NARCOPOLIS

5.5 out of 10

Release Date: 28th September 2015 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Justin Trefgarne

Cast: Elliot Cowan, Elodie Yung, Robert Bathurst, Cosima Shaw, Molly Gaisford, Nicky Henson, Louis Trefgarne, Adam Sims,  Jon Campling, Josef Altin, Kerry Shale, Rufus Wright, Simeon Willis with  James Callis, Harry Lloyd and Jonathan Pryce

Writer: Justin Trefgarne

TRAILER: NARCOPOLIS

254995A long time in the making, Narcopolis finally arrives on DVD. On the whole it has a lot of interesting ideas at play, yet whilst it may be ‘pound wise it’s penny stupid’.  The overarching plot makes sense except small details don’t allow the scenes to add up so ultimately we’re left with a faulty film, which is a shame as it tries hard to offer something different.

Narcopolis is a time-travel yarn set in 2022, where all drugs have been made legal, no matter how terrible the addiction is. The story followers Elliot Cowan’s (HAMMER OF THE GODS) drug enforcer who keeps blackmarket drugs off the streets. He’s employed by a massive pharmaceutical giant who are making moves to ‘own’ the police force. When a corpse turns up of an unknown person who seems to have taken an unknown drug, our enforcer goes off reservation to find out why his fellow agents and bosses want to cover it up. Then a mysterious girl (ELODIE YUNG – STILL) turns up who seems to have the same drug in her system and the whole city races to secure her, but she keeps on time-jumping, the bitch.

One of the interesting aspects of the film which could have been explored further are all the highly functioning addicts like Elliot Cowan’s wife Molly Gaisford, who seems to managing on heroin, impatient in every way for her next fix, coked up cops and a the CEO of the pharmaceutical giant (JAMES CALLIS – AUSTENLAND) – on depressants. Elsewhere the sci-fi elements are used sparingly: cars look the same yet they have bar codes instead of registration plates; mobile phones have progressed little; and the world looks like it’s on the brink of an economic collapse.  Shots of city skyscrapers at night look impressive and realistic, but on the whole the flashy tech has been left on the sidelines, only to be brought in when the plot needs a device to jump forward in time, etc… It wants to be Bladerunner but it looks more like Shopping.

I think the script was written for fans of hard-sci-fi at one point, then diluted, with the main plot left in place without any one to explain ‘what just happened<?>’.  Come the conclusion, all becomes clearer but one cannot feel like it’s all been fudged in the edit. A few more plot ends could have been tied up?

The film benefits from a nice supporting cast that includes up and coming Harry Lloyd (GAME OF THRONES), James Callis and Jonathan Pryce (GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS) who makes a considerable contribution to the plot and isn’t a cheap cameo cheat. Elsewhere, Robert Bathurst (COLD FEET) is miscast as a dirty cop as he just can’t do tough, so one of the baddies is a bit crap. On the whole, it’s very muddled and would have benefitted from a bit of story streamlining as their is a good and sleak sci-fi in here somewhere. At the moment there’s too much meat and fat on the bone though. It’s interesting though.

5.5 out of 10 – Challenging yet muddling sci-fi that could have done with a clearer plot and smidge more action.

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

  • Elliot Cowan: Howl (2015), Cilla (TV), Da Vinci’s Demons (TV), Luther (TV), Hammer of the Gods
  • Elodie Yung: Daredevil (TV), Still, GI Joe 2, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011), District 13 – Ultimatum
  • Robert Bathurst: Absolutely Anything, Mrs Brown’s Boys – D’Movie, Toast of London (TV), Downton Abbey (TV), Scoop, The Thief Lord, Heidi (2005), Cold Feet (TV), Twenty One, Whoops Apocalypse, The Lenny Henry Show (TV), Blackadder (TV)
  • Cosima Shaw: The von Trapp Family, Papadopoulos & Sons, Piccadilly Jim
  • Nicky Henson: Gozo, We Still Steal The Old Way, Draw On Sweet Night, We Still Kill The Old Way, Truth or Dare, Eastenders (TV), Me Without You, Parting Shots, Shine On Harvey  Moon (TV), Anyone For Sex?, There’s a Girl In My Soup, The Death Wheelers, All Coppers Are…, Witchfinder General, The Frost Report (TV)
  • Jon Campling: To Dream, Rancour, Razors, Mob HandedThe London Firm, The Curse of the Witching Tree, Dead End (2013), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – part 1
  • Josef Altin: Child 44, Game of Thrones (TV), The Hooligan Factory, A Long Way Down, VendettaNow Is Good, Game Of Thrones (TV), Comes a Bright DayAlbatross, Eastern Promises
  • Kerry Shale: Hello Carter, Blood Moon, A Fantastic Fear of Everything, The Trip (TV), Universal Soldier 3, Little Shop Of Horrors
  • Rufus Wright: Arcadia, Eastenders (TV)
  • Simeon Willis: Arcadia
  • James Callis: Bridget Jones 3, Believe, Austenland, Reuniting The Rubins, Battlestar Galactica 2 (TV), Bridget Jones 2, Bridget Jones, Soldier Soldier (TV)
  • Harry Lloyd: Anthropoid, Wolf Hall (TV),  The Theory of EverythingThe Riot Club, The Iron Lady, Game Of Thrones (TV), Robin Hood (TV)
  • Jonathan Pryce: The White King, Dough, Listen Up Phillip, The Salvation, Woman In Gold, Game of Thrones (TV), Wolf Hall (TV), GI Joe 2, Hysteria, Dark Blood, GI Joe, Bedtime Stories, Leatherheads, Pirates of the Caribbean 3, Pirates of the Caribbean 2, The New World, Brothers of the Head, The Brother’s Grimm, De-Lovely, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Affair of the Necklace, Very Annie Mary, Stigmata, Ronin, James Bond – Tomorrow Never Dies, Evita, Carrington, Shopping, A Business Affair, The Age of Innocence, Mr Wroe’s Virgins (TV), Glengarry Glen Ross, Freddie as FRO7 (voice), The Rachel Papers, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Jumpin’ Jack Flash, Haunted Honeymoon, Doctor and the Devils, Brazil, A Ploughman’s Lunch, Breaking Glass

INVOKED

5.5 out of 10

THIS IS AN IRISH FILM

Release Date: 17th August 2015 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Humberto Rosa & Thairon Mendes

Cast: Ciara Rose Burke, Patrick Murphy, Lynn Larkin, Craig Grainger, Aaron Gibson and Paula Phelan

Writer: Aaron Gibson & Humberto Rosa

Trailer: INVOKED

kK9IQZDRQmrDRbsoPuj9b7PQuerThe woodlands of the British Isles and Ireland must be littered with abandoned film cameras. If the number of fake documentaries / fun reels were actually real you wouldn’t be able to walk five feet without finding evidence of the supernatural on hastily left recording device. Without anything to distinguish it Invoked slinks into the queue a little bit late into the cycle to make a lasting difference. We get the standard set up of five late-teens/early 20s kids on their way to stay in a hostel on an Island somewhere off Co. Sligo in western Ireland. We get to know them (three boys / two girls) as they flirt and buy crisps at the petrol station. There’s alpha male Patrick (Murphy), his up for a laugh brunette girl, Rose (Burke). Then there’s Craig (Grainger) who wants to sleep with slightly uptight blonde Lynn (Larkin). Along for the ride is the oafish best friend of Patrick, Aaron (Gibson). As FF films go, the five get along really well.

All is well until dopey Aaron suggests making a ouija board directly after Patrick has shared a rather disturbing story about the local inhabitants of yore and yonder. Unable to revoke a very persistent spirit, the five stick around for a whole day, then try to escape when they wake up to the fact that their lives may be in danger.

The difference between this and many other FF films is that when the chills, spills and nasty bangs begin to hit the fan, the actors go bat shit as well.  If you want to witness a note perfect depiction of cold fear and confusion then look no further than the cast of Invoked. These guys prove to the makers of other shonky FF movies like Zombie Diaries, Hollow, World War Dead, Haunted etc that to make these films believable then then the cast has to be first rate. You just can’t make an FF with amateurs. So in Invoked, acting alone saves this from being just another tedious, stalk and kill movie. This film probably won’t surprise you plot wise (it tells you the outcome at the beginning – why?!??) but it will scare you. The characters are drawn well-enough for this kind of yarn and come the ending you won’t want the spirit to catch any of them. You’ll have the film on permanent rewind to find out what was in frame to throw that bowl, before you see a shape movie out of shot. The mystery itself is standard ghost territory but somehow, some aspects of this chiller will stay with you until you turn the light off the very evening you go to bed after seeing it.

5.5 out of 10 – Scary yet unoriginal found-footage horror film. Convincing and panicked performances put you in the thick of events so it’s difficult not to get swept along. Above average.

See another review by Matt ‘Cowpoked’ Ushered below

No significant acting credits for cast to date.

A ROYAL NIGHT OUT

2 out of 10

REVIEW COMING SOON

Director: Julian Jarrold (Brideshead Revisited / Becoming Jane / Kinky Boots / Touching Evil (TV) / Coronation Street (TV))

Cast: Sarah Gadon, Jack Reynor, Bel Powley, Rupert Everett, Roger Allam, Jack Gordon, Jack Laskey, Geoffrey Streatfield with Ruth Sheen and Emily Watson

Writer: Trevor de Silva & Kevin Hood

Trailer: A ROYAL NIGHT OUT

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

GEMMA BOVERY

7 out of 10

France / UK Co-Production

REVIEW COMING SOON

Release Date: 21st August 2015

Director: Anne Fontaine (Coco Before Chanel / How I Killed My Father)

Cast: Gemma Arterton, Fabrice Luchini, Jason Flemyng, Niels Schneider, Isabelle Candelier, Pip Torrens, Edith Scob, Kacey Mottet-Klein with Mel Raido and Elsa Zylberstein

Writer: Anne Fontaine & Pascal Bontizer

Trailer: GEMMA BOVERY

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

HAUNTED aka GHOSTS (2013)

2.5 out of 10

Released Date: 14th October 2014 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Steven M. Smith (Haunted 5 / Haunted 4 / Haunted 3 / Haunted 2 / Borstal / Invasion EarthI Am Hooligan / Essex Boys – Law of Survival / Hooligans At War)

Cast: Jon-Paul Gates, Steven M. Smith, Vivien Creegan, Freddy Fuller, Gemma Gurvitz, Natalie Gurvitz, Laura Penneycard, Briony Rawle, Frank Threapleton-Horrocks, Samantha Scott and Jeremy Hill

Writer: Mark Behar, Steven M. Smith, Zane Casablanca, Svenja Quazzani, Zane Quazzani

Trailer: HAUNTED (2013)

Haunted-2013-Movie-Steven-M.-Smith-2Hahaha, ever wondered what it would be like to throw a bunch of kids from Essex in a haunted house and watch the results? Then wonder no longer. Here comes Steven M. Smith‘s crack at a horror faux-documentary with hand-held cameras. Barely anything scary is captured on camera except for a bunch of panicking Essexers with verbal diahorrea!

Six Essex twenty-somethings get invited to spend the night ghost hunting with a film crew for a TV show. The destination is a haunted train museum (with sped-up trains!) in deepest Essex. There’s a legend of a creepy ghost who derailed a train only to go mysteriously missing in the 1960s. He’s been seen stalking one of the platforms late at night. Will they be able to resist updating their Twitter accounts or talking about themselves for long enough to understand that our world and the next is about to blend in unintentionally funny ways.

Haunted has some wonderfully, relaxed performances from a largely unknown cast. Most impressive is Vivien Creeger as the presenter of the show – I didn’t see what happened to her in the melee of carnage that happened at the end. Secondly, the director Steven M. Smith (ESSEX BOYS – LAW OF SURVIVAL) gives the acting lark a bash and besides feeling a need to talk over the rest of his cast, he seems at ease as a performer. Only Jon-Paul Gates (HAUNTED 2) strains to convince as The Medium. He’s OK most of the time but when he’s required to do anything psychic or react to anything spooky it goes pear shaped for him. He also struggles to pronounce some words  as well like when he describes the undead spirit of Mrs Jones as having ‘coffee-ered’ instead of ‘coiffeured’ hair, it prompts cackles.  There was another couple of instances that were unfortunate, but I won’t labour the point.

Whilst it was an easy watch, thanks to the panicky, self-obsesessed big mouthed characters, who just wouldn’t shut up long enough for you to pick up the ambience of the setting, there’s still a bus load of things wrong with this Essex Witch Project. Everyone was shouting, “Shhh, what the f**k was that?’, “What?”, “Shhh”, “Don’t tell me to shhh! Ere wass that over your shoulder?” etc, etc.  One scene which has to be recommended purely for comedy purposes was when one of the ‘witnesses’ Freddy (FREDDY FULLER) is left to complete a lone vilgil in an Underground tube train. He get’s spooked and reacts in such a great way intially, he would easily put Scooby & Shaggy to shame. Then again, when he’s re-enacting what happened to him to the rest of the stunned ghosthunters, he’s hilariously animated. But then he re-enacts it again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again. At least it was realistic because I’ve seen people do this in real life, relate how a story went in a loop until somebody shuts them up. Same goes with one of the girls, one of them says the same sentence four times in a row describing how safe she feels in a particular part of the train museum. It could be the Steven M. Smith has tapped into the most vital form of Cinema Real as it refuses to behave like a film I’m amazed to see that Haunted has 5 credited writers, as it’s just improvised and those that shout the loudest get their lines heard. Where was the editor? If it’s the same guy as the one who did the chopping job on Hooligans At War and Essex Boys – Law of Survival. He was probably drunk, again.

There’s no scares to be had and the ending is botched, as a creature called The Station Master (JEREMY HILL) goes on a killing rampage at the end. Which is disorientating and non-sensical. Who dies, who lives?

2.5 out of 10 – Mostly unscary but a committed and natural cast lift this off the bottom. Sadly, it’s funny not chilling. Worth watching for the Underground train sequence.

PS: This has been rejacketed in 2016 and renamed Ghosts.

Second review by Matt ‘Toastbusters’ Usher below

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

DARTMOOR KILLING

2.5 out of 10

REVIEW COMING SOON

Release Date: 18th September 2015

Director: Peter Nicholson

Cast: Gemma-Leah Deveraux, Rebecca Night, Callum Blue and David Hayman

Writer: Isabel Grey

Trailer: DARTMOOR KILLING

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

  • Gemma-Leah Deveraux: Stitches, Casualty (TV)
  • Rebecca Night: Suspension of Disbelief, Lark Rise To Candleford (TV)
  • Callum Blue: Columbiana, Smallville (TV), Secret Diary of a Call Girl (TV), The Tudors (TV),  Dead Like Me (TV), The Princess Diaries 2
  • David Hayman: Macbeth (2015), Queen & Country, Castles In The Sky, Jack Ryan – Shadow Recruit, Sawney – Flesh of Man, ScrewedBurke and Hare, Flood, The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas, Rag Tale, Tailor Of Panama, Vertical Limit, The Match, My Name Is Joe, Smilla’s Feeling For Snow, Regeneration, The Jackal, The Near Room (dir),  Twin Town,  Rob Roy, The Hawk (dir), Venus Peter, Silent Scream (dir), Hope and Glory, Sid & Nancy

ESSEX BOYS – LAW OF SURVIVAL

1.5 out of 10

Release Date: 21st September 2015

Director: Steve M Smith (Haunted 4 / Haunted 3 / Haunted 2  / I Am Hooligan / Hooligans At War / Haunted (2013))

Cast: Chris Bell, Ross Boatman, Jesse Birdsall, Megan Lockhurst, Abbie Steele, James Hodcroft, Owen Clark, Jake Francis, Dean Martins, David King, Danny Howard, Darren James King, Jemima Slade with Mark Arden and Carlton Leach

Writer: Steven M Smith, Chris Bell & Chris Jolley

Trailer: ESSEX BOYS – LAW OF SURVIVAL

Essex-Boys-Law-of-Survival-Poster-stundpage-209x300The undead figure of the Essex Boys movie shambles into view once more. The unstoppable sub-genre of British gangster movie that circles around the Rettendon Landrover murders continues apace with this sorry addition. This one comes with an endorsement from Rettendon murder victim Pat Tate’s bessie mate, Carlton Leach, as if to say – laugh at this film at your peril because it’s the real deal. Well, I hope he got bought more than that pint he’s seen supping as his opening voice-over explains that Rettendon was ‘just the beginning’.

Producer / actor Chris Bell (BONDED BY BLOOD 2) plays Danny who gets dragged into a crass gang power move and massacre instigated by Detective Franks (ROSS BOATMAN – LONDON’S BURNING) when his pregnant fiancee (ABBIE STEELE) gets murdered.  The link to the Landrover murders is tenuous and risky yet nonsensical.  Danny teams up with a fake American gun expert and the Canadian Secret Service (yes really) to foil Franks. The film resembles a DIY version of Taken more than a gangster movie.

It’s encouraging to see that some of the main players are given an opportunity to act, as there is some ability on show. Chris Bell has some good scenes and old pros like Jesse Birdsall (ELDORADO), Boatman and Mark Arden (CARRY ON COLUMBUS) make an effort to inject this with a bit of seriousness. There’s a nice performance from first timer Abbie Steele, so she could have a decent future if she finds a good agent. Worst performance awards goes to an unknown called James Hodcroft. His take as Danny’s mysterious cousin Lee is so irritating you’ll be willing his character to get killed. When it finally happens you’ll be cheering, he’s so bad he belongs in Hooligans At War. Also the murder scene where Danny’s best friend Harvey (DARREN JAMES KING – LOOTERS TOOTERS AND SAWN OFF SHOOTERS) is killed by transvestite is the best piece of unintentional comedy of 2015. Hilarious, I ended up watching the scene three times to make sure I hadn’t dreamt it up.  It’s all misdirected effort because in every other department the film collapses into a heap. The script and plot is about as ludicrous as I’ve ever seen and plot twists seem to have been thrown in on the day of shooting. Someone’s bought a camera drone as there are some low-resoultion aerial shots which work sparingly, it’s a shame the images in these ‘breathers’ decay even on a small TV.

Never has a low-budget been worn on the maker’s sleeve as much as it is in Essex Boys – Law of Survival. It’s as if the makers went in preparing a lack of money as an excuse for how duff it all is. Given the result they needed a rewrite, and more time spent directing and blocking the scenes. The direction seems non existent and the editor may have been drunk. It’s 100% better than Hooligans At War but that’s like saying a cat turd is better than a dog turd because it’s smaller. There are improvements to be seen and the makers are moving in the right direction, but at this pace they maybe up to the same quality of Jack Says in about 10 years’ time.

A joke compared to all of the previous Essex Boys movies (this one was even set and filmed in Orpington, Kent!) and I’ve never seen a good one besides the daddy of ’em all Rise of the FootsoldierSteve M Smith and Chris Bell are coming back with some horror films next , so with a bit of luck they will have found a genre in which they can flex some creative muscles rather than splashing around in old and shitty bathwater that is the Essex Boys sub-genre.

1.5 out of 10 – Sloppy and ridiculous.

Check out a second review from Matt ‘Rettendon’ Usher aka Joe Pesci II below. He’s so Essex he lives on Rettendon Lane.

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?