Sunday, July 12, 2020

Relic Film Review

Relic is a daring horror drama about the dangers of Dementia. It encompasses the heart of both horror and compassion in one of the best IFC Midnight films I have seen to date.
Kay (Emily Mortimer; Mary Poppins Returns, Shutter Island) and her daughter Sam (Bella Heathcote; Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Dark Shadows) travel to visit Kay’s mother, Edna (Robyn Nevin; The Matrix Reloaded, Gods of Egypt) after she mysteriously vanishes from her home. While in the process of taking care of her grandmother, Sam starts to notice strange happenings in the house that seem rather harmless at first glance. Over time the duo discovers that something seems a little off about Edna and she seems to have returned a shell of her former self.
Relic is one of the most unique genre films I have seen in a long time. It encompasses both family and horror in the same realm without trying too hard to win over its audience. It flows beautifully and tells the tale of a daughter struggling to come to terms with her mothers dementia. The choice to use the house as a metaphor for the disease was a brilliant choice and adds to the dark atmosphere of the film. The lack of jump scares and cheap thrills is a welcomed change in modern cinema, especially ones of this caliber. I thought the darkness tone of the film matched beautifully with the haunting music and the artistic videography. They all worked so well together to create a cohesive film that is both memorable and enjoyable.
I first discovered Emily Mortimer when she played Chloe in the 2005 Woody Allen film Match Point opposite Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Scarlett Johansson. After watching the trailer for Relic I could already see her character coming to life. She has this gift you rarely see in films these days. She pulls genuine emotion from her audience and makes them feel like the character she’s playing is a real person. Even though I didn’t know Kay very well as a character I identified with her as a woman and as a daughter.
Bella Heathcote is known for her portrayal of Victoria Winters in Tim Burton’s interpretation of Dark Shadows. It was great to see Bella in a more controlled environment. Her skills as an actress really shined here. Sam is a young woman who is struggling to figure out what it is she wants to do with her life and incorporating that into this story makes her someone people of all ages can relate to.
Robyn Nevin did a superb job playing Edna. I believed that she was someone’s loved one who is going through a big change in the later years of her life. I really cared about what happened to her. The way Robyn portrayed Edna’s disconnect from reality was both convincing and heartbreaking. I would definitely recommend watching her other films.
I would suggest Relic to fans who enjoy a little drama and realism in their horror films. If you’re looking for some thing that is both Erie and relatable I think this is the film for you. The entire cast is phenomenal. They bring this story to life and I really enjoyed it. I give Relic a 9/10. I wish we had gotten to know Edna before her disappearance in order to really get a good glimpse at how shocking her transformation really was. Aside from that I thought it was brilliant. Relic was praised during its 2019 opening at Sundance Film Festival in 2019. The film opens on July 10 In Theaters and also available On Demand / Digital Rental.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Then Comes Silence - Machine Album Review

The leaders of the modern Post Punk scene, Then Comes Silence released their fifth studio album “Machine” on Friday, March 13, 2020. The album was released through Metropolis Records. If you would like to know more about the bands history and their previous album releases go here
The band has released three music videos to coincide with the albums release. You can find the official music videos for “We Lose The Night”, “Ritual” (Feat. Karolina Engdahl of True Moon), and “Apocalypse Flare” on Youtube. I also suggest following TCS on Instagram and Facebook to keep up with the bands touring schedules, updates, and album releases.
I have been a fan of Then Comes Silence for many years now. Although the band members have changed since it’s birth it has been a seamless transition. The current line up feels like home. Their chemistry is enthralling and has helped create one of the best Post Punk albums in decades. The Goth scene is ever changing and bands like TCS help breathe new life into the subculture.
Machine is quickly becoming my favorite album from the quartet and fits perfectly amongst its predecessors. Alex Svenson, the bands bassist and front runner has a beautifully dark voice that is strong yet comforting. Each song from the album flows perfectly for an ideal listening experience. The first single “We Lose The Night” ranked number one on the Global Gothic Chart. I predict that Machine will be one of the top albums of 2020. This is a band that has been growing steadily for years. Their time has come and I cannot wait to see what the future holds for them. If you would like to browse the bands offerings and purchase a copy of Machine, go here
Track Listing: 
1. We Lose The Night 
2. Devil
3. Dark End 
4. I Gave You Everything 
5. Ritual (Feat. Karolina Engdahl)
6. Apocalypse Flare 
7. W.O.O.O.U 
8. In Your Name 
9. Glass 
10. Kill It 
11. Cuts Inside

Friday, February 14, 2020

Camp Cold Brook Film Review Starring Danielle Harris and Chad Michael Murray

In order to go out with a bang, a team of veteran paranormal investigators travels to Oklahoma to investigate an abandoned camp where a brutal massacre occurred years earlier.
Chad Michael Murray (Gilmore Girls, House Of Wax) and Danielle Harris (Halloween 4, Rob Zombie’s Halloween 1 & 2) star in this old school style horror tale that is sure to keep you on the edge of your seats. It’s witty, It’s dark, and it’s a lot of fun. Chad and Danielle have such great on screen chemistry. They act like professional paranormal investigators and I believed them.
When audiences hear about a horror film that takes place at a camp there’s always that fear that the film will be lazy and ride off the coat tails of previous horror franchises. Camp Cold Brook doesn’t need to do that and is able to stand on its own. I felt like this film was a mix between 80’s horror and Ghost Adventures. The good Ghost Adventures. You know, before they started making everything up for ratings.
It’s very easy to make a paranormal film boring. It’s also very easy to rely on jump scares to carry the film. The filming techniques that were used in this movie allow the audience to have a completely different experience. I love that the creators were very mindful about how they included the technological equipment. It was very similar to what you’d see during a real paranormal investigation. You can tell everyone involved in the film did their homework on the subject and I have a lot of respect for that.
Through out the movie the team begins filming via found footage angles in order to record the events for the teams television series. This was a bold choice but I think it works really well for this specific film. I have never been a fan of the found footage genre but I think it works really well when used this way. It adds that extra “We’re not alone” feeling that helps breathe life into the film.
Camp Cold Brook is the winner of not one but two awards. Horrorhound Film Festival for Best Feature and Shriekfest for Best Horror Feature. I agree with their decisions. I think this film definitely deserves the recognition it’s receiving.
If you’re a fan of well thought out paranormal films definitely check out Camp Cold Brook. It reminds me a lot of horror films from the late 90’s and early 2000’s while remaining current and I think this will resonate with a lot of viewers. Writer Alex Carl and Director Andy Palmer are both fun and artistic filmmakers. I’ll be keeping my eye out for future projects.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Swallow Film Review- Final Girls Film Festival

Hunter, an expectant mother begins her journey down a dangerous path to self destruction. Can she find a better way to cope with her loneliness or will she let it consume her? It becomes obvious very early on that although Hunter loves her husband their marriage isn’t ideal. She is constantly trying to be the perfect wife for Richie and in doing so she loses a part of herself. She lacks the ability to control her life and in an effort to gain back that control she starts experimenting by swallowing small objects. It seems perfectly harmless at first but as we dig deeper we start to realize that this has become a dangerous obsession.
Swallow is a great example of a film that concentrates on the darker side of marriage. It explains in detail what can happen when you marry someone and you spend that entire relationship not being yourself but trying to be someone else for the one you love. It’s a great way to look into a relationship without rose tinted glasses. Few films are able to do this in a way that is truly relatable.
Haley Bennett’s portrayal of Hunter is fantastic. She is able to make her character seem both relatable and detached all at the same time. It’s almost as if she’s playing two separate characters that merge together seamlessly and I applaud her for her abilities. After seeing this film I cannot imagine anyone else playing the role of Hunter.

Denis O’Hare plays the pivotal role of Irwin in this story. Sometimes it’s the characters who provide the backstory that are the important ones. They tell us about who the main character is and what they’ve gone through to lead up to the moment when we meet them. I have been a big fan of Denis’s work and I think he really shines here.
If you are a fan of strong female characters I urge you to check out Swallow. It gives a real, heartfelt look into life and shows that no one is perfect even if it appears so from the outside. I give Swallow a 10/10. The directing, writing, acting, cinematography, and music are all brilliant. It all comes together to tell the story of a perfectly imperfect housewife. Swallow debuts in select theaters and on demand on March 6, 2020 and is currently being shown at Final Girls Film Festival in Berlin, Germany.

Monday, January 13, 2020

The Wave Film Review Feat. Justin Long and Donald Faison

Frank (Justin Long) has been searching for his big break at the firm for six years. When the day finally arrives he just wants to get a good nights sleep to prepare for his presentation the next morning. Friend and colleague Jeff (Donald Faison) insists they head out of town to celebrate. The duo runs into trouble when Frank is given a hallucinogen that alters his perception of reality. Their lives will be forever changed in Gille Klabin’s The Wave.
I was blown away by how creative this film is. It’s purposely misleading which I think is a brilliant concept. The movie is filmed in a way where it seems cut and dry but then the action takes over. Once Frank realizes the substance he was given is taking effect is where things really take off. There is a scene where Frank is brushing his teeth and it is shot so flawlessly. There was no disconnect in the first reveal which makes the story that much more believable.
There is so much that goes on in this film that in any other setting I think it would be too much. A film that is this ambitious requires a certain amount of skill, patience, and an eye for detail. The Wave includes all of these and more which is why I was impressed with it. The writing, directing, and acting are all top notch. It was both fascinating and entertaining to watch Frank react to both reality and the world he was seeing due to hallucinations. Those scenes were done in a way where they felt realistic rather than cheesy or over the top. I found myself being somewhat sympathetic to Franks situation. On one hand, you shouldn’t take drugs. Especially from strangers. On the other hand, it’s clear to me that Frank doesn’t exactly make the best decisions. Especially under pressure.
Sheila Vand plays Theresa. Although she’s a secondary character her existence is pretty important to the story. While in his “medicated” state Frank sees Theresa and tells her all about the man he wants to be. It’s clear that the man he is isn’t who he wishes to be. This reveal is something that is relatable to all of us. No matter how ideal our lives may be there is always something we wish we could change. Wish we could do better. I loved how this scene took a movie about an altered reality and turned it into something that is prevalent in the real world. It makes Frank a relatable character which I was very fond of.
Justin Long and Donald Faison have such great on screen chemistry. I love Justin’s ability to become his character so effortlessly. He does a great job at portraying the every day Joe with the 9 - 5 job. That is not something all actors are capable of because it becomes stale over time. He has mastered it in a way where it’s enjoyable in any setting. The Wave is no exception to this. I have yet to see a Justin Long Film that I didn’t like. Donald has played a variety of different characters throughout his career and this is a role I really enjoyed him in.
Overall this film was great. The characters felt so real that I connected with them in a way. This is rare for me and I don’t take this experience lightly. If you’re a fan of Justin Long and or films about altered reality I would definitely give The Wave a watch. I give this movie a 10/10 easily. It was a very enjoyable experience. The film comes out in select theaters and on nationwide VOD on January 17th. I applaud Director Gille Klabin and Writer Carl W. Lucas for their brilliant work and look forward to viewing future projects.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Album Review - Ghost - Seven Inches Of Satanic Panic Single

On September 13, 2019 Swedish rock band Ghost released their highly anticipated single, Seven Inches Of Satanic Panic. The single consists of two brand new songs, Kiss The Go-Goat, and Mary On A Cross. Since these songs were performed by Papa Nihil in the 1960’s, The songs are very reminiscent of that time period.
The bands previous effort, Prequelle swaps out the Satanic theme for a more personal recording while still remaining a concept album about the Black Plague. This album features a few gems such as Dance Macabre, Witch Image, and Life Eternal. It is my opinion that this new single is very similar to songs from the bands first album, Opus Eponymous. The “Satanic” symbolism and lyrics work so well with the themed music. I’d say these are my favorite songs they’ve released since Meliora. As much as I love Prequelle, these songs just scream GHOST. Of the two songs my favorite is Mary On A Cross. It has that catchy, groovy beat that I absolutely love. I found myself putting it on repeat and memorizing the lyrics rather quickly. Kiss The Go-Goat is a great song as well, and even has its own music video.
Tobias Forge, singer and mastermind behind Ghost has stated that the band will be taking a break from touring in 2020 to focus on their next full length album which will debut in 2021. In the mean time, a limited edition box set entitled Prequelle Exaulted became available as of September 20, 2019. Only 5,000 copies were produced worldwide. This boxset includes a transparent black and orange vinyl record, Live Photo prints, a 12 page booklet, a 7” vinyl featuring previously unreleased recordings, and a 7” adapter. Ghost is currently embarking on a tour across North America in support of their 2018 album, Prequelle. I will be catching their live show in Worcester, MA on October 21, 2019.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Fantasia Film Festival - Riot Girls Review

It’s 1995 and school’s out forever. No more futures, no more rules. A mysterious disease has wiped out the adult population in Potter’s Bluff, and it’s the East side VS the Titans. Nat’s brother Jack (Alexandre Bourgeois, The New Romantic) gets captured by the Titans while out on a mission. It’s up to Nat (Madison Iseman, Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle) and her best friend Scratch (Paloma Kwiatkowski, Percy Jackson Franchise) to save him.
Riot Girls has a pretty traditional plot. The rich kids VS the poor kids. This is a story we’ve seen time and time again throughout various decades. What makes this film rise above the rest is the writing, acting, character development, and the soundtrack. Most films that emulate a specific time period rely on music that was very popular in their respective decades. Instead of choosing more obvious choices like Green Day or No Doubt, they chose bands like Joan Jett, and L7. L7 is a female fronted grunge band that were part of the 90’s riot grrrl movement. Other Riot Grrrl bands include Bikini Kill, Bratmobile, and Babes In Toyland.
This film takes many different genres and smashes them together to make its own perfectly balanced hybrid. You’ve got the grrrl power movement, jocks with enlarged egos, gnarly death scenes, perfect comedic timing, and an unexpectedly bright ambiance. Riot Girls is such a refreshing film. It’s thoughtful but doesn’t take itself too seriously. There’s something so raw and powerful about this film that it instantly makes you side with the underdog.
I give Riot Girls a 10/10. There’s nothing I would change about this film. The pacing and dialogue is fantastic. If you like teen dramas mixed with a killer soundtrack and some ultra violence I think you’ll enjoy this film. Riot Girls was featured at 2019’s Fantasia International Film Festival and is now playing in select theaters across North America.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Film Score Review - Sandro Di Stefano - Dolph Lundgren’s The Tracker

The 2019 Lionsgate film “The Tracker” starring Dolph Lundgren tells the story of Loke Hakansson, a family man who reluctantly travels to a remote Italian village with his wife and daughter. 15 Years after his family is kidnapped, Loke is contacted by a detected who claims to have new information about their disappearance.
I will be reviewing the films OTC which was composed by the brilliant Sandro Di Stefano and The Dnepropetrovsk Philharmonic Orchestra. Like his previous works this soundtrack is stunning. The talent by not only Sandro but the Orchestra themselves is impeccable.
One of the first things I noticed about the songs here is that the music is so different. There are so many unique style choices incorporated into each track. Instead of being overpowering it’s quite beautiful and very relaxing. When I listen to the music for a film I look for songs that are intriguing, captivating, but also capture the film through melody. I think these songs do this perfectly. They tell a story that can be enjoyed both on and off screen.
My favorite tracks from “The Tracker” Soundtrack are It’s Wasted Time, Welcome To Taranto, Albanians Attak, and The Playful Revenge. All of these are perfect examples of how to properly incorporate different sounds and melodies into music in order to capture the essence of the subject matter. Sandro has such a unique vision with each album he creates. I find it rather difficult to listen to soundtracks sometimes because the vision only works within the film. If I see Sandro’s name I know I’m going to be listening to something beautiful. I’m always in awe of his work. Please be sure to check out the film “The Tracker”, The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, and the Dnepropetrovsk Philharmonic Orchestra. This OTC has 14 songs with a running time just shy of 35 minutes. It is now available through iTunes. I highly suggest you pick up a copy for yourself and or your loved ones.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

IFC Midnight - The Wind Film Review

The Wind is available from Amazon. To purchase your copy go here

Lizzy (Caitlin Gerard) and Isaac Macklin (Ashley Zuckerman) are a couple living in the Western frontier of the late 1800’s. Up until recently the pair had gotten used to being the only inhabitants of the land. That is until the arrival of Emma (Julia Goldani Telles) and Gideon Harper (Dylan McTee). It soon becomes clear that life here isn’t as peaceful as one would think. 

I really enjoyed The Wind. The film allows for a lot of tension to be built before the first reveal. It impresses me when filmmakers are able to tell their story in a more simplistic way. We often find ourselves trying to relate to characters who are put in situations that aren’t physically possible in the real world. For that reason I appreciate even the smallest decisions because it showcases their attention to detail. 

The films plot may not be an original concept but the execution is what sets it apart from those who’ve walked this path before. As you watch Lizzy start to lose herself and succumb to the madness you realize that even you don’t know who to trust. You start questioning yourself on her behalf. 

I give The Wind a score of 10/10. It was brilliantly executed especially for the time period in which the story takes place. The plot develops slowly but this just adds to the atmosphere. The events in the film would never work in a fast paced environment so I think choosing to slow everything down was a smart choice. The smaller the cast the harder it is to make your story believable. The actors did a great job and it showcases their abilities. If you enjoy films such as The Witch I think you’ll really enjoy The Wind. Although the plots are different the atmosphere and overall tone of the film is similar. 

Film Information:
Studio: Soap Box Films   
Writer: Teresa Sutherland 
Director: Emma Tammi   
Country: USA
Language: English  
Run Time: 86 minutes  
Release Date: April 5, 2019 

IFC Midnight - I Trapped The Devil Film Review

I Trapped The Devil is available through Shout Factory. To purchase your copy go here

The smell of a freshly cut Christmas tree fills the air on a cold December evening. The incandescent lights lead your way through the dark path. An eerie feeling comes over you and suddenly you get the feeling that this isn’t your typical family friendly Christmas story. 

Matt (AJ Bowen) and his wife Karen (Susan Burke) decide to pay Matt’s estranged brother Steve (Scott Poythress) a visit during the holiday season. Expecting to be welcomed with open arms the two are shocked when Steve announces that they are not welcome in the family home. It becomes clear rather quickly that Steve is harboring a sinister secret. 

TV static, phone calls, and haunting music take an otherwise ethereal setting and turn it into a dark, unnerving environment. The tension and uneasiness in the air creates the perfect atmosphere for this story. Everything from the dim lighting to the discovery “down below” are mixed perfectly with a chilling feeling of dread and despair.  

I really enjoyed I Trapped The Devil. This film feeds on your fear without relying on old tricks and jump scares. It takes you back to that classic cinematic experience where you had to rely on your senses and imagination. The characters are believable and the cast does a brilliant job at making their story come to life. 

Josh Lobo did an exceptional job here and his passion for film and creativity are very evident throughout the entirety of the film. The final reveal was done so well I did not see it coming. It is rare that I have the pleasure of making such a large claim but in this case it’s warranted. I give I Trapped The Devil a 10/10. Very nicely done! 

Film Information:
Studio: IFC Midnight  
Writer: Josh Lobo 
Director: Josh Lobo  
Country: USA
Language: English  
Run Time: 82 minutes  
Release Date: April 26, 2019 

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

TV Review - Netflix’s Mindhunter Season 2

Mindhunter is a Netflix Original series based off of the best selling 1995 crime thriller entitled Mindhunter: Inside The FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit. The novel was written by both John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker. The project became a reality after actress Charlize Theron gave director David Fincher a copy of John’s novel. After years of deliberation with other agencies Mindhunter finally found its writer, Joe Penhall. With Theron and Fincher signed on as Executive Producers, the series would be picked up by Netflix in 2015, and air on October 13, 2017. 

The television series explores the first hand accounts of retired Special Agent and Unit Chief John E. Douglas. Douglas’s career started in the late 1970’s, and he has spent a total of 25 years with the United States Federal Bureau Of Investigation. He has sat down with some of America’s most terrifying and sadistic serial killers. Some of the men he’s dealt with are high profile killers such as Ted Bundy, Charles Manson, and Ed Gein. 

John learned how these men think, speak, and even act. He used this crucial information to build informative profiles of these criminals. As if his resume isn’t impressive enough, the character Jack Crawford from the 1991 film Silence Of The Lambs was based on John E. Douglas.

Season One of Mindhunter focuses on FBI agents Ford (Jonathan Groff) and Tench (Holt McCallany). With Ford being a rookie and Tench being a hard headed know it all, the first few episodes are quite interesting to say the least. Once the boys are given the task of running the Behavioral Science Unit the “fun” begins. Ford and Tench make their way to the prison in order to interview their subjects. These criminals are instructed to participate in a formal questionnaire. It’s during this process that the information is handed over to their research partner, Professor Carr (Anna Torv). 

The real life serial killers portrayed in Season One Of Mindhunter are Ed Kemper (Cameron Britton), Montie Rissell (Same Strike), Jerry Brudos (Happy Anderson), Richard Speck (Jack Erdie), and Dennis Rader aka the BTK Killer (Sonny Valicenti). 

Season Two premiered on August 16, 2019 and brings us back to the Psychological Unit. This time Tench and Professor Carr are instructed to keep an eye on Ford by newcomer Assistant Director Gunn (Michael Cerveris), as his practices are unconventional and not within the bureau’s protocol. Assistant Director Gunn is the replacement for Unit Chief Shepard who blames Ford for his forced retirement. 

Season Two focuses on a number of high profile serial killers. The current case Ford and Tench are working on are the latest murders committed by the American serial killer Dennis Rader also known as the BTK killer. BTK stands for “Bind, Torture, Kill”. Dennis Rader was active from 1974 to 1991 and was responsible for the deaths of 10 people in the Wichita Kansas area. After a long hiatus he returned in 2004 when he wrote a letter that resulted in his capture in 2005. Rader is currently serving 10 consecutive life sentences at the El Dorado Correctional Facility.

Dennis Rader aka The BTK Killer (left), Sonny Valicenti as Dennis Rader (right)

David Berkowitz started his killing spree during the summer of 1976. His trail of terror ended after his sixth victim. In 1984 Berkowitz pleaded guilty and was sentenced 25 to life for each one of his victims. David’s weapon of choice was a .44 caliber bulldog revolver. This led the media to nickname him the .44 Caliber Killer, a name which David detested. At the time he felt the name Son Of Sam suited him perfectly. He later retracted this statement in 2017 expressing that he hates the name and used it out of anger. Berkowitz is now a born again Christian who goes by the name Son Of Hope. Oliver Cooper’s brilliant portrayal of David Berkowitz is awe inspiring. It’s honestly one of the most bone chilling and convincing portrayals of a serial killer I have ever seen. 

David Berkowitz (left), Oliver Cooper as Berkowitz (right)

As much as I love Season One, Season Two just blew me away. I can’t express how much I genuinely love this series. Mindhunter isn’t your typical television program. All of the actors did such a phenomenal job of bringing these characters to life. Although writer Joe Penhall had his work cut out for him with the series, I felt as though he told John’s story beautifully. A lot of the content to seeing it in the television series is taken directly from John’s novel. 

The details about the FBI agents, the department, and the serial killers themselves were written exceptionally well. Some of the other infamous men included in Season Two are Charles Manson, William Henry Hance, Elmer Wayne Henley Jr., and William Pierce.

If you’re a fan of crime thrillers, serial killers, and TV shows based on actual events, I highly suggest you watch Mindhunter. If you’ve never seen the series, Season One is brilliant, and Season Two was so good I couldn’t stop watching it. Both seasons of Mindhunter are now available on Netflix. 

Relic Film Review

Relic is a daring horror drama about the dangers of Dementia. It encompasses the heart of both horror and compassion in one of the best IF...