second film, this serial killer has had another daughter, by another woman. This time Jenny Glick is the mother. And, the demon spawn is June, who is also the sister of Annie. This dysfunctional family has drawn the attention of another sadistic killer, who likes to murder and leave behind strange drawings: "he showed me the way." These bloodstained words will give viewers a clue to the real killer. But, the film has a lot of wrong paths to go down, before the killer's identity is revealed.

The plot sounds good on paper, alone. In the first film, the Judas Killer was terrifying because he was always so close to his victims. He lay beneath the floorboards or behind a wall and no one knew he was there. This time the killer is right in plain view. The creepy stalking is minimized. Instead of a great stalk or chase sequence or two, much of the violence occurs offscreen, or bloody settings are shown after events. June moves through these settings as a crime scene cleaner. A supernatural element is played with and underdeveloped. An unconscious element, involving the death of another character, is introduced, but it feels unrelated to the occurrences onscreen. Meanwhile, the film is moving towards a weak ending. That ending is further stretched by the likelihood of a second sequel, via an open ending. This viewer has had his fill of the Judas Killer.

Another underdeveloped film element is one on the theme of surveillance. June is being surveilled by another character. She is being stalked. June even senses that she is being watched when she says to an FBI agent: "are you following me?" But, there is more than one character who is watching June. As well, surveillance was an important element in the first film. The Judas Killer did much more watching than killing. He seemed to delight in just creeping up close to his victims. In the second film, the voyeuristic elements are much more benign and disappointing.

It is difficult to follow-up an excellent film with another. The first film was one of this horror fans favourite films, from 2012. The Pact had a a dark moodiness and creepiness that was memorable. The late reveal was also well done. The magic of the first film is partially lost here. Unfortunately, it is not unusual for studios to put less money into a sequel. Though, this title rarely appears cheap (outside of some sound quality issues), it does come across as only partially developed. Script ideas, from a supernatural entity and a cartoonist drawing her own unconscious torments, are interesting; yet, June only solves part of her own disturbing childhood experiences. Horror tropes, including the mirror trick (a character appearing with the closing of a medicine cabinet), are repeated here. Guess what? There is a paranormal entity under a bedsheet. Thanks The Grudge 2 (2006). Only a shadow on an opposing wall, with the words "Upon Reflection," on a poster offer any curiosity. Most scenes do not unravel June's inner torments quite so well. And, The Pact 2 will not make many Best Of lists, for 2015.

The Pact II should not be actively avoided, but it should not be sought out, neither. It does play with misdirection and it does tease a return of the original Judas Killer. It is just that the actual killer is one-dimensional. Hauntings are minimized to a few scenes. Also, the return of Annie Barlow does help increase action elements and pacing. She only appears in the final act, however. June must deal with a few personal issues and she does have a character arc. It would just have been better to have had a few ideas taken to a conclusion. As it is, The Pact II is just another return to the well and this well has mostly dried up.

Overall: 6.5 out of 10.

*there is a continuity error at 25:45, on the Blu-ray version. Who is that sitting behind June?

*viewers might notice that only the copycat killer sees Judas, in the final frames. This shows the character's delusion, more clearly.

A trailer for the film is hosted here:

The Pact II Trailer on 28DLA

Recommended release: The Pact Available through Video-on-demand

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Friday, July 03, 2015

Awaiting a Clean Dinner Plate in Mark Murphy's Cannibalistic Title: A Preview

Awaiting is a psychological thriller from director Mark Murphy (The Crypt). Focusing on a reclusive cannibal, the film also involves a terrified victim. Awaiting will premiere at the United Kingdom's Film4 Frightfest Film Festival. And, the film stars Tony Curran (Gladiator), Diana Vickers and Rupert Hill. A trailer for the film was released, recently (hosted below). Now, the film's official poster has been revealed and it can be seen here.

The trailer brings more of the story out, to feed on. The clip shows how a lone cannibal ambushes and captures his prey (spike strip). The trailer also shows how the cannibal's daughter grows cold feet, when the new prey is being readied for a feast. Characters collide and allegiances are dissolved in this intriguing film.

A review or two for Awaiting have been kind. Roger Crow, of the Huffington Post, mentions some of the bloodier scenes, which are "wince-inducing." Apparently, the third act is the most intense. Fans of the UK can view the film for themselves this Summer (August 31st). The title will be released in other territories, later this year. More details on the film are hosted below.

Release Date: August 31st, 2015 (Theatrical Premiere).

Director/writer: Mark Murphy.

Cast: Tony Curran, Diana Vickers and Rupert Hill.

A trailer for Awaiting is here:

A fan page for the film is available here:

Awaiting on Facebook

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Monday, June 29, 2015

No More Monsters For Me: A Review of Monsters: Dark Continent

Director: Tom Green.

Writers: Tom Green and Jay Basu.

Cast: Johnny Harris, Sam Keeley, Joe Dempsie, Parker Sawyers.

Monsters: Dark Continent is the sequel to Gareth Edwards' 2010 film, Monsters. The sequel takes place ten years after the first, when the threat has reached a global scale. The only thing the two films share is the fact that the monsters themselves play a minor role, and that they lack entertainment value. Other than that, the two films are essentially unrelated. In Dark Continent, writer/director Tom Green (not of "The Tom Green Show") revolves his story around a group of infantile roughneck soldiers from the ruins of Detroit who have been recruited to head to the Middle East for a special mission. Unfortunately, Green's own mission is not clear—is this a sci-fi action flick, a creature-feature, or a war film? Whatever the case, neither was executed well. Furthermore, the film's message is a bit foggy; it's hard to decide whether this is a pro or anti-America film, and also who Green's audience is—sci-fi nerds, war movie enthusiasts, or a pack of dim-witted bros. The latter being the more educated guess.

Actor Sam Keely is shown here as Parkes.

Dark Continent opens with newspaper headlines thrust at the screen, bringing the viewer up to speed; the headlines, like the film, are tacky and pointless, accompanied by violent imagery. Next, we are taken to Detroit where our protagonist, Michael Parkes (Sam Keeley), and his crew of low-life locals stomp the grounds on their final day/night before deployment. The Detroit scenes are stereotypical, overdone and uninteresting. The group of low-grade thugs run amuck through town, playing basketball, watching dog fights (dog versus creature) and doing hookers and blow. The scenes are set to cheesy rap and hard rock, making it all the more painful to endure. Even despite the early scenes, the film is irritating and awkward; its narrative (Parkes' voiceover) seems often misplaced, and the pacing is jumbled. While the acting is decent, the characters are insufferable; the macho antics grow tiresome, and the female “characters” are portrayed as either orifices or wombs, serving no real purpose. Even the feeble attempt at introducing a strong female Middle Eastern character goes nowhere, much like the plot. This film drags on for about two hours, leaving you feeling like the character Sergeant Frater does: “Why am I here? Tell me!”

The creatures add very little conflict in Monsters.

The most compelling aspect of the film is, unfortunately, the part that's given the least attention—the monsters. It's a shame, too, because they look really good! Kudos to the special effects team on this film, as they create different versions of the creatures that all look fantastic. We see large-scale, bug-like creatures, a pack of animalistic ones running across the desert like hyenas, jellyfish-type glowing creatures, and even an adorable winged baby monster. Cool as they are, these creatures don't serve a significant purpose in this story, besides adding visual interest. It's suggested, then, that the “monsters” of the movie's title aren't the creatures at all, but rather the humans. The first film gets this message across, but it isn't working in Dark Continent. Here, the writers are all over the place, and it's unclear as to whose side we should be on. This viewer had it in for the Americans from the first few scenes, but are we supposed to hate the American characters? Are they the monsters, or did the writers just created terrible, unlikable characters due to lack of ability? Either way, it doesn't serve the purpose of entertainment.

Monsters: Dark Continent is a film to be avoided. While potential for quality does exist within this movie, (some of the acting and special effects) it is buried so far underneath a terrible plot and awkward direction that it never has a chance to breathe. If you are a fan of 2010's Monsters, you will not enjoy the sequel. In fact, it seems ridiculous that Green uses the name, as it bares no resemblance whatsoever to the original. This viewer was not a fan of that film either, but at least the message in the story was clear. Dark Continent had a bigger budget than the first Monsters film, but the money spent on special effects left nothing for where it was needed most—writing and editing.

Rating: 3/10 The creatures saved the film from receiving a 1/10.

Some of the creature effects can be seen in an earlier trailer, here:

Monsters: Dark Continent First Trailer

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Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Town that Dreaded Sundown Replays an Old Reel (2014): A Movie Review

*full disclosure: a DVD screener of this film was provided by Visual Entertainment Inc.

Director: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon.

Writers: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Earl E. Smith.

Cast: Addison Timlin, Veronica Cartwright, Anthony Anderson and Travis Tope.

A new slasher is set to release this summer. The horror film is titled The Town that Dreaded Sundown. Astute horror film fans will realize that this is the second film to be based on the "Moonlight Murders." In 1946, a serial killer stalked the local lovers of Texarkana. He killed eight and assaulted several more. He was never caught. In the latest version of The Town that Dreaded Sundown, writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa ("American Horror Story") tries to bring some fictional closure to events, which took place over sixty-nine years ago. Though, the real life murders are more horrifying than the ones shown here. This latest film is an homage to the 1976 original film; but, it lacks any real terror.

Just as background, the Phantom Killer stalked several known romantic meeting places. He would target couples in the midst of a sexual embrace and he would intervene with a gun. Described by psychologists as a sadist, he would often kill both people and or rape the woman (sometimes with a Colt .32). His initial attacks were pulled off with less zeal, leading to the escape of Jimmy Hollis and Mary Jeanne Larey. He would quickly become more experienced and more bloodthirsty. Over the course of several weeks, he would kill eight people and attack a total of fifteen. His modus operandi would be repeated on backroads, until he shifted to farmhouses as the police and Texas Rangers closed in. It is believed that he moved onto another community, once the limelight became too bright.

Red lighting adds something here (allusion to blood).

The film develops somewhat differently. Jami (Addison Timlin) is the target of the film, throughout the runtime. The killer has a fascination with her, which diverges from the actual events. And, she must uncover the killer's identity, so that she can find safety and redemption, for her murdered boyfriend. In conjunction with the local law enforcement, she delves into the original 1946 murders, but finds few clues. She quickly overcomes the death of Corey (Spencer Treat Clark) at the killer's hand and finds new love. Meanwhile, couples are being killed in hotel rooms and in remote locations. A farmhouse stalk and chase series of linked scenes is the only sequence that shows any energy or offers any surprises. Even Jami manages to cruise through the film without much harm.

Simply, this latest film is an homage to the earlier 1976 version. Intertitles state that the film is taking place between Halloween and Christmas of 2013. Yet, the characters wear '70s garb and costumes. Phones and furniture look of this earlier era, also. So, the surface setting is more recent times, but the film's meta-setting is much further back. Also, director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon brings in several shots of the original film. A late night Drive-in shows the original film. And, Jami re-enacts scenes from the first film, while the Drive-in film plays. This is not an original film. Instead, this is mostly a replay of the first film, with some new sequences and characters added in, along the way. If you have seen the first film, you have seen much of what happens here, as well.

This reviewer was disappointed by several of the film elements. There is some symbolic imagery here. A film reel can be heard spinning as one character is killed. The reel is mimicked with a red, glowing taillight. As well, another film reel plays over a chase sequence. The director wants viewers to know that this is a film and this is a film that is mostly replaying the original. If that is not clear, signs state "remember," and "forgotten," to remind viewers of the terror brought to t e screen in 1976. Also, lighting added in some dramatic effect during a murder sequence. Bright reds smear across the screen. However, in later scenes, bright oranges and blues are less affective. Instead, they further link the film with the '70s and the garishness of this era. Finally, the director uses every camera trick in his book to make the screen appear interesting. The camera tilts left, then it tilts right. An overhead crane shot, during a farmhouse stalk and chase, looks interesting. But, the directing techniques rarely amplify any tension onscreen. Though, this critic enjoyed the close-ups of the killer's face. Viewers will see malevolence in his eyes. Outside of the costumes, there are only a few elements of creativity here.

The Town that Dreaded Sundown
is a fairly average affair. The film is rewatchable, but it lacks any real tension. The killer does manage to strike at an inopportune time or two. Yet, the violence is muted, especially when compared to the actual events. In 1946, the victims were tortured and tormented. Here, the killer can only offer a glare, or a short chase down a forested trail. It would have been more interesting to have the film follow the real life events more closely. As it is, The Town that Dreaded Sundown (2014) steers clear of any unsettling material and this film will not stand out in the annals of film, nor put Texarkana on the map again.

Overall: 6 out of 10.

*this reviewer could not help but remember Dark Night of the Scarecrow (1981), while watching this film. The original 1976 film and Dark Night of the Scarecrow share settings and similarly dressed villains. The first film likely influenced the latter.

Some of the blood red lighting from the film can be seen in the trailer, at the .50-.59 mark:

The Town that Dreaded Sundown Trailer on 28DLA

Recommended release: Dark Night of the Scarecrow at Amazon

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Friday, June 26, 2015

The Queen of Spades Holds All the Cards in this Trailer

This horror fan remembers saying: "Bloody Mary" into a mirror three times, while holding a candle in front of a mirror. No apparition appeared but the experience was terrifying for someone in their early teens. That urban legend may have influenced the Candyman series of films, which was based on a similar ritual. Now, Russia will bring their own interpretation of this curse, with Queen of Spades. Slightly different in design, the Russian version of this supernatural ritual involves saying "Queen of Spades" three times, in front of a mirror, with a specific drawing. The hauntings begin shortly thereafter. And, horror fans can see a full trailer for this thrilling title here.

The story is based on an ancient legend. For hundreds of years, people have summoned the Queen of Spades, by drawing a door and a staircase on a mirror; then, her name must be spoken three times. But, none have survived their encounter with this demon, whose power is gained from reflective surfaces.

The trailer for Queen of Spades is an intriguing one. The clip offers pulse pounding music as the Queen of Spades' power grows. She appears in water and on television screens as the screen turns to darkness. Fans of horror are encouraged to take a look at the Russian language trailer, below (English subtitles).

Release Date: TBA.

Director: Pavel Lungin.

Writers: Pavel Lungin, Alexander Pushkin and David Seidler.

Cast: Kseniya Rappoport, Igor Mirkurbanov and Ivan Yankovskiy.

The full trailer for Queen of Spades is here:

Recommended release: Candyman (Special Edition) at Amazon


The Queen of Spades at Twitch Film

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Dead Room Pulls You in with This Unsettling Teaser Trailer

Teaser trailers rarely spook this horror fan. However, Jason Stutter's trailer for The Dead Room comes on stronger than a dark coffee. Twitch Film has previewed the film and the clip, in which a spirit is protective of its lair. Inspired by a New Zealand urban legend, this title has been picked up by XYZ Films for distribution in North America. As well, the film will debut in New Zealand this Halloween. Fans of horror can take an early look at The Dead Room here. But, you will want to make sure your cereal bowl is empty, before proceeding.

The urban legend focuses on a farmhouse, in Central Otago, New Zealand. In the 1970s, two scientists and a psychic investigated a home, which was supposedly haunted. Secrets reside in this haunted location and so does a vengeful spirit. This research experiment will be their last!

Jason Stutter is also known for his short film work. He has produced titles such as "Careful with that Power Tool," and "Careful with that Crossbow." These shorts show how children are accident prone, but unusually lucky in life. A teaser trailer for "Careful with that Crossbow" is linked below. And, film fans will want to keep Stutter on their film radar. Finally, more on The Dead Room, including a release date for North America, is sure to come this way soon.

Release Date: October, 2015 (New Zealand) and TBA (Other Territories).

Director: Jason Stutter.

Writers: Kevin Stevens and Jason Stutter.

Cast: Jed Brophy, Jeffrey Thomas and Laura Petersen.

A teaser trailer for The Dead Room is hosted here (turn up the volume, turn off the lights):

A teaser trailer offers a laugh below:

A Careful with that Crossbow Teaser on Youtube


The Dead Room at Twitch Film

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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Nothing Left Unstitched in The Human Centipede 3: (Final Sequence)

Writer/Director: Tom Six.

Cast: Dieter Laser, Lawrence R Harvey, Bree Olson, Tom Six and Eric Roberts.

From the bowels of a hot Texas prison comes the third and final instalment of Tom Six's infamous Human Centipede trilogy, The Human Centipede 3: (Final Sequence). If you are a fan of the first two Centipede films, you'll fall mouth-to-ass with this one. If you're not a fan of the first two, or even if you haven't seen them, this film is still digestible. That's the beauty of Six's trilogy—three solid films that work well stitched together, but can also be pulled apart and appreciated on their own. The Final Sequence is not for the squeamish, but it is also not as dark as the first two. Although the film easily tips the gore scale, this one is even more of a black comedy than the previous. If you’re into completely disgusting, nihilistic gore fests that make you bust your guts with laughter, then grab your diapers, fasten your bibs and get ready for the messy, glorious feast that is The Human Centipede 3!

In this grand finale, lunatic prison warden Bill Boss (Dieter Laser, The Human Centipede) and his flunky accountant, Dwight Butler, (Lawrence R Harvey, The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence) are in danger of losing their jobs, and need to come up with a plan of action. Boss' torture tactics, though fun to watch, get him nowhere—no respect from the inmates nor the Governor (Eric Roberts, in a smaller role than expected) who threatens to terminate all in charge if things don't change. In turn, a resolution is made that might not only help the two keep their jobs, but also deter future violent offenders: “the world's first human prison centipede.” The film suggests that this centipede is a better alternative to the current US prison system, and it may just be.

Dieter Laser plays Bill Boss.

Following suit with The Human Centipede 2, the idea for stitching people together mouth-to-ass comes from the films themselves. This metafictional element is incredibly smart and works well in both the second and third films. A welcome addition to the Final Sequence is Tom Six appearing as himself. Six gives Bill Boss permission to perform the operations on one condition—he gets to see the whole thing through. Amusingly, Six himself can't stomach Boss’ gruesome plan and heads for the hills after witnessing the brutality.

What some fans might find off-putting is the fact that you don't see a human centipede until well over half way through the movie; whereas, the first two films seem to cannonball into the concept early on. Luckily, up until the stitches are sewn, the film carries its weight in comedy and gore, and the audience gets small glimpses at the earlier films as a teaser of sorts, which successfully refreshes the memories of those who watched the previous films and sets the stage for those who haven't.

It's interesting to note the visual contrast from one film to the next in the trilogy. The first film uses cool blue tones to create its chilly, clinical feel, suiting the mad doctor's cold and misanthropic attitude. The second chapter is darker, literally and figuratively, and happens to be filmed entirely in black and white. Toning down the blood guts and shit somehow adds creep factor, and also reflects the protagonist's bleak and dispiriting nature. The third film is vastly different from the previous; its sun-drenched oranges and yellows create a lighter atmosphere and the Texas heat makes the characters eccentric, particularly Bill Boss. While all three films are black comedies, this third and final chapter is more transparently so. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you might even hurl.

As far as acting goes, the Final Sequence is, hands down, the Dieter Laser show. Such a strong, ferocious performance cannot be recalled in recent years. For this horror fan, Laser was unknown until the first Centipede film, and while that was also a stellar performance, his role as Bill Boss in this Final Sequence is off the hook. Whether staggering around drunk, belting out ridiculous obscenities, chewing on dried clitorises to gain “unbelievable strength,” dancing around while inflicting excruciating pain on inmates, or degrading his “office slut,” this character will have you in stitches because he is so damn funny. Particularly entertaining is the way Boss' character makes wisecracks about the Centipede films; he even refers to Six as a “poop infatuated toddler.”

It takes a certain type of filmgoer to appreciate the Centipede trilogy. Although these films aren't stereotypical horror films, fans of the genre tend to flock to them because they appeal to that side that despises the norm and craves something different. In the words of Tom Six himself, “The Human Centipede trilogy oozes misanthropy, nihilism and non-conformism. All characteristics of my decadent worldview.” It's fun getting lost inside Six's world; no matter how dark and sadistic. The Centipede films are playful and humorous, and not only encourage us to laugh at the ridiculous state of the world, but also ourselves.

Tom Six's demented trilogy deserves a 10/10, but The Human Centipede 3: (The Final Sequence) earns a 9.

-by Kenna Rae-

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Recommended release: The Human Centipede II Through VOD at Amazon

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