Friday, 5 February 2016

Snowed in (2016)

Written and directed by Hannah Luyton

Stars: Kaitlyn Marie 

Snowed In is a short film written and directed by high school senior Hannah Luyten. In addition it was co-produced and filmed by Jason Hawkins of Gravestone Entertainment who Hannah has assistedon previous projects. Jason has also been mentor to Hannah for the past two years and so she has had a great opportunity to learn from Jason whose own company has been behind some fantastic horror/thrillers (15: Inside the Mind of a Serial KillerThe Devil Knows His Own)

Snowed In features young Kaitlyn Marie playing a young girl (Kaitlyn) who is home alone during a heavy snow storm. To make matters worse she is on crutches and so really is isolated and vulnerable. When strange eerie noises start disturbing her Kaitlynheads up stairs to try to find the source...NOT  a good idea. From there Snowed In becomes an effective creep fest designed to make you seize up in fear of whatever hides in the dark.

A well acted and craftily directed horror short, Snowed In had me watching with the temptation to look away as it builds to a major scare in ingenious fashion. Again I am suprised and amazed at how well a horror story can be conveyed in a blink and miss it space of just five minutes. Hannah Luyten should be very proud of this film and the definite promise it shows for future projects.  Further to this the film has grabbed the attention of numerous festival including an invite to Jennifer's Bodies  so if you can make it to this brilliant celebration of women in horror you will get a chance to see it!

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Harvest Lake (2016)

(Online screener copy)

Written and directed by Scott Schirmer

Stars: Jason Crowe, Ellie Church, Tristan Risk, Dan Nye, Kevin Roach.

Huge thanks to Scott Schirmer, the mind behind indie shocker Found, for hooking me up with his newest film Harvest Lake. A very different beast to the grim murder/coming of age horror Found, this film is rife with mystery and seductive charm.

Five standout actors make up the main cast and their performances give five interesting, likable and sometimes funny characters. Under the thumb Ben (Dan Nye) cute and sweet natured Jennifer (Ellie Church) sexy and insatiable Cat (Tristan Risk) and unlucky in love nice guy Josh (Jason Crowe) are four friends off on a lakeside getaway where there is literally something in the water. But what is it and what does it want with these fun loving young souls? 

An eerie opening scene already previews to audiences that this may not be the best place to hang out but its not until the main group arrive, soon meeting the mysterious Mark (Kevin Roach) that we really start to get a feel of the sexually charged nature of the area.  As the five start to relax, a creeping sense of dread begins to grow and shortly after the introduction of bizarre, phallic plant life adds another expert layer to the film.

As mentioned the performances  are great and the cast really step up to the challenge. American Mary's Tristan Risk gives a sexy, fun edge to Cat, the kind of character who can drop a shocking sentence without a second thought. Dan Nye is just great at comedy I have now realised after seeing him in the Legend of Wasco recently where he played the mischievous Byron, intent on getting his brother law into all manner of trouble. Again Dan plays a funny role but rather than being totally alpha male in Harvest Lake, the comedy stems from him being told what to do by his girlfriend (Cat).  Ahem red swimming briefs...

Elsewhere Jason Crowe (aforementioned brother in law from LoW!) provides the more sensible and intuitive member of the group, Josh, who may have caught the romantic eye of Mark (Volumes of Blood, Bloody Hooker Bang Bang) the handsome stranger who is seemingly being pulled into the same web as the others. Finally Ellie Church, a girl who blew me away in her role of a devious, adulterous wife in And Then YOU Die! plays a nice sympathetic character this time round and comes off as genuinely lovely although being a mysterious thriller this is of course subject to change..

A well written, well acted indie thriller with beautiful cinematography and a gripping, original story. Harvest Lake is one to watch.  In one sense it begs for a sequel, on the other hand the film is just as satisfying left as it is, dark, eerie and intriguing. GRAB A COPY NOW: 

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Preternatural (2015)

Displaying Preternatural Promo Poster.png

Directed by Gav Chuckie Steel

Written by Dixon Barker 

Stars: Gav Chuckie Steel, Dixon Barker 

I was thrilled to be contacted by Deadbolt films, the guys behind one of my favorite independent slasher films (and its British to boot) The Shadow of Death. This time around Gav Chuckie Steel and Paul Dixon Barker are gearing up to release new film Preternatural.

To be honest I think its best that the mystery of this film is contained - you need to see it for yourself so just take the short synopsis: Two amateur film-makers find the movie they thought they were making, is actually making them and run with it. 

Gav actually stars in the  film, playing one of the two filmmakers along with Dixon Barker who...can you guess?....wrote this film. I really liked the way this film plays with reality and fantasy and a key element of suspense throughout is having no clue which way it will twist next.

Both Gav and Dixon do a great job playing the bickering filmmakers (they may of course not be acting but that's their business) as they struggle to get their work done on a low budget. Its when their recently cast actor turns up that things start making a more insidious decline. Mark Williams as 'Mark' does a superb job of playing the creepy and mysterious actor who Gav and Dixon will wish they had never met!

Things continue to get stranger and I think that is genuinely the real appeal of Preternatural - you probably haven't seen anything quite like it and that can only be a plus point.

Viewers who like a simple narrative and all questions answered may find themselves disappointed so do take this as a warning. However if you appreciate something a bit more mind bending and unwilling to conform to genre devices then this is your movie.

Monday, 21 December 2015

Pizza Girl Massacre (2014)

(Online Screener)

Written and directed by Jason Witter

Stars: Amy Bourque, Rhiannon Frazier, Debi Kierst, Scott Bryan


In the summer of 2013, a community theatre group from Albuquerque, NM decided to stage a production of William Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream." Since the majority of the play takes place in an enchanted forest, the troupe thought it would be a good idea to rehearse in the woods. So they rented a cabin... In the woods... They never returned.

I was happy to talk to Jason Witter, the man behind this very different kind of found footage flick and obtain a copy for review. I am pleased to say it strikes a good balance between horror and comedy and comes across as downright dark and creepy in certain places.

Obviously renting a cabin in the woods is a terrible terrible idea and shooting a movie at the same time just means that when you are 'never seen or heard from again' people like me will have to watch to see what might have happened to you. I enjoy found footage horror, although some can truly test the patience of a saint, and this one was fresh and inventive as well as kind of nuts.

The rag tag group of theater actors, actresses and crew seem a bit spooked when they first meet the offbeat mother and son owner of their rented cabin. To be honest Mama Debi's initial appearance     dragged me kicking and screaming back to the one truly scary part of Sleepaway Camp...Aunt Martha.

 Of course this odd little interaction isn't going to throw a spanner in their works and so rather than run screaming for the hills they commence work. But there is more to this family unit then they realise and soon they will meet the dreaded daughter  (played by Amy Borque) who is only too happy to be star of the show...with the theater group her unwilling prey.

The film plays out like a found footage slasher movie with shades of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and it does a great job of keeping you interested. You are not waiting for a final scene of true horror before the film abruptly ends which is refreshing to see and it also boats some insanely batshit performances (particularly Debi Kierst and Amy Borque). As previously mentioned there are moments of comedy throughout but some scenes are also downright disturbing - throw in some grisly murders and the outcome is actually a pretty well balanced film.

Looking forward to more work from Jason in the near future!

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Suffer the Little Children (2015)

(Online screener version)

Directed by Corey Norman

Written by Haley Norman

Stars: Anne Bobby, Andrew Lyndaker, Dan Domingues, Beth Sommerville

Many thanks to director Corey Norman for asking me to check out his new horror short Suffer the Little Children which is based on the short story by Stephen King (available as part of the Nightmares and Dreamscapes anthology). 

This is a short that will stick with you for some time (if you have a soul) and I have to confess that while I found it brilliantly realised by Corey and Haley Norman, there were moments I wanted to look away! 

This is a difficult one to review in the sense I don't want to give anything away for those who are unfamiliar with the short story and so I will leave it at a brief summary.  Anne Bobby who starred in the fantastic Nightbreed from the macabre Clive Barker plays a stressed school teacher who suspects something is horribly wrong with the children in her class. After a horrifying encounter with one of her pupils - a brilliantly eerie performance by Andrew Lyndaker - Anne's character Miss Sidley ends up on sick leave. When she returns however she has a dark plan to end the evils she is certain have taken hold of the school. 

What happens next is jaw dropping - the climax of this short is horrible yes but also extremely well executed and acted. The main question that soon remains is what is really going on at this school? 

There is a nice streak of ambiguity in Suffer the Little Children but do not let that put you off - I think it only adds to an effective film which really makes you think and reassess what you have just watched. Hats off to the Normans for an excellent and unsettling horror short which deserves to be seen by a wider audience. 

Monday, 5 October 2015

Bloody Island (2016)

(Online screener copy)

Written and directed by: Joseph P. Kelly

Stars: Christopher Woods Marlin, William 'Wildbear' Meyer, Stephen Cena, Jamie Morgan, 
Yolanda Evans, Joseph P. Kelly, Denys Ramos Jr, Mike Jones, Rhys Lyons, Todd Forkell, Erica Lorenzetti, Liza Pabon, Amelia Favata, Casey Litzenberger.

A few years back in 2012 I was lucky to get the chance to preview offbeat slasher movie Community Service (Review) and now I have had the opportunity to check out its insane sequel Bloody Island.

With a nice fast and frenzied recap of the original movie, Bloody Island  kicks off and one thing that struck me immediately was a vast improvement in the cinematography from the first film. I'm not sure if the budget for the film is any higher than Community Service  but it sure looks like it.

Another thing is continuity - I really like how various family members etc of the victims of Community Service  share their views on the bloodbath that killer Billy caused the first time around. It doesn't feel like exposition overkill in the slightest just a decent and creative way of bridging the gap between the movies and ensures audiences are confident that events from the original haven't been discarded in order to 'change things up' for the sequel.

So what horrors are in store in  Bloody Island?  Bob Butterfield is back following previous events and carries a lot of guilt for his part in Billy's childhood psychosis (which became ten times worse as an adult!).  Bob is a good guy but he makes some monumentally insane decisions - no less this time around when he agrees to escort another bunch of juvenile delinquents to a secluded island in order to supervise their punishment. Still, no bad decision = no horror movie so stay with it! This time around the island is home to an abandoned theme park (bar a few wonderfully odd carnies who have remained behind|) which really adds to the creepy atmosphere.

Killer Billy is still after Bob with an absolute vengeance...I recall having a slight moan about a mother/child scene in Community Service and another similar scene occurs in the opening act to this movie. In hindsight, this does reflect how detestable a man Billy is and its clear that all he honestly cares about is ending the life of the man he blames for all of his problems - no one is safe!

And this horrible scene is just the start of a sickening killing spree which will make you choke on your popcorn. Characters are spared no pain and I wont go into any spoilers on this but just be sure to keep your eyes open for some cruel theme park based executions.. Props to Joseph for not softening the blow and giving Bloody Island a real streak of the nasty!

I very much recommend Bloody Island and to grab a copy when its made available to the unsuspecting public. Its brutal and nasty but a hell of a lot of fun and follows on perfectly from the original film. Read more about it over here on Facebook!

Community Service - The Movie (2012)

(Online Screener Copy)

Directed by Joseph Kelly

Written by Joseph Lewis and David Berry

Stars: Christopher Woods, William Meyer, Joseph Kelly, Iliana Garcia, Caitlyn Kenyon, Hope Tomaselli, Renell Edwards, Marissa Mynter, Daniel Trinh, Tristan MacAvery, Joseph Thomson, Christopher Mele, Amy Downs.

Big thank you to film maker Joe Kelly for being kind enough to share his indie slasher flick Community Service with me! I am loving the recent spate (Raymond Did It anyone?) of indie horrors which appear to pay direct homage to some of the more obscure revenge slashers of the 80s such as Offerings and for me, Community Service does a great job in achieving this.

The plot of the film kicks off in the past where a young lonely boy, Billy, is accosted by a pair of mean kids who have been making his life a misery at school. The young lads go a step too far when they attempt to destroy something very close to Billy's heart causing him to snap and lose his temper. In a fit of rage Billy attacks and kills one of the bullies much to the horror of a number of onlookers.

20 years later Billy is in the nut house and not showing any sign of improvement on his anger issues, meanwhile the surviving bully, Bob, has become a local police officer. 'Officer Bob' has the thankless task of running a community service programme at a nearby camp ground which very unfortunately is situated close to the psychiatric ward that has become Billy's home.

Being a slasher flick, it goes without saying that Officer Bob and his young charges, all on the programme for various petty crimes, are in big trouble. Billy has made his escape following learning of Bobs position and whereabouts and he wants to finish what he started 20 years matter who else he has to kill along the way.

I really enjoyed this short but sweet slasher. It has all your required ingredients to make a successful body count movie: incident from the past rearing its ugly head, psychotic child growing up to be an even more psychotic adult, a motely group of teenagers with differing personalities and traits, and a number of good kills. My only real complaint about the movie was a scene involving a mother and child which I just found to be a bit unnecessary.

I also think the film turned out some fine performances. Most of the teens did a good job particularly Iliana Garcia and Caitlyn Kenyon and I also enjoyed Christopher Woods portrayal of Officer Bob.

I think Joe Kelly hit the nail on the head with Community Service its obvious he knows he slasher fare and used his knowledge to create a fun, well paced, often funny, at many times gory, horror film. I am extremely interested to know what Joe might be working on next and I will also be first in line to check it out. Head on over to the official Community Service: The Movie website to find out more about the film and show your support by grabbing a copy as soon as its released!

Monday, 7 September 2015

Dismembering Christmas (2015)

(Online Screener Copy)

Written by Steve Goltz and Kevin Sommerfield

Directed by Austin Bosley

Stars: Nina Kova, Johnathon Krautkramer, Leah Wiseman, Baker Chase Powell, Danielle Doetsch, Austin Bosley, Jennifer Lenius, Shannon McInnis, Marla Van Lanen and Scott Seagren

It really doesn't seem long ago that I was gearing up to watch the first feature from Slasher Studios Don't go to the Reunion but as we all know, time really does fly and I have now just finished the fantastic follow up; Dismembering Christmas. Another love letter to an era truly embraced by Slasher Studios, the 80s slice and dice, this film takes a hacksaw to the much loved yuletide holiday with gleeful abandon.

The film features a group of young friends celebrating at a lakeside cabin during a very snowy winter, while someone watches from afar, planning to take them out one by bloody one... so nothing overly new in the slasher plot side of things but really who cares? Any movie that plays homage to the body count films of the 1980s will always pique my interest! Dismembering Christmas is fun, creative and features a great ending sequence. It also boats numerous impressive performances- notably Nina Kova as lead girl Sam, Leah Wiseman and Danielle Doetsch as the warring Emma and Katie, Marla Van Lanen as Joan the odd ball neighbor and Baker Chase Powell as Mark.

Another important point to note is how GREAT this film looks. The cinematography is stellar, the direction by Austin Bosley is on point,even quirky at times and the snow just gives Dismembering Christmas the perfect winter chill.

Steve Goltz and Kevin Sommerfield have written a great, twisted script with laughs and frights and they are not afraid to kill off characters regardless of how nice and likable some of them are. Its a strange one as they have written two features now, both of which I would love to see sequels to (I'm a sequel guy) but at same time I want to see what new film they might pen next. who knows maybe one day they will have 8 horror features under their belts AND numerous sequels!

I whole  wholeheartedly recommend Dismembering Christmas and encourage you to check out is official Facebook and get a preorder in for the DVD in now!