Taking place in Vietnam, in 1953, “The Housemaid” tells the story of Linh, a young girl looking for work after loosing everything in the bombings in the Indochinese War. After talking with some of the local folk, Linh arrives at the rubber plantation called “Sa-Cat”, after applying for the housemaid position, she barely ends up been hired on a trial basis.
Since her arrival at Sa-Cat, Linh starts to hear strange whispers on the mansion, and her eyes seems to be playing tricks on her, since she believes to see someone roaming the corridors, when nobody is supposed be around. Soon after that, Linh learns the dark story of the plantation, and that most of the locals tend to avoid it due rumors that many workers in the past died of torture and abuse at the hands of previous owners of the plantation. However, is only after Linh meets Captain Sebastian, the french owner of Sa-Cat, that her life starts to be in danger, since Madame Camille, Sebastian’s deceased wife, has returned from the grave, infuriated by the attention the girl has been receiving.
“The Housemaid” is interesting and entertaining, specially for a film coming from a country that does not release that many horror titles at all (In contrast with China and Japan, where horror fans are most used to get their Asian horror fix) Still I would label this movie as more of a Drama with a supernatural tones than horror (Think more of “Crimson Peak” and not so much of “Insidious”), but still manages to create a tense atmosphere and to give us a couple of scares. Unfortunately, it also has some moments that feel tired and too common because we have seen it too much recently in occidental films: as you might guess, I am talking about the over use of jump scares, some of them lead to nothing, others do not even have any reason to be there.
After doing a tour around the U.S. “Victor Crowley”, the new entry in the “Hatchet” saga is finally available on VOD and Bluray. The film, written and directed by Adam Green was filmed completely in secret (something that sounds almost impossible in the days of the Internet) and was first shown on August 2017, being announced as a remastered version of the original “Hatchet” film, celebrating the 10th anniversary of its release, and needless to say, it took all of us in attendance by surprise.
Taking place 10 years after the bloody weekend shown on the Hatchet trilogy, we see Andrew Yong (the only known survivor of the massacre) trying to promote his book retelling the events of what is now known as “the Honey Island Massacre”. To his dismay, most of the public still believes that he was the killer, and that Victor Crowley, the alleged supernatural entity responsible for the murders, never existed, this is mostly because after that day, there has been not a single report of people missing or being murdered on the swamps of Honey Island. Tired of the people’s mistreatment, but also in need of cash, Andrew accepts to do an interview in the place of the murders, taking a private plane with the production crew.
At the same time, a group of aspiring filmmakers try to film a mock trailer in that same location in order lure investors for their film, which will be based on Victor Crowley’s murders. Trying to be as authentic as possible, the crew starts to play a compilation of videos where the spell said to be used to curse Crowley is recited over and over, causing the plane where Andrew and the production crew were traveling to crash, and bringing Victor Crowley from beyond once more to fill the swamp with blood and guts.
Drugs, hipsters, lousy paying jobs and expensive rents; is not easy to be an artist on Brooklyn. To make matters worse, there is a killer lurking the streets known as the Bushwick Party Killer. This is the setting of “PSYCHOTIC! the new film directed by Derek Gibbons and Maxwell Frey.
This film clearly has love for the Giallo genre and the 80’s slasher films, and I am sure that fans of those genres are going to like this movie a lot. I dare to even say that this could become a cult film, however, I had some issues with it. Mostly the acting, which varies from “not that good” to really bad, (as in “Not even funny” bad) I honestly wondered at times if the creators were trying to go full parody mode or not… Just to be clear, I am not talking about the titular killer’s design, which while it might look weird and silly, I dug it.
Another issue that I had was that most of the characters were horrible persons and annoying, something that you normally like in the slasher movies, specially when those characters get killed really fast (or when you can have fun trying to guess the order in which they will bite the dust), but here we have to wait A LOT for the murders to happen after a very good kill in the opening of the film, if you like stoner humor you might not care, though, because there is plenty of that here!
On a day like any other, after killing her family in a very gruesome way, a high school girl roams the streets with a grin on her face, not caring about the accidents she causes on her path. A talented illustrator gets called when her husband is found walking aimlessly on the streets in an almost amnesic state, and with close to no social skills to communicate. A reporter looking for clues about the murdered family gets shocked when a young man ask him to be his guide, and shares with him that humanity’s days are numbered, since he is part of a scouting party setting the stage for an alien invasion.
From the hand of Kiyoshi Kurosawa (director of “Cure”, “Pulse” and “Doppelganger” among other films) comes “Before We Vanish” a Japanese drama film with tones of science fiction that makes us wonder if humanity should be allowed to continue on the planet for a little longer, or if it is time to be erased and replaced for another type of intelligent life form.
While the idea of a group of aliens taking the bodies of humans to learn about our civilization (and how to destroy us) is nothing that we haven’t see before, the different personalities of these visitors and their approach in order to analyze humans is what makes the film interesting and worth watching. Far from infiltrating high rank personnel and look for ways to destroy us with our own weapons, these invaders go around stealing “Concepts” from the minds of the people they meet in their daily lives, causing a severe change in the personalities of those persons, some even ending in a mental breakdown.
Following our remote coverage for the Cinepocalypse film festival, we got to see “Charismata” a disturbingly dark film from Tor Mian and Andy Collier.
In “Charismata” we meet a recently promoted police detective called Rebecca Faraday, that on top of dealing with a very bizarre murder on her first case (a possible satanistic serial killer, to boot) she has to battle with a hateful ex-husband, an addiction to pain killers, strange headaches and very tense working environment.
As more murders are discovered and clues pointing to a real state company start to surface, Rebecca and his partner Eli (With whom she clearly has a PROFESSIONAL love/hate relationship) meet a charismatic developer and business man called Michael Sweet, a man that actually seems excited to be a suspect on the case. Could it be that he knows more about the murders that he lets on, or is this just his weird way to get closer to Rebecca?
Ready to give us a hit… of horror and laughs, comes “Welcome to Willits” a film to be released on select theaters and VOD on September 22 via IFC Midnight. This gory mix of aliens, conspiracies and hallucinogens is also the directorial debut for Trevor Ryan.
In this film, a group of would be-campers decide to go deep in the forest of Willits, a small town below the public’s attention that has become the perfect place for marijuana growers, meth addicts, and conspiracy theorists. Setting camp in a private property, the group end up crossing paths with Brock, a psychotic, drug-addled pot farmer. Before they can know the danger they just walked into, the campers end up being hunted by Brock and his wife Peggy, both convinced that extraterrestrials are out to get them, and have resolved to not go down without a fight.
“Welcome To Willits” Is a very interesting horror film. We could say that it brings a new twist to the slasher sub genre, and has some very funny moments, but you need to be in the right mood to appreciate it (And no, I am not suggesting the use of drugs). I liked the premise a lot, and although there were a couple of characters that annoyed me (mostly for portraying the tired stereotypes) the film was never boring.
Recently screened at TIFF 2017 (Toronto International Film Festival), we saw “Downrange” the new film from director Ryûhei Kitamura who in the past brought us cult films like the bat-shit crazy “Versus”, and the adaptation from Clive Barker’s tale “The Midnight Meat Train”, both films known for their unrestrained, violent content…. And luckily, this film is no exception.
“Six college students are carpooling cross-country when one of their tires blows out on a desolate stretch of country road. Getting out to fix the flat, they quickly discover that this was no accident. The tire was shot out. With their vehicle incapacitated, the group is pinned down and mercilessly attacked by an unseen assailant as they desperately attempt to find a way to escape.
I liked “Downrange” A LOT, while the plot might sound too simple on paper, on the screen was truly terrifying. The film wasted no time introducing the characters nor forced the audience to watch for 30 minutes how they get along, using the same tired cliche individuals: In less than 15 minutes we get that most of them meet recently, decided to share a ride and suddenly their lives are in danger due a merciless sniper on a lonely road in the middle of nowhere.
A familiy that was divided for many years gets together in a secluded house in the woods to try an extreme intervention in order to convince Justin (the younger son of the family) to leave a dangeroous cult that has turned him into a very violent person, and with a clear desdain for his family.
The task of getting back the person they knew as Justin is obviously not easy, even with the help of Jimmy, a former marine and a expert cult deprogrammer. After a very violent session, Jimmy warns the Powell family that although the damaged caused to Justin by the cult is very severe, they can still get him back, but they need to follow his instructions, no questions asked. This turns to be more complicated than expected since there is a lot of resentment among the family, specially towards the mother, who divorced her husband many years ago and left the family behind.
Justin, clearly mad about being abducted and brought to the house, claims to now go by the name of Thanatos, and that soon his new (and only) family will come to his rescue. He also lets the Powell know that everybody in the house, including the baby girl he just had with his girlfriend Samantha, will be sacrificed as punishment.
As soon as the night arrives, the Powell’s see that several strange masked people start to appear outside of their house, clearly stating, without saying a single word, that they have no intentions to negotiate, and that they will not go away without Justin. This will be the beginning of a siege where the blood will run on both sides, and where anybody can be the next to die…
Looking for her big break in the movie industry, Serena accepts the main role in a Slasher film. At first she has some concerns, thinking how this might affect her curriculum in the future, but after meeting the director and seeing how passionate he is about this project, since it will be his first feature, the young actress gets on board.
As soon as Serena and the rest of the cast arrive at the filming location, they are shocked to see that for the next three weeks they will be disconnected from the rest of the world: No internet, no cell phones and no TV, all this with the intention of avoiding any distractions, since the director, besides being excited for being able to do this film with the crew that he grew up with, wants to make the most authentic, realistic slasher possible.