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Unfriended (2014)

Director: Levan Gabriadze
Starring. Heather Sossaman, Matthew Bohrer, Shelly Hennig, Moses Storm, Jacob Wysocki. USA. 1h 23m

Just when you thought it was safe to turn on your pc and bitch about your dead class mates.. think again mofos! Unfriended is a modern found footage desktop horror. A group of friends are chatting together online when their dead “friends’” account comes online and starts terrorising them both on and offline, with the threat that if they close the chat then they die, but staying in the group chat doesn’t change their fate either they are stuck between a rock and a hard place and forced to sit back and watch each others demise, but they get to view the disgusting violent ends of their BBF instead.

It’s the anniversary of Laura Barns suicide, a year to the day she committed suicide after a video of her passing out and crapping herself at a party went viral. On this tragic anniversary her former best friend Blaire enters a skype chat with her boyfriend and some of her close friends but when Laura’s facebook account starts sending messages they expect that someone in the group is pranking them. One by one each of the teens are outed on social media and then begin to act strange and appear to kill themselves, has Laura come back for revenge?

Well it’s so obvious what’s going on here, it’s pretty easy to work out who leaked the video and who’s back for her revenge, the only expectations are the slayings and they are pretty silly, one girl drinks some bleach, which is plausible, as she was skyping from the laundry room, another guy just happens to have a blender in his bedroom and finds a way of using that off himself. A blender? I don’t even have one to hand in my kitchen I keep it in a cupboard, is that weird?

The idea is pure gold, using social media as a tool for a found footage basis is something that really awoke the genre again and I think that’s what got a lot of bums on seats in the cinema, but the payoff was just lousy,  it’s hard to feel afraid when you’ve personally not encouraged someone to kill themselves so really the audience were routing for the dead chick, but with a year of planning she coulda come up with something a bit more elaborate, I’d wanna make em suffer bwhahaahaaa!

It’s quite a familiar scene, teen faces looking down their webcam in a group chat on Skype and/or DMing each other on facebook, but when things start to go awry usually you just turn it off and put on a movie, call an adult or something right? These teens didn’t even work out how to go live or work out a neat hashtag for their night of bloody carnage. #allmyfriendsaredying  #shoudlaneveruploadedthatvideo #godgaveusrockandroll. In terms of the movie being an experiment of a real time online horror it could have worked better as a live “game” experience, but in the terms of a movie which is limited to mobile and laptop of the main characters also limits the audience’s depth of perception and attention. It would have been cool if you could have dialled in on your mobile while the film was on to “tune in” to some of the action.. not there’s an idea!!

Let’s hope that lessons have been learnt for the upcoming sequel, and I hope that we all know that cyberbullying is bad.. ok..

Rating 3/10

RUnfriended : Dark Web (2018), Friend Request (2017), E-Demon (2018), Truth or Dare (2018), Dark Summer (2015)
L – A-Z of Found Footage Movies, Cyber Found Footage Movies
A – How believable does horror have to be?

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Gehenna: Where Death Lives (2016)

Director: Hiroshi Katagiri
Starring: Eva Swan, Sean Sprawling, Katherine Taylor, Simon Philips, Doug Jones, Lance Henriksen. USA/ Japan. 1h 45m

Katagiri’s feature length debut opens up with an embellished biblical quote from Matthew 18:9, but instead of casting your eye into hell fire, the word is changed for Gehenna, this cuts away for a group of natives performing a ritual involved cutting off a mans face and walling him up in a cave.
After the bloodshed, the film cuts to a pristine office, where Morgan (Henriksen) speaks with his daughter about checking out a new spot in Saipan, the family business is tied with tourism and they have acquired a new piece of land which Paulina (Swan) is determined to check out as she’s planning on taking over the family business soon, this is all you’ll see of Henriksen so don’t get your hopes up Henny fans.

Continue reading Gehenna: Where Death Lives (2016)

E-Demon (2018)

Director: Jeremy Wechter
Starring: Julia Kelly, John Anthony Wylliams, Christopher Daftsios.  USA. 1h 26m

It’s quite easy to simply explain this movie as being a demonic indie version of Unfriended (2014) but that would be doing it a disservice as it’s actually better than unfriended, not only is the creepy atmosphere more enhanced it has much better setups to it’s more shocking moments.

Launching with a masked figure warning us about “certain events”and truths that have to be exposed to the public, an  Anonymous style broadcast is a stark warning from the E Demon Resistance that opens with a group of friends start a routine web chat, and start to enact their favourite past times which is basically pranking each other which they lightheartedly called “getting freaked”.  The first uber elaborate prank involved a young man speaking with his grandmother who warns him about a haunted trunk and witchcraft. He proceeds to go into the loft where he has opened the trunk and starts to perform a ritual which results in him releasing a deviously clever demon that had been trapped for centuries in Salem, Massachusetts. Continue reading E-Demon (2018)

Unsane (2018)

Director: Steven Soderbergh
Starring. Claire Foy, Joshua Leonard, Jay Pharoah, Juno Temple. USA. 1h 38m

Everything about the opening of this movie is just dull and unassuming, which is a risky and dangerous move from director Steven Soderbergh, luckily it doesn’t last too long. While introducing the lead, Sawyer (Foy), we learn just how mundane her life is, the faceless office worker, who suffers all the nagging and office politics as the rest of us, she eats lunch while skyping her disapproving mother and later hooks up with a (not tinder) date, but after taking him back to her place with no strings attached sex, she freaks out thinking that he’s her stalker and the film re opens with her talking to a therapist.

We start to learn that Sawyer has been running away from an unknown stalker, hiring professionals (Matt Damon) to secure her routes to work, protect her personal details etc., but simultaneously we are also privy to the idea that she might be suffering from delusions and that the stalker is a fabrication of her overactive and vivid imagination, Unfortunately at this point in the movie she accidently signs herself into a psychiatric ward for observations, and for the rest of the film we, alongside her have to try and piece together just how sane or unsane she really is. Continue reading Unsane (2018)

Mandy (2018)

Director: Panos Cosmatos
Starring: Nicholas Cage, Andrea Riseborough, Linus Roache, Ned Dennehy Olwen Fouere, Richard Brake, Bill Duke. USA. 2h 1m

Cosmastos seems obsessed with 1983, where his previous movie was also set, is there a parallel here? Same year with possible answers to Professor Arboria’s mystic drug… but nothing is laid out in a straightforward way, he keeps the viewer guessing about what is real and what might just be fantasy, eventually your not sure what you believe in anymore, questions are raised especially about the drugs involved and at times this film really pushes the envelope. Continue reading Mandy (2018)

Fat City (1972)

Director: John Huston . Based on Fat City by Leonard Gardner
Starring. Stacey Keach, Jeff Bridges, Susan Tyrell, USA. 1h 36m.

There’s something magical about John Huston’s Fat City. I’m not sure if it’s the relatable characters, which are more realistic than cinema usually allows, or the detailed social dissection  by the masterful Huston himself. For years I had overlooked this believing it just is another poor relation to Rocky, but in fact it’s the opposite way around. I have always adored the Rocky story that eventually turned into an epic Saga which is still going 40 years later, a man with true grit and determination, rising up to great heights to live the American Dream and fighting with a true heart… Continue reading Fat City (1972)

The Meg (2018)

Director: Jon Turteltaub.
Based on: Steve Alten
Starring. Jason Statham, a giant fish, some other people. USA. 1h 52m.

Opening mid disaster was probably a good idea for this film cos that’s what it turned into. I was so psyched for a new Jaws (1975), and it’s impossible for me to see this as anything else. Don’t get me wrong I wasn’t expecting it to be similar in anyway but I was hoping for a new quality shark horror movie that wasn’t just another Sharknado (2013). But this lackluster adventure, is only just above par for a Sharknado movie for me and i was greatly disappointed on so many levels, but it did have some charm, what’s not to like about a cheesy thriller with a jumbo sized shark, suitable for 12 year olds with a theme tune of Hey Mickey in Filipino!? Continue reading The Meg (2018)

Joel (2018)

Director: John R. Hand
Starring: Arnold Odo, Fernando Cano, Bri Bynon. . USA . 1h 25m

A majority of serial killer movies are based on a few well known names, which can get repetitive as directors try their socks off to make an impressive, accurate and daring movie. Sadly most of them are total rubbish, missing the point,going off key missing out important details and even fabricating events.

But in all honesty films about serial killers will never really be what the die hard enthusiasts are looking for because those insensitive details are not cinema friendly. Most of the time the killers have been executed and promoting their ideals and theologies just don’t make the cut, but in the case of Joel Rifkin (Odo), the New York Ripper, there’s so much more opportunity to make a really in depth study about the incarcerated killer and it was totally missed here. Joel is still with us and has executed some really detailed and personal interviews where he expresses more about himself and the murders he committed than his movie does. Continue reading Joel (2018)

First Reformed (2017)

Director: Paul Schrader.
Starring. Ethan Hawke, Amanda Seyfried, Cedric the Entertainer, Michael Gaston, Victoria Hill, Philip Ettinger. USA. 1h 48m.

It hasn’t been that long since we saw Ethan  Hawke play a slightly different priest in the terrifying horror Regression (2015), alongside the talented Emma Watson. In First Reformed he returns, not as the same character,  but a totally different priest, a broken man who’s suffering from stress, loss of his son and the drastic effects of alcoholism while facing the void he experiences a spiritual and psychological crisis, one that he can only deal with slowly and in his own stunning and slightly confusing way.

The film opens with Reverend Toller (Hawke) writing down his thoughts in a journal, declaring that he’s going to keep the journal for 1 year then destroy it. He’s the head of  First Reformed, a 250 year old Dutch Reformed Church in Snowbridge New York. Like many churches in the area it faces dwindling attendances but receives support from a nearby “megachurch” who own and care for the historical landmark which has a special place in history as it was a stop on the Underground Railroad. Continue reading First Reformed (2017)

Warlock (1989)

Director: Steve Miner
Starring: Julian Sands, Lori Singer, Richard E Grant . USA . 1h 43m

The beauty about Warlock is the links to folklore and the sharp dressed bas ass warlock played by Julian Sands and the uber charismatic Richard E Grant as the hunter. Both Brits have amazing screen presence but were able to empower their own characters while not overshadowing each other.

David Twohy has first conceived a story about a witch being persecuted during the crazed 17th Century and was seeking revenge but the film developed into some more sinister as the writing progressed, instead of take down and revenge, we just have a evil mastermind obsessed with releasing Satan onto the earth. Continue reading Warlock (1989)