Saturday, January 30, 2016


Clinger tells the unusual love story of Fern and Robert, two high school seniors who meet, fall in love quick, and suffer an end to their relationship unlike any other when Robert gets decapitated while telling Fern in an over-the-top way just how much he loves her. Being the overly affectionate hopeless romantic that he is, Robert returns from the dead as a love-sick ghost and tries to reunite with Fern. But as Fern rejects him Robert plots to kill her so they can be together forever.
Clinger starts quick and takes us through the whirlwind romance of our two young love birds, Fern (Jennifer Laporte) and Robert (Vincent Martella). We see how they meet, get some key moments, a photo montage, and then the big splatter fest ending to their relationship. Then BAM the title card CLINGER hits the screen and it's a great way of letting the viewer know that the real, supernatural, and twisted relationship in this story has just begun!
Clinger is a very colorful and charming and breezy feeling movie that reminded me of the teenage romantic comedies from the 90's and moves at a pace as fast as two teenagers in the backseat of a car. And sometimes for whacky horror-comedies like this a quick run-time is a good thing because the movie never feels like it's dragging on or the jokes are wearing thin.
Clinger is full of jokes, visual gags, and plays on words and the majority of the comedy works perfectly to create a consistently whacky and off kilter world. There's a seamless feel when the tone begins to turn darker as it maintains it's comedic elements. Every character adds to the whacky world and makes the story believable because every character is so eccentric and very funny. The cast does a great job in this. Even the ghosts in the cemetery are eccentric and visual gags themselves.
The two leads, Laporte and Martella, are very solid in their roles. The two actors have great chemistry together and Martella especially excels at portraying both sides of his innocent, charmingly awkward yet obsessively dark character.
The standout performance in the film would have to be Fern's older sister Kelsey played by Julia Aks. This girl had me cracking up at almost every line she spoke. She has a fantastic comedic delivery and a powerful presence on the screen, I looked forward to every time she was in a scene because she just had me laughing constantly! Kudos really to the entire cast for being so dedicated to both their character and the tone of the film, they all did wonderful in their parts. Plus it has the presence of cult horror legend Debbie Rochon in a subtle and very funny performance as Fern's mother, and Nightmare on Elm Street scream queen Lisa Wilcox.
As Clinger progresses and turns darker, the blood and gore fly as the film hits it's climax and let's just say you'll probably never want a teddy bear from your significant other ever again! The effects are very well done and when the blood splatters it splatters everything!
Is Clinger a great movie? Actually, yes, it is. It offers a unique story, memorable and funny characters, aptly mixes horror and comedy, and is an overall great time. I was very pleasantly surprised to enjoy this movie as much as I did, it's full of heart and charm and creativity and left me feeling like one happy hopeless romantic horror kid. Definitely check this one out!

Sunday, January 24, 2016


JeruZalem centers on two 20 something American girls who fly to Israel for vacation and to party in Tel Aviv. When they spontaneously decide to travel to the city of Jerusalem, a biblical nightmare falls upon the city as a gateway to Hell opens.
Talk about your classic case of bad timing! Of all the places to travel to and all the days to do it, our young American protagonists choose Jerusalem the day before a gate to Hell opens up. Yikes...
I must admit that it was a bit hard to buy into these two young American girls deciding to fly across the world to go to Israel to vacation and party. Just seems a bit...far fetched. But, let's chalk that up to plot development and get into the movie!
JeruZalem boasts a “found footage” angle but that's not entirely accurate. There is a twist to the gimmick as the story is shown through a pair of GoogleGlass type glasses worn by Sarah (Danielle Jadelyn), one of the films leads. It's more like “live stream” footage.
The movie opens with a back story explaining the gateway to Hell in Jerusalem and it comes across as wholly unnecessary, and explaining the existence and story beforehand doesn't necessarily add anything to the film or story. I'd rather go in cold without an explanation, because any explanation to a story like this just always seems a bit silly.
When the girls, Sarah and Rachel (Yael Grobglas), arrive in Jerusalem it gets a little annoying hearing from the locals how beautiful the girls are over and over again. We get it, we get it, they're good looking people. The entire first half of the film plays as a cross between a smart glasses commercial and a Jerusalem travel brochure and it seems very messy with things happening to serve the plot way more than any type of character development. To be honest, it's a bit of a challenge to get through. Some positives from the first half are the use of the old city as a backdrop to the impending chaos. Jerusalem lends itself nicely to set up a creepy atmosphere using the maze like alley ways and shadows cast by the angular and old stone buildings to great effect. Yael Grobglas also does a great job in her role. She has a natural high energy about her and seems very talented and likeable. Unfortunately she has to fight through a bit of an annoying character here but she's definitely an actress to keep an eye on.
The 48 minute mark is where the movie starts to hit it's stride and get interesting very quickly. Everything begins to click: the smart glasses footage angle, the acting, the sound, and the overall sense of confusion and chaos work wonderfully. JeruZalem becomes a cross between REC and Cloverfield as all Hell (literally) breaks loose, it even offers a couple cool twists.
The sound is of note here, completely invading every scene and perfectly dragging the viewer into the Armageddon on screen which has great creature effects. We see fantastically dark, demon silhouettes with large ripped wings that look like shredded curtains in an old haunted house. There is also a giant Godzilla sized demon marching around the city that doesn't get nearly enough screen time but whose glimpses are a bit startling. The mix of effects and sound are very scary and effective.
After a very shaky first half, JeruZalem really picks it up in the second half and turned out to be pretty decent. I just wish the set up had been done better because each half felt like two different movies, a tale of two cities if you will: the pre-apocalyptic Jerusalem and the post-apocalyptic JeruZalem with the quality and style of the second half far outweighing that of the first.
Tread carefully into JeruZalem, if you can get past the weak and meandering first half, the second half offers some great style and tension. Half a good movie is not a bad one, but it's not a great one either.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016


Intruders centers around Anna, a shut in who suffers from agoraphobia. Her fear is so paralyzing that when three men break into her house looking to steal her stashed money, she cannot bring herself to flee. But the intruders don't realize that they decided to not only break into the wrong house, but to intrude upon the wrong person.
The film opens with a shot of the house and within 10-15 minutes the viewer is aware that the house is not just a home, but a character. It feels covered in memories and lived in, a cluttered but organized type mess that comes to stand as a metaphor for Anna's mind. The intruders to which the title refers to not only invade her home, but invade Anna's life as well, as the house and her life are interlocked in an unspeakable way. The connection between Anna and her house lead to an unpredictable, thrilling, and sad game of cat and mouse. I'll remain vague to avoid spoilers here.
The set up to Intruders happens rather quickly and effectively. We see all we need to see and learn all we need to learn in the first 20 minutes to be able to grasp and follow the drastic turn in the story once the home invasion takes place. The invasion itself happens rather quickly and subtly, the filmmakers chose not to turn this scene into a drawn out and over dramatic event. It was a smart decision because it made the scenario seem very grounded and real and was more jarring this way; a home invasion can happen just like that, real quiet and quick, and they are in your home.
Beth Riesgraf gives a fantastic portrayal of the multi-layered Anna. She does a stellar job at selling the condition she suffers from, and demonstrates believable shock in the scene where she is dragged out onto the porch, terrified of the outside world. Anna is a very complex and layered character that demands a lot of skill and talent and Riesgraf nails it. She's cold, icy, and machine like and vulnerable at the same time, it's hard to fully sympathize with the character as events unfold, yet you do a little. Just a great understanding of the character and perfectly played.
Rory Culkin doesn't have too much to do here but he does a decent job with what he has. The stand out among the intruders is definitely Martin Starr. Hiding behind a beard and looking like Ben Affleck from Argo, he gives such a great performance in such a different role for him that even though I knew he was in this, it never once crossed my mind that that was him!
The film slows down a bit in the final act after an exciting and interesting buildup. Instead of action it dives into psychological thriller territory and character development that I thought added depth to the overall story. I'm not sure if every viewer will be thrilled with the end result as it is a bit of a mixed bag. I was left with a lost feeling as daunting as the big, maze of a house, not sure what or who from the film to latch onto as the credits rolled. But who said a film has to leave you with a definite feeling? It's a ballsy script that doesn't look to make friends with the viewer, but rather display a layered story with a complex lead character. And at that, it succeeds.
Because of that, unfortunately, not everyone will embrace Intruders. But It's a solid story with solid acting and played with expectations enough for me to cautiously recommend it.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Cherry Tree

Cherry Tree

Cherry Tree tells the story of Faith, a 16 year old loner of sorts who is distraught over the fact that her father is dying of leukemia. In order to save his life, Faith makes a pact with the leader of a centuries-old witches coven who is posing as her school's field hockey coach. But as witches go, things are not what they seem and the pact is not as clear cut as Faith initially believed.
Cherry Tree had a lot going for it: an underused sub-genre in horror with a story about witches, perfectly cast lead roles, a unique looking witches coven wearing very creepy hooded masks, and an impressive visual atmosphere that surrounded the witches coven whenever they were on screen. The final outcome, however, is as hollow as an empty cauldron.
Let's start with the positives. Naomi Battrick is perfectly cast as Faith. She has a wise beyond her years vibe and simply exudes sadness and fragility. These characteristics are vital to the story because when the head witch, Sissy (played by Anna Walton), offers the deal to save Faith's father's life it's important to believe that Faith would buy into the somewhat outlandish offer. To avoid spoilers, I won't say what Sissy asks for in return because it's pretty obvious where the story is headed once you figure out what that is. Anna Walton is also perfectly cast as Sissy. She has an otherworldly and ethereal yet unsettling presence that is needed to SELL the outlandish offer. So that necessary relationship between the two leads is there to sell the whole situation to the viewer, but even the strong leads can't save the lazy script.
What adds to the disbelief of the pivotal “let's make a deal” scene, is while Sissy reveals to Faith that she is really a witch, the two are walking through Sissy's house which looks like the set of a Hammer films Gothic horror saying it was a gift from the Dark Lord, and Faith continues to follow her and really doesn't seem too bothered by any of that!
Perhaps Faith just loves her father so much and he means the world to her so she is willing to endure all this crazy witch stuff. Unfortunately the film gives us little to no interaction between Faith and her father. We are just supposed to believe that that's the case because the film shows us next to nothing.
This is the ultimate problem and theme throughout Cherry Tree, there's just not much there. At all. In the films defense, I feel as though it wasn't so much interested in the journey of the character's as much as it was interested in the experience of the viewer. But again, if that's the case, it falls way short as any true moments of unique atmosphere or engaging imagery are few and far between. There are also some annoying plot devices used that demonstrate a weak script and leaves the talented Naomi Battrick with nothing to do in the final act but run around looking distressed when everything seems all too easy and lacked any suspense or tension whatsoever.
I'm convinced this movie was conceived with a few images and a basic story line and it was simply pumped up with sub-par filler and convenient plot devices that put it's thin story and thinner characters on full display. Cherry Tree wants to think it's style will carry it over it's little substance. The problem is, it has neither and comes across as a threadbare mess.

Thursday, January 7, 2016


Deathgasm tells the story of two teenage, metal-head, outcasts in a small town who mistakenly summon an ancient demon by playing music they found in the home of an aged, long lost metal legend.
When the main character, Brodie (played by Milo Cawthorne), meets his fellow band mate Zakk (James Blake) in a record store, there is a wonderful moment where the two size each other up as they silently lift metal albums up to show the other what they like. This scene embodies the spirit of Deathgasm: just like the characters know their metal, the filmmakers know their metal, horror, and humor and show this to the viewer with every scene. The kills, the constant humor, the blood, the lighting all culminate to create the biggest dark party unlike any other movie I've seen all year, Every scene is filmed to make you laugh, make you smile a little evil grin and it succeeds with this on every level! It's a Night of the Demons meets Lords of Salem metal mash-up splat fest that tears shit up from the opening to the closing credits.
Brodie is not the living stereotype that his metal image portrays; he is polite, smart, well spoken, and sits in the park licking ice cream cones. And yet he is all metal in his view of the world, full of rage and pain and a sense of un-belonging. It's a brilliant character and a spot-on, strong, and sympathetic performance from Milo Cawthorne.
Zakk, on the other hand, is the stereotypical metal-head. He's rude, crude, careless, and a bit of an overall oaf. He's also superbly played by James Blake and is pretty damn funny. Kimberly Crossman plays Medina and has the likeness of metal goddess Lita Ford and looks like the Prom Queen of every high school in America while maintaining a sweet innocence at the same time. She's perfectly cast and rounds out the strong ensemble in Deathgasm.
The film also looks absolutely fantastic. It definitely made the best of it's low budget and every penny spent can be seen on screen. The effects, gore, and make-up are all top notch and wonderfully over the top in the vein of Evil Dead 2 and Dead Alive. Hats off to the entire effects team involved with the film for creating a great visual product for the viewers to feast their eyes on.
My one and only complaint about Deathgasm was the voice of the demon at times was a bit hard to fully understand. It had a great slurred, throaty, scratched vinyl sound but I had trouble catching every word.
Deathgasm is the dark side and party side of metal, it mixes humor and horror flawlessly as it focuses on little moments that carry the film from laughter to cringing. Every frame contains a studded leather jacket, metal music, crude humor and references to Satan. Deathgasm is one hell of bloody headbanging, rocking movie and if you haven't seen it, right now is the perfect time to put it on!

Saturday, January 2, 2016



Dollface follows a group of college students doing a research paper on local serial killer legend Dorchester Stewart, better known as Crinoline Head. In order to properly investigate, the group goes to the scene of the murders that happened back in 1996.
The film opens with an airy, dreamy, curious, and slightly creepy score playing over a flashback to 1980 that quickly describes the origin of Dollface. While the scene doesn't provide much substance for the makings of the killer, it does the trick to set up the beginnings of a very troubled boy. It also works as a new story set-up for any viewers who haven't seen the first film featuring the killer, Crinoline Head. With that said, it isn't necessary to view Crinoline Head in order to enjoy Dollface, it functions just fine as a standalone film.
Being a slasher flick, the kills are as front and center as the killer himself. While there is plenty of splattering blood, the on screen gore itself is very minimal, so gore hounds may feel a little letdown by Dollface. But what the film lacks in gore it makes up for in creativity. Some of the kills are very cleverly set up and one in particular had me cringing as I saw it coming; whatever you do ladies, don't “pop a squat” in the woods.
As for the killer, the look of Dollface is pretty well and simply conceived. The filmmakers made a wise decision to not show or focus too much on the human face behind the broken doll mask. Exposing the human face behind the killer's mask always seems mostly unnecessary and distracting. And the mask, while not as terrifying as Leatherface or a simplistic hockey mask, is frighteningly out of place and creepy enough to pass as unique and effective.
The group of students all do a solid job in their roles, but Leah Wiseman was a clear standout to me. She has the look of Taissa Farmiga: a non expressive face coupled with very expressive eyes that gives her an instant bit of mystery and depth. She brings an acute realism to every scene whether it be her naturalistic delivery of lines or little reactions to others as they speak, that made her rise above the rest of the young cast. She'll next star in Dollface writer/director Tommy Faircloth's next project, Family Possessions, which is in pre-production as of this writing.
The real star of Dollface is the great Debbie Rochon. Of all her performances, this is some of the best acting I've seen her do. She really slows down here and allows for her characters seemingly painful past to show up on her face as she speaks. It's a very strong role that she elevates with a fully realized understanding and portrayal of her character. She is also beyond funny and downright hilarious, her lines and delivery kept me laughing every time she was on screen! Kudos to Ms. Rochon, with over 250 acting credits to her name she is still at the top of her game.
Dollface doesn't re-write the rules of the slasher genre, it doesn't break new ground, or offer any clever (or annoying) twist ending. It plays as a straight up slasher homage/satire and does a decent job of keeping the viewer entertained. It's worth watching for Debbie Rochon alone, but I found myself laughing, cringing, and ultimately having a pretty good time.