Tag Archives: Film

The Wonder review

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.

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Blood Rage review

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.

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Old People review

The old and infirm seem to be having a renaissance in horror right now (see X most recently) and I for one am here for it.

Getting older is a terrifying prospect in itself but juxtapose that with attractive young people, a creepy AF setting, zero chill – and you get something like this German horror film.

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Hellraiser 2022 review

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.

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31 Horrors 2022 – overview

This Halloween we managed 27/31 horrors and I’m pretty stoked with that. It was fun having a new theme each day which meant we did films I don’t normally do when left to my own devices. I also use ‘we’ here because the old man was much more involved than previous years so that made it way more fun.

If I’m completely honest, outside the challenge I watched much more than 27 but I’m sure that’s not much of a surprise. So, to the films we watched for the #31dayhorrorchallenge, courtesy of Nightmare on Film Street podcast.

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She Will review

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.

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Aquarium of the Dead review

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.

Aquarium of the Dead (2021)

Don’t touch the glass

A scientific accident causes sea creatures in an aquarium to become zombies.

Genre: Horror, Action, Comedy βˆ™ IMDB user rating: 2.9
My score: 2.5/5 βˆ™ 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.

Yes, seriously.

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?

THOUGHTS

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.

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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.

Blood in the Water review

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.

BLOOD IN THE WATER (2022)

Saw meets Jaws

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 βˆ™ IMDB user rating: 2.5
My score: 1.5/5 βˆ™ 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?

THOUGHTS

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.

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Shark Killer review

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.

SHARK KILLER (2015)

Blood is thicker in water.

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?

Director: Sheldon Wilson
Starring: Derek ThelerErica Cerra, Paul du Toit

Genre: Horror, Action, Thriller βˆ™ IMDB user rating: 4.0
My score: 2.5/5 βˆ™ Runtime: 88 mins

*Spoilers*

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.

THOUGHTS

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 clichΓ©d 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.

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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.

The Loved Ones review

Angry Woman July is almost done and I would miss it, but for the fact next month is officially Shark Month on our blogs. Our favourite subgenre of horror!

It’s been a ride though and we sign off this month with an unrequited love story which may have you rooting for the men in this film for a change. Well some of them, let’s not go crazy.

THE LOVED ONES (2009)

Hell hath no fury … like a prom queen scorned.

When Brent turns down his classmate Lola’s invitation to the prom, she concocts a wildly violent plan for revenge.

Director: Sean Byrne
Starring: Xavier Samuel, Robin McLeavy

Genre: Horror, Crime βˆ™ IMDB user rating: 6.6
My score: 4/5 βˆ™ Runtime: 84 mins

*Spoilers*
TW: Animal violence, torture detail, suggestion of sexual abuse & incest

Love hurts but rejection is way worse, let’s face it. So what’s a geeky greasy-haired girl to do when the object of her affection says no to a polite prom invitation? As you may have gathered from the synopsis above, our antagonist decides to choose violence as a retort – and takes us on a cringe-inducing vengeance trip.

A little backstory:

Brent (Samuel) is driving with his dad after freshly passing his test. Out of nowhere a bloody boy appears in the road and causes Brent to swerve, hitting a tree and killing his old pa. Several months later he’s not in the best shape, nor is his mother, who fears something happening to her son – but she also appears to blame his inexperience for the accident.

Fond of being stoned and alone (IKR?), Brent isn’t super psyched for prom but is attending with his girlfriend Holly (Victoria Thaine). His best friend Jamie (Richard Wilson) meanwhile is interested in beautiful Goth Mia (Jessica McNamee) and is thrilled when she says yes to being his date.

So when Princess asks Brent to take her to prom, he politely declines – and all is fine in the world. Except of course it isn’t and he goes missing hours later, seemingly into thin air, much to his mother’s distress.

At Princess’ family home – which she shares with her father and a woman called Bright Eyes (who may or may not be her mother) – it becomes clear Brent has been kidnapped to attend her perfect version of prom, whether he likes it or not. This is horrifying enough until she reveals Brent isn’t her first house guest. Remember the bloody boy from the beginning?

Alas, Brent only manages to disappoint Princess by trying to run away – and she’s forced to torture him for his sins. As the horror ramps up, Brent is forced to choose whether or not to fight back – and Mia’s dad – a local policeman – is driven by something personal to find Brent before it’s too late.

Will he?

THOUGHTS

This is a mean-spirited, grimy film. Princess is awful, her father is disgusting but somehow sympathetic at times and the whole scene is nasty af – and yet I find myself liking it. In fact, it goes quite far in making us root for Brent’s escape – he’s the perfect example of the final boy, a trope we don’t see too often. When we learn the fate of Princess’ former dates victims, this need for him to survive is fully exacerbated. Ugh.

In contrast to Brent, I do find it odd that we don’t get much backstory for Princess. She is heinous but we don’t see anything about her in the school environment and certainly nothing that really justifies her nutso behaviour. I get that some people are just psychotic but there’s no obvious driving force beyond the fact boys don’t seem to like her much.

At the same time there’s an obvious suggestion of sexual abuse/incest which seems to be driven by Princess – I’d like to have understood that better AND we’re left only to imagine how Bright Eyes ended up the way she is and why. I have a huge question mark over her story.

It’s not that deep but does explore teenage grief and survivors guilt well – and also addresses the idea of fight or flight in the face of terror. Brent has spent so much time since his father’s death numbing the pain, that it would be forgivable for him to give in to Princess’ plan. I’m pretty sure I’d lean into the kiss of sweet, sweet death myself.

I really enjoy the way this film looks. It somehow has an eighties feel while not being set in the eighties and I love, love Princess’ pink prom dress. There is a side story set around Jamie and Mia which feels a bit tagged on but does go some way to illustrating how Princess and her family’s antics have affected the community – and ties into Mia’s dad’s motivation to return Brent back to his mother in one piece.

WHAT DOES JILL THINK? WOULD SHE NAIL IT TO ITS CHAIR OR LET IT ESCAPE WITHOUT CHASE? FIND OUT HERE.

Prevenge review

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.

PREVENGE (2016)

Widow Ruth is seven months pregnant when, believing herself to be guided by her unborn baby, she embarks on a homicidal rampage, dispatching anyone who stands in her way.

Director: Alice Lowe
Starring: Alice Lowe, Dan Renton Skinner, Kayvan Novak

Genre: Horror, Comedy βˆ™ IMDB user rating: 5.9
My score: 4.5/5 βˆ™ 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.

On Ruth’s Kill Bill-esque list are businesswoman Ella (Kate Dickie), oafish pig DJ Dan (Tom Davis), caustic Len (Gemma Whelan), Zac (Tom Meeten) and Tom. The film begins though with the first death of exotic pet dealer Mr Zabek (Dan Renton Skinner), who also has some responsibility.

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?

THOUGHTS

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.