ROUND UP – 27TH NOVEMBER 2012

A bit of a slow week over here but we have installed a trailer page for up and coming films that look good.  Simple as that.  Some may only get a cursory cinema release or none at all. But I’m looking forward to The Fall Of The Essex Boys because it looks like it may try a new slant on the Rettendon Landrover Murders in which three of the country’s most notorious criminals were executed.  Was it the police? Or did the police arrest the right men?  Check out the trailers page here.  It’s out mid-February 2013. We also lined up Sightseers.

Trailers Page

REVIEWS:

New reviews are thin on the ground.  We’ve reviewed two contrasting creep tests.  One was just brilliant but very small in scale. The other was a Scream / I Know What You Did Last Summer wannabe, which has to be the sleepiest slasher anyone has ever seen.  Can you tell which is which. Also a pretty good but slow Sci-Fi about cloning called Clone– featuring Matt Smith of Dr Who‘s first film lead. Hard Boiled Sweets is a polished if tired gangster flick set in Southend On Sea…. Also clocked a USA set sports thriller called FREERUNNER. It stars both Tamer Hassan and Danny Dyer as the euro-villains…

FREERUNNERDuff USA set thriller starring dopey twin-pack Tamer Hassan & Danny Dyer

DEMONS NEVER DIE has two reviews. One from me and one from Joe Pesci II

IN THE DARK HALFDo try to seek this out if you prefer creepy over gory!

CLONE – Intelligent Sci-Fi… No Laser guns or flying cars though. Just Dr Who.

HARDBOILED SWEETS Gaiiiingsturz!

I’ll add on one or two more during the week.  I think Joe, has a BASEMENT review for me and I’ll be reviewing SIGHTSEERS, which is out on cinemas on Friday.

For now, hold that guff, we’ll be back….

Dick N Joe

IN THE DARK HALF

9 out of 10

Release Date: 10th August 2012

Director: Alistair Gibbons

Cast: Jessica Barden, Tony Curran, Lyndsey Marshal, Georgia Henshaw, Tim Lewis, Simon Armstrong

Writer: Lucy Catherine

Trailer: IN THE DARK HALF TRAILER

The title refers to the latter half of the year, the darker half, that begins after the Celtic festival of Samhain.  In Celtic mythology animals are sacrificed to the land and for a short time, a gateway is opened between the world of the living and the world of the dead by throwing the sacrificed cattle’s bones onto a bonfire. Places were set at the table to feast with dead kin but vengeful spirits of the murdered could also pass across.  People were known to protect themselves from harmful spirits.  Fairies were also thought to kidnap humans around this time.  Interesting or what? Elements of Samhain are scattered throughout this thoroughly effective ghost story.

Set on the rural peripheries of Bristol, a sensitive 15 year old girl Marie (JESSICA BARDEN – TAMARA DREWE) is seen stealing rabbits from her neighbour Filthy’s (TONY CURRAN – RED ROAD) traps to sacrifice to the land spirits who she believes to live in the hill behind her housing estate.  Filthy’s devoted six year old son, Sean is afraid of the hill but joins his dad on hunts nonetheless.  One evening, Marie babysits a increasingly spooked Sean.  Strange lights on the hill and Sean’s strange behaviour are written off as childish high energy, but eventually Marie falls asleep. On awaking her whole world is changed by a strange tragedy that may or not involve the spirit world.

I’ve actually told you far less in the review than other reviews in the papers or Empire have, but arriving at In The Dark Half knowing as little as possible is a real pleasure.  I’ve never seen a film quite like it, but I have seen this same story told badly.  Cherry picking elements of Samhain rituals for the story elements is inspired and explains away any head scratching moments.  Beautifully performed by the young Jessica Barden (COMEDOWN), who stole two recent movies, the god-awful Tamara Drewe and Hanna, where she popped up as the lead’s young holiday friend. She also appeared in the dog awful Comedown, but no one could save that. In In The Dark Half she is on top form again but is equally matched by an excellent cast.  Her Marie is an upsetting creation, totally in the thrall of her supernatural beliefs and convinced that she is a curse to those around her.  Alienated from those closest to her, we gradually learn why she has embraced such otherworldly elements.  Her relationship with Filthy is so well realised.  There is so much distance between her and anyone else that it makes sense that she turns to him altering his sense of perception. Or does she?  That’s the beauty of this film. Events can be explained away rationally or to fit a supernatural interpretation.

Stunning imagery includes  a lake at dawn, a stampede of deer, a deer reflected in a car window and ghostly chalk writing on a wall. In The Dark Half is pitch perfect, and like Outcast (that I recently reviewed) it thoroughly invests it’s story with convincing and never seen before occult / pagan rituals for the plot’s benefit.  Cinematography, script and the score are all brilliant, immersive and quite wonderful. My only quibble would be the pace.  Occasionally the 84 minutes seem to grind to a halt and viewers with no knowledge of the pagan rites used to accelerate the story may have some problems following it.

9 out of 10 – One of the most intelligent and sensitive ghost stories I’ve ever seen. It can work doubly as an observation on grief and recovery.  Ignore the vulgar comparisons to certain Hollywood juggernauts, those films only wish they could unsettle and upset you in the way this creepy one-off does.  This marks it’s young star Jessica Barden as an actress to watch.  A fine feature film debut for the makers too.

Another Review below by Matt ‘Dr Sook’ Usher

WHAT HAVE IS SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

  • Jessica Barden: Comedown, Hanna, Tamara Drewe
  • Tony Curran: Awaiting, Marvellous, Thor 2, X-Men – First Class, Tintin (voice), The Veteran, Ondine, Underworld 2, The Good German, Red Road, Blade 2, The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Captives, This Life (TV)
  • Lyndsey Marshall:  Titanic (TV), Hereafter, Festival, The Hours
  • Georgia Henshaw: Angus Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging, Waterloo Road (TV)
  • Simon Armstrong: Game Of Thrones (TV), Casualty (TV)

NEW FILM TRAILERS – 2012

TRAILERS:

THIS NEW SECTION IS TO GIVE YOU THE HEADS UP ON NEW FILMS COMING TO UK CINEMAS.

1: FALL OF THE ESSEX BOYS 

Cast: Nick Nevern, Kate Magowan, Kierston Wareing, Jay Brown, Simon Phillips, Eddie Webber, Tony Denham and Robert Cavanah

The first is the trailer to the new film tackling The Rettendon Landrover Murders in Essex back in 1995.  Now if you haven’t already seen the previous movies to wrestle this thorny subject, FALL OF THE ESSEX BOYS looks like the right place to start.  Formerly known as Once Upon A Time In Essex (which I prefer to this fall and rise nonsense) is brought to us by Chata Pictures.  They’ve brought us a mixed bag so far with THE RISE AND FALL OF A WHITE COLLAR HOOLIGAN being their best by a long shot.  Fall Of The Essex Boys has been directed by Paul Tanter (The Jack Trilogy) and starring  Simon Phillips, Jay Brown and Peter Barrett as the infamous Rolfe, Tucker and Tate. Nick Nevern as Darren Nicholls and Robert Cavanah as Mickey Steele.  From the trailer this looks like the quintessential take on this compelling and true urban crime story. Let’s hope it’s the film to end all Essex Boys movies.

The makers are promising a fresh take on what we’ve already seen in the movie listed below. So in theory this should be the ‘go-to’ movie about events.  I personally hope it’s a success for Mr Jonathan Sothcott (the producer) and co. so that they get to carry on bringing us their ever improving and vital take on UK cinema.

WATCH THIS: Fall Of The Essex Boys TRAILER

Other related movies: Essex Boys / The Rise Of The Footsoldier  / Bonded By Blood 

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ROUND UP – 22nd of November

OK: new reviews in for newish UK movies from the last two years:::

OUTCAST <—-  BREAKOUT MOVIE OF THE WEEK

THE TOURNAMENT  <—– THE BEST ACTION MOVIE NOBODY’S SEEN

DEAD MAN RUNNING <——JOE PESCI REVIEWS DANNY DYER & TAMER HASSAN’s most recent GOOD film. (2009!)

LOVE BITE 

WAKE WOOD

LONDON BOULEVARD  <—— MOST EXPENSIVE UK GANGSTER FLICK EVER???? EVER HEARD OF IT?

BASEMENT

THE BIG I AM

GBH <— JOE PESCI II’S REVIEW

F <— JOE PESCI II’S REVIEW

FOUR  <— JOE PESCI II’S REVIEW

THE ARBOR

review for CLONE coming tomorrow.

We’re working on things behind the scenes to give the site different dimensions……

Until next time, hold that fart.

Britpic Dick N’ Joe Pesci II

WAKE WOOD

3 out of 10

Release Date: 25th March 2011

Director: David Keating: (THE LAST OF THE HIGH KINGS)

Cast: Aiden Gillen, Eva Birthistle, Timothy Spall, Ella Connolly, Amelia Crowley and Ruth McCabe

Writer: Brendan McCarthy

Trailer: WAKE WOOD

Wake Wood was Hammer House of Horror‘s second official film since it was re-launched with Let Me In in early 2011.  It was also the first release for the British wing of the brand.  The Resident was the third and The Woman In Black was the fourth and most recent.  Unfortunately, despite having a very spooky premise, Wake Wood is neutered by it’s execution.  It has the worst cinematography I’ve ever seen in a studio film and the editing has been done with a rusty knife and fork.  The sound is terrible and the majority of the acting looks like it was done in one take with no rehearsal.  So how did this intriguing stinker with a good story get into the hands of this group of amateur prats? Looking back on the director’s credits I see he’s responsible for a pretty damn good coming of age tale called The Last Of The High Kings back in the late 1990s, so I’m at a loss at to how it’s come out this way.

The plot, as I said is great.  A young couple, a vet, Padraig (AIDEN GILLEN – THE DARK KNIGHT RISES) and  Louise, a pharmacist (EVA BIRTHISTLE – THE CHILDREN) move to the remote Irish village of Wake Wood to start again after the death of their 9 year old daughter, Alice (ELLA CONNOLLY). She was savaged by a neighbourhood dog.  Their choice would seem to be coincidental but an introduction to the local squire, Arthur, another twisty, creepy turn by Timothy Spall (VANILLA SKY) gives them a chance to see Alice again.  If their lost loved one has been in the ground less than twelve months, they can be returned, memories intact, for three days in order for the family to say goodbye properly.  Once the child is back though, events don’t quite go to plan.

The ritual of bringing back the dead is imaginatively staged and interesting to watch (it’s probably the only reason to watch Wake Wood). Between this and Outcast, I think I’ll become an expert in the occult before too long.  The dynamics of the return and some unusual rules are also adhered to and easy to follow, and believable for the storyline’s sake.  However there is so much wrong with the film in other areas. The acting from all concerned is OK but everybody is let down by an undercooked script and scenes that seem chopped or badly assembled.  Early scenes are rushed through at the expense of a suspenseful build-up.  We get no sense of characterisation beyond a few lines that boldly underline that the mother can’t move on that she thinks her husband is trying to forget her.  A bad soundtrack sounds pasted into the film with no thought for dramatic tension. On the whole Wake Wood feels like a rush job.

When the plot hits it’s stride and all it’s cards have been shown, a series of events are sellotaped together with no rhyme or reason.  The motives or even plot dynamics become unclear.  Has Ella returned to curse the village for disturbing the dead or is she a demonic killer.  We do find out eventually but it’s badly structured and it’s clunky.  The coda too is pretty insulting if the remaining characters are staying true to type.

3 out of 10 – A mixture of great ideas executed in such a fashion that it looks like a rush job. A film no one cared about therefore making it a very strange choice to launch the UK side of Hammer House of Horror again.  It does have a better plot than The Woman In Black though but that had a comparatively huge budget to spend on production and people to hype it.  A pity because it also serves a wasted opportunity as it’s a rare horror these days that comes with new ideas.

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

  • Aiden Gillen: Maze Runner 2, Still, CalvaryMister John, Game Of Thrones (TV), Shadow Dancer,  The Dark Knight Rises, Treacle Jr, Blitz, Twelve Rounds, The Wire (TV), Shanghai Knights, The Low Down, Queer As Folk (TV), My Kingdom, Some Mother’s Son, Mojo, Circle Of Friends
  • Eva Birthistle: Day of the Flowers, Waking The Dead (TV), The Children, Imagine Me & You, Breakfast On Pluto, Borstal Boy, Ae Fond Kiss
  • Timothy Spall: Mr Turner, The Love Punch, The Rise, Love Bite, Ginger and Rosa, Comes a Bright Day, Harry Potter – parts 3 – 8, Reuniting The Rubins, The King’s SpeechHeartless,  Alice In Wonderland (2011) (voice), Apaloosa, The Damned Utd, Sweeney Todd, Pierrepoint, Lemony Snickets Series of Unfortunate Events, The Last Samurai, Nicholas Nickleby (2002),  All Or Nothing, Vanilla Sky, Rock Star, Lucky Break, Chicken Run (voice), Loves Labours Lost,  Topsy Turvy, Still Crazy, Wisdom Of Crocodiles, Hamlet (1996), Secrets & Lies, Life Is Sweet, The Sheltering Sky, White Hunter Black Heart, To Kill a Priest, The Missionary, Auf Wierdesen Pet (TV), Quadrophenia
  • Ruth McCabe: Run & Jump, Philomena, Breakfast On Pluto, Inside I’m Dancing, Intermission, The Closer You Get, Titanic Town, An Awfully Big Adventure, Circle Of Friends, The Snapper, My Left Foot

OUTCAST

9 out of 10

Release Date: 10th December 2010

Director: Colm McCarthy

Cast: Kate Dickie, James Nesbitt, Niall Bruton, Hanna Stanbridge, Ciaran McMenamin and James Cosmo

Writer: Colm McCarthy

Trailer: OUTCAST

Another week, another werewolf movie on Britpic street. But wow, what a werewolf movie this turns out to be.  In fact is the monster on display here even a lycan? It’s only referred to as ‘The Beast’, so lets just leave it at that for now.  **Editors note: It’s actually a Celtic shapeshifter known as a Sith.** What I can be sure of though, is that this is the best UK monster flick I have seen in a seriously long time.  The tale is simple but the bloodied lily has been gilded with exceptional style and originality. Wow. Despite nursing a hangover today I was left breathless by this flick.  Witchcraft is high on the menu and spells n’ spooky incantations are thrust centre stage.  There is no space for brevity in Outcast.  This makes the use of black magic all the more effective. Some of the background history is left deliberately murky but no doubt a bit of research into the occult will shed some rhyme and reason to it all.

Mary (KATE DICKIE – PROMETHEUS) and Fergal (NIALL BRUTON) have spent the last 15 years hiding out.  But now they have chosen to stop running and face their enemies on a high rise housing estate on the outskirts of Edinburgh.  Also, two men, Cathal (JAMES NESBITT – THE WAY) and Liam (CIARAN MACMENAMIN) have been granted the right to seek them out by any means necessary.  Meanwhile, a beast is seen to be stalking residents of the estate both in broad daylight and at night. To exacerbate all this, Fergal is instantly attracted to the next door neighbour, Petronella (HANNA STANBRIDGE).  This upsets his mother to degrees that give us cause to scratch our heads in wonderment.  I won’t go any further because its not the plot that holds any surprises it’s its maguffins.  The events we are seeing played out against drab council estate trapping are not of this world. Birds are sacrificed in order to guide hunters, bird eggs are communicators, talismen are daubed on to walls or tattooed on bodies, and this is just the tip of the iceberg.  In creating a completely new universe it is portrayed with clarity and a refreshing conviction.

Kate Dickie returns to the high rises of Andrea Arnold’s Red Road to deliver another astonishing performance.  It’s a fearless, primal and very scary performance. She is matched equally by James Nesbitt, who is primarily known for lighter roles.  His hungry and murderous Cathal, has echoes of Jack Nicholson in The Shining, but there are no baked theatrics here.  I’ve never seen a genre pic pulled off with so much confidence or conviction in it’s own world.  The location is perfect, as high rise estates do harbour comparisons to haunted houses.  The stories that must be hidden behind them rows of windows.  The cut off nature of the higher rise flats.  The identikit appearance that was designed to be a place for leading a good life that became a living hell and by-word for no-go area.  The air of disappointment and wasted lives echo throughout.  When a particular character is cursed to walk the landings of the estate for eternity you aren’t without fear.  It’s a fate that’ll put the fear of god into you.

Outcast is all the more effective for believing in it’s own world.  The spells and dynamics seem thoroughly plausible in our world and that’s why this film works so well.  There are no comedy beats and there’s no room for any hope.  Even our heroines are without a path.  The predictable conclusion is perhaps the only ending that would fit Outcast because this is not one of those horrors that demand watered down sequels or prequels.  It is perfect as a one-off.  It is reminiscent of Candyman but even better because it has the perfect ingredients to become and ‘urban legend’.  It also has the realistic edge that ran throughout Kill List. They could both be set in the same universe  actually.

9 out of 10 – More spells than all 8 Harry Potter films, this is probably the best “man in a rubber-suit” movie of the decade. (If I can think of a better one I’ll come back and edit this.)  Some career best performances, a wonderful plot, scary locations and a bag of invention set this apart from just about every other horror movie in recent memory.

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

BASEMENT

0.5 out of 10

Release Date: 19th August 2010

Director: Asham Kamboj

Cast: Danny Dyer, Kierston Wareing, Jimi Mistry, Emily Beecham, Soraya Radford with Lois Winstone and Chris Ellison

Writer: Ewen Glass

Trailer: BASEMENT

I was hoping this was going to be similar to Severance, but from the moment I saw a sped up dog running around a bush for supposedly horror-tastic effect I knew I was in trouble.  Now I hate to kick a man when he’s down, but every time I think I’ve seen Danny Dyer’s (DEVIATION) worst film I come across one that makes the last one look like a Coen Brothers film (= brilliant!)  First I saw 7Lives and I was agog, then out came Deviation which was his worst by a long chalk, but now I unearth this incomprehensible, amateurish and very boring horror flick, Basement.  It certainly is rock bottom for all concerned. If Danny Dyer is capable of turning up in a worse film, he deserves an award of some kind.  He’s going to places DVD dustbin heroes like Christopher Lambert or Wesley Snipes would never ever dare to go.  Maybe I’m watching his movies in an order of quality or lack of.  But Basement is so oh oh ohhhhh bad you’ll wish you could un-watch it.  At an hour and ten minutes it’s also the shortest feature film to have a cinema release I know of.  I was grateful that it was this short but it still felt like a movie three times the length.

The plot is a mess. Five student activists stop in a forest for a wee and discover an underground bunker. Not a basement!  They climb down the ladder to find that they are locked into a labyrinth of dank corridors with walls that seem to secrete sh*t and blood.  What’s more is that they are being stalked.  The reasons why they are being stalked are hilariously convoluted and it was hard not to laugh with derision at the ending.  Actually, I did laugh hard at the TV screen.  Only Kierston Wareing (LOVE BITE) puts in a good performance, but the plot and script betrays everyones every move.  The struggling five trip up, twist ankles, suffer deep wounds, black out only to be running around without a care in the world a few seconds or minutes later.  Characters get bloody or get poo on themselves only to be playing with their hair or necklaces in the very next shot. There is zero care taken to establish any of the characters. Some helpful flashbacks at the end to re-cap on parts of the twist we may have missed replay an actor over-emphasising three key words to jaw droppingly dumb effect. Oh my god. The reasoning behind the whole set up is ill thought out and very poorly executed.  All of the cast, Dyer included, are capable of so much better and have proved so. But these are career worsts for all concerned.  Lucky old Lois Winstone (FATHERS OF GIRLS) gets to sit the majority of it out.  A nice paycheck and some wise words from her Dad probably saved her bacon.  Besides the sped up dog I have to point up that the only part to get the emotions flowing are when Jimi Mistry (BLOOD DIAMOND) gets kicked in the balls.  It’s an acting masterclass of hilarity.  Someone should youtube this bit alone to save anyone seeing the rest of Basement.

0.5 out of 10 – Basement is quite easily the worst UK horror movie (with name actors in) that you’ll ever see.  Yes, I am including Dead Cert and The Reverend.  I wasn’t sure it could be done but here it is. I wish I’d been warned off but now that I’ve seen it for the greater good, please take my advice.  Avoid, like any normal person would if they found a ladder going down into a dark hole in the middle of a forest. Cinematic Savile.

READ JOE PESCI II’s counter review below —> A contender to oust Plan 9 From Outer Space as worst film ever made? Surely not!

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT PERSON IN BEFORE?