Friday, 21 September 2018

Demonologist for Hire - Season One (2017)





Synopsis

A world where the supernatural is totally mundane and the existence of ghosts, ghouls and werewolves are part of everyday life. But what happens when you're bothered by some supernatural nuisance? You call The Demonologist.

Review

All hail the demonologist. 

Demonologist for Hire (Season One) is a four part series, starring Bryn Owen as the titular hero. Each episode is an enclosed story, so why not quickly look at the lot. No spoilers here.


"When a terrifying, demonic voice is heard through his car radio the owner calls the Demonologist who is unaware this will be his most baffling case yet."


So I went into this blind - horror? Comedy? Both? I didn't even know it was Scottish. Bryn Owen takes center stage as the Demonologist, with Ronni Menzies-Stirling playing his foil in each episode, with occasional cameos from David Hughes. The first episode lays the foundation for the series well - it's horror/comedy with the emphasis on comedy, and in this world everything is just...normal. Got a haunted car? Of course you have. Call The Demonologist.

I was hooked. And with short episodes, well, we're binge-watching.


"A night watchman stumbles across an ancient, powerful deity hellbent on mankind's destruction. How will the Demonologist manage to stop this being from bringing about the end of days?"


Episode two twists in with a completely different bent that the first - a nice switch up. Joining the cast is Leanne Peebles with a great turn as the Deity. Again comedy ensues and we see the Demonologist take a different tact. We get some topical humor and good ending. The writing really starts to sparkle here and the characters gain momentum. 




"The workers at a factory are being haunted by a mysterious apparition. At night the Demonologist enters the factory to dispose of the threat unaware of what awaits him."


Episode three is straight up humor. It's thick and fast and relies heavily on the dialogue - little else. Most of the episode is a voice-over conversation, relying on both the hand of the writing and the inflection in the delivery - both of which are on point. The twist at the end is totally bizarre - even silly - but fits in the world that has been created perfectly.


"The Demonologist is called in to handle a Werewolf related problem for a Priest. But how exactly do you 'handle' an eight foot Werewolf?"


The final episode wraps up the series well leaving the viewer with a tease of more to come. This time our hero must deal with a werewolf problem - but as usual, it's not what you expect. 

As the series goes from episode to episode, it also goes from strength to strength. The writing (Bryn Owen) is dry, clever, and weirdly grounded - for such a premise. It's wit will have you laughing, and the writing it will have you learning about the world in no time, without handling the big exposition stick (I'm looking at you, Bright). The direction is well done, Uisdean Murray gives each location it's own feel - and on that note, having each episode in a very different place is a fantastic addition, giving the series a gravitas, and feeling of a high budget. 

Bryn Owen steals the show as the protagonist. After only watching one episode, this... THIS was what I wanted from the awful Netflix/BBC America show Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency. His metamorphing foil, Ronni Menzies-Stirling, changes his look and approach in every episode - and I never felt I was look at the same actor twice. It's really rather clever. Priest cannot go without mention either. Well done, David Hughes.

My only gripe is that I wanted more.

The whole series is available on Youtube, and guess what? Series Two is coming! 

Find it here, now: 


Or hire him yourself. But don't phone.




Wednesday, 19 September 2018

For the Love of Shorts: DUI (2014)





"When a contentious couple is arrested for a DUI, they soon discover that their arresting officer is under the influence of something far more sinister."

DUI is an excellent example of twisting tropes. Starring Jenna Stone (Mercenaries) and Chase Clarke (666: Kreepy Kerry) as the hapless couple, Officer Calhoun comes in played with great aplomb by David Ross Paterson (Saving Mr. Banks). 

It's an excellent turn by all involved, with solid writing from Jason E.Woods and a good turn from Director, Nicholas Kramer.



Friday, 14 September 2018

The Demon Inside (2017)






Synopsis

Years after his release from jail, Sam Parsons is trying to build the his life with his wife Courtney and their young daughter Harper. He works hard to provide for his family and afford their beautiful home in their quiet suburban neighborhood. When supernatural occurrences start to happen in the house, Sam fears for the safety of his wife and daughter.

Review

A young family in a house. A ghost. These are fairly trope these days. Everything from Poltergeist to Paranormal Activity. And to be honest, indie flicks tend not to fair well with them. They need exceptional direction, on point acting, everything needs to be in the right place to trip the trope and make it scary. Think: The Conjuring.

I take my hat off to you, Joey Moran. In the first act writer and director Moran (The Z Virus) creates a fiendishly good setup. From the very opening Moran's use of color and shot choice is outstanding. Protagonist, Sam Parsons is awakened by the house alarm sounding in the middle of the night. He scours the house, gun drawn, moving from the deep blues of the night to the orange hue of the lights outside. It drips style, but not only that, it draws you in - you're in the house, too - but you're not alone. After Sam's wife sees a face - a ghoul - a ghost - an entity, Sam sees something too. Moran takes fleeting shots - blink and you miss it - never giving too much away. As a horror fan, I'm squeeing a little at the excellent work.

So Sam moves his family out to a nearby motel, and calls for help.

This is where we get a bait and switch on the level Robert Rodriguez's From Dusk Til Dawn.

Trope be damned, there is no calling of the clergy, Sam calls in reality TV show, Ghost Killers. Second act: BOOM. Mind blown. And these guys are great.




In the guise of TV's *coughs* Ghost Killers is show host Corbin Carlysle, with Lance, Ray, and Brianna. Corbin is an overpowering douche, Lance, a pretty boy muscle head, Ray is more Tyler Labine than Tyler Labine is, and, well Brianna is the "attraction". But enough spoilers.

Once the second act hits, there is gore, laughs, and scares.




Taking the lead as Sam is Joseph Rene (Run), who handles the role of a long broken down man in his stride. I believed in him throughout the run time and as he grew as a character I was there with him. Long suffering wife, Courtney, played by Madeline Thelton (Big Bad) does an equally impressive job. I felt for her, and knew she was only there for her brood. Finishing the family was daughter, Harper, played by Chloe Lee. An impressive performance for such a young actor - with nothing else under her belt.

Then there is the Ghost Killers. Corbin is amazing. Timothy Talbott (Metal Heads) gleefully plays the character, ripping shreds from similar TV shows - spoofing them all the while playing him completely straight. Same goes for Crew Wyard (Murder Made Me Famous), and Grace Patterson (Texas Zombie Wars: Dallas). John Kviklys (The Z Virus) Tyler Labine's across the screen and you can't help but love him (- watch out for the shower scene!).

Overall the film punches way above it's weight in terms of look - it feels high budget - but has the freedom that only indie film has to tell its story in its own way.

And it is glorious. A must see, and definite contender for Dead Celluloid's Best Indie Film Award this year.





Wednesday, 12 September 2018

For the Love of Shorts: Dough (2014)





When a traumatized runaway finds solace in a secluded farm home, her attempt to liberate the house from a disturbing secret uproots a rage that should have remained hidden.

Starring Erika Macke who shines in every scene, Michelle McGinty who is terrifying, and the talented Deane Sullivan - this one is longer than our usual recommendations - but it absolutely flies by: DOUGH





Friday, 7 September 2018

The Bad Nun (2018)





Synopsis

Based on true events. Aesha goes to an isolated b&b in Kent after her mom books her in so she can get some head space for her studies. In the night Aesha is visited by a nun at the door who will progressively begin to show her true colours as the night unfolds - As the nun continues to bother Aesha at the door, Aesha begins to question her surroundings in this isolated suspense horror.

Review

All horror should open with a good kill. And this one certainly does. Casting someone as strong an actor as Lucy Chappell for your opening kill is a bold move. It sets the film up, casting a strong dark tone. Then cut to the movie proper.

Aesha is mourning the death of her father, and having gone off the rails "a little" is sent by her mother to take stock on a short break in the English countryside: Kent. The lightly snow dusted fields play as the backdrop for Aesha meeting bed and breakfast owner, Dan. When they get to the B & B it is, rather unsurprisingly, the house from the opening kill. From there things go down hill.

What I was expecting and what I got from the film weren't the same. Without spoiling the plot, it's difficult to say much about it. It is without doubt a classy Brit-slasher, and the could there/is there a supernatural force plays over the movie as a whole. 

Becca Hirani (Unhinged / House on Elm Lake) is in the roll of Aesha, once again proving she is someone to watch. She plays with the part, being the grieving daughter while falling into partying - rather than what her mother (Patsy Prince - Mummy Reborn) expects. She carries a wide-eyed-innocence, hiding something deeper (which is becoming her trademark), while also playing the party girl. It's rather clever. But not to be overshadowed, Thomas Mailand (Deadly Callback) does a fantastic job as the forever gleeful, grinning, Dan. Sometimes, he's so happy, it's sinister.




The rest of the cast do a good job, especially Tiffany-Ellen Robinson (Sandow) as Imogen, Aesha's visiting friend, and to be honest, body count fodder.

Director Scott Jeffrey (Deadly Callback) does a great job of keeping the suspense ramped. Long shots of dark rooms with only Aesha in frame make for some serious foreboding. He even manages to make the house itself a character. He's got a serious eye.

This is a horror without gushing blood (well a little), and plays very much on the fears of being isolated. Being alone.

There's been talk of the film having it's name changed from The Watcher to The Bad Nun to cash in on The Nun. It's a jump to the wrong conclusion. The Watcher was not a good name for this, and The Bad Nun is. It has nothing to do with The Nun, either thematically, or stylistically, and can only be a coincidence. Asylum, this is not.

Anyway. The Bad Nun is a classy slasher, it's got escalating tension, and an interesting take on a villain. It's very Amityville meets Black Christmas.

Definitely one to watch.





Wednesday, 5 September 2018

For the Love of Shorts: One Please (2014)





This one starts sinister, hits the gore, and has a wonderful cameo appearance. Starring Sailor Holland as a little girl quite taken by the arrival of the Ice Cream Van. 

Not for the squeamish... ONE PLEASE.





Friday, 31 August 2018

The Suffering (2016)





Synopsis

A man fights for his sanity when he finds himself trapped on a rural farm inhabited by sinister beings overseen by a mysterious caretaker.

Review

This is some slow burn horror from director, Robert Hamilton (Key). Beginning with protagonist, Henry Dawles, waiting on the side of a rural road awaiting a lift - the film is oppressive from the start. Dawles is picked up by the driver of Mr. Remiel, whose estate Dawles is there to appraise. It's immediately sinister. Arriving at the house Dawles is first introduced to house keeper, Mrs. Gates, and shortly after to the elderly, but charming Remiel.

The next morning, Dawles begins the appraisal of the estate - and things start to get dark. Strangers are on the grounds - Dawles himself discovers a body in one of the grounds buildings. Of course, Remiel shrugs it off as his ground are so large, people are forever coming on them and finding buildings to stay in... but watching it, it gives a great sense of unease.




From the very start of the film Robert Hamilton creates a wonderful sense of tension with a small budget. The direction is certainly tight - and he has created a film that looks expensive. The camera work is clever, and the use of light very well done. It's topped by some wonderful performances and a great script.

Dawles is played by Nick Apostolides (The Witching Hour) with aplomb. His slow breakdown and realization of the world arround him is very good. Owner of the estate, Remiel, played by Phil Amico (The Blinds) scene steals, and even the driver, Regen Wilson (Better Living Through Chemistry) is excellent. Not one of the cast is a throw away.

As the film gets darker, the script comes to it's own with Dawles losing his way, until the big reveal at the end - and even then nothing is given away until it has to be.

The only flaw I would put on the film is the sound production towards the start of the film is little off balance, with ambient sounds over powering the vocals - but that doesn't last for long.

Overall the film is very good, but 'slow burn' may too generous. If you want a sleight, gothic horror, then this is for you - but if you're looking for blood, guts, gore, and chase scenes, this certainly isn't. It's high quality, cerebral horror that doesn't explain what it doesn't need to.