What Lies Within


Viewed – 21 May 2016  Pay-Per-View

A young couple (Gabriella Wright & Bret Roberts) with a strained marriage following a miscarriage, decide to go to a secluded cabin in the woods in an attempt at reconciling their issues.  However once there the husband’s underlying jealousy and the woman’s on going psychological trauma begin to cause problems.

What Lies Within

Now I have seen a lot of movies in my time and some were pretty poorly made, but this woefully amateurish attempt at a horror thriller felt from the off like a group of friends given a camera and asked to make something.  The result is a flimsy attempt at a story with feeble attempts at acting and next to no technical ability.  It’s filmed with a complete lack of tension and cheap jump scares, and an eerie looking location cannot make up for a total lack of ability to pull the viewer in.  Supposedly creepy things lurking in the woods, lingering camera angles and a secluded setting should at least generate a degree of atmosphere … but along with terrible acting, I struggled to get through this one.  Towards the end some pretty rough violence kicks in, clearly an attempt to have something going on – as for a good hour, nothing happens … and I mean nothing.  So we get graphic stabbings, some action with an axe and even an eye piercing, but guess what?  It makes no sense and comes out of nowhere, meaning any possibility of a believable or interesting narrative is ultimately lost in place of shock value.  The actors try their best but are laughably inexperienced.  So the point of this movie is totally lost on me.  A tacked on twist at the end only goes to make the whole experience all the more annoying.

Director Lucas Pavetto shows a total lack of talent and hopefully never picks up a movie camera again.  The rest of those involved can go back to their day jobs.  Avoid.

Verdict:  1 /5

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scarlet-gospels

Yesterday after much anticipation, I finally got my hands on the latest novel from acclaimed horror / fantasy writer Clive Barker.  Now those not in the know, this writer was responsible for the ‘Hellraiser’ movies (especially as he wrote and directed the first instalment waaay back in 1987) and quickly garnered a big cult following with numerous novels and short stories to his name.  I first discovered this man through his ‘Books Of Blood’ anthologies and although I haven’t read some of his more epic tomes such as Abarat and Weave World, I have admired his imagination and prose for many years.  So this return to the horror genre and one of his most famous characters, the hell priest Pinhead was an exciting prospect.

I don’t read all that much, but make an exception for ‘Barker, who for me is far more interesting than his immediate rival Stephen King.  I’m therefore looking forward to really getting absorbed by this latest masterpiece.

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British born writer, artist and film maker Clive Barker.

Looking within…


Well this past week or so I have been playing The Evil Within.  This is Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami’s latest foray into the world of survival horror and marks a return to form for the genre following the poorly received Resident Evil 6 and the cut & paste Silent Hill reboots.  I am enjoying it a great deal and it really feels suitably freaky and gruesome.  Mikami is a master at videogame design and pacing and this has it in spades.

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Atmosphere is superb and the story, for what it is … is fairly vague and trippy (the game jumps from one hallucination to the next and levels don’t follow a linear path as far as narrative is concerned).  There is a hub level where you save your game but this is also weird … a hospital or mental asylum where only a single (sort of attractive) nurse keeps you company and you go back and forth from the various levels by looking into a mirror.  You can also upgrade your abilities and weapons here by sitting in a chair that locks you in securely and clamps some sort of thing on your head … very Saw.  This game borrows heavily from various sources but has influences from Saw, Japanese horrors like The Ring and The Grudge and even The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  It’s like a greatest hits of horror – and I am loving it.

Take a look at this gameplay demo for a good idea of this game’s tone:

The game is fairly lengthy also and I am in chapter 7 so far and know there are at least 11 chapters in total along with a new-game plus mode which I’m guessing lets you replay chapters with all your upgrades intact.  The game keeps to the Resident Evil formula with you having very limited ammo, getting weak from running, you can die very easily and you need to scavenge for supplies by opening boxes or breaking crates.  There are also a few basic puzzles to keep you occupied.  The main draw here though seems to be the boss battles, something Mikami is especially good at, and so far I’ve faced such creations as a chainsaw wielding psychopath, a freaky spider-lady and a rabid mutant dog … shudder, all brilliantly staged with plenty of clever foreshadowing (you get to creep past the dog’s massive cage in one sequence as it sleeps, leading up to a very tough encounter with the angry mutt).

If you’re after a game that’s a real throwback to the heyday of survival horror but with the big-budget stylings of Hostel or Saw … this has it.  It’s not easy, will challenge you but if you enjoy this style of game you’ll love every second.

Wolf Creek 2


Viewed – 23 September 2014  Online rental

I recall being rather underwhelmed by the popular but fairly lightweight original, and thought it’s lengthy build up to the horror and the reveal of the killer was too drawn out.  In it’s final moments it began to come to life and had at least one stand out, nasty scene (head on a stick!).  So imagine my surprise on reading several favourable reviews of this sequel.

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Outback serial killer Mick Taylor, a bushman if ever there was a bushman in the wilderness of Australia, spends much of his time picking off tourists and back-packers who come to visit the eerie location of a huge crater, supposedly made by a meteorite.  With a fine line in Ozzy lingo and Australian history, he especially enjoys killing foreigners or anyone not well versed in the land of Oz. 

Shot well and with a keen eye for gore and violence, this feels like it’s on the right track, and is a lot more action-packed, with this time Mick being centre stage.  Now unlike the original, the mystery and atmosphere is missing in place of some stand out kills (the cops…).  Also unlike last time around there’s no real time to get invested in the innocent victims before Mick is despatching them.  Now Mick himself, played larger-than-life by John Jarratt is an interesting creation, but because the movie is all focused on him, his clichéd bushman swagger and often comical lines turns many of his scenes into farce (a truck chase to the tune of The Lion Sleeps Tonight … really?), and loses much of his potential menace – like what they did to Freddy Krueger in the Elm Street sequels.  Oh and would it have hurt to get a bit more backstory on him?  Or any for that matter. 

For the ample gore and plenty of energy, this was still fun, but for a horror it relied too much on one liners and in-jokes than actually scaring it’s audience – a big fail in my book.  Hopefully they won’t bother with Wolf Creek 3.

Verdict:  2.5 /5

Oculus


Viewed – 17 June 2014  Cinema

Some movies it’s good to go into totally blind.  No viewing of trailers, no reading of reviews.  Although I had heard this was meant to be pretty good as far as the glut of supernatural horrors of late, ala Insidious and The Conjuring.  This tells the tale of a young twenty something guy (James Van Der Beek look-a-like Brenton Thwaites) freshly released from a psychiatric hospital following an incident in his childhood.  Reunited with his sister, she reminds him of a promise they made when they were younger, and following an auction, sets up a night of observing what happens in the company of an antique mirror, that may or may not hold within a dormant, malevolent entity.

OCULUS

The movie skilfully and cleverly jumps back and forth from the present and to that fateful night when the siblings were just children, and the events that lead up to the guy’s incarceration.  This is spooky, has some great ideas and two very strong performances, especially from the gorgeous Karen Gillan (yes, former Doctor Who assistant) as the guy’s elder sister.  It plays on your perceptions, twists your head into wondering if what you see is happening or just in the character’s heads, and throughout various red herrings and freaky encounters really got me questioning what was going on.  It’s certainly a horror that keeps you on your toes, and some hallucinations, including a memorable light bulb / apple mix up as well as some Ring-like creepy woman moments all made for a genuinely unsettling experience. 

It doesn’t get as nasty or as disturbing as some horrors can be (probably a good thing), and could be seen as more an exploration of the adverse affects of a childhood trauma and the transition into adulthood.  Yet the always scary concept of a possessed mirror and along with the time jumps … meant this horror fanboy came away rather impressed.

Verdict:  4 /5