When does focus turn into obsession? Is sacrificing others for the one you love a declaration of that love or is it simply selfishness disguised? What is it to be human and what defines it? These are familiar themes in sci-fi. They are explored once again in The Machine, the new sci-fi/thriller from Caradog W. James.
Vincent (Toby Stephens) is a genius. He has created brain implants and limb replacements and is very good at what he does. After a mishap that leaves a colleague dead, he is put underground to work on more intense research, creating Artificial Intelligence driven machines for the Ministry of Defense.
Fractured, formerly known as Schism, isn’t really a horror movie. It has a bit of an identity crisis, much like its lead character. Other traits it shares with its lead: It has problems with women, isn’t very captivating, and fails to make much of an impression.
Filmmakers Adam Gierasch (co-writer/director) and Jace Anderson (co-writer/producer) have made far better features than this, including the 2009 Night of the Demons remake. Sadly, based on their latest effort they are not progressing. Fractured is shaky and jagged and feels like something from a first-time filmmaker. Callum Blue stars as Dylan, only that’s not his real name. Since waking up from a coma of more than 2 years, he has no memory. He leads a quiet, boring life and is a cook at a restaurant in New Orleans. He sleeps with Brandy (Ashlynn Yennie) from time to time, who notes that his walls are complete bare and requests permission to remedy that.
Often, when waiting for more than a couple of years for a sequel, we feel let down. It either fails to recapture the energy of the original or the story is a lazy retread. Sad, but true. With that in mind, I wasn’t sure how Wolf Creek 2 would play out. The original came in 2005 and things have been all but quiet since. What was my experience like? I jumped with fear, my mouth sat open half the time in disbelief at the levels of depravity that the film exposed me to. Wolf Creek 2 ups the ante significantly and is not only a good sequel, it delivers on the rule we learned the first time around: “Don’t ever stop in the Outback.”
When Only Lovers Left Alive was announced I think it was hard to not get at least a little bit excited. Here was have Tom Hiddleston (The Avengers) and Tilda Swinton (We Need To Talk About Kevin) – two powerhouse actors playing vampires in a world crafted by the always underlyingly powerful Jim Jarmusch, the man behind Ghost Dog, Dead Man and Broken Flowers, among others. That’s a lot of heavy hitter roster to begin with. Throw in the always lovable Anton Yelchin (Fright Night), the rising star Mia Wasikowska (Stoker) and the infamous John Hurt (Alien, Hellboy) and you have a stacked deck. So the question was could the film possibly live up to the hype that the cast induces?
This review originally ran September 2013 during our Fantastic Fest coverage. Two oft-used sub-genres in horror collide in Afflicted – “found footage” and bloodsuckers – and the result is something akin to what you could call “Chronicle with a Vampire.”
As tired as both of those sub-genres may be, this film is surprisingly effective – more thrilling than scary, nonetheless an impressive example that there are still clever ways to utilize the found footage narrative trope and keep the vampire mythos alive.
Afflicted acts as a tragic video travel log following Clif and Derek, best friends who have known each other for years. The concept here is that the footage isn’t so much “found” as it is recorded and uploaded via Cliff’s blog so friends and family can tune in while Clif and Derek embark on a world adventure.
Horror and the jovial, spontaneous realm of musicals don’t collide often on the screen, but when they do, the outcome yields mostly positive and extreme reactions. The Rocky Horror Picture Show became a cult classic, Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s “Once More With Feeling” transcended expectations and is considered one of the best episodes to come out of that series, and, more recent efforts like Repo! The Genetic Opera and The Devil’s Carnival have curiously carved out a significant Rocky Horror-like fanbase. Whatever your personal thoughts are on those offerings, you have to commend them for fully embracing the radical, unlikely merging of genres. They find their voice, their message and they really just go for it.
Stage Fright similarly goes for it enthusiastically and with bloody reverence for the slasher genre. That’s right, this is a slasher musical that, in equal measures, goes for the laughs and goes for the throat. And it does it very well. So well, it amused me quite a bit (obvioulsy)…and I’m a real curmudgeon when it comes to musicals.
Sometimes you just don’t know who is a horror fan. I am surprised every now and again what I saw this past week was no exception. I’m talking about a film called Smothered which was directed by none other than Smallville and Dukes of Hazard’s John Schneider.
Smothered boasts the largest collection of horror icons on one screen ever and it’s great to see them together. There is a lot of heart in the film and it shows when our group of horror actors are taking a moment to reflect on their careers. Kane Hodder and R.A. Mihailoff steal most of the show with great and very funny performances but everyone has their time to shine.
At this point I think it’s safe to say that I am the king of found footage movies. Oh yeah, you heard that right, we got another one for you. Alien Abduction treads into little seen territory when it comes to the genre, branching out into (you guessed it) the alien subgenre of horror. The…