Review: “BECKY” is a scary little girl.

SYNOPSIS: Spunky and rebellious, Becky (Lulu Wilson) is brought to a weekend getaway at a lake house by her father Jeff (Joel McHale) in an effort to try to reconnect after her mother’s death. The trip immediately takes a turn for the worse when a group of convicts on the run, led by the merciless Dominick (Kevin James), suddenly invade the lake house.

A grieving and angst-ridden preteen must save her family from a group of escaped, white supremacist prisoners in search of a hidden artifact. This film is about loss but also pure, unadulterated rage. Kevin James is unrecognizable as pure evil. His tattooed physique and manipulative dialogue are so upsetting. I can honestly say, “Bravo” to the casting directors for taking a chance on him. I’m hoping it will open new avenues in his career.  Lulu Wilson as Becky is next level. The pent up anger and fear have to go somewhere. Why not into a murderous revenge self-defense act? She is a perfect balance of age-appropriate and goddamn sociopath. Put her in all the things. She could be our next genre darling. 

The script allows her an outlet with help from what she finds around her. Think Home Alone clever but add actual permanent injury and/or death. The kills are straight-up savage and I am here for it. The climactic practical effect is gruesome and great. While the script still feels like something is missing ( I don’t know if there’s a sequel planned) Becky is incredibly strong in pacing and phenomenal on the action.

**World Premiere and Official Selection – Tribeca Film Festival 2020**

Quiver Distribution will release the thriller BECKY On Demand and Digital on June 5, 2020.

 

BECKY WILL SCREEN AT THE BELOW THEATERS & DRIVE-INS ON JUNE 5TH:
IOWA: Superior 71 Drive-In, Blue Grass Drive-In
INDIANA: Garrett Drive-In, Tri Way 4 Drive-In
KENTUCKY: Regency 8
MASSACHUSETTS: Mendon Twin Drive-In
MINNESOTA: Long Drive-In
NORTH CAROLINA: Hounds Drive-In, Raleigh Road Drive-In, Badin Road Drive-In, Eden Drive-In
NEW HAMPSHIRE: Milford Drive-In 2
NEW JERSEY: Delsea Drive-In
NEW YORK: Transit Drive-In, Silver Lakes Drive-In, Sunset 3 Drive-In, Vintage Drive-In, Delevan Twin Drive-In
OHIO: Mayfield Road Drive-In, Skyway Drive-In, South Drive-In Twin, Tiffin Drive-In, Starview Drive-In, Springmill Drive-In, Magic City Twin Drive-In, Van-Del Drive-In, Dixie Drive-In, Aut-O-Rama Twin Drive-In, Elm Road Triple Drive-In, Field of Dreams Drive-In
OKLAHOMA: Tower Drive-In
PENNSYLVANIA: Garden Drive-In, Circle Drive-In, Comet Twin Drive-In, Kane Family Drive-In, Riverside Drive-In, Silver Drive-In, Skyview Twin Drive-In
SOUTH CAROLINA: Hi-Way 21 Drive-In
TENNESSEE: Stardust Drive-In
WISCONSIN: Stardust Drive-In

 

Review: ‘Blood Machines’ a cyberpunk fantasy, now available on AMC’s Shudder.

Synopsis:
Two space hunters are tracking down a machine trying to free itself. After taking it down, they witness a mystical phenomenon: the ghost of a young woman pulls itself out of the machine as if the spaceship had a soul. Trying to understand the nature of this entity, they start chasing the woman through space.

Inspired by the spirit of the 80’s films and music, BLOOD MACHINES is a 50-minute, sci-fi horror mind-melter told in three chapters, scored by acclaimed and reclusive French synth-wave artist Carpenter Brut, and expanded from their music video of their track Turbo Killer. Starring Elisa Lasowski, Anders Heinrichsen and Noémie Stevens, written and directed by Seth Ickerman.

 

Chapter One:
Mima

This episode is so visually spectacular from the get-go, I exclaimed, “Whaaaaatttt” as soon as I spotted the first spacecraft. The sets are something akin to Star Wars, a video game, and a graphic novel. Great costumes and props add to this lived-in world. It has a solid 80’s vibe and yet it’s still completely timeless. If you don’t want to keep watching as the screen goes black, I will be flabbergasted.

Chapter Two:
Corey

This episode picks up exactly where Mima left off. The attention to detail in the cinematography is hypnotizing. The color choices are rad as hell. But it’s the plot that sneaks up on you in earnest here. The definition of a soul is prominently questioned, as is the psychosexual dynamic between the characters.

Chapter Three:
Tracy

This episode plays upon the many dimensions of the female psyche. The power of sensuality, protective nature, and empathy, and exploration. The visual juxtaposition between scenes is glorious. Wait until you see the climactic choreography. It will blow your mind.

Blood Machines is something entirely unique. While it is meant to invoke a conversation about “man” meeting machine and all the complexities that come with that ever-expanding A.I. issue, out of context it’s a very feminist film. As a woman viewing this magical creation, it made me feel vindicated and more kickass than usual.  It will rock you and entertain to no end. Writer-director Seth Ickerman has given the audience an intelligent and thoughtful piece of sci-fi. Carpenter Brut’s score is intoxicating. I would play that on a loop if given the chance. Genre fans will beg for more. I’m asking, nay imploring, that this story get expanded (AGAIN) in any form. It’s brilliant.

About SETH ICKERMAN:
Raphaël Hernandez and Savitri Joly-Gonfard are two French directors, working for 10 years under the pseudonym of Seth Ickerman. Known for their production design and art direction skillset, Raphaël and Savitri collaborated on various commercials for companies such as LG, Ubisoft, and Samsung. In 2016, they directed the hit music video Turbo Killer in 2016 for Carpenter Brut. 
About CARPENTER BRUT:
Carpenter Brut draws its influences from 80s TV shows and B-movies loaded with synthesizers. The mysterious and discreet man behind the pentagon – or the Brutagram as his fans would call it – evokes an encounter between Justice beats and the universe of John Carpenter. Listening to his home-made EPs, however, one would rather bet on a metalhead background, a crush for Dario Argento, and a force-fed religious education. This would explain his penchant for the occult, his passion for kitsch sounds, and his adoration for all kinds of enjoyment.
Carpenter Brut pays tribute to the post-hippie/pre-AIDS culture that then set the basis of electro and metal to give us a unique, violent, and crazy 80s revival sound.

 

Tribeca Film Festival 2020 review: Angela Bettis clocks in for ’12 Hour Shift’

It’s 1998 and over the course of one 12 Hour Shift at an Arkansas Hospital, A Junkie Nurse (Angela Bettis), Her Scheming Cousin (Chloe Farnworth) and a group of black market Organ-Trading criminals (Mick Foley, David Arquette, Dusty Warren) start a heist that could lead to all of their demises.

Angela Bettis is horror royalty in my book. Watching her interpret Brea Grant’s script is heaven. During this uncertain, weird, and exhausting time in our history, watching an overworked nurse with vices for days adds an extra element of terrifying WTF. Bettis is a revelation. The weight of desperation and the constant barrage of emotional abuse is palpable. It is written on her face. There is so much backstory bubbling under the surface. I would watch an entire series developed from 12 Hour Shift. (Hint, Hint)

The opening scene is divine in establishing the attitude of Bettis’ character. It’s a symphonic white trash word vomit. The attention detail of Y2K paranoia and the late ’90’s in general land perfectly between over-the-top and completely legit. If you lived through it, you’ll laugh and nod. But it’s the delicious moral dilemma that Grant has given us that keeps your eyes glued to the screen. We’re definitely rooting for bad over worse and it is fun as hell. The climax is so batshit crazy it’s like watching a ping-pong tournament; super fast and just as fantastically absurd. Performances all around are stellar. Practical FX are gagworthy and wonderful. The final scene is actually the most frightening. Brea Grant, I’ll be looking forward to a sequel to 12 Hour Shift, ASAP.

Review: Murder and mayhem prevail in ‘Why Don’t You Just Die’, now available on Digital HD and Blu-ray.

Synopsis:   Matvey has just one objective: to gain entry to his girlfriend’s parents’ apartment and kill her father Andrey with a hammer to restore her honor. But all is not as it initially seems, and Matvey’s attempts to bludgeon the family patriarch to death don’t quite go to plan as Andrey proves a more formidable – not to mention ruthless – opponent than he anticipated… and Matvey, for his part, proves stubbornly unwilling to die.

Hypersaturated colors and super creative camera work makes this film incredibly stunning in its own right. Add in some awesome sound editing and superb fight choreography, Why Don’t You Just Die! is a hell of a good time. Did I neglect to say it’s also hilarious? Yeah, it’s hilarious. What essentially starts as a battle royale between a father and his daughter’s boyfriend becomes one of the coolest films of the year so far. It has a very Pulp Fiction vibe in its nonlinear storytelling. It’s truly brilliant. You will not be able to predict what’s coming next. The amount of fake blood they must have purchased for this film, I cannot even imagine. Performances are wonderful all around. Writer, director, editor Kirill Sokolov kills (no pun intended) every aspect of this film. Each facet of this film is slightly augmented bringing it to another level of greatness. I cannot wait for people to see this. It is a beautifully twisted version of justice. Take a look at the trailer for a taste of the blood-soaked dark comedy that is Why Don’t You Just Die!

Arrow Video is releasing the film on Digital HD on April 20th and April 21st on Blu-ray.

Why Don’t You Just Die!: Russian w/ English subs / 95 min

Why Don’t You Just Die! has received critical acclaim from festivals around the globe, taking home the New Flesh Award for Best First Feature and Silver Audience Award at Fantasia, Best European Feature Film at MOTELx, Best Director at Fantaspoa, Best Feature, Best Director and Best VFX Awards at Grimmfest.

 

Review: ‘The Other Lamb’ will haunt and hypnotize.

THE OTHER LAMB
A girl born into an all-female cult led by a man in their compound begins to question his teachings and her own reality.

The Other Lamb relies, almost entirely, on the abilities of Raffey Cassidy and Michiel Huisman. These two could have a film of their own. You will find yourself yearning for more once the credits roll. So many questions remain, and I do mean that as a compliment. The intensity brought by both these actors adds to the eerie nature of the plot. There is a visceral pull that makes you keep watching even as you are horrified by the subject matter. A film about abusive misogyny and subversive female empowerment in the strangest of circumstance equals brilliant storytelling in my book.

The vivid cinematography makes for a stunning viewing experience on its own. Add in the chilling screenplay, engrossing editing, and breathtaking performances from the almost entirely female cast and you have a gorgeous portrait of brainwashing and inevitable betrayal. The Other Lamb has an otherworldly feel. It will make your skin crawl as it grips your body entirely with its storytelling.

Below you will find a clip that very beautifully illustrates the mood of The Other Lamb.

The film comes to your screen today April 10th. Check out the trailer below.

THE OTHER LAMB– A FILM BY MALGORZATA SZUMOWSKA
Written by Catherine S. McMullen
Starring Raffey Cassidy (Vox Lux, The Killing of a Sacred Deer),
Michiel Huisman (The Invitation, Game of Thrones), Denise Gough (Colette)
About Director MALGORZATA SZUMOWSKA

Born in Kraków, Małgorzata Szumowska is one of the most prominent Polish directors of today. Szumowska has been honored with several international awards, including the Teddy Award for IN THE NAME OF at the 2013 Berlin Film Festival and the Silver Leopard Award for 33 SCENES FROM LIFE at the 2008 Locarno Film festival. Her film, ELLES (2011), featuring Juliette Binoche and Anaïs Demoustier, was sold to over 40 countries. BODY (2015) won the Silver Bear for Best Director at the 65th Berlinale and her film, MUG (2018), was awarded the Grand Jury Prize at Berlinale. Szumowska’s latest film, THE OTHER LAMB, a 2017 Black List script starring Denise Gough, Raffey Cassidy, and Michiel Huisman debuted at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival and will open in April courtesy of IFC Films.

Review: Playing upon the superstitious nature of sailors, ‘SEA FEVER’ pits science against unfounded fear and pride. 

SYNOPSIS: Siobhán’s a marine biology student who prefers spending her days alone in a lab. She has to endure a week on a ragged fishing trawler, where she’s miserably at odds with the close-knit crew. But out in the deep Atlantic, an unfathomable life form ensnares the boat. When members of the crew succumb to a strange infection, Siobhán must overcome her alienation and anxiety to win the crew’s trust, before everyone is lost.

The open ocean intimidates the hell out of me since my biggest fear is drowning. Am I afraid of walking under ladders and breaking mirrors? Guilty. Have I grown up to believe in fairy tales and old wives’ tales? Absolutely. Does my very own sister work in the maritime industry? You’re catching on here. Sea Fever exists to torment me.

Hermione Corfield plays Siobhán, a Ph.D. student placed on a fishing boat for her studies. What she lacks in interpersonal skills, she makes up for in brains and intuition. Battling the folklore of the sailors on board, she is faced with a creature of unknown origins that has an agenda of its own. The cast has instant chemistry and the setting of a confined and creaking ship makes for a skin-crawling experience on its own. Adding a “sea monster” element and all that comes with it makes for both a tragic and truly terrifying viewing experience. You will live in the claustrophobia of the scenario. The sound editing and cinematography combined with a cast doing complete justice to writer/director Neasa Hardiman‘s script is the perfect storm for scary.

Gunpowder & Sky, via their sci-fi label DUST, will release SEA FEVER  on Digital April 10, 2020. 

SEA FEVER stars Hermione Corfield (Star Wars: The Last JediMission Impossible: Rogue Nation), Connie Nielsen (Wonder Woman 1984, Gladiator), and Dougray Scott (Batwoman, Mission Impossible 2), and is the feature debut from BAFTA-winning director/writer Neasa Hardiman (Happy Valley, Jessica Jones).

Review: ‘We Summon The Darkness’ makes satanic panic rock.

On the way to a heavy metal concert, Alexis (Alexandra Daddario) and two girlfriends hear a news report of a local murder believed to be tied to a series of satanic killings. After the show, the girls invite three guys to join them at the estate owned by Alexis’s father, a fire-and-brimstone preacher (Johnny Knoxville). What starts as a party suddenly turns dark and deadly in this devilishly entertaining thriller.

The amazing connection between heavy metal music and satanic worship in the ’80s is exploited to it’s fullest and most awesome extent in We Summon The Darkness. This film flips the script on the typical slasher film. Not only does it challenge religious extremism, but it puts the power in the hands of our three female leads. While we’re used to a final girl, this script does what few did back in the day. Some of my favorite genres films A Girl Walks Home Alone A Night and High Tension, take female characters that would otherwise seem the victim and make them the antagonist. We Summon The Darkness splits the difference.

The chemistry between Alexandra Daddario and Maddie Hasson is off the charts cool. You’ll find yourself rooting for something you never thought you would because it’s entertaining as hell, no pun intended. The kills are fun, which always sounds weird no matter how much horror I consume. We also get everything 80’s you ever wanted, iconic tunes, over-the-top decor, bitchin’ cars, big hair, and cocaine. It’s no surprise that with a team of Marc Meyers and Alan Trezza, We Summon The Darkness has, at the very least, sequel potential.

Saban Films will release the horror/thriller WE SUMMON THE DARKNESS on VOD and Digital HD on April 10, 2020.

WE SUMMON THE DARKNESS stars Alexandra Daddario (Baywatch, San Andreas), Johnny Knoxville (Bad Grandpa, Jackass), Keean Johnson (Midway), Maddie Hasson (“Impulse”), Logan Miller (Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse), Amy Forsyth (Hell Fest) and Austin Swift (Live by Night).  The film is directed by Marc Meyers (My Friend Dahmer) from a script by Alan Trezza (Burying the Ex).

Review: Karma is a real killer in ‘The Dare’, On-Demand and VOD now.

Synopsis: When a childhood prank goes wrong, four strangers are forced to relive a cruel game at the hands of a masked psychopath.

Torture porn at it’s finest, The Dare is genuinely gagworthy in its practical FX. Without reading the synopsis, the film’s full plot doesn’t reveal itself until halfway through. This allows you to become invested in the mystery and backstory of how a killer was created. A little bit of the Saw franchise sprinkled in, The Dare is absolutely terrifying.

The Dare has an insanely talented ensemble cast. Starring Bart Edwards (The Witcher), Richard Brake (Rob Zombie’s 31, 3 From Hell), Richard Short (American Horror Story, Arthur & Merlin: Knights of Camelot), Alexandra Evans (London Fields, Redistributors), Robert Maaser (Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, 1917), Harry Jarvis (The Knight Before Christmas, Proven Innocent), Devora Wilde (The Tombs, False Witness), and Emily Haigh (Horizon). Performances from each cast member are riveting and fully fleshed out.

Brainwashing, abuse, cruelty, all make The Dare as brutal and compelling as it is. Just when you think you can’t take it anymore, the narrative switches up. As more is revealed your perspective rapidly changes. That’s solid writing. You will need to get to the end and you won’t know who you’re rooting for until the final moments. And if I’m being nit-picky, speaking of the very final moment, it is a bit unbelievable and trope-tastic, but hey, suspension of disbelief. After all the trauma the viewer has been through at that point, let it go. Write/Director Giles Alderson gives genre audiences what they paid for.  The film is genuine heart-pounding, white-knuckled, madness.

 

The Horror Collective’s latest release, the award-winning horror film The Dare, has now been released and is available to watch on VOD and digital platforms! The film, which was produced by Millennium Media (Hellboy, Shut In, Rambo Last Blood) and is being distributed by The Horror Collective, will also have a limited, one-night release in theaters on March 6th, 2020.

The Dare had its world premiere at Ft. Lauderdale, FL’s Popcorn Frights Film Festival where it received the Audience Award for Best Feature Film.

Santa Barbara International Film Festival 2020 review: The world premiere of ‘The Night’ is as captivating as it is terrifying.

Kourosh Ahari’s THE NIGHT
The Iranian-American Ahari makes a startling feature directorial debut with a stylish psychological thriller about a young couple trapped in a mysterious hotel that hungers for their secrets and may not release them or their child back into the world. The film stars Shahab Hosseini (star of A SEPARATION and THE SALESMAN).

What a knock out world premiere for director Kourosh Ahari. Beautifully lush cinematography (including some early haunting POV shots) props up the richness of The Night. The score adds a layer or jarring dread that is simply gorgeous. While the script skillfully utilizes a number of classic tropes, it is also stacked with a multitude of original imagery that unnerves the viewer from the very beginning. I was thrown for a loop more times than I can count. The heightened sound editing also pushes The Night into next-level scary. The plot will have you questioning your own sanity. Is this a dispute between exhausted new parents? Is this an alcohol-induced hallucination? Or is this hotel housing unwanted guests?

Performances are so strong you will quickly forget that the film is predominantly in Farsi. As Parasite director Boon Jong-Ho so eloquently stated at this year’s Golden Globes, “Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.” This is the most important quote in cinema right now. Kourosh Ahari’s THE NIGHT is a heart-pounding and twisted watch. Santa Barbara International Film Festival is lucky to host its world premiere. This film should be on every genre fan’s radar this year.

WORLD PREMIERE – SATURDAY, JANUARY 18

Review: ‘The Sonata’ has a script and score to die for.

Synopsis: After being informed of the sudden death of her long lost composer father (Rutger Hauer), a young virtuoso violinist Rose (Freya Tingley) inherits an old mansion in which he used to live. There, she discovers her father’s final work: a mysterious music score marked with strange symbols. With the help of Charles (Simon Abkarian), her agent and manager, she deciphers the symbols and, little by little, starts to unlock secrets concerning her father’s past, setting in motion the mechanisms of a somber plan imagined since the very day she was born. They soon discover that there’s more to the sonata in question than meets the eye which, when played, triggers and unleashes dark and terrifying forces

When first-person horror video game POV camera work ramped up the discomfort and intrigue even before the titles appear, I was fully immersed in The Sonata. What an interesting choice for a film that only utilizes this mechanism once. I had no idea what I was in for next. What I got, what unexpected and wonderful. Music is a character in this film. The score is as powerful an entity as any actor. Bravo to composer Alexis Maingaud. The Sonata has stunning cinematography. The shots are incredibly thoughtful. The lighting is haunting, perhaps even reminiscent of a Guillermo Del Toro film. The sets are simply breathtaking. The script is complex and thoroughly engrossing with Davinci Code-like intricacies. You appreciate that doom seems inevitable but you are genuinely glued to the screen. Performances, across the board, are magnificent, including the late, great Rutger Hauer. The Sonata is a masterpiece of genre filmmaking.

The Sonataprominently features Rutger Hauer in one of his last on-screen roles. Co-written and directed by Andrew Desmond, the film also stars Freya Tingley (Hemlock Grove, The Spinning Man) and Simon Abkarian (Casino Royale), and was co-written by Arthur Morin. The film marks Desmond’s feature directorial debut. Screen Media will release the film in theaters and on demand January 10th.

BHFF 2019 review: ‘This Is Our Home’ proves grief is a ghost that haunts eternal.

THIS IS OUR HOME

USA | 2019 | 73 Min | Dir. Omri Dorani

A struggling couple’s weekend getaway goes awry when a child arrives in the middle of the night claiming to be their son.

Grief carries a power that is beyond our understanding. It can be all-consuming or a numbness. Each person deals with it in a very personal way. When couples lose a child, the statical chances of them remaining in that relationship drop dramatically. Grief changes who you are. This Is Our Home plays upon the fragility of this concept. Grief never leaves you.

The uneasy dread comes into the script immediately. An old colonial home in the middle of nowhere is a great place for fear to live. Add a locked door? Yup. I wanna open it knowing full well that’s a terrible idea because obviously bad things hide behind it. But don’t we always want what we can’t have?

Performances are incredibly natural. The chemistry between Simone Policano and Jeff Ayars is magic. The sound editing brings This Is Our Home into another terrifying realm. Brooklyn Horror Film Festival goers must have had an extra visceral experience in a theater. I will fully admit that I covered my eyes and got chills more than once. I had no idea what would be coming next and it scared the shit out of me. There are some truly startling scenarios that will keep you hanging on, every single second with your heart pounding. Beautifully framed and stunningly scored, This Is Our Home proves that if we’re not very careful, grief can consume us permanently.

BHFF 2019 review: ‘A Night of Horror: Nightmare Radio’ makes short films its frightening focus.

A NIGHT OF HORROR: NIGHTMARE RADIO

North American Premiere
Argentina, New Zealand | 2019 | 100 Min | Dir. Luciano and Nicolás Onetti, Sergio Morcillo, Joshua Long, Jason Bognacki, Adam O´Brien, Matt Richards, A.J. Briones, Pablo S. Pastor and Oliver Park.

As the host of a popular horror-themed radio show, disc jockey Rod shares tales of terror with his eager listeners, and although this particular night is no different, there’s also the unexpected wrinkles of alarming calls from a scared-to-death child. How that all ties together is part of the magic behind A NIGHT OF HORROR: NIGHTMARE RADIO, an anthology constructed by Argentinian duo Nicolas and Luciano Onetti, who’ve assembled an impressive lineup of recent festival-touring horror shorts to deliver a refreshingly unique new kind of omnibus. —Matt Barone

 

Visually delicious from every angle. It’s like a beautiful love letter to horror fans. Directors Nicolas and Luciano Onetti have gathered some of the buzziest horror shorts from the festival circuit to create a brilliant feature film. Each short is magnificent in story and genuinely bone-chilling. Our radio host Rod, played cooly and nonchalantly by James Wright, is essentially a more attractive Crypt Keeper. Telling stories and taking calls all while checking the time religiously. He’s a bit of an enigma but we can tell he is on edge during this particular broadcast. Rod’s tales deal with something for everyone; body horror, lore, possession, demons, trauma, monsters, urban legends and everything else terrifying in-between. While we enjoy his stories, our man Rod is wrestling with his own nightmare. The practical effects make-up and the scores are all top-notch. This is a special film. Highlighting great horror shorts in such a genuinely unique, scary way is brilliant.  A Night Of Horror: Nightmare Radio is a hell of a crowd-pleasing film for Brooklyn Horror Film Festival.

Review: ‘PORTALS’ is basically a genre-bending mindf*ck.

On August 5th 2020, an undisclosed research facility successfully creates the world’s first active black hole…Shortly after a cosmic disruption occurs triggering a series of world-wide blackouts; after which millions of mysterious, reality-altering, Portal-like anomalies appear everywhere and anywhere across the planet. While many flee from the sentient objects, the real terror sets in as people are drawn toward and into them.

 

Portals is a genre-bending anthology featuring three internationally connected stories told from four visionary filmmakers’ perspectives as the cosmic events unfold within the first few days. The action quickly kicks off with our wrap-around story following Adam and his family on their way to his mother-in-law’s house during the blackouts and reports of missing persons..during the road trip their SUV barrels directly into an Anomaly that suddenly appears in the middle of a desolate road. He later wakes up in a mysterious hospital suffering from optic nerve damage and is given an experimental eye transplant that links itself directly to the anomalies. With a determination to be reunited with his family; Adam soon discovers the hospital has cosmic secrets of its own.

Incredibly effective CG mixed with a mass hysteria mystery makes Portals beyond entertaining. The film’s pace makes you uneasy immediately. It’s quite impressive. The play on parental emotions and survival instinct keeps you on the edge. I NEEDED to know how this was all going to play out. The cast is magnificent. The multiple narrative styles fit perfectly into this genre-bending film. While the third selection between two sisters feels a bit too long, it shifts the genre dynamic. To what? I’m not quite sure, but it still has me invested because it is moving the plot forward. The physical portals themselves look like massive, high tech flat-screen televisions. The digital effects they utilize on the screens are cool and you learn very quickly somehow connected to the story. As the plot twists and turns, Portals has an almost dizzying effect. It would be a phenomenal miniseries. It’s a lot of information to explore in a single film. I try to go into a film without reading much about it first. Once I realized that this was actually an anthology, I was all the more impressed. The quality of writing flows through each separate selection as does production for continuity, obviously. But I was blown away by the risks these writers and directors took to feature different perspectives in the same way individuals having “the same experience” internationally. When all is said and done, Portals begs for a sequel. If not, then an entire series. There is a ton of story left to tell and I am here for it all.

In Theaters and On Demand October 25

Directed by Eduardo Sanchez (The Blair Witch Project, Exists)Gregg Hale (V/H/S 2), Timo Tjahjanto (The Night Comes For Us, Headshot), and Liam O’Donnell (Beyond Skyline)

Starring Neil Hopkins (“Lost”), Deanna Russo (Burning Love, Knight Rider), Gretchen Lodge (Lovely Molly), Natacha Gott (After the Dark), Phet Mahathongdy (Skyline), Ptolemy Slocum (“Westworld”), and Salvita Decorte (The Night Comes For Us)

Produced by Brad Miska and creator Chris White alongside BoulderLight Pictures’ J.D. Lifshitz and Raphael Margules, and Pigrat Productions’ Alyssa and Griffin Devine

BHFF 2019 review: ‘The Shed’ wows at first sold out screening.

THE SHED

North American Premiere
USA | 2019 | 99 Min | Dir. Frank Sabatella

Stan, Roxy and Dommer are lifelong friends whose bond is being tested by the ever-taxing rigors of high school. For Stan and Dommer, in particular, the daily bullying they encounter comes in second only to watching Roxy’s popularity grow, and, in turn, her closeness to them dissipate. But there’s an unexpected possible solution to their problems in Stan’s backyard: a nondescript-looking toolshed, which houses something inhuman. Centered around the unlikeliest of villains, Frank Sabatella’s THE SHED takes what could have been a gore-drenched monster movie romp and layers it with potent coming-of-age anxiety and youth-in-crisis urgency. Don’t worry, though: There’s still carnage aplenty. —Matt Barone

Awesomely jarring nightmares, a killer soundtrack, combined with insanely good performances by the entire cast makes for a fantastic indie horror. There is more than face value to The Shed. Yes, there is a sick monster and buckets of blood, but all that aside the film speaks to much bigger issues. Our lead Stan has all the makings of a kid that’s about to lose it on society. He lost his parents, he’s in the custody of an abusive grandfather, he gets bullied at school. Stan and best friend Dommer are just trying to survive high school.

The cyclical nature of abuse and bullying is statistically proven. The Shed utilizes classic movie monster canon as a metaphorical weapon rather than making Stan another school shooter cliche. It’s a unique commentary on the kids that are far too often ignored. What happens when these kids taste power? The lines are quickly and easily blurred when revenge seems like the sweetest option. The Shed is a surprising and one of a kind film. It’s a hell of a sophomore venture from Frank Sabatella. Even though the two screenings at Brooklyn Horror Film Festival already sold out, RLJE will be releasing it soon. Do not miss this when it comes to theaters in November.

The film will open in cinemas and on VOD nationwide from RLJE on November 15th.

 THE SHED is written and directed by Frank Sabatella, and stars Jay Jay Warren, Cody Kostro, Sofia Happonen, Frank Whaley, Timothy Bottoms, and Siobhan Fallon Hogan. It is produced by Peter Block and Cory Neal.

Color

English Language

98 Minutes

Not Rated

Review: ‘Depraved’ reminds us who the real monsters are.

The legend of Frankenstein gets a provocative modern update in the stylishly disturbing new film from indie horror master Larry Fessenden. Suffering from PTSD following his stint as an army medic, Henry (David Call) now works feverishly in his Brooklyn laboratory to forget the death he witnessed overseas by creating life in the form of a man cobbled together from body parts. After procuring a brain from an unwitting victim, his creation—Adam (Alex Breaux)—is born. But it soon seems that giving life to Adam was the easy part; teaching him how to live in a dark and troubled world may be perilous. A complex, emotionally shattering tale about what it means to be human, Depraved brings Mary Shelley’s immortal fable fully into the 21st century.

 

Like Mary Shelley‘s novel, as you watch Depraved, you immediately realize that our Dr. Frankenstein character is the monster and not his creation. The emotional connection in this script is what engrosses you from the very beginning. It explores the good, the bad, and definitely the ugly of the human condition.

Performances are out of this world. David Call as Henry is exceedingly ambitious. He easily flips from hopeful excitement to an underlying irrational rage, fueled by military PTSD. As a mother, it’s like watching myself teaching my toddlers, especially when I’ve reached my mental and emotional limits. Joshua Leonard as Polidori is the diabolical shit starter that propels the insanity to the next level. Alex Breaux as Adam is captivating. His vulnerability is literally a head to toe performance. These men give us a complex dynamic that is undeniably intense and brilliant. Director Larry Fessenden has created something spectacular in every way. Depraved is easily one of my favorite films of 2019.

The overall editing of Depraved is a masterclass unto itself. Utilization of flashbacks fills in the backstory gaps. The visual overlays of synapses firing are truly effective. We become Adam. It is damn near perfect. The special effects make-up is striking. The sound editing is hypnotizing and the score is breathtaking. Fessenden has given us a complex character study that subtly shines a light on issues from big pharma to the treatment of our veterans and beyond. It is a story about moral corruptibility at its finest. You will be left in awe. Depraved is a modern-day, movie monster masterpiece.

 In Theaters September 13

Directed and Written by Larry Fessenden (The Last Winter, Until Dawn, Habit)
Starring David Call (“The Sinner”), Joshua Leonard (The Blair Witch Project), Alex Breaux (“When They See Us”), Addison Timlin (Odd Thomas, Fallen), Maria Dizzia (“Orange Is The New Black,” “13 Reasons Why”)

Review: ‘TONE-DEAF’ kills it in these brutal times.

 

After losing her job and imploding her latest dysfunctional relationship, Olive (Amanda Crew) flees the city for the weekend, escaping to the countryside for some peace and self-reflection.  She rents an ornate country house from an eccentric widower named Harvey (Robert Patrick).  Soon two generations collide with terrifying results as Olive awakens Harvey’s homicidal tendencies and is plunged into a blood-soaked fight for her life.  More than your average slasher film, TONE-DEAF provides a dark critique of the bizarre cultural and political climate that currently exists.

This spectacularly weird and wonderful film has some of the most biting humor and solid scares. Tone-Deaf is left vs. right, generational romp through madness. The music is in your face and perfect. The script is frankly, shocking. I did not see many of the twists coming and damn, is that refreshing. The hyper Millenial stereotypes show up as modern art fever dreams for our terrifying antagonist, Harvey. Elaborate sets and repeat framing create the illusion that you will be able to predict certain tropes, but you’re dead wrong.

Amanda Crew as Olive is absolutely hilarious in her sense of entitlement and charm. She delivers this dialogue like one who has had to sit through brunch surrounded by girls whose Instagram is life. She is fabulous. Robert Patrick, who always brings to mind a bit of evil from his iconic T2 role, is balls to the wall amazing as the Baby Boomer off his proverbial rocker. As much blood as we see in this film, honest to God, the most startling thing is when Patrick’s character breaks the fourth wall. I was unsure at first if I was seeing what I was seeing, but the monologue lasts long enough for you to realize your perception as a viewer has been skewered. I was genuinely uncomfortable and dammit, I’m a Gen Xer. Writer/Director Richard Bates, Jr. has not only nailed the eccentricities of these two generations but lights a fire under the ass of the audience with quippy dialogue and carefully placed gore (yes, that’s a thing).  Tone-Deaf is undeniably fun and fresh.

Saban Films will release TONE-DEAF in theaters and On Demand on August 23, 2019.

TONE-DEAF is written and directed by Richard Bates, Jr. (Trash Fire, Suburban Gothic), and stars Robert Patrick (“Scorpion,” Terminator 2: Judgment Day), Amanda Crew (“Silicon Valley,” The Age of Adaline), Kim Delaney (“Chicago Fire,” “NYPD Blue”), AnnaLynne McCord (Fired Up!, “90210”), Keisha Castle-Hughes (“Game of Thrones,” Whale Rider), Hayley Marie Norman (I Am the Night, “Lonely and Horny”), and Ray Wise (“Fresh Off the Boat,” “Twin Peaks”).

Fantasia International Film Festival 2019 review: DREADOUT plays well on the big screen.

Jessica, Beni, Dian, Alex, Erik, and Linda want to increase their popularity through recording their adventures to upload to their social media accounts. They chose to go to an abandoned apartment famous for its awesomeness. Linda manages to persuade Kang Heri, security guard, to enter the apartment. Linda and friends found one apartment unit which is given a police line. Encouraged by curiosity, they brake down the door of the apartment unit. When they are researching the room, they find an old parchment, which only Linda could read. After Linda reads the writing on the parchment, suddenly a portal open. Inadvertently Linda and her friends have opened the door to the magical world and anger the portal guardian supernatural creatures.

Those crazy teenagers. Always opening the gates to other worlds. DREADOUT had its North American premiere last night at Fantasia International Film Festival 2019 and audiences were not disappointed. The film begins with all the buildup of suspense and visual feel of playing the DreadOut video games. The framing feels sharp and the character dynamics are as fresh as Cabin In The Woods. As the audience peers through the cell phone lense of the group’s live stream, it has an amazing effect on how the lighting is filtered and you find yourself glancing at the viewership every so often. But mostly, it forces your attention to the mysterious surroundings even more intensely. This is simply the introduction to this film’s plot. 30 mins in, some creative and fresh hell awaits our ingenue Linda (Caitlin Halderman). She must explore her new otherworldly environment and figure out why she’s there and how to escape. The film’s location bounces between realms keeping the audience on its toes and the pace moving. The sets are incredibly intricate and the film really never ceases to entertain. Now, I’ve never played the game but it is reminiscent of Silent Hill and I have played that for years. The best shots recall first player gameplay with pointed POV camera work that’s impossible to miss. I do wish that had not completely disappeared. If I’m being honest, I could have used a bit more otherworldly background, perhaps flashes just as the gang is discovering the storyline. As someone who has not played the game, I feel like this was a missed opportunity.  As a whole, I was fully engrossed. DREADOUT has all the elements of a great horror adventure. Genre fans should be nothing but pleased.

DREADOUT

 

Tribeca Film Festival 2019 Podcast Interview: Jeremy Gardner, Christian Stella, and Brea Grant share all the gory and gorgeous details of ‘Something Else’.

Something Else Podcast

Something Else was one of the most unique selections in this year’s festival. Both a monster movie and a love story, the film’s deliberate structure is a standout all on its own. The writing is fresh and funny and the use of light makes it a joy to watch. There are brilliantly theatrical moments. I believe this film would actually translate incredibly well onstage! When you see it, you’ll know what I mean. It’s a complete compliment. I sat down with co-directors Christian Stella and Jeremy Gardner (who also stars and wrote the script) and star Brea Grant to chat all things Something Else. How did the script come about? What in the world were they thinking with certain choices? What did Brea think the first time she read the script?  We talk favorite movie monsters, and how the filmmakers of one of my favorite films The Endless, Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, got on board. You can read my full review of Something Else here, but give a listen to the awesome time we all had together. Be warned, when I walked into the room, Christian, Jeremy, and Brea had all been in the super cool bathroom of our interview room at The Roxy Hotel taking a photo, and I’m disappointed in myself for not getting in on the selfie action on my way out the door. Also, when you hear us refer/talk to “Ted”, we’re actually talking to We Are Still Here and Mohawk filmmaker Ted Geoghegan who just so happened to be in our presence. No big deal. Anyhow, without further ado, here is our podcast talking all things Tribeca, monsters, and Something Else.

ABOUT THE DIRECTOR(S)

Jeremy Gardner and Christian Stella are the filmmakers behind the indie zombie film The Battery and survival comedy Tex Montana Will Survive! Lifelong friends, both directors were born and raised in Florida.

FILM INFO
  • Section:
    Midnight
  • Year:
    2019
  • Length:
    83 minutes
  • Language:
    English
  • Country:
  • Premiere:
    World
  • Connect:
CAST & CREDITS
  • Director:
    Jeremy Gardner and Christian Stella
  • Producer:
    David Lawson Jr., Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead, Arvind Harinath
  • Screenwriter:
    Jeremy Gardner
  • Cinematographer:
    Christian Stella
  • Editor:
    Christian Stella and Jeremy Gardner
  • Executive Producer:
    Venu Kunnappilly
  • Cast:
    Jeremy Gardner. Brea Grant, Henry Zebrowski, Justin Benson, Ashley Song, Nicola Masciotra

Tribeca Film Festival 2019 Review: ‘Something Else’ is aptly named.

SOMETHING ELSE

The Midnight section at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival gives us Something Else. A story about Hank, whose longtime girlfriend Abby abruptly leaves him, but with a lot of extra flair in the plot. The editing is spectacular. Crisp still camera images set against a bleakly lit Hank, make for a perfect early jump scare. Then you catch on that’s it’s a repeated theme. Abby equals brightness. No Abby equals darkness… and a monster at the front door. The music has a heavily Gen X quality. The daytime dialogue (once Abby is absent) feels reminiscent of early Kevin Smith, particularly from everyone around Hank. This gives teeth to the naturalistic performances from a small cast. Classic tropes weave into the darker scenes and then the film becomes something altogether different. Something Else is exactly that. It’s like two films in one. It’s a monster movie and a serious relationship drama which incidentally includes a 15-minute single camera take of dialogue. Something Else is aptly named and unexpected on all fronts.

SOMETHING ELSE

For small-town bar owner Hank (Jeremy Gardner), his 10-year relationship with Abby (Brea Grant) has been storybook-quality. Abby, however, wants more: marriage, to be exact, which Hank doesn’t seem ready to initiate anytime soon. As a result, she leaves him without so much as a note or any subsequent communication. Hank is crushed. Even worse, Abby’s departure seemingly triggers the arrival of an unseen monster that claws at Hank’s front door at night. As the nocturnal threat intensifies, Hank must figure out how to not only save his relationship but also himself.

Review: ‘The Amityville Murders’ is a haunting take on history.

On the night of November 13, 1974, Ronald DeFeo, Jr. took a high-powered rifle and murdered his entire family as they slept. At his trial, DeFeo claimed that “voices” in the house commanded him to kill. This is their story.

The Amityville Murders offers alternative theories about the infamous killings right off the bat. Whether they a result of parental abuse, drugs, mental illness, or something altogether more sinister actually occurring in the house itself. It also seems to suggest that family and friends were experiencing unexplained phenomenon within the home. There is much controversy surrounding Ronald DeFeo and the deaths of his entire family. The house has been called one of the most haunted in America. Subsequent owners have come and gone throughout the years. DeFeo’s story of what happened that night changed so many times it’s hard to keep track of. We may never know the truth and that what makes this story a great one for film. Writers and directors can take poetic license with all the information that we do have and fill in the blanks. As the film progresses, it unequivocally suggests that the grandparents had something to do with a paranormal aspect. While of the performances in the film are a bit campy, our leading man John Robinson is amazing. He is terrifying all while being vulnerable. He carries this film from start to finish. You are rooting for his sanity and survival. Overall, the film has a classic possession feel to it. The tension is genuine and the scares are visually engrossing. The Amityville Murders is a historical true crime/ paranormal nerd’s fantasy.

THE AMITYVILLE MURDERS releases In Theaters and On Demand / Digital HD Feb. 8th!