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.
At first, the shooting process seem to be advancing smoothly, but as the production advances, Serena finds odd that some of her fellow actors are gone as soon as they finish filming their scenes. The producer tells her that in order to save money, the company is sending the actors home immediately when they are no longer needed. While that may seems like a logical explanation, Serena starts to suspect that the production scenes playing on the monitors have very realistic special effects, and ends up discovering that the director and the crew have decided to change the rubber knives for the real thing, literally doing cuts in the cast and getting the more realistic horrified screams in the history of cinema.
Obsessed with the vampire lore, and believing he could be a vampire himself, Milo walks the streets of his city everyday, trying to find his place in the world and every now and then quench his thirst for the blood he assumes he needs. Since the other boys in the neighborhood never miss the opportunity to bully him every time they see him, Milo prefers to lock himself in his room with his VHS collection of vampire films, or watching videos in the internet about nature’s predators and slaughterhouses.
One of those days where Milo is hunting for victims and doing research in order to become a better hunter, he meets a new young, attractive tenant in his building called Sophie, that seems to not only be a social outcast like him, but also could be have some skeletons in the closet. Getting along pretty much from the beginning, Milo and Sophie start a almost naive sentimental relationship that balances out the dark side that both seems have. This new situation, very different from indifference he mostly receives from this useless brother, makes Milo reflect on his identity and to think about stopping his transformation into the monster he believed he was destined to become.
All Liza wanted was the chance to start a new life and to get out of the dump she was living, and Chip just wanted to see his girlfriend happy. There is a reason why everybody says that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
The plan was simple: Get into the house and take the 68 grand from Ken, Liza’s wealthy Sugar Daddy. The job was supposed to be quick, the good old “in and out” thing, and nobody was supposed to get hurt, but as we all know, The Devil is in the details, and Chip suddenly finds himself with not only two corpses on his conscience but also a hostage in the trunk.
Liza, who clearly has no problems with spilling blood, specially if is not hers, suggest that Chip should dispose of Violet, their hostage and the only witness of their crime, but Chip, who actually does not have a single criminal bone in his body, decides to save Violet and escape with her, accidentally taking the money in the process. This ignites the rage of she who Chip considered the woman of his dreams, and from there on, Chip will be running for his life, being threatened not only by Liza, but also by other more bizarre and violent characters that he will meet along the way…