Dead Shack (2017) [Fantasia International Film Festival 2017]

For folks experiencing zombie fatigue, “Dead Shack” might be the small movie that cures your unrest for the sub-genre. Director-writer Peter Ricq and co-writers Philippe Ivanusic, Davila LeBlanc twist conventions rather well while also introducing a dashing but complex horror villain to boot. “Dead Shack” is a fun and very funny mix of genres that has a good time implementing the zombie sub-genre without bogging the entire movie down in typical cinematic tropes and heavy handed overtones. The zombies here are more devious plot devices that allow for a ton of gore and splatter, and director Ricq never shies away from the gooey and red stuff.

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Death Line (Raw Meat) (1972) [Fantasia International Film Festival 2017]

A precursor to “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” Gary Sherman’s European based cannibal thriller is a ghoulish and often eerie bit of horror about a monster lurking within the tubes of London. Set amidst a busy and unsuspecting city, director Gary Sherman makes amazing use of the abandoned tunnels and corridors of London’s underground between Russell Square and Holborn. Sherman concocts a veritable lair for a clan of Victorian cannibals, the last of which is struggling to keep his pregnant wife alive. Sherman is great about setting the tone for his grisly little tale, constantly showing the radical worlds that lurk above and beneath local London subways.

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12 Feet Deep: Trapped Sisters (2017)

At eighty five minutes in length, “12 Feet Deep” has a dilemma it can never seem to get past. It sets up a premise that is only able to keep up momentum for forty minutes. The next forty five is very reliant on a ham fisted and hackneyed plot device. What the writers pose as a crisis of conscience and a woman reflecting on someone similar to herself instead feels like a desperate means of stretching a movie that could easily have been under an hour without the goofy filler. The movie could have easily shrunk down to twenty five minutes if our characters ever acted rationally. “12 Feet Deep” is another attempt at a survival thriller where characters are marooned in a very monotonous spot and have no means of escaping. Rather than being a white knuckle fight like “Frozen,” it instead becomes about people just making things more difficult than they have to be.

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47 Meters Down (2017)

Sometimes during these survival films, we meet people that are either too dumb, or too reckless, but “47 Meters Down” chronicles the plight of two of probably the most unlucky women on planet Earth. A lot of what goes down in the film really poses a logical set up, because when we meet characters Lisa and Kate, they’re both anxiously trying to find an adventure and escape from the doldrums of their lives. Mandy Moore especially is the focal point of “47 Meters Down” where she plays a girl getting over a bad break up who literally has to muster up the will to live in an extraordinary situation. “47 Meters Down” is a pretty basic survival thriller, but it’s definitely helped by the very good performance by Mandy Moore.

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The Purge: Election Year (2016)

James DeMonaco’s second sequel to the exploitative and silly “The Purge” series reaches the masses in a very politically fueled year, and while DeMonaco and Blumhouse have the advantage of very much satirizing the current political climate, “Election Year” just continues the same routine we’ve seen with this movie series so far. It’s a lot of the same where there is an opportunity to offer a scary dark satire of America, but it backs off in favor of a lot of goofy plot twists and meandering sub-plots. Once again the annual the Purge is about to commence where every year for one night there is no such thing as law. So you can murder as you please, rape as you please, pillage, plunder, take a penny without leaving a penny, pick at a buffet without the sneeze guard, leave your trash with the recyclables included, walk on the grass, loiter like hell for hours on end, the sky is the limit.

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Alien: Covenant (2017)

With “Prometheus” Ridley Scott met the other side of his “Alien” mythology by visiting the very early dawn of his universe that saw the very evolution of his xenomorphs. After it hit with a thud resembling a wet diaper smashing in to a garbage can, Scott hits the other extreme by delivering a movie in the vein of “Prometheus” that’s just as flat and just as stupid. Director Ridley Scott has lost the grasp of his own film and has really failed to learn how to deliver a well measured and compelling horror tale teeming with themes about sexuality and human biology. Instead now he gets to literally have his cake and eat it too, by offering up a ham fisted goofy prequel that feels like a glorified fan film. All the while also continuing his descent in to pseudo-intellectualist allegories and on the nose metaphors about God, the Devil, Heaven, Paradise, evolution and birth.

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Seoul Station (2016)

Yeon Sang-ho and the studios were wise to capitalize on the running juggernaut that was the success of “Train to Busan” in 2016. Often times studios or directors wait two to five years for a prequel or a sequel, but “Train to Busan” gets an almost immediate prequel that helps expand the story and mythology of the live action film. One of the best zombie films of the last fifteen years, and perhaps of all time, “Train to Busan” was an action packed blockbuster disaster film set to the tune of the zombie apocalypse. The animated prequel is a bit more downbeat but still maintains the same social relevance and commentary that “Train to Busan” did so well.

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