Romance

April Apocalypse

I don’t know what it is about zombie romance films that I love so much. The idea of love being able to survive even in a world bleak as one as a zombie apocalypse seems like a good contender. But my gut tells me that isn’t the right answer, so I’m left enjoying a strange niche of the horror genre. Strangely I’m not the only one that loves these movies, because there’s more than a few of them. April Apocalypse would be on the better end of the spectrum. But by no means my favorite, that would probably belong to Warm Bodies. While not the best at what it does April Apocalypse is certainly worth watching. As its full of fun acting and memorable moments.

April Apocalypse follows Artie (Reece Thompson), a love struck awkward teenager, who’s been in love with his next door neighbor April (Rebekah Brandes) since they were three. He confesses his love one night and April makes it clear she feels the same. The bad thing is her family is moving… tomorrow. They promise to stay in touch and after initially trying, the two drift apart. Artie falls into a depression and runs an evening radio show as an outlet for his depression, often pinning away for April. His depression worsens to the point where his family intervene and send him to psychologist, Dr. Lyle (George Lopez). Who prescribes him with a new form of Prozac to treat his depression. One that has none of old side effects, but has the new side effects of ambition, euphoria and an increase immune system. After starting he starts taking the new medication he, with help of his grandpa Pops (William Morgan Sheppard) to go to April. So he packs his car and leaves, to do just that. On the way he wrecks his car due to dodging a zombie in the road. When he comes to, the world is in the grip of a zombie apocalypse. He quickly returns home to check on his family. While in his home he set upon by a number of zombies, which Artie is able to kill. But not without getting bite. He quickly disinfects the wound with rubbing alcohol. Artie only manages to find Pops, who is dead. Leaving him wondering about the his parents and brother. But April is first priority, so Artie arms up and heads across the country to find her. Encounter other survivors along the way.

I found the acting to be great. I loved Reece Thompson. Though it did take me a good amount of time to warm up to him. But the best goes to Brent Tarnol as Stevenson and Todd Stashwick as the Priest. Though these just shine the brightest, because I cant think of single performance that I didn’t like.

Not that I liked all the characters. April and Regan played by Stephanie Hunt both bothered me. As both characters are never really expired. Regan happens into Artie and the two never seem to do much. She’s just the hot girl. Even when Artie meets up with Stevenson. That’s her characters whole deal. Which is sad as Stephanie Hunt did a good job with the role she was given. But I see Regan as a real missed opportunity as a character. The same goes for April, we get far more character with her. But she’s still and object in the film. Something for Artie to strive after and obtain. Not a fleshed out person with her own goals and ideas. Rebekah Brandes does a great job, making a character that is fairly shallowly written like-able.

The zombies are fairly stand fair. Nothing to noteworthy as April Apocalypse sticks to the standard fast zombie mythos. Get bitten or scratched you turn. After you turn you go cannibalistic and violent towards the uninfected. While the transformation window being fairly slim. It’s nice to see a zombie film that keeps the monster familiar while still delivering a new story.

Final thoughts, April Apocalypse certainly doesn’t reinvent the wheel here. But it doesn’t need to. The standard zombie tropes and moments are here. But they’re done tongue in cheek. This is where the films comedy shines, as it will both acknowledge the trope and play off it at the same time. April Apocalypse is pretty good zombie film, with more than a dash of romance that I would recommend. 8/10

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My Best Friend is a Vampire

I liked this film a lot less than I had expected I would going in. It mostly suffers from being, in my opinion not that good. I wouldn’t go as far as to call this film awful though. As it is at least entertaining. My main issue is how dated the film feels, which is strange since 80’s charm is normally a big seller for me. More it was how dated the humor was, but ill get into that more later.

My best friend is a Vampire starts with narrator Jeremy Capello (Robert Sean Lenard), a popular, or at least well regarded high school student’s dream. In the dream he’s torn between choosing the popular cheerleader Candy Andrews (LeeAnne Locken) and nerdy Darla Blake (Cheryl Pollak). While trying to decided he is seduced by a mysterious woman (Cecilia Peck). In waking life, Jeremy isn’t torn at all as he sets his eyes on Darla, while Candy sets hers on him. Darla is initially cold to Jeremy, but warms to him quickly. One night at his job delivering groceries, he delivers to Nora. Who looks just like the woman from his dreams, she makes a move on him though they lead no where since Jeremy leaves. At school Jeremy’s best friend Ralph (Evan Mirand) upon hearing his story convinces Jeremy to return to her that night. In attempt at a sexual liasion. Which actually kind of works out, though while Jeremy and Nora, the mysterious woman are get hot and heavy. As Nora bites Jeremy’s neck they are interrupted by Professor McCarthy (David Warner) and his assistant Grimsdyke (Paul Willson) break in. Jeremy flees thinking McCarthy is Nora’s husband and flees along with Ralph in Ralph’s car. The car is seen fleeing by Grimsdyke who is able to see the bumper sicker for the high school Jeremy and Ralph attend. Over the next couple days Jeremy starts noticing some changes. Changes that get even more complicated when Modoc (Rene Auberjonois), a vampire, shows up to teach him the ropes. Leaving Jeremy to balance school, is romantic life, and stopping MCCarthy, who think Ralph is the vampire.

So my first gripe is the dated humor. Well not so much the humor as a whole, but the humor in one particular scene. After Ralph learns the Jeremy is a vampire. Ralph has Jeremy go to a club with him so that Jeremy can use his mind control powers on ladies to get Ralph laid. The joke is that Jeremy isn’t any good at it and keeps messing it up. My issue is that their intention is to essentially commit rape. But the whole scene is a joke and never takes a second to think about what the characters actions say about them.

For the most part it doesn’t feel like much of anything is going on. Sure, McCarthy s there to force the plot along. But for the most part it takes it easy.

Another gripe is his the female leads. Both are interested in Jeremy and the to movie tries to play up this aspect a little, but mostly just during the beginning. Darla and Candy are both woefully underdeveloped. But so is everyone, even Jeremy. Though no character leaves me with questions or scratching my head like Modoc.

Final thoughts, over all I didn’t like it. Sure you get to see young Robert Sean Lenard, or if you like either Rene Auberjonois or David Warner. This film might be worth a watch for you. Though be warned the humor is just as dated as the hair styles. 4/10

Detention of the Dead

Detention of the Dead is pretty okay. It feels like The Breakfast Club meets a zombie apocalypse, but in a good way. The Characters range through the standard High School Film archetypes, the nerd, jock, cheerleader, stoner and goth. But does so incredibly self aware way, that comes off equal parts silly and sincere. I love the in film nods and references to prior horror films, The Rocky Horror Picture Show references most of all.

The film opens with Eddie (Jacob Zacher) the nerd, Willow (Alexa Nikolas) the goth, Janet (Christa B. Allen) the popular cheerleader, her boyfriend Brad (Jayson Blair) the jock, his friend Jimmy (Max Adler), and Ash (Justin Chon) the stoner are attending Mrs. Rumblethrop’s (Michele Messmer) detention class. Ash tries to sell drugs to fellow detainee Mark (Joseph Porter) who is ill, he attributes this to a bite he got from some homeless guy on the way to school. Ash calls to Mrs. Rumblethrop for aid, when Mark transforms into one of the undead and attacks Mrs. Rumblethrop when she comes to help. The other students fight Mark off and when they try to go for help they learn the school is overrun with zombies. They flee to the library for safety as it’s easily dependable with the badly wounded Mrs. Rumblethrop.  In the library  Mrs. Rumblethrop dies, reanimates and attacks the students. During the fight Brad gets finger bitten but keeps the injury secret. They fan out to check for any other undead that might be in the library. During the search Jimmy is bitten by a zombie student. The group is morally conflicted about what to do, so Jimmy makes the decision to self sacrifice rather than endangering his friends. The remaining students settle in to the safety of the library as Brad’s infection worsens…

There’s a ton of great little moments in this film. I would say it’s one of the films main strengths. The constant call backs to The Breakfast Club makes this film feel nostalgic, while not actually being so. The characters archetypes. While they never are able to break free, they do try.

Final thoughts, it’s just a well thought out film. Sure it has its short comings, mostly when it tries to hard to be funny or delve a bit to deep into genre tropes. But overall its a good zombie film that’s trying to hit at a little something extra. As a big fan of the 80’s and John Hughes by extension, Detention of the Dead was a film worth seeing. My only real complaint was how predictable the final moments of the film was, as well as its underlying themes. 8/1o

Freaks of Nature

mv5bmtk2mtmymtezn15bml5banbnxkftztgwnte0mdywnze-_v1_uy1200_cr9006301200_al_I’m conflicted here, as I genuinely liked aspects of this film. But it’s so much a debacle? Boondoggle? Clusterf#$k? One of those three to be sure, if not all three. Freaks of Nature seems to just throw everything it can think of at the wall and see what sticks and what doesn’t. Very little sticks. The few highlights of the film for me that I loved were the character moments that showed a certain level of thought went into writing this film. Though I feel that what was intended didn’t come across or translate to the screen correctly.

Freaks of Nature takes place in the town of Dillford. Which is inhabited by humans, vampires and zombies. Dag Parker (Nicholas Braun) is a high school guy, with standard tv high school problems. Like being into the hot girl Lorelei (Vanessa Hudgens) whose your friend but don’t know how to express how he feels. Petra Lane (Mackenzie Davis) and her vampire boyfriend Milan (Ed Westwick) decided to go “all the way”. Unfortunately Petra and Milan misunderstand each other as Petra thinks he means sex when he means feeding on her. Resulting in Petra turning into a vampire after being bitten. Ned Mosely (Josh Fadem) is the uncool smart kid. His teachers work against him to crush he dreams of leaving this small town and his parents show blatant favoritism for his athletic older brother. With his future looking grim Ned lets himself be bitten by a zombie. As a means of escaping. As it happens all three go to the same high school. But as their high school dramas unfold aliens show up. This drives the tensions between the groups boil over as one group accuses for the aliens arrival. This leads up to a town wide melee, neighbor against neighbor. But as the aliens enter the fight until on Dag, Petra and Zombie Ned are left to stop them and save their town.

I liked the subtext of the vampire and zombie story lines. The vampire substituting for STIs and the zombie stepping in for depression and the sense of hopelessness. Both approach these subtly. Well not so much with the vampire one..

The acting isn’t so bad. Vanessa Hugens, Keegan-Michael Key, Ian Roberts and Mackenzie Davis are amazing fun to watch and do a great job. Bob Odenkirk and Joan Cusack delightful together. However Nicholas Braun is the films main characters and I am not a Nicholas Braun fan. With each film of his I watch, the less of him I want to see. That said he’s the one with an acting career, so he has to be doing something right.

My main issue is that this film tries to do way to much. With the zombie, the vampire and aliens on top of a high school drama(s). It all becomes a bit to much, resulting in everything fighting for your attention. Causing just about everything to come out feeling bland.

Final thoughts. I loved the numerous horror tropes that was worked in. That’s basically all this film is, horror and high school drama tropes are slammed together. But since the film isn’t taking its self seriously, I find it hard to be to critical of it. Freaks of Nature as parts that are worth looking into on a deeper level, while at the same time can be enjoyed as just a silly film. But for my personal views on the end product, I would have to say 4/10.

Spring

mv5bmjmwnzm2otk3of5bml5banbnxkftztgwnjexotu0nde-_v1_uy1200_cr9006301200_al_-1Spring really managed to surprise me with its thoughtful blend of Horror and Romance. Spring gets the right blend of the two elements and leaves you with a great experience. Spring has managed to stay on my mind for days after viewing in such a way that I haven’t experienced since The Battery. The chemistry between the films leads Lou Taylor Pucci and Nadia Hilker is soft, but profoundly noticeable. The weight of the film falls on their shoulders, a burden the pair manages to carry with no problems.

Spring begins with Evan (Lou Taylor Pucci) caring for his sick mother, who passes shortly after she’s introduced. Evan’s friend Tommy (Jeremy Gardner) takes him out drinking. Where Evan gets in a fight, badly beating the other man. This ends up with Evan loosing his job as he works at bar he got a fight in and fleeing the cops. Looking to invade the cops and the man he beat, Evan flies to Italy to make good on a trip, one that he planned and intended to take with father before he died. In Italy Evan starts working on an Olive farm, in town Evan meets a young, beautiful woman Louise (Nadia Hilker). After persisting she eventually agrees to go on a date with him. The two quickly fall for one another, though it’s a bad time for Louise. Who is going through violent and dangerous transformations…

What I loved was the soft flow of Spring. Feeling primarily like a romantic film, but it does its job in the horror department.  Which works great as the romantic angle along with the humanizing elements makes the character relatable and sympathetic. This ramps up the dread as I actually care for the characters.

I also loved the setting. Italy, the ocean, the old city, and the olive farm creates a dread location that’s actually kind of haunting. Also I love that the nights and days play in as Louise is sensitive to the light… sometimes. Placing the location next to ocean add a strange sense of smallness to film along with a strange sense of closeness.

The horror bits are surface level girl transforms into monsters and kills people. Beyond that is the uncertainly of their future at the end of the film. As best case the two raise a child with the same exact issue as Louise. The transformations are pretty great actually. I like on the silly side a couple of times, but overall very well done.

Final thoughts, I loved everything about this film and I’m sad that I didn’t see it sooner. Spring is a Romantic Horror film left me feeling both hopeful, but at the same time a strong sense of foreboding.  Spring isn’t a horror film about jump scares and body counts. It’s a film focused on atmosphere and leaves you feeling a bit haunted. 9/10

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

Night of the Living Deb

night_of_the_living_deb_xlgI wen’t into this film mostly blind. I knew it was a Rom-Com and that it had zombies. Funny thing, while watching this film I kept thinking “This feels a lot like Infestation”, which turns out is because it’s by the same director, Kyle Rankin. Looking back at it my only real issue with Infestation was that it was trying to be a zombie film without the zombies. Night of the Living Deb fixes that by being about zombies. Well, zombies and romance.

Night of the Living Deb, opens in a bar on the eve before the Fourth of July in Portland, Maine. Deb Clarington (Maria Thayer) is talked into making moves on a hot guy in the bar by her close friend Ruby (Julie Brister). Deb has a rough start to the conversation with the hottie, Ryan Waverly (Michael Cassidy). Though her fortunes change when Ryan’s girlfriend, Stacy (Syd Wilder) breaks up with him. This, along with the copious amount of drinkings allows for an awkward morning after. When Deb wakes in Ryan’s bed the next morning leads to an awkward exchange and Deb tries to keep his interest. Even as Ryan forces her from his apartment, into a burgeoning Zombie Apocalypse.Deb and Ryan are quickly forced back together as Ryan’s apartment is the only safe haven. After taking an assessment of the situation the pair decides to head to Ryan’s father’s home. On the way Deb stops at Ruby’s shop to check on her, only to find that she has been turned into a zombie. So she does what any friend would do, trap her in the trunk of her car in case a cure is found later. When they arrive at Ryan’s fathers house, Deb meets Ryan’s brother Chaz (Chris Marquette) and his father Frank (Ray Wise). Also, Stacy, who has been there since the previous night. Things get awkward again when Stacy tries to get back Ryan, and worse when Frank learns that Deb works for the news…

My favorite things about this film is undoubtedly Ray Wise. Who basically reprises his role from infestation. Which isn’t a bad thing. He and Chris Marquette have great chemistry once again, as looking back their chemistry in Infestation was the best part. Here they bring that same level of energy and charm.

Beyond Ray Wise there was only one performance that I really liked and that was Maria Thayer. But it took a while for her to grow on me. I’m not sure if was that her performance softened or if her writing improved as the film progressed. Up until they reach Frank’s house I found her character annoying and almost insufferable. Though after that point she became a character I actually found myself oddly behind.  Her forced geek humor gave way to a more human performance that felt more like how a person might actually act.

If you pay attention you might have noticed I love me some Rom-Coms. I could easily go as far as to say that Rom-Coms are my second favorite genre, a distant second to horror. But second all the same. Here I was less than impressed with the Rom-Com aspects as they often come as forced. This is due to the dull and mediocre chemistry between the leads. A problem that the film never quite gets under control.

Final thoughts, I actually really loved it. The B-Movie camp shows in such a way that I can’t help but be suckered in by it. I know I gave Infestation a less than stellar review, but time and the over a hundred films since then has made a big difference.  The low-budget and Ray Wise really add a fun charge to this film that I can’t deny. Most of the parts of this jive together rather well and those that don’t I can easily forgive. Night of the Living Deb was easily good enough to make me want to dip more into Kyle Rankin’s work. 7.5/10