Thursday, 21 September 2017

13 Eerie (2013)


Yeah, let's do our final practical exam on real dead bodies. On remote marshland. And that's not a spoiler.


13 Eerie


This film is better than the cover suggests. Actually, it's better than it deserves to be.

Synopsis

Six forensic undergrads embark on a scientific expedition to a remote island that was once used as illegal biological testing grounds for life-term prisoners.

Review

First off, I'll get point out the elephant in the room. Yes, this is directed by the same guy who did Wolfcop. Yes. I love Wolfcop. 

Anyway.

From the outset, 13 Eerie feels generic. Michael Shanks (Stargate) plays Tomkins, a professor of forensics, who is setting up fake death scenes on a marshland island for his students to autopsy. Initially, his only companion is Larry (Nick Moran) who while playing his part with aplumb, is fundamentally exposition/maguffin fodder. The first fifteen minutes is just the viewer going, "So there's going to be zombies, right?" Yeah. Generic.

Then the "teens" turn up. Lead by Katharine Isabelle (American Mary), the group consists of a fairly standard set of will-die/won't die archetypes.  

Larry finds a dead body, that they didn't bring with them, and the dead start to walk.

So plot wise there isn't a lot to work with. 

Michael Shanks, who at first seemed like he was going to get the ball rolling and then be first kill (getting the adults out of the way, so to speak) has a far meatier part. And he's a good solid actor. He can shoulder most of the movie, with the rest being held up by Katharine Isabelle - a now seasoned horror actor. Most of the rest of the group are pretty good with some recognizable faces. Which is one of the problems - and a recurring one within the industry.


"Teens"
  
Brendan Fletcher (above center) I immediately recognized from Freddy Vs Jason, where he played "teen" Mark. In 2003. In fact of the six undergraduates, most are nearer forty than thirty. Michael Shanks was in his early forties. Now I'd rather pay to see older, good, actors, than ambitious - if talentless - teen scream queens in my films, but it jars against the overall feel of the movie. But, rant over, moving on.

The gore is undoubtedly impressive - especially on such a small budget. The movie has enough squick to keep an old gore hound like me going, and it's mostly practical. Which is nice. The direction is good. Lowell Dean is carving a good career.


Zombie. Sort of.

What works so well is the pace of the film. It doesn't hang around, and after the zombie arrive moves quickly from scene to scene.

But by far the best aspect of the film is the actions (and reactions) of the cast. There isn't a lot of "running upstairs to get away". And that sets it apart. The film is written so well. Generic teen starts waving a gun around? Accidentally shoots boyfriend. It's rarely seen in these movies that people act as people act. People panic. People can't all use guns like Rambo. People flail. And stab. And hide.

Writers get a bum rap. No one ever considers them. Christian Piers Betley gets a pat on the back. He also wrote Stranded with Christian Slater. I liked Stranded.

If you're looking for a fun, good, horror flick, I can't recommend this more.





Thursday, 14 September 2017

Bad Milo (2013)


Weirdly, not the first movie I've ever seen about butt monsters.

Bad Milo

Duncan is having terrible stomach pains. It appears that it is stress related, and gets worse when he tries to bottle it up. He even ends up under the strange, perhaps deranged, psychiatrist Doctor Highsmith. It transpires that a demon - who ends up named Milo - is living in Duncan's intestines and escapes through his butthole to take revenge on those who stress him out. Much to his dismay.


Ken Marino (in white)

I found this to be very reminiscent of early Peter Jackson. It's bizarre. Completely off the wall weird. Yet strangely well done, absorbing, and completely gross.

Possibly the oddest thing about the film is that it is very much a character piece focusing on depression and stress and not on "evil little butthole monster", Milo. So the direction is dead on point, keeping the viewer firmly grounded in a horror comedy. Butthole monster. Director Jacob Vaughan has done nothing since - but we're hoping.


Milo

The cast is strong, Duncan, played by Ken Marino (We're the Millers) has a strong enough presence to hold the lead well, and the supporting cast is good. Stand out goes to Peter Stormare (Prison Break) as Highsmith.

The special effects are solid for a low budget production.

It's a fun watch, and surprisingly deep.





Monday, 11 September 2017

For the Love of Shorts: Telos (2017)



A neat little play on an old fable, Crypt TV brings Talos. Directed by Jimmy White, and starring Nancy Hale, Rafael Miguel, James Rajewski, and Thomas McNamara we could all learn a little from this tale...





Thursday, 7 September 2017

Hardcore Henry (2015)


Shot in first person: Amazing or vomit inducing?


Hardcore Henry

Henry awakens with amnesia, flung into an action scene, exposited at, fights wave after wave of bad guys, and has a boss battle, while finding out what happened before.

It's a video game, isn't it?

I just watched someone play an FPS for an hour and a half, didn't I?

And it is glorious.

The premise, played very straight, is just an FPS. Henry, the protagonist, you, awaken within a laboratory with amnesia, missing a couple of limbs - which are cyborg attachments. The facility is broken into, there's a chase, fighting, the scientist you're with - romantically as well, of course - is kidnapped, you escape. The rest of the movie is pretty much set-piece after set-piece of action scenes, until the final act where all is explained.




My worry going into the film was that it would cause nausea. I've never had the problem when gaming or watching found footage films, but I knew I had never seen anything like this before. I admit, the first two or three minutes are a little jarring, but after that, nothing, so no problem at all.

While the film is basic in its plot, it is engaging enough to not feel like a lot of set piece action scenes. But the action scenes are outstanding. Ilya Naishuller plays Henry (also known as "your hands") and there's a sneaky cameo from Tim Roth. But the star of the film is Sharlto Copley, your spirit guide through the game, I mean film, and hander-out of the next mission.

It's all a little bizarre, and great fun at the same time.




The strange concept of first person works really well, and more than once I was left wondering how they achieved the effects they did without putting actors in harms way. And on a terrifically small budget.

Honestly, it's unique, and should be seen for that reason. But it's also a riot.





Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Into the Grizzly Maze (2015)


Wanna see a schlock b-movie staring Thomas Jane, Billy Bob Thornton, James Marsden, and Scott Glenn? Well now you can.


The title may have given away that this is a bear movie

Brothers Rowan (Marsden) and Beckett (Jane) head into the woods of the Alaskan wild in search of two people - Rowan searches for friend (a poacher with a heart of gold) and Beckett, his wife. Fundamentally that's the whole story line. Add in that there appears to be a man-killer on the loose, and not everyone has a clear agenda, and the story is wrapped.

So neatening it up into a ball, it's a plot-less film in which two men and two women go toe to paw with a bear that's smarter than your average shark.


James Marsden (right) and Bart

It is nothing, if not predictable, but very entertaining. It's far better than it should be. Most of that can be put down to the excellent cast and outstanding effects.

Marsden and Jane do a solid job of brothers with a past. Both capable actors - Thomas Jane is a personal favorite of the site. Scene stealing is done, of course, by Billy Bob Thornton as Douglass, a gun toting, no shit taking, bad-ass bear hunter. Of course, Scott Glenn brings gravitas to a small, but essencial role.

The effects match that of any "monster" movie for theatrical release. The CG and live action bear is flawlessly done. It's gory. And it looks real.


Star: Bart

The film isn't without flaw however. Our brothers are first seen as children and are maybe three years apart in age and while Marsden is only four years the junior of Jane, his woefully youthful looks make him appear far younger than his only slightly older brother. This is punctuated by the actions of Rowan being far more rash and reckless than Beckett and is slightly jarring.

The female leads of the film - Piper Perabo as Michelle, Beckett's wife, and Michaela McManus as Kaley, Rowan's love interest - are clearly in the film to get hurt, be macguffins, and be generally helpless. There appeared to be no room for strong women here. Michelle, Beckett's conservationist wife is conveniently deaf and is in need of saving. Kaley is so ridiculously clumsy she falls over in almost every scene.

That said, it is a solid actioner, that could have take a little more time with it's characterization. Grab a beer, it's a fun, silly, ride.