SDCC 2017 ‘Colony’: The Enemy of my Enemy

Posted in Action, comedy, drama, Fantasy, horror, Romance, Sci-Fi, suspense with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 7, 2017 by aliciamovie

colony04-590x224

By Alicia Glass

Welcome back to our alien invasion occupation, already in progress! Season Two of the USA hit Colony brought us way more intrigue, betrayal, and sacrifice than the first season, and it all culminated in total rendition of the Los Angeles bloc! The Bowmans have survived mostly intact but forever altered, gained new allies and enemies, and further embroiled themselves in the mess of collaboration versus resistance!

The Colony panel of Comic-con 2017 featured Josh Holloway (Will Bowman), Sarah Wayne Callies (Katie Bowman), Peter Jacobson (Snyder), Tory Kittles (Broussard), and Executive Producers Carlton Cuse, Wes Tooke, and Ryan Condal.

Josh Holloway is obviously one of the major heroes of the show, despite his being forced to collaborate, and though the journey for his character in particular through Season Two was dark and hard, “Will went through Hell, and I loved it. Season Two really elevated everything on the show and it was amazing, but I’m glad to be out of that suit and away from those bloodsuckers I was working for.”

Sarah Wayne Callies is a fan favorite purveyor of strong female characters on several shows she’s already been in, same with her character Katie Bowman on Colony. She waxed poetic on the brutal choices Katie Bowman had to make in Season Two, “Is it better to die standing than to live on your knees, yes absolutely, but it’s also a question of what General do you follow into battle? I think one of the big challenges of Season One and going into Season Two, had to do with the costs of waging that war, and in whom do you place your trust? Quail was not a man worthy of that trust, and so I think over Season Two you have the evolution of Katie leaning more and more into Broussard’s leadership, which itself evolves into something more of a partnership.”

And speaking of Broussard, Tory Kittles talked about the more in-depth role his character played in Season Two: “It’s such a grey area with all the characters, the morality changes. Like he (Broussard) was playing both sides to get information, and that does something to a person, to a character. And then he found himself working with Will Bowman, which I don’t think he thought would ever happen, in this world and under these circumstances. Everything is changing, not only for him but for all the characters. At the heart of him I know he’s a good guy, I think he’s doing it for all the right reasons, but sometimes he might be … excessive.” Only when asked where he would like to his character go on the show, did he laughingly reply, “Hopefully to Season Ten!”

Peter Jacobson, who plays everyones’ favorite weasel character Snyder on the show, tried to convince the crowd and himself of Snyder’s survival-only intentions. “It’s so fun to play a morally complex character; I can thank the writers for making me a character to play in that ‘who the hell is he?’ kind of zone, which Snyder really does. For me as an actor, Snyder doesn’t think ‘oh I’m a bad guy,’ no, he’s a master survivor, he will do whatever the hell it takes to survive. He’s not your sort of typical Snidely Whiplash kind of villain, and I think that’s really compelling, that he’s just a normal guy.”

Callies went on to speak proudly of her character Katie Bowman and her great strengths: “There are moments where she seems to be willing to put her own children at risk, in order to take a stand, for all of the children of the bloc. It’s a really complicated space to inhabit as a parent, but also as a woman. By and large in our storytelling, women are defined by our ability to be faithful to our husband, and saintly to our children. And to have a woman who, from the outset, is willing to be devious with her husband and to put her own childrens needs at least on par with the other children of the bloc; I just think its one of the most interesting female characters I’ve ever had the chance to play.”

Newcomer to this years panel Executive Producer Wes Tooke talked about having a clear vision for where the show wanted to go in Season Two, and how it will lead to a seriously more dynamic Season Three. “The challenge of Season Two is how do we create something that’s emotionally engaging, tells a great story and sets us up for where we want to go and the huge leap we want to make to Season Three, which is going to dramatically re-frame the entire show.”

Colony mainstay Ryan Condal spoke of the fascinating challenges in creating such a story for television and the lead-in to Season Three: “We’ve always seen the show as being a series of concentric rings of story, so Season One had to be small, we’re seeing this world through the singular point of view of the Bowman family. But now the show has evolved and we’re now twenty-three episodes into it and we have another thirteen episodes coming this year, so we’re able to expand out those rings and see the world larger and different, more diverse, points of view. There are things that are yet to be revealed, and there are things we’ve given you already, so I would challenge you to go back and take another look (before Season Three airs). There’s a lot of big answers to come, and (after the showing of Season Three preview exclusive to Comic-Con) you’ll have a really good sense of all the big questions that you’re probably asking yourself, and us, right now, will be revealed pretty early in Season Three.”

The panel went through fan questions and ended with a quest for hardy SDCC-goers: the  picture below, along with coordinates and the code-phrase “The enemy of my enemy” was flashed on the big screen, so make of it what you will, Colony fans.

Colony_S3ConceptArt_Final 700

Catch the expanding world of Colony on USA in 2018!

Advertisements

SDCC 2017 ‘Krypton’: What House are you backing?

Posted in Action, comedy, drama, Fantasy, Romance, Sci-Fi, suspense with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 1, 2017 by aliciamovie

sdcc-2017-krypton-teaser-trailer-790x494

By Alicia Glass

It takes real nerve to come out and do a Comic-con panel for a highly anticipated show that technically hasn’t aired yet. That is one giant way to generate interest in the new show, true, but it’s still a big gamble, because what if even an SDCC panel isn’t enough. However, The Originals panel (I think) being before Krypton, there was plenty enough audience left to give a good showing.

The panel featured Cameron Cuffe (Seg-El), Executive Producers David S. Goyer, Cameron Welsh and Damian Kindler, and was moderated by DC universe amazement Geoff Johns himself. Johns is the President and Chief Creative Officer of DC comics, y’all, and has held these posts since 2010, so bow down.

Set two generations before the long-legendary Man of Steel’s time on earth, the new show Krypton features Seg-El on the titular planet fighting to redeem his ostracized families honor and engaging in forbidden romance with, who else, the House of Zod. Given that this is yet another attempt at a TV show having to do with the Big Blue Boy Scouts family and the House of El, Krypton seems to have set their standards almost impossibly high, and are working on giving a sweeping epic backstory to what is arguably the most well-known comic character in history, so we’re talking planet-sized hero boots to fill.

Almost immediately the EPs and Mod Johns launched into a list of well-known DC characters that will be featured on Krypton – Brainiac, with his own immersive storyline; that monster Doomsday; Adam Strange in an appropriately oracular role; even a new take on Hawkgirl. Jones happily went on to spoil that a Black Mercy (I thought he meant a car) would be in the pilot episode, it belongs to a character named Mongul, and if you’re any kind of fan-atic about the Superman part of the DCU, you’ll know why the audience erupted into cheers. EP Cameron Welsh talked briefly about the forbidden romance between Seg-El and the House of Zod, saying that Lyta Zod the youngest is the heartthrob in question, while her mother Alura Zod is the Primus of the Kryptonian military guild which makes her, say it with me, General Zod.

Jones was very personable and effortlessly charmed all the fans in the audience, many of whom were at least 40+something and lifelong Superman fans. Recalling the early days of terrible villain costumes, Johns laughed, “No, there will not be any headbands for the bad guys. That’s not until Season two!” Johns raved about the production values for the show, the all-encompassing effort at world-building, prompting Damian Kindler to practically wax poetic about the same: “We are attempting to build one of the most beautiful, grand TV series on the air. One of the things that’s constantly coming back in conversations is a sense of scope – we want you to be watching and going, ‘wow, this really is another world’. We have some of the most wonderful special effects houses in like 5 or 6 different countries building effects for us this season, we have one of the most talented production design teams I’ve ever worked with. And having Geoff (Johns) right in your house, saying, ‘This is the world, go build it’, has easily been the most exciting job I’ve ever had.”

Of course Johns was asked about cross-overs with other DCU characters, and made the very clear statement that, “Krypton is a stand-alone show,” for which I personally am very grateful. After a great spoiler-laden panel and a bunch of fan-squee and questions, Johns wound up the panel by saying they all tried very hard to make a show where the legions of DC fans out there would finally say, ‘They got it right.’ I sure hope so too, Geoff Johns, and I’ll be watching Krypton when it airs in 2018 on the Syfy channel!

SDCC 2017 ‘Stitchers’: Keep it all in the Family

Posted in Action, comedy, drama, Fantasy, Romance, Sci-Fi, suspense with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on July 28, 2017 by aliciamovie

stitcherscanren

By Alicia Glass

Stitchers is a breakout hit on the Freeform TV channel, featuring Kirsten Clark, a woman suffering temporal dysplasia (a fictional condition that prevents her from sensing the passage of time) who is recruited to a super-secret NSA program. The program uses technology they call “stitching”, that allows Kirsten to dive into the memories of the newly-deceased. Kirsten is joined by neuroscientist Cameron Goodkin, bioelectrical engineer Linus Ahluwalia, computer scientist and roommate Camille Engelson, LAPD officer Detective Quincy Fisher, and headed by the redoubtable Maggie Baptiste.

I hadn’t thought Stitchers was popular enough to get their own panel at Comic-Con, but then again, Season 3 of the show started fairly recently and the line to get in to the panel was out the door and down the sidewalk, so color me pleasantly surprised! The panel featured Emma Ishta (Kirsten), Kyle Harris (Cameron), Ritesh Rajan (Linus), Damon Dayoub (Fisher), Executive Producer Jeff Schechter, and was moderated by TV Guide’s Damian Holbrook!

EP Jeff talked about how the Cam-sten shippers are making things actually a bit harder for him, as Cameron and Kirsten were tossed together pretty much in Episode 1 of the entire show and for the next ten episodes they turned into like the perfect couple. And while that may be good for the characters, it makes for poor drama, even he was bored. So we’ll make it rain on their parade, rain on these two saps with all sorts of troubles that prevent their romantic relationship moving forward, especially that thing discovered recently, that if Cameron and Kirsten raise their oxytocin levels by means naughty or nice even a little, it prevents them from stitching effectively!

It’s not a spoiler to mention that Linus lost his father in the very first episode of Season Three, and Ritesh Rajan went on to talk about how such a storyline has massively affected his character. “He’s a character who wears his heart on his sleeve, very open and genuine, so for him to go through something so shocking and heartbreaking, it does leave him with an emotional scar that’s going to change him for the rest of his life,” Ritesh said. “It started the season that way and just catapults the character in a direction of massive growth. He’s forced to deal with these changes and this heartache, and he wonders, where is it going to lead him?”

Damon Dayoub good-naturedly endured ribbing about his being the father figure of the stitchers team and kind of the class clown of the cast of the show too. He laughingly went on to state that he became an actor so he wouldn’t have to wear a suit and tie every day, and yet here he is as this character who, inevitably, wears a suit and tie every day. “So, that sucks,” Dayoub grinned, “And I’ve got to shave every day, and as you can see I’m not a big shaver, so maybe next season,” as he nudged Schechter down the row, “Fisher could go undercover! A big beard and no showers, come on, what do you say?” To which Schechter smirked, “We’ve had this conversation before, and it’s still no.”

Rajan had a fun Comic-Con exclusive moment when Moderator Holbrook mentioned Linus knowing pi to umpti-squat-decimal-place and asked him what number he, Ritesh Rajan knew it to, which was rather small. Of course a fan in the front rows had to shout out a correct answer, and got applauded by the entire Stitchers cast!

Kyle Harris was charming and funny, struggling to recall all the nicknames Cameron has tossed at Kirsten so far, “Stretch, ‘K, Cupcake, Sunshine, Blondie, Chewie (as in Chewbacca from Star Wars),” and of course some helpful wag from the audience shouted, “Princess!” as well. Harris grinned when Holbrook mentioned Cameron’s gamer-geek-god experience in a recent episode and asked what games he likes to play in real life, answering with, “Mario Kart,” and challenging the cast to play the game on the giant SDCC screen to see who’s best! Harris didn’t deny it either, when Ishta told the entire panel about how Harris had donned (and broke) her stitch suit and climbed into the tank they use for stitching on the show, actually finding a photograph of that instance on her phone to share!

Harris got his own good-natured ribbing to endure too, as the entire cast and the EP goaded him about checking his hairstyle in every single last reflective surface he could find, including but not limited to the shooting cameras and the tank itself! And of course the fans wanted to hear, as soon as they heard that Harris does voice impressions from some of the geek culture references on the show, so Kyle obligingly mussed his hair and growled a line from as Doc from Back to the Future!

Some interesting trivia, it turns out that Kyle Harris and Grant Gustin of CW’s The Flash fame are super best pals in real life, and even share a musical background, as do many of the main cast members of Stitchers. Of course this sent the fans slavering for a musical Stitchers episode, which I don’t think would be too hard, but I personally am more interested in what else Schechter teasingly stated, which was a cross-over episode between the major Freeform shows, Shadowhunters or Beyond, and Stitchers, now there’s a real challenge!

The panel was wrapped up with loving fan questions, but before that the Mod asked what we can expect to see from each character in further coming episodes of Stitchers. Dayoub of course replied mysteriously about his character getting back together with his wife and making some big decisions; Harris intimated about Cameron getting into a row with Maggie; Rajan lamented the difficult-to-read women in Linus’ life; and of course Emma Ishta flip-flopped between Kirsten’s mom, dad, and sister. We were also treated to a genuine San Diego Comic-Con 2017 exclusive bite: we the fans will meet Cameron’s mother in the next few upcoming episodes of Stitchers!

Catch Stitchers on Freeform, Mondays @ 9/8c!

‘Wish Upon’: We hate high school, too

Posted in Action, comedy, drama, horror, Movies, suspense with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 18, 2017 by aliciamovie

wishupon

Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Director: John R. Leonetti

Studio: Broad Green Pictures

MPAA Rating: PG 13

Review Rating: 7 out of 10

Spoilers are in the box!

A high school girl discovers a Chinese wishing box that actually grants her wishes – with horrific consequences!

Okay, so Clare Shannon (Joey King) is your very typical Carrie-like put-upon high school girl. A pair of devoted outcast friends (anyone else recognize Barb?!), bitchy H.S. rival enemies, a toooootally embarrassing father, and that angsty artistic temperament all lead to a depressed but relatable girl lead. Clare’s mom killed herself with that old hangin’ rope right at the beginning of the movie, but it sure looked like she had the wishing box first, which leads to all kinds of interesting speculations. Clare and her dad are noticeably poor, and Jonathon Shannon (Ryan Phillipe) dumpster-diving for treasure right in plain view of Clare’s school sure doesn’t help. The only real comfort in Clare’s life is her dog, given to her as the last legacy of her beloved and missed mother. And this is where we begin.

So inevitably, Jonathon found the wishing box on some dumpster dive and gave it to Clare to try and apologize for being embarrassing. And quite soon after that, the H.S. bitch that gives Clare such a hard time gave Clare an extra-hard time, and it’s one wish down. You really should be more careful with your wording, little leading lady, but then again, wishing for someone to go rot opens up all sorts of fine body-Horror opportunities for the movie. As much fun as it is to hear that bitch-fest is in the hospital, Clare needs to learn that all magic, especially of this magnitude, comes at a price. First up to go is Clare’s beloved dog, and of course Clare is devastated.

But not devastated enough to stop wishing, oh no. Our lead just happens to take Chinese language classes in high school (when did that become a curriculum option?) and so learns she’s offered seven wishes from the pretty box that plays haunting music at odd times after Clare’s made her wishes. Like any common put-upon high school girl, Clare’s wishes continue to be selfish in the extreme, whether it be insisting the handsome boy she’s had a thing for since elementary school fall head over heels for her, or turning the death of a neighbor into a windfall of cash and extravagance for her, her father and her two closest friends June and Meredith (Shannon Purser & Sydney Park), but the sacrifices are beginning to pile up and become impossible to ignore or explain away.

A friend from Chinese class, Ryan (Ki Hong Lee), with a super-obvious crush on Clare offers to take the box to his cousin for better language translation, who of course soon after gets spiked for her trouble. Even with the super-nasty death of one of her two true friends, and the very real possibility of the death of her father, Clare can’t seem to rid herself of the box, by means fair, foul, or even necessary. Her insistence she knows what to do, how to “fix everything” and rid herself of the box simultaneously, is a pretty standard “gotcha!” Horror trope by now, so we can all guess what happened to poor Clare after that. Still, the ending of the film was a nice little ba-zing! for fans, myself included, who thought Clare needed to get what was coming to her.

With a plot very much like The Craft and a bunch of zany death scenes that strongly echo the style of the Final Destination films, Wish Upon is a very good movie for a new generation of Horror fans to begin a lifelong obsession. (Though seriously, Ryan Phillipe in the Dad role makes me feel old.) Given the PG-13 rating and the eternal high school drama that Carrie ever despaired of, Wish Upon is a burgeoning entry into the Horror world anyone can appreciate!

Many thanks to the crew of Horrible Imaginings Film Festival for the pre-screening of Wish Upon, out in theaters now!

‘Once Upon a Time In Venice’: No More Naked Skateboarding, please

Posted in Action, comedy, drama, Movies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 17, 2017 by aliciamovie

onceuponatimevenice

Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Director: Mark Cullen

Studio: Voltage Pictures

Review Rating: 6.5 out of 10

Through a series of bizarre circumstances and roundabout confrontations, down but never out former detective turned private investigator Steve Ford gets his beloved dog stolen by Venice’s toughest gang!

It’s like the movie tried to capture the magic of ‘Go’ or ‘Snatch’ or even ‘The Big Hit’ (don’t judge, I enjoyed that last one), with the convoluted circular storylines, but in the rather relaxed setting of Venice Beach, California.

The character of Steve Ford, played by Bruce Willis as he is, seems rather unlikely to me. The man is past 60, and yet playing a character who has playful sex with women considerably younger than him (who also happen to have severely protective Samoan brothers), skateboards down deserted roads in all his naked glory (you can assume that was a stunt double), and can still badass throw down with the worst of them if need be, which he does when confronting Jason Momoa’s gang leader character Spider to get his niece’s dog back. John (Thomas Middleditch) is Steve’s assistant and the film is mostly narrated by him as we get introduced to the various sundry characters Steve’s about to have to deal with. And don’t forget Dave (John Goodman), Steve’s recently divorced and rather suicidal best friend, who needs something to get his mind off his pathetic excuse for a life and of course offers to help Steve with his own troubles. Steve loves his niece and she loves her dog Buddy, which means when the dog gets stolen to get back at Steve, the hang-loose godfather of the Venice neighborhood needs to get the poochie back by any means necessary!

Steve understands that making deals with drug lords, loan sharks, pissed-off Samoan brothers and other unsavory characters isn’t a good idea, but hey, Buddy’s in trouble and time’s running out. There has to be a way to settle his debts with every single last one of these shady nutjobs and get Buddy back safe and sound, preferably without another naked nighttime jaunt on a skateboard. (I guess it wouldn’t be quite the Venice Beach style to have Uncle Steve riding his naked glory getaway on a Harley.) Unlike many of Willis’ other characters, Steve tries hard to leave the violence as a last resort, though he can certainly kick your weak ass, if need be.

So without giving anything away, Uncle Steve does manage to wrap things up more or less nicely near the end, with a minimal amount of fuss and muss. There are even a few clever boots moments, though for the most part they are entirely predictable and therefore one-shot-ed at best. The movie is a perfectly fine way to waste an afternoon, but it will never live up to action standards like the Die Hard series.

Portland Horror Film Festival 2017: Longer-Length Horror Shorts

Posted in Action, comedy, drama, Foreign, horror, Movies, Sci-Fi, suspense with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 28, 2017 by aliciamovie

phff_ticket_black-270x250

Reviewed by Alicia Glass

For those Horror directors and writers who’ve had a shade bit more experience, or who need longer than fifteen minutes to tell their stories of terror and woe, we have a series of Horror shorts to shock and terrify. From the familiar twisted into something new, to ancient powers of the macabre, sit still for these longer shorts and let yourself be carried off into a whole new darkness!

‘Creatures of Whitechapel’

Country: UK

Director: Jonathan Martin

Review Rating: 8 out of 10

Spoilers will cut you down!

It’s the dark cold heart of London, and a killer stalks the alleyways of Whitechapel, hunting down the Ladies of the Night. But it turns out, that killer is actually a her-self too, and she has a Master she’s working for. What could “Jacqueline the Ripper” possibly need with those body parts she stole? Dr. Frankenstein needs a heart for his latest creation, poor thing; the eternal quest of man to make a thing with his own two hands, simply so he can boink it. He needs other parts too, and that’s why he sent the Lady Igor out in an opera cape and top hat with a scalpel blade, never imagining that she would find some kind of redemption in the arms of Mary Kelly. Nevertheless, Master needs a heart (and still doesn’t see the irony in that statement), so he can bring his lady love to life and hopefully responsive movement. Even Dr. Praetoris, Frankie’s fellow scientist, rival and skeptic, doesn’t quite seem to understand that women monsters stick together, through death and beyond!

When done well, Horror mashups are a terrific thing to behold, and Creatures of Whitechapel has certainly done that! The storyline rather reminds me of the awesomeness that was Penny Dreadful, well remembered and always missed, with scenes and sets inspired by From Hell and Victor Frankenstein, original musical scores that won awards and put me in the mind of Sweeney Todd, this particular short makes my little black heart so happy. We women really should get more gender-bent roles in the Horror world, that opens up all kinds of amazing intertwining possibilities!

‘The Madame in Black’

Country: Sweden

Director: Jarno Lee Vinsencius

Review Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Drawn from a Swedish legend in which a Countess was burned for witchery that purportedly killed her husband and children, which was of course turned into a mirror game for generations to come, very like the American legend of Bloody Mary, The Madame in Black also appears to be a parlor game for young adults who really should be more leery. Our siblings in the short played the game when they were very young and apparently the Madame makes no distinctions about what age she continues to haunt a person. Emma convinces Alex, while they’re hanging out drinking with their significant others, to say the words before the mirror again, and next thing you know, a scary Lady draped in all black is terrorizing everyone!

The story of course puts me in the mind of the movie The Woman In Black, and the atmosphere surrounding the short is very reminiscent of The Conjuring. The “gotcha!” scares are fairly good, and the makeup job for the Madame (when she is fully shown) is pretty darned terrifying, if a little predictable. While I agree it’s important to have background story to whatever game you want to play inside your Horror movie, a little too much time is spent on the brother-sister and their friends dynamic, which could be easily achieved with some flash scenes, and leave more time for the admittedly-good jump scares and hauntings of the Madame in Black.

‘Elegy’

Country: USA

Director: CJ Gardella

Review Rating: 6.5 out of 10

All around is the cycle of life and death, and nature reflects that in its simplicity and savagery. A brick house out near a swamp teeming with animal life that devours each-other endlessly holds many secrets, where the lines between being alive and being dead, or even undead, blur and become indistinct. A man and a woman walk the lonely halls of the house, attempting to not antagonize each-other, but rather understand the mysteries of the dead and the dying, and even returning back to a kind of existence. A strange kind of harmony exists, with the insects and those who feed off of death, and that which withers finds a kind of quiet beauty in its preservation.

The entire short, especially the animal scenes of hunting, killing, and decaying, really reminded me of the Lars Von Trier film Antichrist, and that was an incredibly odd one. The animals and insects caught on film mid-snap are certainly wonderful to look at, and the truly great thing about this short is the creepy between-life-and-death atmosphere the filmmakers manage to convey. In a short fraught with unique imagery, where none of the characters actually speak, one can only expect some confusion about what the short is attempting to convey in the depths of Horror. I’m still not entirely sure, but I wager it was some kind of descent into madness to study the whole process of death, and perhaps, how love never actually dies.

‘Others Like You’

Country: Italy

Director: Eugenio Villani

Review Rating: 7 out of 10

When does an obsession go too far, and land one in the depths of sheer Horror? Ester wants a child so badly, she’s been binging a series of one-night-stands to get herself pregnant, but somehow never manages to carry a baby to full term and birth. Especially after seeing the female Doctor for a pregnancy test, and showing off that what I assume is a hysterectomy scar all across her abdomen. Doc Greta herself is a scarred survivor and no longer able to have children either, yet she still manages to “mother” a group of hidden monsters, creatures of the old world and old ways, where the sacrificial math of one life for one life is perfectly valid. Ester’s looking for her missing kitten, and though it’s rather unfair of Greta to say Ester can’t even look after a kitten much less a baby, luring Ester to a place of dark birth magic doesn’t seem like the kindest lesson.

Another short that happens to be well-shot but whose storyline is near-inexplicable, Others Like You peels back the layers of women’s Horror, that deep desperate pain and emptiness of childlessness. Very much like the movie Grace with its eternal question of, ‘How far would you go for your children?’, the short adds its own dark European magickal twist that may send even the strongest advocates of The Handmaids Tale running away in disgust!

Portland Horror Film Festival 2017: Short-Length Horror Shorts Part 2

Posted in Action, comedy, drama, Fantasy, horror, Movies, Romance, Sci-Fi, suspense with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 21, 2017 by aliciamovie

header

‘Blackbird’

Country: UK

Director: Tim Fellingham & Charlotte Stente Nielsen

Review Rating: 7 out of 10

What happens when the one you think is your savior, turns out to have been your tormentor all along? Here on a lonely stretch of nowhere, a man with a concussion and severe memory loss, apparently from getting tossed from his motorcycle, goes to save a runaway maiden in a nightgown. The both of them hole up together trying to figure out what they’re running from, and through a series of dreams and flashbacks and one horrible “gotcha!” moment involving a blackbird tattoo, discover they really do know each-other, a little too well for either ones comfort.

The use of Memento-like timelines and flashbacks can be perfectly fine, but I thought a little too much emphasis was placed on atmosphere and not enough on the story itself. If a movie, either short or feature-length, has only two actors in it, it is very likely that the villain is one of them; it kind of lessens the potential shock value. Nevertheless, should the story be expanded, the short could have real potential.

‘The Dark Hunger’

Country: USA

Director: Anthony Williams

Review Rating: 8 out of 10

What to do when one discovers a supernatural cannibal terrorizing your neighborhood? No calling in the CIA or some paranormal equivalent, no, some sort of mafia-like gang kidnaps the man they call Dead Fred and stick him in a cell, to be fed their enemies. Because Dead Fred is a full cannibal and always cleans his plate, so there’s no evidence left behind. And when we meet up with our cannibal hero, it looks like he’s been enduring this setup for awhile.  His Dark Passenger, the actual cannibal vampire in his skull with the awesome deep voice, is content to stay in prison so long as the captors keep feeding it, but Fred has other ideas. Despite that not actually being his real name, Dead Fred decides to embrace the pseudonym and make a deal with his Dark Passenger to get out of this prison and find the man at the top, the real mastermind monster who put Fred here in the first place!

It’s never easy to combine a supernatural element with an attempt at Hannibal Lecter-like characters, and yet somehow The Dark Hunger manages it nicely. The short reads like a trailer for a film that I would certainly watch, and I sincerely wished the short was one of the longer short films, so I could pretend it was a movie. With even some of the better notes of 30 Days of Night thrown in, The Dark Hunger should make Director Williams an up-and-comer worthy of keeping an eye on.

‘Chateau Sauvignon: Terroir’

Country: USA

Director: David E. Munz-Maire

Review Rating: 7.5 out of 10 

If you could ever imagine what a winery run by Children of the Corn would be like, then the Chateau Sauvignon is for you. The stark landscape, dead animal skulls and eerie wine-making equipment that looks suspiciously like butchery pressings all serve to provide an atmosphere that screams Horror. And almost immediately, it turns out, the vitner equipment really does still make wine for the tourists and all, but is also being used in the butchery of at least some of those tourists, to keep Mom alive. (Whether Mom is a zombie, some kind of vampire, cannibal or anything else, is unclear.) But the meat juice is beginning to run out, Son is becoming concerned, and Dad is just trying to hold everything together, despite Moms condition. Two new tourists have come late to the winery and Son wants to give them the full tour, no matter what Dad says – here sample some of our wine, over here is some of the processes we use to make our vintages, and by the way, your son is a jackass, here’s a glass pouring beaker shoved into your skull. Because Mom needs to be fed, and wine isn’t cutting it anymore.

A very fine short, all kinds of atmospheric and moody, though I would have liked to have a bit more to the story. What kind of creature is Mom now, how did she get this way, what happens to all of them when the meat juice finally runs out? Perhaps for the next series of Horror shorts from Director Munz-Maire, or, he could turn the whole thing into a feature-length jaunt – I would watch it.

‘Death Metal’

Country: USA

Director: Chris McInroy

Review Rating: 7 out of 10

Dude man, I get you, hail Satan and Metal is God and all that, you bet. But if you’re handed Grand-dad’s axe (as in guitar), that he supposedly got from the Dark Prince himself, along with three important rules to follow when using it, you’d want to adhere to them and be respectful wouldn’t you? It doesn’t seem as though frustrated metal-head Lars gives two damns about any of that, and immediately goes off to break all three rules jamming in the afternoon at the park on the axe. Is it any wonder that the axe-head breaks off from the rest of the guitar and goes hog-wild?

I saw Lars and his dumbassery at another Horror film festival and thought it was hilarious then, as now. It’s always so cute to see the Metalheads tossing the horns and headbanging for all they’re worth, because of course Satan’s all kinds of into that. Just never forget, Lucifer has a very wicked sense of humor, too.

‘As They Continue to Fall’

Country: USA

Director: Nikhil Bhagat

Review Rating: 8 out of 10

Whether you’re a fan of the Prophecy series, or saw the film Legion and the short-lived Syfy show it spawned, Dominion, Angels are fairly well-known these days as something other than the be-winged halo’d bringers of light and Gods love. What we have here is the somewhat now-familiar trope of the hobo hero hunting bad guys, in this case actual Angels, and it must be said, doing a fair job of it. From the looks of the feather trophies that line his coat, keeping him warm, our hobo hero is no-one to be trifled with. (Because really, depending upon which hierarchy of Angel you’re fighting, you could strap a nuke to the Angelic type and he’d laugh at you.) Our hobo hero has been dealing with Angelic visions all his life, but now after the apparent end of the world, has taken to hunting them down with vim and vigor. And who could blame him? What is an Angel, after all, but another Devil just waiting to fall?

Many of the minds who worked on this short have made major names for themselves elsewhere (Sinister, Deus Ex, The Thing, the NBC TV show Dracula, to name only a few), and they managed to cobble together a short awesome to watch. The future dystopian world where our hobo hero hunts Angels is clear and perfectly understandable, while much is still left open to audience interpretation and judgment, and in building a world like this, that is what we would prefer.