Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Laid to Rest (2009)

Laid to Rest (2009) Written and Directed by Robert Hall

A terrifying story of a young girl who wakes up in a casket with a traumatic head injury and no memory of her identity. She quickly realizes she was abducted by a Deranged Serial Murderer and in an isolated rural town she must survive the night and outsmart the technologically inclined killer who is hellbent on finishing what he started. Written by Anonymous at IMDB.com

I have been extremely unimpressed with the slasher genre as of late. Part of it is due to the continues remakes from the 70's and 80's, and part of it due to the lack of creativity in not only the killer but the reuse of similar death scenes as films that came before them. With the except of the insanely fun Hatchet movies, I haven't enjoyed more than a handful of slasher films in the last two to three years. With that said, Laid to Rest is not one of those crappy films. I had heard whispered words of people impressed by Hall's film in the horror world, but I had never experienced it for myself until last night. I must admit I was pleasantly surprised not only by the creativity of the idea, but with the execution as well.

The acting in L2R was done exceptionally well by a very diverse cast of people. From Lena Headey (The Sarah Conner Chronicles) and her co-star Thomas Dekker to upcoming star Lucas Till (of the Hannah Montana Movie, haha). Veteran Actor Kevin Gage (Kill Theory, Strangeland) rounds out the cast, adding experience and emotion to the film. Even though everyone was essentially expendable, I never got that feeling from any of the characters. I was able to find something in all of them that actually made me want them to live. I think Nick Principe as Chrome Skull really helped with that, as his perform was memorable without even seeing his face. Chrome Skull is really just a character that no one wants to like at all, and much like his slasher predecessors he is relentless and not easy to kill.

Having seen one of Hall's previous films, Lightning Bug, I thought I knew what to expect from Laid to Rest, but Robert Hall has managed to amaze me. That doesn't happen very often but it surely did with this film. He has managed to create an intense villain without making a carbon copy of a killer from before, and I applaud him for it. Everything from the slight music to the unique camera angles, and not overusing the handheld camera shots was all done nearly to perfection. I look forward to much more from Mr. Hall in the next decade.

I absolutely loved the film overall, but I do have one negative thing to say before I go on with the Hall ego boost. The writing/story fell short in a few places if you ask me. Most of it was pretty linear in layout and didn't offer much for a back story for Chrome Skull. It is forgivable in this instance because I know that he has confirmed he is doing a sequel (which may be a little far fetched)and a prequel, which I think would be badass. I kept trying to find a motive as to why Chrome Skull was doing the things he was doing. I mean Jason was retarded and wanted revenge for his brother, Michael was clearly upset for being institutionalized (oh and psychotic), and Freddy wanted revenge on the people who killed him. Chrome Skull doesn't seem to have much motivation in to his technologically advanced way of killing. He films everything, and even mounts a camera on his shoulder to look like a Predator, but it is never really explained why he does it. There is some story line stuff as to why he is killing those particular people, but even that is a little bit of a grey area. That being said, Laid to Rest was INSANELY fun, and I can't wait to check out the sequel and the prequel. With an extensive background in special effects and make up, Robert Hall offers gory spectacle for the eyes that should not be missed. I say it is a must buy.

Entertainment Value: 8/10 Handheld Cameras
Cinematic Value: 8/10 Handheld Cameras

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Dead Hooker In A Trunk (2009)

Dead Hooker In A Trunk (2009)

Written by, Directed by, and Starring Jen and Sylvia Soska.

Set in beautiful Vancouver, four friends set out on an everyday errand and end up in a fight for their lives when they discover the body of a dead hooker left in their trunk...

DHIAT was ridiculous, repulsive, retarded, and I loved every minute of it! I truly mean all of those things in the nicest manner possible. I really got the great feeling of a film being shot by friends. I didn't really know what to expect going into the film, with it's mixed reviews and all, but I was pleasantly surprised.

The acting in the film really bounces around from here to there, but managed to stay above par, and the characters created are definitely interesting enough to engage me as a viewer from start to finish. The black and white contrast between the sisters was crucial to the story of the film, and involved a lot of playing off each other. One as the geek, and one as the badass is used quite a bit, but is also needed at a starting point for character development for DHIAT. Separate elements of the story are brought together when the sisters converge, and chaos ensues. The characters I enjoyed the most were actually the supporting cast. Rikki Gagne (Junkie) and C.J. Wallis (Goody Two-Shoes) really stole the show. The carried the comedic element of the film, and acted as the glue that kept the show together. I was happy to see newcomer C.J. Wallis in such a strong (and hilarious) role, and to watch his progression from the Goody Two-Shoes in to a character making decisions he previously wouldn't. Essentially watching him go from a boy to a man, including his persuit of the geek. From the Soskas to the Cowboy Pimp to the Priest, the cast of DHIAT was definitely its strong suit.

I felt the film itself was very well put together, and I could see the slightest bit of experience. Unique camera angles and well choreographed action sequences really drove the film experience. Some of the dialogue felt a little bit forced and some felt like improv, but if I were to pick any weak points in the film, that would be it. It was hard to take some of the more serious moments well... serious, but it didn't take away from the great display of filmmaking. Some of the action sequences had me laughing hysterically just thinking about seemingly normal people performing martial arts maneuvers. The part that was the most over the top was the gore, and I don't mean that in a bad way, as some of it was actually realistic, but when they wanted to be gory, it gave you everything it was worth from disembowelment to pulling teeth. DHIAT will keep you guessing from start to finish and I guarantee you will not always be able to tell what is going to happen next. Great pacing, a great story, and enjoyable characters make this film a must own for lovers of the horror and action genres. The Soskas prove that it doesn't take a large budget to make an enjoyable action film.

Entertainment Value: 8/10 Dead Hookers In A Trunk
Cinematic Value: 7/10 Dead Hookers In A Trunk

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Altitude (2010) quick review

Altitude (2010) Dir. by Kaare Andrews

After a mysterious malfunction sends their small plane climbing out of control, a rookie pilot and her four teenage friends find themselves trapped in a deadly showdown with a supernatural force.

I had heard many things about this film before viewing it. Some of the were bad, some of them were good, but I still didn't know what to expect from Kaare Andrew's feature film debut. I knew that Andrews was an award winning comic book artist, and that he had done a number of short films before Altitude, but I still went in pretty blindly.

The main characters, played by Jessica Lowndes, Julianna Guill, Ryan Donowho, Landon Liboiron, and Jake Weary all did an extremely good job although their characters were very stereotypical and lacked much depth. With the exception of Jessica Lowndes as Sara, as I was extremely surprised by her performance.

Without going in to too much about the film, which could be easily ruined if I say one wrong thing, the film is messed up. I liked it though, as it played out like much of my nightmares, haha. The film itself is done really really well, and Andrews knows what he is doing behind the camera for a rookie director. It got a little ridiculous towards the end, but the action, camera shots, and overall above par CG kept me engaged. I thoroughly enjoyed Altitude, and I can't wait to see what Andrews comes up with next.

Entertainment Value: 8/10 mysterious tenticles
Cinematic Value: 8/10 mysterious tenticles

Monday, February 14, 2011

After.Life (2009)

After.Life (2009) Dir. by Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo

A young woman caught between life and death... and a funeral director who appears to have the gift of transitioning the dead, but might just be intent on burying her alive.

Wojtowicz-Vosloo's feature film debut is not something worth spending a great deal on. I had high hopes for After.Life, but it didn't exactly live up to my expectations. There were spots of the film that showed promise, but most of it otherwise felt like a softcore porn with Christina Ricci as a dead girl, and Liam Neeson as man who can talk to the dead. The film is never clear about much of anything, and ends with the same feelings. I have had more questions answered on an episode of "Lost".

Liam is as good as he can be as a character without any depth, or really strong presence in the film. Justin Long did have a surprisingly good performance in a semi-serious role for once. That much I was impressed with. Christina Ricci was just as bland as she usually is, just walking around naked for a good portion of the film. I know, I know, I'm a guy and not supposed to be complaining, but I can get the same thing from a late night Cinemax film, and get more story too. SPOILER*** Then there is the kid who has the same gift as Liam Neeson, but they try really hard (not really) to conceal it for a big reveal later in the film.

Mediocre acting, dreary bland music, VERY predictable storyline and ending, and Christina Ricci's boobs (who hasn't seen them) are all you will get out of After.Life. I don't say this about a lot of movies, but after this one, I would strongly suggest skipping this film. I hope Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo has a better outing with his next film

Entertainment Value: 3/10 Morgue Slabs
Cinematic Value: 4/10 Morgue Slabs

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Results for 2011 Drive-In Horror Awards!

2011 Drive-In Horror Awards!

It has been a long month, and I'm sure no one has stressed over it, but the voting has been up for a few days, and the results are in. It is time to congratulate the 2011 Drive-In Horror Award Winners!

Best Indie Horror Film of 2010 goes to:

The Commune (Directed by Elizabeth Fies)

The Commune won in pulverizing fashion over the competition with 69% of the votes!, but coming in the closest spot was Dead Hooker In A Trunk from the Soska Twins.

Best Horror Actress of 2010 goes to:

Milla Jovovich (Resident Evil: Afterlife)

Milla won with 32% of the votes.

Best Horror Actor of 2010 goes to:

Dieter Laser (The Human Centipede)

Dieter won with 36% of the votes.

Best Horror Director of 2010 goes to:

Adam Green (Frozen)

Adam barely won with 26% of the votes over Daniel Stamm (The Last Exorcism) and Matt Reeves (Let Me In)

and the Best Horror Film of 2010 goes to: (not a good start to the first awards but we have a tie!)

The Last Exorcism and Let Me In (tie with 29%)

I will say that from what I have seen, both films are well deserving of the award and I happen to think that them sharing the top spot in the first annual Dead End Drive-In Awards.

This was still a learning process for me, and I will take any and all comments in to consideration. Thank you to everyone who helped, and I look forward to 2011 being just as big if not bigger of a year for horror, and hopefully lead to an even better award post of 2012. Now if you haven't seen any of these films, I suggest you do so now!

Best Horror Actor of 2010 goes to:

Monday, February 7, 2011

Submit your Script!!!

I received an email a few days ago from Joe Bob Briggs assistant, and I was instantly excited. This is the man that gave birth to my love for horror. TNT Monstervision is almost solely responsible for my love for horror movies. So I have I already worked on sending my scripts along, but I wanted to share this with all my fellow writers our there in case they want to do it as well.

Joe Bob Briggs, the world’s first and foremost drive-in movie critic, has founded his own movie studio, and he’s buying scripts for development. We'll read any genre, but we're especially looking for horror. No need to query first, and there's no limit on how many scripts you can submit. Send scripts as a PDF to scripts@joebobbriggs.com. Questions? Check out our FAQ at http://www.joebobbriggs.com.

Any genre, but especially horror. Producing 10 films in the next 18 months. Once again, No need to query first. No limit on how many scripts you can submit. Send scripts... as a PDF to scripts@joebobbriggs.com.See More