Ginger Nuts of Horror
Found Footage films are probably the most divisive sub genre of horror films. Just as many people love them as hate them. But no matter what your opinion of them they are here to stay. Some are great and keep the genre moving and some are just so stupid that they set it back so far, you wonder if it can ever recover from such inept stupidity....
Set in Los Angeles leading up to the events we are aware of in The Walking Dead, this series begins by giving us a basic introduction of what is an as yet unidentified virus or condition, possibly a flu virus mutation which is killing people and reanimating them as vicious flesh hungry zombies.
It gets the point across beautifully in the 1st few minutes as to what is in store, there is not really a lot to say regarding characterisation, or indeed plot as everything is somewhat basic at this point, and if we have learned one thing from The Walking Dead it is that things in this new series will turn out to be what we would expect from the same makers of the already established show. The point Fear The Walking Dead gets across quite early on is that there is no real hope, as the events we already know occur in The Walking Dead are inevitable no matter what the cast of this prequel series do.
For too many years the great and wonderful "when nature attacks" and "man verses nature" genre of films has sadly been overtaken by the rise of the cheap and nasty SyFy mega monster film. Angry animals were no longer enough for the modern movie watcher, they demanded bigger, nastier and more mixed up monsters, three headed octosharks, lavasharks, and probably Yogi Bear crossed with a barracuda quickly became the norm. With each successive film they got cheaper and ever more awful. However, the tide may be turning there has been a number of the more traditional versions of the man v's wild animal film released over the last few months. Let's take a look at one of my favourites....
Deep in the Darkness is a suspenseful horror story adapted from a novel by the same name and written by Michael Laimo. It takes place in a very small town setting that is essentially off the grid and has its own way of doing things. A doctor and his family are moving there to take over a small practice vacated by the recently deceased doctor before him. Dean Stockwell (Quantum Leap fame) gives an admirable performance as one of the town’s people who has to educate the new doc in the rites of the town and the legend that dictates their actions. Every family must sacrifice an animal in the woods on a stone altar to a race of humanoids they call the Isolates. According to native folklore the Isolates developed alongside man and eventually grew strong and cunning enough to hunt them. The local populace began sacrificing animals to them to placate them and stop the killing of the town residents. The doc is a materialist skeptic and refuses to do so, thereby drawing their attention. He is then forced to provide his services to pregnant and sick Isolates in lieu of the sacrifice in order to keep himself and his family alive. But he is not content with this and desires to escape the town; a very dangerous endeavor.
There are a few creepy and disturbing moments. The FX on the Isolates is well done and very nightmarish looking but is, in all honesty, a total rip off of H. G. Wells’ Morlocks in his book The Time Machine, and their appearance, particularly the face and eyes is almost just like the costumes and FX in the 1960’s movie, just with modern day advances.
The big problem with this movie for me is the acting. It’s just ok. Nothing to set it head and shoulders above the midline. It’s a 2.5-3 out of 5 stars, a 5 on a scale of 1-10. And for the people who read the book, which I’m told was good, it can only be a disappointment because it is definitely a mediocre adaptation. The acting overall is not impressive but not bad, just ok. If you want a popcorn movie and a short escape this movie will do the trick. But don’t expect the world.
Yet another entry in the mock-documentary/found footage genre, Peruvian film La Entidad (The Entity) begins with a lot of promise and the potential to sit alongside such fare as Atrocious or The Afflicted.
It begins with a slightly extended prologue showcasing a video supposedly surfacing on the 'Deep Web' (a concept of unrestricted internet that actually does exist), purporting to be of some strange creature seen in an old cemetery. This is followed by many, many more videos allegedly of the same thing, though in true horror film fashion, the creepy atmosphere is created through use of sound effects and viewer expectation, though there is a blink and you'll miss it appearance from...something. This then makes way for some professional looking titles, before we're introduced to our familiar - at least in a conventional sense - student documentary crew.
Siren is the interesting debut feature film from British director Jesse Peyronel,it is a strange mixture of love story, spy drama and kitchen sink thriller that gives rise to a powerful dark urban fairy tale for a modern world. It has all of the classic themes of the fairy tales with which we grew up with. The damsel ( although not quite the classic damsel in distress) the handsome hero and the wicked step mother, in this case the military who want to weaponise the strange capabilities of Leigh the Siren of the film's title.....
Horror’s a broad genre, but whether you’re making a slow burning ghost story or an intense slasher, one thing remains a constant; concept is everything. House of Monsters is a series of comedy horror shorts that operates from a simple and very solid premise— what if Dracula, Frankenstein, and the Wolf-man et al shared a house together?
Cue a stop-motion tale of life in rural Transylvania and the uneasy co-existence of monsters and humans, narrated and starring Christopher Lloyd as the mad scientist, Dr. Gaulstone, who takes it upon himself to protect the monsters from the world and the world from the monsters.
Dark Was the Night is directed by Jack Heller and written by Tyler Hisel. This is Heller’s second outing as a director but he has produced several movies. Kevin Durand plays the main character, Sheriff Paul Shields, and Luke Haas plays his deputy Donny Saunders. They get the party started with a nice little bang of blood and gore. It actually reminded me of some old X-Files episodes where they started with the men logging in a dense forest area and appear to disturb something’s territory only to quickly pay for it. Once the viewer is given the critical set up information that the main character must ultimately discover we settle in for a slow burn build, progressively adding layers of creepy events and hints at what the underlying cause may be before the big reveal. One early scene is particularly creepy though subtle in the delivery.
An iconic horror title that has recently received a major Hollywood remake (from the people behind Paranormal Activity and Insidious), this 1970s serial killer feature is naturally due a re-release. It's a film that I had heard of a few times before, but knew very little of. For me that's often the best way to approach a film – bereft of pre-conceptions and able to make my own judgements on its merits as I see them. Charles B. Pierce's piece in set just a year after World War Two and loosely based on real events in and around the town of Texarkana, with 'The Phantom Killer' claiming eight victims between late February and May 1946.