Often when a horror movie is really being talked about as ‘one of the horror movies of the year’ it ends up being a complete disappointment once you actually you get a chance to watch it. That was certainly a fear for me going to watch Raw. As many of you would know horror is one of my favourite genres but often when a film is really being ‘pumped up’ I get my hopes up and then find myself largely disappointed… as was the recent case with Get Out. You’ll be happy to know though that wasn’t the case with Raw… no, once again Monster Pictures have brought us Aussies one horror film that certainly lives up to all the hype.
From French director Julia Ducournau (TV’s Mange) the film explores the events that follow after young vegetarian, Justine (Garance Marillier – Solo Rex, Junior) who during a hazing ritual tastes meat for the first time. As an unexplained taste for meat suddenly rises in her, she finds her relationships with her sister Alexia (Ella Rumpf – Tiger Girl, War) suddenly spiralling. As the gifted young student also finds herself attracted to some of the men around her another hunger is also awakened.
The only people that are going to be disappointed by Raw are those that will go into this film expecting to be like the more subtle horror films come out in Hollywood at the moment. Raw is gritty, but not to the point where it is a filmmaker only out for the shock value. Instead, it is a creative film with a well-developed and surprising screenplay also created by Ducournau. While some may argue that the film has a plot aimed at exploring man and woman’s need to eat meat, the basis of this film is a storyline that shows a young woman’s needs and desires developing in a way that cinema has rarely done in the past. Rather than using shock tactics the film instead takes an artistic Argento-style feel which only intensifies some of the film’s more suspenseful scenes.
Few screenwriters, Joss Whedon aside, have developed plots that explore human sexuality and needs with such brilliant subtext and Ducournau is a smart-enough screenwriter not to let that bog down her film and her script and instead the film delivers a fair amount suspense as the audience is taken on a journey as Justine’s needs develop and they try to work out not only exactly what is happening to her but also just how it’s going to affect her life in the long run.
Ducournau’s screenplay is also the perfect vehicle for young actresses Garance Marillier and Ella Rumpf to really show just how exciting their skills are. The pair brilliantly delivers not only during some of the film’s more confronting scenes but also excel at some of the more intense scenes as their relationship is pushed to breaking point. Normally scenes of this intensity would really challenge actresses at this age but together here Marillier and Rumpf deliver performances that should silence anyone that says horror films rarely produce classic acting moments these days.
Raw is one of those horror films that really sticks with you. Not because it plants a horrific imprint on your brain but because it is a genre film with a real arthouse feel that further enhances the film. As you watch the film, you also get a distinct feeling that Ducournau is a director that we are going to be talking about for a long time to come as her directional stylings are a breath of fresh air in a genre that is being held back by some average Hollywood films.
Summary: In a small Midwestern town, a troubled teen with homicidal tendencies must hunt down and destroy a supernatural killer whilst keeping his own inner demons at bay.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 29th September 2016
Australian DVD Release Date: 9th November, 2016
Country: Ireland, UK
Director: Billy O’Brien
Screenwriter: Christopher Hyde, Billy O’Brien, Dan Wells (novel)
Cast: Christina Baldwin (Margaret), Elizabeth Belfiori (Rachel), Laura Fraser (April), James Gaulke (Principal Layton), Karl Geary (Sr. Neblin), Lucy Lawton (Brooke Watson), Michael Paul Levin (Roger Bowen), Christopher Lloyd (Crowley), Dee Noah (Kay Crowley), Tommy O’Brien (Ethan Watson), Tony Papenfuss (Ron The Coroner), Max Records (John Wayne Cleaver), Tim Russell (Olson the Barber), Mary Kay Schmitt (Mrs. Anderson), Dane Stauffer (Mark Watson)
Runtime: 104 mins
OUR I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Horror films have got decisively smarter over the years. The old school slice ‘n’ dice slashers that wowed audience in the 1980s and 1990s seem alarmingly redundant as horror film makers have discovered what really scares an audience is a film that can really get inside the head of those watching it and give them a good psychological scare. That is certainly the case with director Billy O’Brien’s (Isolation) new film I Am Not A Serial Killer which gets inside you head as a good psychological thriller and then delivers a special twist for all horror fans out there.
Set in a small American town I Am Not A Serial Killer centres around sixteen year old John Wayne Cleaver (Max Records – Where The Wild Things Are), a teenager who is obsessed by serial killers, works as an embalmer with his mother April (Laura Fraser – A Knight’s Tale) and has been diagnosed as a clinical sociopath by his therapist Dr. Neblin (Karl Geary – The Burrowers).
John fights against his urges to kill by doing small things like smiling at people who make him angry and helping out with those less fortunate than those around him, like his elderly neighbour Crowley (Christopher Lloyd – Back To The Future). However when a spate of murders start happening in the town it sparks John’s interest and he wants to try and find out exactly who is doing it.
Anyone out there who wants to learn how to write a great screenplay should start by sitting down and watching I Am Not A Serial Killer. Billy O’Brien teams up with Christopher Hyde (Last Light) to create an amazing script based on the novel by Dan Wells. When the two took on this challenge it was no small feat. While the novel was considered a young adult novel, it was a film that had to be different to other young adult films like Harry Potter or The Hunger Games. While many were impressed by the ‘darkness’ of The Hunger Games this film has to go even darker and it explores going inside the head of a teenager who every day fights the urge to kill those around him.
Somehow O’Brien and Hyde manage to achieve this goal and they create a film that is part psychological thriller, part coming-of-age film with a little twist of horror. Not only do that but they manage to make this a film with believable dialogue and even make the young sociopath a character that the audience want to root for as he sets about trying to solve the murders that are terrifying the town. The realistic dialogue just adds to the naturalistic feel brought to the film by cinematographer Robbie Ryan (Philomena), a feel that is quite common in British cinema but but still matches this film’s American scene well.The screenplay also shows his hand as a great psychological thriller as it keeps its audience guessing – first of all to who is committing the murders and even after that is revealed the film doesn’t lose any of its suspense as it becomes a game of cat and mouse between an experienced serial killer and teenager who dreams about doing the same.
As this film is guaranteed to become a cult classic as the years go by this is also going to do for young Max Records’ career what the film Brick did for Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Watching this film you would never pick that this is the little boy from Where The Wild Things Are and instead he has turned into a fine character actor who deserves to be winning awards for this film. He brings the role to life amazingly well and never seems out of his depth not even when in scenes with the very experienced Christopher Lloyd who is also playing against type.
Despite having a limited release in Australia I Am Not A Serial Killer is one of the best films of 2016. This gritty film is enough to show just how strong the British indie scene as this is one of the best psychological thrillers to surface since Prisoners and Nightcrawler. This is an amazing film that is not to be missed.
This gripping low budget psychological thriller mixes the familiar coming of age themes with outright horror tropes and a touch of the supernatural.
Sixteen-year-old John Wayne Cleaver (played by Max Records, the misunderstood young hero from Spike Jonze’s Where The Wild Things Are) is a troubled adolescent, a misfit with a morbid fascination with death and serial killers. He is something of an outsider, and he has written school essays on notorious serial killers like Jeffrey Dahmer and the BTK killer, which concerns his principal. He works as an embalmer with his mother April (Laura Fraser), a morgue technician, at the family funeral parlour, and this feeds his fascination with death. He has been diagnosed with clinical sociopathy, but he is able to keep his dark homicidal urges at bay through regular therapy sessions with Dr Neblin (Karl Geary). He has established his own set of rules to keep these killer thoughts at bay. He also does good deeds to help his elderly amiable neighbour Mr Crowley (Back To The Future‘s Christopher Lloyd) and his invalid wife.
That is until a vicious serial killer begins leaving a trail of bodies behind in his small home town. Mysterious black sludge is found at the scene of the murders, and it appears that the killer is harvesting the organs of victims. John investigates and soon discovers the identity of the killer. But rather than go to the police with the information he tries to catch him. In doing this he puts himself and his family and a few friends firmly in the crosshairs of a killer.
The film is based on Dan Wells’ best-selling YA novel from 2009 and has an unusually darker sensibility for a piece of teen fiction. The director is Billy O’Brien (Isolation, etc), who has a strong visual style and creates an unsettling atmosphere and slowly mounting air of dread and suspense. He doesn’t pull his punches with the darker themes and there are some gruesome moments that are not for the squeamish. The body count rises and the film gradually grows darker in tone. But there are also some rather black moments of humour interspersed throughout the narrative to leaven the tone.
Like The Town That Dreaded Sundown and David Lynch’s bizarre Blue Velvet, this creepy thriller strips away the veneer of small town America and finds something nasty and sinister just below the surface. Irish cinematographer Robbie Ryan (Fish Tank, The Angels’ Share, etc) has shot the film in 16mm, which adds to the gritty visual style and the moody atmosphere that captures a distinctly 80s aesthetic. Ryan’s cold and crisp cinematography captures the subtle menace of this small town and its harsh wintry vistas and John’s somewhat bleak world view. O’Brien gives us a strong sense of place and we can almost feel the chill from the snow covered environment.
The film boasts some solid performances. Records is well cast here as the obsessed teen, a junior version of Dexter with his obsessions and quirky behaviour, and he holds our attention throughout the film. He brings a disconnected coldness and lack of empathy to his performance. His name is an intriguing mixture of both John Wayne the iconic American film star and hero, John Wayne Gacy the notorious serial killer, and Beaver Cleaver, the all-American kid from the 50s television show. In one of his best performances for quite some time Lloyd brings subtle nuances and a creepy element to his performance as the seemingly kindly old neighbour. Fraser brings a sense of compassion to her role as John’s mother who seems protective of her son even though she doesn’t understand him.
I Am Not A Serial Killer undergoes some surprising and unexpected shifts in tone, moving from teen friendly murder mystery to darker territory. This clever and engaging thriller is perfect fodder for late night screenings, and could possibly become something of a cult film in the future.
Summary: Six young people find an old VCR in an abandoned French house. The machine turns out to be magical… or is it cursed?
Australian Cinema Release Date: N/A
Australian DVD Release Date: 1st October 2016
Director: Gautier Cazenave
Screenwriter: Gautier Cazenave
Cast: Florie Auclerc-Vialens (The Italian Guy), Ruy Buchholz (The Australian Guy), Morgan Lamorte (The French Guy), Delphine Lanniel (The Belgian Girl), Isabel McCann (The British Guy), Petur Oskar Sigurdsson (The American Guy)
Runtime: 127 mins
OUR HOUSE OF VHS REVIEWS & RATINGS:
If you are looking for something entirely different to anything else around at the moment then you may want to check out new horror film House Of VHS. Coming from French director Gautier Cazanave House Of VHS goes back to the good old days when directors like Peter Jackson were shooting delightful little shlock horrors.
The film sees six youngsters The Italian Girl (Florie Auclerc-Vialens – Smart Ass), The Australian Guy (Ruy Bechholz – Swim Little Fish Swim), The French Guy (Morgan Lamorte – Speed Shooting), The Belgian Girl (Delphine Lanniel – Les Colocs), The British Girl (Isabel McCann – Chat) and The American Guy (Petur Oskar Sigurdsson – Grimmd) head off for a weekend at a house that turns out to be haunted by a… VHS machine.
The weekend starts as you would normally expect – most of the guys are planning which girl they are going to try to get into bed which leads to tension between them. Things change though when The Australian Guy decides to educate the group on the beauty of VHS and they learn the powers of the supernatural device.
It sounds like an absolutely crazy idea but House Of VHS works. Early on you do find yourself wondering where the film is going to head but once the abilities of the VHS are shown the film goes to a whole new level. While the film does at times attempt to head into the comical side of things it is at its best when it sticks to its guns and stays a schlock horror that leaves you wondering which of the characters are going to survive and which are going to meet a grizzly end.
While not knowing who is going to live or die does play a big part of building the film’s suspense what really rises to the top and makes this film so thrilling is the audience trying to work out exactly what the VHS machine is capable of. While the idea that it can ‘breed’ VHS tapes together to create new films is interesting enough the film takes a very different turn when you realise the ‘horrific’ power of the machine… and the fact that the youngsters are stupid enough to start experimenting with the powers by putting themselves into movies.
Acting wise you get what you normally expect from a horror film like this. Nobody is going to win any awards anytime soon but the cast do the best with the material at home. Isabel McCann does brilliantly well as the most serious of the youngsters while Petur Oskar Sigurdsson does a great job playing a naive and rude American… especially considering he was cast in the film at the last minute.
As a director Gautier Cazanave takes his love of VHS and old-style horror films and creates a modern day horror that is going to have horror fans wanting to track down a copy of the film… just perhaps not on VHS. House Of VHS is a film that is going to be lapped up by lovers of good schlock horror and this is destined to become a cult classic.
Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):
Other Subculture Entertainment House Of VHS Reviews: Nil
Summary: Aliens come to Earth seeking scientists to help them in their war.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 1st June 1955
Australian DVD Release Date: Out Now
Director: Joseph M. Newman
Screenwriter: George Callahan, Franklin Coen, Raymond F. Jones (story)
Cast: Spencer Chan (Dr. Hu Ling Tang), Faith Domergue (Ruth Adams), Lance Fuller (Brack), Russell Johnson (Dr. Steve Carlson), Karl Ludwig Lindt (Dr. Adolph Engelborg), Jeff Morrow (Exeter), Robert Nichols (Joe Wilson), Rex Reason (Dr. Cal Meacham), Douglas Spencer (The Monitor), Lizalotta Valesca (Dr. Marie Pitchner), Robert Williams (Webb)
Runtime: 87 mins
OUR THIS ISLAND EARTH REVIEWS & RATINGS:
This Island Earth is a technicolour movie released by Universal International, directed by Joseph M. Newman and produced by William Alland. It was written by Franklin Coen and Edward G. O’Callaghan, based on the novel by Raymond F. Jones.
The story follows Dr Cal Meacham (Rex Reason) as he works on electronic applications of atomic research. After mysteriously being saved from crashing his jet, his laboratory receives new components for his equipment that are more advanced than anything he’s seen before, along with a catalogue of further products. He orders more of the strange components to build a previously unheard of device, the Interocitor Machine. The parts arrive with no request for payment and upon building the machine he receives a communication from a man named Exeter (Jeff Morrow) who invites him to join a secret research and development group. Curious, Cal accepts the request and soon finds himself in a world of suspicion and interplanetary events, aided by Dr Ruth Adams (Faith Domergue).
What begins as an engaging mystery leads further and further into a story that eventually goes nowhere, with questions and plot threads somewhat left unanswered. As an adventure in its own right the film is enjoyable, but not enough was made of the ultimate events of the film – especially the journey to the alien world of Metaluna.
We are engaged enough to follow our protagonists into their mystery and then into an intergalactic journey, but in the end the conclusion is rushed to the point of the whole trip being pointless. Having not read the original novel I do not know how this film stands against the original story, but I will be interested to find out.
As we progress through the story we find that an apparent enemy is, instead, someone we’re supposed to sympathise with; a hard task after they have just murdered several people to cover their tracks and hunt down our protagonists (who they were also about to kill but suddenly do not). These flaws are a shame as the film really builds the mystery, suspense and tension well.
The direction and cinematography are strong, with lighting and colour effects added to imbue alien qualities to otherworldly environments and enhance special effects. I am happy to say that the special effects were not over-used as some of the death-ray beams, while nicely styled to convey motion and impact, might eventually detract from the overall cinematic quality.
Some of the earlier scenes could have used tighter framing of shots in order to cut-up the, then-typical, mid-shots. This is forgiven when we see the filmmakers’ use of epic wide-shots to convey space and describe new environments, such as the war-ravaged surface of Metaluna and the interior of the giant flying-saucer.
The design and effects teams should be applauded for the creation of Metaluna, both from space and on its surface. The ‘ionization-layer’ around Metaluna helps to create a splendid looking planet (far better than the ‘plastic-looking’ planet Earth we leave behind). On the battered surface of Metaluna we get a sense of scale and a smoking, barren land of rock over some well-achieved alien cities. The painted backdrops and interestingly-framed shots help to convey an exciting new world which was, unfortunately, underutilised in the end.
The design of the Metalunans’ mutant servitors was another success, creating something new and wholly alien and increasing the immediate sense of threat for the protagonists and audience. Perhaps the only let-down was the actors’ somewhat awkward attempts to move in the costumes, but thankfully the shots were edited economically to maximise the presence without damaging credulity. It is a shame more was not made of these ‘monsters’.
The special and film effects were done well and the additions of lighting and Technicolor work really helped to make the effects eye-catching. The decay effect of a dead mutant was well achieved this way, overlaying different filmed layers with effects; as were the effects of the special pressurisation tubes the protagonists used to prepare them for the pressure differences of Metaluna (textured overlays, with some images of the human skeletal structure for good measure).
Unfortunately, the threat of the Zagon invaders bombarding Metaluna is never fully realised by showing them up-close. All we see are starships guiding meteors for use as missiles to bombard the planet. This feels a little bit wasted as we are expected to sympathise with the Metalunans, but the only constant threat seems to come from them and not the Zagon, whom they need help against.
This is a technically impressive and visually appealing adventure film, but would have benefited from further plot and character development (especially to show where Exeter stands in the conflict and to how Ruth and Cal empathise, or not, with their captors).
Overall, I give this film 3 out of 5 for high production levels and entertainment.
Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):
Other Subculture Entertainment The Finest Hours reviews: Nil.
Summary: Traumatised by a series of losses in her life the recently divorced Caroline (Lanna Olsson) finds herself suddenly living in a strange apartment alienated from everything she once took for granted. Surrounded by peculiar neighbours and with disturbing, inexplicable events increasing in frequency, Caroline struggles to make sense of her new circumstances. Is her mental illness getting the best of her? Is she just struggling to adapt to living alone? Or is there something more sinister at hand?
Australian Cinema Release Date: TBA
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Director: Christian Hallman
Screenwriter: Christian Hallman, Mans F.G. Tunberg
Cast: Norah Andeson (My Jansson), Karin Bertling (Vera Brandt), Boel Larsson (Elsa Ullman), Harald Leander (Frank Mandel), Alida Morberg (Emma Trelkovski), Lanna Olsson (Caroline Menard), Rafael Pettersson (Johan Steiner), Linnea Pihl (The Girl)
Runtime: 81 mins
OUR SENSORIA REVIEWS & RATINGS:
The Scandinavian film industry has delivered some brilliantly hard edged movies over the past few years – The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and Let The Right One In spring straight to mind – and now horror fans are about to start raving about the release of a brand new film from Sweden with Sensoria certainly deserving to be described as one of the horror films of the years.
Directed by first time feature film director Christian Hallman (who is mainly known for his involvement with several film festivals across Europe) Sensoria is the kind of film that keeps you guessing while you are watching it and then stays with you for a long time after the final credits have rolled. Hallman sets up so many David Lynch like characters in the apartment building that when things first start happening to Caroline you can’t help but wonder is it the strange bossy lady, the blind man who quickly learns way too much about Caroline or the creepy Steiner who has date-rapist written all over him. About the last thing you actually expect is the twist that Hallman delivers, a twist that is so good that Sensoria deserves to be put into the truly memorable horror films category.
Sensoria really does show that Christian Hallman is a director to watch over the years. While many carry on about the fact that films like The Conjuring or Insidious have you on the edge of your seat, the weak amount of suspense that those films generate is nothing compared to what Hallman manages to create with Sensoria. Even better is the fact that he manages to do it without falling into that whole found-footage genre or having to rely on blood and gore to do what he wants to do… and that is send some chills down the spine of the audience.
Teaming up with Hallman here is cinematographer Janssen Herr who also helps give Sensoria the look and feel that makes it so special. Very few filmmaking teams in the world can make a simple thing like water dripping from a tap so eerie, but that is something that these two manage eerily well. Together Hallman and Herr actually make the apartment building a character in itself and at times you are left wondering whether it is the actual building that is the horror that is taunting Caroline.
Sensoria also allows some acting talent to burst onto the scenes as well. Lanna Olsson really reveals herself as an actress with great range as she plays the traumatised Caroline very well. Whether it be a suspenseful moment in a bath tub, a freaky encounter with a neighbour or even a dramatic scene in which she pours her heartache out to her best friend Olsson’s range allows her to never fall below par. She is also well supported by child actress, Norah Anderson who writes herself into horror film folklore and steals a lot of the scenes that she is performing in.
While it may have flown under the radar for many horror fans Sensoria is a film that needs to be checked out. Christian Hallman reveals himself as a horror director with a big future ahead of him while the films mash of Scandinavian horror and J-horror creepiness makes it a complete stand-out.
Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):
Other Subculture Entertainment Sensoria reviews: Nil
Summary: Young filmmaker Becca (Olivia DeJonge) and her wannabe rapper brother Tyler (Ben Oxenbould) decide to visit their Nana (Deanna Dunagan) and Pop Pop (Peter McRobbie) for the first time when their mother (Kathryn Hahn) decides to take some time out and go on a cruise.
At first the pair are excited about their visit and Becca decides that the trip would make a good subject for a documentary. However, things start to become creepy for the two when their grandparents start acting strange and they are forbidden to leave their bedrooms after bedtime. Is something sinister occurring?
Australian Cinema Release Date: 24th September 2015
There is no doubt about it the once promising career of filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan is on the rocks. He burst onto the scene with The Sixth Sense but then came average films like The Happening which were quickly followed by some of the worst movies ever made – The Last Airbender and After Earth. Well it seems as though Shyamalan listened to the public and the critics because he has decided to do something very different with his latest film The Visit. He goes right back to the drawing board and has decided to make a low budget film with a cast of virtual unknowns.
Now that might be enough to make some people groan, but it seems to be the right decision for Shyamalan as returning to the basic style of filmmaking has meant that he has had to rely on a good script to impress the audience rather than millions of dollars worth of special effects. And I’ll admit it to my surprise he manages to pull it off very well with a film that has now even seemed to win horror fans… some of the hardest film lovers to impress.
Early on The Visit did have me wondering what the hell I had walked into as the character Tyler started to rap… yes rap like a poor man’s Eminem. After a while though I realised that Shyamalan had just inserted this to get some laughs from the audience or even to make this film a little bit different, no instead this was something that had been lacking from his films for quite a while – characterisation. With the important aspect of a screenplay welcomed back Shymalan then takes his audience on a journey that provides a more than enough scares along the way, with the odd chuckle and then delivers its payload with a twist that actually drew sounds of amazement and fear out of the audience I was sitting with. Yes Shymalan has not only managed to deliver a horror with a mix of comedy, but also made that a damn good horror film at the same time.
It does feel that The Visit’s fairytale style story allows Shyamalan to take a journey make to his childhood and he mostly seems to do this through the character of Becca who you can easily imagine is the female version of what the wannabe-filmmaker teenage Shymalan would have been like. Maybe it’s because of this personal touch or perhaps because the film actually works but this was one time when the ‘found footage’ style of filmmaking didn’t make me want to leave the cinema.
Of course one of the dangers of making a low budget film with no names acting is that the acting is going to be below par but that certainly isn’t the case here. Peter McRobbie and Deanna Dunagan bring a brilliant level of creepiness to this film while the young Australian stars Ed Oxenbould and Olivia DeJonge put in mature performances well above their ages. This is something that fans of Australian television series Puberty Blues have come to expect from Oxenbould and he continue to shape himself to be one of the big international stars of the future.
Well its official people, it has taken a few bombs along the way but M. Night Shyamalan is back with one of the most impressive horror flicks of the year. The back to basics storytelling approach that Shyamalan takes with The Visit results in a horror flick with an amazing twist that is guaranteed to provide a few scares for its audience.
The following is David Griffiths’ second The Visit review which originally appeared in Heavy Magazine
While it may have been bombarded by the amount of blockbusters that have been released recently new horror thriller The Visit is actually a film that has a lot riding on it – the most important thing being the career of its writer/director M. Night Shyamalan. Shymalan was once the talk of Hollywood thanks to the fact that his film The Sixth Sense was classed as a classic, but since then Shyamalan has never reached those heights again and his past two films The Last Airbender and After Earth saw him get crucified by critics and film lovers so badly he now needs a hit film to get some credibility back.
The Visit is a brave choice for Shymalan. It has a small budget, stars virtual no-names and decides to mix comedy and horror together – two genres that sometimes meet to create little more than a car crash. Shymalan’s The Visit presents itself like a fairytale. A mother (Kathryn Hahn – We’re The Millers) reluctantly allows her children, budding filmmaker Becca (Olivia DeJonge – The Sisterhood Of Night) and wannabe rapper Tyler (Ed Oxenbould – Puberty Blues), to go and stay with her estranged parents. But then when the two kids arrive they find that Nana (Deanna Dunagan – Have A Little Faith) and Pop Pop’s (Peter McRobbie – Lincoln) behavior is strange to say the least.
The great news horror fan is that The Visit sees Shymalan back at his creepy best. He takes some huge gambles with this film and luckily they all pay off. Sure early on when young Tyler bursts into some pretty ordinary rapping you might groan but stick with it because that is just setting up his character and soon you find yourself embedded in an old style horror film that actually has enough scares to have you jumping in your seat. Oh and there is one hell of a twist that will leave you screaming WTF!!! Yes, it is such a surprise you will actually say it out loud.
Even the fact that this is largely a ‘found footage’ film doesn’t hold it back and for once a screenplay actually manages to include a few humorous parts into what is actually a pretty frightening horror film. Young stars Olivia DeJone and Ed Oxenbould do Australia proud and once again cinema fans can start to get excited about a film with the name M. Night Symalan attached to it.
Summary: A chance sexual encounter for young Jay Height (Kelly Height) with her newfound boy, Hugh (Jake Weary) suddenly leaves her with an unwanted horror (slowly) following her around hellbent on killing her. But with more questions than answers raising their head Jay realises that this is a horror that could soon prove deadly to herself, her sister Kelly (Lili Sepe) and her friends Paul (Keir Gilchrist) and Yara (Olivia Luccardi).
Worse still seems to be the fact that the only way Jay can get rid of the horror is to pass it off by sleeping with somebody else. While it seems like Paul and the bad-boy-down-the-street Greg (Daniel Zovatto) are only too happy to take up that challenge Jay isn’t sure if she wants to pass this horror onto somebody else.
Subtext in horror films over the years hasn’t exactly been subtle. Any horror film buff will tell that during the 1980s and 1990s there were a flood of horror films that wanted to ‘warn’ it’s audience using a video nasty to gets it’s point across. Whether the film was telling a babysitter to keep her eyes on the kids she was looking after rather than make out with her boyfriend or highlighting the fact that the kids doing drugs at the party were most likely to be the next slasher victim, the subtext in horror often worked if it were done well. Obviously paying attention to these films was director/screenwriter David Robert Mitchell (who directed 2010’s The Myth Of The American Sleepover), because his latest film, It Follows, tells a cautionary tale of promiscuous sex for all to see.
Perhaps it is because we have been starved of any decent horror flicks in general release cinema over the past couple of years but It Follows is a complete breath of fresh air in the horror genre. For once we aren’t lining up to see a film that isn’t a sequel, a remake or linked to The Conjuring in any way… and the good news is that it works.
There is something eerily special about It Follows despite its very simple storyline and its relatively low budget (around the two million dollar mark). For once we aren’t watching glamour teens getting sliced and diced, instead Mitchell’s teenagers feel like they are ripped out of a Larry Clarke film like Bully or Ken Park, they are ‘loser’ teens with not much money and a lot of time of their hands… and you know what that only goes to make this film feel even more natural. With Mitchell’s smart directional style that has the audience gasping every time an extra walks behind Jay and the cinematography style of Mark Gioulakis the film turns the suburbs into something dark and eerie in much the same way as films such as Acolytes or Dean O’Flaherty’s Beautiful. Once again that ups the stakes of the horror as the audience immediately relates to both the characters and the setting.
The fact that the script actually does call upon some characterization and acting by its cast also gives some of the young members a real chance to show Hollywood exactly what they are made of. Daniel Zovatti puts out an air of a dirty James Dean as he portrays hero ‘bad-boy’ Greg Hannigan while Maika Monroe puts in a thoughtful, tough and sometimes sultry portrayal of Jay. Surely on the back of this film she is going to be hot property in Hollywood. Almost stealing her thunder though is Keir Gilchrist whose puppy dog eyes often has the audience on his side, while his great mix of comedy and dramatic acting easily makes him a fan favourite.
It Follows is certainly a film for the true horror fanatic. Anyway expecting to tune in and get a few cheap thrills as someone gets hacked to death is in for a real surprise. While the film itself may kind of hark back to teenage horrors like Disturbing Behaviour or The Faculty David Robert Mitchell’s naturalistic style of filmmaking has ended up creating a smart horror with a very natural film to it. He is certainly a director to watch and let’s hope Hollywood doesn’t sully this film by making a ridiculous sequel… although one is rumored to already be in the works.
Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):
Other Subculture Entertainment It Follows reviews: You will also be able to hear our It Follows review on an upcoming episode of The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show.
Summary: Jack (Shawn Brack) and Kent (Anthony Ring) are just two regular Aussie guys. They work together and dream of becoming rich, a plan that they feel is very close to being achieved when they find out a little more about the supposed riches of Thunderclap Newman (Andy Bramble) an outlaw who made the Australian bush his home during the pioneer days.
As Jack and Kent search for the loot though they soon find out that their friendship may not have ever been what they thought it was and with tensions at a high they suddenly find themselves faced with another enemy… the notorious Yowie that many feel is just an urban myth. Jack, Kent, local Park Ranger Rhiannon (Melanie Serafin) and local copper Detective McNab (Vernon Wells) now find themselves in a dangerous game of survival with this bloodthirsty beast.
Australian Cinema Release Date: TBA
Australian DVD Release Date: February, 2015
Director: Travis Bain
Screenwriter: Tavis Bain
Cast: Shawn Brack (Jack), Andy Bramble (Thunderclap Newman), Warren Clements (The Yowie), Anthony Ring (Kent), Melanie Serafin (Rhiannon), Vernon Wells (Detective McNab)
Runtime: 93 mins
OUR THROWBACK REVIEWS & RATINGS:
The best thing to come out of Monster Fest 2014 was just how many good genre filmmakers Australia still has. One person that needs to be added to that list is director/screenwriter Travis Bain who has delivered the exceptional Throwback, a creature feature made on such a small budget it wouldn’t even cover the catering budget for one day on most feature film shoots.
Now sometimes a low budget on a genre flick can be a bad thing. No money results in some pretty average special effects and a normally a creature that looks like it may have been borrowed from a Primary School theatre department. But that certainly isn’t the case with Throwback, a fantastic genre flick that deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as classics such as Razorback.
As a director Bain needs to be thrown a lot of praise. Throwback is a film that looks a million dollars and the fact that he chose an almost guerrilla style of filmmaking has meant that the Aussie bush has never looked more menacing. Bain also knows how to create tension throughout the film and for the most part of Throwback the audience sits there in complete silence and awe knowing that at any moment any character may meet their fate, either at the hands of another greedy human and thanks to the Yowie himself. The fact that ‘some’ of the characters are set-up as likable also means that the audience has a vested interest in wanting to see them pull through… now that isn’t something that happens in all horror flicks these days.
But of course the big test for a ‘creature feature’ is always how does the creature look and do the special effects look plausible. To Bain’s credit he gets a big tick in all the boxes. The Yowie (played by Warren Clements) looks so realistic that you may wonder whether or not going for a casual walk through the Aussie bush is such a great idea. The believability of the Yowie goes a long way in making this film work because it adds to the tension of scenes throughout the film instead of having the audience sniggering whenever the beast appears. The minimal special effects used also look pretty good and again adds to the film’s atmosphere.
Credit must also be paid to the cast of Throwback many of which were involved in this film for years. Shawn Brack, Anthony Ring and Melanie Serafin all put in great performances and as a cinema fan you can only hope that their performances here will lead to successful acting careers because they truly deserve it. Anthony Ring morphs into the ‘bad guy’ brilliantly well while Brack and Serafin’s natural performances make them instantly likable… believe it or not an important element when you are supposed to give a damn over whether they live or die.
Of course cult film fans are also in for a treat when it comes to the casting in Throwback because in a well scripted cameo the legendary Vernon Wells (who many would know from Mad Max 2 and opposite Arnold Schwarznegger in Commando) pops up in a strong performance as Detective McNab… a man desperate to solve the spate of murders that have been occurring in the area.
Ironically Throwback is a throwback to the legendary Aussie cult films that used to have a young Quentin Tarantino so excited. Edgy, suspenseful and nasty Throwback is a gem of a film that also reminds filmmakers and audiences out there that it is more than okay to throw in a good story line and well developed characters when you are making a creature feature. Throwback is the kind of film where you are literally on the edge of your seat throughout and it announces Travis Bain as one of Australia’s most promising directors… he is someone to add to your ‘watch where his career goes’ list. Throwback is a gem of a film that is a must see for horror fans everywhere.
Summary: For four friends it is supposed to be a weekend of fun… and of course love. Jason (Dean Kirkwright) and Natasha (Tara Reid) are a steady couple… although she thinks he can be a bit of an idiot sometimes. While Jason’s friend Donkey (Sam Coward) plans on using the weekend as a way to impress Melanie (Alliara Jacques).
The quartet decide to head to the legendary Charlie’s Farm, a farm that is was once the scene of a tragic murder spree instigated by John Wilson (Bill Moseley) who was then murdered by the town’s folk who were tired of the district getting a bad name for the number of backpackers who were going missing in the area.
While the four believe they may be able to find a few things of value at the farm to sell what they don’t expect to confront is John’s mentally disturbed son Charlie (Nathan Jones) who has called the property home since that bloody night.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 4th December, 2014
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Director: Chris Sun
Screenwriter: Chris Sun
Cast: David Beamish (Gordon), Cameron Caulfield (Young Charlie Wilson), Sam Coward (Donkey), Mark E. Darin (Jacko), Lindsay Edgecomb (Sally), Genna Chanelle Hayes (Alyssa), Justin Gerardin (Peter), Kane Hodder (Tony Stewart), Allira Jacques (Melanie), Nathan Jones (Charlie Wilson), Madeline Kennedy (Amber), Dean Kirkwright (Jason), Bill Moseley (John Wilson), Darrell Plumridge (Young Blue), Tara Reid (Natasha), Trudi Ross (Merideth)
Runtime: 88 mins
OUR CHARLIE’S FARM REVIEWS & RATINGS:
A lot of people seem to love being able to stick their boot into the Australian film industry at the moment. They can say what they will but it hasn’t prevented Australia from making some pretty decent films over the years. One of the genres that Australian filmmakers have excelled at over the years has been the horror genre. From the Ozploitation films of the 1970s and 1980s through to more modern day films like the underrated Cut that actually became a successful film in Europe, even the team behind the popular Saw franchise and all of its off-shoots also hail from Down Under.
One Australian genre director who has really been somebody to watch over the past few years has been writer/director/producer Chris Sun whose first two feature films, Daddy’s Little Girl and Come And Get Me, had many people labelling him as the next-big-thing. Given that he has also built up one of the best horror effects companies in the world (not just Australia) and it was easy to see why it was only a matter of time before he created an absolute horror gem. Now that may have arrived with Charlie’s Film a film that is going to be lapped up by those who have enjoyed films like Storm Warning… and once again reminds horror fans right around the world just how nasty Australian horror can be.
As a film itself Charlie’s Farm doesn’t bring much new to the genre. It is your standard slash, impale, crush and whatever style of horror but it is the fact that the film seems to elevate itself into the higher realm of this genre alongside the films of Rob Zombie that should fans of Australian cinema very excited. This is a return to good old fashioned horror that has audiences hollering in the cinema and you know it’s going to be lapped up by those that enjoy their horror on the hardcore side.
One of the most impressive things about Charlie’s Farm is that Chris Sun has built up such a reputation in the horror genre that he has been able to build up an absolute top notch horror cast. Alongside gifted locals like Dean Kirkwright (who shows enough to suggest he has big things ahead of him), Allira Jacques (who is becoming Australia’s next scream-queen) and Sam Coward (who provides great comedic relief), Sun has been able to assemble a cast that also consists of Rob Zombie’s go to man Bill Mossely, Sharknado’s scream-queen Tara Reid and horror legend Kane Hodder… better known as the man behind the Jason mask in the Friday The 13thfranchise. Sun has also uncovered another star in former Aussie muscleman Nathan Jones who brings a presence to this film like Kane did to See No Evil. His physical appearance alone on screen is frightening and it won’t be too long before overseas horror directors are lining up to get this guy in their films.
Charlie’s Farm may not bring anything new to the horror table but its brute force is enough to make sure that this is a horror film that is certainly going to be noticed. Some of the dialogue may not be great, but seriously would anybody be expecting Shakespeare from this film, but the film has a load of suspense and the kind of slash gore that true fans of the genre are only too happy to cheer along to. This is one horror film that ticks all the boxes that you are going to be looking for in the genre.