Ginger Nuts of Horror
BY JOE X YOUNG
Coz Greenop pays homage to psychological horror.
There are certain things a reviewer encounters often in the course of their work and when you have seen thousands of films there are certain themes which crop up fairly often, the haunted lighthouse being one such example. It is an automatic assumption we know that they are somewhat foreboding, at their most basic they were created because too many people die without them, so they are generally a great setting for old sailors to come back from the dead, as in ‘The Fog’ or for ghost ships et cetera. A great setting is a great setting, that’s really all there is to it, but location is important too and Dark Beacon is set on the island of Jersey although as we see relatively little of the Island and so could be taking place on any of 1000 global coastlines. Does this detract from the film, well yes, as let’s face facts here, were it not for the village life in The Wicker Man (either version) there wouldn’t have been as much sense of evil. That’s lacking here too.
The film begins with the lovers leap, as let’s face it we do need to have some reason for the haunting to follow as that is after all what this film revolves around. The cast of characters being somewhat limited gives the film a forced focus as there are only really four people integral, to the plot one of which is Amy Wilcock played by April Pearson who may be considered the central character were it not for the constant shifts of importance. Beth played by Lynne Anne Rodgers has found her escape from a life of regret by giving up her city job, abandoning her lover (Pearson) and taking her young daughter Maya (played by Kendra Mei) to the lighthouse. Amy tracks her down and discovers that all is not well with the child suffering from a post-traumatic stress disorder following the death of her father, and Beth struggling to hang on to her sanity. There’s a palpable sense of rejection which is odd at first but becomes understandable in later revelations.
I’ve seen several lighthouse related ghost stories but to my recollection this is the first one in which almost everything happens during daylight hours, I’m not sure whether that was deliberate or even if it’s particularly relevant, there is a sense however that more tension could have been achieved if the dark atmosphere peculiar to the coastlines like the ones I’ve lived on had been allowed to show through. One thing I can say with absolute certainty is that the lighting and sound in this film are amongst the least intrusive I have ever seen, with everything being so natural looking which was almost as if we were not so much watching it as being there. The cinematography is top notch.
Something else which is perfectly natural and for the most part absolutely credible was the character of Amy, in so many films these days it’s obvious that the actors are just performing because there’s something fake about how they speak or what they do, but April person is 100% Amy. There is only one scene in the main body of the movie in which her actions seemed unrealistic, it is a scene where she is taking a bath, and say no more on that, you will just have to watch it to see what I mean. I found the rest of the cast to be adequate by comparison, though in all fairness I believe that to be largely down to the script as Beth had a lot of mood swings going on and was sometimes chewing scenery in a wide-eyed frenzy whilst Maya was for all intents mute and therefore limited in the performance she was capable of giving, which I suspect had she been in a speaking role would have been above average.
I’ve not discussed the plot in any great detail as there is not a lot of plot to go into, if you expect the crash bang wallop of a grave encounters or paranormal activity type of film you will be disappointed as this has more in common with the 1960s film ‘Tormented’ which I suspect this to be something of an unstated homage to. It’s not going to scare you out of your wits, but it is a slow-burner competently handled by Director/Producer Coz Greenop and his crew.
Winning multiple awards including Best film, Best actress for able person and best cinematography at the American horror film Festival, the cinema release is 22nd of March with the digital download being available 27th of March 2018 and is available for pre-order on iTunes and Amazon.
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me, Fool me eight times then either you or me are going to accident and emergency with their teeth in a bucket.
You would think that with the constant downward level of competence shown by every Hellraiser movie from Hell on Earth to 2011's Revelations, that there would be nothing left to strip mine from the glory of the first two films. But never fear the actors, producers, scriptwriter, and the director have managed to piece together the last little scraps of meat dangling from Pinheads discarded hooks into what has to hopefully be the final nail in the coffin of this franchise.
Following on from Scarlet Gospels and The Toll Hellraiser: Judgement proves without a doubt that there is no life left in this beast. Why anyone would bother with this franchise now that Barker has lost all interest in it is beyond this reviewers power of reasoning. To go from groundbreaking a novella, and two classic films to this turgid, unoriginal mishmash of poorly executed rip-offs of so many far superior films is heartbreaking.
The once mighty and elegant Prince of Pleasure and Pain has been reduced, mainly in part from Paul .T. Taylor's ghastly performance, where he confuses acting regal like with acting as though you are suffering from terrible wind and indigestion. It is also in part down to the scriptwriters who have reduced Pinehead to being akin to some almost forgotten actor appearing as the guest of the week on Midsummer Murders. While he was never going to another Doug Bradley, it would have been a good idea to inject the character and the performance with just the smallest dose of panache, rather than reducing him to just another typical monster in yet another dull old horror film.
At least his performance doesn't stand out too much from everyone else in the film. It is as though they had a checklist of the blandest and most cliched characters and went shopping at Discount Performances are Us, browbeat weary cop - CHECK, upbeat partner -CHECK, spunky new partner assigned to the case - CHECK, CHECK and TRIPLE CHECK. Lacklustre performances, terrible dialogue and leaden directing make this a real chore to sit through, and that's even before we talk about the plot.
Why, when you have source material such as the first two films, the novella, and the comics, material that at times has been visionary, genre-breaking and enlightening, do you turn in such a badly executed and plotted film. Why would you stitch pieces of Seven, Jigsaw, Manhunter, and countless other far superior films into this patchwork Hellraiser pastiche? Do you hate the genre so much, are you trying to kill the last vestiges of interest in it? Either way, you should be ashamed of yourselves. Whoever thought, "I know what the hell needs, it needs a bunch of pointless bureaucratic middle managers" really should be taken outside and have their souls torn apart, as a warning to anyone else with bright ideas.
I never expected the Spanish Inquisition, at least they had their chief weapon of surprise...surprise and fear...fear and surprise.... Their two weapons, fear and surprise...and ruthless efficiency.... Their *three* weapons, a fear, and surprise, and ruthless efficiency...and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope.... They're *four*...no... *Amongst* their weapons.... Amongst t weaponry...are such elements as fear, surprise.... I'll come in again.
All the Stygian Inquisition has is total inefficiency, redundant members and needed to show half-naked women and to cover them in blood in some thinly veiled metaphor for a bukkake cum shot for no apparent reason.
Take the Assessor, for example, a demon whose sole purpose is to assess the souls and lives of those brought before the Stygian Inquisition.
(SPOILER ALERT HERE)
One could safely assume that over the course of human evolution that this bloke would have evaluated a hell of a lot of really nasty and vile souls, souls of people who have done things so bad that they could make a Georgia man cry. And yet when he assesses the soul of one of the principle characters his response to the assessment is to throw his guts up and cause the whole system to go into meltdown. Are we really to believe that this one is eviler than every other soul that has gone before, or do we just sit back and allow this lazy method of plot development to go over our heads? Either way, I get the feeling that the filmmakers don't care for either the fans or the source material.
They offer nothing to the mystique of the world of Hellraiser and feel as though their only reason for being was they made for a way to cut down on the makeup costs. Which brings us to the beautiful set design, and by that I am wearing my sarcasm hat, and matching socks. For a film that spends so much time in Hell, you'd think they would maybe, just maybe throw some money to the set designers so they can make it look like something we might actually believe in, not a chance. Instead, they have decided to accessorise Hell from the Ikea's marketplace. Those stupid brass lightbulbs that every steampunk fan has in their livingroom with the oversized filaments looked god awful three years ago when they first came out, and now that every hipster beard joint is decked out ion them they just look dickish. Well down for decking out Hell with these, and it was a nice touch to get the matching set of chairs from IKEA as well. It may seem like a petty point, but when a film is this bad, you start to notice all the little things that you would let slide in a better film. I get that money was tight, so surely you don't waste it on fixtures and fittings, that just make your film look even more budget price.
It's sad to see a franchise go from being provocative, sensual, and disturbing, to dull, cliched and safe, and with Hellraiser: Judgement it has plummeted to even greater depths, but perhaps its greatest crime is not that it is bad film, and more the case that it ios a pointless film that nobody needed or wanted. Rest In Peace Pinhead you are well and truly dead now.
The BBC has had numerous successes with dark dramas centred around family secrets and the weight of the past haunting the present day. However, these dramas have always had both feet firmly planted in the realms of reality, as dark and twisted as they may be their sense of dread and tension always came from the actions of the mundane world that we all know so well. While it could be argued that many of those past dramas could be classed as horror, the creators were never brave enough to go "full horror", until now.
Lydia Wilson stars as Matilda, a talented young cellist, whose life is turned upside down minutes before the most important concert of her career. Looking for answers to a mystery that has been buried in her family Lydia travels to a Welsh town determined to unravel why she is connected to the tragic disappearance of a toddler 23 years ago.
Requiem, airing on 02 Feb on BBC1, is just what fans of horror and supernatural drama have been waiting for. Written and created by Kris Mrksa Requiem wastes no time in setting the tone for the rest of the series with a compelling opening scene filled with ghostly going ons and hints of long-buried secrets. On the surface, the opening scene to Requiem could easily have been part of a Midsummers Murder episode; a landed gent dressed all in tweed falls to his death at his country mansion is something we have seen countless times before in cosy dramas. However, the viewer is put in no doubt, thanks to an effective spooky handling of this opening scene; we are not in the safe and pleasant land of the traditional murder mystery.
Drawing on the unground swell of interest in Folk Horror, Requiem successfully blends supernatural elements into the more traditional framework of a BBC drama; we have haunted mansions, secretive Welsh communities, long forgotten secrets, prophetic dreams, and hints at something stirring in the dark corners of the Welsh town.
None of this may seem particularly original to the well-read or well-watched horror fan, and you will spot the references and influences in almost every scene, but this doesn't take away from the effectiveness of Requiem as a powerful and compelling drama. Mrksa handling of these elements is assured and respectful of the genre, forgoing the typical route of jump scares galore, Mrksa has woven a tight story that prefers to find the scares from atmosphere and tone rather than loud bangs and faces jumping out of the shadows. One scene involving Matilda's mother is particularly effective at invoking a sense of dread, and just when you think it is going to go one way (think red raincoat), Mrksa takes a sharp left turn to provide an unexpected shock. It is these touches that lift the script from something that we have seen before into some fresh and captivating.
Even his handling of the cliched insular village wary of outsiders is dealt with just enough originality to stop prevent the viewer from thinking that they have seen it all before. Hopefully, Mrksa will continue this throught the subsequent episodes.
Aiding the strong writing are two exceptional performances from the lead actors. Lydia Wilson is a revelation, with her icy blonde hair and fragile looks she is the perfect modern-day successor to the Hammer Horror heroines. Her performance as a woman whose life has been shattered is exceptional, a strong and convincing one filled with subtle layers.
While Lydia's performance is exceptional, it is Joel Fry's turn as Hal that is the real eye-opener. Having only ever seen him in comedic roles such as Plebs, you cold, like myself, be forgiven that he had a limited range as an actor, which is a shame as his rather good in here. His role could easily have fallen the down the hole of comedy foil, and while he does provide light relief from the more emotionally intense scenes, he never overplays it, allowing Hal's relationship with Matilda to develop into a very natural and convincing friendship.
Overlaying the script and acting performances is a wonderful
soundtrack filled with haunting cello music. The music cues are pitch-perfect, hinting at what is to come without ever taking over from what is happening on the screen.
Based on episode one Requiem is shaping up to be powerful, and chilling supernatural drama. There are enough scares to please fans of horror, yet it handles it in such a way that it shouldn't put off those who think horror is a dirty word. It's a hard thing to pull off, but Mrksa handles it with great success. Shows like Requiem have sadly been missing from terrestrial Tv schedules for far too long; hopefully, based on the strength of this opening episode, it will mark the return of intelligent supernatural drama.
The six-part series Requiem starts on BBC One on 02 February at 9pm.
This week Youtube video reviewer Matrenox takes a look at Kolchak: The Night Stalker.
Kolchak: The Night Stalker is an American television series that aired on ABC during the 1974–1975 season. It featured a fictional Chicago newspaper reporter—Carl Kolchak, played by Darren McGavin—who investigated mysterious crimes with unlikely causes, particularly those that law enforcement authorities would not follow up. These often involved the supernatural or science fiction, including fantastic creatures.
The series was preceded by two television movies, The Night Stalker (1972) and The Night Strangler (1973). Although the series lasted only a single season, it remains popular in syndication. In early 2017, until Labor Day 2017, it aired Sunday evenings on MeTV. It is often cited as the inspiration for the popular series The X-Files. Following the success of The X-Files, the franchise was resurrected in 2005 in a second television series with a new cast and characters, as well as subsequent novels and comic books. It was a ratings bomb and was quietly cancelled after just 13 episodes were aired.
Matrenox is a Horror Reviewer, Writer, and Live Action Cartoon Based on YouTube.
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