PREVENGE

6.5 out of 10

Release date:  10th February 2017

Director: Alice Lowe

Cast: Alice Lowe, Jo Hartley, Kayvan Novak, Tom Davis, Gemma Whelan, Mike Wozniak, Tom Meeten, Leila Hoffman, Marc Bessant with Kate Dickie and Dan Renton Skinner

Writer: Alice Lowe

Trailer: PREVENGE

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Actress Alice Lowe (THE GHOUL) makes her directorial with this inscrutable comedy-horror set in Cardiff. Pregnant Ruth’s (LOWE) baby no longer has a father after a freak accident lead to his death on an adventure weekend. One day the baby starts to talk to talk to Ruth persuading her to kill some seemingly random people. Is there a connection between them and why do they have to die?

The film is distrubing and stylistic with gallows humour which lands on its feet. It’s gross but repeatedly funny. The gore is unavoidable and visceral, noone escapes if they pay to watch this. It’s only after the film has ended do you begin to question it’s merits. Yes, it’s very entertaining so it gets high marks for delivering what it promises. At the same time its very thin. There are no layers to it. Ruth is a killer with a mental problem who happens to be pregnant. A proxy that she can blame her bloodlust on. Some of her victims like Tom Davis’ (TRADERS) DJ Dan and the pet shop owner, (DAN RENTON SKINNER – THE GHOUL) are utterly appalling characters that deserve their movie fate, whereas some of the others are more sympathetic. The only other character that isn’t an extended cameo is Jo Hartley’s (THIS IS ENGLAND) Midwife. Like a female David Brent, she is wonderfully candid but out of synch with quite how unhinged her patient is. Some of the exchanges between her and Ruth are the best in the film.

Some of the the scenes are well realised with queasy cinematography, gross out filters and an electronic score reminiscent of Tangerine Dream or The Goblins. It’s also good that the locations are pretty much anonymous and could have been set anywhere in Britain. (Apart from the scenes on the Pembrokeshire Coast). A bright script and winsome performances help this directorial debut to fly. It works well as a companion piece to some of Alice Lowe’s other films like Sightseers and Black Mountain Poets.

6.5 out of 10 – Fun while it lasts, but you won’t call it a classic.

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GRIDIRON UK

2.5 out of 10

REVIEW COMING SOON

Release date: 20th March 2017 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Gary Delaney

Cast: Michael Dixon, Rebecca Summers, Dorsey Levens, Stephen Marcus, Andrew Harwood Mills, Anthony Quinlan, Annie Vanders, Gil Kolirin, Jon-Paul Gates, Russell Floyd, Rebecca Ferdinando with Helen Lederer, Mem Ferda and Paul Nicholas

Writer: Gary Delaney

Trailer: GRIDIRON UK

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TIN

3 out of 10

Release date: 17th April 2015

Director: Bill Scott

Cast: Jenny Agutter, Helen Bendell, Ben Dyson, Dean Nolan, Stuart Boother, Jason Squibb, Benjamin Luxon and Dudley Sutton

Writer: Bill Scott

Trailer: TIN

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An unusual import from Kernow this ‘ere film Tin. Whilst it’s not the am-dram shocker you might expect to see like Draw On Sweet Night, this is a flawed but noble effort to deliver something a bit different. Definitely a film about Cornwall, for Cornish folk, made in the main by a Cornish theatre group, Tin tells the story of the tin mine Wheal Fortune and what happens when the owners try to swindle the bank out of some money. The scam backfires when the shares are unwittingly bought back by a meddling do-gooder.  Elsewhere, a young girl Nell (HELEN BLENDELL) decides whether her heart belongs with a local clergy man (JASON SQUIBB – POLDARK) or a travelling actor (STUART BOOTHER – DEAD OF THE NITE). Her master is the captain of the mine, (BEN DYSON – BROWN WILLY) a deluded god-fearing man who was privvy to the swindle and fears that he may burn in hell. Many of the scenes scuttle past without muster, and some are long musical pieces that demonstrate how well the cast can sing a Cornish choral-ditty. However, few of the scenes catch fire, and the cast are vastly uneven. Some are seasoned pros like Dudley Sutton (ORLANDO) or Jenny Agutter (WALKABOUT) where as others are first-timers and stumble at some of the easiest hurdles.

The cost-cutting device of using green-screen for some of the scenes, with projections of old photographs of the old streets and mines of the 19th century. Some of the scenes are set on real cliffs and beaches though, or on physical indoor sets. An outdoor privee features in many scenes… hmmm.

Cluttered, muddled yet fairly unique, it’s a tough ask to get anybody who lives outside of Cornwall to sit and watch this. Whilst it’s not flat or boring, it’s just messy and incoherent to impediment of a committed cast that could have made this interesting subject fly. Instead it’s permanently grounded and fairly confusing.

3 out of 10 – A bold attempt to shine a light on a forgotten period in Cornish history is marred by fussy production values, incoherent plot and erratic performances.

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

  • Jenny Agutter: Call The Midwife (TV), Queen of the Desert, Captain America 2, Avenger’s Assemble, Outside Bet, Burke and Hare, Glorious 39, Blue Juice,  Child’s Play 2, Dark Man,  An American Werewolf In London, Equus, The Eagle Has Landed, Logan’s Run (1976),  Walkabout, The Railway Children
  • Ben Dyson: Brown Willy
  • Dean Nolan: Weekend Retreat
  • Stuart Boother: Dead of the Nite
  • Jason Squibb: Poldark (TV)
  • Dudley Sutton: Fall of An Empire, Weekend Retreat, Cockneys Vs. ZombiesOutside Bet, The Shouting Men, Lovejoy (TV), Dean Spanley, Eastenders (TV), The Football Factory, The Tichborne Claimant, Incognito (1997), Orlando, Edward II, The Rainbow, The Devils, The London Connection, The Pink Panther Strikes Again, The Leather Boys

IBIZA UNDEAD

4 out of 10

REVIEW COMING SOON

Release date: 20th March 2017 (DVD Premiere)
Director: Andy Edwards

Cast: Cara Theobold, Emily Atack, Jordan Coulson, Ed Kear, Homer Todiwala, Algina Lipkis, Michael Wagg, Matt Kennard, Chris Simmons, Alex Felton, Seb Castang, Alex Zane with Marcia Do Vales and Matt King

Writer: Andy Edwards

Trailer: IBIZA UNDEAD

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PLAN Z

5.5 out of 10

REVIEW COMING SOON

Release date: 13th March 2017 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Stuart Brennan

Cast: Stuart Brennan, Mark Paul Wake, Eugene Horan, Brooke Burfitt, Victoria Morrison and Terry Deary

Writer: Stuart Brennan

Trailer: PLAN Z

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

  • Stuart Brennan: A Christmas Carol (2017), Tomorrow (2017), The Reverend (2012), Risen
  • Mark Paul Wake: A Christmas Carol (2017)
  • Eugene Horan: Tomorrow (2017)
  • Brooke Burfitt: The Search for Simon, Death (2014)
  • Victoria Morrison: A Christmas Carol (2017)
  • Terry Deary: Horrible Histories (TV)

BORSTAL

0.5 out of 10

Release date: 3rd March 2017 (DVD premiere)

Director: Steven M Smith (Haunted 5 / Haunted 4 / Haunted 3 / Haunted 2 / The Doll Master /  Invasion Earth / I Am Hooligan / Essex Boys – Law of Survival / Hooligans At War / Haunted (2013))

Cast: Matthew Winters, Sonny Denham, Tiffany-Ellen Robinson, Jon-Paul Gates, Rorie Stockton, Luke Anthony jr, Tony Fadil, Kevin Horsham, Can Somer, Frankie Clarence, Billy James Machin with Darren James King and Patrick Kilpatrick

Writer: Kris Gray / Steven M Smith

Trailer: BORSTAL

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I didn’t think director Steven M Smith had it in him to make a worse movie than Hooligans at War, but here it is. This seems to be his first film without  actor/producer Chris Bell, but I’m not sure how incidental that is to this dry, boring and cliched plod of a film. Setting out its stall as an alternative to Scum, this ends up being a bad remake of the early Danny Dyer vehicle Borstal Boy. Somehow, the cast includes a real actor this time, the positively puzzled action film baddie of the 1990s Patrick Kilpatrick (TOXIC AVENGER) looks surprised to be there. He looks throughly confused throughout during his seated role as the governor of the borstal. It looks like he’s had his role split down the middle with Jon-Paul Gates (HAUNTED), handling the lion’s share of the villainy as the deputy governor, Len Forshaw. The lead is handled by an unbelievably smug and corny young actor-wannabe called Matthew Winters.

The plot is set in 1971, and tells the true-story of  young Kris Gray (WINTERS), who is sent to borstal by his well-to-do father. He tells the governor that he wants to be a singer like Paul McCartney and has low-rent fantasies of playing to stadium crowds. He makes corny friends straight away but still falls foul of a 1970s chav (CAN SOMER) who talks the same way a kid would these days, and looks like an oompa loompa. Watch as he meets his downfall when Kris pushes him on to a bed and his legs go up in the air Chuckle Brothers-style – you almost expect to hear a slide trombone on the soundtrack. Probably the worst fate for a baddie in the history of movies. There’s even a corny scouse mate, a corny Cockney mate and a corny Scottish mate. Oh yeah, there’s even a corny love interest (the deputy governor’s wife no-less), and a corny plot that shows Kris as the best ever inmate at the borstal that even the custodians end up loving him. The film is packed with Kris’ woeful songs, and a bunch of montages which are only good in the way that they save us having to listen to any more shit dialogue. It’s no surprise that this is load of old bollocks was produced by Kris Gray himself, who portrays himself as some kind of  Jesus Christ figure for young offenders. Occasionally his character will break the ‘third wall’ and address the viewer Orlando-style. It’s a cringe-worthy device and makes you wonder if the filmmakers have ever seen a good film. When an old hack like Patrick Kilpatrick is made to look like Kevin Spacey or Paul Giamatti by comparison to the rest of the pitiful cast, you know you’re in trouble. The rest of the non-actors deliver some of the most terrible dialogue I’ve heard in a long time. Smith ‘go-to’ Jon-Paul Gates is elevated from cameo detail to supporting lead and he just sucks. He’s sporting a bizarre fake Northern accent (the worst I’ve heard since Jason Maza‘s in Angel) and even more bizarrely, he delivers each line slowly and deliberately, somehow making the rest of the bad cast look better in the process – it has to be seen to be believed. Tony Fadil (OFF-PISTE), who also pops up in a lot of Smith’s films also gets to have a crack at an accent. His is a Belfast one and again, WTF? It’s weird how this lot are so delusioned as to try out these performance experiments out on a national level. Fadil and Gates contributions to this already abysmal opus of no-level ego unwatchable. Amidst, the shit chaos and boredom is a small cameo from the only person with any talent within a 100 miles of Smith, and that’s Darren James King (BLOOD FEUD) (about the only natural actor he’s ever worked with). If King had had the lead in this it may have been a tiny bit better. Alas and alack, his appearance is obscured by terrible lighting and sound in a non-scene about stealing from the kitchen.

Bad acting, out of tune songs, and a corny plot are just a part of the problem as Smith cuts corners behind the scenes too. The set is a 1980s holiday camp with modern windows and wall-fittings making the 70s setting a joke. The camera work and sound is all over the places and the man needs to work out how to use a white balance on his video camera, as frequently scenes are bleached out and look bloody awful.

0.5 out of 10 – Another rush job from Steven M Smith and his band of crap actors. This time he’s teamed up with someone called Kris Gray to tell their interminably boring and self-congratulatory tale of borstal life in the 1970s. Boringstal, more like.

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

THE LAST SCOUT

5 out of 10

Release date: TBC in UK

Director: Simon Phillips (GBH)

Cast: Blaine Gray, Rebecca Ferdinando, Deji LaRay, Simon Phillips, Rita Ramnani, Paul Thomas Arnold, Mercedes Synodis, Kevin Chua, John Chang with Petra Bryant and Peter Woodward

Writer: Paul Tanter

Trailer: THE LAST SCOUT

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Those waiting for Hooligans in Space or Essex Astronauts will have to wait a bit longer. Filmmaker enfants awfulles: Simon Phillips and Paul Tanter, have delivered a grown-up (mature not porno) attempt at movie entertainment and I am happy to report that this is largely enjoyable, as it takes more risks and scores more hits than misses. At times, some concepts and ideas fall wide of the mark, but this largely straight-faced sci-fi thriller is a good place holder until the big boys like Alien 5 and Life arrive. In a word, it commits minor crimes but no atrocities.

The characters are largely ciphers, but are invested with some warmth and conviction by a varied cast of unknowns and Brit-pic heroes. Some of the crew are stock-types but at least some attempt has been made to flesh them out. How these guys are humanity’s last hope is anybody’s guess though.  As we know, the training for the rigours of life and the isolation of space travel take years of training for and the psychometric testing is intense, so half of these loonies wouldn’t have been let within three planets of an airlock. Seven years into a mission to secure the future of humanity when the Earth’s population is decimated by a nuclear war, The Pegasus is one of the last remaining space ships on a mission to find a habital planet – Interstellar-style.  The shipmates consist of go-to characters like the doomed captain (BLAINE GRAY – ABDUCTED) who is haunted by the death of his wife, who was on another scout ship who’s mission failed<?>, yet he’s a level-headed type who the crew generally look up to for answers. There’s the chirpy engineer, a winsome Simon Phillips (STAGGER), who also directs the movie this time as opposed to producing partner Paul Tanter (who wrote the script). Phillips has the plum role and rarely grates beyond an excrutiating opening dialogue with Space Cowboy pilot Mike (DEJI DELARAY – ABDUCTED), about who loves the ship the most and lost screws (yes not shags – real screws). We get to hear this exchange twice, but no spoilers allowed! Rebecca Ferdinando (HE WHO DARES) and Rita Raminani (HEDDA GABBLER) have strong roles as the ships pilot and doctor, both share some good moments and they frequently come to the fore. More confusing, are the prickly characters; terminally ill, passenger (his role is unclear) Gerry (PAUL THOMAS ARNOLD) would have been blasted out into space by the crew after an hour or two let alone seven years. He is a xenophobic, selfish liability that Arnold does wonders with as  his motivations are thin and his reason for being there seems to be to add friction to the dynamic and nothing else – a dodgy role saved by good acting. More worrying is the usually dependable Peter Woodward (SHAME THE DEVIL) who runs into strife in a role that’s little more than a scribble in the margins – he just has to be an arsehole with an important job, but he hams it up a little too much as if he’s in a competition.  Acting awards go to Gray and LaRay for their effortless turns . Phillips is also better than he’s been in his Hooligan comedies. So he can file this with his cameo in The Disappearance of Lenka Wood and his heist botching doofus in Dangerous Mind of a Hooligan.

The special effects aren’t very special, and to mention this seems like a pointless ‘pop’ at the makers but whilst you wouldn’t send humanity’s last hope into space in a set that looks like the Laser Quest in Slough circa 1993, it’s the acting, the story and some spirited acting which will keep you on board until the end.

PS: How did they afford Morgan Freeman to the do the voice over intro…? (nice impression Paul! or was it Simon?)

5 out of 10 – A good diversion, and a welcome addition to the men/women on a mission through space cannon. Good performances rescue this from the dustbin and it is lightyears better than the Essex hardmen DVDs that hog space usually reserved for tampons at Tesco.

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?