Friday, March 24, 2017

Daniel Espinosa's Life is not Necessarily Dead on Arrival: A Film Review

*there are spoilers here.

Daniel Espinosa's sci-fi thriller Life is not without a few dull moments. The idea of the crew of the International Space Station researching samples from the planet Mars is sound, and with a telling title which recalls Ridley Scott's Alien; the comparisons do not stop there. After a slow start, this film gets morbidly fascinating, and I was left looking for clues if a rumour created over at is true. Unless the creative team want to rewrite a lot about how the symbiote works, the answer is no. This movie is not a precursor to Sony's Venom movie which is currently in development.

Without giving too much away, just what the team of scientists find show that the fourth planet away from the Sun is not a dead world.

Although stripped of an atmosphere and it is a desert-like world, something can still survive on it and live in dormancy, until explorers land on it. In what Dr. David Jordan (Jake Gyllenhaal) and the team find, nobody on Earth will hear you scream and unless protocols are in place, nobody on this planet will send a shuttle up to the station to save you! In a classic cabin-in-the-woods scenario, what's unleashed will get you! The dramatic tension is quite good, as I was left wondering who is next.

The order of importance is cliche. For once, I like to see the ethnic guy get it last than first, but hey, at least Rory Adams (Ryan Reynolds) bit it second. He had moments to remind us he is Deadpool and went in guns (well, soldering utensils) blazing to deal with the threat because he had an idea of what's going to happen next. Sho Murakami (Hiroyuki Sanada), Miranda North (Rebecca Ferguson), Ekaterina Golovkina (Olga Dihovichnaya) and Hugh Derry (Ariyon Bakare) make up the rest of the team. Each of them is a specialist and as each of them bites the dust, so does the chance of a successful rescue — like that was an option!

Coming out of this film, I'm left to wonder what's to happen next? A sequel is unlikely, and this movie is being released on weeks before the upcoming Alien: Covenant. This film is only whetting my appetite for what I hope is Ridley Scott's return to form. Danny McBride is set to appear in this tale and affirms the fact this upcoming movie will be dark horror.

Life plays with the idea, but it's nowhere near as shocking as Scott's film which inspired it. At least for this movie, I'm glad the creature designers steered away from the humanoid form. I'm tired of seeing films which assume the best threats have to be bipedal. In space, the sky's the limit and perhaps the greatest danger can be small as an ant to start. At least with this movie, we are being taught to question everything non-terrestrial.

Overall: 6 out of 10.

Ed Sum has his own Blog at: Ed Sum at Otaku No Culture

Recommended release:

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Thursday, March 23, 2017

House on Willow Street Invites You to an Adultnapping this March 24th (New Clip)!

From a House on Willow Street is changing its name, again. This time, for the United States' Video-on-demand launch, this title is going back to its original title: House on Willow Street. From Alastair Orr (Rancid, 2011) and writers: Catherine Blackman and Jonathan Jordaan, this title involves a kidnapping and a demonic possession. Though, the kidnapped characters does not look like a child. Adultnapping? This title is being launched in the US, via IFC's Midnight label. To celebrate, a new clip has been released for the film, via Rue Morgue. This clip, titled by 28DLA as "Deadly Apparition," is available here.

The official IFC Film's synopsis talks of a "supernatural wild ride." Katherine (Carlyn Burchell) is the daughter of a wealthy family. But, she holds a secret within. Once kidnapped for a ransom, Katherine begins to show her true demonic powers, to her kidnappers. Now, it is a battle to death as the tables are turned on everyone.

IFC Midnight will host the film in a few, select theatres (check your listings). As well, the film will show on various VOD platforms on March 24th, including VUDU. Though, Canadian horror fans may have to wait a bit longer to see this film as a Canadian distributor is still being sought. All of the latest details, including the "Deadly Apparition" clip, are below.

Release Date: March 24th, 2017 (VOD, US).

Director: Alastair Orr.

Writers: Catherine Blackman, Jonathan Jordaan and Alastair Orr.

Cast: Carlyn Burchell, Gustav Gerdener, Zino Ventura and Sharni Vinson.

The "Deadly Apparition" clip, courtesy of Rue Morgue:

The film's trailer (as From a House on Willow Street): A From a House on Willow Street Trailer

Sources: House on Willow Street at IFC Films

House on Willow Street at Rue Morgue

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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Holy Terror Set to Possess Los Angeles this March 28th (World Premiere)!

Holy Terror is slated for a World Premiere. This supernatural thriller will show in Los Angeles, on March 28th. This film, from director Rich Mallery, stars: Mel Novak (Game of Death), Vida Ghaffari (“The Mindy Project”), Kristine DeBell, Lisa London and Kelly Reiter. In the film, contact is made with the other side and this contact leads to demonic possession. As well, this indie horror title will be available through Video-on-demand platforms in early April. A preview for the film's launch is hosted here.

A tragedy has occurred within a family. They have lost their son, but they do not want to let go. They decide to make contact with him. However, a demon lays in wait and it crosses over, to possess the entire family!

The World Premiere will take place in downtown LA. At the Laemmle NoHo 7, cast and crew will attend the film's theatrical showing. Hopefully, reviews will begin to released shortly thereafter. Though, fans of horror can rent the film this April, on platforms such as Amazon Prime. More release details to follow.

Release Date: March 28th, 2017 (World Premiere) and April 1st, 2017 (Video-on-demand).

Director/writer: Rich Mallery.

Cast: Kristine DeBell, Lisa London, Mel Novak, Kelly Lynn Reiter and Vida Ghaffari.

More details on the film's World Premiere: Holy Terror World Premiere Details

The film's fan page: Holy Terror's Fan Page on Facebook

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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Canadian Horror Fans Can Start Cutting into The Autopsy of Jane Doe on Blu-ray Today!

Canadian horror fans can find The Autopsy of Jane Doe on Blu-ray today! Raven Banner Releasing is handling the home entertainment release. And, the film deals with a strange corpse, with supernatural qualities. The film centrally stars: Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch. Well rated and reviewed, The Autopsy of Jane Doe is sure to spread some dark joy, via a Special Edition version. All of the details on the film's Canadian release are hosted here.

The official Blu-ray artwork can also be found here. It shows witchy sigils and a greyish eye. Lifeless, the eye looks on, with grey skin. The tagline: "every body has a secret" brings the film back to its centerpiece, a corpse. Meanwhile, long time horror writer Stephen King's short (possibly Twitter) review states: "visceral horror to rival Alien and early Cronenberg. Watch it, but not alone." And, this viewer recommends you see the film with all the lights off. It is a shocker.

The Special Edition Blu-ray hosts a few interesting items. Shielded with a slipcover, Andre Ovredal's "The Tunnel" is hosted on this release. The short film is 12 minutes long and promises more horror. As well, this release hosts a TIFF Midnight Madness Q & A and a LA Premiere Q & A with Emile Hirsch. The film and the extras are available now, on Amazon!

Release Date: March 21st, 2017 (Blu-ray, Canada).

Director: André Øvredal.

Writers: Ian B. Goldberg and Richard Naing.

Cast: Emile Hirsch, Brian Cox, Ophelia Lovibond and Michael McElhatton.

The film's US trailer:

One version:

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Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Void of the Womb Births a Devil: A Film Review

*full disclosure: an online screener of this film was provided by Screen Media Films.

Directors/writers: Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski.

Cast: Kathleen Munroe, Ellen Wong, Kenneth Welsh, Aaron Poole, Art Hindle and Stephanie Belding.

The Void is an upcoming horror release, from Canadian filmmakers Astron 6. This team has been responsible for a number of decent horror features, including: Manborg (2011), Father's Day (2011), The Editor (2014) and others. Their latest film deals with the horrors of birth and the possible aftermath of death? The film does not have an answer to mortality, or immortality, though. Much of the film takes place in hell and veteran horror fans will see some of Clive Barker's Hellraiser (1987), here. In costume, makeup and setting, this film wears its influences on its sleeve. This viewer enjoyed the practical effects, in the film. But, the film's theme and message comes across as convoluted, for at least one viewer. The Void is a strong visual feature, which struggles with some of its overarching message.

This critic wants to create a new sub-genre, in the horror world; the Birth Horror movie or Birthing Horror movie is a necessary classification. This viewer has seen a number of films, in the horror genre, that deal with the complications of birth. In film's like Grace (2009), one woman struggles with a stillbirth, in a horrifying way. This sub-genre also often involves birthing the Devil, or a demon. In Rosemary's Baby (1968), the protagonist gives birth to the Devil. This devilish trend continues in terrifying fashion with Gareth Edwards' "Safe Haven." In The Void, there is this focus on the difficulties of birth. The protagonist and the villain have each lost a child, due to the complications of pregnancy. Another character, Beverly (Stephanie Belding), nearly loses her child. But later, she gives birth to what is described as the "Devil's daughter." The Birth Horror movie emerges from the problems of pregnancy: miscarriage, still birth, premature birth and others. And, Birth Horror movies capitalize on the fears surrounding these problems.

The story, in The Void, focuses on two characters. Daniel (Aaron Poole) has lost a child with his wife, Allison. Meanwhile, Doctor Powell (Kenneth Welsh) has also lost a daughter. Both characters meet in a burnt out wreck of a hospital. They are enemies, but Daniel does not know this, initially. In the hospital, a virus is spreading through the staff. One woman is turned, off-screen by Doctor Powell, into something hideous. Meanwhile, cult-like figures haunt the hospital's grounds. Many of the characters do their best to deal with one bloody challenge, after another. Soon, most of the male characters are descending a darkened stairway into Hell, with the Devil offering an obtuse line or two. Even for Satan, mortality, or immortality are difficult topics to cover.

A number of reviews have mentioned a few influences within The Void. This viewer noticed Clive Barker's Hellraiser, most strongly. In the third act, Doctor Powell is looming in a darkened room. His face has had its skin peeled and he appears in a long flowing black robe. The visuals suggest another character - Pinhead. The fact that much of the third act takes place in Hell also connects this title to this earlier film, in setting. Many of the minor villains appear in pain as if in Hell, while Doctor Powell's voice booms, again very much like Pinhead. It is easy to see the connection between both Hellraiser and The Void, in costume, setting and characters.

This viewer also enjoyed the practical effects within this title. All of the giant, monstrous costumes look well designed. Some monsters appear as a tentacled blob. Others look like distorted bodies. Makeup effects are equally well done. A throat slash is especially bloody as one character turns on another. A final confrontation between the Devil's daughter and the few remaining characters combines the spectacular costumes and blood effects. And, the visuals are the film's strongest feature.

The Void is slated for an upcoming release in the United Kingdom and United States, shortly. Canadians can see the film, in March, in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Further release dates will be announced soon. And, if fans are in the mood for a decent monster feature or Birthing Horror feature, then they should take a look at this latest Astron 6 production. Others in search of stronger narrative themes might want to search farther afield. The Void struggles with the topic of mortality and immortality, with characters slipping back and forth between these two planes, with little trouble. Viewers are welcomed to take this trip to Hell. But, you might remain trapped there, because of the film's confusing story.

Overall: 6.5 out of 10.

A proof-of-concept trailer for the film: The Void Proof-of-concept Trailer on 28DLA

Recommended release:

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Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Quiet Hour Invades DVD Store Shelves March 21st!

Tagline: “Time is Running Out.”

Stephanie Joalland's The Quiet Hour will see DVD shelves this March. The film is a post-apocalyptic thriller, involving an alien invasion. The film was reviewed here: The Quiet Hour Reviewed on 28DLA. The film is a bit darker in tone, than what the promotional material reveals. However, it is an interesting title and it tackles a few difficult moral choices. As well, Monarch Home Entertainment will host the DVD launch. And, the film centrally stars: Dakota Blue Richards, Karl Davies and Jack McMullen. A preview of the film's home entertainment release is hosted here.

The official synopsis begins with an invasion. Extra-terrestrial machines exploit the Earth's resources, forcing survivors underground. Sarah (Richards) lives on a remote farm. But, bandits make it difficult for her to survive. Now, she must find a way to survive as desperation sets in.

The Quiet Hour will be released in an unrated version. The film's runtime is eight-five minutes. And, this is a film for fans of post-apocalyptic features. The invasion takes place this March 21st!

Release Date: March 21st, 2017 (DVD).

Director: Stephanie Joalland.

Cast: Dakota Blue Richards, Karl Davies, Jack McMullen and Brigitte Millar.

The film's official DVD trailer:

More details are available at the Monarch Home Ent. website: The Quiet Hour at Monarch Home Ent.

Available here:

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At the Nuclear Core of Atomica is a Dark Secret: A Film Review

*full disclosure: an online screener of this film was provided by SyFy Films.

Director: Dagen Merrill.

Writers: Kevin Burke, Federico Fernandez-Armesto and Adam Gyngell.

Cast: Tom Sizemore, Sarah Habel and Dominic Monaghan.

Atomica is a science fiction and mystery film. From Lifeboat Productions, the film was originally titled Deep Burial. Completed for a couple of years now, the film has recently been picked up by SyFy Films, for a theatrical launch. The film stars only three actors: Tom Sizemore, Sarah Habel and Dominic Monaghan. All three actors gel well together as a nuclear power plant begins to meltdown. But, who is who and what is each characters' real motivation? The answers to these question are revealed in Act III. Along the way, the protagonist, Abby (Habel), shows that she is capable of anything and everything! Very much a Mary Sue, this central character required a few more foibles, to make her believable. This small detriment should not dissuade film fans from seeing this compelling sci-fi mystery, however.

In the future, people rely almost exclusively on nuclear power. One plant has been situated on an old nuclear disaster site. Here, it draws energy from the irradiated material, while cleaning the nearby ruins. Well, this is what the pamphlet says. Events inside are a bit less serene and much more hazardous. So, the character Abby is sent to investigate the plant, after communications are lost. She finds the power plant in disarray and the control room manned by one very unhinged character, Robinson (Monaghan). As Abby's investigation continues, she realizes that one worker is missing. And, the plant's "Red Zone (irradiated area)" is expanding. There are a few more mysteries for Abby to uncover and the journey to the truth is a compelling one.

Atomica facilitates a number of minor genres. But, this is centrally a mystery. Of course, the film is set in the future, making the film a science fiction film, partially. As well, the sets (created in an old missile silo) are also often futuristic, in their austere designs. Control panels beep and blink effectively enough. Meanwhile, there are elements of a revenge thriller, here too. It would be best to keep in secret who is motivated by what, for the sake of readers. Still, Atomica is centrally a mystery. Two of the characters are not who they initially appear to be. It takes a bit of unraveling and a number of great interplays and exchanges to discover who the actual villain is. All of the secrets are revealed in the final scenes and in an explosive third act.

There is only one film element this viewer disliked; the protagonist is able to do too much. Her competencies build her up to be almost God-like. Just a smattering of her skills include: mechanical engineering, electrician, welder, nurse or doctor, systems analyst, search and rescue operative, communications technician and on and on. Abby is very much a Mary Sue. In that, she is basically able to anything and everything. This makes the character too infallible and slightly unlikeable and very much unbelievable. Even into Act III, this very diminutive character is still showing new skills. In one scene, Abby knocks down one larger character as if a boxer, almost effortlessly. How can a character show so many competencies? The answer is she cannot. If she specializes on one or two technical skills, this would leave others impossible to train in. But, that is not the case with Abby and it comes across as ridiculous. Maybe a cybernetic chip or similar could have been added to this character's makeup, to make this character more believable. As it is, Abby is almost the perfect character, but she should not be.

SyFy Films has slated this film for theatres. The theatrical run will likely take place in Los Angeles and New York City, but there is no official word to confirm this. Fans can see the film on the little screen, via Video-on-demand, this March 21st and this film reviewer recommends that you do so. Independently shot, Atomica shows what a film should be: story and character driven. And, these characters are interesting, so are their interchanges. Though, some characters are less truthful than others. It is the viewer's job to figure out which character is doing what and for what reasons. Atomica's central character is overdone. However, everything else, from sets to effects, are excellent. This critic recommends you see the film on the big screen, or little screen and unravel the secrets of Atomica, for yourself.

Overall: 7.5 out of 10.

A trailer for the film, on 28DLA: An Atomica Trailer on 28DLA

An interview with the director, at Quiet Earth: Dagen Merrill at Quiet Earth (Interviewer: Chris Webster)

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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

A Disaster Looms in this Preview for Atomica!

Atomica was originally titled Deep Burial. The film, from director Dagen Merrill (Beneath, 2007), stars: Tom Sizemore, Sarah Habel and Dominic Monaghan. This intriguing title has had a few theatrical showings already. The film is set for a few more on March 17th, 2017. And, the film involves a nuclear power plant, which has gone offline. An inspector finds the plant's workers, but they are acting strangely and possibly murderously. Atomica will also have a Video-on-demand launch this March 21st. The film's official trailer is hosted here.

The trailer, for Atomica, is an interesting one. It shows the character Abby infiltrating the plant, which appears to be abandoned. But, one of the plant's managers eventually turns up and he may not be who he seems to be.

From early reviews, the film covers a few themes. Heidi Honeycutt, at Rue Morgue, has mentioned the nihilism of this title and the cynicism: "Atomica's message is the one that usually makes sense in movies like these: corporations suck, people suck, life is too short to do anything about it." The trailer also shows a serious tone. Fans of sci-fi and horror will want to keep this upcoming release on their radars. More details on Atomica are below.

Release Date: March 17th, 2017 (Theatrical) and March 21st, 2017 (VOD).

Director: Dagen Merrill.

Writers: Kevin Burke, Federico Fernandez-Armesto and Adam Gyngell.

Cast: Tom Sizemore, Sarah Habel, Dominic Monaghan and Phil Austin.

The trailer for Atomica is here:

The film's homepage: An Atomica Official Website

A review of the film, at Rue Morgue: Atomica at Rue Morgue

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