Dark Exorcism (2015)

Review of indie psychological horror Dark Exorcism is over at Flickering Myth and below…

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The subject of demonic possession has been a huge deal in the horror genre for ages, with 1973’s The Exorcist often cited as the scariest thing since sliced bread (or was that sliced head?, anyway pretty scary) and a stream of new pretenders constantly waiting in line. It is however, a difficult topic to do justice to. On one hand you have The Shining or Burnt Offerings showing the true psychological horror of possession. On the other you might have REC3 or worse, something like The Devil Inside or the worst excesses of the Paranormal Activity franchise.

In any case, Dark Exorcism – formerly titled In The Dark – is an intriguing addition to the possession style of movie and another impressive notch on filmmaker David Spaltro’s catalogue.  The filmmaker specialises in thoughtful and emotional indie dramas (Around, Things I Don’t Understand) and bring this cerebral quality to the possessed horror movie sub-genre. With an impressive lightness of touch, the film stands well above most of the indie horrors making their way around the festival circuit and beyond. There is a neat theatrical edge to the production, allowing the cast to bring out the complexities of the script without relying on stock jumps and scares. More than anything else, this is about the personalities on show, and how each one copes with the ramifications of a potentially unexplainable situation. In effect, it’s not a standard low budget horror.

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The strength of the largely female cast is shown in a three part psychological battle. Firstly there is the clash of ideas between the purely rational grad student Veronica (Lynn Justinger) and the experienced paranormal expert Lois Kearne (Fiona Horrigan). These two represent the opposite sides of the argument for and against the paranormal and for any evidence of ‘possession’. As the film progresses, another strong performance is sourced in Grace Folsom’s Bethany. Bethany is distinctly unwell, but exactly how unwell only becomes apparent after a few meetings. All three of the actors display a confidence in the work, and provide the depth to keep an audience second guessing.

The film keeps special effects to a minimum, thus making sure the audience concentrate purely on the performances and the dialogue. This works up to a point, although a little more mystery in regards the eventual outcome would have been welcome. All in all though, a well written and produced psychological possession movie.

Something on the Floor

There was something on the floor as I walked back home after my shopping excursion in town. I had been to Marks and Sparks to buy some new comfortable socks and pants, as I was running pretty low. I had also bought a nice bagel from a cafe and felt the edge of my despondency gradually diminishing. There was something on the floor as I strode with purpose, thinking of opportunities current and others due to present themselves. There was something on the floor as I huddled under a pub front awning to escape the steady flow of drizzle. There was something on the floor; it was a bit of bread that looked like a hand. There was something on the floor. There was something on the floor there was something coming out of the floor it was a hand coming out of the floor it was a hand that look like bread it was a hand that looked like bread that looked like bread like bread hand bread hand bread bread bread

I held onto it.

bread

Diluted

From pupils being dilated
To culture being diluted
The underground’s running all night
But there’s not a party in sight
The clubs and venues closing
To make way for global cloning
The ambience gets peaceful
If you can afford it
It all gets a bit more ‘nice’
And wildly overpriced
Time to make an impact
A declaration of intent
Music and clubbing is part of the Fabric
Of what makes a city a city
Keep it alive

http://nightlifematters.com/

The Killings of Tony Blair

My review of The Killings of Tony Blair is over at Flickering Myth and below…

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For many people outside of the political classes George Galloway has been something of a perplexing figure. Someone with the ability to lucidly draw attention to the many problems of world politics – he defended himself memorably in front of the US senate – he is someone with a gift for soundbites and pithy responses.

However, the decision to front this feature documentary himself is a big mistake. Despite having the ability and the credentials to bring necessary discussion post-Chilcot on Blair’s career, Galloway is also someone with the potential to draw attention away from the facts. Many who remember his ill-judged reality TV appearance  see him as a fame-hungry provocateur, not really an attribute needed for a serious investigations of Blair’s money making activities and alleged war crimes.

The documentary would therefore have been far more hard-hitting without Galloway at its centre. Maybe it would have been better if he had just acted as the narrator? But no, he’s there every five minutes, usually at the centre of talks with a long list of political and cultural figures. Showing off his resplendent overcoat for all to approve of, or door stepping political figures in roving reporter mode.

Galloway is without doubt a smart and critical thinker, but making yourself the focus when the point is an analysis of someone else’s decisions makes the final product lost and confused.

This is not the only problem. Hurried looking satirical animation just looks amateurish and the variety of talking heads popping up just stretches out the running time. All in all then, not the best stick to beat old Tony with. I’m sure the facts speak louder than George on this occasion…

The Killings of Tony Blair is available on DVD and digital HD now.

 

lost silence

 

  • thousands of conversations
    all happening at once
    more and more people
    all doing their stuff
    the latest point needs to be heard
    and the talking explosion is more than one word
  • sounds on phones, on trains and on cars
    in offices, hospitals, clubs and in bars
    the sounds are getting louder just as I’m getting older
    and silence is as precious as it’s rare
    and we might want to care
    or develop better ear plugs

 

Movie Review – Dark Cove

My review of the stoned campsite thriller Dark Cove is over at Flickering Myth now and below.

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Dark Cove is a Canadian indie thriller aiming for scares, intense frights and human tragedy. Hammering home the point that camping is never really a good idea, especially if you don’t know the terrain, the low-budget flick delivers less than it promises – which to be fair, wasn’t a lot to begin with.

Five friends from the city go off to the beach on the ‘wild side’ of Vancouver Island with the express aim of getting high and chilling out. With the beers, weed and magic mushrooms all packed up, off they set for a holiday of adventure. They then proceed to pontificate on a number of instantly forgettable subjects for more than half the movie. The scenery however is beautiful and this is the main thing that provides some kind of respite from the sparsity of ideas on show.

It is really in the scripting, pacing and acting that the flick comes a cropper. I’m all for slow build-ups when necessary, but here it takes over 45 mins for anything to actually happen. Prior to that it’s all unnatural sounding dialogue interspersed with gurning juvenalia and crude attempts at humour. This plus a painful soundtrack of ‘let’s get stoned’ bro-anthems detracts from any possibility of caring too much about what might happen.

Things only start to pick up after the introduction of three hippy, surfer types, two Australians and one Brit (cue bizarre accent) into the area. The Canadians, high on ‘shrooms, join the visitors for a bit of a sing along around the camp fire. That night, things take a grim turn as one of the visitors is a rapist who promptly gets beaten to death. The friends must then attempt to hide the body from the attentions of the other two travellers from overseas. When one of them finds out the film’s best part takes place. ‘Best’ as in hilariously atrocious, that is.

Cans for Hands

He’s got bottles for fingers
And cans for hands
A dumbphone extension
Leading straight to the glands

I know what he’s after
Cos I used to be the same
A blinding of the drama
And some pissing down the drain

Now he’s got no time for dinner
Or anything sane
But the clock is still ticking
And still he might change

But he might not.

Motorway Spirits

Here I lay
Struck cold by a van
On the motorway.
Still and quiet
Like a dead bird or rabbit
Though getting hit by cars
Is not in my habit.

I turn and wave
As each new one
Passes me by
Bits of bone
Bits of flesh
Blowing from tarmac
To sky

Got proper stuck from A to Z
So chucked the roadmap instead
Drive on or walk on
There’s nothing left to see
Abandoned dogs listen
I promise them:
We shall run again

Suture review

Review of Blu-ray review of Suture (1993) over at Flickering Myth and below…

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Suture is a resolutely smart film. The title refers to the film theorist’s view of a film stitching ideas and themes into an audience’s perception of a film so wholly and completely that all sorts of things can be accepted. We as humans love to look for order in chaos, to find patterns where there may be none and to create plausibility for all kinds of bizarre outcomes.

The neo-noir crime story takes this view of film and uses it to explore a variety of moral and philosophical questions. How far can an audience be led down one path – and how great is their desire to be fully immersed in the story, despite logic threatening to shatter the suspension of disbelief?

The central problem that the film’s makers teasingly hope that the audience will put to one side is that the two brothers, Clay (Dennis Haysbert) and Vincent (Michael Harris) are clearly of different ethnicity. However, in the world of the story itself they are half-brothers with the same father and are frequently said to look so alike as to be practically indistinguishable.

The film is so well made that it goes beyond simply being a film professors idea of an experimental joke and showcases a stylish and captivating crime mystery.

Without giving too much away – Suture is a film to be experienced best with little or no prior knowledge of the plot – Siegel and McGehee have created a remarkable film. With influences ranging from Hitchcock and Frankenheimer to the crime sagas of the 40’s, this is a film wholly deserving to be seen by a fresh new audience.

Blu-ray/DVD Extras

Audio commentary with writer-directors David Siegel and Scott McGehee
All-new interviews with Siegel, McGehee, executive producer Steven Soderbergh, actor Dennis Haysbert, cinematographer Greg Gardiner, editor Lauren Zuckerman and production designer Kelly McGehee
Deleted scenes
Birds Past, Siegel & McGehee’s first short film, about two young San Franciscans who journey to Bodega Bay along the path set by Tippi Hedren in Hitchcock’s classic, The Birds.
US theatrical trailer
European theatrical trailer
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by maarko phntm

The Here After

Review of The Here After over at Flickering Myth  and below…

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With The Here After, Magnus von Horn creates a disturbing vision of controlled chaos of judgement and retribution. Starring Swedish pop star  Ulrik Munther, the film relates the social reaction to a crime committed in rural Sweden. Von Horn takes a minimalist approach to the story, only allowing key elements to trickle out as the tension steadily amps up.

The non-mainstream approach of only letting the audience in bit by bit works well for the most part, with a good deal of sympathy for the central character’s plight being built up before all the cards in the pack are dealt out.

The main figure in all of this is John (Munther) who we meet at the start of the film leaving an unnamed institution in the care of his father (Mats Blomgren). The two travel back to their home town, partaking in the traditionally stifled conversation between teenage son and mildly stressed dad. Back at home, John play fights with younger brother Filip (a smartly funny show from Alexander Nordgren) and helps out with the household chores. No mention is made of where John has been or why he was there.

Aside from John’s shell-shocked attempts to settle down into family life (which, with the addition of a sickly Grandfather, is wholly and tellingly comprised of male characters) the early scenes convey an odd but superficially calm exterior.

The first clear sign that something far darker is under wraps is an encounter with a member of the town’s folk at the local supermarket. The shocking event acts as a trigger to the uncovering of the truth. There won’t be any spoilers given away here, suffice to say that the machinations of justice, moral judgement and social pressures loom large over the whole piece.

A fantastic performance from Munther showcases the difficulties communities face in the aftermath of tragedy and violence. Exactly how to come to terms with the realities of repressed anger and unresolved emotional activity is a problem laid out here in all its grim detail.

Drawing inevitable comparisons with Thomas Vinterberg’s The Hunt, this tale of alienation and social exclusion is a tense, visually striking film displaying a quiet, studied gravitas.

The DVD includes two short films by Magnus von Horn, Echo (2008) and Without Snow (2011)