During the final years of the conflict now known as “The War of 1812” between the United States and the United Kingdom, we see that in the woods of New York, the Mohawk tribe still stays neutral in the war, despite having suffered several casualties at the hands of the American soldiers. Oak and Calvin Two Rivers, a couple of young Mohawk warriors, try to convince their elders to accept the offer made by Joshua, an emissary from England and to side with the British army. Seeing that the elders maintain their decision to stay neutral in the conflict, Calvin decides to attack on his own an American camp while the soldiers sleeps, but a small group of soldiers survive and begin to hunt him down. This puts not only Oak and Joshua in immediate danger, but also the whole tribe, since under the excuse of seeking justice the American soldiers will not hesitate to kill any native they can find in their path.
“Mohawk” is the new film directed by Ted Geoghegan (“We Are Still Here”) and this time he leaves the ghost stories on the side to bring us a cruel and violent revenge story, set in a part of the history of the United States that most Americans prefer not to talk about too often. Seeing the political environment that we live in today, and with racism and intolerance still very present, “Mohawk” makes us wonder if we have really advanced that much in the last 200 years, or if at least are we treating the native American communities any better. (BTW, the film makes an honorable mention to the Standing Rock’s resistance movement).
For several years Professor Phillip Goodman has been dedicated to debunk scammers claiming to be psychics and to expose supposed supernatural incidents. One day Professor Goodman is contacted by a renown psychologist and paranormal investigator called Charles Cameron, who has been missing for decades and also inspired Goodman to choose his profession. Cameron, now very old and sick, ask Goodman to investigate three cases that even he can’t explain and that has caused him to questions his own life’s work.
At first Goodman believes that there is nothing in the cases that he can’t explain with science and logic. but as he keeps interviewing the people involved, the professor starts to believe there is something odd behind their stories… Could it be that their madness is contagious? Or maybe… Just maybe, their stories are true? And what about the shadow that he keeps seeing in the corner of his eye?
“Ghost Stories” is a very interesting anthology film. Even when the stories are very different from each other, and the tone can feel uneven, I think they work very well together, each one of the segments managing to create a very tense atmosphere on their own. The first story could be considered a slow burn, where a night watchman shares the events of a very particular night in the abandoned asylum where he worked. This is the segment where we need to be very patient, but at the end it pays very well and sets the tone for the following stories.
After dying saving a girl from a building on fire, Kim Ja-hong is taken by 3 guardian spirits to the realm of the afterlife, where for 49 days he will judged in 7 trials, each one in the hell corresponding to the crimes of Betrayal, Violence, Filial impiety, Murder, Indolence, Deceit and Injustice in order for Kim Ja-hong achieve a chance for reincarnation. At first the guardians are confident that Kim Ja-hong, being considered a Paragon, will pass the trials without problems, but just as the first trial concludes, the guardians start to realize that Kim Ja-hong has made some questionable choices in life, which could make his journey a lot harder than expected, and destroy the chances for the guardians themselves to
“Along with the Gods: The Two Worlds” is the first of two movies adapting the webcomic of the same name created by Joo Ho-min, and personally, I thought it was a very good film. From the get-go I would advise to not see this movie expecting an action film, but a great supernatural drama with several cool action scenes in the mix. Being that I am not an expert on Korean culture or religious philosophy, I will base my review on the story itself.
From the start I liked a lot the story and the characters, both the humans and the guardians. At first Kim Ja-hong might seem like a simple plain character, but as the movie advances we can appreciate that there is a lot more of him, and how his acts could be not always done with the best intentions, therefore making us wonder if he can be redeemed at all. I though the guardians were very well written and developed: The wise and calm Gang-rim, the cocky and impulsive Haewonmak, and the diligent (and charmingly enthusiastic) Deok-choon. The work of the main cast bringing their characters to life was great, and each one of them had their time to shine in the screen, although I felt that Deok-choon fades a little bit on the third act.
Blood, Drama, Guts, Action and Comedy are just some of the elements that “Lowlife”, the directorial debut from Ryan Prows, balances for more than an hour and half to bring us a story that pull no punches in order to show us the worst of the people, and that it could be happening everyday in the lower class neighborhoods of Los Angeles without anybody noticing. Told in a way that will remind us of Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction”, this film has also interesting characters, a fast steady pace, and several details that will warrant a second viewing.
First me meet “Monstruo”, a disgraced Mexican Luchador that woks as an enforcer for “Teddy Bear”, a dangerous, ruthless criminal, and besides having a problem controlling his murderous rage, he is also obsessed with protecting the family legacy that his wrestler mask represents. We then meet Crystal, an obsessive hoarder and owner of a little rundown hotel, that trying to save his alcoholic husband’s life, accepts an organ from a unexpected donor. Lastly we meet Randy, a convict just released from prison, that besides wearing a problematic tattoo (to say the least) on his face, gets unwillingly pulled into a new crime, risking going back to prison, or something worse.
Leah Reyes is a teenager coping with the recent death of her father, finding solace in literature, more specifically, in books dealing with the occult arts. While her friends are there for moral support, her mother is an emotional mess. To make matters worse, not only her mother seems unable to accept her husband’s death and move on, but also at moments seems that she feels that Leah is to blame for her loss. One night, after a very heated discussion, Leah performs a ritual that puts a deadly curse on her mother. Quickly regretting what she did, the girl starts to look for a way to revert the invocation in order to prevent that the witch known as “Pyewacket” fulfills the curse. The moral of this story: “Be careful what you wish for, someone might be listening”
“Pyewacket” is a film that I enjoyed A LOT, and although is clear that it had some limitations due its budget, it delivers an excellent story with a very scary atmosphere. The main characters are very well written, and far from being the usual stereotypes in this kind of movies, they feel like actual people that we may see every day on our lives. From the beginning we can sympathize and side with Leah, because contrary to what we normally see in these movies, she is not a cynical teenager that complains about everything just to get attention, nor plays the role of a tortured martyr moaning that life does not give her what she believes she deserves. Leah is someone that besides dealing with the usual crap that comes with growing up, she tries very hard to cope with the loss of her father and even tries to emotionally support her mother, showing in several occasions to be even more mature that her.
This Thursday, March 15th, “Cold Hell”, the new revenge thriller from Oscar-winning director Stefan Ruzowitzky debuts exclusively for streaming on Shudder.
On “Cold Hell” (Die Hölle) we meet Özge, an immigrant working in Vienna as a taxi driver. Besides dealing with the troubles that come with the job (drunken passengers, harassment and A-holes drivers), Özge also struggles to keep her sanity: Her family is practically non existent, her cousin/best friend constantly uses her as an alibi so she can keep cheating on her husband, and due a (justified) moment of rage she is expelled from the sport club where she practices Thai Boxing. To make matters worse, one night coming home she accidentally witnesses a brutal murder, and while she can’t clearly see the face of the murderer, she knows he had a good look at her.
Despite being a key witness in the crime that was committed, the detective in charge of the case pretty much dismisses Özge’s testimony, apparently due her being a immigrant with a previous criminal record. Knowing that her life is in danger and the killer won’t rest until she is forever silenced, Özge decides to deal with him on her own, and on her terms, since neither the police or her family seems to be able to help her (or even want to).
Mike and Heather are a couple of brothers trying to cope with their father’s recent death, and plan to spread his ashes on the forest where their family used to vacation. Several of Mike’s friends decide to tag along, not so much as to offer Mike some emotional support, but to seize the moment and to have a party all weekend on a secluded cabin in the woods. What the young students are unaware of, is that in that same forest recently have been occurring several murders eerily similar to others that happened several years ago and that were never solved.
The authorities, trying to not spread the panic in the community, decide to keep the murders and the investigation secret to the public, but a couple of persons that were close to Mike’s father are convinced that both his death and the recent murders are not a coincidence, or the work of a mortal being, but a evil supernatural force that has come back to claims its vengeance and fill the woods with terror. An entity that will not only put the lives of the students in danger, but also make them fight one another to the death before the weekend is over.
“Black Creek” is one of those films where you can see that the people behind it pushed themselves to the limits with whatever resources they had, and makes you wonder how would the film look if they had a bigger budget. Leaving aside that some of the acting is not very good and that some special effects fall into the weaker side, there is a very good story told in a very efficient manner, and an interesting concept that could work for more movies. I will point out that there were also several very effective special effects, although there were more of the practical kind.
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.