Saturday, May 23, 2015

Let Us Prey Rots from Within (In Story) : A Movie Review

*full disclosure: a Blu-ray screener of this film was provided by Anchor Bay Entertainment and Absolute Underground Magazine, for review.

**there are spoilers here.

Director: Brian O'Malley.

Writers: David Cairns and Fiona Watson.

Cast: Liam Cunningham, Pollyanna McIntosh, Bryan Larkin and Hanna Stanbridge.

Let Us Prey is a horror film from Ireland. Partially funded by the Irish Film Board, the filmmakers have described the film as Assault on Precinct 13, with the threat coming from within. That threat has been cast in fire and brimstone. The Devil is searching for souls and the Christian themes were yawntastic. All of the characters are morally vacuous. Instead of finding courage, they succumb to murder and cowardice. With no one to lead the film away from evil, the film offers no real strong, underlining message. Some tension is created by the antagonist, Six (Liam Cunningham). But, Let Us Prey devolves into a gory spectacle, only.

Small town police officer Rachel (Pollyanna McIntosh) is new on the job. While walking to her new work location, she witnesses a hit and run. Though, the victim manages to disappear in a figurative puff of smoke. At the precinct, Rachel's co-workers are dubious in nature. The sergeant is a gay serial killer. The other two use torture and murder to keep the local, mostly absent, townsfolk in line. Even Rachel is enticed into murder, when the Devil makes his appearance known.

The film shows strong influences from Assault on Precinct 13 (1976). The film's story stays focused on one setting, the police station. Much like the earlier film, this location is set upon by a malefactor. The sparse regiment of police officers are put to task by this threat, in both films. Though, as admitted in a behind-the-scenes featurette, the threat promises to rot the police station (and characters) from within, rather than from without. The Devil is introduced into the story via a Trojan Horse, by appearing to be the victim of a crime. In actuality, he is the force behind much of the terror. Both Assault on Precinct 13 and Let Us Prey take place over one dire night, in which evil promises to overwhelm the good.

Though, in Let Us Prey there is very little goodness present to fight back. Many of the characters are killers. The most noble, arguably the devil, is just a killer of killers. There is no one really to root for. Even the protagonist is too damaged, from previous abuse, to offer resistance. She is tempted to sin and vice (murder) and she cannot resist the Devil's influence. Other minor characters include: a hit and run killer, a family murderer, a wife beater and many others. All of the minor characters are corrupt, on some level. So, from central to minor characters, everyone is moving towards evil. Where is the heroism?

The film does manage to put forth some mystery. The Devil emerges from the ocean, with a murder of crows in tow. Why is he entering Inveree? And, why is he mute? It is only over time, with the introduction of the Devil's supernatural powers, that it becomes clear who the antagonist is. Satan even provides hints to his identity. When he speaks to Rachel he says: "we are both cast out." Where Rachel has been cast out of her community, the Devil has been cast out of Heaven. This fallen angel even enjoys fire. During one fiery scene he relishes the heat "I like the weather." Unfortunately, once the antagonist's identity is revealed, any of the mildly simmering tension is removed.

Let Us Prey sources a quality film, but it adds very little to the material. A few gory scenes might shock some viewers. But, violence and chaos are pointless, if there is no underlining, purposeful reason for it. As well, all of the characters are amoral and difficult to empathize with. They all get their just deserts. With the Devil winning and stealing everyone's souls, the film ends flatly. The heroine required more courage and strength to overcome those around her. As it is, the film plays out feebly. And, is there anyone out there who still believes in the power of the Devil?

Overall: 6.5 out of 10.

*final thought: the absence of other townsfolk suggests that the setting of the film is actually Hell.

A teaser trailer for the film is available here:

A Let Us Prey Teaser Trailer on 28DLA

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Friday, May 22, 2015

This Horsehead is Screwed on Backwards: A Movie Review

*full dislcosure: an online screener of this film was provided by the distributor, Artsploitation Films.

Director: Romain Basset

Writers: Romain Basset and Karim Chériguène.

Cast: Lilly-Fleur Pointeaux, Catriona MacColl, Gala Besson, Murray Head and Fu'ad Aït Aattou.

Romain Basset's feature film debut, Horsehead, is conceptually and stylistically cool, but its story makes you work at piecing things together—if you're not careful, you could miss the mark. The film follows in the tradition of other dreamscape horror films like A Nightmare on Elm Street and The Cell, with the protagonist purposely falling into a dream state in order to solve a mystery and/or defeat the enemy. In Horsehead, the lovely Jessica, who studies the power of lucid dreaming, grapples with nightmares. While attempting to control her dreams, she unearths a sinister family secret. However intriguing, this film will have you wishing that you were in your own lucid dream, taking hold of the reins, so you could gain a better understanding of what is happening.

Horsehead begins inside one of Jessica's (Lilly-Fleur Pointeaux) nightmares. Our protagonist lies paralyzed on a bed while disturbing images, including a strange fake horse head, atop a human body, appear. After waking, Jessica is informed of her grandmother's death, and she plans to attend the funeral at her estranged mother's request. Tension quickly mounts between mother and daughter after Jessica's arrival to the family home; it becomes apparent that part of the hostility is due to the fact that Jessica doesn't know who her biological father is. It's not hard to figure out where this is leading—a mother's resentment of her daughter—an unknown father. What could this family secret possibly be? When you think you've figured it out early on, the story loses its grip. . .for a while.

The majority of the action takes place in Jessica's dreams which are accompanied by the horse-headed human and a lone wolf protector. The film tells us that, in dreams, a horse can represent a mother figure, a guide to the beyond, or it can be the messenger of death. Jessica's grandmother, Rose, (Gala Besson) warns her to “follow the wolf and run away from the horse. Always.” At first it isn't clear what the wolf represents, but in the end it seems like the animal is a version of Jessica herself. Either way, the horse-headed figure and the wolf are pinned against each other, ending in a battle that does not live up to expectations. Jessica's dreams are also riddled with religion and the occult; these elements help to explain her family's past and push the creep factor into another direction. While this aspect of the story is necessary, it is slightly overdone and too much is given away too soon.

Where Basset does an excellent job is in maintaining a dark, creepy atmosphere throughout the dream sequences, and nicely working unsettling elements into the scenes when Jessica is awake. The characters are constructed in ways that make it hard to tell who is on the level, adding even more mystery to the puzzling plot. Unfortunately, some of the scenes, particularly the waking scenes, are quite boring and the pacing could have been sped up.

Also, the film is plagued with horrible dub step music. At first it seems like it's there to create a more freaky dreamscape, but it isn't all that convincing; the music interrupts the story and, besides, does anyone dream in dub step? Given a second thought, the music could intentionally be used to throw the viewer off the story's scent. If that's the case, mission accomplished—this viewer couldn't stand the music and some interest. As Jessica at one point says, “silence is golden.”

The actors are generally on point in this film, but no truly stand out performances, other than that of Lilly-Fleur Pointeaux's breasts. Tits aside, Pointeaux is fairly believable in this role—impressive for someone with a short acting resume. My guess is that it won't remain short for long. Catriona MacColl (The House by the Cemetery, 1981) is solid as Jessica's mother, as is Jessica's stepdad, Murray Head (Sunday Bloody Sunday, 1971, and the 80's one hit wonder “One Night In Bangkok”). Dreams are often exaggerated, so it's hard to get a definite read into the quality of acting in the film, but the cast certainly warrants a passing grade.

As a fan of most things dark and weird, you want to love this film—the atmosphere is effective and the horse and wolf motifs are interesting. That said, this film is not as riveting as the trailer would have you believe. It does, however, exercise your mind, forcing you to piece the story together, and some audiences will appreciate that. It will be interesting to see what direction Romain Basset goes in as he certainly possesses some creative talent. Unfortunately, even with the twisting plot and wicked effects, Horsehead falls short of the triple crown due to its lack of clarity—too many questions go unanswered.

Horsehead earns a 6 out of 10.

- By Kenna Rae -

Kenna's own Blog can be found here:

Hey Kenna Rae!

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Bunny the Killer Thing Promises a Stiff Carrot in this First Trailer

The first trailer for Bunny the Killer Thing is here. The film's first trailer almost made this viewer blow coffee all over his computer screen. A second viewing was equally hilarious. Sometimes, horror can still be funny, if campy or over-the-top. That is the case here, with Finland's first bunny killer film. The film's punchline will not be revealed here; instead, readers can see all of the absurdity below.

From the story, a strange furry killer lays waste to the Finnish countryside. His motivations are obvious. And, a group of friends are soon to meet this lustful party-crasher.

As well, Raven Banner Entertainment is repping this picture. Raven Banner will sell world wide rights for the film. The film will also be released in Europe, this year.

Release Date: TBA.

Director: Joonas Makkonen.

Writers: Joonas Makkonen and Miika J. Norvanto.

Cast: Enni Ojutkangas, Gareth Lawrence and Veera W. Vilo.

The trailer for Bunny the Killer Thing is hosted here (NSFW):

The film's homepage is hosted here:

Bunny the Killer Thing Homepage


Bunny at Twitch

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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Your Trip to The Gallows Begins in this Harrowing Trailer

The Gallows, from Blumhouse Productions, has a second, longer trailer. The first teaser was released in mid-April. The clip showed a blood red background and a creeping figure. In the second clip, more characters are revealed, along with settings and the antagonist. If horror fans look closely, they will see a potato-bagged villain, lurking in the background (@ 2:08). The entire trailer is housed here.

More story details have also been revealed. In the film, several actors decide to revitalize a play. Abandoned twenty years ago, the play draws the wrong sort of crowd. Now, a killer is cleaving his way through the cast, causing a delay in production and a big, bloody mess.

The Gallows is a found footage film. All of the action is captured by the characters, which begs the question: who would be stalwart enough to film their own murder? More details on the film, including the trailer, are hosted below.

Release Date: July 10, 2015 (Theatrical). Directors/writers: Travis Cluff and Chris Lofing.

Cast: Cassidy Gifford, Pfeifer Brown, Ryan Shoos and Reese Mishler.

A trailer for the film is hosted here:


Warner Bros. Youtube Channel. 21 May 2015.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Cooties Transforms Dodgeball and Hopscotch into Blood and Terror in this First Trailer

The first trailer for Cooties is showing here. This horror comedy stars Elijah Wood (Maniac), Alison Pill and Rainn Wilson. Each actor plays a teacher, at an elementary school. At the school, a chicken nugget zombie virus is turning the young scholars into feral monsters. To be released in September, the first trailer focuses on comedy, with horror elements relegated to the finale. Fans of film can view the trailer here.

Writer Leigh Whannell (Insidious) was inspired by his dislike of children to write the script. Whannell said of his writing inspiration: "my friend Ian Brennan and I wanted to write a film about one of life’s most universal experiences – hatred for precocious, adorable children. And so we started work on Cooties, a film about a virus that turns school children into monsters and therefore makes it okay to beat them up with hockey sticks." In the trailer, the children are beaten with more than hockey sticks. Dodgeballs, baseballs and fire are all unleashed on the little terrors. The entire trailer rests below.

Release Date: September 18, 2015 (VOD, Limited Release).

Director: Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion.

Writers: Leigh Whannell, Ian Brennan and Josh C. Waller.

Cast: Elijah Wood, Alison Pill and Rainn Wilson.

The first trailer for Cooties is here:


Cooties at Yahoo Trailers

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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

February Houses Trapped Students and a Vengeful Spirit: A Preview

Tagline: "She returns."

February is a recently completed horror and thriller. The film, developed by the Highland Film Group, involves an all girls' school and an unseen evil force. The film stars Kiernan Khipka (Carriers),Emma Roberts, Lauren Holly and James Remar. Recently completed in Ontario, a concept poster for the film has been released; that graphic is hosted here.

For more on the story, Rose and Kat are snowed in, at their local university. Kat begins to see horrifying visions as the college is invaded by a malevolent force. Outside of the school, Joan (Roberts) is drawn to the school, with evil intentions.

This title began shooting in 2015 and finished shortly thereafter. As well, the film's first graphic shows the character Joan, sallying up to the university, with blood-soaked footprints. The austere landscape promises isolation and future horrors. A trailer, for February, is sure to come this way soon.

Release Date: TBA.

Director/writer: Oz Perkins.

Cast: Kiernan Shipka, Emma Roberts, Lauren Holly and James Remar.


February at the Film Catalogue

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Sunday, May 17, 2015

Hellmouth Forgot to Thoroughly Chew its Story: A Movie Review

*full disclosure: a Blu-ray screener of this film was provided by Anchor Bay Entertainment and Absolute Underground Magazine.

Director: John Geddes.

Writer: Tony Burgess.

Cast: Stephen McHattie, Siobhan Murphy, Ari Millen and Tony Burgess.

Writer Tony Burgess (Pontypool) and actor Stephen McHattie reteam for another horror title, Hellmouth. Part hellscape, the film develops much like a nightmare, in which nothing is real. Even the plot dissolves at certain key points. Meanwhile, the CGI visual field is full of demons, an angel and even a Sauron-like antagonist. None of these characters come together in a compelling fashion, with the film struggling to define itself. Possibly meant as an opium dream only, Hellmouth forgets that storytelling is longer lasting than any series of barely connected fantasy sequences.

The plot, such as it, begins with Charlie Baker (McHattie). He is a gravedigger, with only a couple of years to live. He has a "brain rattle," which might explain the film's second, surreal half. Baker is reassigned to a new cemetery. Here, he will serve six months, before retiring to Florida. But, there is a catch. Baker must survive his new environment, which hellishly lives and kills the unwary. After some ghost sex, Baker sets out on a Lord of the Rings (2001) journey to Mordor. But, the final denouement comes on like a whimper, rather than a compelling reveal, or insightful message. Most nightmares are best forgotten, unless they house a deeper meaning.

The visuals of the feature are all CGI and most look horrifying enough. The film was developed exclusively through greenscreen. Few settings are real, outside of a few pieces of furniture. The rest of the environments are computer enhanced and most host terrifying gravestone visages, or winged demons. Baker's head cancer creates all kinds of zombie-like characters and haunting landscapes. Each promises to draw Baker down below. Even characters, including the angel-like Fay (Siobhan Murphy), are amplified with enhanced lighting. But, it all rings as very unreal, or at least surreal.

Hellmouth plays out like a long running nightmare. Sometimes described as a fever dream or head film in other reviews, the film can best be described as a nightmarescape. The visuals and unsteady story are meant to unsettle the viewer. They rarely accomplish this goal. Also, the lack of story is reminiscent of a nightmare, in that the visuals tell the story, metaphorically. Though, the best that the protagonist can discern from his journey is that he is real. In a nightmarescape or dreamscape, nothing is real, especially the characters. Earlier, the protagonist shows some actual awareness of his predicament: "I'm caught in a nightmare." But, he never attempts to wake himself. Most nightmares have a message lying just out of consciousness; that is not the case here and the lead character never questions the surreality of his experience.

Finally, the film is very anti-plot. The film reminded this viewer of David Lynch's Lost Highway (1997). Everything is surreal and very little can be connected. Instead, the film is meant as an experience. The lack of story resists dissection. This lack of story connection lessens its impact. And, just like a nightmare, it is soon forgotten once the film has stopped playing. The finale tries for a meaningful exit. But, it all disappears like sand in the film's final setting, a desert.

This horror fan is excited for Burgess' upcoming Septic man; but, Hellmouth offers very little adrenalin, here. The film came across, to this viewer, as an exercise in the use of greenscreen, with story elements an addendum. At its core, the film is missing a reason to be. It is also missing compelling conflicts and an internal message. And, this viewer wonders if the film was developed from one of Burgess' nightmares. If yes, his nightmare required more thoughtful analysis and interpretation.

Overall: 6.75 out of 10.

The film's official trailer is hosted below:

A Hellmouth Trailer on 28DLA

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Friday, May 15, 2015

Starve Offers Finger Food in this Horrifying Preview

Starve is a film from Griff Furst. Described by some reviewers as Saw-style torture porn (THR), this indie horror title is soon to darken DVD store shelves. The release is scheduled for this summer. And, the film stars Bobby Camp (The Final Destination), Mariah Bonner (The Social Network), Cooper Huckabee and Johnny McPhail. Also, this title was supposedly released on television, but this film fan could find no evidence of this. Starve has shown at film festivals, including Spain's Sitges International Film Festival, though. A preview of the film's DVD release is hosted here.

In the story, three friends are kidnapped. They are trapped with several other people, in an abandoned building. Here, they are starved, unless they can find the fortitude and amorality to kill another. A loudspeaker encourages everyone's darker side to come out and kill!

MTI Home Video will handle the release. And, Starve will be available on DVD, this July 21st, 2015. Fans of indie horror will want to take a closer look at this disturbing tale, below.

Release Date: July 21, 2015 (DVD).

Directed by Griff Furst.

Cast: Bobby Campo, Mariah Bonner, Dave Randolph-Mayhem Davis, Cooper Huckabee and Johnny McPhail.

A trailer for Starve is hosted here:


MTI Home Video's YT Channel

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