Thursday, 17 August 2017

Train to Busan (2016)

Another entry into the zombie market. They just keep coming.

Train to Busan

Straight out of the gate, this film is largely plot-less. Man and child get on train to Busan - zombie apocalypse. Does that make it a bad film? What was the plot of Night of the Living Dead? My point. The film follows father, Seok-woo, who is taking his daughter, Soo-an, to her mother (his estranged wife) in Busan. Once on the train we are introduced to couple Seong-kyeong and Sang-hwa, along with a train full of passengers. And one of them has been bitten by a zombie. 

There is some backstory about a bio leak or something, but the long and short of it is the apocalypse begins as they leave the station.

Seok-woo (Yoo Gong) / Soo-an (Su-an Kim) / Sang-hwa (Dong-seok Ma)

Train to Busan is a near flawless character study, wrapped in a fun horror flick. It's win-win for film enthusiasts. So let's look at the cast:

Father Seok-woo is a flawed figure. He comes across as rude and blinded to others at the beginning of the film, learning to show compassion before the final reel. Portrayed by Yoo Gong (Silenced) with excellence. Standout is Su-an Kim as Soon-an, his daughter, in a heartbreaking rendition of a girl lost in the situation. The support from Dong-seok Ma (Exchange) and Yu-mi Jung (Tough as Iron) as expecting couple Seong-kyeong and Sang-hwa adds the wonderful dimension of warmth and care, mirroring the arrogance of Seok-woo. Of course by the end of the movie, humanity is released in him, and true redemption sought. It's almost tear jerking from start to finish.

And it's a horror movie.


A damn fine one at that.

We're saturated with zombies these days. According to Wikipedia we have had 192 mainstream zombie movies in the last decade. And most of them are shit

Train to Busan doesn't really bring anything new to the table, but what it does bring, it brings with cake. The film is fun. Yes, fun. The zombies are fast moving - which brings the mind around to World War Z, but it's mostly practical. There isn't waves of CGI zombies. There are waves of made up extras. It's bright. Unusually filmed in the daytime with no filters. The zombies are scary, contorted monsters. 

Honestly, it's the best zombie movie I've seen in many-a-year.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Suicide Club (2018)

As this doesn't come out for a while, we'll stay spoiler free.

Suicide Club

Recluse Liz is depressed. She contemplates suicide. She visits suicide forums on the Internet. But she hasn't done it. Then she learns of the Suicide Club - a group on the dark web - who guarantee your success. From there Liz is dragged, willing or not, into a nightmare of betrayal and deception.

Klariza Clayton (Skins) carries the film from the start as recluse Liz. Beginning as a "Rear Window of its time", Liz spends her time watching the goings on around her dead end flat on a London estate. She brings a vulnerability to the character. She sells the bleak existance.

Her burgeoning relationship with neighbor Josh (Adam Newington) brings a renewed life to the character, and a believably to the situation. He is a sympathetic character with a background that would understand Liz. A strong choice by the writer.

Klariza Clayton

But the film deals with two very different issues. Suicide and depression, and the dark web. And it does it well, bringing two very different themes to the front.

While Liz and Josh are becoming closer, Liz has opened the door to the dark web.

Many people watching the movie will be unaware of the dark web, and the film does a good job of letting those in the know get a nod, while those that don't won't be fazed by its introduction. In film a simple change of browser is enough for me to know the makers did their homework. The same as the way the the dark web know who you are. Where you are. It's chilling and brutal stuff, and works with or without the knowledge. It opens the horror of the dark web - but with a user friendly interface.

Starting as a light thriller with strong themes, the film ramps continually to the last, terrifying, reel. The acting is strong throughout - with a chilling turn from Carey Thring (Fox Trap) - and the who dunnit aspect pulled off with great aplomb.

All around is should sate the appetite of both thriller lovers and horror the same, and will keep you guessing until the end. While light on gore, it's certainly terrifying.

Suicide Club hits screens early 2018. We'll drop the trailer when there is one.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

For the Love of Shorts: The Lady in White (2017)

Nasty little two minute scare for you this week with The Lady in White. 

Directed by Michael Lowney, and starring Alena Isengildina and Omar Michael Diaz, you might want to stay sitting for this one...

We're waiting on big things from this group.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Arena (2011)

Mortal Kombat meets The Running Man. With Samuel L. Jackson.


In, um, "the future" (or present day?) the interwebnets stream The Deathgames where two trained combatants go mano-o-mano to the death! Of course it's all fake, and special effects (of course) - so the public think. The government? Not so much. But anyone can hide on the internet. Anyway. David Lord, a fireman, has a car crash where his pregnant wife dies. After a bar fight some time later, he is kidnapped to fight.

For the first 60 or so minutes of the film, that's the plot.

Kellan Lutz

There is more to the plot, but I'll avoid spoilers on this one.

Kellan Lutz (Twilight, Immortals) mopes his way through the beginning of the movie as protagonist Lord. He's not bad, has some base acting chops, but hits the physical side of the role well. Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction, Kingsmen) is Logan - the big bad behind it all. He's...Samuel L. Jackson. The issue I have with Jackson these days is the same as that I have with Bruce Willis - can you not try. So if you like Jackson, it'll work for you.

The supporting cast are great - Daniel Dae Kim (Lost), James Remar (RED) - to hammy - Johnny Messner (Bad Ass) - to just awful - Katia Winter (Sleepy Hollow).

So a mixed bag. But you don't watch this for the acting. Fight!


The fight scenes are well choreographed. Most of the effects are practical which is nice. And there is a fair amount of them. They are pretty gruesome and gory. Again, Lutz does well at this.

It's very much a beer movie, and a pretty enjoyable one. While some of the supporting cast struggle to act their way out of a paper bag - and some are only there to show flesh - the action is good, and film is directed well, with it continuing pace from about 10 minutes in, to the final reel.

So grab a drink, and watch Kellan Lutz punch people. With swords and stuff.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

For the Love of Shorts: DUST (2013)

Starring the late Alan Rickman and new doc, Jodie Whittaker, Dust is one of the eeriest things you'll see.

It is a perfect example of short story telling.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Renaissance (2006)

Set in the future, this rotoscope animation is a little gem.


In Paris, 2054, Renaissance follows detective Barthélémy Karas (Daniel Craig / Patrick Floersheim) in his hunt for a kidnapped scientist who may - or may not - hold the key to immortality. With a twisting plot involving everything from Arab mobsters to genetic mutation, this is a film for any neo noir fan.

Existing almost entirely in black and white motion captured animation, Renaissance is a heavily stylized detective story - set in the future (almost dystopian) - but with a heavy feeling of 60's trenchcoated P.I.'s.

Paris, 2054

The story is complex, but not unfathomable. It's a who-dunnit at the core. It holds enough futuristic elements without bogging the story down, and lays out personable characters.

The director (Christian Volckman - in his only feature director chair to date) had a vision and sticks with it.

I saw the English language version with impressive talents including Daniel Craig, Jonathan Pryce and Ian Holm.

Barthélémy Karas

It's a great watch, and rolling in at 105 minutes, long for an animation. Certainly one to see though. The set apart for me was the animation style. So simple, yet so effective. A very different choice for fans of the genre.