Wednesday, 23 May 2018

For the Love of Shorts: Larry (2017)

Larry lives behind a window. He can see through the glass. Who will be Larry's friend ?

Directed by Jacob Chase and starring Joe Calarco (American Horror Story), Larry is what you might find in the lost and found...

Monday, 21 May 2018

Incarnation (2016)


A man wakes up on a bench without any idea who or where he is until he is shot by four masked assassins. The man wakes up on the same bench thinking his death was a dream until the assassins re-appear and kill him again. Stuck in a hellish loop, he tries to unravel the mystery and with each death he gets closer to the truth.


On paper 2016's Incarnation reads as if it was looking closely through the lens towards Happy Death Day. It couldn't be further from the truth, though. Serbian movie Incarnation is a smart, fast paced thriller with little to no dialogue - apart from internal monologue from star, Stojan Djordjevic. He awakens on a bench in the middle of a city, disoriented, and without memory, and is hastily gunned down by four men.

Cue reincarnation, and the cycle begins again.

Without spoilers, it's hard to go farther into the plot, which unravels with a good pace over the relatively short run time.

With any film that plays to the Groundhog Day style of rinse and repeat, the challenge is to remain interesting, while also keeping consistency. I don't want to watch the same thing over and over again, but also my interest is lost when I can say that something has changed between timelines. Writer and Director Filip Kovacevic does an outstanding job of holding the story together, keeping it interesting, and where there is repetition, using style and confident camera work to keep it fresh. Bravo.

The star, Stojan Djordjevic (For King and Homeland) has pretty much the only face on screen for the majority of the film. His four masked assassins are largely mute, and have no facial expressions. It's a tough call for such an inexperienced actor to carry such a role. Djordjevic does a stellar job.

It's a great take, and works well.

To it's advantage, because of the narrative, the story is well told with little dialogue. At several points during the film I considered re-watching it with no sound. Yes, it's that intriguing. And as an added bonus, if you're not used to subtitles, or have a disdain for them, the film is easily accessible.

One thing that I have to praise over most else though is the thoroughly believable and well executed scenes of violence. This is no Hollywood actioner where our hero can glance a bullet off a street sign and get a head shot. There's restraint on muzzle flair. When someone gets shot, you feel it.

All round one not to be missed, and I for one look forward to seeing it again.  

It's available on DVD in the UK today:

Friday, 18 May 2018

Victor Frankenstein (2015)


Told from Igor's perspective, we see the troubled young assistant's dark origins, his redemptive friendship with the young medical student Victor Von Frankenstein, and become eyewitnesses to the emergence of how Frankenstein became the man - and the legend - we know today.


So I went into this blind, pretty much expecting a horror movie rehash of the Frankenstein legend. Nope. Telling the story from the perspective of Igor is a genius move. Beginning with Igor as an outcast working in the circus, and yet showing him with near genius levels of intelligence. After an accident in the big top, Victor enters, immediately recognizes his abilities - and his usefulness - and springs him from his servitude to work with him, assuming the identity - Igor - and even fixing his back up.

Listed on IMDB as a drama, horror, sci fi, the clear omission is comedy, with some laugh out loud moments.

With the POV change, the story has new light. Frankenstein is master manipulator, a genius, sure, but without his friends, nothing. But Igor is the true star. He is portrayed as a sensitive, kind, genius. His motives are pure, which leads him to be somewhat gullible, especially towards his perceived savior, Frankenstein.

The marketing would have you believe that James McAvoy (Frankenstein) be the star, but quite the opposite, the true star here is Daniel Radcliffe (Igor). He had begun the arduous task of shedding Harry Potter long ago, but not until Horns did it start to show. This is a revelation. He's beginning to look like a seasoned professional now, and stands strong on screen next McAvoy (a powerhouse performer) and the likes of Charles Dance and Andrew Scott (Sherlock).

Don't expect to see anything more than a cameo from Frankenstein's Monster - in this cased named Prometheus - as it doesn't appear until the final act, and then, only briefly.

The film is both warm and tender, as well as action packed. It has horror, but isn't scary, and can be likened in style and substance to Guy Richies Sherlock Homes films.

Victor Frankenstein is a strong character piece, worthy of anyone's time.

Gloriously gothic.

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

For the Love of Shorts: Your Date is Here (2017)

Co-written by Todd Spence and Zak White, this is a slow burn, but with a pay off. On the screen we have Becca Flinn and Dani Tiernan, both doing a great job. 

Six minutes? You wait longer in line for a latte. Do it. 

Friday, 11 May 2018

Green Room (2015)


A band straying into a secluded part of the Pacific Northwest stumbles onto a horrific act of violence. Because they are the only witnesses, they become the targets of a terrifying gang of skinheads who want to make sure all the evidence is eliminated.


If I were locked in a room with a murderous Captain Picard on the other side of it, I'd be scared too. Even if I were Chekov.

I won't spoil anything here, but really there is little to spoil. The synopsis pretty much covers the events of the film. A band are set to gig in a remote location, and upon arrival find they are to play to a group of neo-nazis. They witness a death - presumably a murder - and become, shall we say, expendable.

On paper, this has none of the hallmarks of what it becomes. Sir Patrick Stewart (Robin Hood: Men in Tights)? Imogen Poots (Need for Speed)? Mark Webber (Scott Pilgrim)? Anton Yelchin (Terminator Salvation)? This reads like a fantasy-football cast for a family movie. Yet is one of the most brutal horror movies you'll see.

The late (and very missed) Yelchin plays to type as the young, idealistic, musician. He, and the band, are wide-eyed, and terrified. Very much off type is Stewart, who leads his band of murderous thugs in taking down the only witnesses to a crime. And, sure, it sounds like a thriller.

But this is horror.

Written and directed by Jeremy Saulnier (who is responsible for the bonkers Murder Party), sleights his hand deftly over the proceedings. The tension builds to near unbearable levels, the gore is shocking, and the film down right frightening. All in 95 minutes.

If you want comparison, look no further than the gut wrenching Eden Lake.

The film is largely small location based, and better for it. It's claustrophobic. Taut. It will leave you hollow. This is no popcorn horror. This is one for the hardcore horror fans to get scared over.

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

For the Love of Shorts: Vicious (2015)

An amazing and fantastically scary short, I can't believe that we neglected to promote this one sooner. Directed by Oliver Park (Strange Events), this is one of the most impacting and scary things you'll see. 

It shows Park as an amazing director, but star, Rachel Winters, steals the show.

Must see.

Friday, 4 May 2018

Sushi Girl (2012)


Upon his release from prison, Fish is brought to an abandoned restaurant by his old associate, Duke, to celebrate his newfound freedom. However, there's unfinished business that Duke is determined to solve.


I'll be honest. I wanted to see this because of the cast. And man, I'm glad I did.

So let's start there. Truly an ensemble, the film is led by Tony Todd (Candyman), with the likes of Noah Hathaway (The Neverending Story), James Duval (Independence Day), Mark Hamill (Slip Stream), and Andy Mackenzie (Macgruber). Chuck in some cameos from Sonny Chiba, Jeff Fahey, Danny Trejo, and Michael Biehn, and you have a cast. It's all very Tarantino in both actor choice and delivery, but more on that later. Rounding them out is Cortney Palm (Zombeavers) - the titular Sushi Girl.

Because of the films narrative, it relies very heavily on strong performances from the cast. It mostly delivers. Stand out for me was Mark Hamill who I hadn't seen in a live action role in years. And doesn't he come crashing onto the scene. The lead of Tony Todd is a strong choice. He can, and has, carried many a film. So with such talent at hand, does the film deliver?

The premise is simple. A robbery, one man went to jail, and the diamonds disappeared. Now with the gang back together, someone in this room must know where the stash is. I won't go much more into it than that, no spoilers on this one. The story plays out well. It has neat twists and turns, nothing is obvious, and the ending is very satisfying. One immediate thought though, is that of Reservoir Dogs. It's...awfully close in premise. Angry gangsters, single room setting, pointing fingers. The similarity is undeniable.

The direction is solid, Kern Saxton helms (his one and only seat in the chair at feature length) - so no flaw there. The film falls at the writing. Kern (Co-writer) and Destin Pfaff (who also wrote something called Porntourage (!)) drop the ball with repetitious, and sometimes stale dialogue. No matter how legendary the cast, if the dialogue is poor in a film like this, it's destined to fail. With this cast, in the hands of someone with Tarantino's dialogue genius, this would have been up there with Pulp Fiction. Sadly, it wasn't to be, and barely made a wave in the bargain bucket DVD bins.

But that said, it is actually worth watching for the more than capable story line, and of course, the outstanding cast.