The Dead Don’t Die ★★☆☆☆

A quiet town out in the country is suddenly shaken up and thrown into the midst of zombie uprising. Featuring a talented ensemble cast, The Dead Don’t Die is a Zombie movie……..with an Environmental message? Interesting……….

Directed by Jim Jarmusch

Starring Adam Driver, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Selena Gomez, Chloë Sevigny


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Midsommar ★★★☆☆

Following up from the critically acclaimed Hereditary last year, Ari Aster’s latest release sees a young couple join their friends on a summer retreat out in the Swedish countryside. The communal festivities seem jovial until things start to take a sinister turn……

Directed by Ari Aster

Starring Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor and Will Poulter


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Review / Hush ★★★★☆

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Blumhouse have an excellent track record when it comes to producing low budget horror, if anything, a lower budget gives a horror a far more visceral feel.  Hush, on Netflix is another such example. With a relatively speaking, tiny budget of $1m, they have still managed to produce a compact, tense, vulnerable home invasion slasher.

The spin here is that our protagonist, Maddie, is a deaf author, living out in the woods, away from the hustle of the city. One night, she unfortunately lands in the path of a serial killer. Once our killer figures out that she is hard of hearing, he decides he will have a bit of sinister fun, and drag out the events, rather than simply committing the ordeal. Isolated in the wood, on her own, as a deranged murderer is stalking her outside,  and to top it all off, without the sense of hearing, it’s down to Maddie to find a route of escape from this nightmare.

The home invasion genre does produce plenty of engrossing films, The Purge, Don’t Breathe & Panic Room are all great examples, though you also have busts like the awful Breaking In, from earlier this year. Hush lands on the good side of that mark, using the lack of hearing gives the film a different edge from your usual break in thrillers. This allows the movie to set up some truly suspenseful moments, as our killer taunts Maddie.

At a run time of just 80 minutes, things are kept very concise, we never really know who or why our stalker is picking off his targets. But sometimes, it’s better to keep things simple, it’s just a crazed guy, picking of victims who just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. No need to add in a backstory if it’ll just add unnecessary layers.

The film does have two distinct flavors. The first half of the film, is an eerie horror, as our silent stalker tracks down our deaf target. Which sets up some great set pieces for the audience. Once the two eventually confront each other, it switches up to a thriller, as the two attempt to gain the upper hand in this deadly duel. I would have preferred if the tense horror vibes of the first half were stretched out a bit longer, the film would have been far more captivating. But that being said, the action capers once they start attempting to take each other out, is also done rather well.

There really isn’t too much to say in terms of true negatives, the short run time doesn’t really leave much time to fill out the plot, and we don’t get too much regarding why it’s happening. Why was she chosen? Was it just bad luck, is he picking certain targets? And the action at the finale does get a little too dramatic, but with a low budget movie, you adjust the expectations accordingly. If you browsing Netflix and just want a quick film to watch, Hush is definitely worth a view!

Review / Overlord ★★★☆☆

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Directed by: Julius Avery
Starring : Jovan Adepo, Wyatt Russell, John Magaro, Mathilde Ollivier

Curiously just missing the Halloween market, considering its zombie packed adventures, Overlord is one of the best video-game adaptations…that isn’t based off a video game! Set just before the D-Day landings, a group of soldiers are dropped in beyond enemy lines to take down a radio tower. What seems like a pretty routine mission soon turns into a survival mission, not from the battlefield, but from forces for more sinister.

The wartime zombie setting provides the film with a Wolfenstien vibe, a set of video games that also focus on defeating hordes of the undead during WW2.  This also feels like the Resident Evil movie we should have got, as opposed to what we ended up getting…….several times.

The cast here are pretty low key, there really isn’t a big name to give the movie some much needed star power. Boyce (Adepo) is out main protagonist, a young american dropped into a scenario he really isn’t comfortable with,  there isn’t much wrong with the character, but the constant reminder of how kind he is throughout does get a tad bit  annoying! He is supported by battle hardened Ford (Russell, son of Kurt!), and Tibert (Magaro) the sniper expert.  After a disastrous landing, they regroup and take refuge in  the home of local French civilian Chloe (Olivier), as they attempt to regroup and carry out their operation.

Though the film is marketed as a straight up horror film in the trailers,  that’s not the entire story. The first half has a very strong survival horror element to it,  from the tense battlefield segments, which involves an excellent opening parachute sequence, to the discovery of the secret enemy lab, containing several disturbing experiments. This is by far the strongest part of the film. The story balances the unknown terrors that lurk behind the walls of the enemy, and the constant threat of war.  Matching enemy soldiers is one thing, but dealing with the undead? Not so simple!

The second half, whilst still doing a decent job, switches things up, and it becomes an out and out action film.  Our villain, a generic German officer, goes from an everyday high ranking soldier, to a crazed maniac with a god complex seemingly overnight.  The film gets rather ridiculous and exaggerated once the zombies are released. but it definitely has a video-game charm to it, which makes it work.

While the story as a whole does enough to make the audience care for whats happening, it would have been better if they spent a bit more time in the lab, and the nightmares buried inside.  The horror parts are what this film does best, and it would have been more thrilling to see more of that, than what is going on between our heroes back at the hideout.

Overlord falls very much in the cheesy B Movie category,  with enough horror, gore and an extravagant villain to keep things amusing. While the movie could be open to a sequel, it thankfully doesn’t have any kind of sequel bait or tease at the end, so it feels like a closed chapter on its own. Whilst they could have added some more sinister elements to it, the zombie war shooter is a great watch, and with a run time of under 2 hours,  it won’t feel like a drag.

 

Review / Slenderman ★☆☆☆☆

Joey King

Seeing as it’s Halloween, it’s only appropriate to look back upon one of the slew of horror movies that have come out this year, but one in particular stood out, and it was so shambolic, it’s pretty much nailed on for one of the worst films of 2018!

Slenderman was all over the internet 4-5 years ago, the myth, the memes, the buzz, about our suited up stalker in the wood was at its peak, and of course there would be a movie cash in for it.  It’s now 2018, and the chance to capitalize on this trend has long gone, and unfortunately, it’s a horrendous effort that really should have been buried away in the archive room.

A group of teenage girls decide to summon our friend from the occult after hearing the rumors going around school. After one of the group suddenly goes missing, the friends realize maybe it wasn’t a prank after all.

The main issue with Slenderman was that it was coming off the Slenderman murder case which took place in the States back in 2014. With the film being released as that case was coming to a close, meant the studio was in an awkward situation.  What ended up happening is that vast chucks of the movie were removed. The trailers for this film are far more sinister and dark, compared to the toned down mess they ended up releasing, with key scenes missing, the film simply jumps all over the place, and they don’t even bother filming even the smallest of scenes to explain the jumps. You can see in the video below just how much of the film is removed.

Our main protagonist, Hallie, is totally unlikable, even while her friends start to go missing, she is far more interested in hooking up with her crush and making sure she looks cool.  Wren, her best mate, who ends up being driven mad, does her best to at least solve things at least, but Hallie, just yells at her to move on, ignorant to the ominous threat that her close friends are suddenly dying. While another character shows signs of being stalked/possessed, and everything builds up to a particular scene at school, but nope, nothing happens, and you never see her again. From the trailers you can see there was supposed to be a moment of dread here, but its cut, and the character is never addressed again! The scares are awfully weak too, if your neighbor was checking to see if you are safe, why would they be moving around the house in a creepy murderer like fashion? For drama?

It seems like the studio only had permission to film in the woods nearby, so the film spends a large chuck in the forest. School, forest, home, forest, school, forest. It’s almost comical how often they always end up back in the woods for some other reason. Slenderman himself is ok, but once he reveals himself totally, he loses all sense of dread, and is a CGI mess by the end.. He is far more sinister as a character when he is hovering in the background, looming. The movie also thinks showing clips of the clouds in the woods is scary, and constantly uses it as a transition between scenes!

All in all, there really isn’t anything good to say about this movie, but it’s worth a watch if you really want a scare on Halloween!!

Review / Halloween ★★★☆☆

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It’s not been the smoothest of rides for the Halloween franchise, the 1978 classic is still one of the greatest slasher films, and was the foundation of several other movie universes such as Friday the 13th. Since then, the film has spawned over 10 different sequels, the majority of which have been critically panned.  Halloween (2018) attempts to retcon all the complications from prior films, and plans to deliver a far cleaner, direct sequel to the original. Can it be 11th time lucky?

The story picks up 40 years on from the horrific murders committed by the psychotic Michael Meyers (Nick Castle) , Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), a survivor from his original massacre, still awaits the day she can take her revenge on the monster. It seems she may get her chance sooner rather than later.

This time around, it’s not just herself who is dragged into another night of terror, as her granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak), along with her family, also end up with targets on their backs. After 4 decades of fear, anger and mourning, can Laurie finally put her tribulations to rest?

Compared to the various underwhelming films that were pretty much a cheap cash grab, Halloween, is very much a return to form. Bringing back a much needed freshness to a series that had long become stale. The ongoing duel between our two leads is what really makes the film tick. The dynamic between out two characters is clear to see, and the fact both roles are taken up by the original cast members from 40 years ago helps a lot.  Laurie is seen as the only one who understands and can confront Meyers, and though her behavior may have created a distance between herself and her family,  she is absolutely assured she is doing the right thing. Without Laurie, the film would have definitely struggled to be anything noteworthy with the new cast.

The iconic Haloween theme is back, and brings back the chilling undertones which a threat like Meyers brings. Obviously the main reason people will flock to this film is for the slasher violence, and Halloween delivers in that regard. Some of the deaths are rather shocking. While others are pretty graphic, as you would expect when the weapon of choice is primarily a kitchen knife! But the kills are also rather inconsistent, moments  such as the scene in a local fuel station toilet is very intense, bloody, and wonderfully shot. While other scenes mostly take place off screen/implied. A strange decision considering it’s an 18 rated movie, and the fluctuating violence does not give the film a consistent feel. Some scenes are very well executed, Meyers silent, casually butchering, while people innocently go out for Halloween on the streets is excellent, and his stalking scenes come off great, especially when motion detection lights are involved (as illogical as that scene)!

While the violence and horror is what keeps this movie above water, the characters and plot do manage to drag it back under. The core characters, Laurie, Meyers, Allyson work fine. While others are simply there to be killed off. But then there are characters that really get screen time for no reason.  Allyson’s boyfriend gets a lot of attention at the start, and is built up pretty well as someone you would enjoy seeing meeting his demise, but he randomly disappears and is never seen again! The whole Doctor sub-plot in the movie felt very unnecessary, and could have been removed entirely. There is also a random sassy kid, who delivers, what are wonderfully delivered one liners, felt utterly out of place. So what is supposed to be a horrific moment, becomes a joke, as the audience are laughing. Would a young kid who is literally facing death banter with people? It was a problem The Nun also had, forcing humour for no real reason.

The plot, which is rather simple, still has various flaws that will bug most, resorting to generic cliches. People slipping when they running then can’t get up. Leaving a serial killer who is being transferred, totally unprotected with no police escort whatsoever. The reason why Allyson ends up losing her phone during the film is so ludicrous and lazily written.  The ‘‘What can we do, cancel Halloween?’’ line is total cheese. Yes, cancel it, you’re the police chief, people will die! It simply sounded like a sound bite they wanted to use for promo material, and not something a law enforcement would do! After 40 years of prepping, Laurie’s plan is rather, archaic, with so much modern tech around, her plan could have been far more sophisticated, and simpler to execute.

That said, Halloween is still a great reboot to a stagnant franchise, but the film brings nothing new to the table. The plot and characters aren’t the best, but let’s be honest, you’ll be watching for the scares and kills, and on that side, it delivers a home run.  Halloween has its flaws, but Meyers does enough to make this film worthwhile, a perfectly decent night out!

Review : The Nun ★★

THE NUN

Directed by: Corin Hardy
Starring : Taissa Farmiga, Demian Bichir, Bonnie Aarons

The Conjuring franchise has become one of the most revered horror franchise of recent times (well apart from the disappointing Annabelle). One of the biggest highlights from the last mainstream entry, The Conjuring 2, was the demonic presence of Valek, a nun, but not so holy. So it was inevitable there would be an origin story, but would it deliver, or be awfully underwhelming like the previous origin attempt with Annabelle?

Set in post WW2 Europe, Romania to be exact. An isolated monastery out in the forest, is being terrorized by an unknown satanic force. As a local discovers the corpse of one of the Nuns, news filters back to Rome, who dispatch one of their own to further investigate matters, Father Burke (Bichir). Together with Nun-to be, Sister Irene (Farmiga) set off east, to confront the demon (Aarons).

One of the biggest difference with this film, compared to the main series, is the director. James Wan who has created some fantastic horror, is not at the helm here, but rather Corin Hardy. What makes the Conjuring movies so chilling, is rather what you don’t see, than what you do. Building up the suspense is ways other than simply using jump scares for cheap thrills. Such as the use of a simple eerie painting in Conjuring 2. The Nun actually starts of rather well, the locations are perfect for a good scare, forests, check, graveyards, check, a church, check! It all builds up fairly well, one scene featuring the corpse of the nun from the start of the film is done very strongly. But as soon as the demon Valek is revealed (which is far too early in the film) it unfortunately falls back to the traps that catch out many horror flicks, jump scares.  Once the veil of mystery is lifted, it almost becomes laughably comedic at times.

Speaking of comedy, we are introduced to ‘Frenchie’, the local guide who originally stumbled across the body. He is in essence the best part of the film, but also the worst! His sassy humour is indeed quite funny, but it feels awfully out of place. Sure a laugh is useful to break the tension at certain moments, but having it go on through the film felt a rather odd choice. As great as his lines may be, it really does take away a lot of the sinister aura from scenes.

The plot is also very lazy, with one scene in particular summarizing the entire background to the events in a few minute or so. Thanks random side character! Sister Irene is the person we follow, as she attempts to dig deeper into the mystery. The reason she is on this journey is her prior knowledge of the area, even though she admits to never being in Romania. This is never addressed again! Nor are her demonic nightmares she constantly has, as she hasn’t been exposed to out demon previously, nor is she ‘cursed’ as someone of special interest. Valek’s plan also never really makes sense, if the demon is already free, why is it still here? The film doesn’t really make it clear what its agenda is. The film sets up an intriguing ending, to how it may link to the ‘current’ events in the Conjuring universe, but the film stumbles, and goes another way, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but its far less dramatic than what they could have gone with.

Overall, The Nun isn’t a total dud, there are scenes which are genuinely scary,  and Valek is as ghastly as it was in the prior movie (before is goes full cheese by the finale), there have been far worse horror films out this year, but considering the other films in this franchise, The Nun really fails to deliver, and is no where near as unnerving as the film it follows, Annabelle Creation.

Review / Unfriended: Dark Web ★★

Director : Stephen Susco
Starring: Colin Woodell, Rebecca Rittenhouse, Betty Gabriel, Andrew Lees

Unfriended: Dark Web could have been an intriguing & uncomfortable look at the dark underworld of the internet, but unfortunately it fast becomes a joke of a horror, resorting to cheap plays for shocks. A stand alone sequel to Unfriended, Dark Web follows on with the unique concept of story telling in real time via various online platforms.

During one of their frequent Skype based game nights with his friends, Matias, our protagonist, who has picked up a recently purchased used laptop, notices that the previous owner of the computer may not have been your usual customer, and soon discovers a dark secret buried deep within the hardrive. It’s not before long, that the a mysterious presence online takes their game night hostage.

The first half of the film is actually rather captivating, the idea of using Skype/Facebook, and the presence of apps like Spotify, as the main methods of communication is a great way to make the film connect with the young audience it’s trying to reach out to.  The initial stages of when our protagonists starts to suspect something more sinister may be in play, is where it’s at its best. The feeling of being constantly being threatened and harassed online by an anonymous presence is something we can all fear. And as our group of friends dig deeper into the murky world they stumble upon, things do genuinely feel disturbing. Especially as they browse through the video files that are stored in the laptop. It works the scares without resorting to any jump scares or cliche tactics. The feeling that everyone move online is being watched is something we all understand.

While that may be the best part of the film, the rest of it is pretty tepid, especially for a ‘horror’. The group of friends, you never really care for, nor do they possess any quality that makes them worth caring for.  Damon, our hacker friend from London is probably the only one who contributes to the plot, the rest are pretty much cannon fodder. Our main character is supremely unlikable, his actions are very selfish and his relationship with his deaf girlfriend seems very unbelievable.  The girlfriend is also played off as idiotically stupid, she is deaf, this shouldn’t make her dumb by default, her actions are shockingly awful throughout the film! Hopefully the plan was to make Mathias be hated, otherwise it’s a massive fail!

Once the villain is revealed, the film becomes laughable, cheesy dialogue between our villain and Mathias is comically bad, and the cheap phasing effects of screen whenever he appeared looked absurd whenever it happened. The original film had a supernatural vibe to it, there is none of that here, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The whole ‘darknet’ concept could have been used extremely well, but what the film eventually descends into, maybe they should have stuck with the supernatural plot. The film never feels like a horror, and really could have been marketed more as a thriller. They never shows anything too graphic, and the death scenes are rather tame compared to what happened in the first film.

It’s just a shame that the movie couldn’t run with the ideas it planted at the start of the movie, what could have been an engrossing story, just fades into a forgettable 90 minutes.

Downs of 2018

With half the year done and dusted, it’s an opportune time to look back at some of the low lights of the silver screen. What was awful, what simply just let us down? Let’s have a look!


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Pacific Rim Uprising

As a standalone movie, Uprising is not all that bad a film, but when you associate it with the surprisingly popular Pacific Rim, is where things collapse. By removing the creative & dark Del Toro elements, and removing a magnetic lead such as Idris Elba, you are left with a very underwhelming film.  Gone is the sombre and intense feel of the first, replaced by brightly coloured robots that can now be effortlessly controlled by teens, a la Power Rangers. Gone is the vast scale of grandeur and size, in comes the numerous product placements before the title card even shows up.


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Truth or Dare

Considering this was created from the critically acclaimed Blumhouse Productions, whose previous works include Get Out, Happy Death Day and Split. Truth of Dare is a step back to the cheesy horror flick full of jump scares and idiotic characters. The plot is horribly convoluted for a by the numbers horror film, the cast is clichéd, and an ending so shambolic you will leave you astounded by what just happened! And let’s not forget the laughable ‘possessed’ demon faces…….


Film Title: Breaking In

Breaking In

This really could be filed under ‘So bad, it’s good’, while it was nice to see Gabrielle Union play a role she really isn’t associated with, Breaking In starts off reasonable well, but as soon as the action begins, it loses all its tension and delves almost into parody. Where Union’s character got this military like experience, we don’t know.  Guy gets run over twice by an SUV, then just randomly appears later without any sign of damage, sure why not. The entire audience was laughing as the final credits rolled! Which I guess makes it………. a good movie?!


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The Cloverfield Paradox

‘’Stop trying to make Cloverfield happen……….It’s not going to happen’’

There was a reason why this convoluted mess was released on the sly on Netflix, at first, this was slated as an original movie, before studio intervention, The Cloverfield Paradox seems to be all over the place, floating between space horror, comedy and mystery, while never really sticking to one path. A shame considering the sheer talent of the cast involved in the project.


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Red Sparrow

At over 140 minutes, Red Sparrow is one drawn out, turgid spy thriller. The premise of this movie were spies that were trained to seduce. But her character is frankly useless as a spy, wondering why she was even releases to go on field duty!  The entire plot revolves around a mole in the KGB, which comes out of nowhere at the end with literally zero work leading up to it. It’s just……….boring.


So what movies this year let you down? let us know! 😀

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