Showing posts with label film festival. Show all posts
Showing posts with label film festival. Show all posts

17 May 2015

Dead by Dawn 2015 Review - Ava's Possessions (2015)

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Horror, Sci-fi, Thriller
Distributor: TBC
2015 Dead By Dawn (UK)
Release Date: TBC
Rating: 15
Jordan Galland
Carol Kane, Dan Fogler, Jemima Kirke, Lou Taylor Pucci

The exorcism sub-genre has successfully stood its ground time and time again in every mode of the horror genre, so it’s a tough place to make your voice heard. Even then, Jordan Galland’s Ava’s Possessions is an absolute treat, not least because there seems to be a lack of post-exorcism films. Ava (Louisa Krause) is a young and beautiful girl who’s just been exorcised after a month of demon-fuelled mayhem. Agreeing to sign on with a support group for other people like her, Ava sets about atoning for her digressions, coming to terms with her benign other half, and unravelling the mystery of what happened to her.

Once the film starts, Galland quickly gets us on board, mixing his demonic PTS with staunch referencing, vibrant colouring, and a wicked sense of humour. The result is a Day-Glo package of horror goodies that might be camp as Christmas, but still has the balls to bite. Krause makes a splendid lead keeping a tight rein on Ava’s fluctuating personality and dark dark turns. Imagine Linda Blair going full-Cage for a demonic Bad Lieutenant and you’re getting closer to Ava’s Possessions. It’s a truly remarkable experiment in horror.

As with any experiment in horror, there might not be enough spooks and shade to keep genre-racists at bay, Ava’s Possessions is its own beast and doesn’t take kindly to shoehorning. Galland is an obvious fan of horror films, but he has no interest in recreating the gloomy nihilism of classic possession stories. Instead he exploits every facet of his script visually to ensure it’s a magnificent spectacle for any audience: a piece of possession pop art dripping with colour and an awareness of what its audience has seen and wants to see.

Like any great story, the film starts with the pieces scattered and shattered, confusingly, ominously out of reach. Like 13 Sins last year, Dead by Dawn 2015 has its twisting adventure: a moral sink-hole where characters and audience swirl until liberated by the crushing tide of familial secrets and spiritual danger. But the facts of the plot aren’t the only nostalgic endeavours. A fantastic, varied, and magnetic cast of genre regulars, and outright watchables, (William Saddler and Deborah Rush) pins Ava to the board of credibility in a rabid attempt at ensuring our engagement.

Whether or not Galland is a horror fan is totally irrelevant since the genre will only survive in the hands of people who have the audacity to change it, rather than releasing films that, though void of originals, are still really just remakes. Ava’s Possessions is a fresh-faced triumph and one of the most vibrant genre experiences you’ll have this year.

Scott Clark

Ava's Possessions (2015) Official Teaser Trailer from Jordan Galland on Vimeo.

6 March 2015

GFF2015 Review - Tales Of The Grim Sleeper (2015)

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Shear Entertainment
Rating: 15
Glasgow Film Festival
Nick Bromfield
Pam Brooks

In 2010 Lonnie Franklin Jr was arrested for the crimes of the so-called ‘Grim Sleeper’, a serial killer active in downtown LA since the early 80’s. His capture came after 25 years of botched investigations and public outcry, his moniker awarded due to the Sleeper’s apparent habit of killing only once every few years. The moniker, like the investigation, is a fallacy and Franklin Jr is now thought to be responsible for well over a hundred disappearances. Nick Broomfield reveals the truth behind the case in his latest documentary Tales of the Grim Sleeper

Broomfield continues to be one of the legends of contemporary documentary filmmaking because he is continually content to throw himself into subject matter that most would find uncomfortable. But he seems so at ease yet never laid back, so sharp in his questioning but never confrontational. His monotonous tones slide their way around fields of venture alien to the vast majority. His work with serial killer Aileen Wuornos picks out the blatant sexism of American justice, but also the total disregard shown for sex workers. Its in Tales of the Grim Sleeper that Broomfield has perhaps provided the best canvas for issues of sexism, race, and class. His is, more than ever, a supporting voice in the plight of those shoehorned into the fringes of society.

At the very least, there is an attempt to highlight sex work as a site of gross cultural apathy, for Broomfield finds himself at the heart of a story as-of-yet shockingly untold. The police have, for years, danced around the concrete facts of the case (A, that there was a serial killer, and B that the public needed to know) so Tales of the Grim Sleeper appears to be the first full account of what has happened. Frankly it’s disturbing, but not surprising, that the white-run LAPD have never given as varied, in-depth, and honest an account as this. Broomfield minimises issues around his own role, as white alien, by minimising the white voices in the film and letting the story play out courtesy of those who have lived it. An unflinching respect for the black community of LA paired with an unspoken disregard for the bureaucracy that permitted a 25 year reign of terror make this an acidic and astute piece of filmmaking.

Between the blatant racism of American police and the homogenized sexism of one of LA’s poorest areas, Broomfield’s latest looks at the perfect storm which enabled the Grim Sleeper to kill unchallenged for a quarter century. Terrifying arresting viewing.

Scott Clark

GFF 2015 - Man From Reno (2014)

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Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Glagow Film Festival
Rating: 15
Dave Boyle
Ayako Fujitani, Pepe Serna, Kazuki Kitamura,

One night, after hitting an unidentified Japanese man with his car, Sherriff Del Moral (Pepe Serna) stumbles on a mysterious case that leads him to San Francisco. There, author Aki Akahori (Ayako Fujitani) has fled Tokyo and after enjoying a brief fling with a mysterious stranger, is thrust into the very same case. Dave Boyle’s Man from Reno keeps threatening to be a dark (at least consistently serious) film pulling on film noir inspirations and pulp paperback detective stories, but it never quite gets there.

The humour is off, sometimes far too dry, others far too silly, considering the story, but then, there’s another issue. The story, in attempts to achieve the kind of ludicrous twisting narrative of the noir thriller, loses itself too many times. It delves in deeper and deeper but doesn’t manage to drag us with any great zeal. Though, one of the most interesting things about Man from Reno is its array of zany multinational characters who, though sometimes jarring, are often enjoyable. Unfortunately its array of strange characters are left in a pile somewhere out of sight, its story hopelessly convoluted and confused by too many characters and not enough intrigue. There is some success in Kazuki Kitamura’s portrayal of a handsome stranger and Serna’s wily old cop, but even when those two characters eventually meet, it’s unfortunately underwhelming.

The humour along with the mix of genre templates is surprisingly uninvolving. The darker streaks work best when married with a significant amount of mystery, but the humour inevitably sinks the boat. Del Moral’s investigation really pulls you in, but is thrown overboard by a middling and distracted story of author melodrama. This is a mixed pot that’s trying far too hard to achieve a type of story usually marked by shameless nonchalance.

Moments of gorgeous noir cinematography are few and far between in the glorified melodrama of Man from Reno. Viewers will be split by which side of the plot they enjoy more, but as a whole this isnt quite there.

Scott Clark

26 January 2015

Sundance 2015 Review - The Witch (2015)

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Rating: TBC
Suncance 2015
Rober Eggers
Kate Dickie, Julian Richings, Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson

Robert Eggers debut feature as writer/director, The Witch, is the kind of abstract horror feature that can either flounder in monotony or champion a kind of folk-tale methodology rarely seen.

Announcing itself ‘A New England Folk Tale’ the feature goes on to tell the story of a colonial family who, upon exile from plantation life, take up residence on the edge of a New England forest, to live the Godly life. Tensions climb and emotions blaze after the youngest of the family disappears from the would-be idyllic farm, eyes fall on and from there…it doesn’t get much better.

Eggers has carefully built an incredibly uncomfortable piece of film that effortlessly strolls through horror drama with the skill and acute control of an intimate theatre production. Carefully chosen iconography from the history of witchcraft, along with a kind of infectious condemnation borrowed from The Crucible, keeps the atmosphere grim as Hell. Select images, sporadically introduced, induce an air of panic and mystery in the viewer, planting us in the position of horrified onlooker. Dark caves, bloody apples, towering trees of charcoal black, dark and degrading monstrous doings. It’s a treasure trove of Gothic imagery.

Jarin Blaschke’s palette of miserable greys does much of the films work, ensuring that whenever dull sticky reds appear, they make you feel nauseous. Every shot is loaded, every performance pitch-perfect. Particularly Kate Dickie and Ralph Ineson who threaten to steal the show at every turn with a chemistry as tangible as the atmosphere itself. Seriously, Dickie is fantastic as the puritanical grieving mother, delivering a matronly performance that parallels her fantastic work in For Those in Peril, whilst Ineson’s overbearing turn becomes bolder and bolder with every scene that passes.

Incredibly evocative filmmaking, dark, mystic, horrifying, stunning, The Witch is a feature all by itself. Dickie and Ineson impress with towering performances, Egger promises a talent to look out for, and Blaschke just about instigates a nervous breakdown with intense visual control. And that’s without mentioning the invasively boisterous score.

Scott Clark

Sundance 2015 Review - It Follows (2015)

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21 January 2014

Hidden Secrets, Evil Cults And Sweet Revenge, 2014 Film 4 Glasgow Frightfest Line Up Revealed!

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Film4 FrightFest Glasgow 2014 announces 4 day event to include eight World, European and UK premieres, Ti West special event and Sunday repeat screenings in biggest programme ever.

From Thursday Feb 27 to Sunday March 2, the UK’s favourite horror fantasy festival returns to its second home at the Glasgow Film Festival for the 9th year with an impressive slate of the hottest new horror films.

Welcome to a long weekend of wonderful weirdness as Film4 FrightFest Glasgow enters a world of, gritty serial killers, stark staring horror, comic book thrills and spills, favourite maniacs, sci-fi delirium, doc shock and mind-bending mystery.

Some of FrightFest’s favourite filmmakers take centre-stage this year, including Ti West, who has teamed up with producer Eli Roth for the cult of the damned shocker THE SACRAMENT. As well as screening the film, FrightFest’s Alan Jones will be talking to Ti at a special presentation on Thursday February 27 at the GFT Screen 2.

 FrightFest also welcomes director Jake West and producer Marc Morris, who will be  introducing the world premiere ofVIDEO NASTIES: DRACONIAN DAYS, their sequel to the critically acclaimed VIDEO NASTIES: MORAL PANIC, CENSORSHIP & VIDEOTAPE documentary. It promises to provide even more engaging knowledge and sobering insight into the heinous blot on 1980s film culture. The screening will be followed by a (no doubt) lively panel discussion.

FrightFest is also hosting the world premiere of THE SCRIBBLER, based on Dan Shaffer’s bestselling graphic novel featuring a super-hot cast. Director John Suits, producer of CHEAP THRILLS, will be in attendance.

As will Jordan Barker, director of the terrific sucker punch home invasion chiller TORMENT, starring Katharine Isabelle, which will receive its European premiere,

Also attending is Indiana writer/director Zack Parker, with the UK premiere of his extraordinary film PROXY, a daring and highly original chiller. Parker has slowly been building a following with INEXCHANGE, QUENCH and SCALENE and will be flying in from the USA to talk about his burgeoning career.

Other UK premieres on show are the bigger and wickeder WOLF CREEK 2 and KILLERS, a dark, twisted tale from the Mo Brothers duo of Kimo Stamboel and Timo Tjahjanto.  Then there are two highly impressive feature debuts - Cliff Prowse and Derek Lee’s AFFLICTED, a clever spin on the found-footage trend and Spanish director Jorge Dorado’s probing, twistyMINDSCAPE starring Mark Strong.

Plus there are Scottish premieres for the Sci-fi shocker ALMOST HUMAN directed by Joe Begos and director Michael S. Ojeda’s provocative and compelling SAVAGED.

Alan Jones, co-director, said today: “Connections and detections. That’s what Film4 FrightFest is essentially about at its core and it’s the prime focus of our ninth event at this year’s Glasgow Film Festival. It’s our epic fifteenth year in business as the UK’s leading horror fantasy festival and in that time we’ve launched a number of now well-known talents on the genre scene. So we thought it entirely appropriate to celebrate that fact at our much-loved Scottish home with a host of films from those filmmakers we have discovered, encouraged and promoted throughout the years”.

With surprises on screen and off, and the festival’s unique community feeling, FrightFest at the GFF has now become a must-attend occasion on the horror fantasy fan's calendar.

The full line-up

THURS 27 FEB – GFT Screen 2
21:00 IN CONVERSATION WITH TI WEST (Special event)
Nobody does nostalgia-brushed spookiness and minimalist horror like independent director Ti West, King of the slow-burn shocker. FrightFest has been there from the very start – our video label released his 2005 debut feature THE ROOST – and we’ve watched with pride as the Delaware-born quirky talent has grown in global genre stature through THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL, THE INNKEEPERS, V/H/S and now his game-changing Eli Roth produced THE SACRAMENT. Join us for this very special FrightFest event in which West will talk candidly to film critic and author Alan Jones about his extraordinary career, his influences and exciting future plans.

90 mins. Hosted by FrightFest’s Alan Jones 

FRI 28 FEB – GFT Screen 1

13:30  SAVAGED  (Scottish Premiere)
THE CROW meets I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE in a viciously gory supernatural shocker. Travelling across country to be with her fiancé, deaf mute Zoe (the entrancing Amanda Adrienne) stumbles on a horrific crime. Zoe’s brave attempt to intervene seals her fate; she's brutalized and left for dead. When an Indian shaman finds her clinging to life in a shallow grave he attempts to save her – but in the mystical process the spirit of an ancient Apache warrior enters her corpse hell-bent on revenge. But can she slaughter the men who attacked her in time before her body decomposes completely?

Director: Michael S. Ojeda  US 2013  95 mins  Cert 18
Cast: Amanda Adrienne, Tom Ardavany, Ronnie Gene Blevins

15:40 PROXY (UK Premiere)
Attacked and beaten by a hooded assailant after seeing her gynaecologist, pregnant Esther seeks consolation in a support group where she meets Melanie, a mother who lost a child. But nothing is as it appears in this intensely gripping chiller because one of these damaged women is a psychodrama queen, the other seriously deranged. However, which one is which and where to draw the line? Friendship and empathy between the two turns dangerous for both in an astonishing delve into perverse psychosis that’s part Brian de Palma, part Lars Von Trier, part MARTYRS yet all astonishing and disturbing original.

Director: Zack Parker  US 2013  120 mins  Cert 18
Cast: Alexia Rasmussen, Alexa Havins, Kristina Klebe

18:45  WOLF CREEK 2 (UK Premiere)
Mick Taylor is back with a few days to kill! Bolder, gorier and placed on a far bigger canvas than the original Ozploitation classic, star John Jarratt and director Greg McLean return with an even more twisted sequel that maintains the savagery and nerve-jangling tension, while dazzling further with a spectacular and surprising use of Down Under landscapes and fauna. Two arrogant cops, two unwitting German backpackers and a Good Samaritan British tourist become the prey for the crazed pig-shooting psycho as the outback becomes drenched in rivers of blood and his underground lair reveals even sicker secrets.

Director: Greg McLean  Australia 2013  107 mins  Cert 18
Cast: John Jarratt, Ryan Corr, Shannon Ashlyn

21:15  THE SACRAMENT (Scottish Premiere)
From the darkest imagination of indie poster boy Ti West, and produced by genre guru Eli Roth, comes THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL director’s freakiest chiller so far. Two reporters with a TV exposé show travel to a secret para-religious group to meet up with their fashion photographer friend’s sister, a reformed junkie, who credits turning her life around at the jungle-set Eden Parish commune run by the charismatic Father. Is the place a paradise on Earth free of cares, racism and stress? Or is it a sinister cult the news duo suspect? Hold on tight for suspenseful, jolting surprise.

Director: Ti West  US 2013 92 mins  Cert 18
Cast: Joe Swanberg, AJ Bowen, Amy Seimetz

23:30  AFFLICTED (UK Premiere)
Just when you’d thought the ‘found footage’ trend had snatched its final breath...up pops another stellar example to expose there still is untapped craftsmanship and creativity to be found in this fear-inducing format. The winner of the Best Special

Effects Award at the Sitges Fantasy Festival for its jaw-dropping visuals, two best friends see their world trip of a lifetime take a dark turn when one is struck by a mysterious illness that changes his metabolism making him superhuman. A clever spin on a classic scary story, dual-threat Cliff Prowse and Derek Lee make an impressive horror feature debut.

Directors: Cliff Prowse, Derek Lee  Canada/US 2013  86 mins  Cert 18
Cast: Cliff Prowse, Derek Lee, Edo Van Breeman

SAT 1 MARCH – GFT Screen 1
11:00  VIDEO NASTIES: DRACONIAN DAYS  (World Premiere)
The highly anticipated follow-up to their critically acclaimed VIDEO NASTIES: MORAL PANIC, CENSORSHIP & VIDEOTAPE documentary, director Jake West and producer Marc Morris continue uncovering the shocking story of home entertainment post the 1984 Video Recordings Act. A time when Britain plunged into a new Dark Age of the most restrictive censorship, where the horror movie became the bloody eviscerated victim of continuing dread created by self-aggrandizing moral guardians. With passionate and entertaining interviews from the people who lived through it and more jaw dropping archive footage, get ready to reflect and rejoice the passing of a landmark era.

Director: Jake West   UK 2014  80 mins  Cert 18

13:30  THE SCRIBBLER (World Premiere)
Based on writer artist Dan (DOGHOUSE) Shaffer’s celebrated graphic novel comes a thrilling blend of sci-fi action, film noir and mind-bending slasher.  Dealing with multiple-personality disorder, Suki moves into a halfway house for recently released mental patients. But residents are dying at an alarming rate in the facility as dissociative Suki undergoes an experimental procedure to cure her illness involving ‘The Siamese Burn’ machine designed to eliminate her unwanted identities. But she's losing time, and the machine is changing, doing something new, something that turns her world inside out and highlights the dangers of mechanical thinking in an organic world.

Director: John Suits  US 2014  88 mins  Cert 18
Cast: Katie Cassidy, Michelle Trachtenberg, Eliza Dushku

16:00 TORMENT (European Premiere)
 Newlyweds Cory and Sarah Morgan head to the country for some much-needed family time where they hope Liam, Cory’s struggling 7-year-old son from his previous marriage, will learn to accept his stepmother. But arriving at their home they discover someone has been living there while they were away.  After speaking with the Sheriff they assume the intruders have moved on, however when Liam disappears they discover just how wrong they were. For they must confront a deranged family of killers who have been hiding in the house all along and are now holding Liam in their sadistic cult-like grip.

Director: Jordan Barker  Canada 2013  90 mins  Cert 18
Cast: Peter DaCunha, Katharine Isabelle, Stephen McHattie

18:30  MINDSCAPE  (UK Premiere)
John is a mind detective, paid to enter people’s memories and uncover the reality behind crimes. It’s down to people like him to explore the shadows of the psyche sifting out selective fact from false recognition fiction. But what will he make of his new assignment, the brilliant, troubled and allegedly sexually abused teenager Anna? As John enters her mind and becomes more involved in her total recall, he must decide if she is indeed the victim of unspeakable trauma or a very clever and manipulative sociopath. Produced by Jaume Collet-Serra (ORPHAN, UNKNOWN, NON-STOP), can you guess the twist ending?

Director: Jorge Dorado  US/Spain2013  95 mins  Cert 18
Cast: Mark Strong, Taissa Famiga, Brian Cox

21:00  ALMOST HUMAN (Scottish Premiere)
Mark Fisher disappeared from home in a blinding blue light flash. His friend Seth Hampton was the last person to see him alive. Two years later, a series of atrocious, grisly murders leads Seth to believe that Mark has somehow returned, but changed into something different, strange… not of this world. Mark has indeed become a humanoid alien receptacle for evil - and the last place you should look is in his cellar. The surprise hit at Toronto Midnight Madness, this short, sharp shock of super-violent scares and sci-fi splatter announces director Joe Begos’ arrival as an exciting genre talent.

Director: Joe Begos  US  2013  80 mins  Cert 18
Cast: Graham Skipper, Vanessa Leigh, Josh Ethier

23:15  KILLERS (UK Premiere)
Join The Mo Brothers (MACABRE) on a dark voyage into the warped minds of two men with nothing in common: Nomura, a self-obsessed serial killer residing in Tokyo who posts his sick handiwork on the internet, and Bayu, a failing journalist and struggling father in Jakarta who turns sadistic vigilante. Connected through their violent blood-soaked incidents, both men inexplicably start to feed off each other. But as their lives become more uncontrollable, each of them starts a shocking journey into a toxic maze of violent self-discovery. Fresh from Sundance comes this twisted tale by NIGHTMARE DETECTIVE producer Ushiyama Takuji.

Directors: Kimo Stamboel, Timo Tjahjanto  Indonesia/Japan 2013  140 mins  Cert 18
Cast: Ray Sahetapy, Oka Antara, Rin Takanashi

SUN 2 MARCH – Cineworld Renfrew St Screen 7

Repeat screenings
16:00    WOLF CREEK 2
21:00    KILLERS 

To book tickets: +44 (0)141 332 6535 /

Passes: £70 - for all eleven films on Fri 28 Feb and Sat 1 March

Single tickets: £8.50, £6.50 (concession) for ‘In Conversation with Ti West’ event on Thurs 27 Feb and the five Sunday repeat screenings on Sun 2 March.

Please note that there are no single tickets available for the Friday and Saturday films.

 For further information:

We're looking forward to this as much as the Glasgow Film Festival altogether so we're looking forward to meeting old friends once again for a long weekend of scares and bundles of laughs!