V/H/S 2

The most bonkers, jaw-dropping and memorable horror in recent years is on TV soon | JOE is the voice of Irish people at home and abroad

It feels like I’ve been away. I have been. I’ve neglected my usual monthly blog posts and I haven’t even been arsed posting any of the hundreds of already written posts which have been sitting in my drafts for months. I need to go through those and set the scheduling or something. It has been a busy few weeks, with real life stuff taking up most of my free time. On top of that, all of this Marillion stuff is taking up time too, listening to their albums multiple times, taking notes, and then forming those notes into monumentally huge posts. And of course, listening to the related Podcast. It’s fun, but time consuming. That’s not to say I haven’t been watching a lot of movies – I have – but usually in the depths of night by myself, with my wide awake hours spent on TV shows with my wife.

What has any of this got to do with V/H/S 2? Absolutely nothing – I just didn’t want to write a separate post explaining my mysterious absence. Regular Glancers to my stinking hovel of the internet should know by now that I enjoy a good Anthology. The format made a bit of a comeback in the Noughties thanks to an onslaught of new Horror voices, and the relative ease and budgetary freedom of making a smaller film. I enjoyed the first V/H/S for what it was – a mixture of cool ideas and missed opportunities, and it wasn’t long before I hunted down the sequel. Unusually for an Anthology – this is a sequel, albeit with a mostly new set of directors and writers and actors joining Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett. It seems the wraparound featured in V/H/S was only part of a larger story – the discovery of another horde of mysterious videotapes and way too many screens for any sane person – hinting that there is an expanded universe at play.

I say expanded universe, but we’re hardly dealing with MCU or Dark Tower levels of content here. It’s just a framing excuse to allow the narrative to flow between shorts and to loosely connect the two films together (along with the final third movie). Our protagonists in the wraparound are a boyfriend/girlfriend team of PIs/amateur money-grabbers dealing with the more seedy of cases – we are introduced to them in the midst of blackmailing some poor bloke who only wanted a taste of gratuitous titty grabbing on the side. As the couple threaten the man to pay up or pay a visit to his wife, they head towards their central case – a young man’s disappearance. Breaking in to his last known residence, they stumble upon a room in disarray – blankets on the ground in front of stacks of screens and scattered VHS tapes. Just like the first movie, one of team decides to pass the time by watching the tapes, while the other searches the house, and just like the first movie they may not be alone.

The first segment is the not to distant future story of a man who has a camera placed in his eye socket after a car accident. It’s an experimental trial, and the doctors will see and experience everything he does. He heads home to his mansion and quickly experiences some unusual behaviour – things moving from where they were left, the shape of a person lying in his bed. Things escalate. With a premise like this, you’re probably already guessing much of what transpires – nifty use of first person, plenty of jump scares, glitch marks, and the inevitable attempt to remove camera from eye. It’s a fun intro with a few effective moments, but you’re probably not going to remember it in the grand scheme of anthology segments.

The second segment is another idea which has probably been rattling around filmmakers heads for some time, and I’m fairly certain parts of this have been done before. A guy is riding his bike in a forest and finds himself in the middle of a sudden bloodthirsty zombie outbreak – he rides with a couple of cameras (one of which is clearly there only to set up a single gag). It’s another fun segment, a little lighter than the first but ramps up the gore factor. I enjoyed how the buck is passed here with each zombie attack, following a different character every few minutes, and I like how we get straight into things with little set up. Eduardo Sanchez and Gregg Hale of The Blair Witch Project direct this one.

The third segment is the most notorious, and the one I was most keen on seeing when I heard reviews of the film. Directed by The Raid’s Gareth Evans and The Night Comes For Us (one of the most brutal films you haven’t seen) Timo Tjahjanto, Safe Haven follows a documentary crew as they infiltrate a cult under the guise of shining a positive light on its charismatic leader – a man who has been accused various crimes, not least certain activities with children. The four people have their own shit to deal with – the woman of the group (Lena) is in a relationship with Malik (the interviewer) but has got it on with one of the other guys in secret. The cult leader allows the group access to his Jonestown-esque centre of operations, and it becomes clear immediately that nothing about him or his followers is right. Cut to demented scenes of carnage, full frontal facial shotgun blasts, suicide, demons, and assorted chaos. It’s great. It ramps up quickly with little thought given to meaning or explanation, but like the output from both directors it is riveting and dark and bloody and brimming with invention and energy.

Slumber Party Alien Abduction is probably the most forgettable of the bunch – it’s not bad, and I think the idea has a lot of potential, but it’s quite messy in its execution and it suffers from the most shaky cam pitfalls of found footage. It does exactly what it says on the tin – a bunch of insufferable millennials are having a slumber party and are interrupted by aliens. It would have been more interesting if the characters weren’t a bunch of entitled dicks – or maybe we were supposed to enjoy what happens to them precisely because they are dicks. In any event, it’s fine. I like those segments or movies where normal every day shit is interrupted without warning or explanation by the supernatural. Unfortunately the director relies far too heavily on tape scratching effects – once or twice is fine, but every few seconds is ridiculous. There’s a bunch of characters who show up and either disappear before the abduction or are dispatched with basically off camera, which defeats the purpose – not that we cared in the slightest about them. Somewhere in here is a decent thirty minute episode – hell, someone with the skills of John Carpenter could stretch this into a solid supernatural siege movie.

VHS 2 doesn’t differ too much from its predecessor. What little wraparound connecting plot there is serves to adequately set up this film, for those who care, and two link back to the first film, for those who care. The segments vary in quality but each is perfectly watchable and each has a fun idea at its core. It’s a chance for younger directors to show off and have fun, and that’s the overriding feeling I get from this series – they’re fun, sometimes gory, and they act as a little shot of adrenaline and a warning to other filmmakers that these young upstarts mind have something bigger and better up their sleeves. Safe Haven is the highlight, but the whole package is well worth a watch.

Let us know in the comments what you think of VHS 2!

Megan Is Missing

Megan Is Missing's Viral TikTok Challenge & Controversy Explained

Every so often a film comes around, dragging such a weight of hype behind it that it begins to resemble a cannibalistic graverobber hauling a couple of corpses through a dank and hilly moor. Then there are those films which fly under the radar, only picking up a few glowing reviews sporadically and becoming something of an urban myth. Megan Is Missing falls into the second category – a film heard of, in whispers, but rarely seen. It has been years since Megan Is Missing was released, but every few years the film seems to strike a connection with the latest viral trend, and pops up again in social media feeds from concerned parents, duped tweens, and disgruntled critics. In recent weeks, the film has once again resurfaced thanks to kids on Tik Tok (whatever that is) watching it, being shocked by it, sharing it, and watching each other be shocked by it. But what does a seasoned horror fan make of it all? Spoiler Alert: it’s not very good.

Megan Is Missing is less of a movie and more of a masterclass in exploiting viral media and its audience. I was very impressed by director Michael Goi’s Twitter comments, advising viewers to switch off the film if they see the number ‘1’ appear on screen at any point, as they would have a few seconds to shut it off before being scarred for life – especially if what they had seen up to that point had disturbed them. Having already seen the movie and being aware of what he was talking about, this was actually quite a shrewd and amusing tactic to get more kids to watch it. Disingenuous or not, that seems to be the goal of the film – to get as many kids as possible to see it, and their parents, to warn them over the dangers of blind online interaction. 

The film follows a couple of girls as they meet a man online who claims to be the same age as they are and strikes up a friendship. If someone says their webcam is broken or doesn’t want to share their cam even as you share yours…. it’s probably not a good idea to continue communicating with them. Megan is popular with peers, but has a hidden history of abuse and clearly enjoys attention. Her best friend Amy doesn’t necessarily approve of Megan’s sudden change in behaviour and the online relationship she is beginning, but she is shown to be somewhat naive and jealous. Before long, Megan disappears and Amy takes it upon herself to launch an online and offline search for her friend, believing the guy Megan was talking to is responsible for her disappearance.

The film is made up of mobile phone footage, laptop cams, news reports and vlogs. Normally this would be a jarring experience – and here it is – but at least the simple narrative is kept coherent. The quality of acting is a low point throughout, though I didn’t have as much of an issue with this as most reviewers (although the guy playing Josh off screen is notably cringeworthy and a creep from first breath making me question the intelligence of anyone sucked in my his shite), and I was more accepting of the obvious low budget and attempts at authenticity. Certainly many of the recent batch of viewers have inexplicably been convinced of the film being a true story, or even going as far as somehow believing the final 15 minutes or so to be genuine crime footage retrieved by the FBI. Sometimes I despair at the youth of today, dagnamit.

The film doesn’t try to make us feel any sympathy for Megan – some for Amy – and maybe it’s the generational gap, but their behaviour, their dialogue, it’s all grating and off-putting, and the same is true for the surrounding cast. More than that, it seems to revel with salacious glee of it’s detailed descriptions (and thankfully less detailed depictions) of pre-teen sex. It’s a catalogue of annoyances before we get to any real pay-off for the horror fan – the infamous final scenes.

Those scenes have of course been hyped far beyond what they are deserving of, and have spun off already into a multitude of memes. I can only hope that those genuinely shocked by, or claiming to have been traumatised by these images subsequently move on to some good horror movies. What is there that is so shocking? We get a couple of photos of torture, which I can only assume are shocking due to the suddenness of their appearance, and there is a muffled yet exploitative rape scene towards the end which reviewers have highlighted as offering zero merit – admittedly it’s tough to portray such things with any true merit or purpose. We get the final split second reveal of what happened to Megan, followed by an excessively drawn out scene which was done with far greater potency decades earlier in The Vanishing. It’s far too little, and far too late, and having to sit through a lot of padding and a lot of inane conversations with general unlikeable people to get to this point, I’d have at least wanted a stampede of zombie dinosaur sharks to liven the thing up. 

Is it worth the hype? Of course not. Is it worth watching? Not really. There are better examples of similar plots and the technical ability on show is extremely limited. The filmmakers will defend this by pointing to the low budget and the fact that it is supposed to be a compilation of unprofessional bits – that’s all well and good, but it doesn’t make the end product any more worthy or worthwhile. Honestly, there are a tonne of more potent, more powerful, more emotionally devastating documentaries out there made with genuine craft and artistry which make this look like the half-assed mess that it is. Did I enjoy it? Unusually, I didn’t hate it. I have a low bar of expectation for this sort of thing anyway and it’s clearly not good, but if I’m honest it did set me loose on the internet for a few weeks binge on real life cases of abduction and missing persons. I’m not convinced that the reasoning behind the film was to highlight to impressionable kids the dangers of online interaction, if it smacks of ‘old man is scared of new technology/young people’, or if it was a cheap and cynical cash-in on real life tragedy at the boom of the found footage phenomenon. If there’s any positive from it all, it’s that you can easily watch it for free online – seriously, if you have to see it, don’t pay for it. 

To sum it all up – if you’re curious about the hype, by all means watch it. If you’re a seasoned horror fan you will absolutely be disappointed and confused by such hype. There are better things to do with your time, and better movies to watch. Let us know in the comments what you thought of Megan Is Missing!

The Blair Witch Project

The Blair Witch Project' Premiered at Sundance 20 Years Ago

*Originally written in 2003

The wild hysteria surrounding this movie proves that the majority of the cinema going audience can still be fooled into believing anything they see or hear, or think they do, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is an extremely convincing and effective horror flick. A certain number of people on these boards (written originally on IMDb so refers to IMDb message boards), and who have reviewed Blair Witch Project HATE the film for varying, understandable reasons. When I first watched this, I watched intently, knowing exactly what the directors were playing at, and I found great enjoyment in watching the reactions of those who thought it was real. Did it unsettle me? No. Did it make me jump like the horror movies that rely on loud noises to scare (the recent Ring remake) – no. But it was the first horror movie in a very long time to put a smile on my face, and make me shiver. If you can remember back to when you played hide and seek as a kid – the feeling you had when the person looking for you was 10 feet away and coming closer – that is what this film gives, in a much greater quantity.

It is slow moving, and if you do not enjoy the pace, then you may not enjoy the film, but it compensates this by being short and concise, juxtaposed against how the 3 campers must have felt as the hours dragged by – the point I take from this is that in life we only remember a series of memories, images pasted together to make little sense, and life seems much shorter than it actually was.

The camera use and grainy feel again may be fuel for hatred or love, but it works perfectly – they don’t know what is going on, and neither do we, but that doesn’t matter because in an uncertain and threatening situation, the natural human reaction is to run or fight. Drained, exhausted, paranoid, they run. Ever had a nightmare about running away from something, but not knowing exactly what it was, or why you are running?

The best part of the movie (apart from the hilarious ‘I kicked the map into the river’ scene) is the last few minutes when Michael and Heather enter the house following Josh’s screams. This is perfectly spine tingling, and the ending is excellent as our feelings and fear somehow build and climax  in perfect harmony with what is happening on screen. The actors are clearly convincing, again look at the audience hysteria for proof, and although they are not called upon to do much, they do it well. Few great horror films come along these days, this is one- embrace it, let yourself be sucked in to feel the full effect, don’t be critical, and realize how good it is.

Let us know what you think of The Blair Witch Project in the comments!

Dead Of Night (1977)

Traumafessions :: Doomed Moviethon's Richard on Dead Of Night (1977)

This Halloween, and every Halloween, I try to watch a few portmanteau horror anthologies. Dead Of Night by Dan Curtis bares little resemblance to the Ealing film of the same name from three decades before, beyond the fact that they both offer little segments of horror and mystery for the viewer to enjoy. With only three stories and no wraparound it sets itself apart from many other anthologies, but thankfully the film still works thanks in a large part to the potency of its final piece.

It’s always interesting to me when an anthology film, ostensibly one in the horror genre, starts out with a segment which seems in no way related to horror. This is barely a Twilight Zone episode – one without an overly shocking twist or creep factor, but one which is still charming and watchable in its own right. Starring Ed Begley Jr as a car fanatic who picks up an old car to restore. The car has a bit of history, having been crashed 50 years earlier in a double death tragedy. Taking it out for its first spin, he finds himself somehow transported back to 1926 to learn the truth of the tragedy and maybe call upon some old relatives. It’s a strange, wistful tale which feels a little out of place but is still fun.

The second segment, is full blown Gothic Hammer goodness – creaking old mansions, butlers, sick busty women, and vampires. While this one does indeed have a macabre twist, you can see it a mile away if you’ve seen any horror movies of the last thirty years. It’s one of those segments which reminds me why I fell in love with Horror in the first place – even though it’s outdated and silly and not at all scary, it treats the material, and the vampire seriously – as this truly powerful and deadly threat rather than the lovelorn or easily slain anti-heroes we think of nowadays. It’s a piece which would be perfectly chilling and unforgettable for kids just dipping their toes into the genre. Plus you get Patrick McNee and Horst Bulchoz.

The final segment ‘Bobby’ is one of the most famous segments in all of anthology horror. Written by the great Richard Matheson, it’s the story of a grieving mother trying to raise her son from the dead using the dark arts. With little more than an exasperated sounding husband on the phone, it’s all about Joan Hackett and her attempts to resurrect her dead child. It’s a great performance, a chilling story, and one shot with literal thunderous aplomb – a stormy night becoming increasingly terrifying as Bobby teases his appearance, and proceeds to demand a game of hide and seek. It employs a lot of tricks to raise the hairs on the back of your neck, and it remains an effective and nasty tale.

Dead Of Night is a nifty little anthology to kick off your Halloween viewing, and a great introduction for younger viewers. Just snuggle up on the sofa and scar them for life, setting out with a gentle opener then racking up the tension until the final moments. Horror films aren’t made in this style any more – gore and swearing and sex free, but still scary enough that anyone can get a kick out of it and easily shared with younger family members who will get the thrill of the genre and hopefully want to explore further. Seasoned horror fans will enjoy the nostalgia factor even if the genre has progressed to deeper scares in the years since, but should still appreciate the dedication Curtis had for the craft.

Let us know in the comments what you think of Dead Of Night!

A Dark Song

A Dark Song - Film Hub Wales | Canolfan Ffilm Cymru

A Dark Song is a film to be nerdy about and one which embraces its nerdy ways. It would be more precise to call the film detailed, committed to being authentic. It’s something rarely seen these days, unless said detail is Product Placement. It’s also another one of those films which I was touted as being ‘the scariest of all time’ which both intrigues and worries me, because horror is subjective and because that’s usually a blurb to cover the cracks of a shitty film. Luckily, it’s not a shitty film, nor is it the scariest ever. It’s a solid, grief driven horror movie more concerned with detail, foreboding, and creating a somber tone – and it largely succeeds in delivering on each of those points.

If you weren’t aware, I always enjoy limited scope films – films with a single set or a very tiny cast or some other limitation which tends to mean filmmakers are more creative to work around those restrictions. A Dark Song is essentially a two character, or two actor movie, and for the most part is set in a single location. That location is a large Country House in the middle of nowhere, and the performers are Catherine Walker (Sophia), and Steve Oram (Joseph). Sophia is a grieving mother who has sought out the Occultist Joseph in order to perform a serious of rituals which will allow her to eventually speak to her dead son. Joseph is angry, bad-tempered, distrustful, while Sophia is guarded and defensive meaning the two clash regularly. Part of the ritual means they must live together in this house for many months, without ever leaving or making any contact with the outside world, following various increasingly difficult rites which bring forth both demons and angels to torment and test the pair. The plan is that if someone is worthy enough to complete these rites, a guardian angel will appear and grant any wish.

The film almost plays out like a Mike Leigh film – if Leigh was concerned with the Supernatural and Occult Rituals. It has that kitchen-sink realism and gritty downbeat British tone, all wrapped up in the overall theme of the lengths we go to with grief and guilt, and propelled along by depictions and discussions of the various exercises one must perform to step through the various realms of Heaven and Hell. These involve sleeping in certain places, types of mental and physical torture, drinking blood, chanting, drawing arcane symbols etc. With the fraught relationship between the pair, and the months of punishing tests, tempers fray throughout the movie and the viewer is never sure if it’s all an exploitative joke.

I’m curious to see how viewers will react to this film – horror fans and non-horror fans alike. For horror fans, you’re made to wait until closer to the end before anything overtly horror related makes an appearance while the first half of the film or so is intriguing enough to me in exploring the characters’ relationship and snippets of the history and background of what is being performed. There is a pay-off, and it mostly worked for me, but I imagine others may be frustrated by the ending. I would argue that the ending is exactly what the character needed, and for the viewer it should be the journey that matters – some questions concerning the mother and son aren’t answered, and people may feel those should have been resolved.

Oram is his usual warts and all self – he’s a physical actor who always seems to be eating or scratching or gesturing, while Walker plays the exhausted woman well. Director and writer Liam Gavin shows a genuine interest in the rituals and mythology taken from the Abramelin books and adds enough open-ended intrigue to make me want to go down the rabbit hole. It’s an assured handling of tension and of whatever scares come later, but he does seem more concerned in the build up and the lore and the emotion, than making a scary movie. It’s his movie, and that’s fine, but the marketing may suggest it’s something that it’s not. For me, it was an enjoyable and thought-provoking film of the sort which is rare these days.

Let us know in the comments what you thought of A Dark Song!

The Gift

The Gift (2015) : Movie Plot Ending Explained | This is Barry

As a seasoned Horror fan, there isn’t a lot out there which truly scares or unsettles me. We all have our thing, that type or subject which gets under our skin, be it jump scares or vampires, or spiders, or home invasion – whatever. I don’t really have a thing, I just enjoy all horror movies – even if they’re bad, there’s probably some funny kills or gore, and even if they don’t scare me, I can love them. The Gift feels more like a Thriller than an outright horror film, and there’s certainly nothing in the film or its synopsis which signalled to me that I would be scare or unsettled in any way. Nevertheless, The Gift made me very uncomfortable at certain points, which is not something I can say about even my favourite movies of the last few years.

Before we get into that – a quick plot description. Jason Bateman and his wife Rebecca Hall, have recently moved back to the suburbs due to Bateman getting a new Executive position, and allowing Hall to chill a little after some undisclosed mental issues. The seem to be back on the right path – new job, new house, a fresh start, and planning for a baby. While shopping, Bateman is approached by Joel Edgerton who claims to be an old school friend. At first not remembering, the penny eventually drops and they exchange phone numbers. Soon, Bateman and Hall begin to receive gifts and visits from Edgerton, who seems more than a little socially awkward, and these increase in frequency and oddity. Do they have a stalker? Is there something more sinister afoot? Is it all innocent?

Unfortunately, to talk about why the film excelled as instilling these levels of discomfort, we have to dip into spoiler territory – skip the rest of the review if you haven’t watched the movie. It’s quite clear early on that Bateman’s character is a bit of a dick. He seems dismissive and controlling of others, yet easily charming when he wants his own way. It’s this sly treatment of everyone around him which Bateman plays so perfectly, and which Edgerton directs so beautifully which really unnerved me. Not that this is particularly personal in any way, but to me Bateman’s character is someone I’ve seen all through life – from School with the privileged kids getting whatever they want and assuming they deserve everything and can trample over others to get it, to Office life where the smarmy insidious ass-lickers will crush those who just want to do their job and forget about it once 5pm hits. The movie does make it clear that this is not a good person, but it rarely makes it obvious if we’re meant to be rooting for him or not. As time goes on and the secrets are revealed, this contradiction becomes less jaded. If there’s one thing I would change in the movie, to even further blur lines between contradictions and blame, it’s in removing some of the more unnecessary moments concerning Gordo, such as learning about his discharge from the Army and his issues with the Law. I would have made Gordo’s character completely straight-laced and innocent, which would have meant re-writing the shock ending which makes us question whether or not a rape took place. Having Gordo potentially committing these acts makes it seem more like he had a plan all along, and therefore was just as capable of evil as Bateman, while I feel like him just being a random innocent weirdo would have been all the more potent.

The Gift is a well acted and directed thriller which has several twists and secrets which play on many tropes seen in past movies, from the likes of Fatal Attraction and Single White Female to Pacific Heights and Arlington Road. There’s always a seemingly happy couple, there’s always an intruder with an agenda who comes to disrupt this happy life, and there are always fatal consequences. The Gift is like those films but with added secrets to unravel, and with a less clearly focused single villain. It’s a film with the power to unsettle thanks to how closely it pinpoints cultural truths and norms, and one which may piss you off for all the right reasons.

Let us know what you thought of The Gift in the comments!

Inoperable

If I hadn’t established this already – I’m a big Danielle Harris fan, ever since my childhood seeing her in things like Eerie, Indiana, and Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter’s Dead. She’s one of the best child actors ever. She has since been very prolific, more often than not appearing in horror movies and, sadly, more often than not appearing in not very good movies. Given that she usually manages to elevate whatever she’s in, I try to watch as many of her films as possible on the hope that she’ll appear in something as good as her most memorable movies.

Inoperable isn’t one of those. It is based on a fun and interesting premise though – one which was strong enough to pull me in even before I knew she was in it. Danielle Harris plays a woman who wakes up in a seemingly abandoned hospital, dressed like she is about to be operated on. With little memory of why she’s there, she wanders the halls and eventually finds other patients and staff, and catching snippets of weather reports hinting that a major storm will be passing through the area shortly. Also, she seems to keep ‘waking up’ in her car on a busy road – at first she assumes the hospital vision was just a dream, but when she keeps leaping between the two, reality and truth begin to blur.

The film mixes mystery and horror – why is any of this happening to her? How come some of the other people she meets seem to remember her, yet at other times forget? How come some of the hospital staff seem intent on murdering her? What is the significance of the weather? It’s part slasher, part Groundhog Day, part some more confused Lynchian nightmare. Unfortunately, it loses much of its early intrigue due to quite a lot of repetition and too many shots of running through corridors. There’s a good movie in year, but it’s hindered by what I can only perceive to make a lack of experience and innovation in the writing and direction and an uncertainty over how to wring the most tension and intrigue out of the premise while leading us towards a satisfying ending. Harris is fine, though spends much of the film in a confused and empty state, while the rest of the cast are adequate in mainly minor roles. It’s been at least a couple of years since I watched this so some of the finer details have probably been lost, but my most abiding memory of the viewing experience was being frustrated by the execution living up to the potential of the idea. Still, if you like films which bounce around in a non-linear way and ask mind-bending questions, or if you’re a Danielle Harris kinda person, it’s worth a go but I can’t see it earning many uber-fans.

Let us know what you thought of Inoperable in the comments!

The Wisdom Of Crocodiles

*Originally written in 2003

Decapitated Zombie Vampire Bloodbath: #101: The Wisdom of ...

A moving, beautifully told, and original vampire movie, and one which has vanished into the unknown. Jude Law, probably in his best performance, is a modern day vampire. Naturally, this being a modern movie which strives to be original, Law’s character has few of the vampire traits we would recognise; he can live in sunlight, crucifixes hold no power over him, he cannot transform into other animals, he does not have fangs. However, he is semi-immortal, and must drink human blood to survive. Indeed, it is this fact which drives the story, and it is a tragedy rather than a horror. With great acting, beautiful and subtle camera-work, a touching story and a fitting soundtrack, The Wisdom of Crocodiles bears all the markings of a good movie; unfortunately it is little known, and of course has flaws which likely hindered it from becoming more widely seen.

Law is Stephen, an attractive, clever, charming young man who happens to be a vampire. In his quest for the ‘perfect’ woman who can save him from his torturous life, a strong woman with the ability to love him, literally changing her blood. All the women he has found in the past have been scared of him, so he has killed them. When he does this, he takes a fang like object from them. In his desperate search for love he finds Anna, (Lowensohn) a beautiful young woman and they begin to fall for each other. She is enchanted by him, but is also cautious, and when he saves her from a gang of muggers she becomes scared. The truth soon comes out in parts, and all the while the police are interested in Stephen’s involvement in the death of his ex-girlfriend. The story builds to a suitable emotional climax, and never at any point can we predict what will happen.

The film failed at the box-office because it is very downbeat, and only features one big name star. The director is also little known, but shows immense talent and gets the best from the cast. Hoffman’s script has some of the best dialogue in years, clever, and full of metaphor and depth. It is definitely a film crying out to be rewatched as you will find something new with each viewing. There is imagery to suit the script, and Law’s charismatic performance could not have been bettered. Lowensohn is also very good, her intensity growing as she finds out more about Stephen. Of course, as a vampire movie people will expect blood and scares. Here there is little blood shed and few scenes of violence, though all are handled suitably, and of course it is not that kind of film. The cop storyline adds further depth, but for some the proceedings will be too slow. The film has its own pace, and rarely gets out of first gear, but this is the way it should be. An underrated film, but as Jude Law’s stardom rises hopefully he will not forget this, and his fans will discover it.

Let us know in the comments what you think of The Wisdom Of Crocodiles!

Knock Knock

I’ve mentioned it before on the blog, but I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Eli Roth. I love his enthusiasm, and the films he makes are generally made with love and have solid ideas driving them, but the execution is almost always lacking and he seems to give up part way through and inject unnecessary humour. I have nothing against humour in horror, but his always falls flat. Knock Knock is a remake of the notorious, yet little known 70s exploitation film Death Game – but is it a film which allows Roth’s strengths to overcome his weaknesses?

The film begins promisingly enough – Reeves is playing a wealthy husband and father who lives in a post modern glacial home. One night, while his family is out of town, two unfathomably sexy young women knock knock at his door claiming to need help finding a party. One thing leads to another and before long we are treated to a sleazy threesome. In true Bunuel style, the girls don’t seem willing, or know how to leave – all the more troubling when neighbour Colleen Camp stops by disapprovingly and when the girls destroy some artwork in the house. As matters progress, the sleaze and nonsense increase to silly levels.

Although that promising start eventually dissipates into a watered down tables turned version of Funny Games, with a lot less to say, it’s still stupidly watchable in the same way most exploitation movies are. The cast is a lot of fun, even if it is a little cringe-inducing seeing some of the things Reeves gets up to in the movie. There are many moments when the girls’ plan could have been foiled or come crumbling down, but silly contrived circumstance gets in the way. I’m not sure what precisely the film is trying to say, but it comes off as both hating men and women equally while still glamourizing the hollow and violent nature of both sides. It doesn’t come close to being a horror movie, and it’s not particularly funny to be considered a comedy – exploitation and a mish mash of genre tropes mean it’s more like a sleazy morality tale where the lesson seems to be ‘Don’t Talk To Strangers’. Still, for all its faults, its more enjoyable than a lot of the po-faced horror out there, and it’s brief enough that you’re not sacrificing much by giving it your time.

Let us know in the comments what you think of Knock Knock!

Zombieland

Ever since the trio of Shaun Of The Dead, Dawn Of The Dead Remake, and 28 Days Later, zombies have seen a resurgence in media that hasn’t really gone away since. We’ve had a number of big budget movies and shows, and an even larger number of low budget and indie titles. Zombieland falls into the former category, and even though I’m a self-confessed zombie and horror junkie I didn’t get around to watching it until 2017. So, how does it fare against the myriad other horror comedy crossovers?

It fairs quite well. Make no mistake – I’m no great fan of Abigail Breslin, Emma Stone, or Jesse Eisenberg but none of them managed to irritate me during the course of the movie, and everything which the cast and crew attempted, worked amicably. There are laughs, both visceral and script based, the gore isn’t overloaded so as to put of sensitive non-horror fans yet present enough and wrapped up in entertaining action to appease those who like a bit of red on them.

The story and structure is all quite tongue in cheek – both mocking and paying skewed reverence to the genre. There has been an outbreak which has led to zombies everywhere, and one geek loner is travelling through the US and surviving following his self-made rules. As any zombie fan will attest – we all have our own rules for surviving our own imagined apocalypse. Along the way he meets Woody Harrelson’s character – a piss-take composite of several prior Harrelson creations and the conniving sisters played by Stone and Breslin. Part Road movie, part Crime caper, part comedy horror, the disparate parts rarely feel like they are pulling in opposing directions and the highlights are of course the Bill Murray cameo sequence and the finale set in an Amusement Park. If you know me, you’ll know I love movies set around or involving Amusement or Theme Parks.

At the time of writing, I haven’t yet watched the sequel but based upon how much I enjoyed this one I imagine it won’t be long before I catch up to it. Let us know in the comments what you think of Zombieland!