Emerald Gore Society

Ireland's No.1 Dedicated Horror Website

For All your Irish Horror, with Horror and Gore from Ireland And Around the Globe!

Lights Out (2016) Review

Cast: Maria Bello (Secret Window, The Dark) Gabriel Bateman (Band of Brothers, Checkmate) Teresa Palmer (The Grudge 2, Warm Bodies)

Director: David F. Sandberg

Synopsis: Rebecca (Teresa Palmer), a young woman, must save her brother Martin (Gabriel Bateman), from a horrifying apparition that lives in complete darkness. Through their efforts to survive, Rebecca makes a discovery about her mother (Maria Bello), who has started hallucinating, and talking with a mysterious person called Diana...

Review: 

Lights out is the first major film by Director David F. Sandberg, and from what I saw, it may just be his last. From watching the short film by the same Director, I was truly excited to see this movie... So much, I actually went to the Cinema and paid. My first instinct as I entered the Cinema and saw all the empty seats was, this is not going to be anything special, and that’s exactly what we got here.

The movie boasts a decent cast, (Fine!! I have a weakness for Maria Bello), with a great background story of the Apparition. Unfortunately what the movie lacks is nearly everything else. What I hoped would be a great movie of suspense and intrigue, turned into American Pie meets Scream.  This movie is Rated 15’s in Ireland, and the more I think on it, that is the age group that might enjoy this movie. It has some good one-liners, a good story and the possibility of more to come. For anyone of the age of 18+, you may find yourself like me, laughing and joking with my date as I watched it, and saying “Famous Last Words” several times each.

The Movie is predictable, yet it is entertaining. The acting was done well, the background was done well, but the plot had more holes then John Lennon

Rating:                  3/10

                                

Beta Test Movie Review

BetaTest_KA_FINAL.jpg

Could you play a game knowing every time you pulled the trigger... real people were dying? In July 2016, a game tester named Max was stuck in that very situation.

Directing this 88 minute action/sci-fi/thriller is Nicholas Gyeney. 

Some of the cast is: Manu Bennet as Creed, Larenz Tate as Max, Kevon Stover as Zane, Sara Coates as Abbie, Brandy Kopp as Tech Support and Linden Ashby as Kincaid. 

Max is a video game tester for a global company called Sentinel. Max is testing Sentinel's newest game, which is unlike any first person shooter before it. Thing is, during Max's game play he starts to notice the missions he's completing are very similar to the headlines in the news. Before long, Max realises the character he's playing in the game is really a live person he's controlling: A person named Creed. It doesn't take Max and Creed long to realise they're not the only ones stuck playing this deadly game. If Max and Creed want to survive, not only will they have to unravel the conspiracy behind the game, but... they'll have to beat the boss.

The story that writers Nicholas Gyney and Andre Kirkman came up with reminded me of the movie Gamer (2009), but tamed down. After watching the trailer I was looking forward to screening this one because of the cast and what looked like a cool idea for a movie. Unfortunately, after it was all said and done, the story just wasn't very interesting. The film's major downfall was a weak script. There's quite a few scenes where the characters are supposed to be emotionally amped up, be it pain or anger, and the script lacked the ability to finish the build up, which ended up leaving big scenes bland.

You get some backstory for the characters, but really, Creed's backstory was the only one that helped add to the story. I thought Max's backstory was lame and because of that, when the  character finally overcame his "big obstacle" that was holding him back, it wound up being less of an achievement than it was meant to be. By the end, I didn't really care who won or lost as long as it meant I would see some credits rolling. 

Another problem I had (and I know it's a make believe sci-fi flick) was how easy it was for the game tester to pick up a controller, with no instructions, and start playing a game he's never seen or heard of before, and move the character around with such ease. I kept getting hung-up on watching Tate work his "gamer magic" on the controller. Apparently, if you hold down L1 and mash a couple of buttons you pick up a coffee cup or jump over the hood of a car... and punch someone? Yeah, this probably won't bother a lot of people, but  it was killing me. 

The play-through felt slow and it had trouble holding my attention. Even in the more fast paced moments it felt like things were barely crawling along. Upside, you get to watch Bennett hand out some beat downs on bad guys. Downside, even though the beat downs are cool to watch, once they're over you're stuck watching the rest of the movie. The story was a cool idea, but they just didn't pull off an interesting way of telling it.

As for the cast, first off, you can't go wrong with having Manu Bennet as your lead. Looking back at his work on the TV shows Spartacus and Arrow, you know not only does he have talent, but he can pull off an action flick. However, I was a bit disappointed with him in this one. Part of the blame falls on the script, but the other part seemed like he was reading through his lines instead of delivering them (and it wasn't just Bennett).

I liked the special effects, and for the most part things looked good. I really dug the way they made the game aspect look as the game tester was playing the game. 

Side note: If you're still curious about catching this one, you're in luck because it hits theatres July 22, 2016.

Overall, I think the best thing about this one was the cast line-up. 

It's rated UR (unrated) but has violence and language. 

2 stars

Bleed 2016 Review

Firstly I must say really enjoyed this movie just to get that out of the way . The bleed is a crazy Hill Billie filled fiesta. Beginning with a newly wed couple Matt (Michael Steger) and Sarah (Chelsey Crisp) moving to a new house out in the middle of no where (which is never a good idea in the first place as we all know) and are also awaiting the birth of their first child. They are having their friends Dave (Elimu Nelson) and Bree (Brittany Ishibashi) over when the expected arrival of Sarah’s twin brother Eric (Riely Smith) and his hippieish girlfriend Skye (Lyndon Smith) who have been travelling the world hunting ghosts arrive which introduces great conflict in the story before any of the craziness begins.

 A discussion over dinner brings up the fact that there is a burnt down abandoned prison only a few miles away, which housed the deranged serial killer and cult leader Cain with his own mountain man religion that was killed in the fire… So obviously the bad decisions start here!

Eric and Skye have to go see this place and investigate for ghosts and Matt the non-believer getting goaded into going as well. A crazy spirit appears very soon after they arrive at the prison which divides the group quickly as Eric wants to stay and everybody else (and rightly so might I add) wants to get the EFF out of there but alas those hillbillie’s I mentioned before had to make an appearance at some stage and that’s when things start to get crazy.

The film looks fantastic for the budget they had ($550,000) the pacing was great with enough internal conflict to keep the movie flowing until you arrive to creepy torch lit chase scenes through the woods which really set the tone early on before a veritable tsunami of madness ensues. My only and I mean only critique would be some of the scares were a little predictable not that it took from the film but there was some really good opportunities in there to do some really cool scares that were possibly over looked. Overall it's a great watch you won't be disappointed well done to you Tripp Rhame well done

Aimy in a Cage Review

What does the term normal mean to you? In January 2016, a girl named Aimy was different from the rest of her family, but if things go right, she won't be for long.

Directing this 79 minute drama/fantasy/sci-fi is Hooroo Jackson.

Some of the cast is: Allisyn Ashley Arm as Aimy Micry, Michael William Hunter as Steve, Terry Moore as Grandma Micry, Sara Murphy as Kelly Moss, Charles Everett Tacker as Kenneth, Theodore Bouloukos as Gruzzlebird Micry, Crispin Glover as Claude Bohringer, Paz de la Huerta as Caroline, Gabby Tary as Grandma Moss and Frank Mosley as News Anchor. 

Aimy is different from the rest of her family. So different that the family takes drastic measures in hopes to "fix" what's wrong with her. As if things couldn't be stressful enough for everybody, there's also a virus spreading thought the world that has everyone glued to the television wondering if it can be stopped. 

Come to find out, this movie was originally a graphic novel called The Tragic Death of Aimy Micry (2011), which was written by Hooroo Jackson. Now, I had never heard of this one before, it was in a grab bag of screeners that I got the chance to catch thanks to Greenie. So, I didn't know what I was in for with this one, and afterwards, all I can say about the experience is... mind... blown...

The story that Hooroo Jackson came up with is a truly bizarre, visually filled tale that can only be describe as what you would witness if you were invited to tea with the Mad Hatter and his friends. It's a constant incoherent rabble that draws you in, and before you know it, starts to make sense. Before you know it, thoughts like up is down and left is up, make perfect sense in the film. However, while digging through the crazy, there's... actually a solid story underneath it all.

Basically, the film questions what is "normal" and who has the right to say what is normal. Is it wrong to dance on the table just because the majority thinks it's weird?  Is conforming a necessity or is being different just an awkward reminder to those that don't have the courage to walk against the grain? The film asks its audience a relevant and deep question, but in such a bizarre and brilliant way that you can't help but watch. The only thing that didn't really fit in the story to me was the whole virus thing that's going on in the background. Yeah, it does break up the story a bit and give everyone something else to focus on. So, maybe that was the virus's sole purpose?

Even though the film kept my attention the entire time, the play-through is a little rough sometimes because, not only is there constantly something visually going on, but Hooroo also makes sure to keep your attention with constant moments that attack your audio as well with lots of character outbursts and and verbal fights. 

The music that Sasha Smith comes up with truly fits the movie and adds yet another level of bizarre to it, then throw in the additional music composer work done by Nick Cunningham & Neil Struble and you have a soundtrack that stands out and catches your attention... like it or not. 

The cast did a great job. Surprisingly, the newer faces hold their own with no problem, even when up against some of the more veteran talent the film has. Everyone brings their character to life with a larger than life presence that fits perfectly into the world created by Hooroo. 

The sets are an explosive mix of color and nostalgia, thanks to Chloe Barcelou. Barcelou, who also did the costume design, made all the characters stand out and be a focus spot, even when they weren't active in the scene. 

Overall, I don't know if I ever would have caught this one on my own, but I'm (kind of) glad I did. Not only was it thought provoking, I got to sit in on one crazy tea party. Now, this definitely won't be a film that everyone will dig on, but if you like the bizarre and artsy, then give it a go. 

It's rated NR (not rated) but has language. 

3 stars

Live-Evil Review

Would you stay at work to fight off an evil, or clock out and go home? In October 2015, against her better judgement, Hancock decided to stay and fight the good fight. 

Directing this 95 minute horror is Ari Kirschenbaum.

Some of the cast is: Charlene Amoia as Deputy Hancock, Vladimir Kulich as Sheriff Pete, Vincent M. Ward as Sam, J. Richey Nash as Eric, Karen Wheeling Reynolds as Sharon, Tim Ross as Dean Wilburn, Tamara Farias as Agent Hawks, Frank Saverino as Agent Cambell, Tony Todd as Pastor, Carter as Mr. Twelve and Ed Ricker as Mr. Eleven.

Deputy Hancock is almost off work, just a little bit longer and her shift ends, then it's home to relax. Unfortunately, one last call turns into a night filled with chaos. Before this night is over, Hancock will witness murders, psychic attacks, the dead rising and people turning on each other. It looks like things just got... biblical!

Have you ever walked in on someone in the middle of  a movie, sat down to see what they were watching, and then had to start asking a bunch of questions to get caught up with what was going on? That's how I felt watching this one, but I didn't have the luxury of having someone who was able to fill me in. 

The story that writer Ari Kischebaum came up with had lots of potential, but in the end he decided to go with a finished product that wound up under par and slightly confusing. Kischebaum's story leaves you with more questions than entertainment. I kind of feel like this one should have a comedy tag on it. I'm not sure if there was suppose to be an element of humor in it, but some of the characters and scenes would push a moment like it was suppose to be funny, even though in the end it failed. Most of the way through the movie we're introduced to characters that end up being pointless additions to the story that don't really do anything, and in the end wasted time they could have used on the main characters to strengthen the story. 

The play-through starts out a little slow, but I liked how they went with filming it black and white because it added to the creepy factor as things where going down. Unfortunately, questions that the film raises during the telling of the story are not really answered, and some questions are totally forgotten and just leave you hanging by the time the credits roll. My biggest problem with the story is after this mysterious evil pops up, some of the characters seem to have a sort of knowledge of what's going on or act like they've dealt with this sort of thing before on the job. Once everything starts to go downhill for the characters I was completely lost in the story. I couldn't figure out who was on whose side or why some of the characters were doing what they were in the story. As things keep moving you end up with three teams of characters "kind of" moving in the same direction, but for different reasons. The idea of the story caught my attention, but the playthrough lost me, which just made the movie seem to drag out... for-ever.

Tony Todd on the set of Live-Evil

Tony Todd on the set of Live-Evil

The cast wasn't that good, but honestly, I couldn't really tell if that was due to a bad script or bad acting skills. I was seriously disappointing by the lack of Tony Todd screen time. How do you get Todd in your film and then barely use him? Todd, Carter, Ricker and (sometimes) Amoia where the ones that made it hard for me to figure out if it was a bad script or bad acting, because they actually delivered lines with some believability, while the rest of the cast came off weak and overblown. So, I'm leaning more towards a bad script since there were times other cast members would start to get interesting then slam back to being overwhelming and  annoying.

The special effects were  all over the place. There were times it looked good, then really bad. The undead creations they come up with looked really good, but the overused CGI was messy and didn't blend in very well. The in color cut scenes they used were cool looking and when mixed in with the black and white film gave it a artsy vibe, but it felt out of place with the rest of the story. There's nothing really  gory going on with this one, except some CGI head shots with a spray out and some shooting the dead in the eye, which was also filled with CGI magic. 

Overall, I wish I could have seen the story Kirschenbaum had in his head because the full laid out idea was probably pretty cool. Unfortunately, what wound up on film isn't worth the time. 

It's rated NR (not rated) but has language, violence and nudity.

2 stars

Anger of the Dead Review

If zombies were to take over the world, would you stay mobile or try to hole up somewhere? In January 2015, Alice had a safe place to hide. Unfortunately, now she's looking for a new one. 

Directing this 84 minute drama/horror is Francesco Picone. 

Some of the cast is: Michael Segal as Peter, Roberta Sparta as Alice, Aaron Stielstra as Rooker, David White as Ben, Claudio Camilli as Hulk, Desiree Giorgetti as Prisoner, Chiara Paoli as Allie and Marius Bizau as Stephen. 

Alice is one of a few survivors that have managed to not be infected by a virus that turned people into cannibals. So, when news reaches Alice and company that there's an island that the virus hasn't touched they make a plan to get there. Unfortunately, Alice soon realizes the infected aren't the only dangerous ones running around in the world. Now, Alice must fight off not only the infected, but also a man hunting down the mystery woman Alice just met...

Just like in other movies, one zombie produces another and another. Before you know it your town is overrun with zombies and soon after... the world follows. That's kind of how it's been with the horror genre lately, one (great) zombie flick produces thousands of (not so great) others and before you know it... the world is overrun. So many filmmakers think they've got that special something that's going to make their film stand out. In some cases they do, but what makes them stand out may not always be a good thing, which is where this one falls. 

This one was written by Francesco Picone and is a feature adaptation of Picone's short film, Anger of the Dead. I didn't care for the story or the way they tried to tell it. The story starts out in typical zombie fashion, life is good, weird news starts popping up on TV or radio and before you know it, you're running for your life from the undead. Ok, you got my attention, where are we going with this one?

Right after I asked that question I was tossed into a different (unknown) location with a whole different story unfolding. Unfortunately, by the time the two stories join up it doesn't help heighten the story-line at all. Instead, you get the rest of the first story and are left guessing what the point of the second story was... or why they even bothered trying to tell it. With the first story, they skip past all the good parts of anything that could have been entertaining and drop us off with a few survivors traveling around arguing about how they should have fought to save their "safe place". You get enough backstory about characters to know who they are, but not enough to care about them. Now, I've seen films tell multiple story-lines and pull it off, this one just couldn't do it. As a short, the idea might have been entertaining, but there wasn't enough filler to make it a full length film. 

The playthrough starts out like many of the zombie flicks and, yeah, it had my attetion for a second. Unfortunately, between the constant jumping over to tell the second story in short bursts and nothing much going on in the first story, it started losing my attention. About half way through I was hoping the zombies would rise up and finish off what appeared to be a world (semi-filled) of boring survivors. Sadly, I knew that wasn't going to happen since you hardly ever see a zombie floating around... in a movie about zombies. The disjointed story fails to build up to anything entertaining. After watching it I felt like this was part one of multiple films, which I hope it is not. 

I wasn't a fan of the camera work. It was steady and clean when dealing with people, but then went to jumpy/shaky, like you see in found footage films, when dealing with the zombies to heighten the scene, and it didn't help. There wasn't enough zombie interaction in the film and the few there were all where short lived which just makes the shaky camera work annoying more than anything. 

The few effects that Carlo Diamantini (special effects/special effects make-up) and Luca Boni (visual effects) did looked good and flowed well with the film. The first zombie you see looked really good and the bloody scenes also looked good. However, there's nothing really gory in this one. Yeah, people get eaten and shot, but it's pretty clean for a zombie flick.  

Side note: The entire time I was watching this one I had an urge to watch TWD (The Walking Dead) tv show. It has that TWD feel to it, which is kind of cool I guess. Or I was just jonesing for something more zombie-ish that a tv show could pull off better than a movie.... I don't know. 

Overall, if you're looking for some zombie filled entertainment... keep surfing and find something else, but if you're a film masochist then you can find this one On Demand as of January 8th (2016). 

It's rated NR (not rated) but has language, violence and nudity.

1 star

OMG... We're in a Horror Movie Review

What would you do if you realized you were trapped in a horror film? In February 2015, six people showed me no matter what horror stereotype I fit in... I might still have a chance to survive.

Directing the 107 minute comedy/horror is Ajala Bandele.

Some of the cast is: Ajala Bandele as AJ, Liz Fenning as Amy, Chris Hampton as Chris, Nils Jansson as Kyle, Shanna Malcolm as Tanya, Brendan McGowan as Tom and Sharon Mae Wang as Jesse and Tyler David Gilbert as The Sound Guy. 

What started out as another fun game night with friends quickly turns into a fight for survival when six friends realize they've been sucked into a horror movie. Can they break free from the typical horror movie stereotypes and live to see another day, or will that homicidal killer stereotype win over? Will having sex save a life... or put you first on the list? Digging through horror rules and films, everyone struggles to find their place in the movie, be it jock, stoner, or hot lead. If they can find their role in the movie, they might just find a way out of it!

There are times, as a movie reviewer, when you wish you could wipe films from your mind and forget they ever existed. It's not that I have a lot to complain about with my job, I mean come on, I get to sit around and watch movies and tell people what I think about them. It's a pretty awesome job when you think about it. However, there are ups and downs to this gig. Like, the bad movies that I've sat through... hours upon hours of them. Then something comes across your desk that makes up for all the bad flicks you've caught lately and reminds you why this is such an awesome gig. If I wasn't a reviewer I wouldn't have had the chance to catch this one until (whenever) it finally came out, and that's if I even heard of it when it did come out.  

Writers Ajala Bandele and Tom Hatfield came up with an awesome story. The whole flick is a great nod to the horror genre that was put together by (in my opinion) true film fans. Throughout the film they throw out film references and tackle stereotypes in a hilarious way. Bandele and Hatfield showed some brilliant writing skills with this one, from breaking the fourth wall to trying to find answers to some of the usual horror film arguments we as fans have during a film.  They came up with a beautiful blend of Tucker and Dale vs Evil (2010) and Scream (1996), while putting a comedic spin to a "realistic" horror situation. 

The play-through is great, within the first few minutes I was hooked and was actually disappointed when it was over. There were a couple of scenes that I thought dragged out a bit longer than they should have, but the following scenes always made it a price worth paying. Some people may not appreciate what the film has to offer because of the lack of slasher violence, but I thought the direction Bendele chose to go with (less focus on the violence and more on the comedy) was a good decision and fit the feel of the film.

The cast did a great job with their characters, everyone played their parts to comedic perfection. I have to say though, out of everyone, Bendele and Hampton's characters where probably my favorites and I dug their scenes. Next up was Jannson's character, who played creep really well.  

There's not a lot of special effects in this one. You get a little zombie make-up and some blood soaked scenes. However, for a slasher flick, there's nothing gory about any of it. Yeah, this is a low budget film, but they did great with what they had. 

A film's music doesn't usually catch my attention, but the work that Tyler David Gilbert (original score) and Tom Hatfield (original songs written and performed) did, and it  was a really good addition to the film. 

Side note: The film is available on VOD (Video on Demand) this month.

Overall, I can't say enough good things about this one, and the few things that bothered me didn't hinder the film what so ever. If this is what Bendele can bring to the table, I hope to see more of his work real soon! If you get the chance to catch this one... do it! If you truly appreciate horror, then you won't regret it.

It's rated UR (unrated) but has language and violence. 

4 stars

Death in the Desert Review

Do you think more money brings more problems? In October 2015, Kim never expected that when her life started getting better, it all would end the way it did... 

Directing this 83 minute action/adventure/crime is Josh Evans. 

Some of the cast is: Michael Madsen as Ray Easler, Shayla Beesley as Kim Davis, John Palladion as Matt Duvall, Paz de la Huerta as Margo and Roxy Saint as Cory. 

Ray Easler is a legendary casino owner in Las Vegas. When Kim meets Ray her world is quickly turned upside down as she trades her life as a dancer to be Ray's live-in girlfriend. Then Ray hires Matt to help get some work done, and that's when things get complicated. Now, Kim is trying to figure out where she belongs, is it with Ray... or Matt. 

This movie was inspired by the real-life murder of the casino tycoon Ted Binion. The screenplay was written by John Steppling and is based on the book, Death in the Desert, by Cathy Scott. Going into this one I thought I would be told the story of how everything went down with Binion's death and the controversy surrounding it, however, that was not the case. The story basically shows us how Ray and Kim meet, and the twisted relationship that the two shared. Sadly, the script is light and repetitive, because so many scenes are just repackaged arguments or scenes between people with empty lines, that don't really help further the film or characters. 

The play-through was a bit rough to get through because there just wasn't a lot going on that held my attention during the flick. It's a slow build up that shows not only the drug problem Easler had but how hard it was to be around him due to his rough personality. Once Ray and Kim meet things don't speed up any, the whole film just stays at a constant dragging pace. There are some scenes where they were trying to build the moment or the character, but it just wound up being nothing more than dead air and wasting the scene's time. One of the few things I liked about the film was Madison's narration work over the scenes. 

The cast was OK, but Madsen stole the show, even when he wasn't on screen. Unfortunately, for all the turmoil Beesley's character went through I didn't really feel any of it during her performance. 

Overall, you're not missing anything by not catching this one. Since most of this film just pretty much covers the drug use and debauchery of someone, I think your time would be better spent catching Trainspotting (1996) for a better experience. If you're a Madsion fan, there's plenty of other titles to catch him in that'll be worth your time. 

It's rated NR (not rated) but has violence, language and nudity. 

1 star

Deep Dark Review!

Have you ever wanted to be great at something? In September 2015, Hermann was a starving artist... and he was tired of starving.

Directing this 79 minute fantasy/horror is Michael Medaglia.

Some of the cast is: Sean McGarth as Hermann Haig, Denise Poirier as (voice) The Hole, Anne Sorce as Devora Klein, Tabor Helton as Joel Windle and John Nielsen as Uncle Felix. 

Hermann is a failing sculptor that knows if he just got a break everyone would see how great his work is. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like that big break is ever coming. Hermann decides to give his uncle Felix a call for advice to see what he could do to change his situation. Felix suggests using his old studio apartment, and locking himself away to focus on his art. This was something Felix had done and it turned out great for him. So, as a last attempt at fame, Hermann rents the apartment and locks himself away. Surprisingly, Hermann finds just what he was looking for in that apartment and a creative streak is hit, all thanks... to a hole in the wall?

I got to check out a new indie flick that was written by Michael Medaglia that has a pretty interesting story-line. The story does a great job at showing just how far someone is willing to go for fame, and dealing with the struggle when you've hit that point of going too far. By the time the story is over, you've seen the rise... and fall of a man, while slowly building up a pile of questions that just leave you wondering. Usually, I like closure and having all questions answered by the time the credits are rolling, but I actually didn't mind it this time. The wondering I was left with was a good feeling, and I wound up spending some time thinking about the movie and pondering those questions. So, this time around being left wondering was a good thing because after you watch it you want to talk about it with people, which is always a bonus for the film's life span and fan base. 

The play-through is a bit slow at first, but the pace picks up as the story gets going. I really dug the story, but I thought they gave away some stuff too soon. Instead of making the audience wonder if everything happening was real or if it was all his imagination they show you it's all real. I would have liked to play the guessing game a bit longer. However, real or not, the story was a little disturbing at times, but good! 

The cast was good and Sean McGarth did a solid job as the main character. 

I thought the special effects that Christina Kortum did along with the visual effects that Mike Quinn added made for some cool scenes that looked great.

Overall, I wasn't sure about this one at first, but was glad I caught it when it was over. It's worth catching if you've got the time. 

It's rated NR (not rated) but has violence and language.

3 stars

Carter Reviews Dead Kansas

In a world that's fallen apart, what would you fight to save? In September 2013, if Emma wants to save her father's life, she's going to have to fight off more than just the Rottens. 

Directing this 64 minute comedy/horror is Aaron K. Carter.

Some of the cast is: Alexandria Lightford as Emma, Erin Miracle as Emma, Aaron Guerrero as Glenn, Joe McQueen as Skinny, Michael Camp as Jebediah and Kevin Beardsley as Zeke/Rusty. With appearances by Irwin Keyes as Giant and Ben Woolf as Squeak. 

Living in a post-apocalyptic world, the few survivors left have to fight off the Rottens that wander the land. Emma has never been affected by the Disease that swept the world, which makes her pretty special. Unfortunately, fighting off the Rottens isn't the only problem Emma and her father have to deal with. A gang is looking to kidnap Emma and sell her off for needed supplies to survive. Between being hunted by Jebediah's gang and fighting off the Rottens, Emma's life is looking pretty grim...

I got a chance to check out a new Indie zombie film that I hadn't heard of before that originally started out as a 15 minute short. Thinking it would be cool, the cast and crew got together and did another 15 minute short to continue the storyline. When it was all said and done the film turned into a 5 part web series. Eventually, all 5 parts were edited together for DVD release. 

The story that writers Nicholas A. DeNicola and Aaron K. Carter came up with follows your typical zombies rule the world kind of film with a few stylized twists that make it kind of cool and different. Unfortunately, I didn't care for the dialogue. It came off empty and lacked some crucial things like more of a back story or character development, which could have made it more interesting. The lines served no other purpose than to barely move the story along from scene to scene. 

The playthrough was ok. It has a bit of a slow pace with little action scenes, so the flick had a hard time holding my attention. Now, something I thought was different,  instead of flooding the screen with Rottens (zombies), they decided to go a different direction. Here they spin the camera around and let you see through the eyes of the Rottens with a black and white POV (Point Of View). The POV style was a nice change up and helped break up the normality that has become a regular staple for all the other zombie films out there. 

The cast was ok, but no one really stood out and wowed me. It was pretty cool to see Woolf again and it's always cool to see Irwin in anything. As for the two different Emma's, I thought Lightford had a more natural flow when delivering her lines. Unfortunately, due to filming schedules and finding out she was pregnant Lightford was unable to continue filming, which is why Miracle stepped in and finished out the film. 

They kept the special effects pretty low key by not having a ton of bloody moments or gruesome zombie attacks. When a zombie does show up though, I thought they did a good job on the look of it. I also liked how they kept down the cost of effects by using clever camera angles and leaving a lot of things off screen and to your imagination. 

The cinematography work done by Hector H. Garcia, Adam Ledezma and Michael Benton Newman was good for the most part. There were a few shaky camera moments, like you see in found footage films that made the scene look rough, but they were quick. Otherwise the camera was steady and smooth.

The soundtrack for the flick came from the punk rock band Power Of Aggression, which Aaron K. Carter (bass) and Adam Ledezma (drummer) were a part of. The songs used were The Ruler, Walls Of Insanity, Hate, The Way We Feel, Behold The Terror, and Now, which came from a demo tape the band made back in the day.

Overall, I liked where Carter was going with some of the ideas in the film, but I can't say I'm a fan of the finished product. However, I am looking forward to seeing what else Carter comes up with down the line. 

It's rated NR (not rated) but has violence and language.

2 stars

Crying Wolf Review

Did you know if you shoot a werewolf enough it'll... explode? In December 2015, I saw a lot of things in this film, I'll never be able to forget.

Directing this 91 minute comedy/horror is Tony Jopia.

Some of the cast is: Gary Martin as Private Detective, Gabriela Hersham as Milly, Kristofer Dayne as Andy, Rosie Pearson as Emma, Ian Donnelly as Mark, Kimberly Jaraj as Kim, Terry Andrews as Frank, John R. Walker as Dave, Alyssa Noble as Terri, Chloe Farnworth as June, Roger Pinkham as Harold, Neilum Raqia as Andrea, Michelle Boulter as Michelle, Carlos Paginton as James/Mad Ninja  and David Sellicks as Michael/Charlie/Dead Rotten.

A group of friends go on a trip to camp out in hopes to reconnect with nature. Their plans were to do a little hunting and bonding as a group. Unfortunately, what the group planned on takes a turn for the worse when they become the ones... hunted.

I got the chance to screen a new British werewolf movie and since I'm a big fan of werewolf's I was stoked. Unfortunately, the werewolf genre is seriously lacking in good flicks, so I'm always glad to see new titles come out. For some reason (unlike zombies and vampires) werewolf's don't have a ton of titles out there in movieville, and out of the one's that are there... some films don't always do the genre justice. So, when ever a new title comes out I'm all for checking it out. This one, however, has me on the fence with how I feel about it. I couldn't tell if the director was intentionally trying to make a (super) cheesy flick, or if this (in Jopia's eyes) is (suppose to be) a true master piece that will help raise the werewolf genre up to higher levels. I really don't know where to go with this one... 

The story that writers Andy Davie, Michael Dale and Tony Jopia came up with is interesting and different. Trying to keep in mind this is tagged as a comedy, I can't say I found a lot to laugh at. The script is filled with action, blood, back stories and weak lines that try to build characters and further the storyline. It was like the writers had a bunch of ideas and couldn't decide which way to go with it, so they just squeezed them all in and called it done. Don't get me wrong, most of the back stories had a purpose and fit in, but there was one or two that could have been time better used else where in the film. 

The playthrough is odd but keeps a good pace. It kept my attention, but mainly because I was wondering where we were going with all this. Right off the bat you are thrown into the story with a private detective looking for answers, which leads us to a narration from the detective filling us in on why we're in this town and what we're looking for storywise. The first few minutes of acting reminded me of day time soap operas. The over exaggerated expressions and emphasize on words, which left me wondering if this was what the rest of the film had in store for me. Then we get one of the coolest opening credit intros I've seen in a long time, which again reminded me of day time soaps or the Bond films. Once the story kicks off things started going down hill for me.


The special effects of this film made some of the SyFy original flicks I've seen look like high quality films. Again I'm torn, they used practical effects, which always is a bonus in my book, but the wolfs looked like an ape and a dog were mated through some sort of unimaginative science experiment that went (extremely) wrong. Yeah, let that soak in mentally for a second. An ape body with a wolf head... why? Then throw on top of that the CGI that didn't blend or flow with the films movement at all. Now, the film has plenty of blood and gory moments, but most of the blood is CGI fill ins with practical effects body parts.

As for the cast, Gary Martin and Caroline Munro did good, but I didn't care for any of the acting of the main cast. I thought the main cast didn't have a good flow when it came to delivering lines, everything just seemed forced and there was no chemistry between anyone. 

Side note: With everything (odd and bad) going on with this one,  one thing stood out to me and that was the cinematography work by Gwyn Hemming. Hemming brings clean and smooth camera work to the film and even though sometimes the scene it's self wasn't all that, Hemming made it look good.


Overall, now that I've seen this flick... others shouldn't have to. However, some of the oddest films find a fan base that lives to see the next piece of work delivered by certain directors. Hell, I'm a Troma fan and The Toxic Avenger franchise is my favorite of the Troma movies, so what do I know, right?

It's rated UR (unrated) but has violence, language and nudity. 

2 stars 

Michael Carter  - Back Seat Viewer

Twitter - @Michaelcar34
Facebook - Back Seat Viewer

Google - Michael Carter

The House on Pine Street Review

When everyone around you is telling you you're going crazy... are you? In February 2015, Jennifer knew something wasn't right about her new house, but no one would believe her.

Directing this 111 minute drama/horror is Aaron Keeling and Austin Keeling.

Some of the cast is: Emily Goss as Jennifer, Taylor Bottles as Luke, Cathy Barnett as Meredith, Natalie Pellegrini as Lauren, Jim Korinke as Walter and Tisha Swart-Entwistle as Marlene.

Though she's seven months pregnant, Jennifer and her husband Luke decide to move back to Jennifer's home town in Kansas. Luke is hoping the move will help ease the strain on their relationship with Jennifer coming back to familiar ground. Unfortunately, Jennifer doesn't feel the same way about the move as Luke does. Being back in her home town and around her overbearing mother is more than Jennifer is ready to deal with. Then things take a turn for the worse when Jennifer starts to notice strange things happening around the house. Sounds of doors opening when Jennifer is the only one home, things moving from where she put them. Luke thinks she's stressed from the move and just needs to relax. As more and more things happen, Jennifer is certain the house is haunted. Before long, Jennifer's behavior starts to make Luke question her sanity. Is there really something in the house looking to hurt Jennifer and Luke? If so, is it Jennifer... or something worse?

I recently got the chance to screen a new Indie film that was partially funded through a Kickstarter campaign and made it's world premiere in February at the Cinequest Film Festival in San Jose, California. Because I liked what I read in the synopsis, I decided to skip the trailer so everything would be a complete surprise to me. I didn't want to know what the effects looked like (or if there were any) for fear of getting everything in the trailer, as a lot of films tend to do. (After watching the film I went back and checked out the trailer. I have to say, the trailer does the film justice while not giving much away. It's the kind of trailer I miss getting from films.)

Even though I liked the synopsis, I still didn't go into this one with a 100% "can't wait to see it" feeling. It's hard for me to watch "haunting" based films because they tend to pretty much be the same thing over and over. Each film has weird sounds, things move, hands reaching out from the dark... then BOOM(!) ghost eats family. You know how it goes. However, writers Natalie Jones, Aaron Keeling and Austin Keeling surprised me and didn't go that route. Instead, they went with a slow burning story that really makes you start to question what's going on in the movie. I actually found myself wondering a couple of times if the place was haunted or if Jennifer was going crazy. So, yeah, I really liked the story. The writers make small subtle movements with the cast and scenes (along with sudden booming moments) that build up to a great story by the time it's all said and done. 

I thought the playthrough was a little slow at first, but as things started happening and the story started to unfold I realized the pace was actually a bonus to the film. The pace puts you into this false sense of thinking you know where things are going and before you know it you're being taken down a long road filled with constant twists and turns that leave you uncertain of where you're going to end up.

The visual effects by Matt O'Neil looked really good and flowed well with the flick. 

The cast was good but I thought Gross and Korinke had the best performance of the film. Korinke's role isn't very big, but he does a great job when he's there.  Gross did an amazing job and showed a lot of range with her character. 

Overall, this is a haunting good film that is worth checking out. 

It's rated UR (unrated) but has violence and language. 

3 stars

Michael Carter  - Back Seat Viewer

Twitter - @Michaelcar34
Facebook - Back Seat Viewer

Google - Michael Carter

A Tricky Treat Review

Carving the pumpkin for Halloween is a fun thing for the family to do together right? In October 2015, I watched as one family shared togetherness... in a very unusual way.

Directing this 4 minute short/comedy/horror is Patricia Chica.

The cast is: Steve Brewster as Dad, Andrea Fletcher as Mother, Keira McCarthy as Daughter, Marco Reilly as Son and Leonard Waldner as Victim.

A man waits to find out his fate when he's kidnapped by a very strange family on Halloween night.

Now, I've not been a big fan of short films, but I gotta say, Patricia Chica is starting to win me over with her work on short films.

This short was written by Kamal John Iskander. I liked the story, because you think you know where it's going then you get hit by the curve. The story uses a small script and goes more for the visual aspect to tell the tale.

The work done by Danny McCarthy (practical effects supervisor), Henry Lipatov (visual effects supervisor) and Fame Cube Production (visual effects) did a good job putting together the look of the film. I will say, I wasn't too impressed by the CGI but it's only in a few places and didn't really hurt the film. The practical effects looked good though.

Their use of camera angles did a really good job on keeping the audience in the dark and helped build the mystery of the story.

Overall, this one surprised me and I liked the surprise. It's 4 minutes of your life, and I'd say it's worth catching if you get the chance.

It's rated UR (unrated) but has violence and gore.

3 stars

Michael Carter  - Back Seat Viewer

Twitter - @Michaelcar34
Facebook - Back Seat Viewer

Google - Michael Carter

 

Fire City: End of Days Review

Have you ever had to make a decision that went against your nature? In June 2015, Vine found himself in that exact situation.


Directing this 110 minute fantasy/horror/thriller is Tom Woodruff Jr.

Some of the cast is: Tobias Jelinek as Atum Vine, Danielle Chuchran as Demon Cornelia, Kristin Minter as Jane, Keely Alona as Sara, Kimberly Leem a Amber, Derrick L. McMilon as Andre, Kristin Minter as Jane, Harry Shum Jr. as Frank and Kristin Minter as Jane. 

Hiding in plain sight, demons live among humans and feed off of their misery for sustenance. A run down apartment building is where a demon named Atum Vine lives, and where he helps feed the misery of humans. One day Vine finds himself confronted with a choice, feed on the misery of a young child, or do something that demons would never do... help a human. Vine's decision threatens the balance between human and demon kind.

So, here's a flick... its name has been fearfully whispered in the darkest parts of the internetdue to the fear that saying its name aloud would release the demons bound in its footage. Ok, ok so maybe not all of that is true. I've actually heard quite a bit about this film for awhile now, and thanks to a Kickstarter campaign back in 2013 they got the financing they needed to make an idea a reality. Now, as for saying its name out loud and releasing the demons... that I can't make any promises about, but I dare you to try it and find out!

This film is creature and character effects designer, Tom Woodruff Jr.'s, directorial debut. The story that was written by Michael Hayes and Brian Lubocki was inspired by a 9 minute short film of Woodruff's, called Fire City: King of Miseries (2013), which I recommend checking out. 

The play-through is good and it held my attention with no problem. Right off the bat the film starts out pretty crazy with a bunch of stuff that you can't really make sense of.  (After everything starts to fall into place the opening makes sense.) However, as much as I liked the story, the ending was a little baffling to me. Maybe that's because I'm not the sharpest crayon in the tool shed so I couldn't follow where the story was taking me, or it's the story and it didn't lay everything out smooth enough, I don't know. Other than that, I really liked the world they created for the demons, and the explanations of why they do what they do. I think what I liked about it the most was it was different, and in a world of recycled and refurbished film ideas... different is awesome.

All the work put into this film, like character designs, special effects make-up (Wayne Anderson & Dave Elsey) and even the cinematography (Danny Grunes) made for an all around killer looking flick. As cool as everything looked, I think my favorite character design was Atum Vine. Now, don't get me wrong, you can tell there was a l-o-t of imagination used when creating some of the awesome creatures scattered throughout the movie, but Vine was badass looking. Now, there where some down sides to the effects. Not a lot mind you but when compared to the rest of the film, the few flaws really stood out.  The biggest spot was the use of CGI, mainly because it just didn't blend in well. The rest were just little things here and there. 

I thought the cast did a great job, yeah there was a few places where the acting fell off, but the bad didn't out weigh the good. A few faces surprised me (in a good way) when they showed up in the cast line-up, like Jelinek, Shum Jr., Minter and Winston. They're all good actor/actress's and they brought their skills, which was just another added bonus to the film.

Overall, I'm glad I finally got to catch this one and I'm pretty sure you'll say the same after you catch it. As luck would have it, you don't have to wait to long since it's being released on DVD and Digital October 6 (2015). So catch it and lets get Fire City's fan base growing!

It's rated UR (unrated) but has language, nudity and violence.

3 stars

 

Academy Award Winning Creature and Character Effects Designer Tom Woodruff Jr makes his highly-anticipated directorial debut with Fire City : End of Days, hitting DVD and Digital October 6 from Uncork'd Entertainment.

Michael Carter  - Back Seat Viewer

Twitter - @Michaelcar34
Facebook - Back Seat Viewer

Google - Michael Carter

Road Wars (2015) Review

Written & Directed by Mark Atkins

Starring Chloe Farnworth, Cole Parker, John Freeman,

Kelcey Watson, LaNell Cooper, Jane Kim & Nikki Bohm

 

"When an amnesiac wakes up in a post apocalyptic world ravaged by a rabies type virus, he must band together with a small group of survivors". I've been on a serious post-apocalyptic kick lately mainly due to Mad Max:Fury Road hitting cinemas soon. Fans of the original trilogy like myself have only been waiting almost 30 years so lets hope it was worth the wait. In the mean time i've been trying to check out any post-apocalyptic films that I missed over the years and revisit a few of my favourites as well. A few months back I picked up the book World Gone Wild: A Survivors Guide To Post-Apocalyptic Movies by David J. Moore, a tome that is every bit as epic as the subgenre its' based on.  It's well written and beautifully put together, hours of detailed reviews to read, tons of artwork - perfect for on top of the coffee table or next to crapper for some light enjoyable toilet reading, I highly recommend it. Now back to the movie i'm supposed to be talking about...

 

The film begins with a couple driving through the desert looking for fuel, having a heart to heart, talking about love and relationships (I don't remember this happening in The Road Warrior!?). She's hot with black make-up over her eyes looking like a cross between Charlise Theron in Fury Road and Olga Kurylenko in Centurion. He's a black guy wearing the exact same jacket Mel Gibson wears in The Mad Max films, I know this because I have the same jacket saved on my Amazon wishlist and I'm gonna order that bad boy just before the apocalypse happens for real. They stop off at a deserted gas station and get a nasty surprise, the movie gets off to a decent start. We're then introduced to our group of survivors with a funny Snickers joke, the guy on lookout accidentally shoots a guy he thought was a daywalker(?) so they bring him back to their camp and nurse him back to health. He wakes up soon afterwards but can't remember a thing, not even his own name. Later that night their camp gets overrun by 'the infected' so they escape and go on the run. We then learn what the actual fuck is going on and why everything turned to shit - basically some sort of super-rabies virus broke out and infected half the humans in the world, turning them into fast running 28 Days Later style zombies who crave human blood (wouldn't that make them vampires then?) but they're called 'Night-runners' since they only come out at night due to their high photosensitivity (ya i'd definitely call them vampires...). They also think that amnesia guy might be immune to the virus and the carrier of the cure (ya this all sounds very familiar) for one reason or another. So Thorne the amnesia guy and the band of merry survivors make their way through the wasteland searching for fuel, ammo and a cure while they fight off 'hostiles' and 

night-runners who can also come out during the day but are called daywalkers (huh?). Thorne soon remembers why he has amnesia, how he got to where he is and who he should really trust out in the wasteland...

 

Those wacky bastards at The Ass-ylum have done it again - churned out another mockbuster (blatant rip-off of an actual blockbuster) and managed to get it out on the shelves just a few weeks before the actual movie they're ripping off even hits the cinema. The Asylum do get a lot of hate but they're only doing exactly what the Italians did in the 80s - think of any big action or horror movie in the 80s and you're bound to find an Italian rip-off of it, or in some cases like Mad Max or Escape From New Yorkthere are dozens! I'm not sure how things are run over at The Asylum but it seems Mark Atkins is one of their main go-to-guys when it comes to making these mockbusters, fuck me has he made a shitload of them! - Snakes On A Train, AVH:Alien VS Hunter, 2012 Doomsday, The Terminators, Transmorphers:Fall Of Man, Princess Of Mars, Battle Of Los Angeles,

Alien Origin, Jack The Giant Killer, Android Cop... and those are just the more obvious ones. It's a shame that he'll be remembered for films like this because when he's not making crappy rip-offs he makes some really enjoyable films like Halloween Night (2006) and Sand Sharks. Most people who see the cover of Halloween Night will immediately pass it up thinking its a cash-in on Rob Zombie's Halloween remake which came out shortly after it, admittedly I did as well for a long time until a friend recommended it, I must say I was nicely surprised, for something released by The Asylum and found in most bargain bins its a fairly decent slasher flick. Sand Sharks is just a silly shark flick with bad cgi and Brooke Hogan's arse, but it's so much fun! 


So is Road Wars anything other than another mockbuster cash-in from The Asylum? Not really but I have to admit it is pretty enjoyable. I am a huge fan of post-apocalyptic films though so I cant really see anyone who isn't a fan of them enjoying this as much as I did. It does have most of the main ingredients - flamethrowers, cool vehicles, cool weapons, cool outfits, one hot chick, a boobytrap anti-theft device on a car, psychotic gang leaders and a few zombie-vampire thingys thrown in. Fans of low-budget zombie films, fans of so-bad-they're good post-apocalyptic films (especially the Italian ones) and fans of The Asylum's tv show Z Nation should definitely enjoy Road Wars. It looked amazing, the acting was decent if cheesy at times but that suited this type of movie , and Chloe Farnworth is hot as hell. Talk about perfect timing though, the lead guy in this is even an English guy (an actual English guy, not another American with a terrible accent) and he does look a bit like Tom Hardy, but I'm sure that's just a coincidence....



Deliver Us From Evil Review

GENRE: Horror / Thriller

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: United States of America

STUDIO: Screen Gems (A Sony Pictures Entertainment Corporation)

DATE OF RELEASE: July 2,2014

BASED ON A BOOK BY: Ralph Sarchie and Lisa Collier Cool

SCREENPLAY WRITTEN BY: Scott Derrickson and Paul Harris Boardman

PRODUCED BY: Paul Harris Boardman, Jerry Bruckheimer, Glenn S.Gainor, Chad Oman, and Mike Stenson

DIRECTED BY: Scott Derrickson 

CAST OF DELIVER US FROM EVIL:

Eric Bana ( Ralph Sarchie )
Edgar Ramirez ( Mendoza )
Olivia Munn ( Jen Sarchie )
Chris Coy ( Jimmy )
Dorian Missick ( Gordon)
Sean Harris ( Santino )
Joel McHale ( Butler )
Mike Houston ( Nadler )
Lulu Wilson ( Christina )

SYNOPSIS OF DELIVER US FROM EVIL:

This film is based on true story.

Ralph Sarchie (Eric Bana) is a New York City police officer who stumbles upon a series of crimes. Ralph joins forces with an unconventional priest Mendoza (Edgar Ramirez) who is educated in the rites of exorcism to battle the demonic that are terrorizing their city.

MY REVIEW OF DELIVER US FROM EVIL:

I will have to say I completely enjoyed this film greatly. From the very start of the first act I was unable to take my eyes away from the screen.

Eric Bana as Ralph Sarchie trying to cope with what is going on was absolutely believable, and the stresses he had to overcome to save his family from the demonic force.
Because of the running time of the movie it was easy not to lose any interest.

So on a scale of 1 to 5; I would give it at least a three.

I believe that this film definitely deserves a look by any fan of POSSESSION type of movies like (THE EXORCIST).

3/5


Unfriended Trailer Review

Studio : Universal Studios

Genre : Horror/Thriller

Country Of Origin : United States

Release Date : April 17 , 2015

Written By :  Nelson Greaves

Directed By :  Levan Gabriadze

The Cast :

Matthew Bohrer,
Courtney Halverson , Shelly Hennig,
Renee Olsteade , and Will Peltz.

After a friend commits suicide a video of her killing herself is uploaded to the internet. 
A year later a group of friends meet on a live video chat room, and find a stranger is present. 
Trying to delete them they discover that the account belongs to their friend that killed herself .
Their friends hacked account asks the group " Who uploaded the video ?".
Suddenly an unseen force begins taking out one by one everyone on the video chat room .

My Thoughts :

Originally this film was titled Cybernatural. 
Thankfully they changed that . 
It has the same look as recent films like found footage ( which are kind of getting trying somewhat . )

But the " Unfriended " trailer has that creepy factor to it .

To put it simply I most likely will be watching out for this film when it comes out in three months.

Check out the Trailer below and let us know your thoughts in the comments.

The Tour review

Would you take an opportunity to check out a legendary haunted house? In August 2014, we found out not all legends are true, in fact... some are deathly real.

Directing this 15 minute horror short is Alex Mathieson and Damon Rickard.

Starring in this one is: Tom Gordon as Tom, Jessica Cameron as Morgan, Heather Dorff as Cassie.

Two American tourists, Morgan and Cassie, catch a tour of the most haunted house in England, Darkmoor Manor. Unfortunately, the doors are closed to the public, but Tom the guide wants to impress the American ladies and tells them he can get them inside for a look around. Curiosity winning over, the ladies take Tom up on his offer. They went in knowing this was a haunted house, but what they found inside they never saw coming.

 

So, I have to start this one off by saying I'm usually not a fan of short films. The run times are just never enough to get a good story told and make it worth watching for me. However, Greenie  brought this one to my attention so of course I had to check it out, and I gotta say, I'm glad he did.  It's rare to find a short I like, and this one, I did!

Writers Alex Mathieson and Damon Rickard came up with a story that at first I thought would just be a typical slasher flick, due to the (not so) subtle foreshadowing.  At that point I have to say I was a little disappointed, because within a few minutes I already knew what was going to happen.  With that being said, I wasn't expecting much else from the flick. Then they hit me with an unexpected surprise, an added twist I didn't see coming. So, thumbs up to Mathieson and Rickard for throwing a nice curve.

The playthrough was a little slow to start off, and I had almost given up on it, but once things get going it'll hold your attention. After being surprised by what I had watched and being shown a few things that are pointed out in the end, I had to watch it again. The cinematography that Richard C Bell does it was quite impressive. Subtle little hints were caught in the filming that tell you where the story is going, yet you could easily miss them if you weren't paying attention.

I thought Gordon did a good job, he pulls off the "average Joe" well, but you could tell something wasn't quite right with him but you didn't know what. Next up, Cameron and Dorff,  both ladies had a good chemistry and with the banter of the script between their characters I thought they pulled off showing a real friendship. All parties brought believable fear when it was their time and helped sell the flick quite well.

Overall, if you've got 15 minutes you should check this one out.

It's rated UR (unrated) but has language and violence.

3 stars 


Gifts From Strangers (2014)

Gifts From Strangers is the latest short film from Marcus Caballero and production company Dead Good Films Like (DGFL). It stars John Shepherd, Sara Shenair, Viggo Anastarsi and Marcus Caballero who also wrote, directed, edited and produced the film.


People unfamiliar to the Youtube community may not know what an unboxing video is, basically its when the person in the video receives a package from someone, could be Amazon or some other online store or it could be another Youtuber who has sent them something as a trade or a present. Then the person in the video opens the package on camera showing their viewers what they received, sometimes they know what they're getting and sometimes its a surprise.

10584056_10154423149420529_7691930127881811993_n.jpg

Gifts From Strangers begins with Youtuber Brian aka Horror Fan '84 (Caballero) making an unboxing video of a package he received from a random Youtuber known as HellaSwan. Just as he's about to unveil his surprise the camera shuts off and he comes back some time later to show us what he got - a jar sealed with weird green candle wax with water and a twig inside. Bewildered by this he tells his flatmate Chris (Shepherd) and his girlfriend Becky (Shenair). Becky seems to know what it is but is reluctant to tell them at first because it sounds so ridiculous all they can do is laugh at her, eventually they listen to what she has to say and he tells them that she believes that the jar has an Imp trapped inside. As expected they don't believe her and later that night Brian opens the jar.... big mistake.


Soon after the opening of the jar Brian becomes the victim of some odd and creepy pranks - all his shoes lined up in perfect order at the end of his bed, tea for two laid out on his bedroom floor etc. Brian blames his friend Chris but he hasn't a clue what he's talking about. The pranks become more frequent and get weirder and creepier and just when Brian thinks he's losing his mind he finally comes face to face with the Imp.

Just as Becky warned him the Imp is a terrifying magical creature who just really wants a friend, but it'll do everything in its power to keep that friend and can become extremely jealous towards anyone it fears might come between them. Brian is now a prisoner in his own home as the Imp doesn't like him leaving or even speaking to his other friends. Chris is concerned as he can't see the Imp and think Brian is a bit old for an imaginary friend and may need professional help. Becky seems to have knowledge of these kind of things though and believes that things will get worse if she doesn't help Brian herself. When she tries to cast a spell to trap the creature back in its' jar things go bad with horrific results and the film ends with a suitably creepy finale. 

 

If Gifts From Strangers was a cheesy Hollywood blockbuster I'm sure the blurb on the poster would be something like "Blair Witch meets Paranormal Activity meets Darkness Falls" but the only thing it has in common with those films would be its' cinema verite style and its' antagonist being an evil mystical fairy-like creature.

Director Caballero uses the found footage style perfectly through footage from a webcam and a handheld camera used by Brian and his friends in the confined space of their apartment. The location is another thing used really well here as the film is shot almost completely inside the apartment, we only get to see outside for a few seconds so the whole thing feels very claustrophobic. Great performances from Sara Shenair and John Shepherd especially since this is basically their first time in front of the camera. Viggo Anastarsi was great as The Fairest or The Imp and sent a shiver down my back whenever he/it appeared. Marcus Cabalerro puts in an awesome performance both behind the camera and in front of it. I've seen some of his previous work for director Nik Box before and this is probably his best, craziest and over-the-top role yet.

The film itself is short but sweet at 45 minutes and for what it lacks in budget it makes up for with creativity and originality. A cautionary tale for Youtubers and anyone who thinks its OK to accept gifts from strangers.

I watched this film late at night with the lights off and headphones on, I wouldn't advise anyone to do the same unless they have clean underwear close by. Its always a pleasure and an honor when filmmakers deem me worthy to watch and review their work so thanks to Marcus Caballero and thanks to Gary Kulfie for introducing us. Keep an eye on the Dead Good Films Like Productions Facebook page for future updates on the film's release.

 

https://www.facebook.com/DeadGoodFilmsLike