Greetings, all. Ambush Bug here with another AICN HORROR: ZOMBIES & SHARKS column. Sorry for the delay in this column. My trip to New York Comic Con got in the way of me finishing this one up. But here it is in all it’s glory!
On with the horror reviews!
(Click title to go directly to the feature)
Retro-review: HALLOWEEN – The Complete Collection BluRay Box Set: HALLOWEEN II (1981)
Send in the Clowns: MASTERS OF HORROR Season 2 Episode 10; WE ALL SCREAM FOR ICE CREAM (2007)
A HAUNTING AT PRESTON CASTLE (2012)
CREEPING CRAWLING (2012)
BLOOD VALLEY: SEED’S REVENGE (2014)
THE DEVIL INCARNATE (2014)
THE PACT 2 (2014)
THE CANAL (2014)
And finally…”Weird Al” Yankovic’s “Nature Trail To Hell…IN 3D!”
Retro-review: New this week as a BluRay Box Set HALLOWEEN: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION available from Scream Factory and Anchor Bay Entertainment!
HALLOWEEN II (1981)Directed by Rick Rosenthal
Written by John Carpenter, Debra Hill
Starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Pleasence, Charles Cyphers, Jeffrey Kramer, Lance Guest, Pamela Susan Shoop, Leo Rossi, Hunter von Leer, Gloria Gifford, Tawny Moyer, Ana Alicia, Ford Rainey, Cliff Emmich, Nancy Stephens, and Dick Warlock as Michael Myers!
Retro-reviewed by Ambush Bug
One of the things that won me over as a forever fan of HALLOWEEN was the fact that it picked up seconds after the first film. It’s the same reason why I love the first few FRIDAY THE 13TH‘s.Something about that made it feel epic and while I know they were kind of making shit up as they went along, they certainly did a good job of making it all feel like it was some part of an elaborate epic tale. And while HALLOWEEN II is not as good as the original, it does an awful lot right to make the extension of the night he came home into something fun.
When we last left Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasance), he was gazing down at the Michael Myers sized dent in the ground from the Doyle home after saving Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) from his rampage. The story picks up at that moment as we follow Loomis out into the yard looking for Michael. And while Loomis searches, Laurie is sent to the Haddonfield hospital where most of the action in this film takes place. While HALLOWEEN was the template for many slasher films to follow, HALLOWEEN II does the same for the rest of this HALLOWEEN series as the people now know what Loomis prophesized; that Michael is a relentless killer that cannot be stopped. For the rest of the HALLOWEEN series, from Laurie Strode to little Jamie (which we will get into in future delvings into this collection), this series is a deadly game of cat and mouse with Michael slowly stalking and killing anything in his way.
Yes, at its core, HALLOWEEN II basically is one set up after another where Michael can off one hospital employee after another until he finds Laurie, but director Rick Rosenthal, who came back later in the series to direct HALLOWEEN: RESURRECTION (which we will get to eventually and unfortunately), makes the most of the atmosphere. The serene and sanitized environment may be inviting during the daytime, but when the lights are out, those hallways are damn spooky. Rosenthal also makes sure to take advantage of the voyeuristic qualities that made the original so spooky in those scenes where Tommy Doyle sees Michael from his window by giving up a security cam view of Michael slowly walking down the dark corridors. I know it is cliché to say, but the hospital in this film is a character and an important factor in why this one works so well.
Certain things happen in this one that also are worthy of note. The body count is much higher and the film series begins to branch out into other areas of Halloween urban legends—particularly a scene where a young boy bites into a razor bladed apple and is taken to the hospital. Never really revisited in the story itself, it makes me wonder what happened to the lad and what other twisted fucks live in Haddonfield. We surely can’t blame Michael for the tainted apple, but it remains an untold tale of HALLOWEEN.
Pleasance is getting comfy in his role here as the determined Dr. Loomis. I kind of prefer his frantic and remorseful performance here as he is dealing with the ramifications of Michael’s escape. Still he plays Loomis as superior at all, having him say I told you so to pretty much everyone in the town. Though in physicality, Loomis is a small and aged foe, his mind is sharp and his determination matches that of Michael’s making him the perfect arch-enemy to this evil on two legs.Jamie Lee Curtis is pretty great here in the moments where she is not asleep on a hospital gurney. While she spends the first half of the film catatonic, she makes up for it in the last half running and crawling away from Michael.
HALLOWEEN II is no HALLOWEEN as it is a much crueler and more gratuitous and in your face film than the more subtle deadliness of the original. While there are fun scenes of the Shape in the background, the “Where’s Waldo” type periphery appearances of Michael are kind of tossed aside and never really returned to in the series. Instead Michael is shown stalking his prey and wandering the silent hospital halls. It’s terrifying, but not as creepy at the first where you were scanning the entire screen to see if Michael is there in the shadows. That said, there is an especially effective scene where Michael emerges from the shadows to stick the nurse in the eye with a needle that is absolutely chilling.
This new BluRay includes a number of bonuses. Deleted scenes and a very less effective alternate ending where we find out about what happened to Bobby (aka THE LAST STARFIGHTER’s Lance Guest) are on there. The real treat is that the film TERROR IN THE AISLES, which I will be reviewing in an upcoming column, is included in the special features which is the first time it is available since VHS. HALLOWEEN II is not the perfect HALLOWEEN film, but from here on out it’s a steady decline in quality in terms of films featuring Michael Myers. Next week we will look at the Myers-free HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH!
Send in the Clowns: Bug celebrates the release of his 4-issue miniseries comic book PIROUETTE by checking out some clownie horrors!
MASTERS OF HORROR Season 2, Episode 10: WE ALL SCREAM FOR ICE CREAM (2007)Directed by Tom Holland
Written by David Schow
Starring Lee Tergesen, Colin Cunningham, William Forsythe, Brent Sheppard, Maxwell Neck, Tim Henry, Laura Drummond, Ingrid Tesch, Quinn Lord, Lyle St. Goddard, Brendan Saul, Kevan Kase, Spencer Achtymichuk, Cainan Wiebe, Brett Kelly, Diego Martinez-Tau, Samuel Patrick Chu, Alexia Fast, Zak Ludwig, Dryden Dion, Alexis Llewellyn, Gordon Grice
Find it on Netflix here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
I’ve been a big fan of Showtime’s MASTERS OF HORROR series. It seemed to have a bit more bite than HBO’s TALES FROM THE CRYPT which seemed to loose some teeth towards the end. And while not all of the MASTER OF HORROR stories were great, they did seem to have a bit of a grungier feel that sometimes I like in my horror stories. As I celebrate the release of my new book PIROUETTE this week, I felt now was a good a time as any to review one of the episodes which is very much filled with clownie-horror.
The story itself is something one might mistake for a Stephen King joint. A bunch of kids torment a dim-witted, ice cream selling clown only to find their children haunted by a ghostly clown in an ice cream truck later in their lives. This is the type of tale which is reminiscent of everything from SOMETIMES THEY COME BACK to the more obvious comparison of IT. Still, though it is a familiar tale, little details such as the fact that when the kids bite into this clown’s ice cream, their parents melt into puddles of ice cream. That distinct element of excellent practical effects is something of a standard in MASTER OF HORROR episodes and makes this episode a fun gore-fest, full of people melting into gobby puddles.
The top billed cast is pretty great with Lee Tergesen playing a man guilt ridden by how his childhood bullying resulted in the death of the clown. Tergesen is always fun to see in complex roles such as this, as shown in his role in OZ as Beecher, the fresh fish turned hardened badass during that show’s run. Here he conveys the necessary guilt one might have in such a situation paying for sins of the past at his own guilt’s accord. But the real thrill is seeing the multi-faceted William Forsythe have fun as Buster the clown. He basically has two roles here; one as the innocent, yet mildly retarded clown which is reminiscent of Larry Drake’s role in DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW. On the flip side of the coin is the ghost where Forsythe really allows the genuinely scary clown makeup guide him into a new character altogether. The makeup is, again top notch and really will cause a chill due to the maniacal and angular features. Still, you can tell it’s Forsythe behind it all, which makes it all the more menacing.
While the set up is very much King-ian, the ending is simply stupid. I won’t completely reveal it here, but it really feels like this hour long episode ran out of good ideas and budget about ten minutes before it was supposed to. Because of it, many are going to leave WE ALL SCREAM FOR ICE CREAM with a bad taste in their mouths, forgetting about the coolness of what transpired before things started wrapping up.
CHILD’S PLAY and FRIGHT NIGHT director shows he’s still got some fright in him as there are numerous scenes of kids being lured out by the chill inducing clown. The kids’ blank stares and the slo mo shots of the ice cream truck rolling through the misty night are some memorably horrific images. Too bad about the ending. Otherwise, this is a pretty damn effective clownie horror.
SPLASH AREA: NIGHT OF THE FREAKS/CLOWN HUNT
DOLL-BOY/ALL HALLOW’S EVE
THE DEVIL’S CARNIVAL
FEAR OF CLOWNS I & II
CIRCUS OF THE DEAD
100 TEARS/KLOWN KAMP MASSACRE
ALL DARK PLACES
THE CLOWN AT MIDNIGHT
SLOPPY THE PSYCHOTIC
And don’t forget to tell your comic store to order Ambush Bug’s new comic PIROUETTE #1 available now from Black Mask Studios!
Support your old pal Ambush Bug by checking out his new comic book!
New this week from on DVD and On Demand from Inception Media Group!
A HAUNTING AT PRESTON CASTLE (2012)aka PRESTON CASTLE
Directed by Martin Rosenberg
Written by Peter Bailey, Martin Rosenberg
Starring Mackenzie Firgens, Heather Tocquigny, Jake White
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
This is a pretty toothless found footage/cinematically filmed ghost hunting mash-up focusing on a trio of youths trapped in a castle with the ghost of a bullied and murdered young boy. A HAUNTING AT PRESTON CASTLE tries for the slow build, focusing first on the relationship between the two girls who are besties of besties and how it gets threatened first by a former boyfriend and then by a ghost.
It’s not that the acting is bad. It’s just that everything else, from the setup to the atmosphere to the script to the shoddy CG effects are just pretty run of the mill. The three argue, make up, tell each other how much they care about one another, and then how much they hate each other and all of it just feels like filler until night falls and they become trapped in the labyrinthine halls of the castle and chased by shadows.
And while there are attempts to do things out of the ordinary (as some of the shadow scenes are decently put together), this film still consists of people filming themselves running for their lives with no reason to continue filming. There’s the typical tear-filled confession up the nose shot. And finally an ending where someone is first dragged away from the camera and then finally up into the ceiling and then falling to the ground in a heap. These are three big no-no’s in hand held POV shot films, no matter if you commit to first person POV the whole time or not. This film doesn’t really commit to the found footage motif, but when it does, it pretty much uses a checklist to tok off one overused found footage scene after another.
All in all, A HAUNTING AT PRESTON CASTLE just doesn’t have what it takes. I don’t know if the filmmakers have seen all the found footage films and want to ape them or if they have never seen one and think their on to something original. Either way, A HAUNTING AT PRESTON CASTLE doesn’t have a lot new to offer.
New this week on DVD from !
CREEPING CRAWLING (2012)Directed by Jon Russell Cring, Tracy Nichole Cring
Written by Jon Russell Cring, Tracy Nichole Cring, Joshua Owens
Starring Raine Brown, Sarah von Ouhl, Kevin Craig West, Anna Shields, Laura LaFrate, Chuck Girard, Kate Kenney, Marie Bianchi, Gary Flugge, Mikaela Holmes, Kai Issey, Yury Tsykun
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
Man, if this film would spend just a little time in the editing room, CREEPING CRAWLING would be a pretty amazing flick. It’s filled with ideas that will make you wince and squirm. The film is an anthology featuring three effectively ooky stories about things that creep and crawl with spindly legs and pointy pinchers and UGH! So gross!
I was creeped out by this film right down to my bones. It’s an anthology which does what it should; starting out with a bang, maintaining that level of intensity through the middle story, and ending with an equally powerful kick to the taint. While the wraparound sections of the film feel more like an afterthought with some moments of rough acting, sound, and directing, the stories themselves will definitely burrow under even the most hard skinned of horror viewers.
Story one features an aging model who has been scarred by her father to grow up with an eating disorder. The psychosis is extremely well written out and flashbacks show how intensely fucked up with woman had it. After a particularly cruel photo shoot, she gorges herself and then purges, vowing to lose those five to ten pounds she needs to be a supermodel. Ordering a tapeworm online from Africa, she sees results, but as the worm grows, so does her problems. The ending of this one will have you wish you weren’t eating noodles while watching, that’s fo’ sho’. But not only is this a grossout story, there’s a psychological element that is both smart and horrifying all at once.
Story two focuses on a young nurse (played by the gorgeous beauty and star in the making Anna Shields) in need of cash and happening upon a job taking care of a young invalid man while his overprotective mother goes on a vacation. Shields’ spunky demeanor instantly makes her easy to root for, but this is just to lure you in as the young woman has definite problems. The scales of sanity are tipped when she finds bedbugs in her bed and is forced to take shelter in the invalid’s bed. Shades of PATRICK mixed with BUG come into play here in this intense descent into madness.
The final short is a showstopper full of deviant sex involving insects that will definitely turn off a lot of viewers. Personally, I couldn’t believe this story went the dark and perverse places it went and kind of admire it for doing so. Definitely a skin-crawler of a story, about a man with a bug fetish searching for the perfect girl to share his desires with. If it wasn’t so skin-crawlingly gross, it would be endearing.
As I said above, this film is in need of a solid edit. It clocks in at just shy of two hours, but with a snip and tuck here and there, the film would be an astounding hour fifteen minute flick. Full of scenes that will make you itch for days, CREEPING CRAWLING is solidly written and full of creepy ideas. Scratch away a few minutes to the runtime and it would be downright perfect.
New this week on DVD from Phase 4 Films!
BLOOD VALLEY: SEED’S REVENGE (2014)aka SEED 2: THE NEW BREED
Directed by Marcel Walz
Written by Marcel Walz
Starring Natalie Scheetz, Nick Principe, Caroline Williams, Christa Campbell, Annika Strauss, Sarah Hayden, Manoush, Jared Demetri Luciano, Jeff Dylan Graham
Find out more about this film on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
Right off the bat BLOOD VALLEY: SEED’S REVENGE slaps you in the face with the words a Uwe Boll Production; which always translates to me as, “Strap your ass in for an off kilter view on the world, pretentiousness, and basically bad cinema.” But the thing is, I kind of like bad cinema sometimes and BLOOD VALLEY: SEED’S REVENGE is a vile, disgusting, convoluted mess of a film, it’s also kind of awesome for the same reasons.
I missed SEED 1, so maybe I missed something in the original film, but as far as I can gather a guy named Seed who wears a mask which covers his deformed face has started up a sweet little family a valley or two over from the place where THE HILLS HAVE EYES clan lives. In this sequel, it just so happens that a bachelorette party, hungover from a wing-dang-doodle of a time in Vegas, make a wrong turn at Albuquerque, and end up running into the family of inbred hill folk. What proceeds are extended scenes of torture, mutilation, and murder as each of the bachelorette party are picked off one by one in various vile manners. The kill scenes are gratuitous in the gore department, but also have a sort of sado-masochistic vibe to them. For example, the film opens with Seed fucking one of the women with a handgun only to finish with a bang and then licking the gun free of blood and other fluids. This is gross stuff, but it also goes to a dark place few films dare go, which while reprehensible, is also kind of bold.
The aforementioned scene is definitely the most depraved of the scenes with other scenes where women are crucified in the desert while being read bible verses act as a sad attempt at shock and sacreliege (failing on both parts). The fact that the family speak in bizarre accents and speak gibberish most of the time doesn’t help to make the story any clearer and to make matters worse, director/writer Marcel Walz tries to Tarantino things up and play with the timeline. So there are scenes where one of the four bachelorettes (who we barely get to know before they are put into peril and screaming) is killed followed by a flashback scene where that one is still alive. If the dialog in the flashback is ominous or has anything to do with the death, I can see how this would be somewhat effective, but the intermittent scenes from the past only serve to fill this movie out and feel more like padding than anything else.
It was nice to see TCM2 actress Caroline Williams in a meaty role here and LAID TO REST Chromefaced killer Nick Principle is pretty ruthless as the masked monster Seed. I am also weirdly fascinated with the woman simply named Manoush, who plays the police officer outfit wearing matriarch of this clan of mutants and speaks in a thick Ukraine accent. And while it is revolting at times in terms of the level at violence at play, this is an endeavor in bad cinema that is almost inspiring. So while I can’t say this is a good movie, it is kind of fascinating in a train wreck sort of way. Proceed with caution towards BLOOD VALLEY: SEED’S REVENGE. You’ve been warned.
New this week on DVD from Brain Damage Films!
SLEDGE (2014)Directed by John B Sovie II, Kristian Hanson
Written by Kristian Hanson
Starring Kristian Hanson, Russell Matoes, Dustin Bowman, Stephanie Tupper, Tino Faygo, Travis Hanson, Rachel Cornell
Find out more about this film here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
There’s a lot to love about SLEDGE, a somewhat self-referential, genre spoofing slash ‘n gore flick from directors John B Sovie II & Kristian Hanson. It’s evident from the beginning that this is a film made by horror fans for horror fans as it takes the ‘killer in the woods” motif to ridiculously bloody and goofy levels. And while some spoofs get downright offensive in their mocking of the genre, you can tell these guys are laughing with the genre and not at it.
A group of kids go in the woods where a psychopath likes to roam around and bash people to pulp with a sledge hammer. That’s the basic premise and really, there’s nothing more to this movie than that. The fact that Sledge talks makes this much more fun than your usual silent but violent killing spree. The fact that Sledge pretty much has no filter when it comes to what comes to his mind as he stalks the kids in the woods makes things all the more funnier. There are scenes where Sledge is in pursuit of his latest kill that play out like one would imagine it would if you could hear the silent killer’s inner monologue. For example, when a guy runs away from Sledge and shimmies under a fence, Sledge complains that he hates skinny people as he eases his bulky frame down and squeezes under the fence. There are many fun moments like this involving Sledge, making every scene he is in pretty much gold.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of scenes without Sledge and that’s where this film derails a bit. Most films give us some kind of drama, and if it’s good enough, the viewer doesn’t realize that this is just filler until the next killing. But with some truly amateur delivery and quite a bit of time spent in the film dealing with a love triangle between a smart ass who is in love with a woman who is sleeping with another guy. Way too much time is spent on this relationship, especially when you know one, two or all of them are going to be dead soon anyway. The whole time Sledge was off the screen and it focused on this horribly boring love triangle, I was just wondering what Sledge was doing.
The film has a lot of fun playing as if it is a film within a film being watched by a girl trying to get over her boyfriend by zoning out on the couch. These scenes offer up a fun break in the tension and there’s even a trailer for a horror film starring Amish folk that was cleverly cut together. All in all, when Sledge is on screen, this is a damn fun film. Too bad the rest of the scenes weren’t as thrilling.
New this week on DVD from RLJ Entertainment/Image Entertainment!
THE DEVIL INCARNATE (2013)aka COPIII: THE FIRST ENTRY, CURSED
Directed by L. Gustavo Cooper
Written by Jon Bosworth, L. Gustavo Cooper, Coe Douglas
Starring Graci Carli, Rod Luzzi, Emily Rogers, Cindy Hogan, Tom Riska, Walter J. Colson, Barbara Van Fleet, Courtney Gardner
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
THE DEVIL INCARNATE is a capably made blend of found footage and cinematically filmed material. It delves into the devil baby genre; one that has seen somewhat of a resurgence this year with DELIVERY: THE BEAST WITHIN, PROXY, THE DEVIL INSIDE, & the ROSEMARY’S BABY remake. It’s a genre that affects one on a deeper level because everyone feels somewhat protective of a woman with child. Had THE DEVIL INCARNATE come out any other year, I think I would have been more impressed with it. But because so many effective and ineffective films have come out this year centering on the same subject, it would have to be something so radically good or so radically different for it to stand out. Unfortunately, this film is neither.
Focusing on a happy, recently married couple Holly & Trevor (Graci Carli & Rod Luzzi) who are taking a trip South for their honeymoon to see Trevor‘s parents. After getting their fortune read by a hack fortune teller, they are turned on by a hobo to a real medium and on a lark they follow his advice (I always follow hobo’s advice by the way), they find out that Holly is preggers, but the medium doesn’t stop there. She freaks out after reading her fortune and sends them out screaming. Soon after arriving at their new home, Holly begins to act strangely. First it is written off as the usual “hormones of the new mother” symptomology, but when Holly starts acting kookier than usual, her sister in law Marissa (played by the refreshing and plucky Emily Rogers) suspects something is wrong. Investigating some gibberish she overhears Holly saying whilst trying to make out with her, Marissa begins to uncover something witchy and demonic at work.
THE DEVIL INCARNATE does the paternity paranoia angle well and casts it in a new light as it’s not the mom that is suspecting things are off, but the sister in law. While it’s coming at the subject from a slightly different angle, there are still the same types of beats you’ve seen in the other devil baby films I mentioned above. There are a few refreshingly scary scenes, one involving the family dog (dawwwwwwww!), but the double climaxes of the film are not going to feel like something new. In fact, this one ends on a rather clichéd note, which I won’t reveal here, but a variation on this ending has been done over and again this year.
Again, if you haven’t seen any devil baby films this year, I think you might be impressed with THE DEVIL INCARNATE. The acting is good. The production is better than average and there are some well placed scares. But in a day and age when devil babies are popping out in litters, it’s hard for me to be excited about it.
New this week in select theaters and On Demand from IFC Midnight!
THE PACT 2 (2014)Directed by Dallas Richard Hallam, Patrick Horvath
Written by Dallas Richard Hallam, Patrick Horvath
Starring Scott Michael Foster, Caity Lotz, Camilla Luddington, Patrick Fischler, Amy Pietz, Haley Hudson, Mark Steger, Nicki Micheaux, Suziey Block
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
I thought original THE PACT was an intensely engrossing mix of crime noir and the supernatural. Full of moments of suspense that will shred nerves and test your fear tolerance’s limits, Nicholas McCarthy’s film was one of my favorite films from last year. This return to the world of THE PACT, including the elusive and ghostly Judas Killer in the sequel was something I was looking forward to. Even though McCarthy wasn’t back, surely he laid the groundwork in the original that was great fodder for other filmmakers to launch spooky stuff from. Unfortunately, THE PACT 2 is not the sequel I was hoping for.
That’s not to say THE PACT 2 was a particularly bad film. There is a nice and unconventional tone to this film, focusing on June (Camilla Luddington) a crime scene cleaner/graphic artist and her boyfriend Meyer (Scott Michael Foster) who happens to be a cop investigating a string of murders that seem to bear an uncanny resemblance to the deceased Judas Killer’s MO. An FBI agent who is a lifelong Judas Killer profiler (played by MULLHOLLAND DRIVE’s Patrick Fischler) seems to be preoccupied by June whose art seems to have some kind of connection to the murders and to Judas. It all ties together rather well and doesn’t seem like a giant leap from story one in the original to this story in the sequel.
The film also has quite a few well choreographed and patient scares, though they lack the intensity and creativity that McCarthy exhibited in the original. Still, the story itself is rather hole-some as things happen and people appear, react or don’t react to specific occurrences simply to advance the story to it’s predictable conclusion. I won’t go too much into spoilers, but there are scenes where June is obviously being haunted by something supernatural and there is physical evidence to prove it as the house gets torn asunder and things start moving by themselves. For some reason, even after this shit starts happening, the characters still don’t believe something otherworldly is going on.
What worked so well in the original THE PACT was that there were definite supernatural elements at play, but there was a real world threat as well. In THE PACT 2, all of that gets rather muddy, making the viewer work harder to distinguish between the supernatural and crime elements. The thing is, I don’t feel the filmmakers had a firm hold on the concept and they weren’t sure themselves which makes figuring it out an exercise in futility for this viewer. There’s another aspect of the film involving the return of a cast member from the first film which feels more like a cop out than anything else, but I won’t spoil it here. THE PACT 2 has some decent scares, nice mood, and some above average performances by the cast, but it’s nowhere near the masterful work of suspense and terror the original was.
New on DVD!
FOUND (2012)Directed by Scott Schirmer
Written by Todd Rigney (novel), Scott Schirmer (screenwriter)
Starring Gavin Brown, Ethan Philbeck, Phyllis Munro, Louie Lawless, Alex Kogin, Andy Alphonse, Shane Beasley, Angela Denton, Edward Jackson, Adrian Cox-Thurmond, Dane Irwin
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
Quiet, seething, and simmering, FOUND is a film that will sneak up on you in the night and strike deep just when you think you’re safe. While the opening moments of this film are dark, it still did not prepare me for the depths FOUND goes and having watched it a few days ago, I am still trying to scratch and claw myself out of the darkness it engulfed me in.
Told from the point of view of a twelve year old boy named Marty (Gavin Brown), FOUND begins with the boy telling us that Steve (Ethan Philbeck), his brother is a serial killer and proceeds to prove it by showing the head in the bowling bag Steve keeps in his closet. From that dank place we begin a long and tragic journey as Marty tries to cope with this revelation about his brother and how it affects every aspect of his life.
Told in a patient and steady pace, FOUND is the type of film fans of flash-bang filmmaking might find somewhat tedious. Personally, I was engrossed the whole way through, but I could see the way the monotone narration from Marty might be difficult for some to get through. Though the narration is monotone, the voice is undeniably honest and coming from a child who has witnessed the terrors he has uncovered, the lack of energy in the delivery reflects the feelings of numbness he is feeling in increasing waves in this film. Clocking in at about an hour forty minutes, FOUND could use a bit of an edit here and there as it does drag a bit in the middle, but writer/director Scott Schirmer takes his time fleshing out the character of Marty and his brother Steve and then dissecting that relationship once Steve’s secret comes to light, making the longer than usual run time a worthwhile endeavor to follow.
Nothing will prepare you for the ending of this film which, though it is telegraphed, I still wasn’t prepared for. FOUND is one of those films that will make you say, “There is no fucking way this film is going to go there.” And then, guess what? It fucking goes there.
FOUND hurt me in the final moments like few films have before. Having gotten to know Marty through the film, you want somehow for him to come out of this unscathed, but Schirmer pulls no punches and never cheats by trying to give some kind of Hollywood ending. The final moments of FOUND will infuriate some, but for me, I admire the courage Schirmer has to go that far into the darkness. FOUND is a treasure—an awful nightmarish treasure, but a treasure nevertheless.
New this week in select theaters and On Demand from The Orchard!
THE CANAL (2014)Directed by Ivan Kavanagh
Written by Ivan Kavanagh
Starring Rupert Evans, Antonia Campbell Hughes, Hannah Hoekstra, Steve Oram, Kelly Byrne
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
Oh wow. This is a fantastic film. Just a fantastic, fantastic horror film. I hold films like THE ORPHANAGE and THE OTHERS as amazing modern ghost stories and THE CANAL just joined them on that short list.
This slow pot-boiler of a film starts out happy enough. HELLBOY’s Rupert Evans plays David, a film restoration specialist married to the beautiful Alice (Hannah Hoekstra) who is a real estate agent. With their young son Billy (played by the adorable and effective young Calum Heath), they appear to have the perfect loving family. But when David noticed Alice getting a little too close to one of her clients at a party, his suspicions begin to rise. After following her, David discovers Alice is sleeping with one of her clients and overcome by disgust, he throws up and passes out in a public toilet. Upon awakening, David finds his wife missing and soon after, her body is dredged up from a nearby canal. SIGHTSEERS’ Steve Oram plays a police chief who suspects David of the murder, but David knows better as he begins to see ghosts in the shadows and on the periphery. As David’s obsession with finding out what these lurking shadow figures are, all of those around him suspect he is going nuts.
This is a dark, dark film. It goes places most films are just too scared to go. That said, I haven’t been more terrified as I have been with this film in a long, long time. There are scenes that take advantage of light and shadow that are so simple, yet unbelievably effective in sending chills right up and down my spine. Writer/director Ivan Kavanagh knows how to scare and does so with an unflinching tenacity that immediately makes him a major player in horror if he chooses to continue to make horror film (god, I hope he does).
But none of this would be effective if not for the astounding performance by Rupert Evans who shows such a broad range here as a person overcome with grief, fear, suspicion, paranoia, anger, rage, and responsibility for his young son after his wife passes. Evans has always been strong, but here he commands every scene he is in, switching from responsible father to an anxiety-riddled paranoid and back again easily and effectively. Adding to the miss is the adorable and genuinely sweet performance by Calum Heath as David’s son Billy and the scenes become all the more dire and investment-worthy because you want this little angel to be safe.
I had to reveal enough of this film just to get to the point of where I can talk about specific points, so I won’t reveal any more. The film takes its time to let you know it’s a horror film. This is a well acted, superbly paced, terrifyingly realized horror film of the highest caliber. The perfect mix of emotion and terror plays out here as THE CANAL is one film no horror fan should miss.
And finally…one of my favorite horror songs of my youth and a tribute to backwoods horror films from the cracked mind of “Weird Al” Yankovic, “Nature Trail To Hell…IN 3D!” When Al nails it, he really nails it and he does so perfectly in this song! Enjoy this fan-made video of the song matched with some of our favorite backwoods horror! And beware, if you haven’t seen these, it does have multiple spoilers which includes a famous one from SLEEPAWAY CAMP. You know what it is, and you know it’s NSFW! You’ve been warned!
See ya next week, folks!
Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole/wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of AICN COMICS for over 13 years & AICN HORROR for 4. Follow Ambush Bug on the Twitters @Mark_L_Miller.
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