Four adorable little girls plot to murder a hockey player after they mistake an act of lovemaking as an attack on their mom.
Bennet De Brabandere
Bennet De Brabandere(screenplay)Zion Forrest Lee(story by)
Colin MochrieHeidi von PalleskeMatia Jackett
A film review by Sam Kurd
Ankle Biters is a Canadian horror-comedy from writer-director Bennet De Brabandere, story by Zion Forrest Lee.
Sean Chase (Zion Forrest Lee) is an ex-hockey star who’s planning to propose to his girlfriend Laura (Marianthi Evans). There’s just one problem-- well, four problems: Laura’s daughters Lily, Rosalee, Dahlia and Violet (Lily, Rosalee, Dahlia and Violet Reid). As much as Sean feels he’s ready to take on the responsibilities of a step-dad, he’s severely underestimated how much these girls dislike him, and when they mistake the couple’s rough kinky sex for Sean abusing their mother, they start to plot and scheme and plan how to get rid of him.
Will Sean survive their increasingly dangerous shenanigans? Well, the film literally opens with his ashes being presented to his parents before skipping back in time, so I guess asking the question’s a bit pointless.
I just don’t understand that choice at all. There was no need to open with him already dead; it sucks all the tension right out of the story. It highlights the biggest problem the film has: its tone. It’s not that it’s tonally inconsistent; for most of the film the tone is pretty steady. Unfortunately, that tone is ‘flat’.
It’s not funny enough for a dark comedy, not tense enough for a thriller, not scary enough for a horror, not engaging enough for a drama. Instead it just kind of sits there. There’s the occasional very gruesome moment, but they’re limited to a fun eye-gouging right in the opening minutes after the funeral and the murderous climax, with so few similar moments in between that these bits just feel jarring. And the climax itself appears to be aiming for wackiness, which is completely at odds with the rest of the film. It just doesn’t work.
The other big problem is the pacing. Loads of shots are held for much longer than they need to be, and the story progresses so… very… very… slowly… The set-up spends what feels like hours showing us that everybody loves Sean – his fans love him, random people in his hometown love him, his neighbours love him, what a loveable guy this guy is… but all the while he’s just a fairly low-key obnoxious prick. He jokes with his cop friend by speeding instead of being pulled over… with one of his girlfriend’s kids sleeping in the car. He flirts with the neighbours’ teenage kid Matia (Matia Jackett) who he watched grow up, literally telling her she’s jailbait in a gross interaction that I think is meant to be titillating, judging by how the camera practically drooled all over the kid’s body. He’s just super-uncomfortable to watch, and I don’t really blame the girls for hating him.
Ah yes, the girls… I don’t like to rag on child actors, especially when they’re this young and have plenty of time to get acting lessons and learn the craft. But I will say, I think casting actual sisters in this case was a mistake rather than a benefit. Sure, they look and act believably alike, being actual siblings, but they were too alike… I had no idea which kid was which at any one point. They weren’t individual characters with distinguishable personalities, they were a group of interchangeable blonde moppets with a penchant for evil glares. It’s partly a failing of the script, too; there wasn’t enough effort to give them each a personality, so instead we get long scenes of them bickering and generally doing kid stuff that doesn’t actually go anywhere. I’m sure that in time and with practice they’ll grow into good actors, but their scenes are a tough watch.
It’s not all bad, though. Colin Mochrie’s in it for a couple of scenes! You know, the bald Whose Line guy! He’s always funny… well, ok, he’s funny in one of his couple of scenes here, but don’t knock it, it was literally the only funny moment in a film that’s presumably supposed to be a horror-comedy. The effects are also excellent; the aforementioned eye-gouging is gruesome fun, and there’s a moment involving spiders and an ear that had me sat bolt upright with my hands over my ears. I’m shuddering even as I type this.
But sadly that’s all it’s really got going for it. I kept waiting for it to be funny, then I figured maybe the marketing was wrong and it was actually meant to be serious, so I kept waiting for it to ramp the suspense up but that never happened either. It wasn’t helped by the score, which was Ominous and Sinister all the damn time, even while absolutely nothing was happening.
This is De Brabandere’s debut feature, and it feels underdeveloped. Things like Sean’s anger problem are set up but don’t get more than a cursory mention for a payoff, and there are so many scenes that could be cut without losing any of the story or character development at all. I’m sorry to say it, but it was simply boring.
There’s a great premise here, but sadly they just don’t do it justice.
TODAY ON THE GINGER NUTS OF HORROR WEBSITE
The Heart and Soul of Horror Film Review Websites
Grey is an indie singer who is having visions that she is a wolf. When she gets an invitation to work with notorious music producer Vaughn Daniels at his remote studio in the woods she begins to find out who she really is.
Director: Amelia Moses
Writers: Wendy Hill-Tout and Lowell
Starring: Lauren Beatty, Greg Bryk, Katharine King So, Michael Ironside
In order to give what we believe to be a more unbiased constructive criticism of the piece, the members of Bloodhound Pix are tackling each review as a panel of three. None of the members know the others’ thoughts on the content until after they submit their initial response.
J. Not gonna lie, I was pretty excited to find out this was a werewolf film before I saw it. The excitement didn’t last all that long after I hit “play” though. This had some of the worst werewolf make-up outside of The Howling 3 I’ve ever seen. It was laughable and really stood out in an awkward, bad way. This movie didn’t have a lot going on in terms of plot, so there were a lot of really lengthy scenes of pretty on-the-nose dialogue. You’ll see what I mean because this too stood out in an awkward, bad way. I felt like the logic of what plot there was seemed confounding as well. For example, and I won’t be specific so as not to spoil anything, but a character is on the verge of killing herself. Another character in the scene doesn’t want her to kill herself. Then after the suicidal character relents, the other character tries to kill her themself. What the fuck? Lotsa scenes of music that got really annoying really fast too. I suppose if you’re a fan of teeny bopper pop this won’t affect you. Speaking of logic again, the guy producing the album, Vaughn, is pretty much a creepy fucking weirdo from moment one and Grey still doesn’t wanna leave even though her girlfriend brings this up at about minute 40. And at minute 45. And at minute 50. And at minute 55. Unfortunately, the best thing going on in this is the 82 minute runtime. Fucker gets a 2 skull rating for that alone. Just joking.
K. Spoiler Alert: I love werewolf films
As we all do, so I’m always waiting for a good one to come along. Unfortunately, Bloodthirsty ain’t it.
We open on a close up of Grey (Lauren Beatty) ferociously biting into an animal. This is revealed to be a nightmare when Grey jolts awake in bed. She visits her psychiatrist, played by the great Michael Ironside, who is completely wasted in two scenes that bookend the film with perfunctory exposition. The point is that we discover Grey is taking medications to deal with her animalistic hallucinations.
Long story short she has an opportunity to work with a legendary music producer Vaughn Daniels, played by Greg Bryk who gives the best performance in the film. His backstory is that he was tried for murder, but aquitted. (Why would she go to this guy’s creepy secluded home in the wilds of Canada? Beats me.) Grey’s painter girlfriend Charlie (Katharine King So) tags to complete the hackneyed triumvirate of the protagonist-lover-seductive mentor or whatever aka we’ve seen this shit before. The hot shot music producer is going to alienate the girlfriend so he can have Grey all to himself.
I’ll leave it at that as far as the plot goes, though there is a decent twist down the road. It didn’t work because I wasn’t made to care about the characters, but hey, they tried. There are several problems here, least of which is that it’s a werewolf movie with about two brief scenes of werewolf actions, and we’ve seen better. In addition to that, Grey has no goal. She goes to Vaughn’s house ostensibly to further her music career, but she doesn’t seem greatly driven to achieve any kind of success or fame. Nor does she seem to want much of anything that would, I don’t know, involve the audience in her story.
So we get a lot of uninteresting scenes of music recording, melodramatic girlfriend drama, a few decent scenes of Vaughn building trust with Grey, some surreal imagery, extensive musical interludes, and a twist that could’ve had more impact. And that’s it. It’s boring, unmemorable and lacks any shred of excitement. (And it felt like a showcase for the original music). That being said, it is better than Amelia Moses’ first film Bleed with Me, which made death seem like a consummation devoutly to be wished for. This at least had a few good scenes with Greg Bryk lending a little gravitas to the proceedings. Moses excels with the indie character work, but doesn’t give her characters anywhere to go that is surprising or exciting. I know she didn’t write this film, that dubious honor goes to Wendy Hill-Tout and Lowell (Just one name? Yep. Okay….). But I think she should find a gifted writing partner who can give her a foundation to utilize her filmmaking talents because she is a competent filmmaker.
This is the end of my TedTalk. (0 out of 0, everyone loses, everyone dies)
K. Obviously, I agree with Josh here. This film had a lot of problems despite the brisk runtime, chief among them was the lack of werewolves. That’s all I have to say about that.
J. Kyle mentioned that we reviewed another film from this filmmaker that was selling itself as a vampire film… but there weren’t any vampires and the script didn’t have enough interesting things happening to warrant an 80 minute film. Unfortunately, this one suffers from nearly identical issues… and is disguised as a music video showcase which doesn’t help anything.
Bloodhound’s average score: 1.5 out of 5
Bloodhound Pix is made up of: Craig Draheim, Josh Lee, and Kyle Hintz
Follow them at
Be on the lookout for new episodes of the Bloodhound Pix Podcast every other Tuesday. Available on Itunes, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Anchor, and Youtube.
TODAY ON THE GINGER NUTS OF HORROR WEBSITE
THE HEART AND SOUL OF HORROR MOVIE REVIEWS
A movie review by Mark Walker
In the near future, a group of disparate individuals contemplates the meaning of life as deadly asteroids hurtle toward Earth.
Initial release: 22 October 2021
Director: Agata Alexander
Cinematography: Jakub Kijowski
Music composed by: Gregory Tripi
Screenplay: Agata Alexander, Jason Kaye
Producers: Stanislaw Dziedzic, Cybill Lui Eppich, Cybill Lui
Cast: Alex Pettyfer as Liam
Alice Eve as Claire
Annabelle Wallis as Nina
Benedict Samuel as Vincent
Charlotte Le Bon as Charlotte
Thomas Jane as David
Patrick Schwarzenegger as Ben
Rupert Everett as Charlie
Warning – there may be some minor spoilers for WARNING in this review.
(There is also one pretty big one towards the end, but there is another warning!)
Director Agata Alexander developed WARNING as a result of her own existential crisis, waking up repeatedly at 4am wondering how everything was going to end. Worried that no-one else was panicking in the same way, she questioned what they had figured out about their lives and their existence that allowed them to be so calm? WARNING is the culmination of those late night/early morning ponderings on the meaning of life, what it is to be human, to love and, at the very end of it all, does any of it even matter?
WARNING opens with Thomas Jane’s astronaut/repair man, David, cast adrift in space after an accident untethers him from the satellite he is fixing. Drifting alone in space, staring down at Earth, he too contemplates his existence and the meaning of it all. I was immediately drawn into this opening with shades of Gravity (2013), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and Love (2011), (three great films) and I was ready for another mind-boggling and confusing meditation on what it means to be human and alive.
But I didn’t quite get that.
(Just for the record, I didn’t find Gravity mind-boggling and confusing!)
As the film leaves David drifting, we are introduced to a number of different characters back down on earth, all struggling with their own existence. They face questions about relationships, their identities, love and life, all against the backdrop of news reports on Jane’s astronaut, strange storms, and an approaching asteroid.
Charlie is a robot programmed to help and care for people, but he is ageing and outdated. Brian has responsibility for Charlie and other robots like him and is determined to find a new home for the very much alive and almost sentient Charlie. When Charlie is rejected by yet another family, Brian and Charlie’s relationship is tested as difficult decisions need to be made and Brian is forced to play God.
Claire is a neurotic young woman whose life revolves around the omnipresent GOD device (think Alexa with serious control issues) which records sins and hears your prayers. When the device crashes and is replaced by the new and improved GOD 2.0 she starts to question her reliance on the all-seeing device and takes drastic action to remove its insidious influence on her life.
Ben and Anna have what appears to be the perfect relationship, but Anna is plagued by glimpses and visions of a mysterious, hooded stalker. Their relationship breaks down when Anna discovers her stalker was actually Ben who has been using sinister technology (think a VR Facebook that lets you stalk people in memories – you know, what they’ve just announced they are developing this week) to follow and spy on her. Ben can’t handle the break-up and his life is in ruins without Anna.
Liam takes his new girlfriend, Nina home to meet his family who also happen to be immortal. Nina is not, and the class difference plays out over dinner before Liam’s mother takes drastic action to stop her son ruining his life with a mortal girl.
Magda needs money to escape her trailer park life and alcoholic mother. For a big pay out, she allows middle-aged Pavel to inhabit her body using a technology known as “Second Skin” so he can experience life as a young girl. Things don’t go according to plan and the naïve Pavel soon discovers what life can be like for women, with very unpleasant consequences.
In between chapters, we return to David floating in space, slowly losing his mind and coming to terms with his fate. A late image of David staring down at the Earth hints at the final images of 2001, as Dave (I see what they did there) Bowman, now the Star Child, surveys his dominion.
WARNING is full of great ideas that explore the film’s themes and, as another review I read suggests, are worthy of Black Mirror episodes, exploring people’s reliance on social media, the potential impacts of near future technology and the break-down of community/society. It is, very clearly, a warning.
The film is also nicely shot, looks good and has some great performances from a decent cast. Thomas Jane is suitably gruff as David and Rupert Everett does a fantastic job of making Charlie ‘human’ but also slightly ‘off.’ Alice Eve presents Claire in a way that probably reflects a lot of people reliant on social media for validation and Garance Marillier puts in a great performance as Magda/Pavel convincingly portraying Pavel as more naïve than the young woman he is inhabiting.
However, the number of stories we see, and the short running time mean that there is limited time to explore them in detail and many viewers may feel a bit short-changed as not all sections are tied up in nice little bows. Claire abandons her reliance on GOD 2.0, but at what cost? Liam’s family dynamic has a strong potential to explore issues of race and class, but this section is over before you know it, the implications of his mother’s actions largely ignored. David talks to the abyss of space about this daughter, but we get very little time with her to see things from her perspective. Personally, I am here for films that ask questions and encourage the audience to answer them (2001 is my favourite film of all time) but not everyone is going to be as happy, and I suspect this might be where some of the poorer review scores come from; some of the stories just needed a little more time to further explore the film’s themes. While I am happy to have questions posed, it felt as though the film itself didn’t quite know where some of the stories were going and some viewers just won’t have the desire to do the heavy lifting for the film.
My biggest issue was, however, the ending.
***FAIR WARNING – THE NEXT COUPLE OF PARAGRAPHS CONTAIN SERIOUS SPOILERS***
As David watches the asteroid hit Earth’s atmosphere, breaking up and pummelling the planet with numerous, civilisation-ending meteors, he is left as the last man in existence. This conjures up feelings and emotions that will make you consider your own life and future and asks the question of how you would react in that situation; what is the meaning of your life? Imagining yourself, drifting alone in space while looking down at everything you ever knew or loved burning is going to make you think.
But then… the punchline.
The film ends in a way that I am not sure whether it is David’s fragile sanity finally snapping, or an attempt at a joke. Either way, it really damaged the ending for me, and the philosophical questions that had been asked up to that point were lost in a clunky one-liner.
We went from 2001 to The Simpsons and, while I have no issue with either, the switch was jarring and out of place. It is funny, but the rest of the film is not played for laughs, so it just didn’t quite land for me.
***YOU CAN COME BACK NOW***
I really wanted to love this film, it sounded right up my street, but I was left a little disappointed immediately after watching WARNING. However, the following day I found it was still stuck in my head and, despite what I said about the various sections feeling ‘incomplete’ I did find myself thinking through the stories, what they all mean and how they reflect issues and questions we are all facing. Four or five days later, although I appreciate I was writing this review, my mind kept coming back to WARNING and its tales of, well, warning.
A few days after watching I would give WARNING a 7/10 but the very final lines of dialogue with David grated on me and felt wildly at odds with the rest of the movie, so WARNING loses a point for that, but gets a still respectable 6.
There are some very low scores on IMDB which I think are grossly unfair and do not really reflect the attempt made by the writers and director. WARNING sets itself up as an existential examination of the human condition and the meaning of life which isn’t always successful, but there is much to like and worth your time if you like smart science-fiction.
The film is not perfect, and some people will still find the lack of resolutions problematic. However, at only 85 minutes, you won’t get bored but, if you want a film that answers more questions than it poses, then perhaps WARNING is not for you.
WARNING is a film with lofty ambitions which, for me, didn’t quite hit the mark, although I did enjoy it. Ultimately, it cuts itself off from the greatness of the films it pays tribute to by presenting stories that won’t feel fully formed to many and by adding a coda which I am still not sure if it is meant to be funny or not, but which undermines everything that has come before.
TODAY ON THE GINGER NUTS OF HORROR WEBSITE
THE HEART AND SOUL OF HORROR MOVIE REVIEWS
The Old Ways
Deep in the Veracruz jungles, Mexican American journalist Cristina Lopez is held captive by a mysterious bruja, or witch doctor who is convinced she's possessed by a demon. Ultimately her fight for survival becomes one for her soul.
Initial release: October 2020
Director: Christopher Alender
Languages: English; Spanish
Written by: Marcos Gabriel
Produced by: Christa Boarini; T. Justin Ross; David Grove Churchill Viste
A horror film review by Sam Kurd
You know those films where a group of (mostly white) people wander into the jungle and fall foul of the native tribes there, who kidnap and torture them while we the audience are meant to thank goodness we’re safely in ‘civilisation’ and far from such ‘barbaric’ people?
Well despite initial appearances, this is definitely not one of those films.
The Old Ways is the second feature from director Christopher Alender and screenwriter Marcos Gabriel, who previously collaborated on Memorial Day and… er… Muppets Now. Though this is something of a special effects extravaganza, there are certainly no felt monsters with ping pong ball eyes on display here (though that would be pretty hilarious).
Brigitte Kali Canales (Fear the Walking Dead) is Cristina, an investigative reporter who has returned from the States to Veracruz, where she lived as a child, in order to investigate an ancient site called La Boca, rumoured to be cursed. Unfortunately for her she is abducted and held against her will.
She’s defiant at first, raging against her captors, pleading for release. Despite her heritage, she doesn’t speak any Spanish – but her cousin Miranda (Andrea Cortés) is there to explain – it seems Cristina may be possessed by an evil spirit, and an exorcism is required to save her soul, whether she wants it or not. Cue a procession of rituals held by a wise woman (Julie Vera), a bruja, attempting to draw out the demon. Cristina starts to see and hear terrible things, but between whatever her captors have given her and the heroin withdrawal she goes through, could all this be pure hallucination? Or is she indeed possessed by a terrible evil?
It’s so refreshing to see an exorcism film through a new cultural lens like this. No ‘power of Christ compels you’, no pea soup and sad priests struggling with their faith. Instead we have a woman who has absolute conviction in her faith, practising an art that was handed down to her through the generations since ancient times. And we have a possessee whose broken past and broken connection to her cultural roots left her wide open to desecration by the demon Postekhi, the “death god of broken things”. Perhaps the film doesn’t revolutionise the exorcism subgenre, but it’s a rich tapestry and backdrop to set it against.
The acting is mostly great – Canales gets a little wobbly at times during the more introspective parts of her journey, but for the most part she really sells the peril and gives a great physical performance during the rituals. Julie Vera as Luz the Bruja is at once mysterious and aloof but surprisingly tender; you can tell that she feels for the suffering of those she has to help. She and Canales play off each other very well.
It’s a tense rollercoaster of a film, swiftly going from toe-curling suspense (the sequence with the snakes had my heart firmly lodged in my mouth!) to spooling out just enough of Cristina’s back story to make us go ‘ok, I see…’ before dropping us into another bout of terror. It looks gorgeous, never drags and even though the ending isn’t exactly unpredictable it’s definitely more than satisfying Oh, and the soundtrack by Lovett is bloody brilliant, I’m listening to it as I write.
Ultimately it’s a film about cultural disconnection and alienation, with a lovely dollop of gore and creeptastic creature effects thrown in.
If you liked Drag Me to Hell but want to see something a little bit less goofy and a lot less racist (let’s be real, I love me some Drag Me to Hell but it is kind of hella racist), this is the one to go for!
TODAY ON THE GINGER NUTS OF HORROR WEBSITE
THE HEART AND SOUL OF HORROR MOVIE REVIEWS