FrightFest 2010 Damned by Dawn Movie Review

FrightFest 2010 Damned by Dawn Movie Review

Imagine if Tesco made an own-brand version of The Evil Dead – a sort of discount version of the Evil Dead that was devoid of any original style, wit or inventiveness and you’d probably come up with Damned by Dawn.

Damned by Dawn is a competently made spooky film that is clearly influenced by The Evil Dead but there is nothing distinctive or creative about it.

A banshee terrorises a family in a country house with her army of skeletons. The family are whittled down until the last survivor is left to do battle with evil villainess.

My suspension of disbelief in the film went out the window the minute the dodgy CGI skeleton army appeared. In one scene where the heroine speeds off in a car, we’re meant to believe that the skeleton army can penetrate the world of the living from the afterlife, but turn to slush upon impact with the windscreen of a Ford Escort.

The crowd at FrightFest were really psyched for Damned by Dawn – we really needed something to lift us up with laughs and decent zany scares.

A shame.

posted by admin at 8:33 pm  

FrightFest 2010 La Meute (aka: The Pack) Movie Review

FrightFest 2010 La Meute (aka: The Pack) Movie Review

Crowds are thinning out here at the start of Day 4 of FrightFest 2010.

From here on in it’s a matter of stamina and hoping that the remainder of the films are compelling enough to warrant going the distance until the final day on Monday.

First up today was La Meute (aka The Pack) which was pitched as a biker revenge road chase movie.

While it’s certainly true that there are bikers who do cause havoc, La Meute is actually several different horror films rolled into one.

The beginning is set up to make you think you’re watching The Vanishing as a girl travelling alone picks up a male hitchhiker for company, but who disappears when he visits the toilet.

I won’t spoil the twists (and believe me, there are several in this film) but the film then becomes The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and then twists again to become Night of The Living Dead.

The film has an appeal by keeping you guessing as it journeys between different genres of horror. However, its appeal is also its main flaw.

La Meute’s plot jumps around so often that as a viewer you’re never really allowed to invest yourself in it fully.

You’re set up for one type of film but paid off in another with no throughline connecting events to make it fully satisfying.

Films like Psycho and From Dusk Til’ Dawn have successfully managed to pull the old switcheroo ‘you thinking you’re watching a film about x but actually it’s a film about y’.

They’ve done this by having a clear direction on what’s important as they switch. In Psycho, the viewer is subtly tricked into rooting for Norman Bates and hoping that he won’t be discovered in the second part, and in From Dusk Till’ Dawn you have the relationship between the brothers.

Viewed at 2am on Channel 4, La Meute would be entertaining fare. It keeps you guessing and pulls a few surprises to keep your attention. But overall the plot is disjointed and the overall effect of a truly scary film is watered down by confusion and the lack of a clear direction or theme.

posted by admin at 1:21 pm  

FrightFest 2010 Day 4 Intro The Pack (La Meute) and Short Film Showcase

FrightFest 2010 Day 4 Intro The Pack (La Meute) and Short Film Showcase

After the student slideshow that was Gareth Edwards’ Monsters, I was running low on gas, and had to bail before Dream Home began.

The upside though is that I will be in time for the UK premiere of The Pack (La Meute) which definitely sounds promising as a road chase and gore flick -perfect for Sunday morning.

After The Pack (La Meute) is the quiz from hell and then at 13:30 it’s the FrightFest 2010 Short Film Showcase, which I’m really looking forward to.

There’s a soft spot for the short film segment, mainly because me and director Rick James made our own short for the festival about three years ago.

We called it ‘The Usual Attraction’ and to get you in the mood for what’s ahead today we present it for your viewing pleasure:

posted by admin at 10:01 am  

FrightFest 2010 Monsters Movie Review

FrightFest 2010 Monsters Movie Review

“I feel like I could cry. But I don’t know if it would be a happy cry or a sad cry.”

That’s a line from the film Monsters which premiered at 9pm today on Saturday night on Day 3 at the FrightFest 2010.

It was pitched as an ‘emotional road movie’ and an ‘engaging romantic drama’ by the programme guide and was sold out according to the display boards at the Empire Cinema.

The screening of Monsters was even sponsored by Total Film and given a personal introduction by the magazine’s editor and the film’s writer-director.

The bar was set well and truly high. Despite being 9pm on Saturday night in the middle of London I was ready for something engaging and with a message.

Unfortunately, Monsters was not that film.

Imagine two posh students having just finished their A-Levels and taking a gap year in Mexico and then those same students returning from their gap year  with a 97 minute slideshow, holding you the viewer as prisoner, as you’re forced to relate to their nauseating musings on life and relationships.

I repeat the line:

“I feel like I could cry. But I don’t know if it would be a happy cry or a sad cry.”

If anyone said anything as wet as that to you in real life, you’d slowly walk away and not make eye contact, but in Monsters it’s underwritten by deeply meaningful looks from the two leads who are fully paid-up members of the Keanu Reeves school of acting.

The problem with Monsters is that it’s the relationship between the two leads who are journeying across Mexico to America that should have held you in place. But there is little chemistry between the two. Indeed, sparks cannot fly between mutual pieces of wood.

Still doubt me? Here’s another excerpt:

Man: What do you want to be when you grow up?
Woman: I dunno.
(A pause as they both look deeply felt and meaningful each other)
Woman: What do you want to be when you grow up?
Man: I dunno.

A thrilling exchange!  Like it? Here’s another:

The couple are walking through a town where buildings have been destroyed:

Woman: What do you think happened here?
Man: I dunno.
(Pauses)
Man: If you ask me it looks like an air-strike.

Great. Thanks for clarifying that. Would have kept me up all night that.

As a concept, ‘War of The Worlds’ meets ‘The Sure Thing’ sounds like a good time and a really good time at that. Unfortunately, Monsters spends much of its time navel gazing. Do yourself a favour and reach out for Zombie Land instead.

posted by admin at 12:30 am  

FrightFest 2010 I Spit On Your Grave 2010 Remake Movie Review

FrightFest 2010 I Spit On Your Grave 2010 Remake Movie Review

I haven’t seen the original I Spit On Your Grave, so I’m writing this review with one hand tied behind my back, or, if you like, untainted by the baggage of acclaim the original holds in the horror community.

If you’re not familiar with the plot of I Spit On Your Grave, it can be summarised thusly:

A woman is brutally attacked and assaulted by a gang of rednecks and left for dead. She survives, however, and returns to dish out a brutal and horrific attack against each of her assailants.

Trouble is, there isn’t much more to I Spit On Your Grave 2010 than that.

There isn’t a deeper exploration of what drives males to violence against women or what factors make these kinds of attitudes propitious in today’s world.

That last comment may sound up itself, but there are some very harrowing scenes in the first hour of the film, and I didn’t feel as if these had been set-up with any kind of real motivation.

The attack against the woman is brought about by rednecks being your stereotypical horror rednecks and nothing more.

The second half of the flick then becomes about how the victim, seemingly thought dead by her attackers, begins to exact her revenge.

The scenes in which she gets her own back drew whoops and cheers from the audience. The first half of the film is harrowing and the second part acts as a release where the villains get what’s coming to them. The methods she uses to get her own back are original, drawing as many laughs from the audience as it did equal amounts of ewwwwwwws. I won’t spoil them for you, suffice to say one scene involves a fish hook.

I Spit On Your Grave 2010 follows in the footsteps of other remakes, most notably the updated version of The Last House on the Left.

While the original versions of these films have the ability to upset, their power lay in their ability to shock and disturb; to present viewers with a case that their view of how safe the world was was wrong.

The remakes, while retaining their ability to upset, do not have the ability to shock.  Violence is commonplace and acts of extreme aggression are reported daily in newspapers.

We know the world isn’t a safe place, so why keep reheating films whose original power lay in relaying that message to a different world, at a different time?

posted by admin at 11:42 pm  

FrightFest 2010 13 HRS Movie Review

FrightFest 2010 13 HRS Movie Review

Three pm on sunny Saturday bank holiday weekend in London and there’s no place I’d rather be than in a darkened cinema watching a bunch of horror flicks for the whole day.

Next up is the low-budget Brit-flick 13 HRS.

With the exception of the fantastic movie ‘F’ screened yesterday, Brit horror flicks have a dubious reputation in quality when it comes to the FrightFest.

But hey, if it’s British, I’m duty bound to give it a more than fair hearing. Unfortunately, 30 mins into meaningless exposition, my attention wanes and doesn’t ever recover.

In 13 HRS, a bunch of teens converge in a country house and are attacked by a werewolf. On  paper this looks like a passable evening’s entertainment, except that being low-budget and promising werewolves is always going to turn out bad.

Doing a werewolf flick on low budget is asking from trouble.

Anyone will tell you that the sight of the werewolf or a kick ass transformation scene is a necessary abiding pleasure warranted in these flicks.

There are ways around it though – using Wolfen style POV shots of the creature if done correctly can be stylish and just as scary and save on the dollars. But simply sticking a red gel on the front of camera man and asking him to run around aimlessly is not.

13 HRS lacks any tension, there are no scares and the plot gives way to people screaming in an attic about their fractured family relationships the viewer cares little about.

When the action lags, the script calls for each of the characters to venture downstairs in action scenes that are meant to sustain interest, but which fail.

posted by admin at 6:19 pm  

FrightFest 2010 The Tortured Movie Review

FrightFest 2010 The Tortured Movie Review

The Tortured is an aptly named film, as it not only describes it the bulk of what goes on, but coincidentally, the audience’s experience as they sit through 90 mins of tripe.

The film begins strongly enough as parents try to come to grips with their son’s abduction.

The subsequent capture of the perpetrator within the first 20 mins and fallout from what has happened to their son makes you wonder how things get any more disturbing for the couple.

However, when the couple decide that the sentence handed down to the perpetrator doesn’t fit the crime, they take matters into their own hands by springing him free with the intention of capturing and torturing him.

A solid beginning then gives way to absurdity and ill-fitting torture porn. Observe the following lines as they commence the first of many punishments:

Person A: “I don’t think I can go through with this.”

And then later as the father is about to commence his next obscene act against the prisoner:

Person A: “Think of the worst pain you’ve ever experienced. It’s going to be much worse than that.”

This is AFTER they have gone through an A-Team style operation of freeing the prisoner. As with most films nowadays, there is a twist, but you can see it a mile off from when the capture the prisoner.

This film could have been a lot better. The nugget of the idea in The Tortured, how seemingly normal people can be driven to outrageous acts in the face of provoking circumstances, is a good one and could have made a very good film.

Unfortunately, the intention here is to just feed SAW-style gore, repackaged under a different name to draw attention away from the fact that the SAW franchise is already up to SAW 138.

posted by admin at 6:02 pm  

FrightFest 2010 Day 3 Update

FrightFest 2010 Day 3 Update

Shame.

Deep shame and regret at missing Cherry Lane this morning on Day 3 of FrightFest 2010.

I was informed by those around me that Cherry Lane was much like the awesome Funny Games, which if true means that I will definitely have to pick it up on DVD at some point.

My regret over missing Day 2’s Red Hill was increased when someone told me it was a bit like West World. That really put me in a bad mood as West World rocks. Again, I will have to pick this one on DVD when it comes up.

Still, no use crying over spilt milkshakes. Up next is ‘The Tortured’ from the producers of SAW. Here’s hoping my luck at missing the good ones doesn’t extend to being in my seat for the bad ones.

posted by admin at 5:39 pm  

FrightFest 2010 Red Hill Review, Alien vs Ninja Review and Cherry Tree Lane Review -Day 2/3

FrightFest 2010 Red Hill Review, Alien vs Ninja Review and Cherry Tree Lane Review –Day 2/ 3

It’s a fair cop; in the interests of full disclosure I had to duck out of Red Hill early to meet a friend who was joining me for Alien vs Ninja.

Approximately an hour into Red Hill, it was coming on strong as a ‘No County for Old Men’ contender mixed with wry Australian wit. I left just as the main villain entered the piece to join my friend for a catch up drink, but the film had my attention, which I take as a good sign.

Alien vs Ninja was Power Rangers with amped up violence and put to shame The Aliens vs Predator series it was parodying. Good fun that lasted late into 1am of Saturday morning.

Taking in Alien vs Ninja came at a price though; it’s now 12:10 and 60 minutes of the first Day 3 film Cherry Tree Lane have passed. Damn it. I was looking forward to this one.

I could have made a run to catch the last 20 minutes, but have to instead resort to silly stuff like Breakfast if I’m going to see the rest of the festival through to the end.

More later folks…honest…!

posted by admin at 12:24 pm  

FrightFest 2010 Day 2 Picture Gallery

FrightFest 2010 Day 2 Picture Gallery

Juliet Aubrey F the movie at FrightFest 2010

Juliet Aubrey F the movie at FrightFest 2010

Cast and Crew F the Movie at FrightFest 2010

Cast and Crew F the Movie at FrightFest 2010

More cast and crew from F the movie at FrightFest 2010

More cast and crew from F the movie at FrightFest 2010

Johannes Roberts Writer and Director of F the movie at FrightFest 2010

Johannes Roberts Writer and Director of F the movie at FrightFest 2010

Kane Hodder JP Kamath Joe Lynch at FrightFest 2010

Kane Hodder JP Kamath Joe Lynch at FrightFest 2010

posted by admin at 4:20 am  
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