Tuesday, 27 December 2016

MOVIE REVIEW: LA LA LAND



10/10 
 
A traffic jam on a busy LA highway. People stuck in their cars, each locked up in their own little world, waiting patiently (or not) for the opportunity to move forward. A boring everyday scene... until one of the drivers breaks into a song... what happens next has to be seen to be believed.
 
This is the opening of LA LA LAND, an original musical with catchy tunes and a well written book. It is also well acted. Who would know that Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone could sing and dance like that? Their voices may not sound as good on a standalone soundtrack, but they are perfectly natural in a film where characters break into song for no apparent reason and start dancing spontaneously. Bottom line is... if you love musicals you will be absolutely taken by LA LA LAND. If you don't... well, you may just be converted. 
 
LA LA LAND, a love letter to Hollywood classics, is about dreamers, about a journey to a goal. What it gives and what it takes away. It is also about love, what love can represent for a determined person and it raises an important question - when you give your dream all you've got, is this love, a support mechanism, or distraction? Or both?
 
The director Damian Chapzelle, who himself had to give up a dream to become a jazz musician, is talking about something very close to his heart. LA LA LAND involves a lot of talent, the choreographers and the musicians, but what Chapzelle manages to nail is the dialogue and the realism of the relationship in a movie where realism does not exist by definition. The sugar coated settings and expanded romantisism allows the writer to be honest when required, and LA LA LAND delivers a few dramatic punches that are hardly expected from a Hollywood fairytale . 
 
But the most important thing in the film is the music. It is lavish and memorable, with one song that probably will be playing in your head is CITY OF STARS. Is it an Oscar nominee? This remains to be seen. Justin Horwitz has only one major soundtrack in his resume (For Whiplash, a previous film of Chapzelle) but has a touch of the master who understands musicals and is particularly brilliant as a jazz composer. 
 
At heart LA LA LAND is a small story, about small people with big dreams, with the problems easy to relate to and the love story you would wish a happy ending for with all your heart.  In a way, the plot lets you choose the conclusion you desire. Some movies tell you more about yourself, then the characters of its plot. LA LA LAND is this kind of film.
 

Sunday, 18 December 2016

MOVIE REVIEW: ROGUE ONE


8/10

 
Jyn Erso grew up doubting everyone, including her father, a scientist working for The Empire.  Just as he has completed his deadliest weapon yet Jyn is rescued from The Empire's clutches by the Rebels, in order to help to bring her father down. Reluctantly she agrees. What begins as a simple mission of introducing the Rebels to a family supporter and friend, turns into a fight for survival. Faced with the magnitude of the danger Jyn and her new found friends embark on a suicide mission to steal the plans of Death Star.

Serving as a link between the prequel trilogy and the original, ROGUE ONE ends where NEW HOPE begins. And all in between is an unexpectedly original take on the Star Wars universe that generates more suspense than your average sci-fi film. The outcome of the story may be known to all, but what is the fate of the new characters, that are so easy to love? ROGUE builds up to be a traditional STAR WARS movie, both in spirit and action. Until it breaks the rules...

ROGUE ONE is a rather dark take on the STAR WARS universe, where the shades of grey between good and evil are more profound than in any other instalment. Your expectations will be fulfilled, however. Quirky characters - check! Grumpy android - check! The carefully thought through universe with a multitude of different alien nations - check! Right dosage of humour - check! Not talking about action, which is amazing (just buy the artbook) and can be a subject for a separate review.

But....

and there's a big "BUT" coming. To say any more would be a spoiler.

ROGUE ONE is not a perfect film. There are problems with pacing and the story is too linear, but it can be applauded for bringing dilemmas into a well established franchise and doing something different in the end.

To sum it up, ROGUE ONE is a sort of a cold shower for those of us who grew up with a franchise. I needed a stiff drink when I got home. Will you?


 

Sunday, 27 November 2016

ANIME MOVIE REVIEW: YOUR NAME (KIMI NO NA WA?)


10/10 

Mitsuha is a country girl who is dreaming of big city life. Taki is a boy from Tokyo who one day wakes up... in Mitsuha's body. The same happens to Mitsuha. After this body switching, when they both come around the next morning, they have very little memory of what has occurred... this strange phenomena repeats itself for some unknown reason. As the boy and the girl learn to live with this curious body swapping, they also become curious of each other... is it love? When the phenomena suddenly stops Taki leaves the comfort of his Tokyo home to find the mysterious girl whose life seems to be fused with his own. What he discovers will shake him to the core. Will the two star crossed lovers be able to reunite against all the odds? 

In Japan the plot of YOUR NAME could be called a "gender bender", but in truth it is a genre bender, uniting romance, thriller, sci fi and disaster in one very complex movie that is very confident  in its own storytelling. 

Director Makoto Shinkai comes from independent movie making, but this mainstream full feature film, that broke the attendance records in Japan, is a true marvel. Shinkai who had always been a one man operation, here, with a decent budget and enough creative freedom, gives us a romantic thriller that is nothing like you have ever seen before.

Applying plot devices that we may have experienced before, Shinkai creates something truly original. Technological specs aside (the animation looks both spectacular and artistic) the movie has the characters you can instantly care for and relate to. The upbeat soundtrack nicely compliments the action and the complicated plot has all the answers when the right time comes.

YOUR NAME Is a feast of colours, adventure and romanticism. Above all it is genuine to its audience and true to the story it strives to tell. If you ever had doubt about watching Japanese anime it is time to be converted. This incredible movie will last with you for the years to come. 

Thursday, 24 November 2016

MOVIE REVIEW: ALLIED



9/10

World War Two is raging, as a Canadian spy, Max (Brad Pitt) and a French resistance fighter Marianne (Marion Cotillard)  meet in Casablanca to complete a deadly mission. Their relationship builds and grows, and soon they are married and united in London, as real life husband and wife. When Marianne is suspected of being  a German spy, Max has 72 hours to prove she is innocent or to kill her. How far would he go for love?

Offering a lengthy prologue in Casablanca (a certain reference without a doubt) ALLIED immediately establishes itself as a modern take of a classic World War Two romance. The movie spends enough time to build the characters and their perfect affair, just to throw it all into turmoil in the second act. The characters are believable, the love, they feel for each other, is genuine and the tension that builds on a premise that one of them is a villain keeps it all tightly paced.

The dilemma, "did she or did she not", is a perfect entertainment tool, as we are constantly being thrown off balance by the introduction of multiple "red herrings". The finale at the airport is another nod to classic CASABLANCA, where their great love hangs in the balance and sacrifices are to be made.

Robert Zemeckis always makes solid and stylish films, with exceptional camera work, but what I find most attractive in his work is a sense of a pure adventure. ALLIED is a romantic thriller, but above all it is an adventure film.

In the acting department, all the limelight is stolen by Marion Cotillard, with Brad Pitt doing a decent job, but somehow, being the main protagonist, he feels to be in a supporting role.

ALLIED never loses its pace nor stops being entertaining, however it does feel like a much smaller movie stretched out to a two hour mark. That said, however, ALLIED may benefit from multiple viewing, as it is a beautifully written, acted and executed film.


Sunday, 13 November 2016

HORROR MOVIE REVIEW: THE PURGE: ELECTION YEAR



It’s day thirty-one and the final day of my HALLOWEEN CHALLENGE where I have to see a horror movie a day during the month of October and write a short review for each one.

THE PURGE: ELECTION YEAR works on a simple premise, where-by in the future America, once a year, during 12 hour period called THE PURGE, every crime, including murder, is forgiven. Senator Charlie Roan, whose family had been massacred during one of the purges is now in the race for presidency, her first action if she wins will be to cancel THE PURGE. But in the election year the new rules declare, that no one is immune from THE PURGE. Now as she is being hunted down by her opponent, Charlie is on the run. What will it take to win the election and how far will she be prepared to go?

Written and directed by James DeMonaco THE PURGE: ELECTION YEAR is the third instalment in the series. DeMonaco had come up with the idea, penned and helmed all three films, and in the ELECTION YEAR the good writing has met the right budget. It is the best of the three.

The movie is not afraid to spend time establishing the characters and this pays off in the long run. The protagonists are easy to identify with and to care for. The premise is simple and effective, and mirroring the reality of the modern world, making this feature borderline terrifying. The creepy villain and buckets of gore turns it into an intense watch and to top it all, the film does not have a singe boring moment. With the action streaming, in the vein of my favourite TVs show "24", there's barely time to catch one's breath.

Unknowingly to myself, I saved the best for last. I am finally giving the movie a perfect score. This is a perfect end for my Halloween challenge.


SCARY SCORE: 👻👻👻👻
GORE SCORE: 🗡🗡🗡🗡🗡
SCARE SCORE: 🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃

HORROR MOVIE REVIEW: THE ONES BELOW



It’s day thirty of my HALLOWEEN CHALLENGE where I have to see a horror movie a day during the month of October and write a short review for each one.

THE ONES BELOW is a stylish Hitchcockian  thriller of a subtle suspense, that is more tense than any straightforward horror movie could be.

Kate and Justin who are expecting a baby, befriend a strange neighbours from downstairs. When tragedy strikes, Kate starts to suspect that her neighbours have sinister plans.
The movie cleverly plays with expectation, and the attention towards the end becomes almost unbearable.

David Farr, a theatre director, who also has an impressive filmography writing for Tv shows Spooks, The Manager Manager and has also penned a few Hollywood film scripts. He has come up with his first directorial  full length feature debut, which is haunting and terrifying.

Carefully constructed, the story keeps its cards menacingly open, only to slap you in the face with an ending that you will not forget.


SCORE OUT OF 5:

SCARY SCORE: 👻👻👻👻
GORE SCORE: NONE
FUN SCORE: 🎃🎃🎃🎃

HORROR MOVIE REVIEW: THE DARK STRANGER


It’s day twenty-nine of my HALLOWEEN CHALLENGE where I have to see a horror movie a day during the month of October and write a short review for each one.

In THE DARK STRANGER a comic book artist is fighting depression and the grief of her mother's suicide, while the visions of The Dark Man, a mysterious figure from the Comic book she is creating starts haunting her and becomes a threat to all. Partially animation, partially a coming of age story, THE DARK STRANGER has a few interesting twists and turns, but drives a familiar route of a family in distress and a young and pretty protagonist fighting evil.

The character of THE DARK STRANGER symbolises depression, and this message and it is not obscure enough to be effective. It is hard to define the target audience for this little movie: it is definitely not for grown ups and teenagers will find it dull. THE DARK STRANGER has a few original ideas up its sleeve, but it's not enough to pull it through.


SCORE OUT OF 5:

SCARY SCORE: 👻
GORE SCORE: 🗡🗡
FUN SCORE: 🎃🎃

HORROR MOVIE REVIEW: PHANTASM RAVAGER



It’s day twenty-eight of my HALLOWEEN CHALLENGE where I have to see a horror movie a day during the month of October and write a short review for each one.

PHANTASM is a film , which shares the pedestal with other horror classics, such as HALLOWEEN, but its multiple sequels do not do justice to the original. PHANTASM RAVAGER is the latest instalment the fans of the franchise held high hopes for. What transpired is overwritten, confusing and an uninteresting ride that should have stayed buried or forgotten on the studio's shelf.

You have to give it to the actors from the original, most of them are back for this FINAL fight with evil, and give enthusiastic performances, but the lazy script does not give them much to work with.
The visual effects department was also a major let down. The clumsy CGI is barely passable and will look awkward on the big screen.

There's nothing positive to say about PHANTASM RAVAGER. It made me feel nostalgic for the time when I saw the original, but this is not the "final chapter" the fans like myself deserved.


SCORE OUT OF 5:

SCARY SCORE: NONE
GORE SCORE: NONE
FUN SCORE: 🎃

HORROR MOVIE REVIEW: THE DARKNESS



It’s day twenty-seven of my HALLOWEEN CHALLENGE where I have to see a horror movie a day during the month of October and write a short review for each one.

THE DARKNESS is an American movie from Australian Greg McLean, the creator of Wolf Creek. Once again touching upon the travellers entering an uncharted territory, the movie sets the stage in a typical suburban America, with your "next door neighbours" type of characters in peril. When their autistic son picks up some weird artefacts during their vacation in Grand Canyon, he brings in the demonic presence into their everyday life.

THE DARKNESS boasts being based on real life story, but it tries to copy THE CONJURING and INSIDIOUS in a badly unsuspenseful way. The film is a misfire by an otherwise clever director, with a perfect sense of what horror should look like. It's always rewarding to watch Kevin Bacon and Radha Mitchell, but the script does not give them much to work with. THE DARKNESS is much more concerned about the family drama than horror, delivering in the end a rather mediocre result.

It's not exactly the time to dismiss McLean as an Australian pioneer of horror, but this is a definite diversion from his otherwise decent filmography.


SCORE OUT OF 5:

SCARY SCORE: NONE
GORE SCORE: NONE
FUN SCORE: 🎃

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

HORROR MOVIE REVIEW: THE MIND'S EYE



It’s day twenty-six of my HALLOWEEN CHALLENGE where I have to see a horror movie a day during the month of October and write a short review for each one.

THE MIND'S EYE is an 80's stylised piece of cinema, that is hugely inspired by the classic horror SCANNERS. Featuring similar set up it is telling the story of a man and a woman with telekinetic abilities, who has escaped from the secret compound, where they were subjected to gruesome experiments. Pursued by a psychotic doctor, they have to die, or face their attackers head on. Full of piercing needles, flying axes and exploding heads, THE MIND'S EYE is a gore feast, but it also manages to deliver on tension. The electronic soundtrack  will bring out nostalgia, and the practical effects and the make up are awe inspiring. Good bye CGI!

If anything negative to be said about THE MIND'S EYE, it's that it is taking itself too seriously, plus the story is a little one dimensional. Nothing original was really brought to the table, but what was done, was done well.

THE MIND'S EYE Is a low budget film that manages to deliver an excellent look and sound. In fact, the sound is one of the most interesting features of the film. The opening title suggest: THIS FILM MUST BE WATCHED LOUD! Follow this advice if you can.

SCORE OUT OF 5:

SCARY SCORE: 👻
GORE SCORE: 🗡🗡🗡🗡🗡
FUN SCORE: 🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃

HORROR MOVIE REVIEW: SCREAM TV SHOW HALLOWEEN SPECIAL


It’s day twenty-five of my HALLOWEEN CHALLENGE where I have to see a horror movie a day during the month of October and write a short review for each one.

My challenge will not be complete without a review of a TV show. There are number of fantastic horror shows out there, including American Horror Story, but tonight I will talk about the "underdog".

SCREAM is a NETFLIX show (originally produced by MTV) that I love to hate. So far SCREAM TV SHOW has spawned two very uneven seasons, but with the Halloween special movie, it seems to start finally finding its voice.

It is not necessary to know any of the SCREAM TV characters to watch this one, but it is beneficial, as a few storylines from TV show get a resolution and it sets up for the next season. At the core of the story is a bunch of teenagers, who had not once, but twice had survived a serial killer massacre; decide to escape their hometown for Halloween and get stuck on an island, and plunge right into the heart of a new murder mystery. The storm is coming, the last boat is gone, and they are now facing the new killer, whose main objective, once again, is beautiful Emma Duvall, a fragile heroine who had escaped the clutches of death a few times before, and seems to get a hang of it.

The set up is simple, the murders just keep on coming, and the film just feels too good to be a TV special. With yet another killer stalking the same bunch of kids the premise should get tiresome, but if you take it as a modern, darker version of SCOOBI-DOO, it sort of works. The real disappointment here is the killer reveal - too predictable and too cliche. But his (or her) final showdown with Emma is worth all the wait!

SCREAM TV SHOW is not for everyone. You are either onboard or not. But this little movie sets the standard high for the future season.

SCORE OUT OF 5:

SCARY SCORE: 👻👻
GORE SCORE: 🗡🗡🗡
FUN SCORE: 🎃🎃🎃🎃

HORROR MOVIE REVIEW: MANHOLE


It’s day twenty-four of my HALLOWEEN CHALLENGE where I have to see a horror movie a day during the month of October and write a short review for each one.

Korean movies always put drama on the forefront of any genre film including horror. MANHOLE -  a slasher movie, that takes part almost entirely in the underground of Seoul, is no exception.

When her deaf sister suddenly disappears, Yeon-Seo descends into the underground labyrinth, beneath the city to find her. The entire film is a cat and mouse game between the two women and a psychotic serial killer who is out to destroy them. The film is stylishly shot and for the small set up the underground setting provides, no expense is spared.

Another famous feature of Korean movies is the high standard of acting. Both leading ladies and the serial killer are believable and very human characters. While evil is never redeemed, it is made understandable.

Korean audiences crave horror more than any other country (must have something to do with the political situation), and they manage to make any cliche set up turn into an original movie.

MANHOLE may be too gritty and violent for some, but this is the horror  movie that deserves praise: rich in character, spot on pacing, and just enough violence to make you believe you've seen a lot, when in fact it all happened off screen. Creepy, intelligent and SCARY!

SCORE OUT OF 5


SCARY SCORE: 👻👻👻
GORE SCORE: 🗡🗡🗡🗡
FUN SCORE: 🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃

HORROR MOVIE REVIEW: REBIRTH


It’s day twenty-three of my HALLOWEEN CHALLENGE where I have to see a horror movie a day during the month of October and write a short review for each one.

REBIRTH is a story of Kyle,  a middle aged guy stuck in his home-work-home routine, who goes to a spiritual camp weekend recommended by his old pal, he had not seen in ages. To give away anything that transpires would be a spoiler… just to mention its not a comedy we are reviewing after all!

REBIRTH is a Netflix commissioned movie and there’s been a row of very successful ones in recent years: art-house movies with descent budgets, that would never have been produced otherwise. Bravo Netflix.

The one word to describe REBIRTH would be “intriguing”. It has the same “lunacy” vibe as THE INVITATION, one of my favorite horror of this year. It does not go as far, but it does not have to. We can make up our minds ourselves. In my books, REBIRTH could be a prequel to THE INVITATION also but  it has no connection   whatsoever to it.

It always fun to watch a movie that does not play by the rules and makes you think, but is also engaging at the same time. If it was a book I would have finished it in one day, just because the  ending is so hard to predict.

And, ironically, it is the ending of REBIRTH which is the only let down. While it not at all a disappointment, there’s nothing spectacular or shocking about it. On the bright side, it will make you want to discuss it with a friend. Don’t watch it alone!


SCORE OUT OF 5


SCARY SCORE: 👻👻
GORE SCORE: NONE
FUN SCORE: 🎃🎃🎃🎃

HORROR MOVIE REVIEW: ABATTOIR



It’s day twenty-two of my HALLOWEEN CHALLENGE where I have to see a horror movie a day during the month of October and write a short review for each one.

In ABATTOIR a young journalist loses her sister's family to a terrible crime, only to find out that the the house where the murder was committed had been sold and the murder room had been ripped out of it. She shortly finds out similar incidents all over the country, and discovers that a mysterious collector is harvesting the crime scenes and building one very special house...

Originally created as a comic book by director Darryl Lynn Bousman (a director of  some SAW sequels) ABATTOIR is an indie film with great potential, its only minus could be the limited budget. You could only imagine what this idea could really look like on a bigger scale!

It is rare to find such an original premise in an independent horror film, but to have top notch cinematography and suspense is a real rarity. ABATTOIR'S main achievement is it's superior writing and comprehensive dialogue. Here come the characters of flesh and blood you can root for in a horror film!  A special mention is to Lin Shaye (INSIDIOUS movie franchise)- a fantastic actor, who can turn any episodic role into the most important performance of the film.

The camera work is wonderfully old fashioned and the mystery is delicious. The creepy choral soundtrack creates the mood and the pacing hooks you in and never lets go.

Once in a while you stumble on a real gem of an independent film that will surprise and inspire. ABATTOIR is such a film.

SCORE OUT OF 5

SCARY SCORE: 👻👻👻👻
GORE SCORE: 🗡🗡🗡🗡
FUN SCORE: 🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃

Friday, 21 October 2016

HORROR MOVIE REVIEW: THE ZERO BOYS






It’s day twenty one of my HALLOWEEN CHALLENGE where I have to see a horror movie a day during the month of October and write a short review for each one.

This time it's another 80s horror, called THE ZERO BOYS. It's must have been a pioneer of the survival horror, with unusually and unsettling for the time snuff movie references and very human villains. The story revolves around a team of young survival game champions, who suddenly find themselves hunted by a group of psychopaths. Are they as good at survival game for real?  This time the prize is their lives.

My thirteen year old self would love THE ZERO BOYS, because it is full of booby traps, explosions and some very well executed suspense. But looking at it through the eyes of a modern viewer it is obvious that the characters are badly developed, the acting is weak and behaviour is illogical. It is also hard to like anyone, and the boys who play with guns too much are just asking for the arrow through their heads.

I also did not appreciate the small body count. Come on! It's a horror movie for god's sake. There were more maniacs killed than innocent victims, and this is a sign that something is wrong with the film.

ZERO BOYS is one of the 80's film that would do well as a remake, with a better script and acting it could be a pretty scary movie. As it is, the film is just an interesting example of 80's pulp, that will require a few beers and some friends around you to be truly enjoyed.

SCORE OUT OF 5:

SCARY SCORE: 👻
GORE SCORE: 🗡🗡
FUN SCORE: 🎃🎃🎃

Thursday, 20 October 2016

HORROR MOVIE REVIEW: CHOPPING MALL




It’s day twenty of my HALLOWEEN CHALLENGE where I have to see a horror movie a day during the month of October and write a short review for each one.

I am told I am not watching enough 80's horror films, so tonight I am reviewing CHOPPING MALL, a horror film from the 80's I had missed as a teenager and have discovered it's existence just recently, stumbling on a poster. God, I wish they made similar posters these days!  A perfect marketing tool!

The plot is simple, but effective. A lightening strike causes the safety guard robots to go mad at a large shopping mall, just when a group of young people decides to have a sneaky party after hours. The exits are locked, and the victims are stuck with the homicidal machines overnight.

The film has a dumb dialogue, lots of topless girls, is filled with neon laser beams and has plenty of explosive gore - everything 80's is famous for. There is barely a boring moment, as the kids don't take long to fight back, and the murders come in rapid fashion. The body count is staggering!

The electronic soundtrack is a marvel, and the whole experience will make you go back in time, if you grew up with these films like I did. The final showdown between the pretty blonde and one of the devil's machines is cathartic, culminating in a punchline right before the evil creature is sent to electronic hell, or wherever the bad robots go.

My thirteen year old self would have enjoyed CHOPPING MALL much more, but I must admit at almost forty I still had a blast.

SCORE OUT OF 5:

SCARY SCORE: 👻
GORE SCORE: 🗡🗡🗡🗡
FUN SCORE: 🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

HORROR MOVIE REVIEW: NIGHT FARE



It’s day nineteen of my HALLOWEEN CHALLENGE where I have to see a horror movie a day during the month of October and write a short review for each one.

NIGHT FARE is a French horror movie directed by Julien Seri, who normally specialises in action films, and it is visible in this 2015 horror effort. The premise is intriguing enough: during their reunion in Paris, two friends skip the taxi fare, only to be stalked by the relentless taxi driver with a mania to kill.  What should be a straightforward formula thriller is not what it seems, and the last 20 minutes shift the gear into a different direction, showing what happened in a different light... and not in a great way.

NIGHT FARE is basically one relentless chase thorough the seedy Parisian suburbs, and is entertaining enough. The cinematography resembles carefully constructed music video and the suspense, unfortunately, is never really there. The love triangle aspect of the story, however, is a terrible cliche.

I had great expectations of NIGHT FARE, as French do horror best, but this independent feature tries to borrow from too many other films, and then, as if remembering how important it is to be original, adds an ending that came form a completely different genre and undermines all that came before it.


SCORE OUT OF 5

SCARY SCORE: 👻
GORE SCORE: 🗡🗡🗡
FUN SCORE: 🎃🎃🎃

HORROR MOVIE REVIEW: WE ARE WHAT WE ARE



It’s day eighteen of my HALLOWEEN CHALLENGE where I have to see a horror movie a day during the month of October and write a short review for each one.

Officially WE ARE WHAT WE ARE is an American re-make of a very good Mexican film of the same name. But I would rather call it re-imagining, as after the familiar set up, the movie takes a completely different direction from the original.

Parkers is a small town family who had just experienced a tragedy - Emma Parker, the mother of three children had passed away. But for Parker's family, apart from the feeling of grief and loss, her death presents a very practical problem - they will have nothing to eat. And mom had provided them with a very special type of food...

WE ARE WHAT WE ARE stands out for its very human portrayal of monsters, to the point that you can almost feel sympathy towards them. Two innocent girls, the small boy and the maddened with grief father, all seem vulnerable and desperate. As hunger overtakes them they start to slide into panic mode... and make mistakes. The movie is slow, but mysterious. It's a family drama and detective story in one. And the gory ending is borderline nauseating.

WE ARE WHAT WE ARE is almost a perfect horror film, except it could do without the backstory explanation. The flash back sequences feel out of place and take away some magic from the set up. Monsters' motives and origins don't always need to be perfectly explained to be scary.

It is nice to see the American remake doing a good job. Instead of trying to steal the glory of the original, WE ARE WHAT WE ARE simply compliments it, by giving us a different storyline and a bunch of new interesting characters.

SCARY SCORE: 👻👻👻👻
GORE SCORE: 🗡🗡🗡🗡
FUN SCORE: 🎃🎃🎃🎃

Monday, 17 October 2016

HORROR MOVIE REVIEW: WHEN ANIMALS DREAM



It’s day seventeen of my HALLOWEEN CHALLENGE where I have to see a horror movie a day during the month of October and write a short review for each one.

In the Danish movie WHEN ANIMALS DREAM, a young girl Marie discovers strange changes in her body. Realising that her family is not what it seems, she makes a decision that no one will dictate to her how to deal with her future.

WHEN ANIMALS DREAM Is a coming of age story with a twist. Using the Werewolf legend as a basis for Marie's transformations, the movie is more concerned about drama than the straightforward horror, focusing on frustrations of being young and facing inevitable decisions about the future. The movie is dark, elegant and stylish, with performances to match, Sonia Suhl as Marie being a particular revelation.

The film is short, less than 90 minutes, and this allows it to tell this small story at the right pace and finish at the right time. WHEN ANIMALS DREAM toured the world festivals a few years ago and to very positive feedback. Not many independent films, horror or not, live up to the expectations, but this film effortlessly manages to capture one's attention, to scare and to amaze.

SCORE OUT OF 5:

SCARY SCORE: 👻👻👻
GORE SCORE: 🗡🗡🗡
FUN SCORE: 🎃🎃🎃🎃

HORROR MOVIE REVIEW: JACK GOES HOME


It’s day sixteen of my HALLOWEEN CHALLENGE where I have to see a horror movie a day during the month of October and write a short review for each one.

Once in a while watching a lot of independent films your stumble on a hidden gem, such a gem is JACK GOES HOME, from a first time director Thomas Dekker. Just like the title suggest, a young man Jack returns home from LA for his father's funeral, to discover some shocking truths about his early childhood and his parents. With his mother being alive, she is the only one he can ask questions. How far will he go to get the answers, and how far would his mother go to cover up the terrible truth?

JACK GOES HOME is best described as "intriguing". Just like the protagonist, we want to know the answers to the secrets, and we get them eventually, but the ending will make us question ourselves. What was true? Was anything?

JACK GOES HOME is a kind of a movie that give you all the answers. But at the same time offers you none. It is a dark tale of family secrets and betrayals and the way one learns how to live with them. It is populated by live, well fleshed out characters, and Rory Culkin gives it his everything and more. The movie is a solid and focused piece, but once again, it could do with a shorter running time.

I would have given this film a perfect score just for its originality and for an interesting approach to a film about dealing with grief, but an ambiguous ending ruined it a little bit for me. This is an original piece of cinema that deserves your attention.

SCORE OUT OF 5:

SCARY SCORE: 👻👻👻👻
GORE SCORE: 🗡🗡🗡
FUN SCORE: 🎃🎃🎃 🎃

HORROR MOVIE REVIEW: PATIENT SEVEN



It’s day fifteen of my HALLOWEEN CHALLENGE where I have to see a horror movie a day during the month of October and write a short review for each one.

Anthology horror movies are almost a sub-genre, and my challenge would not be complete without one of those. The plot of PATIENT SEVEN revolves around a renowned  psychiatrist Dr Markus who visits an asylum for the criminally insane, in order to interview six of the patients for his new book. But it's patient Seven who is  hiding a dangerous secret.

This overarching storyline is designed to connect seven short independent horror movies from around the world. Michael Ironside as Dr Markus does a good job, but the problem is that his character is irrelevant, just like the rest of the mental asylum set up. As a connection between seven short stories it definitely doesn't work.

The good news?
 The seven short horror films of PATIENT SEVEN are pretty good. They are bloody, suspenseful and inventive. My favourite being THE BODY where a contract killer drags the dead body through the Halloween crowds, never suspected, because he is one of many in weird costumes. There is also a child killer story, a vampire story, a monster story, a ghost story and two zombie stories.
And in spite of overall movie's lengthy time of 120 minutes I thoroughly enjoyed all of them.

PATIENT SEVEN would be a much better, compact film if it had abandoned the mental asylum storyline as it is completely redundant. If you like short and effective scares PATIENT SEVEN is definitely worth a look.


SCORE OUT OF 5:

SCARY SCORE: 👻👻👻
GORE SCORE: 🗡🗡🗡🗡
FUN SCORE: 🎃🎃🎃