The Warrens are back to conjure up the third instalment to the haunting tales based on the books written by Ed & Lorraine Warren, self professed demonologist and psychic (respectively), and the real life events of Arne Cheyenne Johnson, who in 1981 stabbed his land lord to death and they had a claim of demon possession in an attempt to get him off.
Putting the real life events to the side, the film was beautifully shot and constructed with a kind of precise planning that gives the viewer the confidence to see a kid contorting its possessed ickle body to cracking sounds and not instantly think the filmmakers had resorted to child abuse, but rather consider the plethora of crazy safety protocols that must go into filming such a scene. [sigh] Gone are the carefree, guerrilla days of The Adventures of Milo and Otis.
Ed and Lorraine are portrayed once again by the talented Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga continuing to keep the heart of these films lodged comfortably in your throat. James Wan hands the reigns to Michael Chaves who brings the addition of many little homages from popular horror film culture such as The Exorcist and Re-animator while slotting in to the rhythm that keeps these movies franchising so well.
Chaves demonstrated his understanding of the conjuring universe when he directed The Curse of La Llorona (or the Curse of the Weeping Woman) in 2019 and it seems clear that his vision for this universe aligns perfectly and will to continue tighten its hold over our fascination.
By now Zack Snyder’s Netflix feature starring Dave Bautista is a massive streaming success which indicates that it was firmly on the pulse of the average punters celluloid palette.
You can see why as the trailer promises a jam-packed action feast billed as a cross between a comrade bank heist flick with elements of Oceans 11 (The Vegas element has a lot to do with this), with a post apocalyptic zombie infested world. The films detailed prologue entails a zombie outbreak in the greed, glitz and glam of Las Vegas which is contained by huge storage containers that form a wall around the city.
Then we’re presented with the premise. There’s money ripe for the picking in the vaults of the casinos and Bly Tanaka (Hiroyuki Sanada) employs Scott (Bautista) to form a crack guerilla team to infiltrate the quarantined city and retrieve the bounty. It’s a mad proposition but one Scott is willing to take up for a chance to rebuild his life and possibly reconnect with his daughter Kate (Ella Purnell), who he has become estranged with since the zombie outbreak occured.
Once the carrot has been dangled, the audience then sit back and eagerly wait for the carnage to begin. But first we must endure the Mission Impossible style formation of the team and our introduction to them and possible zombie fodder. There’s two of Scott’s former associates, Maria Cruz (Ana de le Ruguera) and Vanderhoe (Omari Hardwick) the spiritual member of the group, helicopter pilot Marianne (Tig Notaro, who stepped into replace Chris D’Elia through CGI and green screens costing Snyder a fair packet of the production costs), German safecracker Dieter (Matthias Schweighöfer), and Chicano sharpshooter Guzman (Raúl Castillo) to name but a few.
Once the set up is established Scott’s daughter Kate, Tanaka’s associate Martin, and with the help of Lily aka The Coyote, the team sneak into the quarantined walls to carry out their mission. The catch, The Government are planning on nuking the whole city in a couple of days, so there’s no time for messing around. Plus, you know, it amplifies the tension… And of course you know that that timeline is going to shorten once said Government decide to move the nuke strike up, meaning the team have even less time to complete their task.
Here’s the thing that gets my goat though. With such a cool premise, there’s not much substance for the audience to chew on. Some may counter that with me, stating that it does exactly what it says on the tin. But I like my movies served a little cooked, not raw.
There is some humour on display and some strangled attempts at deep and meaningful chats along the way, but it’s missing some zing to tantalise us with.
Since watching the film there’s been some online discussions about Scott’s team stuck in a time loop purgatory, and this idea I can get behind and if there is truth to this theory, all of a sudden this film gets elevated a little in my reception of it. With rumours of a follow up film on the horizon and with Netflix’s success story to couple it, I wouldn’t be surprised if this isn’t fleshed out in some way. I just hope that they can work on the story a little more and give the characters more to work with now that they’ve been established and give the audience a more hefty and enjoyable experience.
Snyder provides us with another gloriously shot, stellar CGI, packed with some cracking action. But it is a little half baked and rests on a small thread of an idea. Yes that’s a cool thread, but needs more time and energy spent on building up the storyline and characters to allow them to stand out more. But I guess time is the real player here. And time will tell if this story will continue and we get more from Snyder’s world or not.
It feels like the more immersed I fall into another world created by Dan O’Bannon, the more I am enamoured by what he produces. By this stage, he would have already penned Dark Star, Alien, Dead and Buried, Blue Thunder, Lifeforce, Invaders From Mars, Total Recall and directed the sublime Return of the Living Dead. The Resurrected would also be the second and last time that O’Bannon would sit in the director’s chair. It is based on a HP Lovecraft short novel, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, which reminds me that I should follow up with fellow Surgeon and self-confessed Lovecraft fan, Oscar Jack to see if he’s caught this film or not. The O’Bannon/Lovecraft combination comes across as a match made in heaven.
While it doesn’t quite match up to O’Bannon’s debut ROTLD, The Resurrected is still jam-packed with plenty of humour and energy that fizzles along with an amount of insane energy that perfectly encapsulates the feel of his previous feature.
The fact that it also boasts the magnificent Chris Sarandon as the afore-mentioned Charles Dexter Ward in its cast, only lifts this film to greater heights.
Played as a hard-boiled detective story, where the investigation leads John March (John Terry) on a path to the undead and an ancestral history of resurrection. Hired by Dexter’s wife Claire (Jane Sibbett) to find out what her husband is up to in his remote cabin, March finds there’s more than just the typical secrets held by husbands up to know good in the night and it’s not long before he realises that he may have got more than he bargained for.
I gotta say that I really dug the performances and it puzzles me that it didn’t get a greater theatrical release. Some may struggle with the ‘Sam Spade detective style investigation, and at times, The Resurrected comes across like a TV movie in its look and feel, but there’s a lot to keep your interest contained. Now celebrating 30 years since its release, it deserves a reawakening and some further love and not be shelved in the remnants of the celluloid catacombs. So, if you haven’t had the time to watch this yet or it simply passed you by, I highly recommend it. I’m looking at you Oscar.
Spiral: From the book of Saw is the latest addition to the plethora of gore trials by Twisted Pictures and this one does not disappoint. Starring Chris Rock and Samual MF Jackson, this Tarantinoesque romp through the macabre joins us years after the events of the previous Saw films and brings a great new energy to the franchise in Chris Rock’s performance.
Right off the bat the dialogue feels playful and realistic that mixes in perfectly to the environment the film sets itself in. Moving at times more like a buddy cop flick, Spiral holds its own by not feeling as cliché as some of its previous films at times calling such things out.
The one thing that these films stray away from is any sense of realism when it comes to the traps, which is a strategy that allows these films to continue to entertain audiences, where the gore is used merely as a magician would a gimmick; to heighten the story. By making the traps more torture device than actual trial of moral values it checks all the boxes by making us wince when its just right and not any longer.
Samuel MF Jackson plays what feels more a cameo than lead role but his charisma slots him in well to this role, constantly making us second guess what we previously thought mere seconds before.
The traps may be full of blood and gore, just like the films before, but underneath that tortured skin, lies a story within… not an amazing one, you’ll probably pick up who the “butler” is pretty quick… something you can see coming yet I do not think that is the element to focus on here. This may reinvigorate these films to now include more heavy hitting names and change the emphasis to be more character driven than ever before. Looking forward to see what gory things they come up with next time!
Every now again, a movie comes along that is an amped up, riotous frenzy of fun that lives in a world of its own and boldly holds onto its identity, unashamed, and marching to the beat of its own triumphant drum.
Fried Barry from the mind of South African director Ryan Kruger firmly plants itself in this domain.
It’s also incredibly disjointed, which both serves as its appeal and a hindrance to an audience that will either lap up its oddity or subject it to ruin without a care.
The concept is a glorious one that casts Barry as a screwed up, drug addled, poor excuse of a human being. A low-life wretch, who abuses his wife and has no connection with his son whatsoever.
At first observation, the acting strains at the seams, and I question the casting, but no sooner has the thought crossed my mind when we’re subjected to a wicked turn as Barry is suddenly abducted by an alien who possesses his body and goes on one massive bender.
From here on in, we’re treated to 90+ minutes of ridiculous mayhem as the alien uses Barry’s form to experience the wildest of human experiences, which primarily involve sex, drugs, and battling with a chainsaw wielding madman.
One particular sexual encounter, thrusts the willing recipient into a 2 minute long pregnancy as she gives birth to a humanoid creature with all of Barry’s features but with an expedited lifespan.
There are many exploits that Barry is subjected to, all with the hypnotic anthems generated by Haezer’s wonderful score. There are times that repetition feels a little stilted in places but this is soon put to rest however when the next crazed antic transipres, propelling us to an equally surreal ending.
Fried Barry is a unique and entertaining ride that scintillates on every level.
It’s a wild beast that refuses to be tamed, shedding its whole character to a raw and riveting effect.
You’ll either give in to the discord, or become unsettled by turmoil.
I for one, welcome its complexities and celebrate its unrest.
This movie had plenty of promise. Starting with Director Christopher Smith who helmed both Severance and Triangle, movies that I hold in high esteem. It also heralds one of Britain’s most curious and obscure haunted locations, The Borley Rectory as its prime location. Throw in a strong supporting cast with Sean Harris as the infamous psychic researcher, Harry Reed, and John Lynch as Bishop Malachi, and you’d be forgiven for asking yourself, what could possibly go wrong?
One word screenplay. And add the word woeful before it.
The plotline is not only confusing, but also lazy too, especially when it resorts to using Nazis as its primary depiction of evil. Sure, since the wake of the Second World War, there hasn’t quite been a group so closely associated with the darkest of humankind, but it feels like a cop out to constantly use them as the go to to subject our greatest atrocities on screen.
The film does open with a shocking scene, as we are presented with a priest who murders his wife and then carries out self-flagellation before seeking aid from his physician to cover up his crime.
We then close in on our central characters, Marianne (Jessica Brown Findlay) and her husband, Linus (John Hefferman), a priest who takes up residence at Morley Hall, not knowing of its dark past. They are not alone however and an evil presence still resides within its walls, waiting to inflict itself on the couple and Marianne’s daughter, Adelaide. Slowly the essence of evil grows strong and seeps its way into the weaker areas that the couple hold and the firmer its grip takes hold, the further apart the couple become, exposing their secrets, their fears, and ultimately a way to doom them unless it succumbs to rest.
The film’s greatest strength however doesn’t contain these two central characters though in its support cast of the afore-mentioned Lynch and Harris. Thank God too as both Melanie and Linus border on boredom with their two-dimensional representations, which is no fault of the actors who play the parts, both of whom eke out as much as they can with little material to work on. Harris in particular lifts the scene with every moment that he is on the screen, and you can only wish that his presence was more exposed throughout the movie. Instead we’re subjected to the whimsical torments of Melanie and Linus’ fragility. The cat and mouse game that Reed and Bishop Malachi play with one another, just about keeps your interest along with the pendulum of trying to depict who is the the good or bad conscience in the world of torment.
The Banishing wallows in its own misery and fails to lift itself out of the ashes of a troubled script.
It’s one saving grace is Sean Harris’ superb depiction of spiritualist Harry Reed, and the odd moments when John Lynch chews up the scenery.
Unfortunately, there’s a lot to be forgotten here.
What starts off as a promising horror film with an eerie setting, The Power soon gets lost in its own labyrinth of darkness and dissolution.
Let’s face it. There’s something that is imminently scary about hospitals and the thought of death hanging over you and by choosing to set the film in a dilapidated one during the early 70s when the decor is sparse, drawing forth the feeling of isolation amongst the empty corridors heightens this sensation further.
It doesn’t help that the hospital is at the hands of a current mining strike and has the electrical power being shut down at the dead of night, thrusting the audience into constant panic and despair.
Guiding us through the darkness is a young nurse, Val (Rose Williams), new to the hospital and on a temporary probation. She stumbles her way through the rigorous and meticulously structured system within the varying wards. We’re instantly drawn to Val’s empathetic nature, but we soon learn that there’s a reason for her good-hearted nature having been a victim of abuse in her childhood at the Catholic orphanage.
It is her eagerness to please and help others though that finds her on the wrong side of the hierarchy and forced to work the night shift. When darkness will descend on all.
There is something sinister lurking in the darkness that has an instant connection with Val and opens up old wounds among the staff.
Is this presence a dark one though or is there something more to the gloomy outlook?
The initial premise is a strong one and the balance of power between light and darkness, male and female, and social status is constantly shifting and fluctuating through a nicely woven script.
Corrina Faith develops a strongly directed narrative and combined with Laura Bellingham’s (Amulet) visual flair, projecting an atmosphere that chills.
It’s main flaw is that once it builds up the tension, it quickly transcends into predictability and the usual horror tropes that we’ve come accustomed to.
Despite this, the script, performances and direction is tight, making The Power an enjoyable watch regardless.
You can pretty much guarantee that when Sarah Paulson is cast in a role then that movie is gonna come packed with substance and that she will bring a certain amount of gravitas and realism to her role. Run is no exception where Paulson plays Diana, a mother to Chloe (Kiera Allen), a homeschooled teenager cursed with serious ailments including arrhythmia, hemochromatosis, asthma, diabetes, and paralysis. Such is her condition that Chloe is completely reliant on Diana.
Our first impressions are that Diana is a dutiful and an understandably highly protective mother, a constant aide for the constant support that Chloe needs. Even moreso when we witness the premature birth of her daughter and the fear and anxiety etched on her face not knowing if her infant will survive.
It’s also apparent that Chloe is incredibly bright kid, always eager to adhere to her schooling needs and compelled to learn more from the world about her. It’s her intuition however that leads her into a discovery that all is not as it seems. Especially with Diana.
There’s some excellent performances on display here from the two leads, Paulson and Allen, who have to do the heavy work taking up the majority of the scenes throughout.
Director Aneesh Chaganty also does a superb job to craft as much tension as he can with a fairly basic narrative. When these moments occur in the film, they are suitablly taut but it’s the moments in-between where the film struggles to lift a little but having said that, the choice to ground the film in reality and not stretch the boundaries that is a bold one that both strengthens and supports it.
Run ends up coasting at a steady pace but fails to show any flair or inability, and seems content to ride along as an average film resting on the actors performances to entertain.
Set among the remote wilderness of Canada and on the brink of civilization, Joseph Mersault (Devon Sawa), his wife Anne (Camille Sullivan) and daughter Renee (Summer H. Howell) have chosen to take up residence as fur trappers, living off the land with scant food supplies. I say chosen, but it’s fairly obvious early on that Joseph is the one overseeing that decision, and Anne appears somewhat reluctant and grows tired of the struggles of living in such a remote place. There are hints that Joseph is not happy among people, but it’s never fully explored why this is. Needless to say, he is content to immerse himself in the rugged terrain and has taken to teaching or rigorously training his daughter Renee how to survive in primitive ways and learning the animal traits that will ensure their survival.
Fairly early on, the family fear that a wild wolf has returned and threatens their safety, so Joseph swears to protect them and go on a hunt for the beast. As he stalks his prey however, he stumbles across a more sinister scene as a ritualistic circle of half naked female corpses lay.
Now any sane man would take the information to the police but Joseph is a lone wolf himself and as hinted at earlier communication and social interactions are a distant cry from the characters involved. Instead, Joseph sees it upon himself to venture out and find the killer.
Meanwhile, Anne and Renee are left to fend for themselves and have a fearful encounter with the wolf, but with Joseph’s absence drifting into days, Anne goes to the police to inform them of the vicious brute, only to be dismissed.
With no choice but to embrace their situation, Anne and Renee set out to protect their home, when a wounded man (Nick Stahl) appears one night. Anne has no choice but to aid this stranger, but is there more to him than meets the eye?
Hunter Hunter walks a fine line in its exposure of mankind at its most vulnerable and yet most violently animalistic and vicious. Throughout the films admittedly slow pace, we are left pondering the direction that Shawn Linden is taking us on. Is it a survival horror film? Is this a case of beast vs man? Or does it suggest that there is more to the wild than the beast that lies in its natural habitat?
It is held together by some fine performances, most notably with Sawa and Sullivan.
The slow shambling tension that lurks in its depths brutally awakens with a savage conclusion, drawing out the most feral of humanity when pushed to the brink.
Some may find the closing scenes too gruesome to bear, but the final moments are one that haunts.
My gut reaction following watching this movie was to declare it the best film of the year so far, and while the dust has settled now and along with it the stirred up emotions that Violation incurred on this writer’s soul, there is still some resonance of the raw energy that is prevalent throughout the film’s narrative.
It is this intensity drawn out by the writing, directing partnership of Madeleine Sims-Fewer and Dusty Mancinelli produced with a simmering and festering boiling pot of turmoil that pulls you in and intoxicates the mind.
Maybe it’s that Sims-Fewer had an amount of creative control and with this a freedom of expression to tap into the complexities that her character Miriam holds, but her performance is beyond exemplary as a result and is captivating to watch.
What we witness is Miriam, a woman who has become labelled for her feisty and headstrong personna that has often landed her in difficult circumstances, but beneath the surface is an incredibly fragile figure, who is starting to unravel. Among her troubles is a pending divorce from her husband Caleb (Obi Abili) and when they decide to spend time with Miriam’s younger sister Greta (Anna Maguire) and brother-in-law, Dylan (Jesse LaVercombe), she yearns for the safety of people that she can feel comfortable with and expose her vulnerability to. Families are often a complex thing though, and Miriam’s past behaviour clouds what could be a straightforward and reliable road with Greta, who has constantly had to endure living in the shadows of her larger-than-life sister. There is also a past that Miriam shares with Dylan, and at time when she really needs someone to lean on, he betrays her in the most violating way, hence the title, and with this traumatic experience, Miriam is left reeling and with her own base responses to rely upon. But first she must exact vengeance and clear the way forward for her to heal. No matter what it costs.
Best movie of the year? Possibly.
Best performance of the year? With Madeleine Sims-Fewer’s portrayal of the central character Miriam and the violation that occurs combined with the trauma that this leaves on her… Definitely
Violation is a slow burn, but a perfect exercise in raw performance with a tightly knit script to explore a wrenching-yet-topical subject.
It awakens the senses and projects every ounce of emotion onto the screen. I always fall deep for movies that elicit such a response, and for that, I can’t rate it highly enough.