Hashy Slashy at its best.
This week sees the release from Film Chest of 4/20 Massacre on VOD and DVD. Straight up I have a confession to make as I have never smoked weed, am not into the culture which surrounds it and find a significant amount of stoner films to be rather basic, relying more on the fact they are Stoner films than on quality. Until now I also had no idea what the 4/20 holiday is. I will also go on record as saying that I don’t have a stick up my butt about marijuana, each to their own, as long as you’re happy…
4/20 Massacre was not what I was expecting, even though it does appear routine on paper. Five women go camping in the woods as part of a celebration of their friend’s birthday, there’s a mythical yield of high-class marijuana in the area, so they just have to find it yadda yadda yadda. Like I said, routine on paper as I’ve seen this plot several times before. Where this film deviates from the norm is in the overall production as Dylan Reynolds has made it is above average with excellent brutal and gruesome special effects.
The cast are also above average with a lot of very familiar faces:
Jamie Bernadette (I Spit on Your Grave: Déjà Vu, Killing Joan), Vanessa Rose Parker (Samurai Cop 2), Justine Wachsberger (Divergent), Stacey Danger (‘’Jean-Claude Van Johnson’’), Marissa Pistone (Raze), Jim Storm (Dark Shadows), Mark Schroeder (‘’Pretty Little Liars’’) Jim Round, Drew Talbert and James Gregory.
I would say that it’s impossible, for me at least, to pick an individual performance which shines out because they are all equally good and they turn what could easily have been an average slasher movie into something much more enjoyable.
It is available right now, perfect timing if you actually want to watch it on 4/20.
“An evil entity stalks a problem family in new Canadian indie horror film"
Your opinion on “Pyewacket”, directed by Canadian Adam MacDonald, way well depend upon what type of horror films you personally enjoy the most. If you’re a fan of the more graphic type, with loud shocks along the way, leading to a big ‘reveal’ then this intelligent low-budget flick may well not be for you. However, if you’re after a clever study of psychologically fractured family relationships, minimal special effects, with very slow escalation of tension then “Pyewacket” may be worth a look. You might not even be aware you’re watching a horror film for much of its ninety minutes. Each individual viewer must decide themselves whether that is a good or bad thing.
Leah (Nicole Munez) and her mother played by Laurie Holden (best known as ‘Andrea’ from ‘The Walking Dead’) are struggling to cope with the death of Leah’s father the previous year. The mother abruptly decides to relocate to a nearby town, thinking that a change of scenery will be the best thing for both to rebuild their lives. Leah, of course, disagrees and after the big move her mother continues to drive her a lengthy distance to her old high school. This was a plot hole; what was the point of moving houses to a location which ultimately meant spending two hours of daily car travel time with your sulky daughter? Leah is majorly pissed off with the relocation, feeling disconnected from her friends, and who can blame her?
Leah also has an interest in the occult which has developed since her father passed away, this is vaguely explored through her attending an occult author book signing with her grungy heavy/black metal friends who are into the same sort of thing. The dynamics with the three friends worked very well, and I felt it could have had a bigger part of the story, instead most of the action revolves around the antagonistic relationship between Leah and her mother. The acting is terrific throughout, but we needed more plot than repeated spats between mother and daughter in their isolated house and Leah regularly flouncing off to her room.
After a particularly bad fight the mother calls Leah a “loser” and this leads to her using her occult ‘expertise’ to summon an evil entity, the ‘Pyewacket’ of the title to supposedly kill her mother. All a bit of an over-reaction for an argument you might think, but Leah is disturbed, and the viewer is never quite sure whether she believes what she is doing is genuine. The ritual is freaky, in an earthy sort of way, and the camera really sucks the viewer in as she buries her artefacts, mixed with her own blood, in the forest earth. From then on things start to go bump in the night. Part of the problem with the film is that they go ‘bump in the night’ at a snail’s pace, probably too slowly for a lot of viewers. You may wonder whether the pay-off in the end is genuinely worth it? It does have intense final ten minutes, but I still felt slightly short-changed.
The family’s new house looks like it has been dropped straight into the middle of the ‘Blair Witch’ woods and we are treated to repeated shots of this forest from various angles and, which on one level adds atmosphere, but on a second provide a fair bit of padding and never realistically added much to the story. The film makes good use of sound effects, rather than music, and there are many scenes where there is limited dialogue, but ultimately it added just as much jarring noise as tension. This tested my patience somewhat, bearing in mind I saw this film on a big Dolby screen, I wonder how it will transfer to the small screen VOD where most folks will watch it.
The ‘Pyewacket’ entity really takes an age to do anything at all and as demons go it is the laziest I have ever witnessed in a horror film. For the first hour it makes a couple of bumps and leaves a single mud trail, Leah begins to get paranoid, and I did not think this was enough action for a horror flick, even a deeply psychological one. There was a great scene when Leah’s friend Janice has a sleepover, but again too much is implied, and the film would have benefited from more interaction with the teenage friends. There is nothing wrong with films being slow, but this film was neither a crowd-pleaser or a genuine art-house horror film.
“Pyewacket” was a perfectly acceptable little film, which I enjoyed watching, it’s not going to be everybody’s cup of tea, but if you like a slow-burning character study then give it a go. Personally, I like a scare in a film, and I do not think this film had one single jump, from myself or the large audience, which is not exactly a glowing endorsement for a horror film, whichever type it is.
Who would have thought that almost five years after the first shark flopped out of a crudely CGI'd tornado we would be sitting here with four sequels and a fifth one on the way. The SyFy channel has always had a reputation for churning cheap, badly acted, badly designed and badly written films, from the so close it's a wonder the copyright police haven't come a knocking such as Independent’s Day, Atlantic Rim and Snakes on a Train, to the I'm not sure what they were smoking when they made it films like Titanic II, Ice Spiders and Piranhaconda.
They became the last refuge of actors who once had success in far superior films, how they ended up scrapping the barrel of their fame is anyone's guess, but the films found an audience. However, they remained confined to the gutter; if you were to do a straw poll among the general public, they would struggle to name any of these films, until 2013 when Sharknado crashed onto our small screens.
At first glance this film looked like any other Syfy Channel film, cheap budget, poor special effects and a cast roster filled with could've-beens, has-beens, and who-da-hell-is-that-beens. And yet somehow it escaped the gutter of Syfy films and became a global phenomenon. Sharknado 5: Global Swarming sees Fin and his family travelling the world via portals in the Sharknados in an attempt to defeat the relentless wanton destruction of the world by our finned fiends.
Regarding plot you don't need to know much more, a Sharknado appears Fin and the sharkbusters battle the flying sharks, and countless supporting actors get killed off in ever increasingly inventive and bizarre ways.
From the opening scene, that would have Indiana Jones hanging up his whip in disgust, if he ever watched it to the somewhat racist depictions of the UK Sharknado constantly swims the line between funny parody and mindless drivel. Thankfully, for the most part, it stays on the side of funny parody. The filmmakers behind the series obviously know what the fans are looking for and they deliver it in chump bucketloads, from the only time I have ever been glad to see Brett Michaels from Poison on my TV. To the appearance of the ladies of GMTV( pity they couldn't get Piers Morgan on the set, but I assume no one would believe that a shark would stoop so low as to bite that rancid example of a human being), Sharknado 5 is filled with incredible guest stars, whose deaths never fail to bring a smile to your face.
All sense of logic and compliance with the laws of nature and physics are ignored, and usually, this would make this reviewer go on a massive rant, but this film is so dumb it doesn't matter one bit. Hell, even the when the secret behind the Sydney Opera House is revealed there wasn't one single groan issued.
Another charm of the film is the earnest performances from the two main leads, Ian Ziering and Tara Reid, while they would never rank on a top 500 acting list, their heartfelt dedication to making this film work, and their pitch-perfect delivery of lines and action set pieces that are so hokum and cheese filled they should carry a government health warning lifts this film from being just another crappy SyFy monster film.
You know what you are getting when you put on a Sharknado film, and Global Swarming doesn't disappoint for a second, the big dumb fun movie has never had such a perfect ambassador. I've watched a lot of so-called proper horror films over the last few months and not one of came close to delivering the amount of fun I had watching this. Switch it on, switch of your brain, and have the most fun you can have with sharks without getting your feet wet.
When Matt Shaw first announced that he was going to make a film based on his popular novel Monster co-authored with Michael Bray there was a little bit of apprehension on my part. Matt is the master of brutal, shocking and at times hilariously funny offensive extreme horror, but would that undeniable skill transfer from the book to the screen. When you have watched so many horror films from directors and production companies with far more experience and financial backing behind them than Matt, that are utter shite, you can be forgiven for thinking that this could well end up being a nice try son, but let's not do this again.
How wrong could this reviewer have been? The sense of relief after watching just the first ten minutes of Monster was enough to alleviate all worries about this film.
Regarding the plot Monster is a relatively simple film, a married couple have an emotionally and physically retarded son, who likes to break his playthings, so the husband and wife lure back unsuspecting victims for their son to play with. And when one woman is lured back to their abode for their son's birthday party, all hell breaks loose in this fight for survival.
Let's be clear here this film is no walk in the park. This is an extreme horror film, where the horror comes solely from the horrors inflicted by human beings, there is no supernatural element to water down the horrific and nasty things that happen on the screen. Monster is unyielding and unapologetic at the violence and psychological terror that it inflicts on the characters, and for that, it makes the film better for it. There is no redemption character arc, no lessons to be learned, no last minute change of heart. Monster starts out brutally and it doesn't stop.
One of the biggest surprise is just how good Monster actually looks. I have no knowledge about the different camera and film types, but one of the most significant flaws in so many horror films is that they look cheap. Monster doesn't look cheap; it looks like a film with a far bigger budget, and the use of real-life locations, a real house, and the use of some excellent lighting setups gives this film the sense of reality that was needed to support the rest of the production.
The cinematography is first class; each shot is framed exquisitely allowing the viewer to focus on the performances of the actors. This is probably best shown in the somewhat off-putting birthday cake scene, the tight frame and marvellous sound design make this scene, which in reality is one of the tamer scenes in the film, wholly and utterly stomach churning. This was the point where I almost had to take a bathroom break such was the urge to vomit at what I had just witnessed.
The opening scene is another prime example of some of the clever techniques that they use to induce a sense of unease and uncomfortableness. The insertion of subliminal messages that match the monologue has an effect like being punched in the stomach before anything has happened on screen the viewer is already unsettled and wary about what is come next. It's an effect that is used to similarly significant effect at the end of the film.
The nightmarish quality of Monster is helped by a "dreamlike" scene towards the end of the film where Richard played by Rod Glenn defends his actions to an audience of his peers. It's a powerful segment that manages to avoid the usual pitfalls of the dreaded dream sequence.
Monster has a small cast, which works in its favour The story focuses on four main characters, although the performances from Tony Cook and Danielle Harold in the opening scene are excellent. It's Clair Buckley turn as Elizabeth, the cheeky and sassy friend of Emily that gets my votes as the best performance from a supporting actor. Her relatively short time on screen is an utter joy to watch, would like to have seen more of her, but at least she might now finally get to eat that chocolate bar she so desperately wanted to eat.
And let's not forget a rather special performance from horror author Mark Cassell. Mark's turn as one of the prisoners of the house brings a nice light comic relief to the proceedings. The delusional, out if mental state that he ends up in will bring a wry smile to your face.
Mike Butler isn't given very much to do regarding acting range, his character is more of an animalistic avatar than a fully fleshed out one, yet despite this, he brings a great sense of pathos to the role. Yes, he is a brutal monolithic monster, who knows no boundaries regarding right and wrong, but we are left in no doubt that he is a product of his environment and the nasty and vile upbringing he has been subjected to by his father. It's a compelling performance, and when he is on the screen, you are left wondering with apprehension as to when and if all hell is going to break loose.
It's been a while since we have seen Tracy Shaw on our screens and after her performance as downtrodden but nasty Mary, one can only hope that it won't be long before she is back on our screens. Mary is perhaps the most complex character in the film. You can't beat about the bush she is as evil as they come, facilitating her husband in maintaining the never-ending supply of 'toys" for her son. She is entirely complicit in the events, she'd go down quicker than a lead balloon in any court of law, but thanks to the wonderfully faceted portrayal of mary, you end up feeling sorry for her. She is as much trapped in this nightmare as her son. There is no way out for her, and she knows it, and even though she appears to relish the killings and sense of power that they give her, thanks to Shaws powerful and multifaceted performance you see past that this to the shattered and broken woman underneath.
The best examples of Shaw's powerful performance are exemplified by two scenes. The first of which is where she has an almost motherly chat with Emily, we see past the cold-hearted bitch of a killer and get a glimpse of the woman she could have been. The second scene is at the party for her son when she questions Emily about the card and presents that Emily was supposed to bring. The level of tension during this scene is terrific; it's pretty much how I would imagine I would feel watching a timer on a bomb, strapped to my legs, slowly tick down to zero, the viewer is captivated with the threat of an almighty explosion.
One of the most significant problems in horror films is the final girl syndrome, where the female victim is left with very little to do but run away, fall over, run away again and probably fall over a few more times. In reality, this isn't something that Laura Ellen Wilson has to worry too much about in this film as she spends the majority of it tied up in one way or another. The shallow portrayal of the final girl has always been a major bugbear of mine. Thankfully Emily's performance and the script make significant inroads into addressing this. Laura delivers powerful, and more importantly, believable execution of a woman kidnapped and forced to endure their worst nightmare. No matter what the emotional base she is required to deliver, be it a woman terrified for her life, or as a woman determined to find a way out of this nightmare, Laura is nothing short of hypnotic, she more than holds her own on a screen that could have been dominated by the more outlandish Richard and Mary.
Which brings us to Richard, played by Rod Glenn. WOW! I could leave it at that, as this is one hell of a performance. To use probably the most used word in the film Richard is a cunt, a complete and utter cunt. Glenn is a revelation; it is clear he is having a ball with this role. He doesn't miss a beat; every line is delivered with such enthusiasm and gusto that you are left with no doubt who the real monster of this film is. Richard is like a nasty little ball of vile piss, puke and puss, an utterly abhorrent character, with no redeeming factors. It is a testament to Glenn's performance that Richard doesn't come across as an over the top cliched villain. Such is the power of Glenn's acting that after watching Monster I had to repeat to myself, it's only a film, he's not like that in real life, so I really shouldn't kick in the throat if I ever meet him. He made me so angry after watching this I became drawn entirely into his delivery. When this film hist the festival circuit, if Rod Glenn doesn't win an award for best actor then there is something really fucked up in the world.
As a horror film Monster is an unadulterated success, an unrelenting urban horror tour de force. They say you don't want to know what goes on behind closed doors, and after watching this, I don't think I ever will. Brutal, uncomfortable, and entirely nasty, Monster is marvellously malignant, and a malevolent masterpiece
While the film has been finished Matt and Michael are still looking for funding to help with the promotion and distribution of them. Please follow th link below and give the the boost they deserve they have some great perks such as
Tee-Shirt "A Bit Too Cunty"
When Jake says he doesn't like the birthday cake, Richard asks why. "Is it a bit too cunty for you?" Own the tee-shirt. Warn people you're a bit too cunty for them... Includes photo of birthday cake scene.
Almost sold out! One ticket to the premiere of MONSTER, showing June 29th in London. Please note: Ticket via Email. The film is a mid-morning showing. There will be cast present and a Q&A with cast, director and writers. Travel and Accommodation not included
All The Authors
Matt Shaw, Mark Cassell, Michael Bray, Justin Park, Rod Glenn... All authors, all involved in this film. Get a signed book from each of the authors sent direct to your home!
Tracy Shaw's outfit
A red leather skirt. The outfit worn by Tracy Shaw as Mary in the infamous Party scene. Straight from set and a little bit bloody... Your chance to own a part of the film! Includes a picture of Tracy in her outfit, on-set.
CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT THE FILM
The silent apocalypse is a gripping experience
The enticing trailer for “A Quiet Place” has been kicking around for a while now, and without much fanfare this exhilarating apocalyptic horror thriller finally whispers into the UK cinemas. Pulling in at a lean and mean b-movie 90 minutes it really was well worth the wait and I could have happily watched the story spin out for much longer. I also suggest you check out this little beauty on a very big screen and DO NOT take any crisps or wrapped sweets as you’ll really piss someone off. Also, the less you know about the plot the better, so I’m going to be deliberately vague on specifics.
Word of warning: in my neck of the woods the cinematic horror film experience is frequently ruined by talking arseholes, so make sure you watch this film in a cinema which you know will be COMPLETELY SILENT, as the lack of talking and noise genuinely pushes the tension us several notches. I watch a lot of horror films on the big screen and am often disappointed by efforts which are either overrated, or others I feel I’ve seen before. Be rest assured “A Quite Place” has enough going for it for even the most jaded horror fan and you really haven’t seen it before. And the big question all horror films ask: “is it scary?” Oh yes, it’s top heavy with jumps, frights and bumps.
With only a few characters in the film, a family is forced to live in near silence while hiding from horrific creatures that hunt by sound. That’s about the size of the plot. There has obviously been some worldwide catastrophe, but the brief snippets revealed to the audience are sparingly taken from newspaper scraps seen in background shots, but it certainly indicates that most of the population is dead. The film cleverly does very little to set the scene, allowing the viewer to join the dots which are easy to do after a few minutes.
The film opens with Emily Blunt (Evelyn) and John Krasinski (Lee) and their three kids scavenging in a local town, disaster strikes, and we pick the story up several months later. Their whole existence revolves around living a completely silent life, and drilling these basic principles into their kids, as any kind of dramatic sound will attract these monsters.
How is a film with no dialogue then? Pretty great, and the viewer very quickly adapted to the family’s simplified version of sign language and subtitles. It made the occasional spoken scene (such as a scene inside a water fall) a bit strange and odd unexpected noises really jolt. The scene when Evelyn listens to Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon” (with headphones on) it makes the music sound particularly beautiful.
Interestingly the filmmakers choose to show the creatures (fleeting) very early in the film rather than hide them away which is more normal in this type of film. This did not ruin the tension at all, and the first appearance gives a terrific jolt. The monsters were nasty looking buggers, but they came close to being overexposed in the last sequences, but I think the director played it just right with the screen time he gave them.
“A Quiet Place” is essentially a survival horror film and is a fabulous example of how to develop atmosphere without any visible bloodshed at all. Many of the best scenes were sweaty and claustrophobic, filmed at close quarters as the creatures stalked the family trying their very best to be silent, but hyperventilating with fear. The overpowering natural feeling is to “RUN!” but that would only lead to certain death, so the camera makes the most of the dramatic sounds of the fearful breathing.
The setting, where most of the action take place, was amazingly well drawn and it was fun to look at all the clever techniques the family utilised to kill sound from their day to day lives, from walking on sand covered paths, to eating with no cutlery. As the film progresses the characters make many particularly dumb decisions, and I did wonder how they had managed to survive as long as they had by the time the end approached, but that was a small quibble. It’s a horror film, so expect dumb decisions.
In many horror films you don’t give a monkey about who is killed off, not so with “A Quiet Place” the family dynamics are one of the most powerful elements of the film and the two main child actors are terrific. You can visibly taste the fear of the boy (Marcus) when he is being stalked in the corn fields. The elder teenage daughter (Regan) is even better and she is in many ways the star of the film, struggling to overcome a tragedy she blames herself for, and with tricky dynamics with her father because of it. This was all very believable, no real heroes, just a family trying to survive against the odds and it was pitched perfectly.
For some weird reason it had me thinking of Josh Malerman’s “Birdbox” where light kills, rather than sound and with the Netflix version of “Birdbox” on the horizon one wonders whether it will mess with the senses as cleverly and convincingly as “A Quiet Place”? I genuinely hope so.
The film ended rather abruptly, but with a very cool ending, however, once you give it a little bit more thought it doesn’t say much for the world’s scientific community! Above all, I’m incredibly impressed that an actor best known for appearing in the “American Office” could direct a horror film as good as this. It’s one of the best I’ve seen on the cinema since “It Follows”.
by joe x young
If you are the sort of person who won’t watch foreign language films with subtitles then all I can say is that it’s your loss because The Night of the Virgin (or La Noche del Virgen) had me repulsed from beginning to end, when I wasn’t actually laughing that is. I’ll briefly point out a few things that it isn’t.
It isn’t in English. (Spanish with subtitles)
It isn’t short at 2 hours, which really could have been trimmed to 90 minutes with ease.
It isn’t a serious horror. We’re not talking ‘A Serbian Film’ sort of horror, more comedic.
It isn’t subtle either.
That’s about it really, but hey… Not a serious horror? What the actual? Well, the truth about it is that the initial set-up is basic, there’s a somewhat unfortunate guy called Nico (played by the superb Javier Bódalo) who just can’t seem to get laid. It’s New Year’s Eve, he’s been dragged along to a party he obviously feels totally uncomfortable being at, and he’s not exactly the most physically attractive specimen of manliness. Now I know that’s a nasty thing to say, and these days we are supposed to be non-discriminatory about just about everything, but this guy didn’t just fall from the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down, he looks as if he was forced through a forest of ugly trees by a hurricane. This is somewhat essential to the plot though as he’s an absolute no-hoper, scrawny and buck-toothed with a glassy stare and all of the social grace of a starving lion at a gazelle buffet.
Now before you feel sorry for him it’s quite clear that he’s also something of a sleazebag as he really just has one thing on his mind, to get laid no matter what, so it’s not like he’s going for a proper relationship here or anything.
Within minutes I loved the character, he’s so utterly credible and very tragically funny, so far so good. The ‘friends’ who insisted he goes to the party are a bunch of assholes, goading him about his virginity, which could account for his desperation, however Bódalo’s portrayal is far more nuanced than that, and after a couple of unfortunate attempts he is resigned to failure, until he spots Medea (Miriam Martín) eyeing him up from across the room. She’s a bit of a cougar, but the way he looks at it is a shag is a shag and it’ll stop his peers from harassing him, so with that in mind he leaves the party with her and goes to her apartment.
If any of you are familiar with the comedy film ‘Joe’s Apartment’ then Joe’s place is a like a penthouse suite at the Hilton in comparison to Medea’s place. It’s one of the most disgustingly filthy apartments ever put on film, so hardly a seductive shag pad setting when he is being warned not to step on the cockroaches as it is bad luck. It also starts to get a little long-winded with a lot of chatter about a Nepalese fertility Goddess called Naoshi on which the film pivots.
By now you might be wondering if it’s actually a horror film or one of those piss-poor sex-comedies from days of old like the Lemon Popsicle series, and in a way it is a sex comedy, but absolutely not what I was expecting as it has a lot more in common with Ash vs Evil Dead for gory comedy value. The horror is multi-levelled as we have our unfortunate virgin finding himself in a situation where he just wants to get it over with and pop his cherry then gtfo of the filthy apartment, but Medea has other plans, as does her former boyfriend ‘Spider’ who turns up unexpected and adds to the proceedings. There are many truly embarrassing moments and shifts in tone in what I found to be a somewhat grinding and overlong lead up to the main point, which is a routine sacrifice story with a twist, several twists in fact; however, when it does finally get to the actual horror it becomes an unrelenting nightmare. The plot is somewhat basic, but the way it’s handled is anything but, with the horrifying bloodbath being interspersed with moments of gut-wrenching effects and bodily fluids by the bucket load.
This is ‘extreme horror’, so it’s absolutely not for the squeamish, but just so we are clear about it this is not in the same vein as ‘The Human Centipede’, ‘Antichrist’ or ‘Flowers’, although it does have a similar feel to the latter in the grottiness of the location. This is something very different and although I am certain it’ll readily find an audience amongst connoisseurs of the sub-genre I believe it’ll fall short of the cult-classic status it should have, simply because it’s in Spanish. It has a quirkiness about it which reminded me of another Spanish film ‘Acción mutante’ which also didn’t hold anything back. Director Roberto San Sebastián may not be in the same league as Álex de la Iglesia but with this being his first feature length outing I reckon it’s only a matter of time before he joins the ranks.
Unapologetically crude as well as brilliantly portrayed and technically excellent it’s a film which demands a second viewing, even if only because the first time you watch it there are so many WTF moments that you just have to give it another spin.
WARNING: You absolutely positively have to watch beyond the end credits as it’s not quite done with you.
It is now available on DVD from Matchbox Films and Amazon . Here’s just a taste of what’s in store: