This morning on Subculture we spoke to PJ Orr about their brand new album. Take a listen to the interview below, and make sure you grab a copy of their new album.
July 20th, 2017 is a day that will go down in musical folklore as the day that the world lost a true music genius. For many of us that day will be remembered as the day that we lost someone whose vocals were a soundtrack to our university days. But to musician Sean Dodwell that day will be remembered as the day he lost his good friend, band mate and business partner Chester Bennington.
Dodwell’s realationship with Bennington started way before Bennington’s time with Linkin Park. Before all of that Dodwell and Bennington had formed Grey Daze in their home town of Phoenix, Arizona, they even had three albums under their belt.
“Grey Daze was the very aggressive, moody, dark band that had the next greatest singer that nobody had heard yet,” says Dodwell when I get the chance to talk to him about the band’s new album, Amends, that will be released in June this year. “That is what Grey Daze were like in the 90s. We had this amazing vocalist who wrote great songs and great melodies and they were fantastic live. We wrote about a lot of great emotional content that bands like Alice In Chains and Pearl Jam were writing about at the time. We were a little bit post-grunge because we were a little after that – that was really our forte though because through Chester’s great vocal performance we were able to deliver a great emotional experience.”
In the months leading up to Bennington’s tragic passing he had been very vocal about re-forming Grey Daze once again. As he announced the band would be doing shows it seemed like he was a great place. It wasn’t just the fan that perceived it that way though – Dodwell also saw it that way and it was for that reason that July 20th came as such a huge shock. “I spoke to him a couple of days before he passed away and honestly he was on top of the world,” he explains when I ask him about how Bennington seemed to him in the days leading up to his death. “He was in a great mood and he was excited about the band getting back together. He was excited that we were doing another Club Tattoo expansion. He and I had a great conversation two days before he passed away so there was no I saw what was going to happen. It was just mind blowing. So when I got the phone call I was like you I thought it was bullshit – I thought it was fake news, a hoax or something.”
The things that Bennington were excited about were no small things. He wanted to get Grey Daze back together – not just to do the much publicised club show but to also work on the songs that the band had left idle for so many years. “We’d probably talked about putting Grey Daze back together about three times,” explains Dodwell when I ask him about whether or not the reunion was something that he and Bennington often spoke about. “It was something that we had talked about a lot but the timing just never lined up right. In 2016 he had just finished up the One More Light album and we were on one of these calls together and we started to talk about doing another of these Club Tattoo parties and then he said “Yeah if we do that I think we should put Grey Daze back together again for it. I think the timing is right, I miss having a band of my own and I miss playing with you… so let’s do it.””
“I said yes to that and then we started planning it all,” says Dodwell continuing. “Then we made the announcement in January 2017. As soon as we did that we started to get offers about playing right around the world, and then we started to have more and more conversations about this and we started to talk about going back in and re-recording these 35 tracks that we have intact and ready to go. We wouldn’t have to spend eight months doing the record we could go in and do everything in a couple of months and we would have a record by the end of the year.”
From there everything just seem to take off. “We started working on three new tracks and at the same time I head back into the studio with the band to work on the other track’s arrangements,” explains Dodwell. “We were re-tracking everything and then I would email them to him or we would FaceTime or just talk on the phone and we would share what we doing and he would be like ‘okay I like that’ or ‘okay change that’. Through that process we kind of came to the idea that these songs in their current format they sounded like they were from the 90s. They weren’t bad but they really sounded like they were from the 90s so we decided to freshen them up and re do the guitar tracks and then re-arrange them. So all the ideas to modernise the tracks came while he was still alive. Then we were going to record his vocal tracks as soon as he got off the road with Linkin Park but unfortunately he passed away on July 20th, 2017, three days before we were to start rehearsals with Grey Daze. So I had to re-visit this and decided how I wanted to approach this now he was gone so that was how we decided to strip everything back to the vocals and start over. That’s how we started… and that is how we got there.”
Hearing that Grey Daze had thirty-five tracks available and that Amends only has eleven tracks I asked Dodwell whether he thought it was possible that we may see more Grey Daze albums in the future. “We certainly have enough tracks for a second and maybe even a third,” he says honestly. “If the first is received the way we think it will be received then yes you will get to hear a second, but if people throw lettuce and tomatoes at us and tell us it sucks then you won’t, but I don’t think that is going to be the case.”
Amends will be released on June 26th.
Australian progressive death metal outfit Xenobiotic hit the ground running with their debut album Prometheus. The album was so different to anything that we had heard before that it soon had metal fans right around the world interested. Now comes the band’s difficult second album – Mordrake.
Once again the band have found a way to enhance their sound even more and recently I had the chance to sit down with N to chat about what fans can expect this time around.
“I’m not sure that we had any specific goals in mind other than to create the best record that we possibly could,” says N laughing as we talk about what the band were hoping to achieve with this album. “Outside of that I guess we wanted to make music that was emotional relevant and we wanted to incorporate all of our influences as well.”
“I mean the first record, people can say whatever they like about it but we had a pretty narrow amount of influences that we were drawing from when we wrote that one,” he goes on to say. “I guess then our main aim was to create something that people could resonate with. The album does kind of have this weird emphasis on mental illness and that has kind of come out through the narrative that TJ wrote and the bits and pieces that we all kind of added to that, so the best case scenario is that if it helps people or helps someone then that is great, but at the end of the day I think we were just trying to push ourselves to create the best music that we possibly could.”
The band have also looked up to many of the other bands that have helped mould this new sound in the progressive death metal scene. “We got kind of enamoured with bands like Rivers Of Nihil and Fallujah and how they treated the progressive death metal sound,” he explains. “They started off with a sound that was a vast majority death metal with some other stuff thrown in. But then with Fallujah’s Dreamless and Rivers Of Nihil’s Where Owls Know My Name you kind of see them really branching out and incorporating some really beautiful music. That was quite eye opening and we started to see that there was real potential in this style. We could see that in the progressive death metal style you can do all of these things, so we did what we could. There is also a pretty strong black metal streak as well… we certainly haven’t been trying to hide that.”
Aside from the metal elements the band also looked to classical music, especially from movie soundtracks for inspiration as well. “There is a little bit of an influence from Hans Zimmer on there,” N goes onto to explain. “That shows with the layered approach. And there is also a huge post-metal influence on there as well. We listen to a lot of music between ourselves, we can go from progressive metal right through to death metal. But yeah basically every style of music that has ever inspired us is on there.”
As N had already mentioned there is also a strong focus on mental illness on this album and this took the band into some deep territory. “We didn’t really have much to go on outside of our own experiences,” he says. “We did use the myth of Edward Mordrake as inspiration. That is an urban legend about a man named Edward Mordrake who had a face on the back of his head that would whisper really dark things into the back of his head. We found that even in common mental illnesses, and they shouldn’t be common but they are, things like depression and anxiety, that they kind of work like that – that there is a little voice in the back of your head that influences how you see the world.”
“TJ really wanted to write a story of that,” he explains. “That sort of led the way for us to kind of tackle all of these things and some of us were really struggling with it. It was a topic though that really doesn’t have a lot of light cast onto it, and that is maybe because it is so hard to pin down. Mental illness does have an inter-play with your personality, that’s how I have found it but I know others have had different experiences. But that was the challenge, but we could really only go on what he and we had experienced in that regard.”
Mordrake is out now.
Summary: It’s 1968 in America. Change is blowing in the wind…but seemingly far removed from the unrest in the cities is the small town of Mill Valley where for generations, the shadow of the Bellows family has loomed large. It is in their mansion on the edge of town that Sarah, a young girl with horrible secrets, turned her tortured life into a series of scary stories, written in a book that has transcended time-stories that have a way of becoming all too real for a group of teenagers who discover Sarah’s terrifying tomb.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 26th September 2019
Thailand Cinema Release Date: TBA
Australian DVD Release Date: 12th February 2020
Country: United States, Canada, Hong Kong
Director: Andre Ovredal
Screenwriter: Dan Hageman, Kevin Hageman, Guillermo del Toro (story), Patrick Melton (story), Marcus Dunstan (story), Alvin Schwartz (novels)
Cast: Austin Abrams (Tommy Milner), Hume Baugh (Deodat Bellows), Gil Bellows (Chief Turner), Javier Botet (Big Toe Corpse), Will Carr (Ephraim Bellows), Zoe Margaret Colletti (Stella Nicholls), Victoria Fodor (Mrs. Milner), Natalie Ganzhorn (Ruth Steinberg), Michael Garza (Ramon Morales), Karen Glave (Claire Baptiste), Troy James (Jangly Man), Brandon Knox (Harold Bellows), Kyle Labine (Deputy Hobbs), Jane Moffat (Delanie Bellows), Dean Norris (Roy Nicholls), Kathleen Pollard (Sarah Bellows), Deborah Pollitt (Mrs. Steinberg), Gabriel Rush (Auggie Hilderbrandt), Amanda Smith (Gertrude Bellows), Matt Smith (Mr. Steinberg), Mark Stegar (Harold The Scarecrow/Pale Lady), Ajanae Stephenson (Lou Lou – 8yrs), Lorraine Toussaint (Lou Lou), Marie Ward (Mrs. Hilderbrandt), Austin Zajur (Chuck Steinberg)
Running Time: 108 mins
Classification: M (Australia) 13 (Thailand)
Dave Griffiths’ Our Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark Review:
After the disappointment that was It Chapter Two it is with a sense of relief that I am able to say that Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark was a film that surprised me a lot more than I thought it would. The film feels like it should be described as Goosebumps for teenagers but there seems to be something a little darker to this film that will mean that horror fans of all ages will be drawn to the film.
Based on the novel by Alvin Schwartz the film follows a group of young friends – the horror-obsessed Stella Nicholls (Zoe Margaret Colletti – Annie, Wildlife), the very mature Auggie Hilderbrandt (Gabriel Rush – Moonrise Kingdom, No Letting Go), the fun-loving Chuck Steinberg (Austin Zajur – Fist Fight, Kidding) and the outsider that nobody knows anything about Ramon Morales (Michael Garza – Wayward Pines, Timeless)who find themselves in a world of paranormal trouble after trying to out-run the town’s resident bully – Tommy (Austin Abrams – Paper Towns, Gangster Squad) after a Halloween prank goes badly wrong.
While trying to hide, and in a bid to impress Ramon, Stella leads the group into the ‘haunted house’ the house where it is alleged that Sarah Bellows (Kathleen Pollard – The Shape Of Water, The Handmaid’s Tale) killed a number of the town’s children a few years earlier. Sadly for the friends and Chuck’s sister Ruth (Natalie Ganzhorn – Make It Pop, Wet Bum) visiting the house makes them part of a series of stories that could cost them their lives.
The most intriguing part of the film is that while it is supposed to be a film aimed for teenagers director Andre Ovredal (Trollhunter, The Autopsy Of Jane Doe) gives the film a darker edge that makes a lot more interesting for an older audience as well. Where the film works well though is that it doesn’t fall into any of the mistakes that It Chapter Two did. The team of screenwriters which includes the legendary Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy) have made the key central characters likeable which instantly means the audience are barracking for them to live when the horror starts. The team have also carefully chosen which stories from the original novels to use and the result is an interesting collection of ‘horrors’ that in no way feel like a group of short stories put together to make a larger story. The only weakness is at times that the ‘horrors’ at hand don’t always seem to mirror the fear or nightmare that the character it relates to has as well as it could have done.
Given the creative minds of Del Toro and Ovredal coming together for this film there is little wonder that the horror and fantasy aspects of this film look so good. The ‘creatures’ and horrors that are seen throughout the film do have a real Pan’s Labyrinth feel and look to them. It’s these horrors that also seem more ‘scary’ than what you would expect in a film aimed at teenagers. The end result though is a film that will also be enjoyed by adults rather than films like Goosebumps that are more suited to teenagers. It also means that sequences like the Scarecrow sequence and the scenes in the mental hospital and Police Station are going to stick in the minds of the audience a lot longer than many of them would have expected them to.
The young cast also put in great performances. Zoe Margaret Colletti leads the way with a performance that is much more mature than her years would suggest. In a challenging role Colletti is a real stand-out and it is obvious that she has a great career ahead of her. Her character goes through a range of emotions from sheer fear to worry about the relationship that she has with her father and the young actress doesn’t skip a beat no matter what situation her character is put in. She is well supported by Michael Garza who really announces himself as an actor to watch while veteran actor Gil Bellows (The Shawshank Redemption, Patriot) also brings his A-Game to the film.
Creepily spectacular Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark is a throwback to films like Jeepers Creepers and Gremlins, films that were aimed for teenagers but had more of a horror side than most films aimed at that age-group. On reflection we should have expected something special when the minds of del Toro and Ovredal came together but I don’t think any of us expected something as enjoyable as this.
Average Subculture Rating:
Other Subculture Entertainment Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark Reviews:
Summary: The peaceful town of Centerville finds itself battling a zombie horde as the dead start rising from their graves.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 26th September 2019
Thailand Cinema Release Date: TBA
Australian DVD Release Date: 11th March 2020
Country: United States, Swden
Director: Jim Jarmusch
Screenwriter: Jim Jarmusch
Cast: Eszter Balint (Fern), Steve Buscemi (Farmer Frank Miller), Austin Butler (Jack), Rosal Colon (Lily), Maya Delmont (Stella), Adam Driver (Officer Ronnie Peterson), Larry Fessendon (Danny Perkins), Danny Glover (Hank Thompson), Selena Gomez (Zoe), Caleb Landry Jones (Bobby Wiggins), Carol Kane (Mallory O’Brien), Bill Murray (Chief Cliff Robertson), Rosie Perez (Posie Juarez), RZA (Dean), Luka Sabbat (Zack), Chloe Sevigny (Officer Mindy Morrison), Tilda Swinton (Zelda Winston), Tom Waits (Hermit Bob), Taliyah Whitaker (Olivia), Jahi Di’Allo Winston (Geronimo)
Running Time: 104 mins
Classification: MA15+ (Australia) TBC (Thailand)
Dave Griffiths’ The Dead Don’t Die Review:
Some directors are just an acquired taste. Think of filmmakers like Gaspar Noe or Terrence Malick. They are directors that you will normally find that cinema-lovers are left in awe of or go to the opposite and can’t stand their work. Another director that should be added to that list is Jim Jarmusch. For me films like Only Lovers Left Alive and Paterson are absolutely sensational films that need to be savoured as you watch them. At the same time though I can perfectly understand why someone wouldn’t enjoy the more alternative aspect.
Now comes Jarmusch next little beauty – The Dead Don’t Die which sees the talented director bring his own sense of humour to the zombie genre in a way that makes this a truly memorable film. So many supposed comedies this year have failed to impress me at all so it was a welcome relief to see The Dead Don’t Die and find myself laughing all the way through it.
Set in the small peaceful town of Centerville the film centres around three Police Officers who bring law and order to the town. Chief Cliff Robertson (Bill Murray – Ghostbusters, Lost In Translation), Officer Ronnie Peterson (Adam Driver – Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Inside Llewyn Davis) and Officer Mindy Morrison (Chloe Sevigny – Boys Don’t Cry, Big Love) do what they can to bring law and order to the town but when the dead start rising even they aren’t completely sure what is the best avenue to follow.
Plot wise The Dead Don’t Die is probably one of the most simplistic films you will see this year. For most of the film the plot follows the traditional zombie trope storylines that we have come to know and love over the years. What makes the film so special though is the interesting characters that Jarmusch has created to inhabit the town. Interesting characters such as Farmer Frank Miller (Steve Buscemi – Fargo, Reservior Dogs) and Zelda Winston (Tilda Swinton – Snowpiercer, Suspiria) keep the audience guessing throughout the film. Countless times you find yourself whether Zelda’s sword-fighting skills are going to be what ends up saving the town or whether someone likes Hermit Bob (Tom Waits – Seven Psychopaths, Down By Law) knows more about the events than they are letting on.
Also making the film stand-out from other zombie comedies is the unique Jarmusch humour and dialogue that is delivered by the characters here. At times the dry wit humour and language used by the characters brings back memories of legendary television shows like Northern Exposure… and that is a welcome relief in a time when it feels sometimes that some screenwriters have forgotten how to create good dialogue.
The take it or leave it aspect of this being a Jim Jarmusch film will most likely come into play for most people when he takes this film into the weird territory of breaking down the line between the characters and the actors. Early on when Adam Driver refers to a song playing on the radio as ‘the theme music’ you realise that Jarmusch breaks down the third wall and here the actors know they are ‘characters’ in a movie. That might be a little confronting and a little weird for those that are not used to alternative film-making but once you get a handle of it it is something that adds to the creativity and uniqueness of the film.
The resulting nature of the film does allow its stars to shine. Bill Murray and Adam Driver seem to enjoy the deadpan style of their character’s interactions. The pair seem to share an amazing on-screen partnership that only enhances the film. Jarmsuch’s star-pulling power also sees the likes of RZA (The Man With The Iron Fists, American Gangster) and Selena Gomez (Spring Breakers, Hotel Transylvania) play smaller roles in the film while the inclusion of screen veterans like Danny Glover (Lethal Weapon, 2012) also add to the films atmosphere. Jarmusch also doesn’t waste his plethora of stars giving them all memorable moments while also brilliantly giving small nods to their past roles throughout the film.
What Jim Jamusch has created here is a smart horror-comedy that deserves all the accolades that the film has been garnishing. The film is smart enough to be different that previous zombie horror-comedies like Zombieland and Shaun Of The Dead and has that unique Jamusch stamp on it which will mean it is a film that will be adored by those who love his unique style of filmmaking.
Average Subculture Rating:
Other Subculture Entertainment The Dead Don’t Die Reviews:
When Nergal isn’t thrilling the world with his amazing talents with the mighty Behemoth he is exploring the darker side of folk music with his side project Me And That Man. Their first album Songs Of Death And Love landed in 2017 and was well received by both critics and fans alike.
Now three years later he has once again put his Me And That Man hat on and returned with their sophomore album – New Man, New Songs, Same Shit Vol 1. He recently took time out of his hetic schedule to sit down and chat to me about the album.
“I’ve found myself inspired by the same kind of music for quite awhile now,” he says as we talk about his love of folk music. “My idea though was not to replicate the old blues players or the old folk players. The plan was just to get to together with a bunch of dudes that I respect and just make some music of our own – because it is all rock ‘n’ roll at the end of the day. The bottom line was to enjoy it, have fun, be proud of it but here we are at the end of the day with eleven songs and I am very happy with the record.”
Those amazing bunch of dudes on this album include the likes of Matt Heafy from Trivium and Corey Taylor from Slipknot so I ask Nergal at what point of the song-writing process does he know who the guest vocalist will be on each track. “Every story kind of has a different formula behind it,” he says. “That is really hard to say actually because I end up putting every song out on a plate and then I put the album together piece by piece. Every song has a different approach and has a different treatment so I would have to so no, no because some of the guys would know exactly what I wanted to achieve and other songs which just have a certain feel and I would know who to reach out to. Then we would just see what happens.”
And if anybody out there has a fantasy about Nergal pulling all these talented musicians into a studio at one time to work on the tracks then think again because this is all done though the wonders of the internet. “That is basically how it is all done,” he says laughing when we begin to talk about how easy it is to send tracks online these days. “It really is done as a long distance relations and collaborations. That is the only way to make it, honestly. That is the way of being a musician now, even when you are musicians in one band you tend to be spread around so we just communicate that way. I think with what we are facing now that way of doing things is going to become even more common.”
“I mean let’s say twenty years ago that I wanted to record this kind of record,” he goes onto explain. “It probably would have taken us five years to have completed and it probably would have cost me ten times the amount that it cost me”.
One of the highlights of the album is Matt Heafy’s amazing vocals on the beautifully dark “You Will Be Mine” and it turns out that the track impressed Nergal just as much as it did me. “Absolutely, absolutely,” he says pretty much lost for words when I ask him whether he was blown away when he first heard the track. “It is one of the best performances on the record. He took two shots to get there though, the first version of the song that he sent me he just over did it – it was just exaggerated so much, he just made it so evil, it was just like *growls over and over* So I was like ‘man that is too much, relax you know, just step back and relax.’”
“The you know the next version that he sent was way too soft,” he goes on to explain. “It was way too angelic and I was like ‘man let’s put it away, do something that is in between these two takes.’ And it is that final version that you hear on the record. I remember that he asked me if I wanted to auto-tune it so I went to the studio with our drummer and we went over the track once and then we went over it twice and we were looking at each other and we were like why do we have to auto-tune this he has done it perfectly. Even if there are a couple of imperfections here and there then that makes it perfect so I said to him ‘Matt we are not changing anything because we fucking love your performance and it would be so wrong to even tweak anything.’ But yes to answer your question, it is an absolutely amazing performance.”
New Man, New Songs, Same Shit Vol 1 is out now.
Summary: Miles is stuck in a dead-end job, still in love with his ex-girlfriend Nova. Unbeknownst to him, a gang called Skizm is running a deadly competition within his city in which complete strangers fight to the death for the entertainment of an online audience of millions. Miles soon finds himself caught up in the game and forced to fight in a battle to the death. Initially, Miles’ lifetime of running from his problems pays off as he manages to elude his first opponent but when Nova is kidnapped, he must finally stop running and overcome his fears to fight for the girl he loves.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 28th February 2020
Thailand Cinema Release Date: 9th April 2020
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Country: United Kingdom, Germany, New Zealand
Director: Jason Lei Howden
Screenwriter: Jason Lei Howden
Cast: Anne Alexander-Sieder (Martha Seabert), Natasha Liu Bordizzo (Nova), Grant Bowler (Degraves), Milo Cawthorne (Hadley), Logan Cole (Daddy Doubletaps), Rhys Darby (Glenjamin), Ned Dennehy (Riktor), Hanako Footman (Ruby), Stephen Grey (Vadim), Jacqueline Lee Guerts (Irine Degraves), Aaron Jackson (Clement), Richard Knowles (Xander), Aaron McGregor (Jock), Colin Moy (Clive), Racheal Ofori (Effie), Bella Paddin (Young Nix), Daniel Radcliffe (Miles), Jack Riddiford (Shadwell), Mark Rowley (Dane), Set Sjostrand (Fuckface), Josh Thomson (Grim), Janos Tiborcz (Graveworm), Samara Weaving (Nix), Joe Witkowski (Longshot), Edwin Wright (Stanton)
Running Time: 95 mins
Classification: MA15+ (Australia) TBC (Thailand)
Dave Griffiths’ Guns Akimbo Review:
I have always felt for young actors and actresses who seem to have their careers tarnished by the very role that made them famous. A lot of people seem to disagree that it even happens but then how many times did you hear ‘not that guy from Twilight’ when Robert Pattinson was recently cast as Batman?
What the actor really needs is a role that is so far removed from their early career that it makes audiences see them in a different light, why do you think so many young stars try to do a role that involves nudity as soon as they turn eighteen?
One actor that has been desperately trying to break the mould set for him by his breakout role is Daniel Radcliffe. Radcliffe has tried so valiantly to try and shake off the Harry Potter tag – he’s done Australian films, gone to the dramatic extremes in Kill Your Darlings but the tag only seemed to lift a little when he stunned cinema-goers with the obscure but brilliant Swiss Army Man. Now Radcliffe hopes to shrug off the rest of that tag with a sheer brilliant performance in a film that is guaranteed to become a cult classic – Guns Akimbo.
Here Radcliffe plays Miles, a games programmer who is stuck in a dead-end job that he loathes with a boss who is nothing but a bully. While he hates his job, he hates his life even more as his recent separation from his girlfriend Nova (Natasha Liu Bordizzo – Hotel Mumbai) only seems to remind him just how in love with her he was.
In a state of boredom one night he leaves a trolling comment on the website of a popular death match reality game that is being run by an extremely violent organisation called Skizm. Angered by the comment the group’s leader, the psychopathic Riktor (Ned Dennehy – Mandy) has Miles captured and then has his goons bolt weapons to his hands. He then places Miles in the game and has him compete against the reigning champion, the criminally insane Nix (Samara Weaving – Ready Or Not), who believes one more kill will see her free of the game and then finally able to live her life the way that she wants to.
If the plot sounds insane it is because that is exactly what it is. It is the last kind of film that you would ever expect Radcliffe to want to be cast in yet somehow his performance grouped together by the fact that the film is in the capable hands of Deathgasm director Jason Lei Howden sees it become a cult classic that cinema lovers are going to lap up right away.
One of the keys to the film working is the fact that Howden is a cult film lover himself. His love for video games and 1980s action films here is so obvious. The film almost seems to have ‘levels’ that the characters have to get past while the fact that his graphic violence was certain to attract a R Rating also didn’t seem to scare him. At times it feels like as a director he was saying ‘let’s put another headshot in there’ and see what they do. Then there is also a killer soundtrack that features everyone from Dead Or Alive to Cypress Hill and even Iggy Pop. What Howden has made here is a film that he himself would want to watch and the result is one of the best action films of the past few years.
That is further enhanced by the fact that as a filmmaker Howden doesn’t try to make Guns Akimbo anything that it’s not. It’s a basic shoot-‘em up with a little bit of humour thrown in for good measure. And while the film doesn’t strive to be anything else it does end up making a lot of commentary about the morals of modern day reality television and delivering a better female hero than even Birds of Prey could manage.
Yes, we may have been blown away by Samara Weaving’s recent performances in The Babysitter and Ready Or Not but here she takes her acting to a whole new level. Weaving doesn’t just stop at having fun during some daring action sequences instead she brings real characterisation to a character that could have easily become a one-dimensional anti-hero. Even when she is trying to hunt down and kill everyone’s favourite loser – Miles – you can’t help but feel a little bit of remorse for Nix, despite her being a bad-ass.
Then there is Radcliffe who seems to embrace the fact that he is given the opportunity to play such an off-beat character. Like Weaving he mixes characterisation with action and seems to deliver just the right amount of method acting to show that perhaps a lot of cinema-goers have misjudged Radcliffe on just how good his acting ability can be. His scene with Rhys Darby in this film shows he also has a flair for comedy as well.
If you like your action flick to be a little left of centre and bordering on the gruesome then Guns Akimbo is the film for you. The fresh creative nature of the film shows why Jason Lei Howden is a director who can potentially breathe a new sense creativity into the action genre, while the film itself is the perfect vehicle to show that world that Daniel Radcliffe has well and truly outgrown his Harry Potter wand.
Average Subculture Rating:
Other Subculture Entertainment Guns Akimbo Reviews:
Summary: A group of online friends travel to a Pop Culture convention to try and buy a rare comic they believe can warn them of an upcoming pandemic.
Australian Cinema Release Date: TBA
Thailand Cinema Release Date: TBA
Australian Home Entertainment Release Date: TBA
Country: United States
Director: Toby Haynes
Screenwriter: Ryan Enright, Gillian Flynn
Regular Cast: Deson Borges (Wilson Wilson), Dan Byrd (Ian), John Cusack (Dr. Kevin Christie), Christopher Denham (Arby), Sasha Lane (Jessica Hyde), Ashleigh LaThrop (Becky), Jessica Rothe (Samantha), Javon ‘Wanna’ Walton (Grant), Rainn Wilson (Michael Stearns)
Guest Cast: Josh Bywater (Carson), Rammel Chan (Starweaver/Josh Chandler), Jose Antonio Garcia (Donald Resnick), Jenna Heffernan (Jenny), Dustin Ingram (Tallman), Farrah Mackenzie (Alice), Jeanine Serralles (Colleen), Cory Michael Smith (Thomas Christie), Michael B Woods (Rod)
Running Time: 50 mins
Classification: TBC (Australia) TBC (Thailand)
Dave Griffiths’ Utopia Review:
They say that art mirrors life and that has never been more true than when it comes to the brand new Amazon Prime series Utopia. The pilot gives us an early glimpse that a new pandemic is about to spread across the globe, yes it could be plucked straight from our headlines at the moment, but what separates Utopia from the hundreds of other pandemic or post-apocalyptic television shows or movies out there is the fact that here the prediction of the pandemic may have already surfaced in a graphic novel of all places.
Utopia centres around a group of four ‘friends’ who have all met online after they realised a pattern in a strange graphic novel titled Dystopia. When an ultra rare copy of its sequel, titled Utopia, is put up for auction by a naive couple at a convention named FringeCon the four friends – Wilson Wilson (Desmin Borges – Living With Yourself), Ian (Dan Byrd – Easy A), Becky (Ashleigh LaThrop – Fifty Shades Freed) and Samantha (Jessica Rothe – Happy Death Day) – all travel to the convention with the intention to buy Utopia so they can explore their theory that the comics predict the world’s pandemics.
But they are not the only people after Utopia after a rich art collector wins the auction suddenly a young boy called Grant (Javon Walton – Euphoria) breaks into the penthouse to steal it while at the same time two assassins – Arby (Christopher Denham – Argo) and Michael Stearns (Rainn Wilson – The Office) – also pay a visit to the penthouse to retrieve the valuable item.
The best way to approach the Utopia remake is to have never seen the original British series. From the pilot episode you can tell that this is a series that is going to have many twists and turns throughout – so not knowing what is going to happen next is going to be key. Especially with the cliffhanger of the pilot which sees a character turn up that may just hint that everything in the graphic novels is based on real life.
Tone wise Utopia feels like a nineties show such as Buffy but with some edge. As soon as Samantha drops the ‘c’ word you know that the show is going to go into adult territory, the head shots that the assassins deliver as they hunt their victims later on only enhance that theory. Having said that though there is a deep intelligence to the show. The theory that the graphic novels can predict what pandemics are to come gives the show a real suspense element that you feel is only going to get expanded even further and a brief news report we hear hints that a pandemic is just starting as well.
The key to the show working though are the characters and whether they are interesting to the audience, luckily Utopia seems to have that problem well and truly solved. Wilson Wilson seems to be one of the most interesting characters to have surfaced on television for awhile, while the other three friends also could easily carry the show. After the pilot the relationship between Ian and Becky is not so much ‘will they’ but instead ‘what will they do now’ while the great acting that we know Jessica Rothe is capable of also means we are very curious to see what happens with Samantha next.
Keeping the acting in mind the casting of Rainn Wilson in such a sinister role is also a stroke of genius. We are so used to seeing his comedy side that his cold-heartedness here is a bit of surprise and there still seems to be a lot of room to further expand his character as well.
There is little doubt that once you start watching Utopia that you will continue to watch. There are just too many questions that are left after the pilot for you not to want. Questions around who the hell Grant is, what the four friends will do next and even whether or not the assassins will go after them are more than enough to keep you watching. And then there is of course the big mystery – who the hell is Jessica Hyde and is she real? Yes television fans I think our answer to iZombie has finally landed.