Sunday, June 30, 2013

Truth or Die (2012)


Synopsis taken from IMDb
Young British boys and girls travel to an isolated cabin after being promised a night of heavy partying. Instead of the fun they hoped for, they meet a killer out to reap vengeance on them for the death of his brother.

While scrolling through the horror films on my Netflix, I decided this one looked to possibly be my best choice. Seeing as I wanted to stay awake and not fall asleep, I wanted to pic a quality movie. I'm glad I picked this one, because I stayed awake for the duration.

Formerly known as "Truth or Dare", this is more of a thriller to me than a horror film. There's nothing scary that happens, no jumps, and nothing that'll cause you to sleep with the lights on. But, it is very thrilling and interesting. The effects are based around torture mostly, or just gun shots. So, there wasn't any reason for this film to really be scary in the first place. It's just a entertaining revenge film.

This movie suffers from a lot of predictability. I saw the protagonist a mile away, but what struck me as weird, was that I kept watching, and wanted to watch. Here we have all the elements of a bad horror film, yet, I was entertained.  

This film didn't have a very large budget, so it's smart that they kept the setting in a cabin and simple. It left room for them to use the budget elsewhere, like the gore. There isn't too much gore, which I liked. They only used it when it was needed. I never do understand movies that have people bleeding out gallons and gallons of blood, it's unrealistic and doesn't do nothing for me. However, of course there are exceptions to what I just said. 

If a movie is meant to be fun, than over-bloodying things up is fine. But in a serious film, realism is everything. I'm pleased with what was done in this film.

There's two twists in this film that I can count. One of which, I did not see coming, but due to the slow and dramatic build up, it started to become obvious. The second twist didn't really do anything for me, it was a bit shocking, but not anything that'll win the movie over.

I think the idea of this movie is good, a little tired, but good. I feel that the scares and jumps and suspense were on vacation while this movie was shot, though. It kept me watching, but I can't really say I enjoyed it all too much. I wouldn't buy it, and will probably never watch it again. But a part of me found it entertaining. I think I just wanted to know who sent Felix the postcard and caused him to kill himself.

The characters seemed genuine, unfortunately, there is hardly any character development. It's just torture and a cat and mouse game. Without solid characters, a movie isn't very successful. I can honestly say that I only liked one character. I felt like this was "I Know What You Did Last Summer", only with more torture and less of everything else. 

The conclusion of the film falls flat, it's not very impacting when you can't really relate to any of the characters. I didn't side with anyone in the film, so the fact that I was so disconnected with the characters killed this movie for me. Otherwise, I'd say it was entertaining enough to watch. Don't watch this one because of me, spare yourselves the trouble.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Entrance (2012)


Synopsis taken from IMDb
ENTRANCE is about the limits of our perception, how the things lurking in the periphery of our lives can lead to horrific conclusions; about how she fell out of love with the city, but it wouldn't let her go.

A friend recommended this film to me, because I have never heard of it before. It looked a little weird from the start, I wasn't sure it'd be my thing. But this is what I call a slow burning horror film. It takes it's time building up, never ceasing to be creepy. And you're always waiting for the payoff because you know it's coming.

This is a nice, little low-budget indie film. We follow the lead character around and watch her boring life day after day. She has no friends, other than her roommate, because she's new to the city. The realness that's portrayed in the film really builds up that sense of dread and loneliness that the lead character feels. It puts us right in her shoes with her.

Always on edge, she notices everyone around her, weary of them. You can see the fear and nervousness running all through her as she walks the streets of the city. Guys try and talk to her, cars follow her, she's really uncomfortable and out of her element.

Unbeknownst to her, there's noises coming from inside her house every night. She hears them a few times, but is too scared to act. Other times, it occurs while she's sleeping. She and her roommate are being watched by someone. Yet again, this is another one of those creepy home invasion movies. One of the scariest things is to think that you're not safe in your own place of living. 
It's a very unsettling and effective to think your not in control of the place you sleep every night.

Then, one morning she wakes up to find her dog missing. This really effects her because her dog is all she really had. He was her companion, and best friend. Now he's missing and the last time she saw him was in her building, in the next room from her, while she slept. So, she puts up flyers and calls everyone she can to try and get her dog back. Taking her dog was actually a really terrifying thing, to make her completely abandoned in a city she's already afraid of, puts you in that state of panic with her.

The acting is actually really well done, for once I can't really think of any bad, or poor dialog. It all just seemed very genuine, and that's what works for this film. That, and the mystery of what's going to conclude the film.

As the film reared it's end, things really get out of hand and it becomes a serious, nail biting horror film. We discover who is watching her and why. It seems so real, like you're watching it really happen. It's downright creepy, and not one I'd recommend if you're home alone, because things get crazy. This movie will send chills down your spine!

The ending leaves you with that eerie feeling, like you need to take a shower. It's not a happy movie, and it doesn't end very happily. It just sits with you for a while because, people really do act like this and do these things. So to have them done in such a realistic manor is really scary. The last 20 minutes of the film becomes like "The Strangers", and we've all seen how messed up and demented that film is.

If you're able to check this out, I highly suggest you do. It's on Netflix instant right now, that's how I watched it. As I said before, don't watch it alone, and especially alone at night. However, the first bit of the movie tends to be a bit too slow for my liking. So I'm not giving it as high of a rating as it could have gotten. But it's a good little effective movie.

Friday, June 28, 2013

World War Z is a Blast!


Synopsis taken from IMDb
United Nations employee Gerry Lane traverses the world in a race against time to stop the Zombie pandemic that is toppling armies and governments, and threatening to destroy humanity itself. 

I'll be the first to admit it. I actually did what I always criticize people for doing; I judged the film based off of the firs trailer I saw and bashed it. I couldn't help it, it didn't seem like it was going to be very interesting at all. And I couldn't have been more wrong!

I mostly judged it for the use of CGI for the zombies. I didn't like that they took a shortcut instead of using real people. Now that I've seen the film, I understand why they weren't real actors and actresses. To film those types of scenes would be impossible, and the CGI is the necessary tool for the job. It wasn't overdone at all. People getting trampled on wouldn't go over well, so they did what was best for those scenes.  

The film is shot like 2011's "Contagion", in the sense that it's a disaster film. Not a zombie film. I think that point goes over a lot of people's heads and they bash it for not being a hardcore gore film. Obviously, you knew it was a PG-13 movie going in, so to complain it's not gory is a bit foolish. The movie is about infection and survival, the zombies are just background to the story. I was surprised by how well done this film is.

There were a few scenes that surprised me, and even more that had my heart going! It's almost an epic picture, the way it's done. I think it's very tasteful and thrilling. And the music will get you going! I actually liked "I Am Legend", and I think this goes right along side that. This film is superior, however. 

Brad Pitt does a great job in this picture as well. It's not his best performance, but it's damn good. He holds the film well on his shoulders. His character is smart, brave and sympathetic. Everyone in the audience can relate to him in some way, especially how he protects his family first and foremost. This is yet another good film under Pitt's belt. 

I feel as though Brad's chalked up as being a pretty boy too much. If you stop to look at his resume, the guys got talent and some great films with his name on them.

In conclusion, go in expecting to be entertained, unlike I did. You'll end up finding a lot more in the film that you like, than you expected. Give it a shot for yourself. It's a really good disaster film and it's entertaining and even pulse pounding throughout it's entirety. 

A friend let me borrow the book a few years back and it collected dust, so I gave it back. I think I'm going to look into re-borrowing it after seeing this film.


Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Purge is a popcorn flick, nothing more.


Synopsis taken from IMDb
A family is held hostage for harboring the target of a murderous syndicate during the Purge, a 12-hour period in which any and all crime is legalized. 

I saw the "Evil Dead" remake back when it was released, and that was the first time I saw a trailer for this film. From the go I noticed two things that made me want to see it: Ethan Hawke is the star, I'm a big fan of his acting. And the other thing being that the concept of this film is original and a really cool idea.

Now the film has been out for a good few weeks, and due to being over worked, I just got around to seeing it Sunday night. I was the only one in the theater, so I was kicked back and ready to enjoy myself. Popcorn and soda in hand. I've heard some negative reviews about this film, but I always tend to have my own opinion and not let others think for me. Part of me couldn't understand what could have gone wrong for it to get such bad reviews, because it looked so good!

From the start, the movie had me locked in. I barely took my eyes off of the screen even to eat my popcorn, I was spilling it everywhere. Good thing no one else was around to see what a pig I was being (laugh). But seriously, the movie kept me watching the whole entire film, so I gotta take my hat off to that. I was thoroughly entertained from beginning to end.

After viewing it, my take on it seems to be that of many others. Only not as harsh. I think the acting was very well done. Everyone did a pretty good job performing. Where the film slacked is that it felt rushed, and thus a lot of details are missing. If the film had been an extra half our or even fifteen minutes longer, I think it would have been better. It's a fantastic, original idea, but it suffers from a bit of bad writing. 

Some of the things that happen don't come off as genuine, so that disconnects you from the characters a bit. Some of the choices they make cause the film to fall under cliches, and that's what takes away from it. With this film, they had the chance to do new things and go new places. And instead, they use a great concept and mix it in with things already done before, and even  a bit predictable.

When the murderers come to the Sandin's house and demand their Purge victim back, they're not being malevolent, they're being patient and understanding. Yet it still comes off creepy as hell. I liked that the Purger's weren't totally cold hearted, and that they were logical instead of radical. Rhys Wakefield plays the leader of the group hunting down their victim. He's evil, but awesome. Although he acts cool and collected, you can see the beast awaiting just under the surface. 

As the film progressed, there were some crazy things that happen that I wasn't expecting. I got a few surprises out of it and a jump or two. And I really liked Ethan Hawke's character. For once there isn't someone who's a complete imbecile as the lead. James Sandin, (Hawke) does what he has to to protect his family. He's a family man first and foremost. It was a relief to watch someone on screen taking the proper action, and not just leaving a knife beside the body of someone you "think" is dead. 

"The Purge" isn't a perfect film. And it doesn't quite meet its potential. But it's a very thrilling and entertaining ride. I'd watch it several more times and maybe grow to even like it more. This isn't a movie that sucks so bad that you'll never want to see it again. I think the main reason it's received bad reviews is because people had their hopes high. I'm a fan of this film, but it's not all it could have been. 

And for all of the haters out there, be ready, because due to this films success, a sequel is already in the works.


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Shadow People will have you sleeping with the lights on


Synopsis taken from IMDb
A radio talk show host unravels a conspiracy about encounters with mysterious beings known as The Shadow People and their role in the unexplained deaths of several hundred victims in the 1980's.

I wanted to see this movie since I first heard about it. My father always listened to late night/early morning radio shows, and he always used to listen to Art Bell. For those of you who don't know, Art Bell hosted the paranormal-themed radio program called Coast to Coast AM. There was always something supernatural being discussed, and they'd have guests on who were experts in the unknown. It was a cool little show, and some of the episodes scared me senseless. One of them being about The Shadow People.

So going into this film, I knew about the shadow people. What got my attention the most was wanting to know if this movie would be scary because, when I first learned about them, I was paranoid. Not nearly as bad as the people in this film, but still, it stuck with me. While the film didn't terrify me like I was hoping, it definitely has it's creepy parts that'll have you checking behind your back and over your shoulder. 

I didn't know that there would be actual real life footage used in this film, so that was a nice surprise and help immensely on driving in the scares. The film comes off like "The Mothman Prophecies", but creepier. It starts slow and gradually picks up the pace. The mystery of the unknown is always something that'll keep you paying attention. And much like "The Mothman Prophecies", this movie leaves you with questions that you wish were answered. But part of the reason you're so scared is because of the fact that you don't know.

One thing that I don't understand is, why they didn't try and cast people that looked like the people in the real events? It would have made more sense to me that way, rather than casting people who look nothing like the real people. Not even close. But whatever, cast and crew aside, there were some elements that I liked about the film. I liked the suspense, the paranoia, the scares and the eerie feeling it leaves you with.

However, there's a handful of things that I didn't like about this film. Such as, the fact that the payoff was lackluster. I get that they were keeping it true to what really happened, I just think it could have been done in a more profound way. I also felt that the scares should have been upped. Shadow People are really freaking creepy, why not capitalize on that? And I didn't like that it was slow to start, as well as end. If they'd stayed focused on the Shadow People more, and less on what everyone else is doing, I think it would have gone over better. 

Overall, the film was decently acted. I wouldn't hand it out any awards but, I wouldn't say it's the worst acting ever. I just feel that the performances are somewhat wasted. The Shadow People should have remained the focus of the film if they wanted it to be scarier. I like the film, I just don't love it. It's a shame because now that a legit movie about this matter comes out, it's not as frightening as I was hoping. This film falls a bit short for me. 


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Berberian Sound Studio will trip you out!


Synopsis taken from IMDb
A sound engineer's work for an Italian horror studio becomes a terrifying case of life imitating art. 

Going into this film, I heard a lot of good things and nothing really negative. I've heard that it's like an acid trip, and that it's like a Stanley Kubrick film, reminiscent of "The Shining". My suspicions were very high on this one. I love atmospheric horror films, and that slow, dreadful feeling you get when watching them. So I was game from the start and ready to see what this film offered.

After seeing this film two days ago, I'm still mulling it over in my head. I'm still absorbing it, taking it all in. This is a movie I'm going to need to re-watch a few times, to make sure I've gotten it all. It left me with so many questions. It's very vague and confusing. Some don't like this type of horror, but I like any and all kinds. I like the way this movie was made, it's very artsy and classy for a horror film. 

Toby Jones (The Mist) does a great job as the lead in this film. His character Gilderoy is well played and portrayed. The films starts off a little slow, and I wasn't sure what was coming. But as the film built up more and more, we started to see the effect the music compositions are having on Gilderoy. It becomes a game of what's real and what isn't. It's a very effective and unsettling film.

The music and sounds going on in this film give you that annoyed, creepy feeling that comes along with watching the original 1974 "Texas Chainsaw Massacre". People claim that the noises are what makes the classic film so scary, and the same goes for "Berberian Sound Studio". It's a great film for those of us who don't want, or need every little detail explained to us. This is for those of us who like a little mystery in our horror.

"Berberian Sound Studio" is original, well acted, and well written. It's a horror film for the true horror fan. The fans who adore films from the 70's and even 80's. This isn't a torture movie, it isn't a gore movie. It's a pure horror film, that is borderline a psychological thriller. As a matter of fact, some may even genre it as a thriller. But to me, it's definitely a horror film.

As the film concluded, it became more intense and I started to understand it a bit more. Then it added more mystery and left me guessing. As I mentioned before, I'm going to be giving this a second viewing. I just want to let everything sink in a little more. But even after the first viewing, I can tell you that I'm a fan. I just want to make sure that I understand it as best I can. 

Much like "Kill List", I loved the mystery aspect of  the film and not knowing what just happened. A film that makes you think is a well written film, most of the time. I don't give films thumbs up, that's for other critics, but if I did give thumbs up, I would give this film two thumbs raised high. It's great to see another refreshingly original horror film to come out. Horror is doing all sorts of great things right now, if you just look beneath the surface...


Monday, June 24, 2013

Inbred is a brutal and bloody blast!


Synopsis taken from IMDb
Four young offenders and their workers spend a weekend in the remote Yorkshire village of Mortlake, which prides on keeping itself to itself. A minor incident with locals rapidly escalates into a blood-soaked, deliriously warped nightmare.

I heard a lot of good things going into this British horror film. Just the title says enough. You know what you're getting into with a movie named "Inbred". I knew the reputation this film had, so I was anxious and eager to view this one. 

The film starts off a little dry and silly, and I didn't know what to expect. I didn't know if it was going to go a ridiculous route and just be funny or, if there would be a decent balance. As it turns out, the humor works great! Even though this is a very dark film, it's still amusing and packs a lot of dark humor.

The deaths in this film are absolutely horrendous and brutal. I'm still replaying the horse scene in my head, and I saw the film a few days ago. There's a lot of gore and blood in this one. It's a weird balance of a hardcore horror film, and a comedy. I was shocked by how brutal it is! The special effects were fantastic!

Once the first 30 minutes or so have passed and the film picks up, I wasn't ready for how serious it was about to get. I was thrilled and pleasantly surprised. It kept me watching, I didn't even want to send a text through it. I love how it's still funny no matter how hardcore it gets. Once everyone's seen this, I think this is going to be one that everyone brings up when their engaged in a conversation about brutal horror films.

There's a good vibe flowing from this film, and after watching it I couldn't stop talking about it. It's refreshing seeing all these new original horror films come out as of late. It puts a smile on my face. Especially when everybody loves to throw around that horror is dead, but that's clearly overly dramatic and very false. If you look, there's been a good lump of horror films that have come out over the past few years. People just tend to want to focus in on the bad ones and magnify how poor it is. Clearly some of these so-called horror fans have been missing out on a lot. 

"Inbred" is just a fun film to watch. There's some moments that'll make you close your eyes or turn your head, and there are parts that'll get a loud reaction out of you. And there's plenty of laughs to go all around! The comedic spin takes the edge off of how screwed up this film is, and how gruesome it can be. 

I almost have nothing but praise for this film. Aside from some poor acting done by some of the minor cast, I don't really have anything bad to say. It's a completely solid horror film and it's a blast to watch.

Another thing that works for the film is that it isn't predictable. Well, some of it is predictable, but there's a good amount of things that took me by surprise. It's part of the reason I couldn't stop watching. It felt so real, but I was never fully terrified, because the humor keeps it grounded. It was a constant reminder that this is only a movie.

I'm not entirely sure if some of the inbreds in the film were genuinely deformed, or if it was makeup effects. Some of the people are definitely freaking looking and gives you an eerie, itching feeling. This movie is like "Freaks" meets "Eden Lake", combine them and you'll get an idea of what you're in for with this one.

I was so close to giving this film a 4/5, but due to the bad acting I mentioned, I can't rate it that high. But it's up there. As time goes on, I may grow to give it that 4.


Sunday, June 23, 2013

Would Your Rather shows that we all have a price


Synopsis taken from IMDb
Desperate to help her ailing brother, a young woman unknowingly agrees to compete in a deadly game of "Would You Rather", hosted by a sadistic aristocrat. 

This is by far Jeffrey Combs' best films since 1985's "Re-Animator". And this is also his best performance to date! All I had to hear was that he was in it and I was sold. Then I started reading up on this film and I got more and more intrigued to watch it. It's not what I was expecting at was much, much better.

"Would You Rather" is a modern day "House on Haunted Hill", it's very similar, but more demented and twisted. What struck me, is that it has class to it. It's brutal, it's suspenseful, but yet it manages to not become a gore flick. It's based around a lot of dialog, making everyone really act.

Shepard Lambrick (Combs) is a very wealthy man, and he gets off on devaluing people and watching them crumble. He's cold and heartless. But, he's rich, and willing to pay you for your endurance. Combs plays a very serious and dark role and he nor the movie, have any cheesiness to them what so ever. Neither do any of the other characters. This is a very serious film, it's not light hearted.

Lambrick hosts a game where he invites guests to participate guaranteeing whoever wins, gets a huge payout. He chooses his guests based upon how financially stressed they are. He knows people will do almost anything for money, and counts on it.

After a nice dinner, the games begin. No one expected it to be as extreme of a game as it is, they had no idea what they agreed to. As they all sit around the dinner table, they're forced to take turns choosing on if they torture themselves, or the person sitting next to them. It becomes clear that the game is about eliminating contenders, survival of the fittest. They're forced to do a wide array of simple, but effectful and painful tortures to themselves and one another. What works about it, is that they're all real people with real problems that we can all relate to.

Even though the camera shows the tortures going back and forth, it's never shot in montage form, it's all done in real time. The best thing, is that it never gets boring! You'd think it would, but the whole film is entertaining. And that's because it's got well written characters and a really good cast.

Brittany Snow plays Iris, a young woman taking care of her ill brother. She's overwhelmed with bills, and doesn't have a life due to dedicating all of her time to her brother. She instantly becomes a favorite to Lambrick, because he can sense how broke she is. Seeing Brittany's performance really sets the movie off! She's so sympathetic and pure, that you back her from the start.

As the film concluded, I was instantly inclined to watch it again. It's such a good movie, and not a lot of people know about it, which is a shame. If you get the chance, check it out. It's brilliant. And I love the lack of blood shown in the film. Doesn't have to be gory to be good.


Saturday, June 22, 2013

Girls Against Boys will make you keep it in your pants


Synopsis taken from IMDb
After a series of bad experiences with men, Shae teams up with her co-worker, Lu, who has a simple, deadly way of dealing with the opposite sex. 

I wasn't surprised to see Danielle Panabaker in another dark film like this one. She's making quite the name for herself in the horror community. Any girl who aims to be a horror actress is going after my heart. She's been in the "Friday the 13th" remake, "Mr. Brooks", "The Crazies" remake, "Piranha" remake, and now this film. Like the aforementioned "Mr. Brooks", this film is more of a thriller than horror. Though, it still has some horrific elements in it and strong content matter.

Being a man who's never stood for violence against women and kids, I'll admit some of this film was hard to watch in the beginning. Shae (Panabaker) gets dumped by her boyfriend and raped within such a close period of time, there's no wonder she goes off the deep end. Then again, being a man, this film had parts that were hard to watch due to how anti-man they are. The cop scene was probably the worst part for me. Very unsettling..

Funny thing is, this film has hardly no gore in it at all! I think the most gore is in the end, withing five minutes before the credits roll. It is one of those movies that doesn't need to show the blood and guts, it's subject material is enough to hold you in suspense.

When Shae and co-worker, Lu (Nicole LaLiberte), join forces, it instantly gets taken too far. Blinded by rage, Shae doesn't see the wrong she and her new partner in crime are doing. Some of the kills I felt were justified and deserving. Others were too much. It goes from revenge to straight psycho real quick. Shae, blindly follows the murdering streak her psychotic friend is on.

I am half and half on the content of this film. One half likes the fact that this is a woman's revenge movie, much like "I Spit on your Grave", but not as extreme. I'm all for women standing up for themselves and not being taken advantage of, and some of the men do deserve what they get in this film, some even deserve worse! But where my dilemma is, that unlike "I Spit on your Grave", where it's a bunch of small town hicks, who are douchebag pigs and deserve what they get, this film has every man in it's focus. Saying we're all the womanizing imbeciles that are portrayed in this film. I don't like that. It's like saying because you live in a bad area, you're a criminal. 

Towards the end of the film, that vibe changes a bit and it is acknowledged that there are some good men out there. However, the underlying stereotype is still the premises of this film. That bothers me a bit, but I know that there are a lot of women out there who feel used and abused, and I know first hand that men can be monsters. But so can women, and that's what this movie showcases. How is what Shae and Lu do any better than what men have done to them? It isn't. We're all fueled by the same fire. 

"Girls Against Boys" is a nice breath of fresh air, and it isn't a remake. I really liked this movie, and I've already turned some friends on to it. I wasn't sure what to expect going in, but I'm glad I went in anyway. Despite some negative reviews I've read, I'm a fan. I see the point and message of this movie, and hear it loud and clear. 


Friday, June 21, 2013

Aftershock is a Tsunami of Terror


Synopsis taken from IMDb
In Chile, a group of travelers who are in an underground nightclub when a massive earthquake hits, quickly learn that reaching the surface is just the beginning of their nightmare. 

Having been a fan of Eli Roth's work since "Cabin Fever" hit, I was anxiously awaiting the opportunity to see his latest involvement in film. Though he hasn't taken the director's chair since "Hostel: Part II", back in 2007, he's remained heavily involved in the genre. He's produced several films, including this one, as well as the Netflix original series, "Hemlock Grove". All of us horror fans have our eyes on him and what he does. He quickly made a name for himself in the horror community.

This film is fictional, however, it's based after the real events of the 2010 8.8 earthquake in Chile. Director Lopez, said that in the time of the real earthquake, the collapse of society was the most horrific thing. And that's how the idea for this film came about.

I read online somewhere that this has terrible characters in it, and I was inclined to believe that at first. I didn't like some of the dialog and I didn't feel the characters were genuine. Then, I took myself out of the picture and looked at it from a different stand point. I was or never will be like the characters in this film. I'm not a nightclub-er or always showing off to impress girls, but guys like this do exist. So the acting isn't bad and the characters aren't weak. 

They're just not relatable to me. And once the tsunami starts, their fears and real characters start to flourish, and I began to see them as real people amongst the destruction going on. It's really amazed me how much I started to care for them, and it's because even if they aren't guys I'd be friends with in real life, they're real people in a real situation. You really become scared for them. It's that real terror, not the craps and giggles kind. Things get serious. The movie is boring at first, but I actually liked that aspect because it kept things realistic.

You need that reprieve that's in the first half hour because when the horror hits, it doesn't stop at all. It's like an avalanche of screwed up things, and it never lets up or slows down. The realism of it is what makes it so scary! The stuff these guys and girls go through just to survive the chaos is stressful in and of itself. Then you've got escaped prisoners attacking citizens, and you find the lead characters running for their lives from mother nature and human nature.

I think what works best about this film is that it's a disaster film, so there's authentic panic that comes with viewing it. And I absolutely love the fact that this movie isn't afraid of killing off big characters, that's also something that added to realistic feel the film achieved. I hate it when you know characters are safe, it takes the thrill out and the edge off. In this film, everyone is a victim in one way or another. It's downright nail biting.

This is another reflection film. It shows us how no matter what horrific thing happens, that we as a society, are capable of much, much worse and horrific things. Human nature is the worst thing that can happen, no matter how atrocious events are. We're always capable of making things worse, instead of sticking together as a band, like we should. Everyone is out for themselves, and it's a sad but true statement on society. The good ones, the ones that care are always made victims by those who don't.


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Exclusive interview with Hatchet III Director, BJ McDonnell

After BJ McDonnell's punk rock career ended, he moved from the Deep South of Pensacola, Florida, to Los Angeles. He then pursued a career in the film industry and graduated from Los Angeles City College with an associates degree in cinema. His grandfather, actor Leif Erickson, influenced him to become involved in film making.

In my "Hatchet III" review, I mention some of the other works BJ McDonnell has done. Some of you may not be very familiar with him, but that's only because he's doing phenomenal camera work behind the scenes. He's done work on some big motion pictures including Rob Zombie's "Halloween". BJ is a veteran at doing camera work, he does the steadicam and dolly grip most of the time. Surely, you've all seen his work, even if you don't know it. And now that he's finally taken the director's chair, and impressed us all with the latest Hatchet film, I figured it'd be a good time to pick his brain and get to know about the man behind the camera.

How did it come about that you became Director of "Hatchet III", instead of Adam Green?

I worked in the first two Hatchet movies as the camera operator. Adam knew I was going to start pursuing directing, so he approached me and asked me if I wanted to direct Hatchet 3. Since I knew the story and the cast, it seemed to be the logical decision. Plus, I know my way around a film set from working on many other films. So it's not like I didn't know how to get things done.

Even though you've worked on the previous Hatchet films, this is your directorial debut. Was it overwhelming at all to be directing such a highly anticipated film?

I never felt overwhelmed about directing this one. Was I nervous sometimes? Yes. For me, it was more stress about trying to keep horror fans happy with the third installment. It's also tough when there are already people out there who hate the Hatchet films. So by directing a Hatchet film, you're already in the cross hairs. I tried to get it so maybe I could get people to like the Hatchet story again.

Being the man behind the camera, what were some things you've done to put your touch on the series?

I wanted to make this movie look much bigger than it is. People don't realize that budgets for sequels tend to go down. This was the lowest budget one out of the three. So, I tried to make this look way bigger in scope and put the money on screen. That is also why I insisted on shooting this on location in a real swamp. I also tried to make the movement of the camera tell the story along with the dialog. I tried to pick interesting angles for the look.

A lot of directors often say that once their movie is completed and they watch the final cut, there's always something they wish they'd done better. Without giving away spoilers, is there anything you'd redo now that you've seen the movie completed?

This is totally true. There are many things I watch and say to myself I wish I would have done this or that. The one thing that I wish I had insisted upon was having some scenes with the boats driving in. Or the police on the boats on the way to Honey Island Swamp. I didn't get to shoot that because we couldn't afford a boat driver (laughs). So we always pan the camera over with a boat noise and then we see people getting off of the boats. That's how money sometimes gets tight. Some people think it's more important to get a sag card out of a budget than it is to pay to get a boat to drive in on screen. That's one of the things, out of a few, that I would have done different.

I'm dying to know, how much blood was used in the making of this film?

I don't have a real number for you. We used a ton of it. And some doesn't really read on camera at all. The forest the police stumble upon with all the body parts, was supposed to be way bigger and nastier. We couldn't afford a set dresser, so we basically took all the makeup FX prosthetics and threw them all over the place and then sprayed the whole forest with fake blood. Plus, we had no time to shoot, so our "forest of gore" should have been way bigger and more gruesome. But the first night we used 24 gallons of fake blood in the forest alone. And that was night one, so add that number to sixteen nights of shooting and it will add up.

Is there anything that you couldn't do on film, regardless of budgets or studio issues, that you wanted to do with the movie?

I wanted to make the action scene much more intense. Kane was wearing fifty pounds of silicone and makeup and a contact lens, so it was hard for him to move quickly in the Crowley makeup. Crowley was supposed to run very fast through the police, taking them out one by one. But we had to condense it down to a quick scene where Crowley takes the most out very quick and combined. I always wanted Crowley to move very fast in this, but I think Kane did a killer job and it still works.

Kane Hodder is such a legend in the industry, yet he remains so humble and kind. How is it to work with him as Victor Crowley? Even though you know the man under the makeup, do you find him intimidating when he's playing Victor Crowley?

I, personally, don't find Kane intimidating at all. I love the guy. He's a really fantastic person and a lot of fun to work with on films. I've done other movies even before the first Hatchet was made and so I knew Kane then. He's a fun guy to work with and a true pro.

When making a film, there's always last minute changes and things can get hectic. What were some challenges you made while making the movie?

I had everything planned out as best I could. So the planning part wasn't an issue. The challenges I had were the conditions of shooting in a swamp. Rain shut us down a few times, mosquitoes were hardcore, mud, gators, and people not getting along on set were more the challenge of it all.

From the "Hatchet III" cast and crew, who would you like to work with again on different projects?

I'd love to work again with basically anyone from the cast of Hatchet 3. I'm working with Jason Trost on a script right now. Jason played Hamilton in Hatchet 3, and he also directed with his brother a film called "The F.P.", which is hilarious. He has done a ton of very cool films.

I've heard before that there will be at least one more Hatchet film, can you confirm this?

I can't confirm there will be another Hatchet film. Part 3 was the conclusion to the Marybeth story. Films like Hatchet can always keep going, just like other slashers before it. This was my last Hatchet film. I enjoyed the ride and opportunity, but it's time I moved on to do more films that I want to do. I am thankful for the chance to direct Hatchet 3 though, and I hope I made people happy with this one.

What are some things that you'd like to do in your future as a film maker?

I want to direct more action films. I love action. But I also love horror and sci-fi. That's where I'm planning on going with the directing. I'm also still camera operating. I love being an operator too. It is seriously the best job in the world and has so far, and I've met so many great people.

You've done work on such films as the new Star Trek film and the Tom Cruise film "Jack Reacher", do you intend to stay versatile or do you plan to settle down as a horror director?

I want to be more versatile. I don't want to be pegged as just a horror director. You won't catch me doing a romantic comedy any time soon, but like I said in the last question, action, horror and sci-fi is where my heart is.

What is your proudest body of work that you've partaken in?

Jack Reacher is really one I'm proud of. I am glad to shoot a movie traditionally and not the average hand held run and gun style that everyone loves so much. I miss the films where the film has a certain pro look, and I felt we did that in Jack Reacher. Plus, it was great to be around the best in the biz and learn from them. Of course, I'm happy with Hatchet 3 as a director. It was a tough film to make, but it's a different type of proud. Reacher is an accomplishment as a camera operator, where Hatchet 3 was an accomplishment as a director.

You've done work in and out of horror for a while, what present day director do you think offers a big future to the horror genre?

I think that horror just hast to keep getting inventive. I love James Wan's horror films. He does a lot of very inventive things and I love watching his work. You need a good story and great visuals. Hatchet 3 is a slasher film, and has the formula that makes a 80's throwback work well. I think things have to stay fresh and or really fun. It's an amusement park ride. People want the thrills or scares.

You usually do camera work, but do you plan on being involved in writing a film at all in the future?

I am good at writing down ideas or story ideas. My dialog writing I'm working on (laughs). I am working with writers right now on scripts that I'm trying to get made. I'm currently working on two different films that two different buddies are writing with me. It's fun to have a collaborative writing team because ideas are great to throw around, and see what other people think. Sometimes, an idea you think is cool can be totally made cooler by someone else's suggestions. Or they just tell you our idea is lame and you do something else (laughs).

Since you're experienced with camera work, is putting your vision on screen as really hard as some make it seem? 

It's always challenging to put your vision on screen. Especially when you do something so technical with no time to really do it. Some people who don't work in the film business don't know the process it takes just to get a simple shot set up. And time. You are always racing against time. But if you are prepped as best you can be, then you can accomplish a lot! Thank God, I did my own storyboards.

Next year, you've got "Townies" coming out, which you've done camera work on. What are some of your other future projects going to be? 

I worked a bit on a film called "Lone Survivor", that is going to be pretty cool. Also, I'm starting a film called "The Kitchen Sink". It's about vampires, zombies and humans fighting an alien invasion. The script is rad and it should be very interesting.

What's your favorite horror film of the last ten years? And don't say "Hatchet III" (laugh).

I have to say "I saw the Devil", "The Strangers", and "Sinister".

I ask this question to all of my interviewees, so I have to ask you: Is horror dead? Please specify.

Horror is never dead. It's people wanting more and more. Horror is one of the biggest genres of films, and it's the most fun to make and watch. I think that horror will be around forever. I mean, just turn on the news and almost all the stories you see are "horror". And that's the scary part, that it's real.

To everybody reading, what would you say that your best attribute as a film maker is? What separates you from others? 

I think my best attribute is my love of film making, my attitude and  the experience I've gained over the last decades on film sets. I've become friends with some of the best in the biz, and I know on my next film I can bring a team that can pull off some insane stuff. Without the people around you, you are nobody. It's all about teamwork and friends, and just having fun!

Thanks a ton for taking the time to do this interview, BJ. I really look forward to seeing more from you in the future. After "Hatchet III", us horror fans all have our eyes on you.

Thank you so very much.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Hatchet III Kicks Bloody Ass!


Synopsis taken from IMDb
A search and recovery team heads into the haunted swamp to pick up the pieces and Marybeth learns the secret to ending the voodoo curse that has left Victor Crowley haunting and terrorizing Honey Island Swamp for decades.

For this film, Hatchet creator, Adam Green stepped away from the director's chair, and gave it to the credible BJ McDonnell, who did camera work on the previous Hatchet film. This is BJ's directorial debut, although he's been involved in film since 2001. Usually he's the dolly grip, or Steadicam operator. Recently, he's done work on "The Collection" and "The Walking Dead", he was also involved with "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter".

It seems everywhere I go, I read internet hate for the 2nd film, but I couldn't disagree more. I loved both installments in the series and couldn't wait for this one! "Hatchet 3" picks up exactly where the last film left off, continuing the story. It focuses more on the legend of Victor Crowley, and how to put him to rest for good. I think the fact that they're still going into Victor's background and story is what I liked most about this film. There's still a story to be told, as opposed to just filming kills and gore. 

We get introduced to a lot of new characters this time around, much like the previous films, one of them being Derek Mears (Friday the 13th 2009). He plays Hawes, head of Louisiana's SWAT team. Being a horror fanboy, it was awesome seeing both he and Hodder on screen together. Old school, and new school Jason Voorhees in the same movie is great. Caroline Williams, also stars in this film as Amanda. I think it was most thrilling for me to see Zach Galligan, who played Billy in "Gremlins".  

After the chaos of the last film, Marybeth (Danielle Harris) finds herself in jail, and accused of the mass murder. Amanda, being a local nobody who's tried to make a name for herself by proving Victor Crowley is real, tells Marybeth that she knows how to kill Crowley once and for all...

This film tends to not be as cheesy as the first two but, it's just as gory and brutal. I love how they're still coming up with atrocious, creative kills for these films. It keeps you watching and is part of the fun you have while watching this series. There's some moments that'll cause you laugh aloud, and there's some jumps. Mostly, like the other films, you're just eager to see Victor, and what he's up to!

All of the cast do a great job at making this movie work. It's scary, yet by dialog and actions, we're always reminded that this film doesn't take itself too seriously. This whole series is an enormously fun roller coaster ride for fans of old school horror films.

The film lacks suspense, but has plenty of quick jump moments that'll get a reaction out of you. I tend to not try and over praise films, but slashers have always been my favorite films. I can't help but be a fan and love these movies! 

As the film concluded, I was completely satisfied. Had I been in a theater I would have stood up and clapped. Hell, I almost did it from the couch (laugh). Danielle Harris is the best she's ever been, and I can't wait to see the 4th film. I hope it happens soon, but I'm estimating it'll be another 3 years, that tends to be the gap between the films. 

"Hatchet III" leaves you wanting more immediately, and by the looks of it, the 4th movie will likely pickup exactly where this one leaves off.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Help get The Fake Horse printed!

The Fake Horse is a dark, meaningful story from the mind of Toby Johansen, an independent artist and film maker. His labor of love is coming to a close as he's almost finished it. With only 41 pages left, Toby needs to raise the money required to make his dream book happen. If the quota isn't met by July 14th, he'll be starting a Kickstarter campaign soon after, to keep the ball rolling.

What is The Fake Horse you ask? In Toby's own words:

"It's called 'The Fake Horse', where in a post-apocalyptic 2018, where a man who wears a horse mask is bent on protecting a herd of horses from savage flesh-eaters left from the fallout, while trying to make a meaningful life in a world that's ended."

If you're a graphic novel/comics fan and a horror fan, than this is definitely your thing. Don't miss this!


And don't forget to LIKE it on Facebook:

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