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Flay (2017, USA) Review

Flay (2017)

By now, everyone should be familiar with the Slenderman phenomenon. The internet is full of stories and videos claiming that it is a real creature or being. Slenderman’s background and motivations have never been satisfactorily explained and there are lots of stories that contradict one another. It is in this vein that Flay was created. Seeking to explain the origins of Slenderman and tying it into the genocide of the Native American people by European settlers, Flay gives us an origin for Slenderman that is brutal, sad and rather unsatisfying.

“Come out and flay with me.”

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The Spiderwebhouse (2015, Germany) Review

The Spiderwebhouse (2015)

Growing up isn’t easy and if I’m honest, I’m still having trouble coming to terms with it. But sometimes the decision to live as an eternal kidult is taken away from us, with youngsters shouldering the responsibility of primary caregiver. Such is the case for twelve year old Jonas, who finds the transition to enforced adulthood a struggle in Mara Eibl-Eibesfeldt’s bittersweet gothic fable The Spiderwebhouse. Gentle and ponderous The Spiderwebhouse is a charming portrayal, exploring the complexities of depression, and the harshness of a world as seen through a child’s eyes.

“Oh spider, oh spider, oh bring me to the place where I’m not.”

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Hell House LLC (2015, USA) Review

Hell House LLC (2015)

We are here to discuss a horror movie that uses the formula of found-footage. No matter how many times you review a film that uses this technique you can’t help bring up The Blair Witch Project. Unfortunately there will always be comparisons. Films have tried to replicate this style, but rarely succeeded in finding that magic ingredient The Blair Witch Project possesses. Fortunately Hell House LLC breaks the mold. Going into this movie I’ll be perfectly honest I didn’t expect much. In my defense I have had to suffer numerous found-footage movies over the years that are absolute trollope.

“New York’s scariest haunted house tour.”

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Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (1990, USA) Review

Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (1990)

Having bought the rights to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre slasher franchise from The Cannon Group, New Line Cinema, “the house that Freddy built”, began production on a new sequel with the intention of “going back to hard-core horror”. Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III attempts to bring back the franchise to its unhinged roots, where the saw is family and dire situations lead to viscera. If only scriptwriter David J. Schow and director Jeff Burr’s vision had remained intact. “Some tales are told, then soon forgotten… but a legend is forever!”

“The saw is family.”

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It Came from the Desert (2017, Finland / UK / Canada) Review

It Came from the Desert (2017)

Marko Mäkilaakso’s movie It Came from the Desert evokes the creature features of the 1950s by way of the late 80s, making it a cheesy, nostalgia-packed thrill ride from start to finish. Inspired by the 1989 video game by Cinemaware, it never once takes itself too seriously, and keeps you watching with clever effects, over-the-top action sequences, and a number of hysterically funny lines that are sure to offend. What more could you ask from a monster movie?

“Okay, listen we need your help. We’re trapped by this giant ant… A giant freakin’ ant!”

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The Spawning (2017, UK) Review

The Spawning (2017, UK)

When an alien from another world crashes to earth via meteor and takes human form to hide in plain sight, it’s not rocket science to establish they’re not here to do any good. In fact all nastiness is planned as it’s on the hunt to impregnate a female to birth its own spawn!

The Spawning’s premise is simple enough, with clear influences of 70s & 80s British low budget sci-fi which I do have an affinity for, so I was so wanting The Spawning to succeed. Unfortunately what we get is a strained affair that may have played out better as a short.

“To save his race, he will devour yours.”

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Bad Apples (2018, USA) Review

Bad Apples (2018, USA)

Craaaazy killers decked out in scary masks, wreaking havoc on Halloween night! Pretty spooky plot for a film right? Eeeeh, you’d think so wouldn’t you. All Hallows, and the anonymity it provides those with devious tendencies has been an informative and conducive background to some of our cherished seasonal classics. So, for the premise to be utilized once again comes as no real surprise. Unfortunately, neither does ANYTHING in Bryan Coyne’s Bad Apples, which strives for Carpenter charisma, but winds up leaving a bitter taste in your mouth.

“Rotten to the core.”

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Under the Tree (2017, Iceland) Review

Under the Tree (Undir trénu) (2017)

There’s an old saying about how you can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family. You also can’t generally choose your neighbors, and sometimes they can be even harder to avoid than family. It can be a real risk to try to befriend a neighbor, because if it all goes wrong somehow your only option is to pack up and move, and that’s a hassle nobody wants. Still, in Under the Tree, both sets of neighbors would have been much better off if they’d fled to opposite sides of the country. Admittedly Iceland isn’t a very big country, but that might have worked.

“Two families. One tree. A bloody mess.”

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I Kill Giants (2017, Belgium / UK / USA)

I Kill Giants (2017, Belgium / UK / USA)

Created by writer Joe Kelly and artist J.M. Ken Niimura, I Kill Giants was first launched as a limited comic book series from Image Comics in 2008, and compiled into a graphic novel in 2009. Now a full-length feature film from director Anders Walter, I Kill Giants tells the story of pubescent girl Barbara Thorson who spends much of her time focused on the task of luring, trapping and killing the giants that she believes threaten her small coastal town. I Kill Giants does offer a family, fantasy adventure that is brave enough to deal with some distinctly adult themes.

“I find giants, I hunt giants. I kill giants.”

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The Vault (2017, USA)

The Vault (2017)

Writer/director Dan Bush says of his film, The Vault, that his vision was to make a movie where ‘Heist meets horror’. He couches this ambition in a story dealing with sibling loyalty and conflict.

When Michael Dillon gets into trouble with a vicious gangster, he has to come up with a great deal of money very quickly in order to save his life. His two estranged sisters, Leah an ex-con, and Vee who has spent time in the military, come up with a plan to recruit some heavies who will help them rob a nearby bank.

“No one is safe.”

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Ring (1998, Japan)

Ring (1998)

Adapted from Koji Suzuki’s 1991 novel of the same name, Ringu リング is a cultural phenomena. Directed by Hideo Nakata, Ring launched a revival of horror filmmaking in Japan, and influenced American horror cinema at the turn of the 21st century. From the moment the Toho vanity card ends, Ringu gets under your skin. Forgoing the science behind the videotape in Koji Suzuki’s original novel, Hideo Nakata and screenwriter Hiroshi Takahashi instead re-imagine Ringu as a curse.

“So that video is… It’s not of this world. It’s Sadako’s fury. And she’s put a curse on us.”

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Nightmare City (1980, Italy / Spain / Mexico)

Nightmare City (1980)

Umberto Lenzi had quite a career during his time as a film maker. Lenzi started law school, then decided his true passion lay with movies and attended the prestigious Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia. His resume’ included peplum, westerns, giallos and mysteries, all typical of Italian cinema of the time. He later retired from cinema and wrote a series of detective novels. Then in 1972 Lenzi made what many consider the first true, cannibal film, Man from the Deep River. The work contained many of the attributes of future cannibal movies; violence, sex, the consumption of raw, human flesh… The movie established Lenzi as a director of turgid, offensive films.

“The nightmare becomes reality.”

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