THE FIRST GRADER

6.5 out of 10

UK / Kenya co-production

REVIEW COMING SOON

Release Date: 24th June 2011

Director: Justin Chadwick (Tulip Fever / Mandela – Long Walk To Freedom / The Other Boleyn Girl)

Cast: Naomie Harris, Oliver Litondo, Tony Kgoroge, Alfred Munyua, Shoki Mpugapa and Vusi Kunene

Writer: Ann Peacock

Trailer: THE FIRST GRADER

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EXTINCTION – JURASSIC PREDATORS

3.5 out of 10

Release Date: 18th February 2015 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Adam J Spinks (Survivors (2015))

Cast: Sarah Mac, Ben Loyd-Holmes, Daniel Caren, Simon Burbage, Emily Lillie Lees, Dolores Reynals and Neil Newbon

Writer: Adam Spinks & Ben Loyd-Holmes

Trailer: EXTINCTION – JURASSIC PREDATORS

Review below by Matt Ushersaurus

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ZEBRA CROSSING

7 out of 10

REVIEW COMING SOON

Release Date: 11th January 2011 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Sam Holland

Cast: Lee Turnbull, Greg Wakeham, Kyle Treslove, Aaron White, Kathryn O’Reilly, Richard Pryal, Ashley David, Paul McNeilly, Nick Bartlett, Anne Burkin, Dickson Tolson, Nicholas Walter with Jay Brown, George Russo and Michael Maris

Writer: Sam Holland

Trailer: ZEBRA CROSSING

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THE COVEN

1 out of 10

Release Date: 16th February 2015 (DVD Premiere)

Director: John Mackie

Cast: Dexter Fletcher, Magda Rodriguez, Rachel Summers, Fiona Maeve O’Brien, Holly Mackie, Cloe Mackie, Madeleine Rose Witney, Maya Charlerly, Billy Red Mackie, Kazim Benson, Jodie Benson, Howard Lee with Tony O’ Callaghan and Mark Cooper Harris

Writer: Jayney Mackie

Trailer: THE COVEN

MV5BMTYxMDc2ODYxNl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTI1NjkxMDE@._V1_SY317_CR6,0,214,317_AL_TO BE PROOFREAD: Unscary and as flat as Norfolk, I doubt many of the cast have even so much as walked past a drama school. So wooden are the performances by most of the young leads that viewers may get them confused with the trees in haunted woods where most of The Coven is set.  Set in a real life ‘haunted’ spot in Highgate, London the only thing scary about this flick is how seasoned actor and up and coming film director Dexter Fletcher (LAYER CAKE) got involved. He must really need money to make his next film about Eddie The Eagle or the filmmakers caught him doing something in the woods on camera and blackmailed him!

Strangely enough the bad and indifferent performances by the largely female cast borderline on realistic. Now, this may sound like a contradiction but bear with me, when I was training to be a school teacher I was met with the same type of slow witted, heavy eye-lid lead, dopeyness on a day to day basis and I can confirm that this is how teenagers of today act, except these girls couldn’t act and were betraying their real life personalities. You can imagine how unenthusiastic they were to be stuck in some cold and spooky woods in the middle of autumn with only some creepy filmmakers for company.  The only other film with a comparably bored cast was The Dead Inside – a recent zombie horror set outside Milton Keynes!

The plot is nonsensical, every single adult seems to be an encyclopedia on devil worship. One character even has a professor on her couch to tell her about the ins and outs of occultism and how spooky her neighbourhood is. Dexter Fletcher plays a teacher who gets sent out of his lesson by a sexy ghost teacher who may be an embodiment of Lucifer. A mysterious motorbiker called Uri Clef stalks our girls and turns them into a holly bush whilst chalk letters move around on a black board in their classroom. Tony O’ Callaghan from The Bill turns up to deliver more exposition when Dexter Fletcher’s sidelined teacher starts talking about asking the sexy ghost out only to be put off topic by her foreign surname. That’s another thing, this film is racist. All the black characters are dim and treated thus. A racist librarian (MARK COOPER HARRIS – ABDUCTED) won’t even give her a photocopy of a book and even closes the library early so that she can’t stay and read it. Her white friends tell her that she’s not one of them and that’s just for starts. She’s so thick she runs to the woods to help her imperilled friends in her pyjamas, at Hallowe’en! There’s more but Joe Pesci II is likely to happen upon this strain of racism that runs deep throughout The Coven albeit intentional.

Halfway through two lads are added to the menu but to little effect except to wonder quite how many of our youth are speaking in this crazy ‘made-up’ accent that blends East End Cockney, Nottingham and Jamaican, and how daft it sounds. The boys are just as crap at acting, further banjaxxed by a terrible script and plot. Weirdly enough it’s not the worst horror film that’s turned up this year and that is very,very dim praise indeed.

The ending of the film contains a caveat that this is all based on fact and that real witches tried to stop them from making the film. I wish they succeeded but this film was hexed the minute the writer figured out how to unscrew the lid from her biro.

1 out of 10 – Pure special bus.

Second review below by the sinister fiend Matt ‘He knows for sure Witches don’t wear underwear’ Usher aka Joe Pesci II

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KING OF THE TRAVELLERS

3 out of 10

THIS IS AN IRISH FILM

Release Date: 29th March 2013 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Mark O’Connor (Stalker (2012) / Between The Canals)

Cast: John Connors, Michael Collins, Peter Coonan, Carla McGlynn, Packy Lee, Barry Keoghan and David Murray

Writer: Mark O’Connor

Trailer: King of the Travellers

1367149810There’s more incident in King of the Travellers than 10 years worth of Glenroe. King of the Travellers has a lot of heart but with all the good will in the world it’s still a slap dash pile-up of gypsy cliche. Trap racing, burning caravans, bare knuckle fighters, evil landowners, curses and honour all feature as if the makers would get fined by the real travelling community if they had of skipped them out of the film.  It’s like Snatch and Brad Pitt never happened as Bags (PETER COONAN) and the king of the gypsies, John Paul (JOHN CONNORS), avenge the latters father’s death when the alledged killers, the Powers, move to a nearby plot of land. For family honour they challenge them to a bare knuckle fight. But other elements fall into the mix. Why does John Paul’s Uncle, Francis (MICHAEL COLLINS – PAVEE LACKEEN) want to put an end to all fighting? How come there’s a beauty amongst all the ugly brutes in the shape of the winsome would-be love of John Paul, Winnie (CARLA MCGLYNN)? Is she proof that gypsies still steal children?

Reasonably competent performances are almost cancelled out by a bad finish on the movie that makes the film look like it was made by at least four different people. A professional looking credit sequence and a gripping opening scene showcasing a trap race kick off proceedings well. Then as the film progresses so the viewer’s will to live begin to leak away. The cinematography starts off at a reasonable standard but as the hire period comes to an end on another a microphone or lamp the movie staggers on, the quality rapidly dipping, as the melodrama and tragedy in the story begins to pile up.  The doomed arc of the main characters is showcased from the get-go so as it shambles towards a series of obvious outcomes it slowly dawned on me that I was watching the traveller equivalent of The Lion King with a few more deaths thrown in for good measure.

There’s very little concession shown for those that cannot follow the traveller dialect that is delivered at a speed twice that of Mickey (BRAD PITT) from Snatch could have ever dreamed possible. There were no subtitles with my DVD but I doubt the script contained too many more gems than I gleaned. So non-travellers may have a wee bit of trouble following the strong dialect. They’ll have no hassles following the very, very obvious plotting though.

King of Travellers doesn’t serve as an outsiders’ window into the gypsy life beyond compounding and confirming cliches as fact (I’m not sure how affiliated the director is with the wandering life). Travellers have been depicted better in films like Outcast or Traveller but are yet to receive anything as close to authentic as Pavee Lackeen, an Irish movie from 2005 that’s worth seeking out.

The ending to King of the Travellers comes abruptly and it seems like all the tragedies that the story tellers have thought up are set on a collisin course for the last 3 minutes, so there’s no chance to feel sorrow for anything on screen as we’re rushed through the formalities and then issued with one last piece of melodramatic blarney to bring in the end credits…. Did I mention the slow motion? There’s enough here to make the producers of Home and Away blush.

3 out of 10 – King of the Travellers starts off well before disappearing into a whirlwind of well-trodden tragic plot-lines shoddily assembled to resemble The Lion King in a caravan… “Meee Maaaaa!!! Meeee Daaaaaa!!! It’s shoite!”

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SHIFTY

7.5 out of 10

Release Date: 24th April 2009

Director: Eran Creevy (Autobahn / Welcome To The Punch)

Cast: Daniel Mays, Riz Ahmed, Jason Flemyng, Nitin Ganatra, Jay Simpson, Dannielle Brent, Eddie Webber, Kate Groombridge with Jason Maza and Francesca Annis

Writer: Eran Creevy

Trailer: SHIFTY

Review by Matt Usher below:

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’71

6 out of 10

Release Date: 10th October 2014

Director: Yann Demange (Top Boy (TV) / Dead Set (TV) / Secret Diary of a Call Girl (TV))

Cast: Jack O’Connell, Sam Reid, Sean Harris, Richard Dormer, Charlie Murphy, Killian Scott, Barry Keoghan, Martin McCann, Babou Ceesay, Corey McKinley, Sam Hazeldine, Paul Popplewell with David Wilmot and Paul Anderson

Writer: Gregory Burke

Trailer: ’71

Review below by Matt Usher aka Joe Pesci II

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