Welcome to the darker side of AICN! Mark L. Miller aka Ambush Bug here with another AICN HORROR: ZOMBIES & SHARKS column. This week is a good week to be a horror fan with a lot of great terrors to enjoy! But first…
AICN HORROR has a new sponsor: Things From Another World—also known as TFAW!
TFAW carries everything from comics to toys and any kind of collectible in between. Show your support for AICN HORROR and TFAW and click the pic above. You just might find something you can’t live without such as Cullen Bunn’s excellent southern gothic horror tale from Dark Horse Comics!
On with the horror reviews!
(Click title to go directly to the feature)
Retro-review: JOURNEY TO THE 7TH PLANET (1962)
AMITYVILLE: VANISHING POINT (2016)
THE HOARDER (2015)
CHERRY TREE (2015)
THE DEAD ROOM (2015)
THE HALLOW (2015)
Advance Review: GREEN ROOM (2015)
And finally…HORROR BIZARRE’s HOW WILL I DIE?!
Retro-review: New this week on BluRay from Kino Lorber!
JOURNEY TO THE 7TH PLANET (1962)Directed by Sidney W. Pink
Written by Sidney W. Pink (original story & screenplay), Ib Melchior (screenplay)
Starring John Agar, Greta Thyssen, Carl Ottosen, Peter Monch, Ove Sprogøe, Louis Miehe-Renard, Ann Smyrner, Ulla Moritz, Mimi Heinrich, Annie Birgit Garde, Bente Juel
Retro-reviewed by Mark L. Miller aka Ambush Bug
I want you all to sit back and imagine far into the distant future to the year 2001, where man has conquered space travel and learned to live peacefully with one another. I love it when reality disappoints the expectations of the past’s future. This is the setting for JOURNEY TO THE 7TH PLANET, a truly goofy, but fun sci fi yarn.
Earth sends a five man crew to explore the universe. Having not found life on Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, Captain Don Graham (John Agar) and his crew travel to Uranus (not my anus, yours….d’oh that joke never grows old!) to find a land that seems too good to be true filled with people from the crew’s past and memories taken solid form. This is mainly due to the mind reading alien brain thing that dips into the astronauts minds to fill their hearts desires and hopefully hitch a ride with them back to Earth in order to, you know, take over the world and stuff.
Start to finish, JOURNEY TO THE 7TH PLANET is goofy sci fi done right. It’s late-night or mid-afternoon future goodness with whistling creepy music as astronauts in brightly colored spacesuits venture through alien terrain and shoot tiny, whispering lasers at anything that moves. Very little of the science is thought out because, you know, it’s the future and there’s no need to explain stuff. The ending is especially vague, almost as if they simply ran out of film, so they decided to toss in animation and a song to cover it up. Even the theme song, entitled coincidentally JOURNEY TO THE 7TH PLANET is filled with hokey awesomeness in every note Otto Brandenburg belts out. Check it out below if you don’t believe me.
At the same time, there’s sort of a heady feel to this film that makes it feel like a lost TWILIGHT ZONE episode. Each astronaut is confronted with their hearts desire and fall for it pretty easily. It’s fun watching these meticulous scientists fall so heavily once a dame with a frilly dress is presented to them, no matter how ludicrous it is that these women from each of their pasts somehow made it to Uranus before them. But fall they do.
The effects in this film are impressive as well with a Harryhausen-esque, stop-motion, one-eyed rat monster attacking the crew, the aforementioned brain creature, and some nice alien scenery popping up later in the film. JOURNEY TO THE 7TH PLANET is a film for those who love sci fi, not matter how hokey it may be. I, most certainly, am one of those people.
New this week On Demand and can be watched streaming online here!
AMITYVILLE: VANISHING POINT (2016)Directed by Dylan Greenberg
Written by Dylan Greenberg (story), Pailer Ezra, Selena Mars, Jurgen Azazel Munster (co-writers)
Starring Selena Mars, Amanda Flowers, Mickala McFarlane, Jurgen Azazel Munster, Sara Kaiser, Max Husten, Zac Amico, Lloyd Kaufman, Victor M. Sheely, Louisa Ashleigh, Lucille Bignom, John P. Brennan, Alyssa Marie C., Dan Correll, Sofe Cote, Dean Dempsey, Neva Gentlman, Alexia Giovanna, Max Gnar, Liz Grayson, Aaden Grushkin, Rose Kaplan, Lucy Love, Lindsay Lowe, Taylor MacLeod, David Marquise, Neon Music, Lys Obsidian, Carl Peckham, Peter Russell, Julia Simonello, Emily Smykal, Rew Starr, Piera Yerkes
Find out more info from the website here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Mark L. Miller aka Ambush Bug
Being a supporter of independent cinema, I want to encourage 18 year old filmmaker, Dylan Greenberg to keep on developing her own style and keep on telling stories that ring true to her. While there’s a fun, underdeveloped spirit to AMITYVILLE: VANISHING POINT, this isn’t a film that is going to be for a lot of you. It’s rough around the edges, but still, there’s some shining moments that indicate that Greenberg has a future with this filmmaking thing.
The story opens with a young girl who falls dead with her wrists slit after fleeing an unseen entity through a city streets. Cut to a group of her friends mourning her death and the introduction to an unusual investigator who is in search of the truth about the girl’s death. But the answers are mysterious and ethereal.
AMITYVILLE: VANISHING POINT has very little to do with the AMITYVILLE HORROR series of films apart from taking place in the town of Amityville and somewhat supernatural events that occur in and around a specific home. The locale looks nothing like the famed house with its skull window placings and bleeding pipes. Instead, this film focuses on the group of friends going through the mourning process and finding a way of coming together because of it. Other than name recognition, I really am not sure why this film has the AMITYVILLE moniker. If anything, the ghostly way the music sounds, the sleepy/peculiar way the cast acts, and the non-linear way the story unfolds feels more akin to David Lynch’s TWIN PEAKS than anything else. In fact, quite a bit of this feels like an out and out homage to Lynch’s acclaimed TV series.
As an homage, this film has a lot of bright spots, as it does kind of capture the feel of Lynch’s bizarre world. But this is definitely a rough film. Scenes go on way too long. The film is filled with non-actors. And the dialog is often pretentious and sophomoric attempts to be deep. Those without the stomach for low fi cinema will definitely want to give this a pass, but this is a film worth supporting. AMITYVILLE: VANISHING POINT is a good start for Dylan Greenberg and I hope she uses this first film as a way to see what works and what doesn’t and continues to evolve. She’s accomplished much because, as an 18 year old, I attempted to make my masterpiece on video with all of my friends, but never had my act together to get past the first few scenes and my friends lost interest. Here’s hoping AICN HORROR sees more of Greenberg’s work in the years to come. She’s off to an impressive start.
New this week on DVD from RLJ Entertainment !
THE HOARDER (2015)Directed by Matt Winn
Written by Matt Winn, James Handel, Chris Denne
Starring Mischa Barton, Robert Knepper, Valene Kane, Emily Atack, Charlotte Salt, Andrew Buckley, Ed Cooper Clarke, Jamie Bacon, John Sackville, Philip Philmar, Richard Sumitro
Reviewed by Mark L. Miller aka Ambush Bug
I get worked up over a good movie looking forward to talking about what I liked. I get worked up over a bad film to talk about what I would have liked to see or how it could be better. But a film like THE HOARDER feels so by the numbers that no one involved really cared and therefore, why should you and I?
Ella (Mischa Barton) distrusts her fiancé, especially when she finds out he has a secret storage space she doesn’t know anything about. Swiping the key, she heads to the storage facility ready to find out what he is keeping so secret in this space. What Ella and her quirky friend Molly (Emily Atack) don’t know is that in the lower most storage facility lays a secret that once unearthed, makes sure that she will never see the surface again. Now trapped in the lower portions of the facility with a monster with his mouth stapled shut trouncing about and terrorizing anyone who crosses his path, Ella must travel through passageways, elevator shafts, and dimly lit hallways in order to escape the man monster.
The problem with THE HOARDER is that it feels a few drafts away from something actually well structured and sure sounding. A lot of the dialog is stilted, though the actors are solid (including Barton, Atak, Robert Knepper, and Andrew Buckley), it just feels like no one really believes the lines they are spouting and worse yet, no one really cares to.
There’re a lot of cliché running through hallways shots with a monster sometimes in pursuit of Barton and sometimes not. There’re a lot of false startles with little payoff. This is one of those monster movies where the creature could be interchanged with just about anything with pretty much the same effect. Overall, it’s just kind of a blah kind of film, which to me, is the worst kind of film.
I did like the rather ironic ending of the film which really does follow through with something with a little bite, despite the rather toothless pursuit that goes on through most of the film. The staple-mouthed monster is rather unique, but not really practical as it’s not really clear as to how the staples stay so clean despite being pierced through the monsters mouth, much less how the creature eats. But things like that aren’t really thought out and neither was this narrative. So skip THE HOARDER. Despite a cool looking monster, it’s just not worth putting into your collection.
New this week on DVD/BluRay from IFC Midnight!
#HORROR (2015)Directed by Tara Subkoff
Written by Tara Subkoff
Starring Sadie Seelert, Haley Murphy, Bridget McGarry, Blue Lindeberg, Mina Sundwall, Emma Adler, Timothy Hutton, Chloë Sevigny, Stella Schnabel, Balthazar Getty, Annabelle Dexter-Jones, Lydia Hearst, Brenna Perez, Jessica Blank, Natasha Lyonne
Reviewed by Mark L. Miller aka Ambush Bug
I found it! #HORROR is THE most annoying film of the year! Just when I thought recent theatrical horror releases were too choppily edited and filled with unrelatable characters you want to see die horribly, this film comes along and ups the ante to the nth degree.
I give it to this film for trying something different. It’s a film that basically tries to make a comment on the cell phone/social media addicted culture we live in; a place where everything waking second is deemed so important that it has to be hash tagged, photographed, tweeted, downloaded, and uploaded immediately for followers to like and share. This film moves at a clip so frantic that even by the time the credits rolled by at a staccato, strobe like pace, I was beginning to find myself choking back an epileptic seizure. Every character in this film, including all adults and teens (save for Timothy Hutton, who plays an absolute batshit crazy person) have their mushes hovering inches over their cell phones and barely relating to one another. It’s a film that wants to put a negative comment on the way these people act, but celebrate it for such a long time that the small portion of time when the comeuppance comes up just doesn’t feel satisfying.
Let me put it this way. Rape/revenge films, to me, are often panned for celebrating the rape by spending the bulk of the time focusing on the rape itself while the revenge portion (which is supposed to be the satisfying bit to soothe you for the horrors you just witnessed by giving the rapist his just desserts) is sort of tacked on at the end. That’s how #HORROR is structured. Though the social mediots do end up gorily disposed of, it only happens in the last twenty minutes and occurs so quickly that it really have no heft or resonance. This is a celebration of social media addicted, not a lesson about the negative aspects of it, just as a lot of those rape/revenge films are a celebration of the act of rape for those who get off on it rather than a cathartic experience to promote overcoming the heinous crime.
Kara Subkoff seems to be a talented filmmaker. The dialog from the 12 year old cast is shocking and terrifying, more so because it feels all too real. #HORROR is trying to make as much a statement on bullying as it is about social media culture and while the words again are horrific, the payoff simply isn’t. On top of that, this is a beautiful looking film—one which feels artsy in a downright grotesque way (mainly because the film takes place in a house full of modern art symbolizing the blossoming womanhood of the young girls). It’s obvious that this film has something to say about girls this age being thrust into adulthood too soon through their social interactions. The problem is that it feels as if Subkoff had too much fun with the Twitter/Facebook animations that strobed through this film and the biting, bullying dialog and forgot that this was a film with a message against that stuff.
The imagery of this film is haunting as the girls dance with adult masks covering their faces and the artwork of this house makes every room a new nightmare. The way Chloë Sevigny is so distracted with her own problems to notice that her daughter and her friends are close to killing one another as well as the fact that she awkwardly acts like one of the twelve year olds is almost as horrifying as Timothy Hutton’s bent performance as an overprotective father. The elements are there, but the problem with #HORROR lays in what it chooses to focus on and what it chooses to neglect until it’s almost way too late to make an impact. #HORROR is annoying and nightmarish because it really does feel like you’re in the head of someone who can’t live without an internet connection. I just wish the filmmaker would have been a little removed enough from the subject matter to make the points she was trying to make.
New this week on BluRay from Dark Sky Films!
CHERRY TREE (2015)Directed by David Keating
Written by Brendan McCarthy
Starring Naomi Battrick, Patrick Gibson, Anna Walton, Sam Hazeldine, Leah McNamara, Caroline Murphy, Valerie O'Connor, Minnie Phipps, Elva Trill
Find out more about this film here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
Have you ever watched a movie or TV show and it would be pretty good if not for one tiny detail that kind of ruins the whole thing for you? That pretty much sums up my experience with CHERRY TREE, a new witchy movie from the director of WAKE WOOD—another story of witchcraft from a few years ago.
Faith (Naomi Battrick) is a troubled teen. Picked on by her peers in school and plagued with worries about her father who is dying of leukemia, Faith is a powder keg ready to explode. But her new field hockey coach Sissy (Anna Walton) sees potential in the young girl and makes her an offer; become pregnant and give her the baby and Sissy will use witchcraft to heal her father. Faith is desperate and agrees, but given her rebellious nature, she has trouble keeping up her end of the deal. Now Faith is about to have her baby and Sissy expects her to pay up with her baby’s life.
This film is filled with all kinds of creepy goodness. While not every aspect of the wiccan magic is explained, this is the grimy and earth bound magic that feels much more real and palpable. It also helps that whenever Sissy is using her magic centipedes begin crawling on the walls, across the ceiling, and burrow into flesh. There’s also a gruesome mix of blood with roots and cherry juice which comes off as nauseatingly effective. All in all, the grounded magic at play here does its job of being utterly alien and unnerving. The same type of witchcraft was played with in WAKE WOOD, as parents were making a bargain to bring their dead son back. Here the same type of subject matter is being dealt with and in an equally chilling manner.
Battrick is mesmerizing as the fiery teen Faith here. She is likable, vulnerable, and sweet, but also sports a dangerous side. Though she is young, there seems to be an experience and knowledge in her eyes. This young beauty is going to be a big name some time and is fantastic carrying this movie. The sultry Anna Walton (who plated Princess Nuala in HELLBOY II) is perfect as the witch and has quite a transformation at the end of this film which is both beautiful and horrifying.
So what about that aspect that kind of ruins things for me about this film? Well, that would be the very last beat of this film. Every plot twist and forward movement was so spot on, pulling me into Faith’s plight completely. But the decision to use bad CG for the final beat of the film (along with a painful one-liner) just kind of leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth. It’s shocking to see the film end on such a bad note, given the high quality of the rest of the film and once you see it, I’m pretty sure you’ll feel the same
Everything up to the last second of this film is pretty great. Battrick and Walton are fantastic. The story really does pull you in. The depiction of witchcraft is tactile and unnerving. And those damn centipedes are nasty as all get out. The final moments of CHERRY TREE don’t ruin the film completely, but it came darn close to doing so for me and it left me wondering who thought it would be a good idea to end the film in such a lame way.
New this week on in select theaters, and On Demand from IFC Midnight!
THE DEAD ROOM (2015)Directed by Jason Stutter
Written by Kevin Stevens, Jason Stutter
Starring Jed Brophy, Jeffrey Thomas, Laura Petersen
Find out more info from the website here and on Facebook here!
Reviewed by Mark L. Miller aka Ambush Bug
There’s not a lot in THE DEAD ROOM we haven’t seen before. In fact, this film feels a lot like a more horror-centric GHOSTBUSTERS without the comedy or the all-star cast. But even though many aspects of this film may seem familiar, it does do these familiar things in an effective and interesting manner.
When a pesky ghost scares a family out of their home, a trio of paranormal investigators (a psychic – Laura Peterson, a techie – Jed Prophy, and a wizened, but skeptical expert – Jeffrey Thomas) are called in to assess the property. But the house they are investigating is full of secrets; secrets that become more dangerous as the crew stay longer at the home and the paranormal happenings intensify.
Unlike most paranormal investigator films, this one is thankfully filmed cinematically rather than through the tired found footage technique. For that alone, I give this film a recommendation for not going the easy route with the material. Still, this film is filled with all sorts of what makes a good paranormal investigation film and not a lot of what shouldn’t be there. The thing that works with this film is that there’s a real mystery going on with the investigators actually trying to solve it through their own know-how, the empirical data they accumulate, and the gut feelings all of them listen to, question, and follow. More so than most paranormal investigator films, this one actually accentuates the investigation part and I love that about this film, as it makes a pretty standard ghost hunting film into an actual story, which so many ghost hunting films tend to leave out.
Seeing this threesome of investigators do what they do, with each of them carrying their own weight of the work, was truly impressive to see. The film is well acted and Peterson, Prophy, and Thomas do a great job of making this team believable as they all provide something that helps in solving this case. When the psychic link hits a dead end, the tech side picks up the slack. When that fails, experience comes into play. It all evens out with this team and though there are some things about this film that may feel like they are from other films, I can’t remember another film that incorporates it all so fluidly and successfully.
Writer/director Jason Stutter and his co-writer Kevin Stevens do a really fantastic job of making a thinking man’s ghost hunting film. THE DEAD ROOM is full of surprises and the effects are subtle, but effective. But what stands out the most if the character stuff and the fact that none of this feels formulaic. It’s a film that has been done so many times, it should feel like something tired and worn out, but the acting, the subtle scares and how they intensify, and most importantly the teamwork at play makes THE DEAD ROOM one of the better films about ghost investigation you’re going to bear witness to.
New this week in select theaters and On Demand from Uncork’d Entertainment!
DECAY (2015)Directed by Joseph Wartnerchaney
Written by Joseph Wartnerchaney
Starring Rob Zabrecky, Lisa Howard, Elisha Yaffe, Jackie Hoffman, Hannah Barron, Reese Ehlinger, Whitney Hayes, Jason Knauf
Find out more about this film here and @decayproject
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
Meticulous and engrossing, DECAY is a film that involves some pretty horrific subject matter, but in the end, it perfectly exemplifies in a sometimes gorgeous, sometimes soul-crunching, and sometimes nightmarish manner.
Jonathan (Rob Zabrecky) is a strange young man. He works as a maintenance man at a local amusement park which is shut down for the season. Since his mother (Lisa Howard) passed away, his only brushes with others are his braggadocious buddy at work (Elisha Yaffe) and his neighbor (Jackie Hoffman) who stops in to give him frozen meals every week. His life is an orderly and controlled one, filled with OCD ticks like opening the door twice before entering or leaving through it and keeping collections of delicate flowers and keys he finds at work in his basement. His level life is upended when a pair of young girls breaks into his place thinking he is growing weed there and when one of the girls has an accident and ends up dead, Jonathan finds himself with an unclaimed body and an overwhelming need to connect with someone new. As Jonathan develops a relationship with this dead body, the rest of his orderly world begins to crumble around him.
DECAY is an amazing piece of filmmaking. Unfortunately, it deals with a subject matter that is going to turn off many, so a lot of people aren’t going to see this film about a man who falls in love with a corpse. But I’m not even talking about that ghoulish detail. I’m talking about how accurately and fantastically well this film depicts the subject of loneliness. I’m scared of many things; sharks, zombies, rats, bees, being chastised in public, but the number one thing I am afraid of is being alone and worse yet, dying alone. And I think, if you’re honest with yourself, I’m not the only one. By following Jonathan through his controlled and meticulous life, we see what it is like to walk in the shoes off a man who is utterly and entirely alone. Long scenes are pieced together showing the banality of Jonathan going about his life – taking his pills, hanging his found keys, watering his flowers, riding his tricycle (yes, he rides a tricycle) to work. When writer/director Joseph Wartnerchaney adds in the dead body that literally drops onto Jonathan’s doorstep, she just becomes another cog in the continuously but steadily spinning wheel of compulsion that keeps his fragile psyche together. Through repetitive cuts to his daily activities, he maps out the most convincing depiction of loneliness in cinema I’ve seen in quite some time.
And this is a beautiful film. Some of the compositions in the frame are breathtaking. Slo-mo shots of water hitting the petals of a blooming orchid. Arial shots of the segmented suburbs where Jonathan lives. The way the film shows the slow progression of time as Jonathan does his insane job of hand cleaning an entire amusement park; scraping bird crap off every bleacher and gum from under every table. Simply looking at this film is a treat for the eyes as it slows the world down and shows how repetitious it really is in its smallest details. There’s a scene where Jonathan washes the corpse, which is starting to stink and draw flies, that despite the grossness of it all, is lit by candles and red lights in a way that makes the whole thing simply eloquent. I know it sounds sick, but this is a beautiful movie. It’s just a beautiful movie about a man who falls in love with a corpse.
Rob Zabrecky is mesmerizing as Jonathan. Seeing his predictable life tossed into chaos with the introduction of this new dead person is engrossing to see unfold. Zabrecky makes you feel for his well being even while doing creepy things. As with MANIAC (and it’s modern remake), he’s the only POV we have here, and though he is uncomfortable with others and creepy as all get out, he still somehow convinced me to root for him because, in the end, he didn’t really do anything wrong (well, at last initially as he didn’t kill the girl, though he does lie to police looking for her body). DECAY deals with tough topics and there is a huge ick factor going on all the way through, but this painstakingly slow illustration of a life alone entranced me with its gorgeous cinematography, engrossing story, and talented star in Zabrecky.
New this week on BluRay/DVD from IFC Midnight!
THE HALLOW (2015)aka THE WOODS
Directed by Corin Hardy
Written by Corin Hardy, Felipe Marino
Starring Joseph Mawle, Bojana Novakovic, Michael McElhatton, Michael Smiley, Gary Lydon, Stuart Graham, Conor Craig Stephens, Stephen Cromwell, Charlotte Williams
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Mark L. Miller aka Ambush Bug
Taking on the same kind of wee beasties Guillermo Del Toro did in DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK?, THE HALLOW handles faeries, banshees, goblins, and other monsters that haunt the European countryside on a level very few monster mashes even hope to achieve.
Adam and Claire Hitchens (Joseph Mawle and Bojana Novakovic), along with their newborn baby Finn, move into a quiet country home in Ireland on the edge of a vast forest. Adam is a environmentalist tree doctor investigating a certain type of fungus that seems to be popping up all over the trees and corpses of wildlife he happens up on during his trips into the forest. Adam scoffs at the warnings from the local folks—including his not-so friendly neighbor Colm (Michael McElhatton), warning him that poking around in the woods will only lead to the woods poking around in his home. His wife Claire does the same when she rips off those pesky iron bars which adorn the doors and windows of their new home. Turns out the legends are true and a breed of faerie fungi begins infecting the home, the dog, and even Adam, all the while unleashing tree-like minions onto the home in order to steal the newborn.
THE HALLOW is a monster movie, so there are your usual scenes of non-believers beginning to believe when it’s too late. There’s the lead-up to the reveal of the monsters, as they are often obscured in shadows and only revealed in snippets through much of the first half, and then there’s the big standoff against the monsters where the final few somehow are able to fend off the beasts that so quickly disposed of the rest of the cast earlier on in the film. All of these factors are front and present, but what makes THE HALLOW distinct is that between these go-to monster movie beats are quite a few really well orchestrated scare scenes crescendo-ing to an all out battle between the family and an army of monsters from ancient lore. Director Corin Hardy has a fantastic knack for setting up scenes that maximize the chills, utilized over and over in this utterly creepy film.
On top of that, and the reason I respect this film much more than Gillermo’s DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARk? is that it incorporates both practical and computer effects in a much more seamless manner. Looking at something like DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK? and CRIMSON PEAK, which were cool, but overly produced and CG-ed, I appreciate this film’s tackling of the same type of gothic, faerie lore in a manner that occurs in the frame with the actors and only utilizes the CG when absolutely necessary. THE HALLOW offers up some truly terrifying monsters—warped and knotted like ancient trees, as well as some very cool rotting, fungal CG which feels much more real than usual. I don’t understand how billion dollar movies look so fake in the frame, which more modest features such as THE HOLLOW can get so much of it right. Less is definitely better in terms of CG and THE HOLLOW follows that credo.
With a strong story of family sacrifice and loyalty and unique monsters that look fantastic, The cast is great too with HEARTLESS’ Joseph Mawle offering up a sympathetic role, and the beautiful Bojana Novakovic offering up the motherly strength to keep you rooting for the best to happen to this family. THE HOLLOW has faerie tale fantasy elements, but it is most definitely hardcore horror. This is one dark film, filled with moments that are bound to make you tremble and jump al all the right times.
In select theaters next week from A24 Films!
GREEN ROOM (2015)Directed by Jeremy Saulnier
Written by Jeremy Saulnier
Starring Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, Alia Shawkat, Patrick Stewart, Joe Cole, Mark Webber, Callum Turner, Eric Edelstein, Taylor Tunes, Macon Blair, Kai Lennox, October Moore, David W. Thompson, Brent Werzner, Mason Knight, Samuel Summer, Colton Ruscheinsky
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Reviewed by Mark L. Miller aka Ambush Bug
I have witnessed one of the most intense cinematic experiences this year and it comes from the director who brought us one of the most intense films from a few years ago. The filmmaker is Jeremy Saulnier and the film from a few years ago, if you didn’t already know, is BLUE RUIN (reviewed here). But the most important thing you should take from this review is that you need to get out and see GREEN ROOM as it is one of the most horrifying film experiences I’ve seen in years.
Made up of Pat (Anton Yelchin), Sam (Alia Shawkat), Reece (Joe Cole) and Tiger (Callum Turner), the Ain’t Rights, a punk band who makes their way across country in a van by swiping gas from cars along the way, have fallen on hard times. So when an opportunity to make $350.00 comes up, they don’t ask too many questions about it. Turns out, their latest gig is at a Nazi skinhead bar and when the band witnesses a murder, they hole up in the Green Room where the band gets ready to go on stage What transpires is an all out war between the trapped punk band inside the room and the murderous skinheads outside trying to make everything, including the Ain’t Rights, disappear.
What impressed me the most about GREEN ROOM is the immersive way the film engulfs the viewer. Sure it helps to know a thing or two about the punk scene, but really, this is a film, not unlike ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13, there a group is trapped in a small place and surrounded by murderous maniacs looking to get into the fortified place the group is hiding. While the punk band is trapped in this small room, there is no way for the skinheads, lead by a super restrained and deathly powerful Patrick Stewart and BLUE RUIN’s soulful and subtle Macon Blair, to get in, so there’s a standoff here of epic proportions. This high standard is achieved because we get to know and like this band in the opening moments and sympathize with their struggle to simply make enough money to get to their next gig. Because these opening moments are so genuinely engaging, I was rooting for the band to get out of this one alive, no matter how perilous the threat.
And that’s exactly what Saulnier does here by making these Nazi skinheads, which are already pretty deplorable by name alone, truly menacing threats. As the band saunters into the backwoods bar and watches the scowling faces ready to take out their aggressions through angry music and much mosh pitting, Saulnier patiently scans the entire facility to plainly show this dire situation even before the band realizes what kind of hell they’ve wandered into. Keenly played negotiations between the band and the skinheads outside as Yelchin and Steward act as the mouthpieces for each group could be seen as tedious, but the performances are so good here and the setting has become such a character, that the scenes are chock-filled with tension and scares.
GREEN ROOM is much more of a gory and horrific action movie than a true horror film, though there is lots of blood, scares, and horrific things going on. Those scares are potent. The stakes are dire. The characters are likable, mainly because Saulnier has padded this film with top tier talent. This is one gut punchingly good film that never holds back and spits suspense, fire, sound, and gore right in your face from start to finish. Don’t miss GREEN ROOM as it truly is one of the most in-your-facey, edge-of-your-seaty, balls-to-the-wallsy films you’re going to experience this year!
Plus it’s got an amazing soundtrack to boot by pretty much all of the punk bands you’re every going to need to know!
And finally…here’s another short from the short filmmakers from HORROR BIZARRE. This one asks and answers the age-old question; HOW WILL I DIE?! WARNING: This short goes to a very dark place rather quickly. This is some damn shocking shit! Those Norwegians have a strange sense of humor. 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 15 years & AICN HORROR for 5. Follow Mark on the Twitters @Mark_L_Miller.
AICN HORROR has a brand new sponsor: Things From Another World—also known as TFAW!
Please support AICN HORROR by clicking the Things From Another World banner and checking out all of their amazing collectibles! TFAW carries everything from comics to toys and any kind of collectible in between. You just might find something you can’t live without like that breathtaking Margot Robbie Harley Quinn statue up there!
Look for our bi-weekly rambling about random horror films on Poptards and Ain’t It Cool on AICN HORROR’s CANNIBAL HORRORCAST Podcast every other Thursday!