Thursday, September 27, 2012

Found (2012)

Fear 0/5
Gore 4/5
Entertainment 2/5
Creepiness 1/5

The indie feature Found, is part coming of age and part serial killer film. It has an interesting premise: a young boy dealing with the pains of being a kid discovers one day that his brother is a serial killer. Despite being constantly picked on and ridiculed at school and only having one friend in the world, he decides that he'll stay the straight and narrow. After all, it would be so easy for his obsession of horror films and the idolization of his brother to influence him to take a different path. Even though the story is interesting and somewhat unique at first, it devolves into complete nonsense and it's downright insulting by film's end.

Marty is a good kid. He loves comic books and horror films. But life at school sucks. He's a loner and he's constantly picked on by the bigger kids. Even his lone buddy who loves drawing new superheroes with him sometimes shies away when everyone else is looking. To top that all off, things get physical with one of the class bullies who humiliates him in front of everyone. Despite all of that, Marty doesn't get too down. He has the love of his mom, comics and horror films, as well as that of his brother, however twisted he may be.

A look into his home life doesn't reveal a whole lot: he has a doting mother and a father who works hard. Sure there is some tension between his dad and teenage brother. But what family doesn't have that? All in all, not a whole lot here to be concerned about nor finger point as to why his brother is the monster he is.

As our story progresses, and Marty's school life gets worse (including his only friend denouncing their friendship), he contemplates how easy it would be to take the same path as his brother. It would be a way for him to be in control, a way for him to show how strong he really is. But he shakes off that notion saying it wouldn't be worth it. A smart thought and wise decision for sure.

The problem with the film comes with the reveal of why his brother is the way he is. Despite arguments with mom and dad and just being an all around rebellious teenager, at this point there is really nothing that we can grasp onto as the viewer All credibility is catapulted out the window in the single instance that he says he kills people, because....well, let's just say that he's really racist. He only kills one ethnicity as he thinks that they are total leeches and the scum of society. Seriously? This reveal comes completely out of left field and ruins the entire proceedings. So much so that the film feels like it drags until the fateful end. I wanted to turn off the film after that lazy and insulting explanation.

Found has some really good ideas but unfortunately they are all ruined by the thinnest of motivations and circumstances. I have no idea what the filmmaker was thinking but the reason for Marty's brother becoming a serial killer was completely hollow and downright infuriating. As such, the entire experience was a waste.

Cortez the Killer

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Hollow (2011)

Fear 0/5
Gore 0/5
Entertainment 1/5
Creepiness 1/5

Hey kids! Guess what? The Brits can make really really REALLY awful found footage films too! It's not just a plague on this side of the world anymore. Rejoice! Hollow chews up everything that is wrong with this sub genre and spits it out on a shit platter and expects us to eat it up. Well I obviously took a bite but that doesn't mean you have to, my noble readers!

Emma is dead set on spending a weekend away in a quaint home in the English countryside that used to be owned by a family member. Along with her soon-to-be husband, their quiet and reserved buddy, and a gal that he's brought along to seduce the douchey fiance so that he shows his true colors in the hopes that he can finally be her even though she doesn't want him, Emma is also doing a bit of detective work. You see, the house, its history, as well of that of an old tree is filled with stories of young couples coming under the spell of an ancient evil that resides within the area. That evil is never fully explained but it goes something like this: an old medieval town saw tragedy centuries ago when a squire and his love became shunned by the local townsfolk. They hung themselves on the tree and ever since, it has been the site of other couples who fall under its spell and do the same. Got that?

And nothing really happens in during the first 45 minutes of this film. Sure they find some creepy artifacts around the house but not a single goddamn thing actually happens. They interview the local vicar who vaguely tells them to piss off but he hopes they come back again soon to visit. They play strip poker and drink. They cruise past the creepy old tree numerous times and explore the ruins of the old town. Some strange voices are heard but that's about it. And of course, they're filming it all.

Another night of boredom rolls around and this time one of the friends thinks it a good idea to bring out their stash of nose candy. They get high as a kit and think it a good idea to go strolling through the graveyard at the church and then walk out to the old tree to really see what all this fuss is about. But not before doing a few more lines of coke of course! So they get there and hear strange noises and then whorish blondie who was brought there to seduce the hubby strips naked and begins making out with him. They all freak out thinking she's come under the spell of the tree and Emma asks 'Oh my god, why is your nose is bleeding??!!' which sends everyone into a tizzy. Never mind the fact that SHE JUST SNORTED ANOTHER FUCKING LINE OF COKE.

So another day comes and everyone is pissed at each other. They pack up and it get ready to head out of town. But before they do, they realize that their quiet and reserved buddy has wandered off. Guess what happened to him? The next 20 minutes of the film are about them, stuck in a broken down car after they've gone out in search of him, trying to figure out what to do and whether or not they should leave the confines of their vehicle. Some noises are heard outside of it but you never see ANYTHING. All of this leads to one dull, listless conclusion, ripped straight from the Blair Witch Project. In fact, ALL of the scares in this film are ripped directly from that film.

Do I really need to say anything more? Avoid this one at all costs. Goddammit Tribeca Film. You're better than this!

Cortez the Killer

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Hot Diggity Damn!

You know that I celebrate indie horror around these parts. And especially so when the little guy does good and gets distribution. Well, it's time to say a resounding congratulations to the fine folks behind the award winning feature It's In The Blood.

The film was recently picked up for distribution and it will make it's premiere via various VOD platforms including Vudu, Amazon, and iTunes on Oct. 26th. This is a film not to be missed and it is most definitely one of my top genre films of the year.

More news to come about this phenomenal film as I get it.


Cortez the Killer

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

I Am A Ghost (2012)

Fear 5/5
Gore 0/5
Entertainment 5/5
Creepiness 5/5

God I really wish that Hollywood would mine the indie scene for some sort of creative spark, some sort of semblance of originality instead of its continual churning out of shit on a platter. But noooooo. They're hellbent on pushing out that next genre remake or sequel into your local megaplex. And when it is somewhat original, it's total doo doo salad (see The Possession, The Apparition, etc.). I've said it before and I'll say it again: there are plenty of great, genre challenging films out there that should be celebrated. I Am A Ghost is no exception.

Emily is a troubled young woman. She can't seem to escape the confines of her home and is stuck in this never ending loop of repeating mundane tasks day in and day out. She cooks breakfast, cleans the house, goes to the market, comes home, and then hits the hay. She wakes up the next morning only to do it all over again. It's a veritable Groundhog's Day. But why exactly is she trapped in this cycle? Well you see, she's a ghost, a haunt that hasn't quite found the place where it's supposed to be.

In the midst of one of her days, she hears the voice of a woman, a woman singing a song which used to be sung to her. A song which is supposed to comfort her but unnerves Emily as she can't pinpoint where it's coming from. Emily engages the voice and asks who she is. The voice responds by saying that she is a medium, hired by the current occupants of the home to rid them of her unwanted company. Emily at first looks puzzled but when the voice reminds her that she has to be constantly re-educated on what she is, it all comes rushing back to her. Emily is indeed an aimless spirit.

Despite multiple attempts at getting Emily to 'cross over', none of the medium's efforts seem to be working. It's only after further delving into Emily's past that we uncover why she can't make the leap. Without giving anything away, let's just say that Emily's recalling of what happened to her doesn't quite mesh with what actually occurred. And there isn't only one spirit of unrest within the house and both she and the medium have to contend with it.

I Am A Ghost is a fantastic piece of genre filmmaking. It's one of the most original and remarkable ghost stories I've ever seen. From a style and atmosphere perspective, it is very Kubrickian in appearance and tone but from a purely conceptual standpoint, it's unlike anything you've ever seen. The last twenty minutes of this film are some of the most intense and incredibly terrifying moments I've seen in a genre film this year. I hope that filmmaker H.P. Mendoza has other genre projects up his sleeve. He certainly has a knack for it.

I Am A Ghost is currently making the festival rounds. But keep your eyes peeled for this one. I have no doubt it will find a home with a distributor. Bookmark the film's web page and follow their Facebook and Twitter pages.

Cortez the Killer

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Loved Ones (2009)

Fear 5/5
Gore 5/5
Entertainment 5/5
Creepiness 5/5

The Loved Ones came out in 2009 from a Land Down Under. After multiple screenings and festivals, it has finally hit a wider audience via VOD services. And hit audiences it has. Like a sledgehammer to the cabesa followed by a cinder block thrown to the solar plexus. This one will leave your jaw hanging folks.

Brent is a teenage kid grappling with a serious sense of guilt. About 6 months ago, he was driving a car along a country road with his father riding passenger side. A day out driving with dad talking about life soon turns deadly as a bloodied man is seen walking down the middle of the road. Brent swerves and his car hits a tree. Dad dies instantly. One look at his face now and you can see Brent isn't doing so well,  obviously self-medicating and completely racked with guilt despite having the affections of a gorgeous young woman.

Mom isn't doing much better. She's resigned to staying at home, staring out the window across the countryside where they live, and hitting the bottle all day long. But a very persistent girlfriend gets Brent to agree to go to the annual school dance for a night of getting out and living life. While Brent has his fair share of guilt, this one young woman is his bright light and you get the sense that with her by his side, the pain of it all will eventually subside. But things are about to take a turn for the worse when Brent rejects an introverted young woman's request to be her date for the dance.

Brent has a place he likes to hike when he needs to clear his head. As he climbs the side of a cliff, you can see it in his face that the despair has become too great and he contemplates letting himself go and ending it all. But that moment passes and he proceeds to the top where he is met with a knock to the side of his head which renders him unconscious. A man then drags him into his car.

It's all downhill from here folks. When Brent awakens, he finds himself tied to a chair, the introverted girl dressed as if she were attending the dance, him in a tux, and a leering father and brain dead mother staring at him from across a kitchen table. It's reminiscent of the cray cray's from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. The poor kid who has already been through enough has to deal with all kinds of torture and fucked up experiments from this point onwards. I don't want to get too much further into plot details and what is eventually revealed. But boy, does this story become batshit insane.

Do whatever you can to see this film. It's brutal, relentless, and downright psychotic. Robin McLeavy who plays Lola (aka Princess) will go down in horror infamy as one of the greatest villains the genre has ever seen. She'll make you think twice about ever rejecting that shy girl who had a crush on you in Spanish II. And that soundtrack, egads is it creepy!

Cortez the Killer

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Selling (2011)

Fear 2/5
Gore 0/5
Entertainment 5/5
Creepiness 2/5

This year has seen some really solid entries into the horror comedy category. Films such as Some Guy Who Kills People and Juan of the Dead are examples of horror comedy done right and they bring the funny from start to finish. Add The Selling to that mix. It combines equal parts Scooby Doo, slapstick horror, as well as brings to mind the classics within the realm of haunted house horror. Think of everything from Poltergeist to Insidious and you get the picture.

Meet Richard Scarry. Yes that's his real name. He's a real estate agent who, upon introduction to prospective buyers, tells them his name and then promptly says 'Like the children's book author' in an attempt to cut them off at the pass and make himself seem less threatening. And that he really isn't. He's a total do-gooder that wants nothing more than to work hard and make his mom proud. Along with his skeezy but loyal co-worker and best friend, he sets out to invest in and flip some prime real estate to help pay for his mother's medical bills.  The only problem? His devious female coworker knowingly sells him a house that's haunted. ZOINKS!

Richard tries to quickly renovate the house and sell it upon his discovery but gets too freaked out with the incessant moaning, groaning, and cries for him to 'Get out!' So instead of renovating and staging a fine looking home, he decides to try and get rid of is as soon as possible. But the spirits have other plans as they drive potential buyers out with their shenanigans. From thumps and bumps to groans and shrieks to bleeding walls, this house isn't going to be moved anytime soon.

Things become a lot trickier for Richard when the legendary evil menace who used to call the place home crosses over into the real world and wreaks havoc upon himself, his family, and his friends. It all becomes a madcap, free-for-all, fight to the finish as Richard struggles to free himself of the demonic spirit who wants to do nothing more than to make Richard's life a living hell. Poor Richard. Can someone give this loveable guy a break, please?

With fine performances all around (including a hilarious cameo by Barry Bostwick who plays a wacky man of the cloth), The Selling is a well-written, charming slice of horror comedy. One of my favorites of the year.

The Selling is currently available to rent via various VOD platforms including iTunes, Amazon Instant and Vudu.

Cortez the Killer

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

V/H/S (2012)

Fear 1/5
Gore 3/5
Entertainment 1/5
Creepiness 2/5

The hotly anticipated and very much hyped V/H/S, promised to do something that had never been done before in the found footage sub-genre. Namely, use the format to create a new and unique horror anthology. A format within a format? Genius! While the conceit is great and the talents behind it are impressive (most notably Ti West and Adam Wingard), none of the stories are particularly interesting and a couple of them don't make a lick of sense. Never mind the fact that the use of outdated technology (VHS) is married with modern day advancements (Skype and video recording eyeglasses). Huh? Overall, this has to be the most disappointing genre experiences I've had this year.

Reviewing horror anthologies are a tricky business. After all, the segments are short stories and it'd be easy to be spoileriffic. But a brief rundown of each segment is as follows:

- A night of drinking and wanting to hook up with a pair of girls goes horribly awry for a group of douchey fellas when one of the girls turns out to be not exactly of this world (the only mildly interesting segment really).

- A couple head out for a weekend getaway in the Arizona desert, exploring the local mining town, taking in the sights and scenery, and through it all, they're stalked by a strange woman and Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz........

- A Skype chat between two lovers finds the woman terrified of a supernatural presence within her apartment. What ensued next made absolutely no sense whatsoever.

- A group of teens head out to the woods (stop me if you've heard this one before) and one of them reveals her purpose for bringing the group there, awakening the presence of some mythological monster (or something like that) in the process.

- A group of friends think they're headed to like the raddest Halloween party ever but when they get there, they find out that the house is haunted and they unwittingly unleash the spirit which was in the process of being destroyed. D'oh!

On top of all that, we have a really boring and uninteresting wrap around segment where a group of petty criminals try to make a quick buck by stealing a very important VHS tape, stumbling into a collection of them, and watching said tapes which reveal the aforementioned segments. Why and how they were put together and for what purpose is never really revealed.

I expected a lot out of V/H/S considering the talents behind it and based on the press that it was getting. Not even a halfway decent film to be found here and it ends up being a colossal waste of time. I want my $10 back.

Cortez the Killer

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Help Make Expressway To Your Skull A Reality!

I don't think I've ever received an email from a filmmaker that's more passionate and honest with regards to his pitch to support his latest effort than I have from filmmaker Michael Okum. His film Expressway To Your Skull, promises to be a unique, psychedelic, horror head trip. And the filmmaker himself makes a particularly bold proclamation:

'We know we have something new to offer rabid horror fans yearning for a breath of fresh air in a market over-saturated with sub-standard, unimaginative genre retreads.'

How's that for honesty and candor? They only have 10 days left to raise funds so if you find their effort worthy of support, please throw some dinero their way. I've been taken not only with their words but what I've seen from the promo video (see below).

Cortez the Killer