Saturday, March 28, 2015

Villmark 2 Mixes Red with White in the Snowy Climes of Norway: First Trailer

Norway continues to churn out quality horror films. From Cold Prey (2006) to Dead Snow (2009), Norway knows how to use its wild, snowy settings to create a chilling atmosphere. The latest to come from this Scandinavian country is titled Villmark 2, or Wilderness 2, or Dark Woods 2. This feature follows the original 2003 film and near the same setting. This time several contract workers must clear an ancient sanatorium, but something malicious lingers nearby. The film stars Anders Baasmo Christiansen, Ellen Dorrit Petersen, Baard Owe and Mads Sjøgård Pettersen. As well, the film has been directed by Pål Øie (Hidden). The first trailer for Villmark 2 is hosted here.

From the longer synopsis, a sanatorium lies deep in an isolated forest. Here, a janitor manages the building, with five more contract workers set to remove hazardous material, including asbestos. Over a 100 rooms have to be cleaned. However, something or someone lays in wait within this ancient abode.

Villmark 2 will release internationally. Norway will host the premiere, October 9th, 2015. And, this film fan hopes this title will cross over to North American shores, much like Cold Prey and Dead Snow did previously. The film's first horrifying trailer also lays in wait below.

Release Date: October 9th, 2015 (Norway).

Director: Pål Øie.

Writers: Kjersti Rasmussen and Pål Øie.

Cast: Anders Baasmo Christiansen, Ellen Dorrit Petersen, Baard Owe and Mads Sjøgård Pettersen.

The film's official trailer is hosted here:

*the best translation of the film's tagline, from the movie poster: "tor du en gang till," is "return one more time."


Villmark 2 at Twitch Film

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Dead Rising: Watchtower is Mindless Zombie Mashing Madness: A Movie Review

Director: Zach Lipovsky.

Writer: Tim Carter.

Cast: Meghan Ory, Keegan Connor Tracy, Virginia Madsen and Jesse Metcalfe.

Dead Rising: Watchtower is based on the Dead Rising series of games, from Capcom. This series is based on a zombie apocalypse, in the future. In the film, a quarantine zone gets overrun by the undead, with a reporter caught in the middle of the action. True popcorn fare, Dead Rising: Watchtower is easy on the lobes and quickly forgotten. But, the film is still entertaining as Chase Carter (Jesse Metcalfe) does his best to escape the quarantined zone. A social message, introduced late, involves the government and privacy. The message, along with the story, fall a little flat. Still, there are lots of great action scenes and the comedic tone creates for a few laughs. Dead Rising: Watchtower is a mostly enjoyable title, which does not challenge the noggin, too much.

The protagonist in the story is Carter. He comes off as a sleazy reporter, early in the film. But, he manages to reach higher levels, in a few, later heroic moments. His fellow survivor, Crystal (Meghan Ory), also does not begin as a moral character. She is stand-offish and reluctant to help others. However, through the film, this duo and another minor character begin to grow on the viewer as they struggle in a zombie apocalypse. Meanwhile, on the other side of the quarantine wall, the government is doing its best to sell out the citizens, caught in the outbreak. They have a plan to track citizens, while removing their privacy. This thread continues into the credits, but a sequel feels unneeded.

Dead Rising: Watchtower is truly popcorn fare. The film's central storyline, which is based on very light material, is not really expanded on here. The characters must deal with the infected, while taking their Zombrex (an inhibitor). There are over-the-top villains, including a Mad Max inspired biker and self-proclaimed Zombie King. Any other villains remain in relative safety, outside of the wall, or of the undead kind. As well, characters are giving little to no backstory and they are not developed via flashback nor subplot. The characters have no real fears or weaknesses, outside of the fear of the death. Other minor characters are mere caricatures. They appear, when needed, to introduce the required conflict, only to be outroduced minutes later. Also, the film did not resonate strongly with this viewer, outside of a few humourous moments. It does not hit any deep or meaningful chords, overall.

The film does attempt a relevant social message. Government intrusion into the private lives of its citizens is a very real issue. The film covers this topic, late in the film. The government hopes to track its citizens with the introduction of a chip, which is injected just under the skin. The zombie outbreak is just a ruse, like a false flag event, to introduce this new technology into its citizenry. With American government surveillance of cell phones, email and internet usage, this inclusion of a relevant topic was a good one. Unfortunately, the film required more governmental menace, to create a better conflict and climax.

Overall, the film is well produced, but weak in story elements. All of the action scenes are well-choreographed, with Carter using improvised weapons to hold off the undead. Some of these action scenes are recorded with an extended long shot, which is difficult to do. And, the action elements are consistently introduced to keep the pacing in an up-tempo. The action elements were the strongest film element, in this title. Though, the story elements, which are based on weak material, do not create an emotive experience. Only the comedic elements, which are mostly delivered by the character Frank West (Rob Riggle), have any impact. The romantic elements between Crystal and Chase are more antagonistic, than connective. Subplots are missing. Also, the open ending came across as unnecessary. Although, this viewer would likely come back for more zombie bashing madness.

Dead Rising: Watchtower was released as a Crackle Original, on March 27th, 2015. The film is basically free to watch, minus the commercials. So, viewers will not have to reach into their pockets to view the film. And, this above average production will entertain most viewers as long as their expectations are minimized. As a zombie mashing film, Zach Lipovsky has done a good job of getting lots of bloody effects on the screen. The setting is also a dangerous one, which helps amplify the thrills. Still, it would have been better if the characters were developed beyond the pixels of the game. These people are supposed to be real flesh and blood characters, but they often come across as cardboards cutouts.

Overall: 6.75 out of 10 (enjoyed it overall, the climax needed a twist or two).

A trailer for this film launch is available here:

A Dead Rising: Watchtower Trailer on 28DLA

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Viewers Can Saddle Up with Kurt Russell in this Preview for Horror Western Bone Tomahawk

A new cannibal film is being developed by Caliber Media. The film is titled Bone Tomahawk, starring Kurt Russell. In the film, Russell plays Sheriff Franklin Hunt. As well, the first still has been release for the film, seen left. The photo shows Russell in costume and in the film's primary setting, the Wild West. One part western and one part horror, the film also notably stars Sean Young (Bladerunner), Patrick Wilson (The Conjuring), Matthew Fox, David Arquette and Sid Haig. Recently completed, a preview of Bone Tomahawk is hosted here.

Very few story details have been revealed for the film. However, from the Caliber Media synopsis: "four men set out in the Wild West to rescue a group of captives from cannibalistic cave dwellers."

S. Craig Zahler has directed this feature. Zahler recently directed another horror feature, titled Asylum Blackout (2011). A review of this earlier title is available here: An Asylum Blackout Review on 28DLA. More cast and crew details on Bone Tomahawk are listed below, with a trailer to come this way shortly.

Director/writer: S. Craig Zahler.

Cast: Lili Simmons, Geno Segers, Sean Young, Kurt Russell, Patrick Wilson, Matthew Fox and David Arquette.

*a trailer is coming soon.


Bone Tomahawk at Caliber Media

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

It Follows is a Coming-of-age Nightmare: A Movie Review

*full disclosure: an online screener of this film was provided by the Weinstein Company.

**there are spoilers here. It would be best if you saw the film, before reading this review.

Director/writer: David Robert Mitchell.

Cast: Keir Gilchrist, Olivia Luccardi, Lili Sepe, Maika Monroe and Jake Weary.

It Follows was developed from one of the director's nightmares. David Robert Mitchell has told interviewers that he dreamt of a figure, who relentlessly chased him. This is basically the plot for the film as one woman is constantly stalked by a strange, sexually transmitted entity. Jay is the chasee and she is also young girl changing into a woman, in this coming-of-age thriller. Mitchell captures all of the many chase sequences with an eye for both the viewer, the characters and even the shapeshifting villain. The directing techniques helped amplify the tension onscreen. As well, the ending is an open one, but a curse never really dies in fiction. Meanwhile, It Follows manages to be an intriguing indie horror film, which offers a compelling scenario.

In the film, Jay (Maika Monroe) is the protagonist. She spends her days swimming in an outdoor pool, or out on dates with Hugh (Jake Weary). On the sidelines, her friends become concerned when Jay is dropped off in the middle of the street. From an outside perspective, it would appear that she was raped and left by the roadside. But, something much worse has happened. Jay has been infected by something much more irritating than herpes. She now has an STI, a sexually transmitted incubus. This incubus is chasing Jay late into the picture, down streets, into pools and even into the credits.

In genre, It Follows is a coming-of-age thriller. The protagonist is a young woman, letting go of her adolescence. She even laments how she dreamt of becoming an adult, going on dates and out for drives: "we would not even go anywhere." As she develops into a woman, there are all of the dangers of dating and sex. In the film, they are amplified with the occurrence of a demon. But still, the demon is just a metaphor for the potentially deadliness of sex, including AIDS. Sex has consequences. And, the consequences that Jay must face can only be handled by a woman and not a girl.

David Robert Mitchell unsettles with his shooting style. Sometimes, Mitchell will shoot scenes as if through the eyes of Jay's friends. Her friends cannot see the being that haunts her and neither can the viewer. In other scenes, Mitchell shoots the film as if through the eyes of Jay. In these scenes, the viewer can see the relentlessness of the demon as it tries to kill the protagonist. However, the viewer will not immediately know how the scene is being shot as the camera shifts around. This shooting style is effective in creating terror in the climax. In these later scenes, it is difficult to tell if the incubus is incapacitated, or preparing for another attack. This viewer enjoyed the constantly changing viewing perspective.

The ending is left open as it should be. In fiction, especially ancient literature, curses endure forever. The curse, in this film, moves from character with character, passed only through sexual activity. That curse lays waste to a few of the characters, but it keeps coming back to Jay. Curses can never be lifted. So, as the film nears conclusion, the demon is still chasing Jay and a minor character as the credits run. The supernatural is often difficult to shake in fiction.

It Follows has received recent praise and the film is being set for a wider theatrical release. This critic missed the one day it played in this corner of the world. But, other indie horror fans should not miss the opportunity to see this film on the big screen. Full of dread, terror and several chase sequences, It Follows creates a horrifying scenario, in which a young woman must do terrible things to set herself free. But, in fiction, curses can rarely be lifted and Jay is left in an ambiguous position, late into the film. Not to be missed, It Follows also brings one of the most relentless killers to the screen, one which disappears often in front of the camera.

Overall: 7.25 out of 10 (good acting, an interesting premise, an intriguing killer/stalker, lots of conflict, a diverse shooting style).

A United Kingdom trailer for It Follows is available here:

An It Follows Trailer on 28DLA

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An Infection is Coming to Screens this April with Strange Blood!

Sick and twisted horror director Pearry Reginald Teo (Necromentia) has penned another dark tale. The film is titled Strange Blood. In this title, a brilliant scientist experiments with a cure-all for every disease under the sun. Unsurprisingly, something goes wrong and this scientist is changed forever. As well, this film stars Robert Brettenaugh, Alexandra Bard and James Adam Lim. The film's official trailer is hosted here.

The trailer and look of the film are influenced by David Cronenberg. Cronenberg's body horror influences can be seen in the scientist's body, which is changed in a bloody fashion. Other characters are also infected with a strange disease, with the tone and setting consistently dark.

Fans of horror can view the film in just a month. Strange Blood is scheduled for a video-on-demand release in late April, followed by a DVD release in June. Indie in nature, Strange Blood looks like a horror film that will scar retinas, permanently.

Release Date: April 28th (VOD) and June 2nd, 2015 (DVD).

Director: Chad Michael Ward.

Writers: Pearry Reginald Teo and Chad Michael Ward.

Cast: Robert Brettenaugh, Alexandra Bard and James Adam Lim.

The film's official trailer is here:

A homepage for the film is hosted here:

A Strange Blood Homepage

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The First Trailer for Maggie is Light on the Scares and Heavy on the Drama

Zombies are given a very less threatening portrayal in this preview for Henry Hobson's Maggie. The undead are something to be sympathized with as shown by actor Arnold Schwarzenegger's characterization of Maggie's (Abigail Breslin) father, Wade. Dramatic in music and action, this first trailer for Maggie also focuses on the relationship between a father and his daughter, in a growing apocalypse. Fans of dramatic thrillers can preview Maggie here.

Only a few lines have been released for the film's synopsis. A father does his best to protect his daughter, in a very dangerous environment. A zombie virus sweeps the land, leaving few uninfected.

Maggie will make its debut shortly. The film will be shown at the Tribeca Film Festival, before heading to a few theatres. The limited theatrical showing will take place on May 8th, 2015. As well, on this date, the film will be made available through video-on-demand, via Lionsgate.

Release Date: May 8th, 2015 (Limited Theatrical, VOD).

Director: Henry Hobson.

Writer: John Scott 3.

Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Abigail Breslin, Joely Richardson and Laura Cayouette.

The first trailer is here:

A homepage for the film is hosted here:

The Maggie Official Website

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Bloody Jug Band Brings More Horror Rock to the Masses with Rope Burn

The Bloody Jug Band has released a second album. Their second album is titled Rope Burn. And, this second album brings more Florida Swamp Noir to the musical masses. As well, The Bloody Jug Band has been described as Roots Rock and their sound is influenced by Jug bands of the '20s and '30s. Also influenced by Tom Waits and The Band, this latest album will be available on April 13th, 2015. On this date, a new video will be released for the album's track, "Beautiful Corpse," as well More available on the release of Rope Burn is hosted here.

For more on the band, The Bloody Jug Band hail from Orlando, Florida. The band consists of eight members: Cragmire Peace, Stormy Jean, Brian Shredder, Steevil, Bloody Rick Lane, Seth Funky, Bid Daddy Jerm and Baby Dingo. Each band member plays a different traditional Jug band instrument, including: washboards, washtub bass, mandolin and the harmonica. Fans of southern music can purchase this album in just a few days, with more details on the release available below.

Release Date: April 15th, 2015 (Online, hard copy).

The video for "Beautiful Corpse" will be made available on The Bloody Jug Band's Youtube page, found here:

The Bloody Jug Band on Youtube

The album will offer purchase details of the album here:

The Bloody Jug Band's Official Homepage

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Monday, March 23, 2015

Evangeline Changes Shape and Tone Too Many Times: A Movie Review

*full disclosure: an online screener of this film was provided by Uncork'd Entertainment.

Director/writer: Karen Lam.

Cast: Kat de Lieva, Richard Harmon, Mayumi Yoshida, David Lewis David Lewis and Kelvin Redvers.

Evangeline is a revenge tale, from director Karen Lam. This title was completed in 2013, toured festivals and now, the film is set to release on home video formats. Though, this is one release that might best be forgotten. An homage to Alex Proyas' The Crow (1994), Evangeline is more rock video than a true film. Lam's storytelling style brings lots of characters to the screen, none of whom are really developed. Even the protagonist is shallow and mute, through much of the film. As well, so many ideas are introduced into the story, that Evangeline staggers all over the place. Only the visual style, which is often dark and moody, is consistent and well produced. Almost all other film elements are incongruous, leaving the film ineffective in delivering a focused message.

The story, such as it is, can be best summed up as a revenge thriller. Though, there are elements of fantasy here, along with arthouse influences. Surreal in story, Evangeline takes up residence in a new college. Instead of studying, Evangeline is more interested in boozing it up and seducing the local skinny Edward (Twilight) look-alike. Her plans of a sexy time are replaced by a beating as most of the college male students are revealed to be psychopaths and murderers. She is left to die in the woods, after a strange game of hide-and-go-seek. Then, Evangeline is rescued by hunters, only to fall into the hands of a serial killer. All of these bizarre situations and malevolent characters create for a very unbelievable film viewing experience.

Evangeline lifts several scenes and situations from an earlier film, The Crow. Evangeline plays Eric Draven. After the quintessential rape and attempted murder scene, Evangeline is okayed to lay waste to the male cast. In an early scene, a young, female child offers some obfuscating dialogue to intro the film, much like Sarah did in this earlier film. This voice also outroduces the film, much like The Crow, with more dialogue from a Sarah-like character. As well, Evangeline sports make-up that is very much lifted from The Crow. Her eyes are darkened and her face is paled. Though, the make-up appears and disappears across scenes, causing continuity errors. Even the dark moody atmosphere of this 1994 film is replicated in Lam's early film. Though, the earlier film is much better delivered in story and production.

This film viewer only enjoyed the dark visual style, from the film. Very dark in setting, Evangeline manages to offer the visual tone of a horror film. Also, scenes are often bloody as Evangeline uses a knife to kill many of the male characters. Lam also utilizes many night scenes, to keep the visual sphere subdued. The darkness adds in a note of mystery and tension. But, this is the only film element that was almost consistent. Still, even visual elements are almost lifted from a rock video, with fantasy elements breaking up the film's reality. More consistency in the visual tone could have helped anchor the film in some sort of visual reality.

Overall, Evangeline comes across as very fractured in story and characters. Simply, there are too many characters in the film. None of the characters are given very much attention and most of the characters are shallow, or at least flat. The protagonist never steps out of cliche. She is a shy college student in some scenes and an outgoing party girl in others. The film's central character is all over-the-board. In later scenes, Evangeline changes again, this time into a brutal, but mute murderess. And, this pivotal character shows no penchant for insight. Why did the men target her? How has she managed to turn into such a brutal killer? Meanwhile, the story devolves into a girls versus boys storyline, with the male characters bearing the brunt of the violence. The male characters may be done away with, but what is left is nothingness. The conclusion is not even worth disseminating, with so many inconsistencies appearing along the way.

Evangeline is coming to the home entertainment markets shortly and most indie, horror fans will want to bypass this release. Too crammed full of ideas and characters, Evangeline plays out like an extended rock video in style and genre. Lam lifts much of her revenge storyline from The Crow. Though, this adaptation lacks a unifying focus. Characters are undeveloped and the film's central reality drifts in and out. Evangeline needed more structure and focus and fewer characters and ideas. In the end, Evangeline fails to impress, even with a dark and moody horror atmosphere.

Overall: 6 out of 10.

A trailer for the film is hosted here:

An Evangeline Trailer on 28DLA

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