Review: EMELIE is a parent’s worst nightmare.

Dark Sky Films Logopresents

EMELIE

Directed by: Michael Thelin

Starring: Sarah Bolger (ABC’s “Once Upon a Time,” AMC’s “Into the Badlands” )

EMELIE poster

 In Theaters and On Demand March 4, 2016 

As a parent, all you want is for your family babysitter to care for your kids like you would.. When you do find a reliable sitter, you hold onto then for dear life. But what happens when, once in a  while, your beloved child care provider is unavailable? You might panic and start calling other parents for recommendations, but if you’re really lucky, your babysitter has an alternative option already in the pipe line. Evening saved, right? What if the kids don’t like them? They’re probably just overreacting. What if it’s for a good reason? EMELIE is a parent’s worst nightmare.

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As their parents head out for a date in the city, the three young Thompson children immediately take to their new babysitter, Anna (Sarah Bolger, Into the Badlands, Once Upon a Time), who seems like a dream come true: she’s sweet, fun, and lets them do things that break all of their parents’ rules. But as Anna’s interactions with them take on a more sinister tone, the kids realize that their caretaker may not be who she claims to be. Soon it’s up to big brother Jacob to protect his siblings from the increasingly nefarious intentions of a very disturbed woman whose weapon is trust, and whose target is innocence.

Featuring tour-de-force performances from Bolger and its three young leads, EMELIE is a multidimensional, nail-biting thriller that asks the question: how can you put an end to horror after you’ve already let it in?

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Sarah Bolger stuns as the babysitter from Hell. Soft and cool one minute and downright sociopathic the next. Her backstory makes her motives all the more incredible. Never is there a moment when you don’t feel beyond uncomfortable. You never know what she’ll do with the constant passive aggressive look in her eyes. It is completely terrifying. Scene stealer award goes to Bolger’s foil, Joshua Rush, as Jacob. He is perfect from beat to beat. It’s a complex role for any actor, let alone someone so young. Think a slightly older Jacob Tremblay from ROOM. That’s the quality Rush gives in Emelie. He deserves much more attention and I look forward to SEEING more of him in the future, as the majority of his current body of work has been voice. Director Michael Thelin has created a quite a roller coaster of  fear. I was off my game from the first frame to the very last. EMELIE will make any parent think twice about who’s really watching their children.

 In Theaters and On Demand March 4, 2016 

#EmelieMovie
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Review: ‘UNCLE NICK’ is not your typical holiday fare.

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Presents

Uncle Nick poster

Oh, the holidays. A time for an overabundance of food, gifts, parties… and family. Inevitably, someone is going to get a dinner role thrown at them, or maybe that only happens in my family. In the end, love or hate each other, spending time with the people you grew up with will lead to some of the best and worst moments of your life. Brian Posehn still from Uncle Nick

That voice you know so well, that massive stature, that snarky wit. All the things that make Brian Posehn the perfect choice to play the title character in Chris Kasick‘s new Christmas family fiasco film, UNCLE NICK. Nick is an alcoholic and depressed individual who is dreading attending Christmas Eve at his younger brother Cody’s new cougar wife’s house. With his brass balled sister, her adorably down-to-earth husband, his tech obsessed nephew, and over-sexed niece, shit is going to get real. Trying desperately to not hold his tongue, Nick runs through all the inappropriate behaviors expected from “that one family member.” But in reality, could he be the only normal one in the bunch? Probably not. Cast still Uncle Nick

With an outstanding ensemble cast including Paget Brewster, as pristine pharma saleswoman and new sister-in-law, Missi Pyle as Nick’s sister, Michelle, is an awesome reflection of the no-filter nonsense I like to add to my own family dynamic. A little crass and a little class, know your surroundings I always say. Scott Adsit as her husband Kevin is a perfect example of a not uptight, go with the flow, funny guy… with a passion for podcasting, because, why not. Melia Renee as new niece Valerie and grossly the object of Nick’s fantasies, doesn’t make it easy to resist her daddy issues. Jacob Houston and nephew Marcus is the epitome of 16 with his face in his laptop, video game, or phone the entire film plus a dash of volatile sarcasm thrown in for good measure. Beau Ballinger plays Nick’s younger brother Cody, whose former childhood shenanigans cause the animosity that Michelle and Nick still hold, and for the right reasons, trust me. And of course, Brian Posehn, the man himself. I don’t think this man can be unfunny. He captures this role with so much ease, whether you’re laughing at him or with him, rolling your eyes or cringing, his performance is brilliant.Uncle Nick 10 cents beer night still

Mike Demski’s script is just cool. Structurally surprising, he gives us a history lesson in Cleveland baseball intertwined with the narrative as a juxtaposition to the plot. I love me some baseball and somehow, I had never heard this story, and boy is it gold. The dialogue is quippy and sardonic, perfect for the holiday script. Uncle Nick works on many levels. It is not what you’re expecting going in and that’s what makes it great. Unapologetically in your face, do not bring kids to this film. In one way or another, you’ll relate to it, for better or worse.

Lewd, drunken Uncle Nick (Brian Posehn, Mr. Show, The Sarah Silverman Program) stumbles his way through his brother’s cookie cutter-family’s annual Christmas gathering in the hopes of scoring with a super-hot party guest. But the arrival of his equally crass sister coupled with  Nick’s liquor-fueled faux pas cause family secrets to bubble to the surface that might spell disaster for the whole clan before the night is over. Presented by Errol Morris, UNCLE NICK is a raucously funny comedy of inappropriate behavior, uncomfortably interrupted trysts, and a monumental over serving of ten-cent beers.

In Theaters Nationwide December 4th, 2015

THE ANTI-CHRISTMAS MOVIE OF THE YEAR!

UncleNickMovie

Review & Interview: ‘APPLESAUCE’ writer/director talks total weirdness and hilarity.

Applesauce Poster

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done? Just one seemingly innocent question is the spark that ignites the entire rest of one quirky and fantastic film. Onur Tukel’s APPLESAUCE will get under your skin and inside your psyche. applesauce Dylan Baker

Synopsis:

 Every Tuesday night, radio talk show host Stevie Bricks invites his listeners to call in and share “the worst thing they’ve ever done.” Tonight, Ron Welz (writer/director Onur Tukel) is ready to share his story.  But soon after he confesses on the air, someone starts sending him severed body parts. Ron becomes paranoid, terrified. His life begins to unravel. His marriage begins to fall apart. He has no idea who’s tormenting him. Is it his insolent high school student? Is it his best friend? His own wife? In a city like New York, there are eight million suspects and each one could have a bone to pick with someone like Ron.

Applesauce still, Onur, copsOnur takes upon the role of Ron with hilarious gusto. After he answers “the question”, someone begins to torment him by sending him “gifts” that remind him of what he did. The question not only effects him but his wife and their best couple friends, when they answer the question, as well. Everyone is angry but each is guilty of being haunted by their own past. The fallout spreads like a virus, spoiling the sanity of these four individuals. The circumstances get weirder and weirder, but you’re already along for the ride. This cast clicks and whirs like a well oiled machine. Tukel’s script is filled with pop culture digs and the realities of intimate relationships. It’s a crazy give and take between bizarro land and total nonchalance. I was all in from the beginning. APPLESAUCE_web_1


I had the pleasure of interviewing this multifaceted artist about this truly unique indie. Enjoy.


Liz: Firstly, this is some wacky and wonderful stuff. I’m gonna need more asap. Just throwing that out there. What in the world was the inspiration for this unique story?

Onur: The inspiration was a true story that happened to a friend of mine in college.  We were at a party together and he accidentally cut a stranger’s finger off.  He was haunted by this event for years.  We’ve visited this story dozens of times – over dinners, at parties, at various social gatherings – and it always captivates whoever’s listening.  We always wondered whatever happened to the injured person, how it changed his life. My friend and I also agreed that having a character tell the story over dinner would make a terrific starting point for a film. This was, indeed, the lynch-pin. I started with that and the script wrote itself.

Liz: You wear a ton of hats in making your films. Do you find that’s been a necessity or for the love of the project?

Onur: When you make a really low-budget film, yeah, you have to wear a lot of hats.  I was the costumer, the production designer, co-editor, writer, co-actor, and co-producer.  The DP was also the operator, best boy, gaffer, and grip.  The producers are handling props and also working on production design and script supervising. The PA is doing the work of six people. Everyone’s wearing a lot of hats. You have no choice! Of course, love factors into the whole process. But when people get over-extended, it becomes stressful, and that sucks. Still, when that camera rolls and you get a take that really pops, it’s all worth it. Then, in the editing room, when you start piecing it together like a puzzle and it starts to come to life, it’s magic. On the next one, I hope to have a bigger budget and crew so I can focus exclusively on the writing, directing and editing. This will give the other crew members a chance to focus on fewer things, as well.

Liz: For Applesauce, specifically, what was the length of time from page to production? Shooting to wrap?

Onur: I finished the first draft of the script in August of 2014 and rewrote it over several months. We went into production in November and wrapped on December 31, 2014.   Just four months later, it premiered at Tribeca Film Festival in April.  The schedule was nuts: fast-paced, chaotic, exhilarating and at times, infuriating.   I made a vampire movie when I was 26 in Wilmington, NC and we were rushed into production, much like we did on Applesauce.  The entire crew of six decided to abandon the movie because they thought we weren’t ready.  I recruited the camera operator Bryan Kupko and asked him if he wanted to make the movie with just a two-person crew.  He shrugged and said, “Sure.”  And that was all I needed to hear.  I just wanted a camera rolling; wanted to hear that purr of the film threading throughout the CP-16 as it burned itself up at 24 frames per second.  The crew eventually came back on board and we dug in and got the movie made, but I was ready to go with one person.  I feel alive on a film set.  A group of creative people working together to make a movie is a beautiful battlefield.  Even when it seems like films may be losing their cultural significance, it’s an honor to be called a director.

Liz: The dialogue is delicious. Super natural, which leads me to think there was a lot of improv involved?

Onur: Delicious. Super natural. You’re delicious and super natural, Liz. Hope that doesn’t sound creepy. Yes, there’s always improvisation in my movies, but it’s always very scripted at the beginning.  We will improv a scene if the words don’t sound real or the dialogue feels flat.  I always want the scene to have life and that usually means severing a sentence or two, rearranging some lines, or tossing the dialogue out all together. Sometimes we’ll use 100% of the dialogue. Sometimes 70%. Sometimes none. Plus, I’m rewriting the script during production, so it’s always changing.  I just want it to feel real, whatever it takes.  If what I’ve written works, great.  If it doesn’t, the hell with it!

Liz: Loved the structural choice to use Stevie Bricks as a transitional catalyst. It made for some quick relief from the adult realness (even as those scenes funny as hell) You totally could have gotten away with just having him as the opener. Talk about utilizing that character throughout, if you would.

Onur: The brilliant Dylan Baker gives such a great performance. I used him like a one-night stand. Literally. We had him for eight hours. I squeezed as much as I could out of him during that time, knowing we would edit him into the movie as much as possible.  He was very busy working on another project and I gave him maybe 10 pages of dialogue the night before his shoot.  He came in and nailed it.  I just sat back and watched.  I threw in a couple suggestions here and there to feel like I was a big shot and so I could tell people, “I directed Dylan Baker,” but I didn’t do a thing.  I didn’t really direct anyone in the movie.  That’s why it’s pretty good!

Liz: How does casting generally work for you? Do you have people in mind while writing or do you use a more traditional route with casting directors?

Onur: I wrote the role of Kate for Jennifer Prediger.  She’s a dear friend, but I was a fan or her work before I met her.  It’s easy to write for her because we kind of speak the same language.  We’re self-effacing, jokey, over-histrionic at times, charming when we need to be, yet self-aware when we’re both being sniveling little assholes. I was also friends with Trieste Kelly Dunn long before I cast her.  We both have connections to North Carolina, which might be one of the reasons we find the same things funny. North Carolinians can bullshit about anything.  I could probably talk to Trieste about a blade of grass for two hours.  I always have a blast in her company. The great Max Casella and wonderful Dylan Baker were brought on through a casting director named Stephanie Holbrook. The thought of making a movie now without her is terrifying. I won’t do it. She’s absolutely indispensable. She also happens to be a sweetheart. Lots of lovely people on Applesauce.

Liz: What advice can you give writers/artists in a world saturated with naysayers and Youtube clips/fleeting attention spans?

Onur: Read as many books as you can. The act of reading is creative. Whatever damage technology is doing to our attention spans can all be reversed with reading. Of course, this is easier said than done. Reading is a luxury for those with time. Outside of that, you better use your free time doing your art, whether it’s writing, drawing, recording music, playing music, making movies, etc. After all, if you ain’t doing that, you ain’t an artist.  If you are creating art, don’t be self-important. You’re not special and you’re probably not that good.  I have to tell myself this all the time. Every now and then, someone flatters me with praise. It’s nice to hear, but the day you start believing that stuff, you’re done. Before you know it, you’re lecturing people on how to make art like I’m doing now. I’m so ashamed.  I’m the last person who should be giving advice.  You should see my apartment. It’s like Hooverville for roaches in here.

Liz: I want to say THANK YOU for taking the time to chat with me. I cannot wait to see what’s next!

Onur: Thank you, Liz.  It’s an honor answering your great questions!

 
Starring Max Casella, Trieste Kelly Dunn, Jennifer Prediger, Onur Tukel, and Dylan Baker
The Disturbingly Riotous Tale of Secrets, Lies and Severed Body Parts Comes to VOD and EST Digital on November 24, 2015

Liz’s Review: Vengeance and Religion drive the fight in ‘REDEEMER’

Redeemer posterGuilt is a loud devil on your shoulder. The past can drive you mad or drive you to change… sometimes a little bit of both. In Ernesto Diaz Espinoza‘s new film REDEEMER, a man known only by this title is a mysterious figure, righting wrongs among his small Chilean community. Tortured by an unthinkable past that is slowly revealed as the film progresses, The Redeemer must conquer his own ghosts in order to battle the biggest evil he has ever known. Can he protect those left behind? redeemer 2Marko Zaror, martial arts action star extraordinaire, takes on the lead with ease and ownership. Not only is his acting pretty damn stellar, he is also the fight coordinator for the film’s vast array of sequences that are enhanced by key moments of slow motion. These sequences are extremely long and well shot. It was mostly refreshing to see an organic quality about the battles. They are interesting and definitely full of surprises. My favorite aspect would definitely be the use of graphic blood splatter. Reading like a first person shooter game, the blood use is colorful, impactful, and sometimes just over-the-top enough to make you cringe at the perfect moments. redeemer 1The dialogue is creative and comic relief comes in the form of our only English speaking character, drug lord Bradock, Noah Segan, who I recognized from Deadgirl, is so natural in his comedy it should be against the law.  He was actually my favorite part of the film. Segan has 8 projects this year alone, including Tales of Halloween with Lin Shaye (Insidious) and Booboo Stewart (The Twilight Saga), as well as The Mind’s Eye with Larry Fessenden (We Are Still Here). This guy is around for the long hall. Bottom line, if you liked Netflix’s Daredevil season 1, Redeemer will resonate with you. While it could be about 10-15 minutes tighter, due to the extended fight scenes, this film is definitely worth a shot.

Acclaimed Chilean director Ernesto Diaz Espinoza (Mandrill, The ABCs of Death, Kiltro) teams up again with martial arts action star Marko Zaror (Undisputed III, Machete Kills) in the theatrical and VOD release of REDEEMER. The epic action film, which made its debut at the 2014 Fantastic Film Festival, hits theaters and VOD on June 12 from Dark Sky Films.

Check out the hauntingly cool poster for ‘We Are Still Here’ in Theaters & VOD June 5th

Poster.WASHTheatricalHot off the heels of a hugely successful festival run, Dark Sky Films is proud to announce the theatrical and VOD release of Ted Geoghegan’s directorial debut, WE ARE STILL HERE.  Featuring a dream cast of genre film veterans, WE ARE STILL HERE hits theaters and VOD on June 5, 2015.

After the death of their college age son, Anne and Paul Sacchetti (Barbara Crampton and Andrew Sensenig) relocate to the snowswept New England hamlet of Aylesbury, a sleepy village where all is most certainly not as it seems. When strange sounds and eerie feelings convince Anne that her son’s spirit is still with them, they invite an eccentric, New Age couple (Larry Fessenden and Lisa Marie) to help them get to the bottom of the mystery.

They discover that not only are the house’s first residents, the vengeful Dagmar family, still there – but so is an ancient power. A primal darkness slumbers under the old home, waking up every thirty years and demanding the fresh blood of a new family.

An altogether new take on the haunted house genre that deftly mixes human drama and comedy, WE ARE STILL HERE is a couple’s terrifying journey through darkness and loss set against the freezing New England winter.

WE ARE STILL HERE 
Directed by Ted Geoghegan

Produced by Travis Stevens, Greg Newman, Malik B. Ali, Badie Ali, Hamza Ali 

Cast: Barbara Crampton, Andrew Sensenig, Lisa Marie, 

Larry Fessenden, Monte Markham   

TRT: 84 minutes
Country: USA
Language: English
Genre: Horror
WHAT THE CRITICS ARE SAYING… 
“genre fans with a sense of history should make this entertaining chiller a sought-after item for midnight slots” – VARIETY

 “The spirit of horror maestro Lucio Fulci is alive and well in Ted Geoghegan’s wildly entertaining haunted house thriller..” – INDIEWIRE

 “Geoghegan establishes what seems to be a simple haunted house set-up but adds complications which make the outcome less predictable.” – SCREEN INTERNATIONAL 

“We Are Still Here works on multiple levels; new horror fans will enjoy the thrills and chills, while experienced horror nuts will delight in the clever twists on an old formula. It doesn’t shy away from more extreme imagery, but its true intention is to unsettle and surprise, which it does quite well.” – FANDANGO

“A Refreshing Yet Disturbing Thriller” – TWITCH FILM