Tag Archive | horror

Elfie Hopkins gets the review it deserves

As Elfie Hopkins is such a special movie…
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The Cabin in the Woods that must be seen to be believed

On 13 April everyone should be seeing The Cabin in the Woods. Unless you hate fun.

Some films are so unconventional that a conventional review would only serve to do such films an injustice.  The Cabin in the Woods is a perfect example of exactly that kind of flick.  Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard have delivered such a spectacular work of modern art that anyone who sees The Cabin in the Woods owes it to them to shut their mouths about what happens in it.  Of course, many will ask “but what’s it about?” Fine. It’s about five university students who head off to a remote cabin in the woods to spend a weekend together. That is all anyone needs to know before seeing this.  What’s that? You want more information. Okay, look, here’s what can safely be discussed without spoiling the film:
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Review: The Woman in Black

Horror masters Hammer Films are bringing The Woman in Black from the boards of the West End to cinemas world-wide this month, with former Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe in the lead role of struggling young solicitor Arthur Kipps, who comes face-to-face with the feared spectre herself.  The gothic ghost tale packs a few surprises and some great scares, despite feeling too predictable or foolish at times.

The Woman in Black haunts UK cinemas from 10 February

Adapted for the screen by Jane Goldman (X-Men: First Class, The Debt), The Woman in Black opens with a chilling sequence that sees three young girls, in trance-like states, calmly stepping out from an attic window to their deaths below.  Afterwards, the widower Kipps is introduced as he prepares to leave London and his young son (yes, little Harry Potter plays a father of a 4-year-old here) behind for Eel Marsh House, located in a remote part of England, in order to sort out the legal affairs of its recently deceased owner.  Upon arrival, he receives an icy reception from all the locals with the exception of the wealthy Sam Daily (Ciarán Hinds), who becomes a valuable friend and ally, as despite initial frights at the house and against repeated warnings from increasingly angry locals Kipps forges on.  As Kipps continues to ignore further visions and tragic incidents, the situation becomes ever graver, placing the local children at risk from the Woman in Black.
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Review: The Awakening

Nick Murphy’s The Awakening is a BBC produced old-fashioned ghost story, tinged with horror, heavy on suspense, but ends up tangled in the web it weaves. Leading lady Rebecca Hall’s hoax-buster is the focal point as she attempts to reveal the parlour tricks behind a “haunted” boarding school. Initially gripping, the tension gradually gives way to the mounting confusion as the potential fades into the ether.

The Awakening is in UK cinemas on 11 November

Declaring “This is a time for ghosts” The Awakening welcomes its audience to post World War I England in 1921, where Florence Cathcart (Hall) dedicates her life to debunking ghost stories and mediums. School teacher Robert Mallory (Dominic West) requests her expertise to investigate a rumoured haunting at his boarding school which has led to the recent death of a young boy. Cathcart reluctantly agrees and is soon placing her detection instruments throughout the school on the eve of half-term. Harbouring the loss of her lover during the war, Cathcart is a tormented soul struggling with her guilt; however she is not the only player here with secrets. Mallory is a war vet haunted by the memories of his fallen friends.  School matron Maud Hill (Imelda Staunton, excellent as always) looks after the children and is a fervent admirer of Cathcart’s work, while groundskeeper Edward Judd (Joseph Mawle) is little more than a menacing caricature lurking on the perimeter. When Cathcart quickly discovers the source of a quite un-supernatural occurrence, the matter seems to be resolved until she experiences further inexplicable disturbances.
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Review: Red, White and Blue

Red, White and Blue is an intriguing Texas-based drama that slowly works its way towards a horrific crescendo.  This revenge film initially follows Erica (Amanda Fuller) as each night she hits a different bar and beds a different man, or in some cases, three different men at once.  It’s a stark introduction to a woman whose mantra is “I don’t stay over, I don’t fall in love and I don’t fuck the same guy twice”.  Residing in co-op housing, Erica leads a lonely, closed-off life.  It’s not until she’s forced to earn a living that Erica allows herself to open up to anyone.  Helping her to find work at his building supplies depot is Nate (Noah Taylor), a slight, Iraqi war veteran with a deeply ingrained dark side.  He watches as Erica allows herself to be exploited and yearns to protect her.

Red, White and Blue's director Simon Rumley, lead actor Noah Taylor, actress Lauren Schneider and producer Bob Portal at the Piccadilly Apollo Cinema

The first act fully focuses on the growing relationship between the two housemates, but breaks suddenly once a significant turning point has been reached.  The focal point then unexpectedly shifts to rock musician Franki (Marc Senter) and his two band mates, who were seen at the start of Red, White and Blue in what is revealed to be a pivotal scene.  As Franki’s relationship with his cancer-stricken mother is established, the second act begins feel like a separate film altogether as Nate and Erica are absent from the narrative for a significant amount of time.  While it soon becomes obvious exactly where this is going, the outcome once that destination is reached is anything but a foregone conclusion.
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Discussion: What Really Happens in Kill List? *SPOILERS*

Ben Wheatley’s Kill List, released this past Friday is a baffling cinematic experience.  If one believes the critics, it’s one of the best films of the year.  On a film forum I frequent, of those who attended the preview screening at the Prince Charles Cinema last week,  everyone hated it, without exception.  Even the film’s biggest supporters talk up the film without delving too deeply into why.  Instead, many review appear to have been drawn from a template which includes “kitchen sink drama” and “It’s best to know as little as possible before viewing it”.  Others claim it to be a brilliant film… well, except for that third act.

Neil Maskell and director Ben Wheatley at the Prince Charles Cinema

Personally, I appear to be one of the few whom falls somewhere in between.  Upon my first viewing of it at the UK premiere at FrightFest, I was totally confused.  From a technical standpoint, for everything that Wheatley does well, there are silly mistakes such as the dialogue between Gal and Jay often being indecipherable.  The background noise was too loud and the Maskell and Smiley just did not deliver their lines clearly enough.  The editing is interesting.  Or is it just bad.  I wasn’t sure.
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Review: Kill List

Kill List has become a critical darling amongst British reviewers this year, but unfortunately for second-time director Ben Wheatley, the average cinema-goer is no film critic and word-of-mouth just may be at the opposite end of the opinion spectrum.  In a way, that would be fitting as Kill List is in many ways a bipolar film.  It seemingly begins in one genre and ends up in quite another.  The film is, at times very funny, at others extremely brutal and sometimes both.  The lead couple of Jay (Neil Maskell) and Shel (MyAnna Buring) have a passionately manic relationship, which teeters from seething to tender over the course of one evening.  The end result is ripe for mixed reactions, but may leave the ordinary viewer cold.

Director Ben Wheatley and the cast of Kill List at the UK premiere at FrightFest 2011

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Review: Fright Night (2011)

Hitting the silver screens across the UK this Friday is yet another remake, this time it’s Tom Holland’s Fright Night receiving a modern-day update.  Anton Yelchin fills the lead and heads up a selection of 20-something high-schoolers residing on the outskirts of Las Vegas.  Preoccupied with his new, out-of-his-league girlfriend, Amy (Imogen Poots), Yelchin’s Charley pays little attention to the fact that some of his classmates and neighbours are disappearing.  It’s not until his abandoned former best-friend Ed (a wildly entertaining Chrisopher Mintz-Plasse, well, at least at first) tries to connect the dots for him, leading Charley to his new next-door neighbour, Jerry.  Charley remains sceptical until Ed himself goes missing and the penny finally drops that Jerry really is a vampire.
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