Revenge

Drifter

I picked this film on a whim and was very surprised with just how much I enjoyed it. I found the visuals and music to be outstanding. Throw in the great acting and this film became a real treat. I wasn’t all that excited for the cannibals as I’ve grown used to the cliche. Which here they still are, but are also done in such a way that it becomes forgivable.

Drifter opens with Miles Pierce (Aria Emory) holding a gun to man. Who pulls a gun in turn on Miles. Miles brother Dominic (Drew Hardwood) bursts into the room the two fire. Resulting in Miles getting shot in the hand and the other man dead. The brothers then take off across the wasteland, on some vague vengeance ride. The pair get in a disagreement and Dominic storms out into the waste leaving Miles in the car. While away in the dessert having a moment to him self, Miles is beset by three highway men that proceed to beat Miles to steal the car. Dominic returns the car and kills the men saving his brother. Due the beating Miles received they stop in the small movie Demyl. They come across a man walking down the road and while asking him for directions to help he slashes one of their tires. Dominic attacks the man, who is saved by Vojah (Monique Rosario). She has the brothers follow her and gives them aid. Vojah warns them about the towns occupants, a warning the Dominic ignores going after the man again. This results in the towns cannibalistic inhabitants led by Doyle (James McCabe) killing Dominic and capturing Miles. Whom they set tormenting, torments that crescendos at a dinner where is Dominic is the main course…

What I liked most about Drifter was the visuals. As this is a very stunning film. I often found myself floored with how beautiful it was, while maintaining a heavy atmosphere. The visuals are only surpassed by the sound track, because as often I was blow away with the look and feel of the film. The music is compelling and ties in each scene together.

But being pretty and sounding great isn’t what its all about. Because what a film without actors and the actors here do an outstanding job. James McCabe makes an outstanding villain. One that started off feeling generic but quickly developed into a fun and devilish character. One that I simply love to hate.

Final thoughts, I enjoyed Drifter. Hell I’ll go as far as to say I loved it. Stunning through and through that suffered one from loose threads. What was the vengeance ride about? Did Miles ever get it? Does that matter? The answer is no, but what a ride. 9/10

The Wraith

I was surprised that I didn’t see or even know of The Wraith. Given that it stars a number of actors that I simply adore such as Randy Quaid and Clint Howard. Also the soundtrack is simply amazing and makes the film drip with the aesthetics of the 80’s. Which holds up really well as The Wraith doesn’t have the feel of forced 80’s but simply set in the time. But it does suffer a bit as I expect more from my horror films.

The Wraith opens with lights dancing over the desert that join and form a Dodge M4S piloted by a helmeted, leather clad driver. Said driver starts coming after a local street gang consisting of Oggie (Griffin O’Neal), Skank (David Sherrill), Gutterboy (Jamie Bozian) and Rughead (Clint Howard), who are all lead by the feared Packard Walsh (Nick Cassavetes).The gang forces people to race for the their cars under threats of violence to either them or their loved ones. Often turning to cheating it win the races. Until the Wraith shows up and starts racing them, killing them off during the races. While the gang deals with the mysterious racers, Jake Kessey (Charlie Sheen) comes to town. Quickly befriending Billy Hankins (Mathew Barry), who’s brother Jamie was murdered and Keri Johnson (Sherilyn Fenn), Packard’s unwilling girlfriend. Keri and Jake strike up a romance, one that is not approved of by Packard. Who set’s his goons upon them, though they prove to be little problem as they keep getting killed. The deaths are all being investigated by the local sheriff, Loomis (Randy Quaid).

I like it and The Wraith is pretty okay. It just doesn’t feel like it accomplishes much with its run time. Wraith has some great ideas and actually does a good job delivering most the time. Though it would have been nice to see the characters and the traumas they’ve suffered more deep explored and expanded upon.

One of the gripes I do have is Randy Quaid’s character. Who is fun, because of Randy Quaid. But that’s the extent of the enjoy-ability of the character. If he can be called one, mostly it feels like he’s brought in to chew the scenery and suck up some screen time as the character provides nothing to the story. I’m positive you could cut all of his scenes and it would have no baring on the plot of the film.

He does do a good job. A lot of the actors do a remarkably good job. Mathew Barry has a number of great moments and his final scene is sad, though not what I would call heart breaking. Also Clint Howard stood out in what could have been a very mediocre role.

Final thoughts, Charlie Sheen is bland in the film. The man is devoid of emotion throughout the film. He comes off as bland and uninteresting, which is awful as everyone is treats him like he’s not either of those things. The revenge angle doesn’t work for me either as so little time is spent on the catalyst, and is only brought up briefly for no other reason than to hold on the vague plot. Lastly, I was bothered by how Keri’s character felt more like a something that is being fought over, rather than a functioning individual. 6/10

Outside the Genre: Mr. Right

mr_rightIt’s been a real long time since I’ve done an Outside the Genre, and I really wanna talk about this film. So here we are. I was turned on to this independent Romantic-Action film by a co-worker. Who knows my general taste in films (Horror films are a passion, but are by no means the only films I watch), suggested this one. What he didn’t know is I’m a fan of all the principal actors, Anna Kendrick, Sam Rockwell and Tim Roth. So, this film was defiantly up my alley and was absolutely delightful.

Mr. Right Opens with Martha (Anna Kendrick) getting ready to surprise her boyfriend with a romantic and sexy dinner. Though the dinner is lacking as she burns it, though it is quickly replaced with Chinese food. When he gets home he’s with another girl in the throws of passion. Being caught red-handed cheating, Martha breaks up with and proceeds to get really drunk. Her spiral is so bad that she ends up drunk, raving in a closet. Martha’s best and only friend Sophie (Katie Nehra) does her best to try and help her out. Meanwhile, Francis (Sam Rockwell) a reforming (in a manner of speaking) hit-man, goes to meet his newest client. Who he promptly kills, because killing is wrong. While inside the hotel where he kills his client he’s attacked by a crew led by Hopper (Tim Roth). But after donning his signature red clown nose, Francis effortlessly kills them. Leaving only Hoppe,r who had the sense and foresight to stay behind in the van. Both Martha and Francis have a chance encounter at a convenience store. Francis is instantly enamored with Martha and asks her out.  While reluctant, Martha agrees. Resulting in a wonderful day and with Francis staying the night. Hopper gets orders from those he works for to eliminate Francis by any means. During this two low level gangsters Von Cartigan (James Ransone) brother of a under boss in his families crime syndicate and local thug Johnny Moon (Michael Eklund) plot to overthrow Von’s brother using Francis and his penchant for killing those that try to hire him. Things turn rocky for Martha and Francis, once she witnesses him in action… though not enough to deter their love.

What I love most about this film and there’s a few things that I genuinely love about this film is the actors delivery. Anna Kendrick and Sam Rockwell play wonderfully. Anna Kendrick is typical pixie adorable performance, what’s amazing is that Sam Rockwell delivers a performance matches her beat for beat. Just as often leading her performance as following her lead. Tim Roth, while not as memorable as his role in Reservoir Dogs or Four Rooms still gives a fun performance.

The action scenes are a point of inner debate with me. Not the best, with slower action and frequent cutaways. But filmed and added to the story in such a way that unless you spend time looking, you wont notice. Mr. Right makes liberal use of slow motion, at times to great effect. Though when that same effect is repeated it quickly looses its zeal.

Final Thoughts, I really liked this film. Few Romance-Action films hit the enjoyable mark with me. True Lies being the only one that comes to mind off the top of my head. The actors all do a great job. Even those in the more minor roles. The pacing is solid and the tone is constant. Honestly I don’t see what people are divided about. Is Mr. Right the best film? No. Is a fun and engaging film? Absolutely yes. 8/10

V/H/S Viral

vhsviral_poster_web-1V/H/S Viral is the final installment of the V/H/S series. Which is sad given how much the series has downgraded over time. The first V/H/S was great, the second was alright, but this one was either of those things. Horror anthologies are hard to get right. Here we see a lot of the problems I have with the idea along with some of the issues I have with found footage films rearing up as well. Not that Viral is completely without merit, I found myself enjoying one of the entries, but just the one. My main issue is the story that intertwines the film felt out-of-place and would have worked better as its own solid entry.

Viral opens with the wrap-around story Vicious Circles. Kevin (Patrick Lawrie) and Iris (Celia K. Milius) are a young couple in love. Kevin loves filming Iris, something that she seems to enjoy as well. One night a high-speed pursuit goes past their home and Kevin runs out to film it, hoping that the footage would go viral. While waiting for the chase to loop back around as the chase is going in literal circles, Iris gets a message are her phone that places her into a trance, during which she walks into the road. During the pass she’s abducted and Kevin chases after her, first on foot than later on a bicycle. The point between segments focus on small portions of the chase, gang members killing one another after receiving the same message which ends in an explosion. A woman trying to take a revenge on a man who posted a revenge porn video of her. Until Kevin is finally able to reach the vehicle containing Iris after is successfully evades police.

The first story Dante The Great, is about Dante (Justin Welborn) an elite illusionist and magician. His current assistant Scarlet (Emmy Argo) goes to the police after finding videos implicating the Dante has been killing is assistants, and Scarlet’s ex-boyfriend. The police go to arrest Dante after reviewing the evidence, only for Dante to start killing with magic. Magic bestowed by his cloak, one that one was once owned by Harry Houdini. Dante pulls Scarlet from the police station via magic to the stage of the theater where he performs. Scarlet manages to get her hand on the cape, while Dante holds the other end. Resulting in a magic battle.

The Second story Parallel Monsters, inventor Alfonso (Gustavo Salmeron) powers up his greatest invention. One that bridges two parallel universes. On the other side is another Alfonso. The two have a quick interaction before deciding to swap universes for fifteen minutes…

The final story Bonestorm, two skateboarders Danny (Nick Blanco) and Jason (Chase Newton) keep getting pushed into increasingly dangerous stunts by their videographer Taylor (Shane Brady).  Taylor talks Danny and Jason into going Tijuana, one they recruit Gas Money Kid (Peter Villalba). After buying fireworks the group gets lost eventually finding a place to shoot their skateboarding video. Unfortunately the site is covered with religious markings and the worshipers show up mysteriously after one of the skateboarders bleeds on the symbols. The worshipers attack them, forcing them to fight back for their lives.

My main issue is most of the stories, Dante the Great and Parallel Monsters feel far too polished to be found footage. This gripe is mostly reserved for Dante the Great and the magic fight at the end of the segment. It feels like a normal film and nothing like found footage. I have the same issue with Parallel Monsters. It looks too nice.

The stories themselves feel lacking. I liked Dante the Great, other than my previous mentioned gripe, and feel it was the strongest entry. Emmy Argo delivers the best performance in the whole film here. I find her incredibly sympathetic and she plays of the megalomania of Justin Welborn’s Dante amazingly.

Final thoughts, I wish I had more to say, but I just found this entry in the V/H/S series to be incredibly underwhelming. The series decline is a real shame as the first entry really showed what could be done with found footage anthologies and the second film experimented with the ideas but were off the mark on delivery. Viral on the other hand felt like a lazy finish at best. 5/10

Don’t Breathe

dont_breathe_xlgI was expecting a lot more from Don’t Breathe as one of its producers was Sam Raimi and it was directed by Fede Alvarez. Who directed the 2013 version of Evil Dead, a film that I actually liked more than I feel I should have. I wish I had one sole issue with Don’t Breathe, but sadly I have a few. None major, but they do pile up. Mostly, it’s that Don’t Breathe doesn’t feel like it brought anything new to the table. Or even old that has been rehashed in a new way. Generic for lack of a better word.

Don’t Breathe opens with a woman being dragged down an deserted street by a older man. Before abruptly shifting to three people, Rocky (Jane Levy), her boyfriend Money (Daniel Zovatto) and their friend Alex (Dylan Minnette) in the middle of a home burglary. One that they get away from without being caught. While fencing the stolen goods Money gets a tip, a old man whose daughter was killed in a car accident keeps the settlement money locked up in his home. The amount of money makes Alex worried as it would come with a higher jail time if they were to get caught, making him back out of the robbery. But Rocky, who is trying to escape her awful home life with her little sister to California, persuades him to join. They case the house, which is located in a desolate part of town where he is the last remaining person and learn the man (Stephen Lang), is a blind army vet. Who lives alone and is a shut in. The trio decided to break in and perform the robbery with the blind man in his home that night. After drugging the Blind Mand dog and breaking in, they’re unable to find the money. They  do discover that basement door is padlocked shut. Money reveals that he brought a gun, something that Alex doesn’t agree with as the firearm increases the potential jail time again, along with giving the Bling Man the right to shoot them and leaves. Money shoots the lock off the basement door, which wakes the Blind Man who goes to investigate. He then fights Money before taking his gun and shoots him in the head killing him. He then checks his hidden safe to make sure his money is still there, which is witnessed by Rocky. Who hid once the Blind Man killed Money, and steals the money from the safe once he leaves. Alex returns after hearing the gunshots and gets trapped in the house as the Blind Man locks the doors and nails boards over the windows. Trapping them inside with the Blind Man, in hopes of escaping Alex and Rocky head into the basement to escape out through the cellar doors. In the basement, they come across a woman bound and gagged in a padded cell. She gives the pair a newspaper clipping, that reveals her to be Cindy (Franciska Torocisk) the girl who killed the Blind Mans daughter killing her. Alex and Rocky manage to free her and they try to escape the basement out the cellar doors. But the Blind Man is waiting for them…

Don’t Breathe steals quite a few elements from People under the Stairs. Three robbers enter the house in both films, both films involve people being held captive in the basement. Both films have a chase in the walls of the home with a dog. In both films the robbers are looking for large sums of money that’s supposedly hid in the house. I’m sure these points are accidental. But it made me feel like I had seen this film before, robbing it of a lot of its excitement.

The acting is good, with Stephen Lang plays a great villain. Jane Levy and Dylan Minnette have great chemistry together and both deliver solid believable performances. Daniel Zovatto, I was less impressed by. Though honestly, I don’t know what about his performance I didn’t like.

A major issue I have with Don’t Breathe is that the protagonists are thieves. One of which brings a gun, with noted intent to use it as he fears the Blind Man’s training in the military. So after he kills Money and starts trying to kill Alex and Rocky I have a hard time sympathizing with them. They did break into his home to steal the settlement money from his daughter’s death. Alex also seems to have no reason to be involved with these robberies other than his feelings for Rocky. The only one given a reason to need to steal is Rocky, even then with her cut from the first robbery would have been enough for her to get away. Sure she would need a job when she got away, but she could have escaped already.

Final thoughts, it feels old hat. I’ve seen what Don’t Breathe is offering before and I’ve seen it better done. I found myself more than once wishing that I was just watching People Under the Stairs in its place. I just wish that the film hadn’t tried so hard to make the Blind Man the villain, as by forcing so hard to make him one pushed the film into cartoonish heights at times. 7/10

The Bride (2016)

the-bride-2016-movie-marcello-daciano-4I’m not sure what I was expecting for The Bride beyond being low-budget. Which it was, in spades in fact. I expected better acting and slightly better effects. More than one shooting location was another thing I expected and maybe, just maybe, one character that was memorable or likable. Out of those expectations The Bride delivered on…none? It was really the incredibly low-level of production that was the hardest thing to get past as the vast majority felt like something I could put together and I try not to disparage film makers. But a certain lack of care went into the making of The Bride and it was really felt.

So, a hundred and fifty years before the events of the film takes place, Ayiana (Anne Main) and Apache princess is raped and murdered on her wedding night by a battalion of US troops. She rises from the dead and takes her revenge, killing and scalping all but one member of the battalion. Which would have made a better film. In current day, Kira (Henriette Riddervold) and her fiance Marco (Charkes Campos) arrive at the home of Harrison (Lane Townsend), in which they will be staying until their wedding. The day before the wedding Kira is attempted to be abducted and taken hostage by Earl (Burt Culver), Bobby Joe (Justin Nesbitt), Lee (Will David Jorden) and Ricky (Gregory Stone). Kira fights back against them, which leads to the death of Marco and Kira being raped by three of the men. Kira is then killed and joins Marco in a shallow grave. But the spirit Ayiana allows Kira to come back… with a vengeance.

The Bride is a mix between a rape-revenge film like I Spit on Your Grave and The Crow. Making it feel like a knock-off right out of the gate at The Bride never tries to be better. Which is sad because I really did like it as a premise.

The acting is painful to watch at times. No one in this film feels like they’re trying, between stumbling through their lines and constant stuttering, The Bride has acting on par with a High School Play. I expected poor acting, but The Bride transcends bad here creating a level all its own.

At points The Bride tries to be a legitimate horror film, the attack on the house for the abduction, the rape in the woods and even when the bride stalks her killers. Each time the underproduction knocks its legs out from under it. With the poorly delivered performances, the terrible CGI muzzle flashes, and the tomahawk that looks more out of a high fantasy film than out of a horror.

Final thoughts, the only part that I enjoyed was the attempt at an off putting song, which is nothing more than a lazy attempt in the end. Which comes off as a rip of Nightmare on Elm Street and not in a good way. I have no idea who this film is for, because with such sloppy delivery I surprised it ever got finished in the first place. 3/10

Stake Land

stake_land_xlgI was not expecting to like this film this much. I have a begrudging relationship with vampire films. I’m extremely hit or miss with them and it feels like they’re more often misses. Stake Land manages to be a hit. Stake Land is basically a zombie film, where the zombies have been replaced with feral vampires. Though that isn’t the only similarity with zombie films, which works just fine for me.

Stake Land opens after a global pandemic of vampirism has spread across the world killing or changing the majority of the population. With humans only surviving on the road or in small isolated communities. During a storm Martin’s (Connor Paolo) family is attacked by a lone vampire, resulting in the death of both his parents and their baby. Martin survives by being saved by a Mister (Nick Damici) a lone hunter. Mister takes Martin under his wing, training how to hunt and kill vampires along with survive in the new world. While traveling they rescue Sister (Kelly McGillis) a Nun, from a pair of rapists that are part of religious cult that defies Vampires. Killing one and leaving the other for dead, staked in the back. They are captured shortly after by the cult, led by Jebedia Loven (Michael Cerveris). Who happens to be that father of one of the men Mister killed saving Sister (The one he staked in the back) and sets to have his revenge on them. He leaves Mister in the middle of vamp land, while keeping Martin as slave and Sister for sex. Martin escapes with the consent of Sister and manages to reconnect with Mister, who has managed to survive. They continue to travel north to New Eden, AKA Canada, when the meet up with Belle (Danielle Harris). A pregnant woman trying to reach New Eden before her child is born. They then rescue Willie (Sean Nelson) from a portable toilet, having been left as Vamp bait by the cult. The four continue north, bonding and fighting the occasional vampire and dogging the Cult that’s out looking for Mister. Mister, Martin and the others ambush a cult roadblock, attacking and subduing Jebedia. They leave him tied to a tree, bait for the vampires he so reveres. At the next town they find Sister, who manged to escape the cult, just before the cult rains down vampires onto the town from a helicopter. The group now whole, continues their trip to New Eden, but after their truck breaks down it becomes apparent they are being stalked by a new breed of vampire… one that can think.

What I love is the zombie connection in this film. Mindless undead? Check. Bleak future living in the ruins of the old world? Check. A group of survivors trying to make their way bound together by shared comradery? Oh yes. Mainly what I love is the how character focused the film is. As while none of them are explored deeply, their relationships to one another is where this film shines.

The effects are super solid. The vampires are great, looking unsettling and have their own rules under which they function. Even with built-in exceptions as vampire mutations are a thing. Though beyond fangs it doesn’t take much to sell a vampire to me. Also they behave how you would expect, stakes to heart kill them and so does sunlight. While the making them mindless adds an interesting twist that sets them apart enough to be new, while maintaining the comfort of the old.

Final thoughts, I really loved this film. It’s a bit of a slow burn at the start, but once the ball is rolling the ride really starts. The characters, at least the main ones are very like-able. All the actors do an outstanding job, playing into the world and making it feel believable. I would recommend this film. It comes with a smidgen of gore and plenty of story. 9/10