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Dead Girl [DVD] [2006]
Dead Girl [DVD] [2006]
Dvd ~ Shiloh Fernandez
Price: £3.97

22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Monsters come in all shapes and sizes..., 13 Aug 2011
This review is from: Dead Girl [DVD] [2006] (DVD)
Dead Girl was never going to be an easy watch but I knew what I was letting myself in for after reading the blurb on the back of the film case. I've never been one to shy away from controversial films and have over the years seen the best and worst of what has been made and this film sits somewhere in the middle in terms of just how unsettling it actually was. Rape is always a controversial subject matter to tackle on film but combining it with horror themes of the apparent undead seemed to magnify just how horrific the assaults actually were. If the film had any sort of message contained in its narrative it would be that monsters can take any form, here the monster is clearly JT and his need to satisfy his sexual urges, he uses and abuses the girl without any consideration for her own situation, he isn't sympathetic or even curious as to why she is there or how long she has been abandoned for he simply sees her as something to screw. Rickie on the other hand is the more sympathetic of the two but even so has his own issues that make him a rather flawed character, he refuses to touch the girl and knows that JT is doing wrong and whilst he does make a half hearted attempt to free her he never commits to doing the right thing. Instead he allows JT to hold influence over him and in doing so makes him complicit.

The early parts of the film manage to build and maintain a great deal of tension as you never know quite what is going to happen next, for much of the opening sections the girl is JT and Rickie's dark secret, no one knows about her but them and JT exploits his influence over his friend. As the film progresses though more characters find out about the girl and this is where the film, for me, went a little off the rails. The more people that find out about DeadGirl the more ridiculous the film becomes as we are expected to believe that any teenage boy with raging hormones would choose to rape rather than help the girl, whilst I didn't get the impression the film was particularly 'anti-men' it certainly could be accused of being so and for me it should have been restricted to just the two main characters and their conflicting beliefs rather than bringing in other characters and expecting them to share the secret.

It's a difficult film to admire in all honesty and although bloody in places it isn't a mainstream horror, the film makers are deliberately vague in explaining who the girl is and why she is where she is so anyone looking for clear cut answers will be disappointed. The pacing is often times slow and the narrative seems to wander off in random directions and I often got the feeling that the film was trying to be more 'art house' than horror/drama. Acting wise all of the lead characters are good, both JT and Rickie are strongly portrayed and believable, JT is by far the darker of the two and Noah Segan does play the part well. The girl played by Jenny Spain doesn't have much to do for the majority of the film, she never speaks only grunts and always appears naked, she isn't the focus of the film though even though she is the titular character its the people around her who we follow, even in her somewhat limited role Spain does remain in character throughout and does give an outstanding performance.

Whilst the mid section of the film does seem to wander and loose focus by the time it comes to the end it manages to pack quite a punch with a visually shocking conclusion. The make up effects at the end are particularly good and look very realistic and a nice twisted ending should satisfy those with a sick sense of humour. The ending is worth waiting for and although I did lose interest in the film in places I did like the ending so it made the overall commitment to the film worthwhile.

It isn't a film for the faint-hearted and many will be appalled at what takes place so hopefully my review will serve as a warning that it does deal with some very heavy issues. For me it was a curious film and whilst I wouldn't say I 'enjoyed' it I did like the ending and the characterisations. 3 stars as a rating seems fair, thanks for reading my review.


Growth [DVD]
Growth [DVD]
Dvd ~ Mircea Monroe
Price: £4.82

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Terror is skin deep (apparently), 13 Aug 2011
This review is from: Growth [DVD] (DVD)
It has to be said that this film can only be described as "complicated", in actual fact confusing would be more of an accurate description of the film as, for me, it just didn't seem to know what it was. Billed as a horror film the premise fits nicely into the genre that of survival films where there has been an infection or outbreak of some sort, these have been the staple for many films over the years and I expected Growth to be another example. It isn't. There are horrific elements, don't get me wrong, flesh crawling parasites which burrow in and out of the body are not the nicest things in the world to look at and this is essentially what the story is about but oddly the film seems to focus more on the lead characters, their purpose on the island and who they interact with rather than following the usual path of trying to survive an outbreak and in doing so this makes the film feel like a horror film but without the horror.

There are so many parrarel-running subplots in the film that it soon becomes a mess, none are are well explained, they end up taking the focus away from the action and their inclusion is uneccessary. Characters are introduced that you know are going to be important and that their role relevant to the plot but because their stories are not explained or expanded upon you soon loose track of who they are and what part they figure in the whole story. Sections of the narrative go absolutely nowhere and sequences end without explanation, the film is so badly edited in places that I couldn't actually understand what was happening at times and I failed to grasp the real premise of the film, my plot summary above tries to pick out the main points of the film but in all honesty it's so convoluted and confused that it just ended up confusing me more than anything else. There's little to no tension in the film, the well used formula of ramping up the expectations that something bad is about to happen never fulfils its potential and overall the film just limps along confusing its audience without any scares whatsoever.

The CGI rendered parasites had the chance to be scary, I remember the film 'Squrim' from the early 80's which had a similar premise as did "Slither" that appeared a few years later. Both of those films featured crawling insect-like parasites (and worms) which burrowed themselves deep into their victims skin and many sequences featured nice special effects of undulating ripples on the skin when the creatures moved just below the surface. In "Growth" the film makers tried to show the same rippling effect but because they were so obviously computer generated they looked false and badly animated, the special effects here certainly didn't make my flesh crawl which should be a given in this type of film and like everything else about the film as a whole I was left very disappointed. Similarly the blood effects are very underplayed, there are no real gross-out moments which you might expect from a film dealing with parasites that eat their hosts from the inside out and other than a few sequences that feature creatures that look like bloated and bloody worms there's nothing here that would upset anybody I don't think.

All of the actors are competent in their roles, you are never given the chance to get to know the characters they play so have little sympathy for them when they become infected, the characters that they meet are equally unmemorable and the 90 minute running time felt a lot longer than it actually was. Towards the end of the film I had lost interest with it to be honest, it didn't capture or maintain my imagination or keep me glued to the screen, I saw it out simply to see what happened at the end but I couldn't have cared less really when the credits began to roll and the screen faded to black. The film is only a 15 certificate so clearly nothing too bad that would offend many people, there are short instances where blood is shed but these aren't particularly gory and really shouldn't have anyone recoiling in horror at anything they see here. Overall the film is a poor attempt to do something which has been done far better in the past and if "Growth" is the best that the film makers could come up with then frankly, they shouldn't have bothered. A creature-feature it isn't, neither is it a horror film nor a survival flick, what it actually is is a waste of 90 minutes in all honesty and even at three quid wasn't worth the money I paid for it.

I didn't enjoy the film, that should be obvious by now and I certainly wouldn't recommend this to anyone else, cheap price or not.


Cradle Will Fall [DVD]
Cradle Will Fall [DVD]
Dvd ~ Colleen Porch
Price: £5.75

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars When the Bough Breaks..., 13 Aug 2011
This review is from: Cradle Will Fall [DVD] (DVD)
Essentially a 'cat and mouse' film, Cradle will Fall tackles the disturbing subject matter of filicide (the killing of one's own child or children) which, as far as horror films are concerned is something rarely portrayed on film even in this genre. Generally there's a formula when it comes to these types of film and it's usually a case of pitting a bad guy against a group of hapless teens and watching as all but one are sliced and diced leaving the hero (or heroine) to gain the upper hand, take on the bad guy and survive. This film is different, the bad guy is the mother (and she isn't bad, she's having a mental breakdown) and her victims are her own children. Hugely exploitative, even more so when an on-screen graphic states that the film is based on true events this is one film which will quite rightly divide its audience.

Some people simply wont be able to watch it given the subject matter, some will say it's a step too far and perhaps they're right. I watched the film under the assumption that the film makers wouldn't actually allow a mother to kill her own children, surely it would be a generic cat and mouse film, I thought. All the kids would hide and get close to being caught, tensions would rise and the film would play on the peril of the situation but ultimately there would be a hero who comes to save the day at the end, the kids would survive and the mother get the help she needed...

Once again I was proven to be wrong, I really shouldn't make assumptions as 'Cradle will Fall' *does* feature child killings and doesn't shy away from shocking its audience with its content. A small cast of just six; mom, dad and 4 children of varying age from newborn to 10 years old the film's first 30 minutes follow what looks like an everyday family existence, time is spent following the mother as we slowly witness her depression take her deeper into her own dark places and when she snaps the results are truly shocking.

The film has a very short running time of only 68 minutes and doesn't waste time with superfluous detail, it has a strong narrative which stays firmly on track and the majority of the focus is on the mother and her eldest child, Jimmy. Collen Porch as the mom is compelling in this film, absolutely believable in her portrayal of a deeply disturbed character she commands the audiences attention and pulls off a complex performance. It's a strange mix of empathy and revulsion you feel for her as you can almost relate to the despair she feels but it's impossible to understand the things she does. I'm not going to discuss the details of the killings in the film as they wll be very upsetting for some people to read, they're certainly not as gratitous or exploitative as they could have been and are shown off screen with the camera focusing mainly on the mothers face and her eldest sons reaction, suffice to say it eventually comes down to a face-off between Jimmy and his mother and many chase sequences as Jimmy tries to evade capture.

It stands to reason that this is going to be a horror film with limited appeal, the idea is far more shocking than how it is presented thankfully but many people will choose to base their decision not to watch it on the subject matter alone. It certainly isnt a film to enjoy, the usual cliched cat and mouse elements that make up similar films are intensified and feel far more believeable here and I do think that overall the balance falls on the exploitative side rather than anything thought-provoking.

Would I recommend it? In all honesty, no I wouldn't but at the price it is available for it is a cheap film and I guess there is a market for it otherwise it would never have been made or released. Overall then there's not that much going for the film other than its low price tag, I do think the subject matter could have been handled better and the ending does spoil the film as a whole so as far as my rating goes I'm awarding 2 stars. Collen Porch is outstanding in her portyal as the mother and the young cast cope with what they have to do well but it isnt a film I would recommend given everything I've mentioned in this review.


The Rite [DVD] [2011]
The Rite [DVD] [2011]
Dvd ~ Anthony Hopkins
Price: £4.21

3.0 out of 5 stars The 'Rite' Stuff? Nah, not really..., 13 Aug 2011
This review is from: The Rite [DVD] [2011] (DVD)
The Rite was a difficult film to get my head around if I'm being honest. I wanted to like it, I really did - it stars Anthony Hopkins and it's a horror film so that was two reasons straight away as to why I should have enjoyed it yet I left the cinema feeling somewhat deflated after seeing it. I wasn't disappointed with the film at all but I didn't feel excited by it either, it passed by a couple of hours and had some very good scenes in it but overall I just felt indifferent to it all and that's not what a film should leave anyone feeling. I'll attempt to explain what I thought was good and what I felt let the film down in this review but it's difficult to muster up much enthusiasm for it I have to admit.

So, the good then. Anthony Hopkins is without doubt excellent in The Rite, he is as compelling as ever and gives a strong performance which holds your attention throughout. His acting style is effortless, he doesn't try to be anything other than who is and any Hopkins fan should find plenty to enjoy from his performance here. By playing the experienced yet unorthodox older exorcist he has a worldy-wise approach to his business and presents his beliefs very matter-of-factly to his young apprentice, Michael. It's unfair to compare Hopkings portrayal here to that of his most iconic role of Hannibal Lecter but there are similarities which cannot be ignored especially during the latter stages of the film where the plot takes an unexpected twist (although anyone with any intelligence would be see what was coming from a mile off so shouldn't be that surprised to see what happens to Father Lucas).

Because Hopkins is _so_ associated with Lecter and is, to my mind anyway, always going to have to live up to that role in any other horror film in which he appears especially if he has to take on the 'bad guy' character. I suppose it is a testament to this great actors ability that he can deliver such commanding and engaging performances but for me his casting in The Rite was an odd choice given the Lecter connection and to many people the Father Lucas character will be seen just as an extension of Hannibal and that is a shame. For anyone who hasn't seen The Silence of the Lambs or it's two sequels then they're in for a treat here to see Hopkins at his confident and mutli-faceted best, he snarls his way though his dialogue in his later scenes and his character and does grab your attention and keeps it firmly focused on him throughout the film and for me was the only reason I actually bothered to watch it through to the end otherwise I probably would have lost interest half way through.

Almost as impressive is Colin O'Donaghue as the conflicted and confused Michael Kovak, he is believable as the rookie priest with doubts about his faith and manages to portray his confusion well. He isn't quite as compelling as Hopkins but given what his role is in the film he is more of an introspective character who ends up becoming dwarfed by the situation he finds himself in. Whilst the acting is fine from everyone and the characters they portray being believeable in the context of the plot and how it plays out there's just something about The Rite which, ironically, isn't right...

I think the main problem with the film is that its been done before, most notably in The Exorcist from the mid 70's. Anyone familiar with this well known and controversial film will know the infamy and notoriety that surrounds it, the subject matter was shocking at the time, the film banned in the UK after being withdrawn from release and to many it is one of the most genre-defining horror films ever. The Rite tackles exorcism in much the same way as the earlier film and there are obvious similarities between the two, there has to be though to be fair, it's the same subject after all but for me being a fan of the 1970's film and growing up hearing so much about it and having to wait years to be able to see it there is always the strong likelihood that no other film could ever match it in terms of how influential it actually was, to me anyway. This is the problem with The Rite, the film cannot compete with The Exorcist and for me ended up being a pale imitation. That doesn't mean it's not good, there are some scenes which are excellently done and very effective *but* at the back of my mind when I was watching it I couldn't help but compare the two films and concluded that it was taking too much inspiration from the earlier film and basically attempting to remake it to a new audience. It has the same sombre feel as The Exorcist, it's incredibly tense at times with no attempts to inject any light moments or any humour, everything about it is dark and oppressive and a reference to 'head spinning' and 'pea soup' which were included as a nod to the earlier film felt out of place and cheap in all honesty.

It's running time of just under 2 hours doesn't help either, the film feels too long and drags in places and whilst there are obvious reasons for the inclusion of some scenes it just felt too slow. It is a film that is character driven and time is spent getting to know both of the male lead characters, the early and drawn out introduction to Micheal takes too long to get him in the right place for the action to start but once he is with Father Lucas and the exorcism subject addressed it does begin to pick up pace and the final 30 to 40 minutes are just about worth the commitment you have to give to get that far. The exorcism scenes are good I have to admit, they manage to unsettle and are presented very effectively and are in keeping with the theme of darkness and malevolence and had the running time been a little shorter and punchier these scenes alone could have made me feel more positive about the film as a whole. For me the film should have been excellent and could have been but it is let down by its slow pacing and obvious similarities to a bigger and better film.

As far as the production goes the film looks impressive, set in Rome for the majority of the running time there are some nice city shots which give the film a wide and epic feel. The use of a mainly grey and blue palette in colour choices gives the film a certain bleakness which always works well in horror and the soundtrack features the standards of strings and piano chords which resonate and highlight significant moments. There's nothing wrong with how the film is presented, it comes with the attention to detail you would expect from a major American release and the make-up effects in the film look realistic and not too heavily reliant on CGI which makes for a nice change. The cast is impressive, the exorcism scenes are well done and there is a sense of pervading dread which stays in keeping with how the film is presented, it could be accused of being a little too dark in tone though and perhaps could have done with some lighter moments just as contrast to the darker moments but overall there is little to complain about how it is presented or executed other than feeling too long.

Overall though The Rite gets three stars as a rating from me, Anthony Hopkins alone couldn't save the film from being anything other than a seen-it-all before struggle between good and evil and despite being excellent in his portrayal as Father Lucas the film, overall, lacked the impact of others that have been done before and for me was far too forgettable to be given a glowing recommendation.


Switch Killer [DVD]
Switch Killer [DVD]
Dvd ~ Alixandra Agar
Offered by rsdvd
Price: £2.17

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Switch it Off!, 13 Aug 2011
This review is from: Switch Killer [DVD] (DVD)
Fleeing an abusive boyfriend, Jamie up-sticks and flees to Las Vegas to work in a strip club. Attempting to put the past behind her she moves in with her grandmother and finds comfort in the arms of another woman, tormented by the last words her boyfriend uttered to her - "I will change" - Jamie slowly begins to build a new life for herself.

All is going well for her until a stranger shows up on the scene; a mysterious woman with long black hair and a long black dress. She seems to be stalking Jamie, always there in the background and making her presence known - could she be a link to the recent spate of killings that have taken place in the club where Jamie works and just _who_ is the stranger? Jamie receives a bunch of flowers with a note attached which reads "I've Changed" but who sent it? Jamie is confused and people are dying around her. Will she be able to work out what is happening to her and stay alive? You could find out for yourself by watching the film but really, don't bother.

From my plot summary I'm sure there aren't many people reading this who wont know who the mysterious stranger is and as the film itself doesn't attempt to shroud this secret in any mystery whatsoever it's not a spoiler to reveal that Jamie's ex has only gone ahead and got himself a sex change. I bet that came a shock, no? The title of the film did kinda give it away and it's original title on IMDB and in the states is "Trans-American Killer". Subtle, I'm sure you'll agree.

Anyway, apparently we are led to believe that the hero of our story has run away to Vegas, is now a lesbian (who has had a string of lovers) lives with her grandmother who thinks her grandaughter works in a restaurant even though she wears copious amounts of really, really, _really_ thickly applied makeup and wears very little by the way of clothing. Oh and it's New Years eve too even though there are no signs of anything remotely christmassy or seasonal around anywhere and to top it all this all takes place 6 months after Jamie ran away from her boyfriend in the opening scenes of the film.

Honestly there are so many plot holes that it's a wonder the film could actually hold itself together in the first place, at only 70 minutes in length it's a wonderful example of what not to do in a horror film and has absolutely no redeeming qualities at all other than a few sequences of topless dancers writhing around their stripper poles. Everything about the film is cheap, the cinematography is shocking and looks like it was filmed on really low quality film that reminded me of American sitcoms from the 70's and the music is *so* inappropriate at times that it just didn't fit in with what the film was supposed to be about and instead features some generic-sounding filler music which might as well have been lifted from any of the overblown, overly dramatic Soaps from the 80's (Dynasty and Falcon Crest came to my mind for some inexplicable reason)

The biggest and most obvious plot hole of them all though is, of course, the fact that Jamie's ex boyfriend is now a woman. He isn't. The film makers make no attempt at all to disguise the fact that its the same actor but in badly fitting polyester wig and some lipstick. There is an absolutely ridiculous scene during the film when Jamie speaks to the stranger and we see him full face, she fails to recognise her ex even though it's *so* obvious that its him and any hope the audience may have had for Jamie goes flying out of the window at that point. She is *so* stupid that frankly she deserves to get what's coming to her I concluded when I saw that sequence, he doesn't even try to change the pitch of his voice or appear to be feminine in anyway, he wobbles around on stiletto heels in a rather butch manner yet his ex-girlfriend doesn't recognise him. I would under usual circumstances think that this would be funny, instead it really annoyed me that the film makers didn't even attempt to conceal the identity of the killer and who he really was and that we were supposed to believe that Jamie wouldn't recognise him. Ridiculous, absolutely stupid and quite frankly offensive to any Trans-Gendered watchers of this film I would imagine, a 'bloke in a frock' sums up the killer in this film and shame on those who made it.

I don't often get annoyed whilst watching films as I usually just take them for what they are and then move on. Switch Killer scrapes the dirt underneath the proverbial bottom of the barrel as far as I'm concerned and I didn't even bother watching it all, instead I set the DVD to fast forward just to make sure there were no surprises at the end (which there weren't) and then stuffed the DVD back into its case where it will never see daylight again. There are no positive aspects to seeing this film, the killings are poorly executed with obvious fake blood effects, all of the faux-lesbian sex scenes are awkward to watch as the actresses look as if they're bored and any attempts to build tension are underplayed and over far too quickly. There are long sequences devoted to watching Vegas strippers perform pole and lap dances so female nudity is featured heavily in the film, depending on what floats your boat these could be seen as a reason to watch the film but in all honesty you'd be better off sticking some soft porn on instead or seeking out your thrills online as even these aren't anything to get overly excited about.

All in all Switch Killer is a terrible film even by my standards. I don't often award a single star to films as I can generally find something positive to say about them, I can't in this case other than it does end after 70 minutes. Life is far too short to spend more than an hour of your precious time on this piece of drivel so my advice would be to not bother and look for something else.

Overall: Avoid!!


No Title Available

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars When tablets can't quite hit the spot..., 13 Aug 2011
I don't know if its just a sign of getting older or whether it's just one of those things that happen during periods of stress but over the past few weeks I have had various aches and pains in my arms and shoulders. I know they're muscular in origin rather than being a symptom of anything more sinister but a recent bout of frozen shoulder on my right hand side had me crawling the walls (not literally I hasten to add, I couldn't raise my right arm at all at one point!) in pain and discomfort and seeking advice from my doctor I was advised to rest and take anti inflammatory pain killers. I've always taken Ibuprofen in tablet form for headaches and general pains in the past but wanting something specifically to apply to my shoulder to help try and alleviate the dull ache and shooting pain that was permanently there I looked at the various topical gels that are available to buy and avoiding the big brand names decided to settle for the subject of this review, Mentholatum's Ibuprofen Gel.

Contained in a red box the tube of Ibuprofen gel is unremarkable in appearance, the twist top is easily removed and once a pin or sharp ended implement is pushed into the protective seal the gel is easily dispensed onto your hand. It's a clear gel, odourless and has a slightly sticky consistency to it and using my left hand I applied a little of the gel onto my right shoulder making circular movements ensuring that a thin layer of gel covered the affected area. Allowing time for the gel to absorb into my skin the first sensation I felt was that of coldness, it wasn't unpleasant, it didn't make my skin tingle nor did it hurt but the gel does take a little time to get used to but seemed to soak into my skin after a few minutes. I wouldn't recommend over applying this gel as a little does seem to go a long way and whilst there may be a temptation to cake it onto your skin I would imagine that there's only so much it can absorb and there is real chance that a lot could be wasted if over used. After around 15 minutes my shoulder seemed to feel slightly better, the shooting pains I had at the slightest of movement seemed to diminish and although I still couldn't actually lift my arm the gel did provide some relief from the pain it was giving me. By using the gel 3 times a day giving around 4 hours between applications I managed to get through the worst of the discomfort and as my shoulder began to regain its mobility I was able to lift my arm away from my chest and reduce the applications until it was no longer needed.

On the tube itself there are various warnings and instructions for use. The main ones to take notice of are that the gel should *not* be used in conjunction with other NSAID products (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory such as tablet form Ibuprofen) it stands to reason that there is a very high chance of overdosing on Ibuprofen if you use the gel alongside tablets and whilst paracetamol and ibuprofen can be taken together and the compliment one another you really do need to be careful. It is recommended that the gel be used up to 3 times a day but not for a period exceeding 2 weeks and naturally you should consult your doctor if the discomfort persists. Asthmatics or anyone taking aspirin need to either avoid this all together or seek medical advice before using, I do take aspirin daily and my doctor said this was OK for me to use but of course every one is different and you should check if any of the warnings are of concern. Pregnant women and those breast feeding should also be aware that this isn't recommended for you and children under 14 years of age are warned against using it too.

The active ingredients in the Gel are Ibuprofen ph 5% and water, Ethanol, Propylene Glycol and Di-isopropanolamine Carbomer. Recommended for use to relieve pain caused by backache, rheumatic and muscular pains, sprains, strains, lumbago and fibrositis I would certainly recommend this gel to anyone who wants something to apply directly to the source of discomfort. For me it helped dampen my pain, it didn't take it away completely but it made my condition more manageable whilst my shoulder repaired itself. I do think its antinflammatory properties helped me and rather than take ibuprofen in its tablet form I felt as if by applying it directly to my shoulder I was able to pinpoint the exact location of the pain and it certainly did help me get through a good few days of limited mobility and localised discomfort.

My only word of caution with the gel is that it is very easy to over apply so do be careful if you choose to buy it. Fortunately the gel is quite thick in consistency and you do have to squeeze the tube to get any out but build up the layers and be sure to wash your hands after applying. This is the first time I have used an Ibuprofen gel so have nothing to compare it to other than generic ibuprofen tablets but I was impressed enough with the results to keep using it and it's on that basis that I would recommend this product from Mentholatum. There are big brand equivalents that offer the same but cost more and for me it seems like a waste of money just to buy something with familiar name.

Five stars from me, I got the results I wanted when using this Ibuprofen Gel from Mentholatum so have no reason to deduct any stars from my rating. Definitely recommended as an alternative to the other brands, thanks for reading my review.


The Perfect Score [DVD]
The Perfect Score [DVD]
Dvd ~ Scarlett Johansson
Offered by hunting_for_a_bargain
Price: £14.50

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not quite a perfect score for this one... close though!, 13 Aug 2011
This review is from: The Perfect Score [DVD] (DVD)
I was quite surprised that once the initial premise had been established and the relationships formed that the film actually managed to provide a really nice mix of action, adventure and heart. For what could have been a rather superfluous, American teenage flick The Perfect Score actually tackles some interesting topics of friendship and relationships which did put me in mind of the John Hughes classic 80's film - The Breakfast Club. Funnily enough during some of the dialogue the characters share with one another do reference the John Hughes film and they liken their predicament to that of the characters who featured in it so I do think that a lot of inspiration was taken and maybe this was an attempt at updating the ideas originally used back then.

The central premise remains the same, a group of people who know of one another but who aren't friends are forced by circumstances to join together as a team. They each have their own reasons for wanting the answer sheet to the test paper and as the film progresses we learn what they are. The instigator and lead character of Kyle played by Chris Evans forms much of the early focus of the film as we are introduced to him and discover what his intentions are. Although he knows it's the wrong thing to do and he realises what the consequences would be if he was to be caught Kyle is not a bad person, Evans plays him well, we understand his motivations and reasons and I would presume that the intended target audience for the film would understand and identify with the predicament he finds himself in. Desperate to go to his first choice university he is frustrated that his whole future is determined on how well he does in a single test, many people including myself will know what this is like, I was good at school but didn't cope well under exam conditions and I know that many of my school friends were the same. Indeed the film covers this very aspect by introducing us to Anna played by Erika Kristensen who although second in her class crumbles and goes blank during her SAT exam. Being the focus of extreme pressure from her parents she needs to do well in the test and has the capabilities to excel but she just can't seem to live up to expectations and lets her anxiety get in the way. By becoming part of the gang alongside Kyle and Matty she is presented with an opportunity to pass the test without succumbing to the pressures of it all and her inclusion here made for an interesting dynamic which introduced an easily identifiable character.

Making up the six are Francesca played by a very young looking Scarlett Johannson, her role in this film is important to the storyline but she doesn't have that much to do so is more of a support character and potential love interest for someone else. Roy played by Leonardo Nam offers some comedic value as the stoner nerd who is a computer whizz but naturally super-intelligent, he offers some much needed light relief when the storyline becomes a little heavy and fits in well with the other characters. Perhaps a little one dimensional and a rather cliched choice in all honesty but Lam does play him well and he is quite funny at times. Finally there's Desmond Rhodes played by Darius Miles, the superstar basketball player who needs a good grade to get into a university who will support his professional ball playing ambitions. Rather than portray the character as a typical thick sports 'jock' there are surprises in store when you discover more about Rhodes and his inclusion here makes for an interesting change on what could have been a formulaic character.

All in all the cast are very good in their roles, they each have plenty of time to shine and the script allows them scope to become rounded characters. Whilst they all share the same initial reasons for agreeing to the plan their reasons are believable and well covered and as the film goes on they each develop their own relationships with one another. As a group they don't naturally gel which is why the film is so reminiscent of The Breakfast Club in my opinion, their social status and their normal daily interactions would mean that they wouldn't be part of one others world and I always find it interesting to see how people of different beliefs get on when put together. Their differences are obvious and perhaps a little too overplayed to begin with but each character had to have a strong identity to make the premise of the film work so whilst you might initially think of them as 'stoner', 'jock', 'misunderstood', 'ambitious' etc its how the film develops that allows you to get to know them and see past their obvious personality traits.

Essentially the film is a feel good, coming of age story and is well played by all, the direction is slick as you would expect from an MTV production and the soundtrack is filled with popular songs from the early 00's. I don't think it will be held in the same regard as The Breakfast Club and I can't see it withstanding the test of time like the 80's film did but then again I am biased as consider the earlier film to be one of the defining releases of that decade as is amongst my own personal favourites of that time. Whether anyone will be able to look back on The Perfect Score in 30 years time with fondness remains to be seen but for what it is I would certainly recommend anyone giving it a go especially if you can pick it up for a couple of quid.

There's nothing really to criticise with the film, it's has a rating of 12a so suitable for the majority of viewers, features good looking characters and has a interesting storyline which should capture your imagination. If anything it is very American in feel, some of the references were lost on me as a British viewer and as I don't understand the American educational system the importance of the SAT test didn't hold the same relevance to me as it would do to either younger viewers or those who have to sit or have sat the same exams. Fortunately the film doesn't get too bogged down in detail and once the plan is established and the characters in place to make the scheme happen then it trips along nicely in pace, at 93 minutes in length the film manages to tell its story without losing interest and whilst there are some obvious plot contrivances which you can see coming from a mile it still ended up being a satisfying watch and a film I would re-watch again some time in the future.


WaZ [DVD]
WaZ [DVD]
Dvd ~ Stellan Skarsgard
Offered by rsdvd
Price: £4.55

4.0 out of 5 stars "There will be Pain", 13 Aug 2011
This review is from: WaZ [DVD] (DVD)
It's not doing this film a disservice to say that WAZ is most certainly influenced heavily by films such as Se7en and SAW, the serial killer genre of horror films has seen some really effective releases in the past and this film does draw a lot of inspiration from its predecessors. There are similarities that this film shares with some other titles but it just about managed to hold its own and provide a compelling watch which did grab and keep my attention throughout the films running time. It's not perfect though but compared to some other films I have watched recently this was like a breath of fresh air and re-established my faith in my ability to select a decent film to watch.

The correct title of the film is actually "W Delta Z" (the A is actually the Delta symbol from the Greek alphabet) and refers to an equation that forms the basis for the premise of the film and the reasons behind the killings. It's rather complicated and a convoluted premise I have to admit and a little too much time of the films opening hour was devoted to explaining what it actually means, I won't pretend to admit that I fully understood it even after it is explained and I do think that it provides an added complication which only served to confuse matters really. The films alternative title is "The Killing Gene" which would have been a more attention-grabbing name for the film in all honesty but as much of the early emphasis is on the WAZ equation I suppose it made sense to release the film under that name.

This is the films main problem for me, it is _very_ complicated and spends too much time getting to the point, there are lots of characters that you are introduced to early on in the film and much of the initial hour is spent establishing who they are, their relationships with one another and figuring out the reasons behind the murders. To be fair though, there is plenty to process and take in but the film does trip along nicely and manages to build a real sense of tension whilst trying to explain everything that is going on and unless you have a short attention span you should just about be able to follow what is going on. Once the players are in place and the inevitable final showdown begins the film races along and does provide plenty of shocks and jumps which should definitely appeal to many horror/thriller fans.

The best thing about the film is probably the cast, made up of recognisable names and faces and yet another venture into the horror territory for Melissa George (formally of the Aussie soap Home and Away and later American horrors including 'Triangle' and recent remake of 'The Amytiville Horror') She and Stellan Skarsgård make up the two lead characters and whilst George may look slightly out of place and quite possibly miscast as the rookie detective Helen Westcott she still brings about a decent performance and is good in her role. Skarsgard brings a certain gravitas to his portrayal of veteran cop Eddie Argo, mean and moody in the opening sequences but with hidden depths to his character he broods his way through the film and gives an excellent performance here which is impressive to see. The film features a good supporting cast and includes the British actor Tom Hardy and a cameo by Paul Kaye (he of Dennis Pennis fame, remember him?) made for a welcome and unexpected inclusion. All of the cast are good, the film is gritty in its styling and all of the actors play their roles very seriously, there are no attempts at humour in WAZ and given the subject matter and the identity of the killer it's no surprise that it is as strait laced as it actually is.

I'm obviously not going to reveal who is behind the killings in this review, nor am I going to mention why that particular character does what they do. Instead I would state here that film does go to some _very_ dark places in the explanations it provides and although I couldn't identify with the killer personally their story is believable and their reasons justified, to them at least. In the final third of the film there are depictions of extreme violence which are uncomfortable to see and it's these sections that are very reminiscent of SAW. The film isn't a SAW-wannabe but does sail very close to the wind of being a copycat however it does manage to put a twist on the concept of retribution even if it does include traps which wouldn't be out of place in that other film. For me the film felt like a hybrid of other titles and included the gritty feel of Se7en whilst being influenced by SAW and even though the traps in this film are secondary to establishing the characters and their motivations there are obvious similarities to those other titles.

Overall though WAZ is a decent attempt at the serial killer, cat and mouse thriller, it does build in intensity whilst providing a few gross-out sequences of bloodshed and on the whole I did enjoy it. The film itself is a 3 star one in my opinion but as this is a DVD review and the disc features some very nice extras im going to award 4 stars along with a recommendation that this should be one you check out for yourself especially if you can still pick it up for a few quid. It might draw a lot of inspiration from films that have been done before but for fans of the serial killer genre of thrillers then its one to watch.


Bug [DVD]
Bug [DVD]
Dvd ~ Ashley Judd
Price: £5.00

4.0 out of 5 stars "Paranoia is Contagious", 13 Aug 2011
This review is from: Bug [DVD] (DVD)
Running at just over an hour and three quarters Bug is a film that slowly builds in intensity and, rather fittingly, gets under your skin. Set primarily in a single location that being the rooms of her motel accomodation that Agnes lives in it's more than obvious that the film director's intention was to produce something that had a closed in and claustrophobic film and ultimately he delivers. We are introduced to Agnes straight away and quickly learn about her past and why she is now where she is, she's a broken character, weary of life and suffered too many knocks. She lives in poor conditions, works as a waitress in a seedy bar and lives in fear of her ex-husband and yearns for someone to show her a bit of attention and love. Ashely Judd plays Agnes with great compassion, she is wonderful in the early scenes of the film when setting up the character and plays her with a great deal of sensitivity. The interaction between her and her abusive ex (played by Harry Connick jr) shows us how bad it used to be for her and It is inevitable really that when the character of Peter is brought in that Agnes falls for him and the film focuses on how easy it is to become drawn into believing things that are not real and how the mind can easily be broken.

What makes the film work as effectively as it does is the character of Peter played by Michael Shannon. We don't get to know that much about him when he is first introduced to Agnes, all we know is that he's a drifter and is someone who keeps himself to himself. It's his vulnerability that makes him attractive to Agnes and her instincts are to look after him and to keep him safe, they recognise a need in one another for company and affection and as the film relies on us believing the characters of Peter and Agnes both Ashley Judd and Michael Shannon have to make us care about them and that's what they do.

We know that Peter isn't quite 'right', there is an oddness to him that is apparent - he sees microscopic bugs in the room that the two share and he convinces both Agnes and us, the audience that they are actually there. It's a subtle performance that Shannon gives, he isn't clichéd in depicting a man who is suffering from paranoid delusions, there are no obvious signs that he is mentally ill yet we know that he believes and sees things that are impossible. As the film develops and the characters become completely reliant on one another it makes for compelling viewing to see just how easily someone can be broken in the way that Agnes is. She ends up absolutely believing Peter and the pair go to extreme lengths to protect themselves from those who are out to get them and their co-dependency and descent into madness does make for an often-uncomfortable viewing experience. It's one of those situations where you shouldn't laugh but you can't quite help yourself, viewing the film as the audience you know the things that Peter and Agnes do are ridiculous yet the power of the acting makes you absolutely believe that they think their behaviour is completely rational and 'normal' and it really is to the actors credit that they make you believe them so much.

William Friedkin pitches the film just right allowing the characters time to go from apparent normalcy to that of delusional and its a slow journey we take with them. That doesn't mean that the film feels too long, on the contrary I found myself completely absorbed in it and didn't notice the running time at all however I do think you have to be in the right frame otf mind to actually watch it. It's not a typical American horror film and I think many people will be disappointed if they're expecting to see the usual high action, adrenaline pumping film that they're used to seeing and I expect that many would assume the film to be along the lines of 'Squirm' or 'Worms' given the fact that the film's title leads you to believe that it's going to be about some kind of killer-bug that is on the rampage. This film isn't a horror in that respect, it isn't a gory, blood-splattering scholck affair that provides gross-out moments and unexpected jumps, if anything the film is gentle and rather subtle and you do have to allow yourself the time to get immersed into what's happening and perhaps its appeal will be somewhat limited.

I enjoyed the film, it was undoubtedly different and features some top-notch acting. It is character driven and relies on the performances of Ashley Judd and Michael Shannon and I would certainly recommend it to anyone who likes things that are thought-provoking. I suppose the film is more of a drama than horror even though it is promoted as being a horror film, there are some uncomfortable scenes which may upset some viewers and it is a certificate 18 so clearly has some adult content. For a few quid though its well worth buying and there are some interesting extras on the DVD release that make any money you spend on it well spent.

Overall: buy it, this is a film that deserves to be seen.


Chatroom [DVD] [2010]
Chatroom [DVD] [2010]
Dvd ~ Aaron Johnson
Offered by Direct-Offers-UK-FBA
Price: £2.99

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Control. Alter. Delete, 13 Aug 2011
This review is from: Chatroom [DVD] [2010] (DVD)
Hideo Nakata takes a very simple idea, that of online interaction between people and turns it into something sinister with this film and targeting the angst-ridden, emotionally-charged teens of London he manages to put together a well thought-out and compelling film which whilst not perfect was still an effective British thriller with plenty going for it. A Film 4 production and funded by The National Lottery the small cast of 5 lead characters each have their own reasons for seeking solace online and we are given an insight into their lives whilst at the same time are witness to the Machiavellian behind-the-scenes manipulation by William brilliantly portrayed by Aaron Johnson.

Johnson is excellent in Chatroom it has to be said, he puts in a believable performance as William and commands your attention in the scenes he features. A sociopathic character seemingly without conscience he has his own reasons for being the way he is and time is spent getting to know him and his back-story. Whilst not a sympathetic character by any stretch of the imagination his offline persona and personal life do give an insight into why he acts the way he does and provides an explanation for how intelligent and manipulative he is to be able to wield such power over other people.

Equally impressive is Jim played by Matthew Beard, a shy, introverted character haunted by an event from his childhood and unable to shake off the past. He finds it hard to make friends and seeks an outlet for his loneliness by spending time online, he is drawn to the Chelsea Teens! Chatroom believing that he is making friends with like-minded people and needs the support of people his own age. It's a slow breakdown that Jim goes through, aided and nudged along by William and Beard gives a heartbreaking performance which you can't help but sympathise with. The other 3 characters are important to the plot and need to be there but are somewhat superficially developed so end up not taking too much of the focus away from William and Jim.

Other reviewers of this film described the acting as 'hammy' and I do have to agree with them especially in the opening quarter of the film. There are times when the dialogue comes across as being 'forced' and doesn't seem to flow naturally and for a while I did struggle to fully buy into the film finding myself losing interest in the early set-up scenes. This I put down to the decision to film the online conversations as if they were taking place in a real life room and it does take a while to get used to seeing the characters speak to one another as if they were having a real life conversation when in fact their dialogue is actually written and they were interacting with one another virtually. It is an almost surreal experience watching the film at times as when the characters are not speaking they sit in silence and stare at one another, sometimes they fade away (as if they have gone offline) and then re-appear moments later. Often times the physically represented chatroom cuts to the characters communicating via thier laptops and mobile phones and for me this gave it quite a disjointed and jarring feel. I can't say I actually liked this approach to be honest and I don't think it quite worked really but I suppose the director had to try and make these scenes more interesting than watching the characters type out their conversations so made the decision to film them as if they were really speaking to one another. I do think that unless you are willing to see the film out to the end and take a chance with it then some will give up with it at least half way through as it never really feels 'right' and you do need to concentrate very hard in places to actually follow what is happening as the editing can be quite jumpy and confusing at times.

Overall though if you are willing to commit to the film then the payoff at the end should be well worth the time you give it as the final sequence is good and the acting from all concerned is excellent by then. I still think the whole concept of Chatroom manipulation is an interesting one and being the age I am I do remember the times when they were unrestricted and could often be terrifying places to visit especially when I was young and naive. The film could have been a lot darker than it is and even though it deals with the hard-hitting subject matter of Teen suicide a lot of the impact is lost due to the bold film making decisions made by the director. I can't fault the characters of William and Jim though, both are excellent and the film is well worth watching just for the scenes that feature these two talented actors but now that I have seen the film I don't think it would be one that I would want to re-watch again in the future and I wouldn't describe it as an urgent 'must-see'.

To conclude then Chatroom is certainly a good film, the acting is terrific at times and I did like the concept and premise of the story. The film-making decisions do detract from the story though and at times I did find my attention wandering away but overall I would recommend the film especially if you can pick up a cheap copy.


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