Category Archives: Full Length

wagesofsin

Wages of Sin

Written & Directed By: Aaron Robson
Starring:
Ashlie Victoria Clark
Emily Lucas
Brandon Michael

It’s no secret that the current status of mainstream Hollywood-produced horror isn’t good: it’s a tired industry, currently dominated by countless remakes. The past decade saw a new wave of Asian horror inspired remakes (The Ring, The Grudge, Pulse, etc.) and then the unnecessary remaking of North American classics (Friday the 13th, Black Christmas, Halloween, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and soon, A Nightmare on Elm Street). It’s no surprise that horror fans have begun turning elsewhere to get their fix of creative terror — as such, the last decade saw an overwhelming boom in Independent horror.

I’ve been a huge advocate of the Indie horror scene — filmmakers without boundries taking their meager budgets and making the horror films they would want to see. And generally, independent filmmakers have been successful in their endeavours; though I’ll admit I’d rather be entertained by a low budget Indie film than sitting through more mainstream schlock. The Indie scene, always having to do more with less, has been pushing the boundaries on taste and the definition of horror (Toe Tag Pictures comes to mind). Love it or hate it (it’s surprising how many people just can’t get past the low production values) the Indie horror scene continues to be on the rise, especially when the technology is so readily available to anyone who wants to make a film.

Okay, I get it: someone who makes an Independent horror film is probably going to be a horror fan (I mean, why else make a horror film, right?). And as such, they’re going to want to toss in a barrage of little homages to their favourites; that is, the films that inspired them to one day write a script and then spend a year filming and editing the thing. But here’s my problem: since Indie horror exists mostly as a reaction against trite mainstream films, why then would someone want to make a low-budget, ninety-minute film that does nothing except rehash all the cliches from those mainstream films which we’re all tired of in the first place?!

Don’t get me wrong, I admire anyone with the guts to spend the time needed to make a film — and as a filmmaker myself, I understand it’s a bloody huge undertaking. But as a horror fan, I’d want to make damn sure that my movie was contributing something to the genre, and not just paying homage to a few decades worth of classics.

So if you’re in the mood for a horror flick, do yourself a favour and just go straight to the source. Check out “Wages of Sin” only after you’ve seen the inspirations for it, including: Poltergeist 2, The Shining, The Evil Dead, A Nightmare on Elm StreetResident Evil, and Halloween to name only a few.

wwz

World War Z

Starring: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, Daniella Kertesz
Directed by: Marc Forster
skull

I will warn you up front: this review may contain bile, vitriol and extreme sarcasm. Proceed without your panties in a twist.

I don’t know how it could have gone so wrong. Anyone, anyone with any filmmaking sensibility should have been able to craft a beautiful, scary, touching film out of Max Brooks’ 2006 novel. It seemed so obvious to me; a faux documentary, almost Ken Burns style with flashbacks to the significant events as related by the survivors. The full title World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War conjures up images of Band of Brothers or Saving Private Ryan with undead hordes shambling around. Instead we were given a gutless, bloodless, utterly soulless hack job of a pastiche zombie movie that makes you wonder how anyone signed off on it in the first place. The plot alone makes the Resident Evil video game series seem linear and straight forward.

Brad Pitt plays Gerry Lane, a superhero formerly employed by the UN in a somewhat undefined yet highly influential position, who has entered early retirement, John Matrix-style, to spend more time with his wife and two daughters. On a family road trip, the zombie apocalypse breaks out and destroys much of the world in a matter of (what seems to be) hours. After stealing a motorhome and looting a grocery store, Gerry and kin are airlifted to safety aboard an aircraft carrier. In exchange for his family’s uninterrupted asylum on the ship, Gerry must accompany a virologist on a mission to find patient zero and hopefully a cure for the zombie plague. Spoiler alert: the virologist shoots himself in the face within moments of encountering his first zombies, leaving Super Gerry to complete his task alone.

I say Super Gerry because Brad Pitt is a seemingly unstoppable force in this movie (again a nod to Commando), surviving numerous zombie attacks, explosions and a plane crash that leaves him impaled on a piece of shrapnel. He is practically a force of nature as everywhere he goes, he leaves behind in ruins. His act of illogical, reckless and utterly foolish self sacrifice at the end leads me to believe that we are to perceive Gerry Lane as some sort of messiah. And he would have to be, against this particular zombie plague.

The zombies are almost directly lifted from 28 Days Later’s rage-infected runners, seemingly amped up way beyond any normal human capacity. Once bitten, victims turn bitey in twelve seconds and run screaming directly towards fresh meat, smashing through windows and doors as though they were mild inconveniences. The zombies are referred to as such (in several languages) and though we are told they are the walking dead, we never actually see someone die prior to turning. The change is so rapid that the victim simply twitches and screams for a moment or two and then pursues its next meal. If they are away from stimulus for a period, they become “dormant” and stagger around a bit like most zombies but a poorly timed footstep or squeaky door and they come running. And here we come to the worst part of the whole ordeal.

The CG super zombies used in any scene involving more than a handful of biters were amateurish at best, completely unnatural looking and (I think) even improperly scaled in some of the long shots. The scenes of millions of scrambling super zombies scaling walls and buildings might have been somewhat effective if they hadn’t resembled video game graphics from eight years ago. This all might have been forgivable if more than a drop or two of blood had been spilled on camera. With all the biting, shooting, stabbing and limb-severing, the most blood we see is on Gerry’s forehead after surviving the aforementioned plane crash.

The usual conceit in zombie movies is that humans are their own worst enemies in times of crisis but that normal people can rise to the occasion and pull through. World War Z gives us the complete opposite, that an attractive, nearly impervious, highly resourceful super hero can save all of humanity as long as he has cell phone access to the UN. Please, if you haven’t already, don’t give this steaming turd of a film any of your money, it will only encourage a sequel. Just put on Dawn of the Dead and hope that this is the final bullet in the brain stem of the zombie craze.

teaser poster

Yeah Rite! (Short, 2012)

Written and Directed by: Michael Penney (@MichaelPenney)
Produced by: Chris Miles and Afterlight Films (@yeahritemovie)
Starring:
Joshua Peace (Pacific Rim)
Melanie Scrofano (Edwin Boyd, Saw VII, Nurse 3D)
Toby Proctor (To Catch a Killer)
Deborah Grover (Bag of Bones)

TRAILER: http://vimeo.com/47376958

This Exorcism Comedy is the first short from Canadian production company Afterlight Films. It tells the story of one of the first exorcisms performed by a licensed professional who also happens to be an atheist. The non-believer, Stu, along with his visually impaired sidekick, Father Lewis, travel to the home of a possessed teenager to rid her of a supposed demon, or at least expose her false theatrics.

Opening with a cleverly placed title showcasing our giant “Jesus Loves You” cross right here in Niagara, we follow them through some truly gorgeous shots as they make their way into the countryside. Upon arrival, Stu and Father Lewis make their way up to the old country house and are quickly greeted by a sweet Italian woman. Exhausted and wounded, showing notable scars on her chest and neck, she motions upstairs to the bedroom where her granddaughter lies asleep. They make their way up the stairs and enter the room where once-sweet Jenny lay, only now to find a crusty looking demon full of rage, or in Stu’s opinion, a puberty stricken teenager lashing out for attention. From here a horrifying amount of comedy ensues!

So this isn’t exactly a horror film, but it takes something every horror fan loves – demonic possession – and pokes fun at it in a respectful way. You have this eccentric sceptic Stu (played by Joshua Peace) who refuses to buy any of this crap. He has an explanation for everything and his faith in non-faith is so strong that his disregard of demon antics and the quick-paced banter with himself winds up annoying the demon and wearing it down. Josh Peace was excellent; this role seemed to be a natural fit as his tone and timing were spot on. His interaction with the Demon, portrayed by Melanie Scrofano, was very enjoyable to watch.

The effects were great, albeit one may have had a slight cheese factor, but it really works considering the tone of the film. Father Lewis (Toby Proctor) and Margaret/Nona (Deborah Grover) were both excellent. Their interactions with the arrogant atheist were highly amusing. Everyone played off each other really well and that speaks volumes to the fantastic script and direction of Michael Penney. There are definitely conflicting opinions and questions that regard religion and the existence of good and evil within the theme of this film, but each side was fairly represented. The people who believed were true to their beliefs and the ones that didn’t were true their disbelief. Either way, it didn’t change the fact that evil exists and with people by your side, no matter what their reasons/background/approach, you can overcome it. Plus, it was friggin’ funny, so relax and enjoy!

Funded by BravoFact!, it’s an extremely fun film, and between the tight script and performances it was a pleasure to watch. With a runtime of about 16 minutes, our only qualm was that some of the shots took one beat too many and it could have been tightened up just a bit-but that’s not a big enough issue to effect our score. We would definitely watch it again. It’s the perfect film for us to play prior to our feature on a Monster Movie Monday, so we advise you to check it out. It premièred at the Calgary International Film Festival on September 22nd and 24th of this year. Their next stop on the festival circuit will be their American première this coming Monday October 8th at the Quad Cinema in NYC, as part of the Gotham Screen 2012 New York International Film Festival. If you are in the area and interested in checking it out, it plays as part of the Short Selections II programme at 8:45pm and you can purchase tickets HERE.

We were also able to include this film as the Special Feature in our most recent podcast which will be posted next Thursday (Oct. 11th) so check back and give it a listen!

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