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Mr. J. Ryden (In your mind, in the part you've forgotten about.)

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In Fear [DVD] [2013]
In Fear [DVD] [2013]
Dvd ~ Alice Englert
Price: 5.00

2.0 out of 5 stars Putting the Ire into Eire, 14 July 2014
This review is from: In Fear [DVD] [2013] (DVD)
If watching In Fear has taught me one thing, it's that the three actors have promising futures ahead of them, based on the strength of their performances. Moreover, there was a lot to like about the film; standout elements (besides the acting) were a solid script and beautiful cinematography (except for the night shots, which unfortunately comprise the majority of the running time...).

Tom invites Lucy (a girl he'd met two weeks prior) to a music festival in Ireland. Instead of meeting up with her friends at the site, as agreed, our amorous lothario decides to book them a hotel room for the night. Which of course, in horror films, is code for 'bad things to happen'. "Hey, rather than stick to the safety of numbers, let's strike out on our own - what's the worse that could happen?"

So after a never fully explained run-in with the yokels at some back-water pub, they are led to the hotel by an ominous land rover-cum-escort. Left to fend for themselves, events begin to take a decidedly odd turn as they get lost in the country lanes, all roads seemingly leading to anywhere but their hotel. On a side note, the exchange between the pair regarding sad fields and inanimate objects with emotions was wonderfully comedic.

It's at this point that the film drags. Darkness falls so we're restricted - in the main - to the car interior, as they drive haplessly along one identical looking lane after another, bickering with each other. It reminded me of Blair Witch in that regard. There's only so much that decent acting can carry a film in the absence of anything to hold the viewer's interest.

Things look up after they pick up Max, a mysterious stranger, who gives the film a well-needed kick up the derriere. The remaining 30 minutes or so are action-packed enough to slightly redeem the slow middle but by the end there were too many questions left unanswered and a vague feeling that this could have been far better than it was. As it stands, it would have been far stronger as a short film; there's just not enough to pad it out into a feature length film.

In short, not too bad a film which is only saved by three strong lead actors.

This Book Is Full Of Spiders: Seriously Dude Dont Touch It
This Book Is Full Of Spiders: Seriously Dude Dont Touch It
by David Wong
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.59

5.0 out of 5 stars This book is full of brilliance: Seriously dude, go read it, 6 Jun 2014
I love serendipity. I only stumbled across this book because it had the misfortune of being 'Klausnered' which piqued my curiosity. I lazily added this and the prequel to my Amazon wishlist and promptly forgot about them. The wife, bless her, took it upon herself to buy this book off my wishlist...which is how I came to open - only two days hence - this deliciously dark and humorous novel, despite the arachnid warnings.

This Book is Full of Spiders is definitely my favourite read of the year. Wong's prose, sense of humour, and visceral descriptions are second to none. As a horror book (which I wasn't remotely expecting) it stands amongst some of the finest - death scenes that are almost joyful in their gruesome attention to detail; a creeping sense of dread; yet still enough laughs to prevent it becoming too much (I regularly laughed out loud on the commute to work). What I found clever was where the narrative jumped backwards and forwards to capture the main character's timeline, sometimes with devastating effect - the asylum massacre chapter, in particular.

David and John unwittingly let loose an otherworldly lifeform which threatens to take over the world, starting at their small town. What starts off as a reasonably innocuous incident (if you consider invisible spiders taking over someone's body innocuous) sets forth a series of catalysts which ripples out of control. Can David and John save the day without succumbing themselves?

In short, a brilliant, brilliant page-turner of a book which had me begging for more. Being a wuss though, I stopped short of reading it before bed-time. Hey, don't look at me like that, didn't I mention the spiders were invisible?

Shackled [DVD]
Shackled [DVD]
Dvd ~ Abimana Aryasatya
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: 6.00

3.0 out of 5 stars Surreal killer thriller, 3 Jun 2014
This review is from: Shackled [DVD] (DVD)
Shackled (aka Belenggu) is a quirky little number which I stumbled across whilst browsing Lovefilm for new rental ideas. Elang is an awkward loner who inhabits his narrow world of dreary apartment complex and seedy bar job with an air of quiet resignation. His dreams are haunted by a beautiful stranger and a psycho-killer-in-a-life-sized-bunny-suit with a penchance for sharp things. You could be forgiven for immediately thinking 'Donnie Darko' although I hasten to add Shackled more than punches its weight.

The lines between dream and reality become blurred as it becomes apparent there is actually a killer on the loose, followed by the mysterious woman from his reveries enveigling herself into his life. What is uncertain is what she wants from Elang and, indeed, whether she is real or a figment of his imagination.

From the blurb, parrallels have been drawn with David Lynch; whether this is a fair comparison is subjective however what I would say is that the dream sequences are fabulously realised and oozing with quiet menace. On a similar note, for those of a squeamish disposition, there isn't a great deal of on-screen gore; instead relying on implied violence (which can be more effective than the former).

In short, Shackled is certainly worth a punt for those that like something out-of-ordinary.

Evidence [DVD]
Evidence [DVD]
Dvd ~ Stephen Moyer
Price: 5.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Shaky-cam whodunnit, 7 May 2014
This review is from: Evidence [DVD] (DVD)
US Law enforcement agencies use film and photographic evidence to solve thousands of cases; this is one such case - so the introductory blurb tells us.

I must admit - being a sucker for whizz-bang special effects - I was highly impressed with the opening scene, as the camera pans round the crime scene. I'm not technically minded enough to know how it's done though it is a wonderfully stylised introduction to the film; however I was a little disappointed once it segued into another first-person shaky cam number.

So the film establishes that there has been a mass murder in the middle of the desert, with a number of charred and part dismembered bodies as gruesome testamony. Amidst the carnage a camcorder recording is found; the only clue the detectives have to track the killer. So essentially it's a mixture of race-against-time whodunnit and found footage thriller.

I think what surprised me most was that despite a very able cast and a director with some decent films under his belt, it didn't really hit the mark for me. In hindsight I would have preferred a straightforward narrative (albeit) retrospectively rather than the found footage route - perhaps akin to Usual Suspects, which Evidence reminded of at times. Due to fact most of the 'killing scenes' are shot in the dark - coupled with usual disorientation from such genre - it's hard to make out what is happening in some scenes.

On the other hand, it's certainly worth a watch if you're stuck for something to do. Some scenes work well, and it does will to ratchet-up the tension in the right parts; the blow-torch scene is a particularly good scene, especially as the viewer gets to 'enjoy' it from two perspectives. Lastly, the ending; I had mixed feelings to be honest, it's not exactly expected then again I felt it still raised a few unanswered questions.

In short, a reasonable and diverted film which will entertain, though detractors of the shaky-cam genre might not be appealed.

Colony [DVD]
Colony [DVD]
Dvd ~ Laurence Fishburne
Price: 3.60

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Plenty of action, easy on the substance, 1 Feb 2014
This review is from: Colony [DVD] (DVD)
Bill Paxton & Laurence Fishburne in the same film; sounds like a recipe for a great movie, right? Well, it's good but falls short of being great.

Contrary to the eco warnings of global warming the Earth enters another ice age instead, once the snow began to fall it didn't stop; of course (as cataclysmic events have a habit of doing) this wipes out the majority of life, with the lucky few founding colonies hoping to survive the permafrost. After receiving a distress signal from a neighbouring colony, a scouting group is despatched to investigate the source.

Of course, they're hardly going to be met by a welcoming commitee bearing mulled wine and warm mince pies, as we find out what befell the hapless colonists.

On paper it sounded like a great premise (not to mention the two big names, above) however it lacked a certain punch that would have made it a better experience. Certainly, there is plenty in the way of action and assorted violence, and there are some decent ideas floating about; elements of dystopian society, the fear of the common cold, and turning the convention of an overheating planet on its head (albeit borrowed heavily from The Day After Tomorrow and other films of its ilk).

Where it didn't quite work was that it tried to fit too much into a reasonably lean running time of 90 minutes. For instance, the love interest plot angle could have been easily sacrificed in order to concentrate more on expanding upon other plot lines (the most pertinent being the origins of the 'baddies'). Also, given the vast canon of cracking films under their belts, it felt like Fishburne and Paxton were largely coasting through their roles; instead the focus was given to easy-on-the-eye lead, Zeger.

In short, The Colony is a diverting and action-packed film however it could have delivered more had it relied more on the experienced big-guns and given more attention to the back-story.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 20, 2014 2:52 PM GMT

Silver Linings Playbook [DVD]
Silver Linings Playbook [DVD]
Dvd ~ Bradley Cooper
Price: 5.00

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Crazy In Love, 10 Dec 2013
I was determined not to like 'Silver Linings'. I set my stall out in advance; knowing I wouldn't enjoy yet another chick flick, as it was the wife's turn to choose. However I figured i'd be the bigger person and not make my disdain evident. As it happens, five minutes in I knew I was going to like it; by the end it was all I could do to hide my enthusiasm ('ha, see I told you!).

Bradley Cooper plays Pat brilliantly, recently released from a psychiatric hospital whose only goal is to be reunited with his estranged wife; convincing himself that if he only shed a few pounds and became a better person they could pick up where they left off. Jennifer Lawrence is equally excellent as Tiffany (with issues of her own) whom he befriends as a vehicle to establish contact with said estranged wife. De Niro is weirdly cast against type - which works really well - as Pat's father, clearly uncomfortable around his son (I found it highly amusing as his OCD behaviour only escapes attention by virtue of Pat's illness). With Jacki Weaver as his wife - quite possibly the only 'sane' character in the story.

At heart Silver Linings 'is' the archetypal love story (will they; won't they) however with far more depth and pathos than I expected. It does very well to toe the fine line between being overly mawkish or dispiriting. While at times it is an extremely sad film (musn't let the wife see me cry, dammit) there are enough moments of levity to maintain the right tempo. Overall the fact that it manages all this in an understated manner is a testament to the director and very able cast.

In short, a wonderful feel good film which tackles the themes of loss, mental health and love with a measured hand. Definitely my favourite non-horror film of the last year or two.

Necromentia [DVD] [2009]
Necromentia [DVD] [2009]
Dvd ~ Stephanie Joyce
Offered by rsdvd
Price: 2.89

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Extreme and disturbing horror with soul, 25 Nov 2013
This review is from: Necromentia [DVD] [2009] (DVD)
I actually rented out Necromentia on the back of reasonably favourable reviews on Lovefilm. After watching what I thought was one of the best indy horror films i've seen since Absentia i'm surprised by the number of 1* reviews it has attracted.

From the outset it must be stated that Necromentia is quite often very uncomfortable viewing; the levels of sadomasochism and the outright bizarre it achieves will not sit well to all but the hardiest of horror-buffs. Suffice it to say, the wife was at best 'bemused'. In fairness though, this is partly what lent to its appeal; the fact that it eschews the usual horror conventions (i've come to the conclusion that the most effective horrors are those which leave the viewer in a state of limbo - the possibility that what you're about to watch is nothing you've ever experienced). Standard horror fare follows the formula - opening five minutes show some gore to whet the appetite; slow build up for 30 minutes to allow character development - remaining running time to reveal the 'baddie' and generally kill off cast - final five minutes optional twist ending.

With Necromentia, however, the viewer is thrown straight into the thick of it without any context, and from there it doesn't really let up. Though a lean running time of just over 80 minutes it packs a huge punch, and ensures you never get that comfort zone. In terms of plot, it's definitely a case of appreciating the story with the benefit of hindsight as it's only a good half hour in that it makes any sense at all; again exacerbating the feeling of disorientation.

Obvious parallels with the Hellraiser franchise can be made - the demon in particular seemed a plagiarised version of Butterball Cenobite - however it still works well as film on its own merit. Had it little going for it other than just gratuitous violence then I wouldn't have been so generous. As it is however, the story itself is a clever series of three short tales of loss and revenge deftly woven together. The acting is actually top-notch for such a low-budget flick; there isn't a foot wrong in terms of casting with each actor playing their parts well. For me, it was the little things which added to the experience; the relationship between Travis and his brother was surpisingly sensitive to the point where I felt sorry for this crushed man.

In short, a disturbing yet intelligent hidden gem which will appeal to horror buffs with sufficiently strong stomachs.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 18, 2013 9:26 AM GMT

Last Experiment [DVD]
Last Experiment [DVD]
Dvd ~ Eric Wostenberg
Price: 5.39

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The drugs don't work..., 30 Oct 2013
This review is from: Last Experiment [DVD] (DVD)
What could possibly go wrong; two college friends deciding to donate their bodies to the pursuit of science and beer money? Which is how Rob and Greg come to find themselves volunteering themselves as human pin-cushions for two weeks at the ultra-modern Pharmaceutical stronghold; ostensibly to test the efficacy of a prototype antihistamine in return for a few hundred dollars.

Shortly after arriving they are met by Nigel, who acts as their quasi tour-guide; a hyperactive and wild-eyed schtick like a latter day Brad Pitt in Twelve Monkeys, with a hint of Captain Sparrow thrown in. They then meet the rest of the inmates, sorry, volunteers a number of whom boast long-service awards as evidenced by trackmarks up their arms. As an aside, The Last Experiment does boast a decent cast who hold the film together well.

Of course it was never going to be an easy paycheck for them as they begin the course of injections; which begin to elicit 'interesting' side effects in the group; all closely monitored by the facility and easy-on-the-eye Dr Wilcox. What I quite liked about the film was that it didn't opt for the easy way out in attempting to emulate the excellent 28 Days Later, turning everyone into murderous savages; there was a lot more thought that went into the plot. Granted, it was never going to be a picnic but despite the 18 certificate it's rather restrained on the blood 'n' guts.

All told it's a decent and solid flick however I didn't feel it packed enough punch to nudge it into 4* territory.

Mine Games [DVD]
Mine Games [DVD]
Dvd ~ Briana Evigan
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: 4.04

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mine, all mine!, 22 Oct 2013
This review is from: Mine Games [DVD] (DVD)
You've seen it all before. Group of friends going on a holiday when their car inevitably breaks-down. Cue the standard stalk-and-slash of hapless teenagers fare, right? Well, not quite. Whilst the rest of their journey resumes without incident, things take a decidedly metaphysical turn when they discover a disused mine within the forest; and what they find within makes you soon realise this isn't the typical slasher flick (indeed the 15 certificate is indicative of the high on psychological horror/low on visceral horror approach).

For a 'horror' film (I use the word loosely) it's actually got a pretty decent cast albeit not used to their full potential; which is a shame as the horror genre generally only attracts stars in their fledgling careers or once their stock is on the wane. While a half-decent film, I felt that it was let down by weakly drawn characters and a story board that didn't have sufficient backbone; which resulted in lots of to-ing and fro-ing between the titular mine and their holiday home - to the point where it felt overly contrived.

Where it did redeem itself was towards the end when the plot reveal is made (which was done very well); this in itself raised the film out of the below-average category. However, that only served to call to mind similiar films did better - Melissa George's Triangle (that could probably be taken out of context...) and the much superior Los Cronocrímenes.

In short, not a bad film by any chalk however a decidedly missed opportunity given the strong cast and the template already provided by the aforementioned films.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 6, 2013 9:32 AM GMT

The Bay [DVD]
The Bay [DVD]
Dvd ~ Kristen Connolly
Price: 4.50

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Above average eco-horror mockumentary, 28 Aug 2013
This review is from: The Bay [DVD] (DVD)
Occasionally i'll rent or buy a film, despite negative reviews, on the hope it will be better but invariably being disappointed. The Bay is one of those rarities where I was expecting a train wreck but actually turned-out to be pretty decent. I wouldn't go as far as to say 'great' but it's a worthwhile Saturday night flick.

The idea behind the film was solid, and evidently had some thought gone into it. The central premise being Chesapeake Bay's main contributor to the local economy (intensive chicken farming) has wrought serious havoc on the marine eco-system. This in turn has let loose a mega-parasite which has made it's way into the human food chain. This puts a real dampener on their July 4th celebrations - apparently it's hard to enjoy yourself when you're being eaten inside out by wee beasties.

The premise is that media intern, Stephanie, happens to be covering the celebrations, which accounts for her footage as she documents the town's swift descent into chaos and general blood-letting. In tandem with her quasi narration, we also have the found footage of two (since deceased) marine biologists whose research helps to bring the viewer up to speed insomuch how the parasites came to be.

The effects themselves are pretty decent, with a fair bit of CGI thrown in. So where it's short of blood and guts it compensates with a creeping dread, the inexorable fear that nothing will stop the parasite.

Where The Bay didn't work so well was the media student, who I found rather grating at times which made it hard to identify with her as the lead character. Also I found it 'convenient' how the chaos occured too abruptly; I though it would have worked better if tracked over a longer timescale than just 24 hours.

Otherwise, it was a watchable and sobering lesson in how mother nature has a habit of retaliating.

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