The landscape of cinematic horror has been wide and varied over the decades. In the 1960's, psychological terror was a refreshing and bold approach to what had once been the province of creature and monster films of the fifties, catapulting us into a brave new world of unconscious fear. Hitchcock and later, DePalma, tapped the dark undercurrents of the European cinema and merged them with a new American sensibility.
The 1980's ushered in a truly terrifying era where new villains emerged from the suburban night-scape, all too often wearing hockey masks and wielding chain saws. It seems ever since we've been in a race to rack up higher body counts and more gallons of spilled blood. Have we lost the ability to scare by using the power of the subconscious to cultivate new brands of terror?
Hoodman is a film that is not afraid to return to the kind of slow-burn building of suspense absent from so many horror films today. Director/Screenwriter Mark W. Curran has crafted an effective crime-suspense thriller which harkens back to a more Hitchcockian era, with subtle psychological undercurrents and a gripping crime drama unfolding in the fray. Think 'Psycho' Meets 'Urban Legend.'
The story revolves around 26-year-old Ariana Chandler [Madison Spear] a troubled young woman with a difficult past who is hell-bent on finding her missing child. She clashes with Lenny Briggs, [Brock Morse] a relentless detective who is convinced she is hiding something and won't stop at anything until he gets to the truth.
Matters are further complicated by suspect Frank Hackman, a local crackpot who lost his own daughter years before to what he believes is an urban legend known as Hoodman. As Briggs gets closer to the truth his own beliefs are called into question as the stakes for each character are raised higher.
At the heart of Hoodman lies an intriguing premise; that the things we believe can manifest into reality. The story plays with this premise in varying and interesting ways to pit the power of belief against the reality of truth.
While ultra-low budget, the filmmakers have done much with limited resources and wisely stayed within their means to deliver good quality production values using fewer locations and forgoing special effects.
Hoodman relies on suspense and dread rather than blood or violence to effect its scares, thus it may be too slow paced for some, while others will find its sense of foreboding and well-structured storytelling a welcome change from more visceral horror fare.
The cast turns in decent performances. Madison Spear makes her impressive screen debut. Young actress Skye Roberts is outstanding as Ari's young sister, Missy. Brock Morse delivers a commanding turn as the Detective.
Hoodman is an urban legend thriller that gets under your skin and will keep you guessing up to its surprise ending.
Where To Find HOODMAN:
Hoodman is now FREE on TUBI! https://bit.ly/3e8ztht
Free On Amazon Prime: https://amzn.to/3nDW4VZ
Rent On YouTube Movies: https://bit.ly/3AQbYl4
Rent On Google Play: https://bit.ly/3hRXxHJ
Watch Free on IMDB-TV: https://imdb.to/3n42pu2
Hoodman: The Movie Social Media Sites
Official Website: https://bit.ly/3vhsM3z
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The Dare (2019)
Written by Giles Alderson and Jonny Grant
Directed by Giles Alderson
A rare family night for Jay takes a brutal twist when he awakens in a basement with three other prisoners. As their vengeful captor runs riot, Jay engages in a twisted battle to solve the puzzle to his past and save his family's future.
Review by: Mark Walker
Warning – there may be a couple of minor spoilers for The Dare in this review
The Dare sees Jay’s pleasant evening at home with his family descend into terror as he is knocked unconscious and kidnapped. He wakes up in a room chained to wall, alongside three other prisoners, one of whom is covered in open wounds and has his lips sewn shut. I’ve had some pretty shitty mornings in my younger life but waking up in this Saw-like situation is never going to be good.
As the film progresses, we are introduced to their captor, Dominic and, via a series of flashbacks, we slowly learn what links them all and why our masked, muscular madman is doing what he’s doing.
Admittedly, it is not the most complex of stories but, to be fair, a film like this doesn’t need to be complex, it just needs to put characters you care for in terrible situations and make you empathise with them; it just needs to make you uncomfortable. Uncomfortable at the thought of what is being done and uncomfortable in the realisation that you are, in effect, a voyeur! The Dare wants you to share the experience of being locked up for unknown reasons and the fear of being terrorised by an unknown (at first) nut job. It’s about the sins of the past coming back to haunt you and the ramifications of thoughtless actions. But ultimately, it is about pain and suffering, both mentally and physically. While many would see this as ‘torture porn,’ I feel it has a bit more going for it with justification for Dominic’s, actions. It is gruesome in places, but not just for the sake of it.
The problem I had with The Dare was the sympathy element. Again, for reasons I won’t go into, the trapped characters aren’t necessarily the most sympathetic. They are not out and out evil and the events that eventually lead up to their imprisonment happen years before when they were just kids. As such, you do kind of feel a bit sorry for the poor guy who was “left behind” and ended up twisted by circumstance into a man-child killer hell-bent on revenge. It is very similar to my thoughts on The Burning which I reviewed very briefly on my on website recently, where I couldn’t help but feel a bit sorry for Cropsy. He was set on fire by a bunch of dick-kids for no real reason before going on his rampage, so what do you expect!? There are similar elements here and, once you learn what happened to Dominic all those years ago, you’ll see there is a very good argument for nurture over nature influencing his actions as an adult. Now I am not saying that anyone deserves what happens to them, but our Bogeyman, Dominic, is given a tragic enough backstory to make it easier to understand why he is doing what he is doing. While all the characters are interesting, Dominic is the one that is the most complex, his captives largely 2-dimensional torture fodder. I never really cared about the four prisoners, so the jeopardy and panic around whether they escape, or die wasn’t quite there for me. Even giving Jay an opening that showcases his family doesn’t really make you care for him. (Spoiler Alert – even one of his kids turns out to be a bit of a dick!)
They are also given several opportunities to fight back – Dominic literally hands them a weapon on more than one occasion – but they don’t take them and would seemingly rather use the weapon on each other to appease Dominic, than to try to escape; so perhaps they don’t deserve to survive!?
Anyway, that’s probably looking into things a bit too deeply! We didn’t come here to psychoanalyse a killer; we came here to be thrilled! And what we get is a solid thrill ride of a horror film with plenty of unpleasantness to keep everyone happy. Lots of stabbing and cutting for starters and then one particularly unpleasant bit with an eye. Eyes always make me squirm and the filmmakers did an excellent job on that front. The Dare is not a scary film, it relies more on the stomach-churning fear of what torture is going to come next. It is not a film for lovers of creepy ghost stories or haunted houses, this is one for the gore hounds and fans of Saw or Hostel. Having said that, although there are a couple of unpleasant scenes, it doesn’t feel overly gratuitous – there is definitely method in Dominic’s madness – again, the influence of nurture over nature. This just isn’t a film to come to for complex, layered storytelling, it is designed to shock and disturb, and it does a decent job at both.
Acting is solid and the effects are good. There were a couple of CGI effects that weren’t so great, but they were brief enough not to detract too much and, in a couple of cases, I can see how hard it would have been to do it practically! The cast is good and, to be fair, anything with Richard Brake is going to be worth a watch. The guy is great at creating unpleasant characters and Credence is no exception, with an undercurrent of anger and violence just waiting to burst forth and ruin someone’s day. Anyone with a “father” like Credence is going to struggle in life and Dominic is no exception; see, there is definitely a nature/nurture theme coming through here!
The Dare is currently on IMDB sitting at a 5.1 and I think that is kind of okay. It’s a decent score, especially for a horror, although I might go to a 5.5/6 as it is a solidly made film. It’s a shame as such a score may put a lot of people off. But don’t be. While The Dare doesn’t offer anything drastically new, it is a great effort and, if you enjoy this type of horror the it’s worth a watch in my eyes… actually, no, leave my eyes out of this…
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