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John’s Horror Corner: Shallow Water (2017), Independent Short Film Review.

March 27, 2017


MY CALL:  Stan Winston (Pumpkinhead) showed us how great it can be when a creature creator helms a creature feature, and here Sandy Collora wants to do the same. I was pleased with his effort and would love to see a feature length spawn from this.  MORE Indie Reviews:  Here at MFF we occasionally do horror short film and pre-release indie film reviews on request. Among recent solicited promotions are Order of the Ram (2013; short film), Love in the Time of Monsters (2014; feature length), Interior (2014; feature length), Smothered (2014; feature length), In the Dark (2015; feature length), Trailer Talk: The VoidTRAILER TALK: Blood MoneyShort Film Buzz: Burn (2016; press release)Brother (2016; short film), the indie techno-horror Other Halves (2016; feature length), and Scythe (2016; short film)

Disclaimer: This review was solicited by the filmmakers after I was issued a free digital copy for supporting their Kickstarter Campaign. However, my opinion remains unbiased as I was neither hired nor paid to produce this critical review, nor do I have an investment stake in the film.

This 18-minute short film drops us at would normally be the 70-minute mark in a 90-minute movie—basically, the final segment of a feature length film.  Our final girl is being chased through the rainy forest by a monstrous bipedal amphibious humanoid; essentially a more modernly designed Creature from the Black Lagoon.  She clearly knows what she’s dealing with already and it becomes readily apparent that all her friends (or, other people in the area who could help) are all already dead.

The acting was fine but had no line-delivery—just a woman (Lisa Roumain; Avatar) desperately running scared.  But the camera work was on point, featuring great shots of our forest setting, as well as some slow-motion boob-running for, you know, the people who just enjoy some slow-motion boob-running in a wet tank top.  What I noticed most was how water (in all forms) always appeared crisply attended.

The creature effect is a rubber monster suit, which some may want to dismiss outright just upon hearing that detail.  But it is done well and it is the very purpose of this short film!  When we first get a good look at it (4:45 on the running time), we see its reptilian eye-slip covers blink and its misshapen pupil dilates. This was absolutely not half-assed! I rewound about 5 times to watch the think blink and focus its eyes. A lot of attention was also afforded to the sounds the creature would make. I liked that. It’s all in the details.  When we see the monster again we learn more about it—it has dorsal nostrils something like a whale’s blowhole atop its head.  I thought it looked great!  Dungeons and Dragons fans, I think, will especially enjoy this monster.  It reminds me of the Sahaguin or Deep Ones, appearing as aquatic lizard men with all manner of gashes, scars, coral, hooks and bits of fishnetting adorning its scale-armored body.

The filmmakers also had some fun with the gore. I was reminded of the kitchen table butchering scene in Wrong Turn (2003) at one point, and I liked the aquatic zoological touch of having fiddler crabs scavenging en masse on a brutally gored cadaver.

This film was almost entirely composed of typical horror tropes and I don’t care. I don’t consider this a negative criticism; only an observation. Sometimes we want something formulaic yet well-made, and that’s what this is. I’d really like to see a feature length version of this. We don’t have much out there harkening back to The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)—except for, maybe, Creature (2011) or Humanoids from the Deep (1980), which I enjoyed despite their overt badness—and I feel we could use some more!  Director and creature designer Sandy Collora has done well.

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John’s Horror Corner: Life (2017), the incredibly intense Sci-Fi thriller that relies equally on great characters and a great monster.

March 26, 2017

MY CALL:  Despite not having much of a story, the characters and creature development breathe heavy tension into Life. It’s a satisfying rollercoaster of fun, but packs none of the moral or heroic punch of Alien (1979).  MORE MOVIES LIKE LifeSpecies (1995), Mission to Mars (2000), Red Planet (2000), Apollo 18 (2011), Alien (1979), Aliens (1986), Prometheus (2012).

Orbiting Earth on a research space station, six astronauts intercept a vessel containing proof of life on Mars: a dormant, flagellate, single-celled organism.  They quarantine the life form, provide nutrients, and watch it grow in a controlled environment.  But its metamorphosis finds nothing like the “single-celled” organisms we know on Earth and the term “controlled environment” never seems to go as planned in these movies, does it?

Life (2017) features a premise we’ve obviously seen before.  There’s a major discovery of life beyond our solar system, something goes wrong, and a crew with good intentions is trapped with some sort of alien organism driven to kill them.  Whereas past movies took us deeper into space or on planetary surfaces (e.g., Mission to Mars, Red Planet, Apollo 18) and others brought the discovery to Earth (Species), this is a lot more like Alien/Aliens (1979-86).  And while some are calling this sci-horror; it’s nothing at all like Event Horizon (1997)—yes, it’s scary, but not that kind of scary.  However, it certainly boasts seat-gripping suspense.  I spent much of my movie-viewing experience feeling VERY NERVOUS in an awesome way.

What’s really wonderful about this film is that the entire cast really delivered. The stakes are high, the consequences get dire, and everyone performs excellently. Each character had their own flavor, as of course they should.  Our introductions remind me of Alien (1979) and Sunshine (2007); everyone has their own impetus, or thrill, or sense of duty, or desire for discovery; all of them with their own idiosyncratic demeanors that show us who they are without relying on senselessly expository dialogue to explain them away.

Jake Gyllenhaal (Donnie Darko, Nightcrawler) plays a doctor who feels more at home in zero gravity than on an over-crowded Earth, Rebecca Ferguson (Mission Impossible Rogue Nation) is our mission commander forced to make tough protocol decisions when lives are threatened, Olga Dihovichnaya brings the compassion, sci-fi favorite Hiroyuki Sanada (Sunshine, 47 Ronin, Extant, Helix) plays the engineer and family man, Ariyon Bakare (Rogue One, Jupiter Ascending) is the xenobiologist, and Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool, The Voices, RIPD) is our down-to-Earth comic relief.

Director Daniel Espinosa (Safe House) has worked with Reynolds before and knew how to use him best—capturing his snarky charm and anxiety when appropriate.  When things get iffy Reynolds’ character is the mine shaft canary.  Reynolds has recently done some less-than-celebrated films (e.g., Self/Less, Criminal, The Captive), but his fans will love him in this (think more Deadpool, Mississippi Grind).

More than any of the human characters, the creature undergoes such development!  We, the audience, are caught up in the discovery even though we saw the trailer and know things will go horribly wrong.  So, while the creature seems almost cute at first, we keep wondering when and how the “life form” will become a “monster.”  This alien is not the communal mass of single-celled organisms you learned about in biology class, nor will many find its intelligence credible.  To that I say, get over it!  Just make the submission that this is from a world we don’t know, has cellular capabilities we don’t have, and accept that this could happen.  Once you do, this creature terrifies us as it hunts crew members.

They even gave it a name: Calvin.  Of course, they named Calvin when he was much less developed and was warmly neotonous. But the personifying nature of giving it a name (“Calvin”) makes things feel more personal (e.g., OMFG where is Calvin? Calvin got him! Calvin is in the air vents.). And speaking of intense, I feel the need to remind you that this was unnervingly thrilling!  If you’re jumpy, you’ll jump a lot. If you “never scare” like me, you’ll still get startled.  Things get creepy when Calvin gets methodical.

If you’re looking for a deep plot, you won’t find it here.  The story itself is nothing special—it’s the gift wrapping, really, for the intense thrill-ride within populated by great characters and a menacing alien force.  As such I recommend this more as a fun and thrilling ride rather than a praising its merits as a film.

The ending is GREAT.  I sort of saw it coming; but I wanted this ending and I loved its execution.  Some may roll their eyes, but this ending really draws attention to how things can go so horribly wrong and unplanned when things come down to a few survivors, a heavily compromised ship, and a deadly alien stranger.  It also brings a dark poetic justice to the title—as if it refers as much to life’s discovery as life’s own drive for preservation.

I LOVED this movie.

The MFF Podcast #93: Manchester by the La La Land

March 23, 2017

Hello all. Mark here.

MFF

You can download the pod on Itunes or LISTEN TO THE POD ON BLOG TALK RADIO.

If you get a chance please make sure to review, rate and share. You are awesome!

The MFF podcast is back and we are talking about La La Land and Manchester by the Sea.  These two monoliths of cinema have been dueling all year and have been responsible for many gloriously redundant debates. The only thing they have in common is they both fell to the deserving Moonlight for Best Picture but still managed to win copious awards. . In this pod you will hear us wax poetic about terrible drummers, empty calories and the brilliance of Michelle Williams.

michelle-williams-manchester-by-the-sea

Williams is sooooooooooooooooooooo good.

As always we answer random listener questions and ponder if the questions need to be topical (doesn’t matter).  If you a fan of the podcast make sure to send in some random listener questions so we can do our best to not answer them correctly. We thank you for listening and hope you enjoy the pod!

You can download the pod on Itunes or LISTEN TO THE POD ON BLOG TALK RADIO.

If you get a chance please make sure to review, rate and share. You are awesome!

5 Moments That Prove Cinematic Space Exploration Isn’t Always Terrible

March 22, 2017

Spaceballs movie

Cinematic space travel seems terrible. Movies like Life, Prometheus, Event Horizon, Sunshine, Alien and many others have taught us exploring space is not fun. The poor space travelers always find themselves in incredibly dangerous situations that would never happen on earth. Whether it be aliens, space goo, super computers or more aliens something always goes wrong and people die.

The following post covers five moments where the main characters aren’t harassed, incinerated or lost while journeying through space.

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1. Spaceballs – You Can Watch Movies, Drink Coffee and Check Out the Radar

Spaceballs is hilarious! I love the moment when Dark Helmet watches Spaceballs before it is even released. How weird/awesome would it be if you could watch a movie showing the now….right now! Just be careful of hot coffee and going so fast you turn plaid.

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2. Guardians of the Galaxy – You Can Dance Your Way Around Gross Creatures

I love when Chris Pratt dances his way around gross creatures and dangerous crevasses while looking for bounty. Guardians of the Galaxy proves you can have fun while many things are trying to kill you. I have a feeling that terrible space travel wouldn’t be so bad if you had a bunch of entertaining A-holes around.

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3. Star Trek 4: The Voyage Home – You Can Save Whales!

I love Star Trek 4! One of my favorite moments is when Captain Kirk is breaking down the mission to the save the whales.  During the speech he mentions that people will be freaked out by Spock. What does Spock do? He wraps a cloth around his head and looks like a karate master. There are better Star Trek movies out there but I loved this movie as a kid and it doesn’t get old.

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4. Star Wars: Episode Four – A New Hope — You Can Play Dejarik With a Wookie

I love the moments in the Star Wars films when the characters have downtime. When they aren’t saving the world or being chased by Darth Vader they are able to relax and play board games involving monsters killing each other. I’d love to play Dejarik with Chewbacca.

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5. Flight of the Navigator – You Can Listen to The Beach Boys While Cruising Around in a Space Ship

I would love to fly around in a spaceship and jam out to The Beach Boys! When I was a kid I thought this scene was probably the coolest thing ever because the kid got to drive underage, teach aliens how to dance and listen to loud music. It would be the greatest day ever!

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Logan: Old West, New Forms

March 21, 2017

LOGAN

Old West, New Forms

by Zachary Beckler

Logan is not a Western, though it looks and sounds like one. Characters wear windblown dusters straight out of a Sergio Leone film, and the score by Marco Beltrami uses themes and effects heavily influenced by Ennio Morricone. The characterizations also fit into certain classical genre archetypes, as ranchers feud with “cattle barons” and Professor Xavier taking on the role of the dying “pioneer.” However, there is no doubt the film is Superhero cinema through and through, from its aggressive (and violent) action scenes to the explicit comic-book nature of the nemesis (a clone who is Wolverine’s corporeal double and antithetical representation, essentially an sci-fi narrative device.) That is not to say that James Mangold, director of 3:10 To Yuma, does not utilize the Western aesthetic purposefully, as Logan makes a valid intertextual statement about Superhero cinema and, in turn, the vitality of myth-making in general using these genres. Its motive, however, is not to contrast, but to bridge.

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What qualifies a film as a Western? In the most basic terms, it depicts a portion American culture during the 19th century, as settlers progress west across a “wild” frontier to establish a Euro-centric idea of civilization and justice. The stories of the “Frontier Myth” in all media forms are usually framed as the exploits of nomadic heroes with vague codes of honor as they confront the savagery of both the natives and the lawless criminals bent on stifling the order of civilized society. In the early days of cinema, the Western emerged as a conduit to exploit the moving image form. What is a Western if not about the movement of subjects contrasted against the stillness of an uninhabited environment? Chase scenes, screen direction, and continuity editing techniques all materialized during the proliferation of this genre in the 1910’s through the 1930’s. It was myth re-making, and movement was essential to its effectiveness. But these myths were regressive to reality, neglecting to show the true horrors of this progression west or the racism and genocide that dominated the culture. The X-Men comics and films have classically appropriated these themes into a kind of futuristic racial commentary (the fact that these “mutants” are different species has always made this metaphor problematic.)

Logan does fit into some of these Western criteria, and not by accident. However, this film, and more explicitly The Wolverine, are informed just as much, if not more, by the Samurai film. Even in the most superficial ways, Wolverine has more in common with Toshiro Mifune than John Wayne as an element of design, with his unbreakable bladed weapons, stylized hair, and kubuto inspired face mask (in his comic-book form). As a cinematic genre, Samurai films of the 1950’s countered the Western aesthetic; instead of portraying a genesis, they depict the conclusion of a way of life. If Westerns showed the movement of subjects (using wide-angle lensing and tracking shots), Samurai films, in particular those of Kurosawa, display the movement of environment against the stillness of its subjects. The frame is always active with rain, wind, or fire while the masterless ronin are poised in contemplation. Even when Mifune moves in a film like Yojimbo, the long lens pans with him and compresses the spaces, parallaxing the the background movement from the foreground. The world appears to fly by this seemingly stationary object.

“The fact that movies are a technology of motion makes them uniquely suited to capturing stillness.” – Ignatiy Vishnevetsky

It is not that Westerns didn’t practice this kind of stillness, as can be seen in iconic gun duels and quick-drawl suspense sequences. And Samurai films did also render moving bodies in space, like the sieges of Seven Samurai (Kurosawa was known for his full body character gestures to express internal emotion.) Genre can ultimately only be defined ostensibly, as each new work adds to its definition. The content and characteristics of genre, though, aides in the understanding of its aesthetic forms. Logan can fit into both genre categories, as it depicts a kind of samurai at the end of his life but uses the deserts of Mexico and the woods of North Dakota to portray this. First and foremost, however, Logan is a Superhero film. What aesthetically defines such a genre?

Superhero cinema takes its cues from sci-fi, modern action cinema, and, of course, the comic book panels from which it was birthed. It is not hard to find an overriding formal motif between films, because the stories share similar plots; a modern society destabilized by ideological discordance, selfish interests, or other devious motives of terror. The quality of movement in these films mimic this destabilization, be it the fast-cut handheld frames of Captain America, or the crosscutting partition of actions and moments in Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. In Logan, we see many aggressively staged action sequences, but the film also portrays this instability within the narrative, as Xavier’s brain is prone to seizures that are transmitted to everyone within his range. This is formally conveyed by vibrating the digital camera with an open shutter, creating more ghosting of the motion blur (likely combined with some kind of post-processing). Within these destabilized images, the viewers’ eyes hone in on the most vivid design elements in the frame for balance and relief, usually the posed, costumed superhero.

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The process of character development is vital to the understanding of this form. Unlike Westerns, there are no real-world “facts” to create “legend” from. The inception of comic book characters nearly always start with vivid physical design, followed thereafter by a detailed emotional history, perhaps as a justification of such bold visual strokes. Batman, for example, started simply with the name, from which they created a design. It took six issues before his backstory and motivation was developed. Wolverine was no different; the design of his costume and weapons in his 1975 debut were so compelling to readers, it compelled Marvel to develop the character further. Within nearly 20 years of passive development, he was given the power of regeneration, immortality, and a backstory revealing bones underneath his implanted “adamantium” claws (the Weapon X backstory was first published in 1991). The myths these superheroes inhabit always seem to play catch-up to their design, and as such are subject to the easy commonalities and platitudes of the history of storytelling.

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The superhero film is as prolific in mainstream cinema as the Western was in the 30’s and 40’s. Both genres use iconic central figures put through messianic trials to create new mythologies. (Wolverine is impaled horribly in his side late in the film, which becomes a kind of symbolic stigmata). Logan is one of the first superhero films to embrace this idea and make it part of the narrative drive. In doing so, the film acts as a thesis on the necessity of these forms from generation to generation. Hugh Jackman, giving a sublime physical performance, shows Logan disintegrating before our very eyes in a country that turns its back. It is the bleakest of worldviews, showing a culture so far gone it has banished its heroes and accepted destabilization as permanence.

The film can be divided into three key sections: Mexico, (the world and scenario building early scenes which mimic Western aesthetics most), the road (which transitions north from Mexico to North Dakota), and “Eden”, in which young mutants born in labs from the DNA of established mutants (again, this is not a western) have created a sanctuary based on the only religion they have ever known: comic books. A nurse from the cloning facility enlists Logan’s help to get Laura, revealed later to be Logan’s clone/daughter, to the coordinates of Eden. When Logan discovers the destination was copied from a comic book of his own exploits, he dismisses Laura’s quest. “Where we’re going, ‘Eden…’ It doesn’t exist. The nurse got it from a comic book. You understand? It’s not real.” Xavier, the wise and charitable savior of mutant kind, responds simply, “It is for Laura… It is for Laura.” When Logan arrives, hoisted into a literal makeshift ascension, he discovers they have made an Eden for themselves. The structure of Logan frames what has come before (Logan’s world) within the aesthetics of an accepted form in order to bridge into what is here now (the new mutants/Superhero cinema.) This is made explicit during a scene of the children trimming Logan’s beard as he recovers, literally grooming him into the image they worship in comics.

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The studio has made no secret that this is Jackman’s final outing as Wolverine, so it should come as no surprise that Logan ends with Laura and the the other young mutants standing over the grave of The Wolverine. She eulogizes Logan by quoting the ending to a film she saw days earlier, the classic western Shane. This is not appropriation, but a farewell to a mythic form and an additional layer of commentary.

“Joey, there’s no living with a killing. There’s no going back from one. Right or wrong, it’s a brand. A brand sticks. There’s no going back. Now you run on home to your mother, and tell her everything’s all right. And there aren’t any more guns in the valley.”

One of the children caresses an action figure of Wolverine’s comic book form like a rosary. As the new generation disperses, headed to the sanctuary of Canada, Laura stays behind, pulling the large burial crucifix from the ground and turning it on its side, refashioning it into an X. What meaning is there in the image of a cross to children who have never read a bible or seen any kind of Christian iconography? This is the film’s final and most definitive statement, delivered simply as a gesture of affection and tribute. This final shot could become as essential to the Superhero film as the ending of The Searchers is to the Western.

Logan is not a Western hero. He is a Superhero, one whose story morphed over the years into a parable that has been refashioned and artistically appropriated throughout the history of media forms from one generation to the next. Logan understands this better than any Superhero film before it, and in doing so gives the genre the respectability it has earned. But respectability is meaningless. These films did not need that kind of older generation consideration. Superhero cinema may not be significant to some, but it is to today’s generation. It is for Laura.

MFF Special: A Closer Look at Movies That Feature the Words Best, Great, Perfect, Good and Fantastic in Their Titles

March 20, 2017

I love random data that has no real world importance for several reasons.

  1. I love the look on people’s faces when I tell them movies that feature jet ski action scenes have a 29% Rotten Tomatoes rating.
  2. The data can focus on pencils, movie poster explosions and Foghat.
  3. The stupid data puts a smile on people’s faces (or really annoys them because they just spent time reading about data with no real world importance).

When looking to further my journey into random film analysis I became inspired during a viewing of Best in Show.  I began to wonder which group of movies that boasts big things had the best critic/user average. The following post averages out the Rotten Tomatoes Critic score and IMDB user score of 101 movies that feature Best, Perfect, Good, Fantastic and Great in their titles. For instance, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Great Gatsby, A Perfect Getaway, Good Burger and Best in Show.

The movies needed at least 20 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and 2,500 ratings on IMDb. If I had to include every single movie it would’ve killed all my free time and the data would’ve been a sham.

Are movies that feature the word Perfect actually perfect? Are Good movies any good? Can something be the best and still take third place? Are dog shows really that competitive?

Sidenote: If a movie had a 7.6 IMDb user score, I switched it to 76.

5. Perfect

RT/IMDb Average – 53.56

Best: A Perfect World – 78

Worst: Perfect Holiday – 29.5

There are very few things that are perfect in this world (The Thing, Islay Scotch, JCVD spin kicks) so I wasn’t expecting a grouping of movies to equal out to 100%. However, I was kinda shocked that movies featuring the word Perfect had a 53.56 average. The Perfect Man (30.5), Perfect Stranger (34)  and Perfect Holiday (29.5) hurt the average bigtime and negated the positive contributions of Pitch Perfect and A Perfect World.

John Carpenter’s The Thing is legit perfect.

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4. Fantastic

RT/IMDB Average – 60.43

Best: Fantastic Mr. Fox – 85

Worst: Fantastic Four – 26

Going into this post I assumed Fantastic movies would have the highest average. Movies like The Fantastic Mr. Fox, Captain Fantastic and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them have solid numbers and I figured they would buoy the low scorers. However, I forgot that the 2015 Fantastic Four had a 9% RT average. Since there were so few Fantastic movies the 9% dragged everything down and Fantastic movies took fourth place.

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3. Good

RT/IMDb Average – 60.68

Best: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly – 96

Worst: Good Luck Chuck – 30.5

Third place isn’t great or bad. Third place is good, which is sorta perfect for Good movies. The 60.68 score narrowly edged out Fantastic movies and placed it in the middle of the pack. If it wasn’t for A Good Day to Die Hard, Good Luck Chuck and No Good Deed, Good movies would’ve overtaken Great movies. If you get a chance make sure to watch The Good, The Bad & The Weird and In Good Company because they are really good.

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2. Great

RT/IMDb Average – 66.36

Best: Great Expectations – 90

Worst: Barney’s Great Adventure – 25.5

The Great movies did their best to take first place but they were hindered by Barney’s Great Adventure, The Great Raid and The Great Wall (AKA The Ponytail Epic). The 66.36 average was a decent jump over Good and Fantastic films and was almost enough for a first place finish (I blame the ponytail). If you haven’t already I totally recommend you watch  The Great Dictator, World’s Greatest Dad, Great Expectations (1946) and The Great Beauty.

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1. Best

RT/IMDb Average – 67.87

Best: The Best of Youth – 90

Worst: The Best of Me  – 38

“Best” movies are the best. The Best movies blew away the competition and were propelled by We Are the Best, Best Worst Movie, The Best of Youth, The Best Years of Our Lives, Best in Show and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. The only weak link was the Nicholas Sparks written/produced The Best of Me (9% RT). The Best of Me is actually the worst of all the Sparks films (I’ve watched them all) and I think the 9% is generous.

In honor of the best here is another hilarious Best in Show clip.

There you have it! Best movies are the best!

Here are the movies by the way.

Perfect, Great, Good 

John’s Horror Corner: Siren (2016), the sexy demon movie based on V/H/S’ Amateur Night by the man behind Dante the Great.

March 16, 2017


MY CALL:  If you’re in the mood for a sexy demon movie and have low to moderate expectations, this is for you!  MORE MOVIES LIKE SirenV/H/S (2012) and V/H/S Viral (2014) for reasons detailed in the review below. Also, note the Horror Romance Sidebar below for other suggestions.

Images (above) from Amateur Night

Based on the wildly popular “Amateur Night” segment from V/H/S (2012), director Gregg Bishop (who directed V/H/S Viral’s popular segment Dante the Great) combines our favorite actors from Dante the Great and Amateur Night in this feature length spin-off. This is exactly what we hope will happen after seeing great short films in horror anthologies.

Jonah is a nice guy.  Jonah (Chase Williamson; The Guest, John Dies at the End) is having his bachelor party and his hyper-active best man Mac (Michael Aaron Milligan; Shark Lake, V/H/S Viral segment Dante the Great) naturally goes overboard and makes it all about strippers and debauchery.

The feisty nature of the early scenes help make up for the writing and acting that just aren’t there.  It’s introductory fun-spiritedness journeys us to a ho-hum strip club with unmotivated lap dances, some standard comedy set ups that might draw a smile (e.g., B-squad strippers fumbling about the stage), and some sophomoric bro chat.  Mac encounters a slick stranger at the bar who invites them to a “more serious” and rather remote venue.  And that’s when things get weird.

The opening scene brings a partial explanation of the supernatural being commandeered by Mr. Nyx (Justin Welborn; V/H/S Viral segment Dante the Great, The Final Destination, The Crazies, The Signal).  Nyx is the proprietor of the secret strip club where we find Lily (Hannah Fierman; V/H/S segment Amateur Night), who has a “hint” of her true nature (harkening back to Amateur Night for those who have seen it).  Her origin is suggestive that she is a demon from Hell—like a succubus.  Only this seductress has a Siren’s song that will weaken the minds of men.  It mashes up a couple different fabled temptress creatures (the succubus and the siren) and doesn’t really explain outside of a summoned infernal origin.

Now I liked this but I’m just gonna’ come out and say it: between the acting and writing quality this feels a lot like a direct-to-DVD movie with decent production value.  I enjoyed the film, but it did little to impress and it just doesn’t seem to deserve a theatrical release (and I don’t think it got one). But despite these shortcomings the movie is enjoyable—to men anyway, I’m sure.

You see, Lily spends most of the movie naked. Like, 100% extremely don’t-watch-this-with-your-girlfriend naked.  On top of that, and catering to my standard horror hound preferences, she ends up dowsed in the blood of her victims, her monster make-up looks cool (although the CGI bat wings and tail aren’t exactly top notch), and there is a demon sex scene.  Bloody breasts and demon sex…isn’t that what horror is all about? LOL.

Horror Romance Sidebar: There’s also something satisfying about romantic connections in horror.  In this movie and Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992), the monster desires a protagonist; in An American Werewolf in Paris (1997), Spring (2014) and Return of the Living Dead Part 3 (1993) the romantic connection is mutual; and Bride of Frankenstein (1935) is considered by many to be the greatest horror sequel of all time.

Look, this film isn’t awesome. It’s not as good as Dante the Great or Amateur Night.  But here’s what it is: a satisfying movie for horror hounds with simple taste.  People can criticize the “quality of the film.”  But that doesn’t strike me as what this was all about. This movie serviced the demand for the story behind Amateur Night’s adorable monster.  And in that, it succeeded.

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