It’s unusual not to have Florence Pugh twirling in circles in a flower crown, honestly but sometimes you have to give the benefit of the doubt and keep an open mind. I won’t give away my view of this psychological thriller in the first paragraph, but I will say that, if you’re looking for a film about sainthood and the concept of martyrdom, maybe watch Martyrs (the original) instead.
Based on the novel of the same name by Emma Donoghue, The Wonder follows an English nurse, Elizabeth “Lib” Wright to a new post in rural Ireland, where she must keep an eye on a young girl on a hunger strike, who appears – miraculously – to be healthy and well.
I never need an excuse to crack out the horror, obviously but this world is a trash fire and the only feasible release I can see right now is of the unhinged variety.
Thankfully, we didn’t have to look too far for our next dose of the deranged, although sadly it wasn’t Jill’s first or even second choice. Apparently, even in the year 2022, the UK is still behind the US in terms of some film releases.
But we move. Whether we like it or not, we have to move.
Us:“Halloween is over…” Amazon Prime, releasing the new Hellraiser without fanfare: “You sure, hun?”
This week we finally get to grips with a new Pinhead, a whole new slant on the puzzle box and ponder the yassification of our beloved Cenobites. And it feels like a very exciting time to be alive. Horror this year, in my humble opinion, has been pretty good so where does this baby fit into that conclusion?
Well, grab your whips and chains – and let me excite you.
It’s with sadness we kiss goodnight to our wonderful month of horror movies, safe in the knowledge we’ll no doubt watch at least one next month and then the month after that. Because you can’t keep a set of spooky bitches confined to just one holiday.
This week we spend time in the high desert searching for a missing person and ponder the eternal question: “Why are you going back, you bloody idiot?”
Jill and I are always partial to a witchy tale and have covered more than a few in our time. This week’s film is no exception, with very pleasing results, by way of not so pleasant subject matter, including sexual assault, ageing out of a chosen career and having to socialise against our will.
With that in mind, heavy TRIGGER WARNINGS for assault, which is implied rather than overtly explained, but it’s horrific nonetheless.
This week we’re not strictly limited to sharks and – after the disappointment of the last few picks, which didn’t coin in on the gore or the action nearly enough – this isn’t a bad thing. In fact, this neo-classic (dare I suggest?) positively saturates (lol) the screen with re-animated marine life, large and small – and it is glorious.
Special shout out ahead of time to the sublime stylings of one Vivica A. Fox (codename: Copperhead) who is undoubtedly too good for this vehicle, yet gives it everything she’s got.
A scientific accident causes sea creatures in an aquarium to become zombies.
Genre: Horror, Action, Comedy ∙ IMDB user rating: 2.9 My score: 2.5/5 ∙ Runtime: 86 mins
*Spoilers but it won’t matter*
Shit royally hits the fan at an aquarium, when a seemingly undead octopus kills two keepers and leaves a third battered but alive. Dr. Karen James (Madeleine Falk) is able to stumble through the thankfully quite empty aquarium space to ring the alarm. Meanwhile, other staff members – Dan and Skylar (D.C. Douglas and Robert Contrado) – encounter some seriously bad-tempered otters.
UPDATE: Skylar is in fact a private visitor and not as I’ve suggested just another member of staff. Sucks to be him on this particular day then.
Meanwhile, aquarium owner/boss bitch Miranda Riley (Eva Ceja) is schmoozing local senator Bailey Blackburn (Anthony Jensen) for desperately needed funding to keep the whole operation afloat. Unfortunately, Bailey is unsympathetic to Miranda’s pitch, almost as though he has a different agenda on his mind…
On hand to provide probably the only sensible viewpoint is security detail (?) Clu (Fox) who quickly acts on Karen’s report and demands a swift lockdown. Skylar and Dan fight some spider crabs (which frankly don’t need to be re-animated to be the freakiest creatures ever to have walked the earth) but soon join the rest of the team.
Now locked inside the facility, Miranda, Karen, the Senator and his assistant Beth (Erica Duke) – plus Dan and Skylar – are forced to battle through each exhibit to a place they can make a call and hopefully get the help they need. I think – honestly, I’m already hazy on a lot of the details.
With the virtual help of Clu, who’s connected with Miranda via CB radio and watching the action as it unfolds on the security cameras, this rag tag bunch deal with undead starfish, Mako sharks, a crocodile, an adorable walrus and finally Patient Zero, the octopus, who conveniently oozes a clear ectoplasm allowing us to track when he might be just around the corner.
“Deep fried calamari – my favourite!” ~ Eddie ‘Clu’ Cluwirth
With all this shit going on it seems ridiculous that one of the party would still be keeping a secret about how and why this disaster has happened in the first place – but Miranda is firmly on his case, like a zombie starfish on a hysterical doctor’s ass if you will.
Will she live to serve justice? And, more importantly, what the fuck was Viv thinking agreeing to this role?
Aquarium is the third (third) film in the Zoombies saga yet I didn’t need prior education to follow along. It helped that I was just enjoying the deaths and not focusing on the nuances.
Aquarium isn’t a good film by any stretch but it is pleasingly crackers, more or less female driven and packed to the rafters with CGI beasts. The shark appearances are minimal but the Makos are part of possibly my favourite scene so I can forgive that (Why the FUCK didn’t they sneak behind them?).
Vivacia obviously stands out as the only proper actress but the woman playing Miranda isn’t horrific, while Dr Karen is hands down my favourite character. With her confusing and inconsistent accent, hysterical demeanor and dedication to butchering long medical terms, she truly steals every scene.
Otherwise, the SFX doesn’t suck but not very much effort has been put into making the creatures look like actual zombies. If they’d committed to more practical effects, this could’ve been quite something. And, finally, of all the ways to go here, I’m quite sure I’d be taken down by a disgruntled starfish which would just be embarrassing.
WHAT DOES JILL THINK? WOULD SHE DESTROY THE FISH MEDICINE AS DIRECTED OR GET INVOLVED IN A DOUBLE CROSS THAT MAKES ZERO SENSE? FIND OUT HERE.
It seems as though Jill and I have inadvertantly stumbled across a new (to us) sub-genre of shark movie: the true crime variety. Unfortunately, it’s not an added element that works as well as you’d think – we’re all here for the underwater action after all and all these criminals want to do is talk about how bad they are.
I’ll save my detailed thoughts for tying up this post at the end but I would like to have a conversation with the writers/director about the logistics of storing a Great White in an average sized indoor pool. Or rather, stored elsewhere, to be released into the pool in 3 minute increments.
A young woman, guilt-ridden for a crime she committed but got away with, is captured by a sadist for a game of Russian roulette with a great white shark and four similar opportunists who have escaped the law.
Genre: Horror, Mystery ∙ IMDB user rating: 2.5 My score: 1.5/5 ∙ Runtime: 88 mins
*Spoilers but it won’t matter*
A lawyer called Henry is chained up by the side of a swimming pool while a disembodied voice tells him off. I forget the actual words but the gist of it is that he’s not a nice man and whoever has him in captivity is keen to punish him for his crimes as a crooked man of the so-called law. This is no ordinary tale of vengeance though, this is swimming pool shark vengeance – and incidentally, not a good advertisement for getting a girl like me back in the public pool.
While Henry’s remains sink to the bottom of the heated pool (again, I have questions about the optimum temperature to keep Great Whites indoors), we meet Hannah, a young woman clearly going through it. From what we can gather, her partner has recently been incarcerated and she’s not doing well with it. Alas we don’t have time to fret about the details as she’s soon kidnapped from her flat.
Waking up with burning eyes and a lot of confusion, Hannah finds she’s – gasp – chained to the floor next to a swimming pool and she’s not alone. As her new companions – six total strangers – gradually awaken, the same disembodied voice from the beginning urges them to work together to figure out what they have in common and in turn, understand why they’re there.
At first sight, it seems unlikely this rag tag bunch could have anything in common but when they dig a little deeper and ascertain that Henry the lawyer was the common denominator, they start to get somewhere. And so unravels each individual story of nefarious behaviour followed by total injustice as each of these prisoners gets off scot-free – including Hannah.
Could the perpetrator of this glorious game – in which one of the guilty gets plopped into the shark-infested pool if they don’t answer truthfully or fast enough – be someone wronged by one (or all) of these miscarriages of justice?
While the numbers start to diminish considerably – and old toothy fills his belly – Hannah finds herself going head to head with crocked cop Cody who seems unwilling to share his truth, even after she’s spilled her guts. We get the feeling this won’t bode well with our antagonist who turns out to be both a surprise in the sense of who they are – and also, by how sympathetic the character is.
Meanwhile, can Hannah ask for forgiveness and ultimately find peace at the end of all this – if she makes it?
Fucking hell. For a start, this storyline is very flimsy and there is no explanation as to how and why the villain has chosen to gain vengeance in this way. I mean, we all want to torture our enemies via the medium of shark attack, sure but it’s not really the most practical way to go about it. See questions above. At the same time, if I could buy their motive, did they just involve everyone else because they’d been naughty? Again, seems a bit far fetched but I guess that’s where the Saw element comes in. Our faceless Jigsaw-esque leader is all about teaching life lessons.
Otherwise, the flashbacks are clunky but they do the job – especially the one about the angel of death live-in carer. Hannah’s own flashback is unfortunate but I am left a little confused by the actions of her partner. It’s a nice thing to do, to take the wrap for your girlfriend but man, I feel like the truth might have been better? After all, it was just a tragic accident.
Of course I would say this but there’s not nearly enough shark action and honestly, there’s only so much it can do in a restricted space before it gets repetitive. It would have been so satisfying if we’d got different traps incorporating the shark – and spent more time watching the victims fight for their lives.
I will say I did like the end reveal and I thought that character was one of the better ones. Had they been featured more as themselves I think this would have been a better experience. I also appreciated Hannah’s heartfelt final monologue. If I have to say something nice about it.
WHAT DOES JILL THINK OF THIS DECIDEDLY STRAIGHT-TO-VIDEO QUALITY NUMBER? WOULD SHE MAKE IT SWIM WITH THE FISHIES OR LET IT GO FREE AFTER A MILDLY SLAPPED WRIST? FIND OUT HERE.
August is Shark Month and frankly this is our favourite time on the blog. I’m beside myself with excitement of what’s to come, however as Jill put it recently, the UK really does have some work to do when it comes to what’s available to us creature feature super fans.
In a frustrating turn of events, Shark Killer was Jill’s second choice and we can only wonder what we missed in Ozark Sharks.
A shark exterminator must retrieve a rare diamond from the stomach of a massive black-finned white shark; however, the powerful local crime lord has, too, set his sights on the gem. Will the fearless shark killer live up to his reputation?
Genre: Horror, Action, Thriller ∙ IMDB user rating: 4.0 My score: 2.5/5 ∙ Runtime: 88 mins
As I type this I realise I’ve blanked quite a lot of Chase Walker’s backstory. Our studly anti-hero apparently has an aversion to the water which isn’t instantly recognisable given his close proximity to the beach, but he spends a fair amount of time talking about how much he hates it. He does like pussy though (sorry).
In our introduction to this masterful plotline, a local mayor argues with an official about closing the beach following a number of shark attacks. Hmm. Having dealt with the fish in question, the mayor insists they’re now golden, however his associate claims the shark they caught was too small to be the right predator. Cue the ensuing kerfuffle in which a gang of skimpy teens find themselves circled by – you guessed it – a giant Great White.
Can hunky Chase help in any way I wonder? Well, he doesn’t wander around topless with a huuuge knife in his pocket for nowt, you know. In the water he also secures himself a shag for later (with the mayor’s daughter, no less). Welcome to Shark Killer, folks.
Later, Chase is hired/blackmailed into a new job by two-bit gangster Jake – who we later find out is Chase’s very own adoptive brother. The job is to hunt a particularly vicious black finned white shark because… he’s swallowed a priceless diamond. Obviously.
Along for the ride is stunning lawyer Jasmine who takes an instant dislike to man-whore Chase who I’ve just worked out is literally called Chase because of his love of hunting the ladies.
Jasmine could crack though when it becomes clear there’s more to our shark botherer than meets the eye. Oh, and OG/resident Kingpin Nix (The Mummy’s Arnold Vosloo) is also hot on Black Fin’s tail as he’d quite like the diamond himself. But how can he bargain with Chase when he loves and cares about precisely nobody? Or does he?
I guess the question on most of our lips is: does he get the fucking diamond or not? Well the answer is exactly what you think it is, by way of not nearly enough shark action. But this is still better than Sharknado so swings and roundabouts I guess.
This does what it says on the tin but is really a sub-par crime/romance masquerading as a shark movie and that’s its worst crime.
Until it gets bogged down in the ‘don’t judge a book’ narrative, while Chase is being ridiculously clichéd and misogynistic, I thought it was quite funny. The opening scene is a blast. But I quickly lost interest in Jake and his motivations, and then Nix and his. Jasmine’s too good for this film and we barely see Black Fin at all.
Although, there are a couple of scenes that have lingered (one involving a truly macabre underwater graveyard dreamed up by one of the crime lords). So, in conclusion: not a bad start. We will definitely do worse this month, that’s a promise.
🦈 🦈 🦈
WHAT DOES JILL THINK OF OUR FIRST SHARK MOVIE IN WAY TOO LONG? WOULD SHE SLICE IT BELLY TO STERNUM OR LET IT SWIM AWAY? FIND OUT HERE.
Angry Women Month rages on and feels particularly appropriate set against the backdrop of the Great British Heatwave, which is making me furious and sleepy in equal measure. I know our summers generally last around two weeks total but I hate the sun and summer more than anything and I cannot wait for it to rain.
Anyway, a murderous rampage in the company of Alice Lowe (of the excellent Sightseers) is just what the doctor ordered. I do feel this has set the bar very high for my next choice so we can sign off July with a bang.
Genre: Horror, Comedy ∙ IMDB user rating: 5.9 My score: 4.5/5 ∙ Runtime: 88 mins
Following the death of her partner in a horrific climbing accident, heavily pregnant Ruth is – understandably – having a hard time of it. Imagining the fetus is cheering her on to seek vengeance for his murder, Ruth finds herself putting everything except bloody murder on the back burner.
One by one she seeks out members of Matt’s climbing team, lead by instructor Tom, who she blames the most. But will she gain the closure she seeks for herself and her unborn child once she’s done? I think we all know how a life lived solely for vengeance pans out, at least from the films we’re explored before.
Systematically knocking off her enemies isn’t her only worry either, baby’s arrival is just around the corner and Ruth is struggling with that too. Wary of her midwife (Jo Hartley), who adopts a no-nonsense (and annoying approach), she’s put off immediately when the woman fails to read Ruth’s file and asks her where her hubby is.
When forced to dispose of somebody not on the list, only then does Ruth start to question her passion project. Will the difference of opinion distance her from her child? And is closure really even a possibility?
A few home truths during a conversation with Tom, who isn’t quite the monster she’s been picturing seem to signal a turn in our pro/antagonist – will she put it all to bed before it’s too late?
This is so far up my street, I’ve watched this film more times than I can remember since its release in 2016. I was excited to revisit for the blog and also to see how Jill feels about it.
Of course the subject matter is devastating and we explore many aspects of the grief process but it is also very funny at times. All the characters are horribly flawed which I appreciate and that includes Ruth, though she’s someone you really want to see come out on top.
I think Lowe does a good job of turning the notion of the mad hormonal woman on its head and challenges us to feel sympathy for the alleged killers at the same time, despite how heinous most of them are.
Tom’s decision to cut Matt’s rope to save the rest of the group was an impossible one and will probably haunt the rest of his life, so does he deserve more punishment? I think the idea of having someone to blame is a very real one.
The entire segment with DJ Dan is perfect, particularly when his elderly mum appears, and I loved Gemma Whelan’s appearance as Len, who’s the only one to really fight back. I don’t really have any criticism, everything about it is a bit of me, from the long shots and framing to the amazing cast.
Again I think this brand of humour is my absolute favourite and I need more from Alice Lowe STAT. Directly into my veins.
WHAT DOES JILL THINK OF PREVENGE? WOULD SHE CUT ITS FEMORAL ARTERY THEN PUT ITS MOTHER TO BED – OR FORGIVE IT ALL ITS SINS? FIND OUT HERE.