About adamthemoviegod

I am a 31 year old guy that lives for tv and film. I spend majority of my free time watching anything and everything and try to save people some time by telling them what I think is worth watching and what's not! All different genres/budgets it doesn't bother me! if you have got something you want reviewing let me know and I will be happy to accommadate. /path/to/nanospell/getstarted.html

The Forest Of The Lost Souls (Review) It’s where they go to die…

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THE FOREST OF THE LOST SOULS

 

THE SETUP

Firstly, I’d just like to say thank you to the team at October Coast PR and Wild Eye Releasing for allowing me early access to an online screener of their upcoming theatrical release of the Portuguese, Drama/Horror/Mystery film “The Forest Of The Lost Souls”, Written and Directed by Jose Pedro Lopes. The Forest Of The Lost Souls is a black and white contemporary film about Portugal’s most dense and remote forest, a place most visit when they wish to end their lives. On this particular day, young emo teenager, Carolina (played by Daniela Love) crosses paths with aimless and depressed father, Ricardo (Jorge Mota). The pairs interaction ultimately becomes the catalyst behind a violent home invasion. The film also stars Mafalda Banquart, Ligia Roque and Tiago Jacome.

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THE GOOD

Lost Souls is the debut feature-length film from young director, Lopes and it’s certainly a stylish inception. The topical themes of grief and suicide make for a good foundation for the drama, and that’s usually where The Forest is its strongest. Francisco Lobo’s stunning black and white photography provides film-noir fans with a sense of true visual extravagance, most notably with the way the natural light peers through the trees and bounces off the land. The forest itself is gorgeous, with its very own remote lake adjoined. There’s some lovely shot choices and nice gentle movements as we, the audience, accompany Carolina and Ricardo through the forest as they discuss what has led them to the loneliest place on earth. Emmanuel Gracio’s score is an atmospheric one, drawing on ambient bass and synth tones in order to give the forest itself an other worldly somber feeling. The audio track is loud and clear too. The performances are solid right across the board, Mota conveys Ricardo’s hesitation and indecisiveness well, and Love brings an enticing quality to Carolina’s mysterious persona of a drifter. Mafalda Banquart completes the core trio of performers and develops an innocence to Filipa, Ricardo’s teenage daughter.

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THE BAD

The Forest Of The Lost Souls is a film of two halves. The first being a slow burn, melancholy character piece, albeit methodical with its approach to encapsulating that anguish. The second half plays more like a stalker-based thriller, just without any real thrills. There’s a tonal shift that’s likely to throw viewers off, and perhaps Jose’s film might have been better suited to a different setup, or an alternative second act and climax. While most of Lobo’s 4K cinematography (maybe even 5K) is high in production value, there are a few odd framing decisions and some brief lens flutters when the film moves to its internal setting at the house. Regarding plot points, it wasn’t all that difficult to predict that Ricardo was going to be the father of the girl in the beginning (Lilia Lopes). There’s a glaringly obvious continuity error in how a certain character could be downstairs carrying out an act of violence, and then within the space of thirty seconds, be upstairs hiding in a room (and in that particular place of all places *rolls eyes*). I think I would’ve got behind the shift in narrative a bit more had there actually be a motive for the characters actions, or something that would potentially reveal itself to be of importance as the third act rolled on, alas. It’s not like Lopes didn’t have avenues to formulate that either. Said character may have held a connection with the girl at the centre of it all, but if she did, it wasn’t an obvious one.

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The Forest Of The Lost Souls is a polished and professional feature-length debut from Portuguese native, Jose Lopes. It’s akin to something like “True Love Ways” with its black and white presentation, and the script is reminiscent of the little known indie “The Sea Of Trees” or even “The Forest”. The cinematography is classy, the audio and sound design are extremely moody and the performances are consistently good. The subject matter surely hits home for a lot of people who have suffered from, or are currently still suffering from depression. Lopes never quite takes the discussion far enough though, instead, opts to change direction and head for the main land by way of generic home invasion. I predicted a couple of the specifics, there’s one key continuity lapse and unfortunately one of the central characters motivations are never truly made clear. Now sometimes that creative license can suit a narrative even better, but other times it doesn’t, and this is unfortunately one of those times. Despite its shortcomings, there’s a lot to like about The Forest Of The Lost Souls and the speedy run time of just 70 minutes (including credits) prevents you from getting too bogged down in the nitty-gritty of it all. The film hits limited theatres in LA from August 3rd, so keep an eye out for it. You can also check out the official trailer below!

My rating for “The Forest Of The Lost Souls” is 6.5/10

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Big Legend (Review) Something lie beyond the woods…

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BIG LEGEND

 

THE SETUP

Firstly, I’d just like to say thank you to Papa Octopus Productions and Jacki Thomas at Jive PR Digital for allowing me early access to a screener of the Drama/Thriller film “Big Legend”, Written and Directed by Justin Lee. Big Legend focuses on ex-soldier, Tyler Laird (played by Kevin Makely) who returns to the spot in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest where his fiancée mysteriously disappeared exactly one year ago. Seeking answers, he sets off on a hike where he encounters an enthusiastic hunter named, Eli (Todd A. Robinson) and discovers the all too real monster that inhabits the land. The film also stars Adrienne Barbeau (Escape From New York), Lance Henriksen (Aliens) and Summer Spiro.

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THE GOOD

Big Legend is Lee’s debut feature-length film (after previously having done work in both TV and shorts) and he’s chosen an interesting sub-genre in the “Bigfoot”. The script is certainly more drama based, with the core story centering around Tyler and his search for answers. Add the element of myth and you’ve potentially got an interesting independent monster film. The pacific northwest makes for a stunning backdrop to Big Legend, and it’s only further enriched through Justin’s determined pursuit for the ideal shot. Cinematographer, Adrian Pruett captures some gorgeous photography, a lovely clear lake and exquisite waterfall being two of the most memorable sequences. Pruett employs gentle Steadicam movements, and in turn, everything is pretty well shot. Some of the night scenes look really good too. The audio track is clean and Lee appears to only resort to a minimal amount of ADR (additional dialogue recording). The score was done by Jared Forman (an experienced music assistant) and there’s some pretty suspenseful stuff in here. The film opens with a lovely theme performed with a combination of violin, cello, drums and piano. It appropriately shifts up a gear or two with the bass when the tension starts to rise.

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Lee’s story is all about its characters, and while there are only really two key players involved for much of the 90 minute run time, the secondaries are still important. Big Legend opens with authentic couple Tyler and Natalie (Spiro) venturing into the heart of the forest for some downtime. We’re given a good ten or twelve minutes to really warm to the couple and watch the natural dynamics of their bond play out. It’s not just Lee simply divulging pointless exposition to his audience. Both Makely and Spiro carry themselves well and they make that twosome’s connection translate smoothly. John Carpenter movie alumni, Adrienne Barbeau is well cast as Rita, Tyler’s mother. The two share a brief but heartfelt scene as Tyler wrestles with his conscience and grief. My favourite character in the film was Eli or “Chief”, as I aptly branded him, played extremely well by Todd Robinson. Eli’s your All American hunter with a surprisingly  personable demeanour. He insists on using the term “chief” every other sentence, and proves trustworthy after offering Tyler shelter when things inevitably go pear-shaped. Little is learnt about the man, but regardless, he makes for an enjoyable watch. Big Legend is a little light on action considering it’s a film about a Bigfoot. That said, the creature design is a practical one (the suit worn by Skotty Masgai) which will always garner more respect than the usual CG shitfest we’re witness to. There’s a cool practical effect that involves a bone break, as well as some aftermath shots of a latex prosthetic on a characters arm. In addition, there’s a few nice moments utilizing some blood spray.

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THE BAD

Big Legend is partially lacking in some of its technical execution, but keep in mind this is Lee’s first full length feature and there’s always learnings out of it. Pruett’s camera work is quite good for the most part, but there’s a couple of focus issues during a scene where Tyler is rigging a tripwire (I think that’s what it was?). That particular series of shots sees the camera shuttering a bit too. On occasion, some of the framing is either moderately high or low, almost as if Justin was debating the shot choice on the go. Michael Tang’s edit is pretty tight but there’s an abundance of fades used in quick succession and I’d much prefer to have seen a little more creativity go into those transitions. The sound bed is also a bit flat in places, most notably during scenes where Tyler and Eli trek through the woods. Maybe it’s just that the crew had audio issues on set and couldn’t use all of the raw sound. While the acting is solid from all involved, there’s a few lines of dialogue that felt stiff. The only continuity hiccup was the sudden weather change throughout the film. It seemed to occur in such a short space of time. Tyler arrives in ideal weather, blue skies and not a breath of wind, then shortly after, it’s a snow-covered landscape and quite windy. I know weather patterns can change, after all it’s America’s Northwest and that can sometimes be unexpected, but I’d wager that the second portion of the film was shot during a different season. Big Legend is perhaps guilty of not quite delivering enough action to satisfy fans of this particular type of film. In comparison to this year’s earlier bigfoot film “Primal Rage” (which delivered in spades), Lee opts to keep his beast in the background for simply too long and the attack sequences don’t end up possessing the same wow factor. Though like the lead character of the aforementioned, Tyler does similarly fail with some of his decision-making. For one, he’s ex special forces but leaves his backpack unattended at one point and it disappears. He retrieves it later, and yet chooses to put it down a second time… uh why? He never asks Eli how he got to the forest, Did he drive? If so, where’s the vehicle? Does it work encase they need to bust out in a hurry? He chooses to run away from the creature on multiple occasions despite realizing it’s the reason for the loss of his fiancée and that’s why he’s there in the first place.

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Big Legend is like a cross between “Primal Rage” and “The Edge”, with an independent nature of something like John Portanova’s 2015’s “Hunting Grounds” aka “Valley Of The Sasquatch” https://adamthemoviegod.com/valley-of-the-sasquatch-review/. Justin’s screenplay is solid, the production values are good and horror fans have been in desperate need of some better bigfoot content. The location is beautiful, a bulk of the cinematography is stylish and the score generates a good brand of tension. The opening is bound to get you initially invested in the core couple, and the combo of Makely and Robinson makes for an entertaining two-thirds. What we do get to see of the monster, looks good, and the limited set pieces are well executed, especially those with a couple of practical effects included. The cameos by Barbeau and Henriksen are a good bit of fun too (the latter of the two bought in to set up a sequel). There’s a couple of focus lapses, some absent foley and a few repetitive editing techniques throughout the film and the weather continuity is a bit of a miss. Tyler’s lack of initiative (at least until the third act) can be somewhat frustrating and he doesn’t often make a lot of sound decisions. I think Big Legend does lack some on-screen action, in part probably due to the small budget, just the same, that may hurt its value for multiple viewings. Justin has since shot three more films in a number of genres and I’m really looking forward to checking those out. If you’re a fan of this particular style of Horror/Thriller, Big Legend is well worth a watch. The film is currently available on DVD and through a number of online streaming services. Check out the trailer below!

My rating for “Big Legend” is 6/10

Sequence Break (Review) Look into the white eye and it’ll pull you in…

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SEQUENCE BREAK

 

THE SETUP

This is a review of the Region 2 (UK) DVD of the Sci-Fi/Horror/Thriller film “Sequence Break” , Written and Directed by Graham Skipper. Sequence Break is a Cronenberg inspired, Sci-Fi/Body Horror film that centers around Oz (played by Chase Williamson from Siren and The Guest), a loner arcade game technician who experiences hallucinations and a bizarre transmutation after discovering a motherboard that connects to a previously untried machine in his shop. His fast developing relationship with Tess (Fabianne Therese from The Aggression Scale) further complicates matters as Oz finds himself coming to a shocking self-realization. The film also stars Lyle Kanouse (Hesher), John Dinan and Audrey Wasilewski (TV’s Big Love).

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THE GOOD

Sequence Break is just Skipper’s second feature-length film, and it’s certainly an ambitious one at that. Cronenberg fans have quite a grasp on the body horror sub-genre, seeing as a sizeable chunk of his early work was all about that notion. Films like “Shivers” and “Videodrome”, just to name a couple. Sequence Break is bound to draw comparisons to those types of films, and in particular the latter. Personally I think David made better films than those, such as “Naked Lunch”, “Spider” and of course perhaps the most iconic of body horror films, “The Fly”. Anyways.. onto Skipper’s independent venture. Having come from an acting background, I think he knows what works well for whatever the allocated time and budget. Sequence Break only consists of a handful of characters and very few locations, but it’s never boring. Despite treading over some familiar ground, Graham’s characters convey some relevant commentary and an awareness of the evolution of technology, most evident these days in modern film and gaming. Arcades are now virtually non-existent, video rental shops went bust and even collectors are few and far between. Everything’s sort of just floating around in the stratosphere of digital streaming and downloading, “it’s a whoozy it’s a whazzy”, it’s a little sad. There’s a cool “Space Invaders” like backdrop to the title credit sequence (a tip of the hat to old school gamers), and I particularly like the way the arcade workshop lights up with the multi-faceted lighting setup Oz has rigged. Skipper grounds Sequence Break with simple but well executed visuals and employs the use of practical fx wherever possible. There’s a lot of gooey slime and black sludge that once again calls to mind The Fly.

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Cinematographer, Brian Sowell (Beyond The Gates) produces some nice clean visuals and all the framing looks pretty good. Sowell comes with a lot of experience, having been an assistant camera operator for over a decade. The audio track appears to utilize almost all natural sound, which is rare for an independent film. The original score by Van Hughes is probably the films strongest creative aspect. 80’s synth fans are going to love it. It’s super slick and there’s warping bass to drive the films other worldly feel. There’s a section of music that reminded me of some of Brad Fiedel’s synth work on James Cameron’s iconic film, “The Terminator”. The likeable characters, and in turn the actors performances, make Sequence Break as good as it is. It certainly doesn’t hurt that Williamson has proven himself astute in similar terrain, with lead roles in “John Dies At The End” and “Beyond The Gates”. Chase even bears somewhat of a resemblance to Skipper (the two having already worked on the latter), so it was nice to see him cast here. Therese, the girl next door type, is another handy inclusion. I remember seeing her back in Steven C. Miller’s “The Aggression Scale” (a sort of violent Home Alone for adults). The natural chemistry between Chase and Fabianne should come as no surprise, with the two both a part of John Dies At The End. Kudos go to Graham for being one of the first writers to actually create a likeable “boss”. Jerry (Kanouse) owns the workshop but treats Oz like an equal, acknowledging his value to the business. He even offers to split the sale money with him and urges him to unwind a little in order to find what makes him happy. Dinan rounds out the key cast. His mysterious vagabond role is a serviceable one, but the exposition around his character was a little lacking.

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THE BAD

Sequence Break has a higher than expected production value for a film entering science fiction domain, but it’s not all perfect. The neon reds used to light the bar sequences with Oz and Tess are quite fiery and a bit too harsh. Following that, there’s a scene with Oz either back at the workshop or in his house (I couldn’t decipher which) that’s virtually shot in total darkness. I’m not sure if Skipper was attempting to convey that Oz couldn’t pay his utility bill, because if it was the workshop surely there’d be a light and he’d just turn it on? For an 80 minute film, the pacing does still lag somewhat. A tighter edit could’ve been achieved by cutting the time-lapse sequence (which only aims to show more time spent between Oz and Tess) and perhaps even a scene or two where Oz revisits the game, because it’s not like there’s a discernible escalation in events with every return. The consensus surrounding Sequence Break is that it’s guilty of coming across as too vague in regard to most of its finer details, and I’d concur. I have no shame in admitting that I didn’t fully understand it, and well, maybe we’re not supposed to. There’s no doubt something primal or animalistic is going on at Oz’s core, and that manifests itself through images of sexual obscurity and an all out cerebral vortex as the film nears its climax. I was relieved to see Oz finally ask questions of “The Man”, though it’s a case of too little too late by the time that eventuated. I think he should have been investigating much earlier in the film. What had Oz fixated on the game? What was it about the white eye that drew him in? Or was it just a way of depicting his inability to get out of his own head and pursue his dream? Those are the questions one is likely to have at the conclusion of Sequence Break. Why did the game appear to have a sexual drawcard? And was that symbolic of Tess and her place in Oz’s life? The only detail I got thinking about was the double representation of Oz conceivably meaning that his head and his heart were caught between two worlds. The questions raised are at least interesting ones, though I can’t help but feel like the frustration of not knowing might tip the scales in the wrong direction.

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I’ve been looking forward to checking out Sequence Break for a while and it definitely feels like a love letter to Cronenberg, even American Science Fiction author, H.P Lovecraft. There’s the technological aspect evident in “Videodrome” and the sexualized euphoria experienced by characters in something like “Existenz”, it’s a weird combination that doesn’t completely compute. I do, however, think it’s quite an ambitious project with solid cinematography, good sound design and a stylish synth pumping soundtrack. All the performances are consistent and the combination of Williamson and Therese makes for organic and enjoyable viewing. The CG is admirable considering this is a low-budget undertaking, and the practical fx are a welcomed addition. There’s a couple of minor aesthetic choices I didn’t go in for and the edit could’ve been trimmed in a few places. In the end I had a lot of questions and I didn’t entirely grasp all the conceptual notions at play, and I’m not sure many will. Still, there’s enough here for me to get behind Skipper’s, Sequence Break and I can certainly recommend this to fans of Cronenberg and others like Stuart Gordon (Re-Animator). This one is now available to stream through Shudder and you can purchase the DVD from Amazon and other online outlets. Feel free to check out the trailer below!

My rating for “Sequence Break” is 6.5/10

The World Over (Review) What’s on the other side of the door?

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THE WORLD OVER

 

THE SETUP

Firstly, I’d just like to say thank you to Jasmine Durand at ChicArt Public Relations for forwarding me an online screener of “The World Over”, a 17 minute Horror/Mystery short Written and Directed by Heath C. Michaels. The World Over is a “Twilight Zone” esq short about a young couple, Cass and Jules (played respectively by Tess Granfield and Brett Keating) that discover a key to a doorway in their home that leads to an alternate reality. After curiosity gets the better of the man of the house, Cass is left to fend for herself and eventually comes face to face with her Doppelganger during a strange series of events.

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THE GOOD

Michael’s first screenplay in almost a decade has its foundations deep-seated in the world of science fiction, calling to mind the aforementioned “Twilight Zone” or even “The Outer Limits”. It’s an ambient-filled thriller with plenty of mystery about it, and the two performances are very good. Gaffer and DP, Greg LeFevre (whose worked on a number of films over the last ten years), showcases some smart and simple camera work. It’s all appropriately framed, there’s subtle movements and it’s all wonderfully edited by Kevin Hickman (an experienced first assistant editor). I particularly liked the time-lapse that highlights Cass’s pregnancy progress. The audio track is nice and loud and the low-fi synth score keeps it feeling grounded in that other worldly niche. It’s not an overly effects heavy film, but the limited visuals representing the gateway were well handled and professional looking. There are a few brief moments of action and some practical blood on display too.

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THE BAD

From a technical standpoint, there were only a couple of minor issues I had. In a handful of shots during the first third of the short, faces were often halve shadowed, probably due to the natural light only hitting one side of the room. It was just a little distracting at times. There’s also a whole scene that’s lit using only candles, and seemingly there was no probable reason for Michaels to have done so, other than perhaps just curbing some creative license. After looking over the press kit, I discovered that The World Over was intended as a proof of concept idea for a feature-length film that’ll further explore the notion of parallel universes. Now that’s a good thing, because I had plenty more questions. I was hoping that perhaps when Cass approached herself again on the other side of the doorway, she might have had some more questions. She may not have got any answers, but I would’ve liked to have seen her try. The situation didn’t look like eliciting that from her.

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I was pleasantly surprised to find the link to The World Over in my inbox because I hadn’t heard anything about it, but I’m all for new content. I love the Mystery/Thriller genre and this one is shrouded in ambiguity and screaming out for expansion. The cinematography is good, the sound design and score atmospheric and the visuals more than serviceable. The characters are well portrayed by Granfield and Keating and there’s a couple of interesting occurrences. A couple of minor technical things can mostly be chalked up to personal preference, but I would’ve enjoyed seeing Cass pry into the workings of the domain more than she did. The World Over should make for a great feature-length film though, and I, for one, can’t wait to see it. Check out the teaser trailer below and if you enjoy films like “Enemy” and “Persona” keep and eye out for this one soon!

My rating for “The World Over” is 8/10

California Roll (Review) When destiny calls…

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CALIFORNIA ROLL

 

THE SETUP

Firstly, I’d just like to say thank you to Writer/Director, Ken Lin for allowing me early access to his debut, 7 minute Crime/Drama short, “California Roll”. California Roll sees Billy and Tako, two conflicted and inefficient criminals (played by Lin himself and Jun Suenaga) storm a quiet sushi bar ill-equipped to deal with the female patrons and their intended follow through. The film also stars Sibyl Santiago, Veronica Reyes-How and Sara Kim.

THE GOOD

The colorful poster art was the determining factor in me inquiring about Lin’s film, and his first foray into the world of film making at that. The neon structured palette carries over to the presentation, in turn giving off the feeling of something late 80’s early 90’s in nature. DP, Roland Lazarte has a number of credits under his belt and it shows in the quality of his cinematography. Everything is neatly framed and competently shot, while keeping the approach simple. The audio track is clear and the synth orientated score complements the tone of the setting too. There are dueling dilemmas at play in California Roll. One is the realization that Billy and Tako’s destiny is completely in their hands, at least right up until any action is carried out. Secondly, they have to contend with the unknown and what they mind find if they choose to embrace the women in the restaurant. Lin’s performance reminded me of a James Duval type display, and I dug it.

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THE BAD

California Roll would benefit from going through another master to get a slightly better sound mix. The dialogue is a little low in places and the music marginally loud (though this is just a screener).  There’s a lack of confidence that unfortunately shines through with first time performer, Sara Kim. She does her best, but it’s a bit too calm of a portrayal and a little awkward in delivery. Given the plight she’s in as an employee of the bar, I found it hard to believe.

California Roll is a pleasant watch and a professionally made film from a first time filmmaker. It actually took me back to my own first filmmaking experience in 2016. I love the poster art, the premise is interesting and the resolution was a surprising one. The camera work is solid, the music retro and Lin’s first time in front of the camera (as well as behind it) is a successful one. The master could use a little tweaking and hopefully Kim finds growth in any future projects. All in all, great stuff and I can highly recommend this one for Crime fans! Keep an eye out for California Roll, it’s currently on the film festival circuit and you can watch the teaser trailer below.

My rating for “California Roll” is 8/10

Herbie! (Review) Herbie Duck just wants to connect…

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HERBIE!

 

THE GOOD

Firstly, I’d just like to say thank you to Radar Dog Productions and Writer/Director, Drew Barnhardt for sending me a link to his 18 minute, Horror/Dark Comedy short “Herbie!” originally released back in 2004. Herbie Duck (played by Reggie De Morton) is a nice, quiet well-mannered man, the problem is he has violent tendencies and a void in his life. He’s searching for a connection, something of substance to give life meaning. Enter Rosie (Gena Shaw), a young woman whose looking for her mother (Deborah Mousseau), but instead, gets more than she bargains for with the delusional man who has now taken  refuge in the family home.

THE GOOD

I recently stumbled upon some promo for Barnhardt’s upcoming feature film “Rondo”, described as a darkly funny revenge, murder, thriller film and I thought I’d reach out via Facebook to further inquire. I did, and he was kind enough to share a screener of his award-winning short from back in 2004. Drew and Co-Writer, Chris McKinley conceived a very tonally awkward, but charming little film about an individual looking for kinship but going about it in the most unconventional of ways. The film has a 90’s, made for TV vibe about it with its grainy presentation and idyllic isolated setting. DP, Kevin Graves (TV’s The American West) utilizes simple shot setups and subtle camera rotations and the edit looks great. Herbies audio track is good as well, and this is before the days of quality and affordable sound equipment, so kudos to the crew. Composer, Ryan Franks (who now works closely with filmmaker Steven C. Miller) began his career on this short film and managed to bring a fresh sound to what’s an unusually peculiar premise. It’s a big score that opens with nice acoustic guitar, followed by quirky instrumentation and even a sequence of bells, electric guitar and marching drum. Herbie is all about its titular character though, that and Morton’s performance. The diction in his narration is perfect, and you certainly feel for the seemingly harmless guy despite the fact that Shaw’s, “Rosie” is innocent in all of it and you know Herb isn’t.

THE BAD

It may seem like an unfair criticism, but those who are used to watching short films with high quality production value may look at Herbie as quite amateur in nature. It has a shot on video look that won’t appeal to everyone, and perhaps Graves could’ve suggested alternative equipment. Content wise, the only qualm is that there was no visual representation on Herbies head or face in the wake of him getting hit with the shovel by Rosie.

Herbie is a one of a kind short film that has shades of Matthew Roth’s little known film, “The Man Who Collected Food” and even “Some Guy Who Kills People”. It’s absorbing, extremely well written and even contains an affable antagonist (if that’s at all possible). The camera work is simple and smart, the score rather lively and diverse, and the lead performances from Reggie and Gena are wonderful too. Perhaps some better equipment might have made the visuals a little easier on the eyes, but aside from that and the minor continuity hiccup regarding the makeup, Herbie is simply outstanding. This may be almost 15 years old, but do yourself a favor and hit up Drew so you can check it out. He’s friendly and this one is a must see for fans of dark short films.

My rating for “Herbie” is 8.5/10

 

Boar (Review) There’s nothing out there but dust and roos…

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BOAR

 

THE SETUP

Boar is the latest Horror film from Australian Writer/Director, Chris Sun (Charlie’s Farm). Presented by Slaughter FX and OZPIX Entertainment, Boar is set in a local country town and follows a family who encounter an over sized boar while headed for a reunion. Debbie (played by Simone Buchanan of TV’S “Hey Dad”) and her American partner, Bruce (Horror icon, Bill Moseley) with kids, Ella and Bart in tow (played respectively by Christie-Lee Britten and Griffin Walsh), along with Hannah’s boyfriend, Robert (Hugh Sheridan) are heading for a homecoming with Debbie’s brother, Bernie (played by the brutish, Nathan Jones). Elsewhere in town, fences and land are being damaged and livestock killed by something and it’s up to, Ken (played by Wolf Creek’s, John Jarratt), his mate, Blue (Roger Ward), and a group of the locals to stop the beast before anyone else gets hurt. The film also stars Melissa Tkautz (Housos), Chris Haywood (All Saints), Steve Bisley (Water Rats), Ernie Dingo (Crocodile Dundee 2) and Sheridyn Fisher.

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THE GOOD

Here’s a little history for you. Boar marks the fourth feature film from Chris Sun, and if you know the journey behind the story, it’s clearly the most difficult venture that he’s undertaken thus far as he continues to grow as a genre filmmaker. Sun shot a sizeable chunk of Boar in Gympie, Queensland and the small town of Kandanga all the way back in late 2015. Unfortunately, with piracy being what it is these days the film hit a massive road block in terms of money, and the investors were getting nervous about their contributions and the potential for major losses. Without warning, money was pulled and the funds to pay cast and crew in order to continue the production dried up almost immediately. Chris, coming from a DIY (do it yourself) background and being the battler that he is, didn’t let the stress of it all get to him, and instead, decided to reach out to fans and other potential investors to get the money to finish the film. It took all of his time, a couple of online campaigns and reinvesting to see this latest film come to life. It may have taken several years but Boar is finally here, having been released on a one night only limited run and I happened to catch the session last night.

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The first things that jumps out at you in Boar is DP, Andrew Conder’s lively cinematography. The luscious green backdrop of a Queensland setting lends itself to some impressive photography to begin with, but add Conder’s 25 years of experience and the result is certainly a sharp one. The camera is always on the move during the action, a combination of handheld steadicam work and swift tracking shots and crane work. All of the two shot conversation pieces are well crafted and the night exteriors are laced with a thick fog, bringing plenty of atmosphere and intrigue to what might lie beyond the fence line or the hills. Mark Smythe’s moody score and the teams sound design for the Boar itself is another technical highlight of the film. Much to my surprise, a lot of the dialogue and content was funnier than I was expecting. No doubt viewers will be drawn to the horror aspect and the practically conceived creature, but there’s actually a lot of fun to be had with the lighthearted nature of the banter and Aussie idioms spoken among characters. The pacing is solid and there’s a good dose of practical effects work (in addition to the super impressive creature), albeit unveiled in patches. The first on-screen kill doesn’t come nearly as early as it probably should’ve. We get some nice aftermath shots but not a lot of Boar action until the film nears its third act. I wouldn’t be surprised if I was one of the only people who attended the screening that hadn’t previously seen “Razorback”, the only other known Australian pig film (unless you count Babe haha), so I have no comparisons to draw upon. The blood and gore does flow a little better as the film hits its peak, but it didn’t quite reach the heights I’d initially hoped for.

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Boar’s one of those homegrown films that you and your friends can have some fun with in regard to matching actors faces to the names. It’s a hodgepodge of familiars and iconic names spread across generations of Australian TV and Film work (some have even gone on to make a real name for themselves internationally). Boar might just be the first of Sun’s films to contain multiple likable and relatable characters. His debut film “Come And Get Me”, featured some truly horrible fuckers (as Chris himself would say) and “Daddy’s Little Girl” consisted of two equally screwed up individuals. It wasn’t until Sam Coward’s, loveable larrikin “Mick” in Charlie’s Farm, that we saw someone we could root for in a Slaughter FX film. In Boar, the dynamic duo that is local drinking and hunting buddies, Ken and Blue, make for one of the best pairings committed to screen in an Aussie film. Jarratt and Ward combined, boast nearly a century’s worth of experience and it shows. They play great country stereotypes and both possess unrivaled comedic timing for this particular brand of humor. Arguing over who should go where, how they should get there and the discourse on the behaviour of others, it’s all a bloody blast. There’s a momentary nod to John’s iconic “Mick Taylor” character of the Wolf Creek series, but it’s a complete role reversal for him and I love that about the film. Nathan Jones is another powerful figure (literally), but for other reasons too. Those of you who aren’t familiar with Nathan, he played Charlie in Chris’s previous film but he’s also appeared in films like “Conan” and “Mad Max: Fury Road”. Once again, Bernie is another example of something completely different from a Sun-written character, as well as Jones as an actor. From the moment we see the hulking “Bern” being smothered by baby goats as they lap up his attention, it’s clear we’re in for something different with this childlike man. Extremely likable and funny in most moment’s, this might just be some of Nathan’s best work. The family of four all have their moments as well, Moselely looking very much like the out of his comfort zone family man, an image so far removed from his bearded and delusional “Otis” of “The Devils Rejects”. Haywood, as a drunk, and Dingo as an indigenous local, at different stages each supply the comedic relief. Sheridan is given that mantle when the focus is on the family and he does a nice job as well. Melissa Tkautz as “Sasha”, Ken’s daughter and owner of the local pub, brings the fire and a sense of warmth to her character, she features nicely in the climax of the film.

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THE BAD

There’s a couple of small inconsistencies in Buchanan’s acting, most notably with Debbie’s reaction to something that transpires with one character in particular. On occasion she falls in an out of the emotional beats as the situation escalates. The same can be said about young actress, Madeleine Kennedy who plays Hannah, an innocent camper who ends up in the path of the wild animal. Some of the secondary characters are conveniently placed in precarious positions if for no other reason than to serve as additions to the body count. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that in the confines of a horror film, but there still needs to be some logic behind character’s decision-making. For example, Hannah and her boyfriend and another couple appear to be randomly camping on private property in a vast field. There’s no exposition as to why, it’s not near any obvious views or landmarks, there’s no broken down vehicle in sight, and yet there they are because the film requires it. Several characters do things that make no sense. Debbie and Ella discuss making some torch sticks because bears (sort of like pigs..) don’t like the light/heat so they might be able to ward off the thing, smart right? Immediately after, they’re shown sitting inside a perimeter with three or four small fire torches around them, but when the Boar attacks they don’t actually think about picking one up and trying to burn the damn thing, you know, considering it’s covered in fur/hair… Instead, they think a few swift kicks and punches might do the job, What the hell? Other examples would be when Bernie drops his gun and fails to pick it up again, despite the boar not being in site. In addition, certain characters get attacked from side on while facing others who can clearly see the direction said character would be being attacked from. It just doesn’t make any sense when there’s no warning called.

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I think Boar may have been stronger with a more direct focus on Ken and Sasha, the father and daughter bond, with a good dose of Blue thrown in for comedic purposes. The film appeared to be heading in that direction late in the first act as the spotlight turns away from the family of five for what felt like a good 20 to 25 minutes. After a quick rendezvous with Bernie there’s no cutting back to the group at all for almost the entire second act. The way the film opens felt a little lack lustre too. I’ve come to expect a good early on-screen kill from these creature feature types of films and what we get here feels rushed and lacks tension. Budgetary and time constraints are no doubt a continual challenge on a film of this magnitude and unfortunately it shows. If you’ve got a million, you need ten. If you’ve got a month, you need three, and so on and so forth. The lengthy gaps in the shooting dates and the minimal funds attached don’t allow for complete control over continuity and the heavy elements of CGI required. The Boar POV shots were clearly altered in post production utilizing a mix of Final Cut Pro filters over the image. I don’t think they were essential and had they been cut it may have provided a little more suspense about where the creature was in relation to the prey. The fact that Chris and Slaughter FX built a practical Boar to scale, and with some animatronic capabilities as well, is a huge feat in an of itself and deserves the highest of praise. With stylish lighting, great framing and talented puppeteers, Boar looks at its best when the creatures head is active and it’s attacking and devouring at close range with minimal movement e.g, the showdown with Jones’s character. It’s obvious in those stationary shots that the legs don’t allow for much, but hey, you can’t have it all (well you can it just costs a lot more). Unfortunately when things ratchet up a notch and the film gets visual effects heavy, it lacks in quality. The movements look cheap, the layering simply doesn’t contain enough depth and it all looks spotty in relation to the configuration of the frame with the actors in it. I wanted to love it, but in order to keep the consistency evident there’s no room for wide shots or daytime action and everything needed to be shot tighter. I’d love to see Boar made on ten times the budget, but my limited experience in the industry has taught me that you work with what you’ve got and Chris did that.

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The journey behind Boar is a resourceful one and it’s been a long time in the works, so it’s great to see Chris’s drive and passion for this project finally pay off. There’s a lot to like about this entertaining and surprisingly good-natured creature feature horror film. Conder’s cinematography drives the high production value, the location looks great and  Smythe’s sound design is shaped ominously. All of Suns comedic gags land, the characters are all engaging and the Boar action makes for a pretty wild ride. It’s not as gore heavy as some of Chris’s previous work but there’s some on-screen carnage for fans to revel in. What it does display is a huge practically conceived creature, something all too rarely seen in this particular sub-genre. There’s a few undersold emotions in a couple of the performances and a lot of the secondary characters are conveniently placed in situations they wouldn’t be in unless the film required it. There’s some dumb decision-making and things happen that don’t always add up. The film is an ambitious one but there’s only so much you can do when you simply don’t have the time or funds required to do so. Had the focus of the story shifted to the father daughter connection I may have been able to distract myself from looking further at the somewhat inept digital effects. That being said, Sun put every dollar he had on the screen to get Boar made, and the end product is his best yet and a hell of a lot of fun at that. If you love your creature features please support this homegrown film because it’s a tough gig when you’re going it alone. Boar will available on Foxtel and other streaming services by the end of the month. Check out the official trailer below!

My rating for “Boar” is 6.5/10