DARK SIGNAL

3 out of 10

Release Date: 23rd May 2016 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Edward Evers-Swindell

Cast: Siwan Morris, Joanna Ignaczewska, Gareth David-Lloyd, Cinzia Monreale, Duncan Pow with Eleanor Gecks and James Cosmo

Writer: Edward Evers-Swindell

Trailer: DARK SIGNAL

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Here’s a weird one. A ghost story cum serial killer horror-comedy from Wales that starts and sputters like an old engine.  Some aspects really work and others barely wing it. On the final evening before a Welsh radio station closes down for good, the programmers think it’s a great idea to get a medium on the show to conduct a seance. A bit daft really considering the police are searching for a serial killer who loves collecting girls’ fingers. Also elsewhere in the neighbourhood, the radio stations number one fan, a Polish bad actor Joanna Ignaczewska is helping her boyfriend rob a house. Only thing is a ghost intervenes. The medium also manages to contact said ghost but will the scooby doo gang and the Polish burglar solve the killer riddle.

The bits with the burglar in are slow and badly acted, the radio station bits and associated scenes before all three strands combine are relatively good fun, but then it goes a bit uneven. The resulting film is like it’s been made by two directors or more. It’s occasionally scary, then a similar scene botches the same set-up. The twist is pretty good and I liked it. It’s been used in Saw (if you liked those films) but it’s nice to see a new twist on an uncommon but already used twist.

James Cosmo (BREAKDOWN (2016)) must be the busiest and oldest actor in low-budget land at the moment and he usually makes a difference but his role here is forgettable and throw away. Which is a shame. Elsewhere Siwan Morris (WOLFBLOOD), Gareth David-Lloyd (TORCHWOOD) and Cinzia Monreale (FRANKENSTEIN 2000) (all unknown to me) have a good chemistry and the script is nicely and wittily written and spooky where it counts. I’m sure they were unaware of how shit the rest of the film turned out to be. Some decent special-effects involving somebody on fire are better than the floaty ghosts of girls.

So whilst it could have been better, at least it’s borrowed a few good ideas, including The Fog, its mostly watchable. There are many worse Welsh horrors out there and this is far from the worst – so read that in the spirit you find it.

3 out of 10

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

  • Siwan Morris: Wolfblood (TV), Skins (TV)
  • Gareth David-Lloyd: Torchwood (TV), Dr Who (TV)
  • Cinzia Monreale: Frankenstein 2000, The Beyond, Beyond The Darkness
  • Duncan Pow: Pegasus Bridge, The Chameleon, 24 (TV), Holby City (TV)
  • Eleanor Gecks: Young Dracula (TV)
  • James Cosmo: The Ten Bells, Eliminators, Whiskey Galore (2016), London Heist, Tomorrow (2016), Ben Hur (2016), Project 12 – The Bunker, Breakdown (2016), The Legend of Barney Thompson, Estranged, The Christmas Candle, We Still Kill The Old Way, Citadel, Hammer Of The Gods, Get Lucky, Game Of Thrones (TV), Outcast, Half Light, The Chronicles Of Narnia – The Lion The Witch & The Wardrobe, Troy, The Four Feathers (2002), Once Upon a Time In The Midlands, The Match, Babe 2 (voice), Emma (1996), Trainspotting, Braveheart, Stormy Monday, Highlander

THE CALL UP

4.5 out of 10

Release Date: 20th May 2016 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Charles Barker

Cast: Morfydd Clark, Max Deacon, Tom Benedict Knight, Douggie McMeekin, Adriana Randall, Parker Sawyers, Ali Cook, Boris Ler and Chris Obi

Writer: Charles Barker

Trailer: THE CALL UP

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A sturdy debut from director Charles Barker marks him out as one to watch. This guy has clearly got his eye on directing the next Hunger Games or Maze Runner equivalent because this has all the same beats and directorial flourishes as any one of the big budget young adult sci-fis that has done the rounds over the last few years. The only downside to The Call-Up is that all of its parts are cloned. Sci-fi as anybody knows thrives on fresh ideas and originality, The Call- Up is running on empty.

What saves it is a a game cast (complete with fake American accents) and some very robust special effects. The script has some clunkers but it’s not ‘James Cameron bad’.  The plot unfortunately runs around in circles as the cast get whittled down, and it all amounts to precious little with a vague and unconvincing denouement. It’s almost as if the writer felt he owed the audience something more than a shoot ’em up, but that’s all anybody who’s sat down to watch this is expecting.

8 gamers get invited to compete in a combat virtual reality game. Once in their simulation suits they slowly begin to realise that they are trapped and that the bullets being fired around really will kill them. What does the corporation want from them? How come all gamers are loners? SPOILERHow come it’s always the Black guy (PARKER SAWYERS – MONSTERS 2) that dies first?  Several familiar (from low-budget flicks) faces like Ali Cook (IN THE BLOOD) and Tom Benedict Knight (HE WHO DARES) are pretty good at putting some effort into cardboard cut out characters. Saying that though, the action and SFX are good for something this low-spec. The repetitive plot which seems them descend through levels of an abandoned tower block kills momentum, as does the constant need to have a character screaming for help after being shot at all times.

4.5 out of 10 It’s OK and watchable, just don’t expect any originality, good American accents or a good script and you’ll be ok. Frustratingly misses getting higher marks because it plays safe when a sci=fi should never do that.

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

 

THE MAN WHO KNEW INFINITY

6 out of 10

REVIEW COMING SOON

Release Date: 8th April 2016

Director: Matthew Brown

Cast: Dev Patel, Jeremy Irons, Devika Bhise, Kevin McNally, Jeremy Northam, Dhritman Chatterjee, Padraic Delaney, Anthony Calf, Arundathi Nag, Shazad Latif, Nicholas Agnew with Toby Jones and Stephen Fry

Writer: Matthew Brown

Trailer: The Man Who Knew Infinity

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

  • Dev Patel: Lion, The Second Best Marigold Hotel, Chappie, The Newsroom (TV), Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, The Last Airbender, Slumdog Millionnaire, Skins (TV)
  • Jeremy Irons: Assassin’s Creed,  Batman vs Superman, High-Rise, Beautiful Creatures, Night Train To Lisbon, Margin Call, The Pink Panther 2, Appaloosa, Eragon, Inland Empire, Casanova, Kingdom of Heaven, Being Julia, The Merchant of Venice (2004), The Time Machine, Dungeons and Dragons, The Man In The Iron Mask (1998), Lolita (1997), Stealing Beauty, Die Hard 3, The Lion King (voice), The House of Spirits, M. Butterfly, Kafka, Damage, Waterland, Reversal of Fortune, Dead Ringers, The Mission (1986), Swann In Love, Brideshead Revisited (TV), The French Lieutenant’s Woman, Playaway (TV)
  • Devika Bhise: The Accidental Husband
  • Kevin McNally: Pirates of the Caribbean 5, Legend (2015), The Mill (TV), Downton Abbey (TV), The Raven, Pirates of the Caribbean 4, Valkyrie, Pirates of the Caribbean 3, Pirates of the Caribbean 2, Scoop, The Phantom of the Opera (2004), De-Lovely, Pirates of the Caribbean, Johnny English, High Heels and Low Lifes, When The Sky Falls, Dad (TV), Entrapment, The Legend of 1900, Sliding Doors, Spice World, Cry Freedom, Dr Who (TV), The Long Good Friday, Poldark (1977) (TV)
  • Jeremy Northam: Our Kind of Traitor, Eye In The Sky, Glorious 39, Creation, Dean Spanley, The Tudors (TV), The Invasion (2007), A Cock & Bull Story, Guy X, The Singing Detective, Cypher, Possession (2002), Gosford Park, Enigma, The Golden Bowl, The Winslow Boy, An Ideal Husband, Happy Texas, The Tribe, Amistad, Mimic, Emma, The Net, Carrington, Soft Top Hard Shoulder, Wuthering Heights (1992), Wish Me Luck (TV)
  • Dhritman Chatterjee: Midnight’s Children, Holy Smoke
  • Padraic Delaney: Blackthorn, Perrier’s Bounty, The Tudors (TV), The Wind That Shakes The Barley
  • Anthony Calf: New Tricks (TV), Upstairs Downstairs (TV), Straightheads, Holby City (TV), The Madness of King George III, Great Expectations ’91 (TV), My Family and Other Animals (TV), Oxford Blues, Beau Geste (TV)
  • Shazad Latif: Penny Dreadful (TV), Toast of London (TV), We Are Monster, Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Spooks (TV)
  • Toby Jones: Alice In Wonderland 2 (voice), Dad’s Army, Serena, Hunger Games – Mockingjay 2, By The Gun, Marvellous, Muppets Most Wanted, Captain American 2, My Week With Marilyn, Snow White & The Huntsman,  The Berberian Sound Studio, The Hunger Games, Red Lights, Tintin (voice),Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows- part 1 (voice), Captain America, Your Highness, The Rite, Sex Drugs and Rock N’ Roll, St Trinians 2, Nightwatching, Creation, W., Frost / Nixon, City Of Ember, St Trinians, The Mist, The Painted Veil, Infamous, Mrs Henderson Presents, Finding Neverland, Ladies In Lavender, Harry Potter & The Chambers Of Secrets, Simon Magus
  • Stephen Fry: Tomorrow (2016), Love & Friendship, Alice In Wonderland 2 (voice), Dangermouse (TV) (voice), The Hobbit – The Battle of the Five Armies, The Hobbit- The Desolation Of Smaug, A Liar’s Autobiography (voice) The Look Of Love, QI (TV), Stephen Fry- Gadget Man (TV), Sherlock Holmes 2, Alice In Wonderland (voice), St Trinians, Alex Rider- Stormbreaker, V For Vendetta, A Cock and Bull Story, Mirrormask (voice), Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy (2005) (voice), The Life and Death Of Peter Sellers, Tooth, Le Divorce, Bright Young Things, Thunderpants, Gosford Park, Relative Values, Best, Whatever Happened To Harold Smith?, A Civil Action, The Tichborne Claimant, Spiceworld, Wilde, The Wind In The Willows (1996), The Steal, Cold Comfort Farm, IQ, Jeeves and Wooster (TV), Peter’s Friends, This Is David Lander (TV),  A Fish Called Wanda, A Handful Of Dust, Blackadder (TV), A Bit Of Fry and Laurie (TV)

 

MISS YOU ALREADY

2.5 out of 10

REVIEW COMING SOON

Release Date: 25th September 2015

Director: Catherine Hardwicke (Plush / Red Riding Hood (2011) / Twilight / The Nativity Story / Lords of Dogtown / Thirteen)

Cast: Drew Barrymore, Toni Collette, Dominic Cooper, Paddy Considine, Tyson Ritter, Silas Carson, Mem Ferda, Tony Denham with Frances De La Tour and Jacqueline Bisset

Writer: Morwenna Banks

Trailer: MISS YOU ALREADY

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

  • Drew Barrymore: Blended, Big Mirace, Going The Distance, Everybody’s Fine, Whip It, He Just Not That Into You, Beverly Hills Chihuahua (voice), Lucky You, Music & Lyrics, Fever Pitch (2005), 50 First Dates, Duplex, Charlie’s Angels 2, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Riding In Cars With Boys, Freddy Got Fingered, Donnie Darko, Charlie’s Angels, Titan AE (voice), Never Been Kissed, Ever After, The Wedding Singer, Best Men, Scream, Everybody Says I Love You, Batman Forever, Boys On The Side, Wayne’s World 2, Doppelganger, Waxwork 2, Poison Ivy, Cat’s Eye, Irreconcilable Differences, Firestarter, ET, Altered States
  • Toni Collette: Blinky Bill Movie (voice), Krampus, Glassland, The Boxtrolls (voice), Hector and the Search For Happiness, Tammy, A Long Way Down, The Way Way Back, Mental, Hitchcock, Fright Night (2011), The Like Minds, The Dead Girl, The Night Listener, Little Miss Sunshine, In Her Shoes, A Japanese Story, The Hours, Dirty Deeds, About a Boy, Changing Lanes, Hotel Splendide, Shaft, The Sixth Sense, 8.5 Women, Velvet Goldmine, The Boys, The James Gang, Clockwatchers, Emma (1996), The Pallbearer, Cosi, Muriel’s Wedding, Spotswood
  • Dominic Cooper: Warcraft, Preacher (TV), The Lady In The Van, Agents of SHIELD (TV), Dracula Untold, Need For Speed, Fleming (TV), Summer In February, My Week With Marilyn, Abraham Lincoln – Vampire Slayer, The Devil’s Double, Captain America, Tamara Drewe, An Education, The Duchess, Mamma Mia!, The Escapist, The History Boys, Starter For 10
  • Paddy Considine: Journeyman, Peaky Blinders (TV),  Macbeth (2015), Child 44, Pride (2014), HonourThe Double (2014), The World’s End, Tyrannosaur (dir), Now Is Good, BlitzSubmarine, Le Donk and Scorasayzee, The Bourne Ultimatum, Hot Fuzz, Stoned, Cinderella Man, My Summer Of Love, Dead Man’s Shoes, In America, 24 Hour Party People, The Martins, Born Romatic, Last Resort, A Room For Romeo Brass
  • Tyson Ritter: Lewis & Clark (TV), Parenthood (TV), The House Bunny
  • Silas Carson: Blood Cells, The C Word, The Casual Vacancy (TV), The Dying of the Light, Locke (voice), It’s a Lot, CleanskinPimp, Star Wars – The Phantom Menace (voice), Star Wars – Attack Of The Clones (voice), Star Wars – Revenge Of The Sith (voice)
  • Mem Ferda: Eliminators, London Heist, Breakdown (2016)Hyena, Plastic, Pusher (2012)Ill Manors, Legacy- Black Ops, The Devil’s Double, The Crew
  • Tony Denham: We Still Steal The Old Way, Bonded By Blood 2, London Heist, Age of Kill,  The Guvnors, We Still Kill The Old Way, The Hooligan Factory, Vendetta, Essex Boys RetributionWhite Collar Hooligan 2Fall Of The Essex BoysSt. George’s DayTurnout, The Shouting Men, Revolver, The Football Factory
  • Frances de la Tour: Alice In Wonderland 2, Vicious (TV),  The Lady In The Van, Survivor, Mr Holmes, Into The Woods, Trap for Cinderella, Private Peaceful, Hugo, Harry Potter- Parts 4 & 7, Alice In Wonderland (2010), The Book Of Eli, The History Boys, Rising Damp (TV)
  • Jacqueline Bisset: Welcome To New York, Nip/Tuck (TV), Save The Last Dance 2, Domino, Wild Orchid, Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills, Under The Volcano, The Deep (1977), Day For Night, Murder On The Orient Express, Airport, Bullitt, Casino Royale (1967), Cul-de-Sac

 

BLACK MOUNTAIN POETS

8.5 out of 10

REVIEW COMING SOON

Release Date: 1st April 2016

Director: Jamie Adams (A Wonderful Christmas Time / Benny & Jolene)

Cast: Alice Lowe, Dolly Wells, Tom Cullen, Rosa Robson, Richard Elis, Laura Patch, Ben McGregor and Roger Evans

Writer: Jamie Adams

Trailer: BLACK MOUNTAIN POETS

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

X MOOR

3 out of 10

REVIEW COMING SOON

Release date: 9th May 2016 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Luke Hyams

Cast: Mark Bonnar, Meilia Kreiling, Nick Blood, Simone Kirby, Olivia Popica, James Lecky, Jemma O’Brien and Sophie Harkness

Writer: Luke Hyams

Trailer:

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

  • Mark Bonnar: Take Down, Camera Trap, Shetland (TV), Line of Duty (TV), Psychoville (TV), The Bill (TV), Casualty (TV), Holby City (TV)
  • Meilia Krieling: The Healer, Suspension of Disbelief
  • Nick Blood: Identicals, Agents of SHIELD (TV), Babylon (TV), Trollied (TV), Spike Island, Material Girl (TV)
  • Simone Kirby: England Is Mine, Alice In Wonderland 2, Peaky Blinders (TV), Jimmy’s Hall
  • Olivia Popica: Retribution (2016)

ESSEX VENDETTA

1.5 out of 10

Release Date: 9th May 2016 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Terry Lee Coker (Hatton Garden – The Heist)

Cast: Michael McKell, Kris Johnson, Danniella Westbrook, Eddie Webber, Lucinda Rhodes, Paul McCarthy, Sidney Livingstone, Molly Henderson, Matt Hookings, Johnny Sachon, Jimmy Roussounis, Tony (AG) Longhurst,  John Altman, Dani Thompson with Joe Egan and Ian Burfield

Writer: Terry Lee Coker

Trailer: ESSEX VENDETTA

essex-vendetta-(2016)This film ends with a terrifying threat to the viewer.  Over the closing credits you realise that lead actor Michael McKell (OUTPOST 3) is also a pop singer, and that the lyrics in the chorus go something like this, “And when the night falls, I come for youuuuu…”  Oh my gosh. Not only does the star, co-writer and producer of this floppy gangster yarn have aspirations to gain a career in the film industry but he’s also got his eye on the pop charts. It’s megalomania at its most cringeworthy.

That said Michael McKell is a pretty good actor and luckily for Essex Vendetta, a few of his friends can act as well. Unfortunately, him and his director and co-writer Terry Lee Coker have served up one of the worst plotted (if you could say that) films I’ve seen since Hooligan Wars. The presence of some talent saves it from being fully DOA.

Essex Vendetta made no sense and there was no vendetta. Story twists happen from which characters recover in seconds. People commit suicide, get shot, stabbed only to turn up minutes later. There’s a a weird kidnapping at a funeral which everybody notices but no one reacts to. The main character’s father mercy kills his wife has a tiny fight with his son then it’s forgotten all about. The father’s suicide is handled in a majorly distasteful and cackhanded way.  The inheritance is spent on a drug cache, also the main character borrows money from a local hood to open a tattoo parlour . This is also a place where drug deals are brokered and people die, but scenes pile up where the incident is half-realised and rushed through. It’s slap dash and largely nonsensical and if it was a photo it would be very blurred.  The acting is competent but the script and story is a dead dog. It even seems like pages have been skipped out, lots of them.The Vauxhall-Carlton league of decent actors all run past the camera to say a few lines but it all generally amounts to yet another amateur gangster actor love-in retitled last minute from On a Prayer to Essex Vendetta so that it sells 3 more copies at Asda in Dagenham. Terry Lee Coker also wrote Hooligan Legacy which is streets better than this sorry heap of sh*t. Kris Johnson from this and Hooligan Legacy could be a new face to watch as he’s very good at the shifty geezer character. Other than him and some nice Malta locations this is about as close to watchable as Essex Bendover ever gets. Oh yeah and the weird Ennio Morricone-style score with a whistler on it is curiously catchy but played randomly over any old scene. Joyless.

1.5 out of 10 – A poor, poor effort to make a ‘crime pays’ opus but this was just hopeless. I even watched it twice to see if it made sense. It still doesn’t.

Review below by Matt ‘Yorkshire Pudding Vendetta’ Usher

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?