The Blackcoat’s Daughter (2017) EXPLAINED.

I’ve been waiting to write this since the moment I got to the end of Oz Perkins’ The Blackcoat’s Daughter!

Blackcoat's Daughter 1If you haven’t seen the movie and are wondering why I should focus my attention on a motion picture that grossed only $20,435 worldwide, check out my spoiler-free take on the movie, since I’m now about to spoil the hell out of this complex film in the next few paragraphs. Continue reading “The Blackcoat’s Daughter (2017) EXPLAINED.”

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Office rage breaks loose and it’s loads of fun! Mayhem – movie review

Whoever has had any kind of experience in an office job would know the feeling of being the unhumanised part of a soulless corporation.

Luckily, as an employee of Sky Sports Italia, I don’t get that sensation, but I both experienced it first hand in previous jobs and heard constantly about it from friends and family. Continue reading “Office rage breaks loose and it’s loads of fun! Mayhem – movie review”

One giant built-up to a clever twist. Lake Bo(re)dom – movie review

It’s not a very smart pun, I know. Obviously, the real title of this Finnish horror thriller is Lake Bodom, a movie that came out in 2016 but had its wide release in 2017.

Regarded as one of the smartest horror films in recent years, Lake Bodom utilises an actual crime case that happened in the location of the same name in 1960, when two youngsters got stabbed to death. Following the investigation, a third 18-year-old boy who was in the tent with the victims was found innocent for lack of evidence.

In consequence, the movie revolves around four high-schoolers (two boys and two girls) who go camping in the same location some 40 years after the murders to find out if the Lake Bodom killer is just a legend or something more real. Continue reading “One giant built-up to a clever twist. Lake Bo(re)dom – movie review”

I JUST SAW… Baskin (Turkey, 2015)

Here we are, starting a new series in which I’ll be taking a look at some random movies that went overlooked or are just plain unknown.

Most of the movies I’ll be watching and talking about are foreign (as in non-American), therefore I hope you don’t mind reading subtitles! Obviously, these are all going to be films that I highly recommend, so check them out if you’re intrigued by what you are going to read. Starting off with…

Baskin 1Baskin (Turkey, 2015, directed by Can Evrenol) revolves around five Turkish police officers who receive an emergency call from a secluded location and go check out what the fuss is all about. On their way, they get into a terrible car accident which, anyway, happens not too far from the mansion they were headed to. When they enter the unsettling mansion, all hell breaks loose (literally).

Continue reading “I JUST SAW… Baskin (Turkey, 2015)”

Once upon a time, there were a Demon, a Vampire and a Skinwalker… The Monster Project – movie review

It seems like the beginning of a twisted fairy tale, instead that’s the premise The Monster Project is based on.

Combine this simple (although a bit childish) premise with some found-footage style, isolated location, a solar eclipse and you basically know what film you will get. Sounds lame, right?

Monster Project 1If you ask me, this doesn’t look promising even in the slightest. Fortunately, in this case, what you have on paper doesn’t turn into reality in the execution, because The Project Monster is a very entertaining flick.

We follow aspiring filmmaker Bryan (Toby Hemingway, the only familiar face in the movie) who assembles a crew of misfits to film a documentary with real-life monsters: specifically, a demon, a vampire and a Skinwalker.

This movie runs for almost 100 minutes and, as soon as the action kicks off (around 40 minutes into the film), it becomes fast-paced and non-stop entertainment, with one impactful jump-scare after the other. Besides the ending, which has a silly plot twist I don’t really care for, The Monster Project is a constant adrenaline rush, a sort of The Blair Witch Project (1999) on steroids.

If you are into this kind of movies, I suggest to check this one out as soon as possible; just don’t expect anything more than that, okay?

Obviously, though, I wouldn’t call this a good movie. This time around, I am going to explain the main issues with the movie by figuring out a fictional, alternative version of what we got. An alternative cut, if you will.

Monster Project 2.jpgFirst of all, the ‘HorrorWorld&Reviews cut’ would be 70 minutes long: no characters’ introduction or formulaic backstory, the viewer would be dragged into the action straight away. In fact, the first 30 minutes or so of The Monster Project seem to be there just to make the flick get to the feature length. Also, every time this movie comes back to the characters it loses impact. In my fictional cut, all those elements would disappear.

Monster Project 3.pngSecondly, I would elongate the interviews with the monsters, which are the most original and enthralling part of this flick. Mostly Demon and Vampire (the Skinwalker not so much) are scary and intriguing and I would have liked to see a deeper exploration of their persona, which is what I would include in the ‘HorrorWorld&Reviews cut’.

Finally, I would film The Monster Project through a more traditional third-person narrative. The found-footage style is tiresome and has used up its impact in horror cinema, in my opinion. The main reason being it’s supposed to show the audience real and truthful events through the eye of a camera; however, in The Monster Project the viewer is bombarded with professional soundtrack (where does it come from?), awkward angles (why filming yourself kissing a girl?) and perfect audio recording (even when a freaking demon eats you alive).

The point is that a movie makes much more sense within its story and its ‘universe’ when it’s not filmed in found-footage fashion, because it doesn’t need to explain how this or that has been recorded. Therefore, my cut would rely on traditional filmmaking techniques and shy away from every form of found-footage.

A quick recap: I’d keep all the good stuff included in The Monster Project and make the segments about the monsters’ interview longer; I’d get rid of any attempt to character development; I’d film the movie in third-person and probably make the ending a bit less over-the-top and silly. What do you think? Would you watch it?

While we wait for Hollywood to hire my, as I said before you can still enjoy The Monster Project for what it is and you’ll probably end up having some mindless entertainment, filled with scary bits and extremely effective jump-scares, as long as you don’t overthink about it for more than two seconds. Otherwise, you’d realise that nothing makes sense. Cheers!

 

Thanks to DreadCentral for the images!

The Classics of Horror #15 – A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Being the intelligent filmmaker he was, in the early 80s Wes Craven decided to get out of the hole he dug himself in with his early exploitation flicks. Great quality exploitation, though, with The Last House on the Left (1972) being a genre-defining, twisted flick and The Hills Have Eyes (1977) being a fun, extreme ride.

As a consequence, A Nightmare on Elm Street hit theatres in 1984, challenging a market filled with slasher flicks and dominated by the Halloween and Friday the 13th movies. The result was one of the most loved movies by horror fans in cinema history, other than a unique take on the sub-genre.

Kicking off in medias res (in the midst of things), without any character’s introduction, Was Craven film sets itself apart from any other slasher back in the 80s.

Nightmare 1The plot follows four teenagers who are having recurring, similar nightmares about a disfigured man who wears a shabby hat and a glove made of knives. They soon discover than what happens in their dreams has a repercussion on reality and Freddy Krueger – one of the most iconic villains in cinema history – is not just a figment of their imagination.

Freddy (memorably portrayed by Robert Englund) is the show-stealer in this movie that went on creating a long-lasting franchise and an endless series of remakes and reboots. Unlike Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees, Krueger utilises a more psychological approach to hunt his victims down: with creepy sense of humour he winds them up and confuses their reality and dreams. He makes them terrorised, sleepless and weak; thus, more vulnerable.

The concept behind A Nightmare on Elm Street is what’s truly scary about the film: you can escape Myers and Voorhees, as long as you don’t cross path with them, but you can’t refuse to sleep and run away from your subconscious, your dreams.

Although many fans consider A Nightmare on Elm Street an entertaining movie (which, in fact, it is), the idea it’s based on it’s genuinely frightening and the backstory of Freddy (a child molester and killer, who was burnt alive by the families of his victims) make for a great horror, driven by a fantastic antihero.

Nightmare 3Yet, Craven is amazing at executing the concept, by melting reality and dreams from beginning to end. Because of that, the grand finale of Nightmare is one of the most satisfying in cinema history (in my opinion), because it gives the viewer food for thought and doesn’t betray the rest of the movie. Something modern horrors do a lot more than they should…

Nightmare 2In clever contrast to the dream-like vibe that permeates Craven’s masterpiece, the characters (among which there’s a young, but always charming Johnny Depp) are extremely relatable and feel like real people: similarly to Halloween (1978), dialogues and actions of the protagonists are believable. The best compliment I can make to the cast is that they don’t feel like actors.

Again, the parents of the main guys are aware of the things that are happening in their community and, to different extents, participate actively to the story, as opposed to being completely irrelevant or absent (which happened in most of the slashers back in the day).

As per flows, I’d say that the police reaction to the assaults towards the end of the film is a bit laughable – worst police squad ever! However, this doesn’t detract from the high-quality value of this flick.

Nightmare 4If you haven’t seen A Nightmare on Elm Street yet, this is the moment to check it out: besides all the features mentioned above, this film contains the right amount of jump-scares (a couple of them startled me even upon fourth viewing!), blood (a lot for the 80s standards) and comic relief, which make for a viewing experience that should please modern mainstream audiences as well.

“One, two, Freddy’s coming for you”! Thus, watch the film and be prepared: you never know what you might dream about tonight!

An interesting meta-cinema experiment. Cut Shoot Kill – movie review

Cut Shoot Kill is an indie horror/thriller written and directed by Michael Walker who made a name for himself with Chasing Sleep starring Jeff Daniels and in collaboration with Lions Gate.

After failing a big Hollywood career (so far), Walker stepped back and released Cut Shoot Kill with a smaller budget, independent production companies and a cast of unknown.

This movie features an aspiring movie star, Serena (Alexandra Socha), who gets offered a lead role in a horror flick by mysterious director Alabama Chapman (Alex Hurt).

She accepts the offer due to the inspiring passion Alabama shows during the interview and embarks on three weeks of shooting in the North American woods, where neither Internet nor phone signals work.

Cut shoot kill 2Soon enough, Serena realises that the obsession for truth shown by Alabama and his crew might be more dangerous than it seemed.

Although not entirely original, the concept of meta-cinema (making a movie inside a movie that assesses audiences’ expectations) strongly emerges in Cut Shoot Kill.

Yet, contrarily to other films in the past, Walker’s latest flick feels entirely unpretentious. The social commentary is there, but it’s never overwhelming and not in a single scene hides the entertainment value of the film.

Subtly, Cut Shoot Kill asks the same questions to the viewer: What do modern horror audiences want? What point would you get to in order to make a successful film?

This themes are well explored throughout the runtime (97 minutes) and the answers are never given through exposition, instead they are hinted at through dialogues and characters’ motivations/feelings.

Cut Shoot kill 3In regards to the characters, I believe the message of this film would have been delivered in a much more potent way if the acting was better. The performances in Cut Shoot Kill range from excellent (Serena and Alabama) to awfully over-the-top (Serena’s boyfriend and the producer of Alabama’s movie), with everyone else lying in the middle being quite forgettable.

Cut shoot kill 4.jpgRegardless, the atmosphere and tone of the movie are spot-on: as a meta-slasher, Cut Shoot Kill doesn’t over-rely on gore (other than one highly effective scene), but builds up tension through good cinematography, excellent score and an overall sense of threat that surrounds the victims.

Cut shoot kill 4.pngI might be completely wrong, but I also perceived a menacing sexual sub-text to the film, which heightens the level of tension in the scenes where the three girls (Serena and her co-stars in Alabama’s project) are involved.

Besides the acting, my biggest issue with the film revolves around a sub-plot involving the previous Alabama’s female lead, who starred in the 7 short movies the director made before hiring Serena and mysteriously disappeared after the seventh film was shot. I found it rather useless in the overall story and distracting from the main focus of Cut Shoot Kill.

Yet, I see the ending being polarising: some might love it, some might hate it. Personally, I believe the film should have ended with a particular scene which hints to the isolation of Serena (you know what I’m talking about if you saw/will see the movie). However, the actual ending is not terrible and, although a bit convoluted, fulfils the character’s arc of the lead actress.

In conclusion, there is something I can’t quite grasp that holds me back from loving Cut Shoot Kill. Nevertheless, I strongly recommend to watch it if you’re intrigued by its unconventional plot. Cheers!

The hunting game we were waiting for. Killing Ground – movie review

Has anyone seen Eden Lake (2008)? It is that British movie starring Kelly Reilly and Michael Fassbender go on a camping trip by the lake and get assaulted by a group of twisted teenagers who turn their love escape into a terrible nightmare.

Well, Killing Ground, written and directed by Damien Power, is the Australian counterpart of Eden Lake, although better executed and acted than the already very good English film.

Killing-Ground- 3By the clever usage of non-linear storytelling, Killing Ground tells the story of a couple who go to a remote location to find peace and spend a nice weekend away from the civilisation. Soon their expectations will be let down and they’ll find themselves immersed into a mortal hunt-and-pray game where the odds are extremely adverse.

Simultaneously, though, the movie tells another story, which happened before the main one.

Other than the particular technique utilised to tell the events (never left to exposition, instead always for the viewer to figure out), Killing Ground is a straightforward horror thriller which runs for 89 minutes without a single dull moment or a sequence that makes you feel relieved.

Everything but pretentious, this flick is a pure adrenaline ride filled with compelling characters (villains included), drama, action and an overall sense of dread and tension.

The biggest achievement Mr Power reached in this movie consists of the ability to give a new look to something we have seen before tons of times.

The direction is immaculate. The editing, only external interference to the story, perfectly connects the two storylines and is refreshingly clean and subtle. The soundtrack – or I better say lack thereof – is barely noticeable but fully part of the story development.

Yet, the restraint location and limited use of actors makes for compelling characters in Killing Ground. Every single one of them is well-rounded and, pleasantly surprising, none of them is formulaic.

Shot entirely on location, the movie doesn’t use CGI throughout the entire runtime. The practicality behind every special effect cooperates to create a greedy atmosphere, despite a colourful and vivacious cinematography.

Killing-Ground 1I found myself looking in pure delight at the lack of black and white in this film: the good guys are not heroes and the villains (although fairly depicted as sadistic psychopaths) appear normal to the rest of the community and, therefore, to the audience in the scenes where they are dealing with other people.

Unapologetic without being gruesome or needing to show extreme violence on the screen, Killing Ground ends with a blast. The grand finale is, indeed, very fulfilling (something I experienced only with Get Out this year) and profound enough to make you reflect upon it for a while.

Killing ground 2Killing Ground is a film that tells a story we’ve seen tons of time, but it does it including an unconventional form of storytelling and clever twists every here and there, proving that a movie can be (incredibly) good without overturning schemes.

With Killing Ground, Australia proves once again to be a fertile ground (sorry about the pan!) for great horror entertainment. I honestly can’t wait to see what Damien Power will come up with next. Meanwhile, I strongly recommend to watch this film, one of the best I’ve seen the whole year. Cheers!

The latest 80’s creature-feature exploitation is… a bloody mess! The Void – movie review

The Void is a Canadian low-budget horror movie directed by Steven Kostanski and Jeremy Gillespie. Kostantski has lately made a name for himself due to Astron-6, a small company known for producing 80’s-centric, independent movies that often combine horror with comedy and feature monsters and supernatural creatures.

The Void instead, is a departure from the usual comedic tone, being a straight-up horror film where gore and blood are utilised to scare more than for pure entertainment’s sake.

void_4guide__large-e1474646262477.jpgThe plot revolves around a police officer who, backed up by a group of random people, has been trapped in a hospital by a gathering of hooded cultists after rescuing a severely wounded dude who survived a bloody massacre. The group soon discovers that the hospital has been inhabited by grotesque creatures, which the mysterious cult has something to do with.

I had to re-watch it twice in order to write this review, the reason being the fact that The Void has received a quite good critics consensus, despite making me rather disappointed and indifferent. After a second view, I stick to my opinion, here’s why.

Although the movie presents itself as nothing more than an 80’s practical monster movie exploitation, it reminds me of a rip off from Event Horizon (1997) and John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982). Unfortunately, The Void hasn’t got the same claustrophobic atmosphere of the Paul W. S. Anderson’s movie nor the impact or the amazements of Carpenter’s masterpiece.

Even though I can’t help but respect the effort put into the practical effects of this flick, the use of colours, lighting and camera work make them displeasing, not to say frustrating. Indeed, the stroboscopic lights and the shaky-cam make for a nauseous experience, where the viewers can’t enjoy the scenes as they should. After all, gore and violent killings are what this movie is all about.

images.jpgYet, the characters don’t help the script – which, by the way, is quite dull and nonsense as well – by providing over-the-top, unreliable performances, also affected by poor cast choices. Therefore, an already bad writing is worsened by characters that are everything but compelling, especially in regards to the lead actor played by Aaron Poole.

Despite being slightly off-putting and even scary at times, The Void overly relies on gore for the sake of being gory and gruesomeness for the sake of being gruesome. All in all, it’s a bloody mess where even the good sequences get ruined by the poor direction and cinematography.

In addition, everything looks generic and bland, from the photography to the acting, from the look and feel to the score. In general, this is a big missed opportunity; much more could be done with a claustrophobic location, a creepy cult and a terrorising creature that develops from human bodies.

Although I’m not going to spoil the ending, I must say it looks dumb and unnecessarily open to interpretations. Such a cheap movie, with no room for deeper meanings and further evaluations, should have ended with a blast, in an over-the-top, amazingly exaggerated way – à la Braindead (1992), for example.

I sincerely suggest not to see this flick, it’s not worth your time and money. Nevertheless, if you want to give it a chance because nearly everybody seems to enjoy it, go ahead, it can’t harm. Cheers!

 

Jordan Peele’s debut is a breathlessly clever, original and entertaining mixed bag. Get Out – movie review

 

Get Out is written and directed by the renown comedian Jordan Peele at his directorial debut.

 

The movie tells the story of the black photographer, Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya), who goes for a weekend trip with his wasp (no, not the bug) girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) to meet her parents, who have no idea Chris is black.

 

However, the interracial relationship is not a big deal for them, nor for any of the other family member who chat with Chris in the most “liberal-racist” way, if this definition makes any sense. Everybody is complimenting him and claiming to be big fan of Obama, Tiger Woods and a bunch of other famous black people.

 

get-out-keith-stanfieldNevertheless, this awkward behaviour develops alongside with an unsettling feeling which makes Chris feel increasingly uneasy throughout the movie, partly because of the excessive attention he gets, partly in regards to the weird attitude of the servants – black workers who seemingly come from another era.

 

I am deeply pleased to say this movie is an absolute blast, a mixed bag – in the most positive way possible – of true suspense, thrills and comedy. Yes, because Get Out is the definition of entertainment in modern cinema, being able to combine different genres subtly and successfully.

 

Speaking of comedy, Rod Williams (Lil Rel Howery) – Chris’ best friend and TSA Officer – steals the entire show every time he’s on screen. As a comic relief, his performance is hands down one of the best I’ve seen the whole year.

 

get-out-trailer-2In addition, Daniel Kaluuya as Chris Washington is fantastic, being able to carry the story on his own shoulders. Fun fact: Mr. Kaluuya is a Londoner whose accent in the film was perfectly American. You nailed it my friend.

 

untitledHonestly, one of the greatest strengths of Get Out revolves around the cast: nearly everyone was perfectly picked and gave a compelling performance. Dean (Bradley Whitford) and Missy (Catherine Keener) as Rose’s parents simply knocked it out of the park by combining a tender appearance with a dreadful vibe. Rose herself (Allison Williams) was perfect for her role, as well as “the blind man” – whom I can’t talk about because I don’t want to spoil anything.

 

Perhaps, the only character I haven’t bought into was Rose’s brother Jeremy (Caleb Landry Jones), whose acting is unnecessarily over-the-top and annoying beyond the limits.

 

Other than his performance, I only have a couple of tiny issues with Get Out, the first one being the soundtrack, which is very eerie and unsettling but also generic and formulaic.

 

Moreover, there are a couple of jump-scares (well-crafted ones, in all fairness) which serve no purpose other than startle the audience, without moving the story forward.

 

Nonetheless, I believe Peele has included them in his film to appeal to the mass audience that is used to conventional scares and shivers. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not necessarily a negative, since thanks to this stopgap Get Out will probably be appreciated by everybody.

 

Peele has also proven himself as an interesting visual director, being able to use long, wide takes to expand the scenes. For instance, to my knowledge the opening scene has been realised with only one take, no cuts or editing. Gotta appreciate that!

 

What I also found positively surprising is the subtleness utilised to introduce to sub-layer of racism. This is not the kind of film where the bad guys are disgusting racist douchebags, nor the John Carpenter’s They Live type of deal. On the contrary, the racism Peele is referring to is the one that hides deep inside the consciousness of liberal people, those who are willing to say anything to prove themselves as everything but racist.

 

Also, the ending is fulfilling and flawless, mostly thanks to the cleverness and strength of our main character Chris, who’s miles away from your average horror movies’ hero.

 

In conclusion, Get Out is a great, fast-paced thriller surrounded by horror elements and a very well-executed social commentary, enriched by comic elements lighting up the darkness of the story. Highly recommended, guys! Give it a chance. Cheers!

 

Skull deer get outEXTRA: the trailer for this movie is something I really wanted to talk about. I usually don’t consider trailers; I try to avoid them as much as possible instead. However, I have a kind of love/hate relationship with the one of Get Out. On one hand, indeed, nearly every scene in the trailer happens within the first 20 minutes of the movie or so, which is a great market strategy. On the other hand, though, there is a brief appearance of a deer skeleton in the trailer that has no room in the movie and I hate this kind of choices, because it’s basically cheating on the audience’s expectations.