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 accommodate. You can contact me at adam.weber@bigpond.com /path/to/nanospell/getstarted.html

La Chambre Noire (Review) Death is coming for her…

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LA CHAMBRE NOIRE

 

THE SETUP

Firstly, I’d just like to say thank you to French Writer/Director, Morgane Segaert for sending me an online screener to her debut 17 minute Drama/Fantasy short, “La Chambre Noire”. La Chambre Noire is a period piece set in the early 1900’s, where a young girl named Cassandre (Lisa Segaert) witnesses her mother’s (Julia Leblanc-Lacoste) health slowly declining by virtue of a mysterious illness. As each day passes, Cassandre feels an ever-growing presence in the house and will stop at nothing to protect her mother from what lurks in the shadows. The film also stars Sophie Belvisi, Jean-Francois Freydiere, and Matthieu Lecat.

The basis of Morgane’s screenplay is certainly a relatable one, creating an impression that she may have recently suffered a personal tragedy (unfortunately most of us have at one point or another in our lives). Death makes for a dark subject matter and it’s something that inevitably creeps its way into our thoughts on occasion. In La Chambre Noire, its Cassandre dealing with the very real possibility of losing a parent. The film is well shot by yet another first-timer in Guillaume Ogier. The framing is nice, opting for an abundance of long takes (perhaps a few too many) rather than multiple conventional shot choices. The audio is clear and the subtitles are accurate. In addition, the score contains quite a few long and dramatic violin strokes that cue whenever the entity is nearby. The opening orchestral theme is reminiscent of the works of composer Danny Elfman (Big Fish and Alice In Wonderland) – impressive stuff. Both the costume and set designs look completely authentic and each of the performances is serviceable. There are some early signs that Marie (Lacoste) isn’t feeling quite like herself. It seems as if she just has low blood pressure or something, that is until a creature (Lecat) who somewhat resembles “The Crooked Man” begins to appear right before Cassandre’s eyes, growing closer in proximity to her mother with every passing day. The imagery represents an idea of death and is creatively conceived with impressive makeup effects for the creature.

I think La Chambre Noire is a little too long for what it is. I suppose it’s depicting the final stages of a life, but considering that notion itself is a rather depressing one, ten minutes probably would have sufficed. There are two scenes that could’ve been cut and the film wouldn’t have lost any impact. One sees Marie and Cassandre waltzing together, and the other is a simple tea party with friends, neither of which accomplish all that much. The first sets the scene somewhat so that’s the little more relevant of the two I guess. I found it a little odd that Cassandre was so frightened at the site of the creature by the bedside (despite it obviously not being the first time she’s seen it), but in subsequent scenes, she doesn’t seem phased by it at all. One might argue that maybe she’s gradually resigned to the fact that her mother may not live much longer, I don’t know. It just seemed out of character for her.

La Chambre Noire is quite an effective debut short from a young French filmmaker in Segaert. The camera work is quite good, the sound is sharp, and the score is atmospheric. The performances are all solid and the material is relevant, albeit depressing in nature. A couple of the scenes didn’t necessarily add a lot to the narrative and only served to drag out its runtime. Young Cassandre’s reactions to the creature aren’t always consistent with her character either. All in all, though, this one is well worth checking out and I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds for Morgane.

My rating for “La Chambre Noire” is 7/10

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Post Mortem Mary (Review) It’s your job to make them look alive…

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POST MORTEM MARY

 

THE SETUP

Firstly, I’d just like to say thank you to Writer/Director, Joshua Long for allowing me access to an online screener of his 9-minute Horror/Drama short “Post Mortem Mary”. Young Mary (played by Stella Charrington), and her mother Edith (Melanie Zanetti) run an autopsy photography business in 1840’s Australia. The pair visits a small farmhouse, and while her mother consoles a grieving Alice (Kathryn Marquet), a nervous Mary is tasked with making the recently deceased daughter look alive, but things aren’t quite as simple as they appear to be. The film also stars David Breen and Edie Vann.

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Post Mortem Mary serves as the fifth short film from Queensland based filmmaker Joshua Long. He’s clearly found a sweet spot in the horror genre, add to that the period piece setting and dramatic undertones here and you’ve got a rather impressive film. DP, Ben Nott (Daybreakers and Predestination) oozes class with his elegant framing and gorgeous cinematography, simultaneously driving the films high production value. There’s a lot of simple but effective shot choices and the color grading suits the look of the era perfectly. The audio track is mixed cleanly and Mary Duong’s foley work is crisp too. The inexperience of composer Jesse Thomas isn’t a factor in Post Mortem Mary. The score builds around droning motifs and woodwind instrument work, reminiscent of the music in Robert Eggers “The Witch”, it’s in keeping with the content on display. All of the acting is of a high standard and Marquet’s emotional outpourings are among the films high points. A special mention goes out to the wardrobe and makeup designs for their respective efforts.

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Like me, some may find the basis of Long’s short a little odd. I don’t even know if this sort of thing was a legitimate business back in the day and I have to admit that I questioned the worth of the process. People didn’t have a lot back in those days and given the emotional and monetary roll versus whatever upside it may have had, it begs the question why? Because it just seemed like an additionally upsetting procedure on top of what the family had already experienced. My only real issue was that I found the ending to be rather predictable.

Post Mortem Mary is a damn fine homegrown short film from 2017, made by a fast developing Aussie filmmaker. Nott’s delivers stunning photography, the sound design builds methodically, and the score is quite a memorable one. Makeup and set design are noteworthy and each of the performances is fine. Despite a somewhat predictable ending and an unconventional subject matter, the story still remains intriguing. I’m looking forward to seeing what Long does in 2019. You can check out the teaser trailer below!

My rating for “Post Mortem Mary” is 8.5/10

Chateau Sauvignon: Terroir (Review) It’s a family balance…

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CHATEAU SAUVIGNON: TERROIR

 

THE SETUP

Firstly, I’d just like to say thank you Writer/Director, David Maire for allowing me access to an online screener of his 13-minute Horror/Thriller short “Chateau Sauvignon”. The film is a coming of age story for Nicolas (played by Michael Lorz), the adolescent son in a struggling viticulture family. Torn between the demands of his father (Sean Weil) and helping an ill mother (Pooya Mohseni), Nicolas sees an opportunity to please both parties in two very different ways when a devoted mother and her disinterested son arrive at the vineyard. The film also stars Anthony Del Negro and Nancy Nagrant.

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Maire’s intent for Chateau Sauvignon is clear from the outset, and it’s to disturb. The film opens with some rather unsettling establishing shots of decaying matter, and transitions into a few nice close-ups and a handful of shots that emphasize the quality of the set design (or location if it wasn’t a conventional set). The audio track is nicely mixed and Robert Eletto (who scored The Hobbyist) approaches this with a less is more approach and it pays dividends. The performances are all solid and it was great to see Pooya (who worked on Terrifier) make an appearance in a couple of scenes. Anthony Pepe and his effects team did a commendable job of the makeup, applying a dark and tired look to Lorz’s Nicolas. The film has a couple of violent sequences and they showcase a healthy dose of pracitcal blood and gore too.

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I didn’t enjoy all of DP, Oliver Anderson’s camera work. The film is guilty of some unstable handheld moments toward the beginning, as well as a sizeable chunk of dizzying movement during the final vineyard scene (seen in the image above). It was seemingly unnecessary to convey it that way because the victim couldn’t go anywhere, as is revealed in the shot that immediately follows where we see Patrick (the father) just standing there. Some of Anderson’s framing lacks assurance and the choice to use one obligatory 80’s zoom (you know the shot I’m talking about) seemed completely out of context. I noticed one continuity issue that results in a character making it all the way outside and into a vehicle before the other can really even turn around, it just simply wouldn’t have been possible without him noticing. I can’t say much about the ending without revealing spoilers, but I was left with a couple of questions regarding Eartha (Mohseni) and why the family was doing what they were.

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David was kind enough to reach out to AdamTheMovieGod with what is just his second short film, Chateau Sauvignon. He builds this particular world quite well, doing so through plenty of attention to detail and some evocative color grading. The score is subtle, the performances are engaging, and there are a few genuinely violent moments for genre fans to rejoice in. Some of the framing isn’t as even as it could have been and the disorientating movements in the climax are seemingly pointless. There’s one obvious continuity issue from the cellar to the externals of the property, and most are likely to have questions surrounding the family and their actions. Notwithstanding its shortcomings, Chateau Sauvignon is another enjoyable and professionally made horror short and I look forward to seeing more from Maire and AireBedd Productions. You can check out the teaser trailer below!

My rating for “Chateau Sauvignon” is 7/10

The Hobbyist (Review) Be careful what you wish for…

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THE HOBBYIST

 

THE SETUP

Firstly, I’d just like to say thank you to Producer, David Munz-Maire for sending me an online screener to the 8-minute Crime/Mystery/Thriller short “The Hobbyist”, Written and Directed by George Vatistas. A mystery man (played by Daniel Mitura in his first short film) walks into a vintage chemist late at night, in search of a particular individual (Robert W. Smith) who supposedly possesses an undetectable poison. What starts out as a simple transaction, quickly spirals into chaos as hidden agendas arise.

Maire, a Writer/Producer, and Director (among other things) was kind enough to reach out to AdamTheMovieGod seeking a review for some of the work his production company “Airebedd” has put out in recent years. The Hobbyist serves as Vatistas’s debut short film and it’s an impressive one at that. Cinematographer, Ryan De Franco has built quite a career in short filmmaking and his vast skillset is well and truly on display here. Everything is nicely framed and the shot choices are simple but productive. The audio track is controlled and Robert Eletto’s score is something entirely new. He invokes a sort of magical essence to the sound of keys and adds what sounds like individually plucked notes on a harp. Mitura and Smith’s performances are lively and believable, and the story takes an interesting intriguing direction.

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On the downside, I was a bit disappointed that George conveyed central information disclosed between the pair of men via intentional inaudible dialogue. Some viewers are likely to want to hear the details Sangstrom (Mitura) shares with the chemist. It’s no great mystery though as things start to unfold, but I still think the drama may have hit home a little harder had Vatistas went the other way. It could have even served as a point of exposition for Sangstrom to elaborate on having carried out previously tried means before actually resorting to the toxin. There’s a scene displaying Sangstrom standing around waiting for the shopkeeper, done so through a rather simple time lapse. I think a few more diverse shot choices to further highlight his stress levels during that time would have been of benefit.

The Hobbyist is a stylish little short from 2016 and a wonderful debut film from Vatistas. The script has a hint of the criminally underrated “Five Fingers” about it, and the presentation is even reminiscent of something like “Predestination” (one of my favorite science fiction films). The camera work is slick, the audio is clean, and Eletto’s score is one of the standout features. The performances are both good and the narrative is engaging despite a couple of missed opportunities. I could have gone for some more back and forth discourse between the two characters and the inclusion of a few more frames would’ve helped drive the suspense. All in all, this is a great little film and I urge people to check out the teaser trailer below and keep an eye out for the release, Enjoy!

My rating for “The Hobbyist” is 8/10

Prey (Review) One hell of a first date…

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PREY

 

THE SETUP

Firstly, I’d just like to say thank you to Writer/Director, Bill Whirity for sending me an online screener of his 4-minute Horror/Thriller short “Prey”. Prey opens up at the tail end of a movie date between young adults Ben and Casey (played by Jacob Zachar and Jessica Cook). Whilst walking back to their car they discover they’ve been set upon by a pickup truck and must fight to survive the night. The film also stars Jimmy Sieczka and Monte.

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Whirity’s speedy setup is a simple and relatable one. Those awkward moments on a date where you’re just feeling the other person out, trying to make a good impression. In this case, doing so by discussing the post-game wrap up (so to speak) on the movie they’ve just come out of seeing. Prey is nicely shot by experienced DP, Edd Lukas (The Gallows). Everything is framed quite nicely and the Steadicam approach works well. The audio track is crisp and clear and the music evokes mysterious tones that complement the material. I remember seeing Jacob a few years back in the leading role in “Detention Of The Dead”, a thoroughly enjoyable zombie take on the iconic film “The Breakfast Club”. As for the stunning Jessica Cook, she featured alongside Matt O’Leary in “Stung”, another solid independent horror film. The pair’s chemistry here feels natural and they both deliver good performances.

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I think the combination of some dark color grading and the scarcely lit car park results in a somewhat overly shadowy final image. It came to my attention because of a cut during an ambiguous moment where a character ends up hitting the ground and there doesn’t appear to be any reason for it. They’re standing side on in relation to the vehicle, plus it’s stationary. The whole sequence was a little vague. Unfortunately, Prey’s inevitable twist is a rather predictable one, although that could just be because I’ve grown used to anticipating such things.

Prey is my first venture into the work of Bill Whirity, and it made for a thoroughly entertaining introduction. The camera work is well conceived, the audio is sharp, and the two performances are fun. I would’ve liked to have seen the film lit slightly better, as well as that first flash of action re-cut and edited for continuity sake. Seasoned viewers are likely to see the twist coming, but thankfully it doesn’t take away from the overall enjoyment of this one. Prey feels a bit like a segment out of one of the early V/H/S films and it’s sure to please horror fans. Keep an eye out for this one very soon!

My rating for “Prey” is 8/10

The Sermon (Review) May God have mercy on your soul…

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THE SERMON

 

THE SETUP

Firstly, I’d just like to say thank you to Writer/Director, Dean Puckett for allowing me access to an online screener of his 11 minute Drama/Thriller short, “The Sermon”. The Sermon takes place in the world of a private church community in the isolated English countryside. Ella (played by Molly Casey) is preparing to deal with the fallout of keeping a secret from her father, a tyrannical priest figure (Grant Gillespie) whose preparing for yet another bout of hateful preaching. The film also stars Oliver Monaghan, Denise Stephenson, and Emma White.

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THE GOOD

The first thing that hits you with The Sermon is its interesting aspect ratio of 3:2 – having been shot in 35mm. It’s a method seldom seen in modern filmmaking, even more so with that of films of the independent persuasion. Experienced DP, Ian Forbes is behind the wonderful presentation and high production value of the film. The Sermon opens to some fantastic establishing shots of the vast and beautiful landscape, and often transitions its dramatic cadence via gentle movements and tracking shots. All the framing is superb and the shot choices are smart. The audio track is clear, and Benjamin Hudson’s combination of orchestral musicianship and contemporary suspenseful synth works wonders. Central performances from Casey, Gillespie, and Monaghan (as the religious family) are all extremely professional. The characters are unwavering in their convictions and Dean paints an interesting picture of that fanaticism. The essence of Ella’s secret poses as a metaphor for having a sort of devil inside – playing perfectly to the religious content on display.

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THE BAD

If I’m being nitpicky I’d say that Denise Stephenson might have been a little too old to be cast in the role of Ava. I was expecting someone younger, but that said, her performance is still a solid one. Though I would’ve like to have seen her show some more emotion considering what she endures. Being an atheist, I’m always torn when it comes to how I feel about watching religious films (in one way or another). Blind faith tends to frustrate me and I genuinely felt moments of anger watching parts of The Sermon. I guess that’s Puckett’s point perhaps?

The Sermon was a wonderful surprise and an extremely impressive piece of short filmmaking. The 35mm cinematography is brilliant, the score is befittingly moody, and the performances are all very good. The material unfolds in a unique fashion and audiences should find the climax to be rather rewarding. I think Dean could have had Stephenson (and in turn her character) offer up a little more emotion and the religious subject matter can make for somewhat frustrating viewing depending on your belief system (or lack thereof). It just so happens over the last week I’ve managed to discover some of the best short films of the year and The Sermon is no exception.  Check out the teaser trailer and you can also now watch the film at the link at the bottom!

My rating for “The Sermon” is 8.5/10

Knuckleball (Review) Let’s keep it in the family…

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KNUCKLEBALL

 

THE SETUP

775 Media Corp and Freestyle Digital Media presents “Knuckleball”, the latest Horror/Thriller feature from Co-Writer/Director, Michael Peterson. Knuckleball sees parents Mary and Paul (Kathleen Munroe and Chenier Hundal) offload their 12-year-old son Henry (played by Luca Villacis from Channel Zero) with Mary’s estranged father Jacob (played by Michael Ironside) while they try to reconnect following a death in the family. When Henry awakens to find Jacob’s body stiff and cold, panic sets in and nearby neighbor Dixon (Munro Chambers) sees an opportunity to take advantage of the situation. With a snowstorm fast approaching, Henry must overcome his fears and outsmart the mystery man if he’s to survive the night.

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THE GOOD

Peterson’s a Canadian filmmaker with an extensive background in shorts, having made a dozen or so over the last decade. I’d heard some positive rumblings in the lead up to the release of this wintry home invasion style flick and wanted to see for myself what it was all about. The snow-covered setting usually makes for a great foundation and often leads to some rather picturesque cinematography. In addition, the element of a snowstorm further adds to the severity of the protagonist’s plight (in this case it’s that of young boys). Jon Thomas conveys simple framing and a bunch of nice shot choices early on. The use of a drone also helps to capture some of those widespread aerial shots on display at the beginning of the film. Furthermore, the color grading looks natural and defined. The audio track is nice and clean, and the score slowly builds around low-fi bass that turns to ominous droning synth as the situation begins to escalate. The film’s pacing is reasonable and there’s an eventful family dynamic at play too. I give Mike some credit for at least attempting to ground the story a bit more, even if it doesn’t always feel convincing.

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Peterson reunites both a talented veteran actor in Ironside (Total Recall and The Machinist), with a rising Canadian in Munro Chambers to form two of the three pitchers in Knuckleball (see what I did there). The two previously worked together on the criminally underrated “Turbo Kid” *see review* https://adamthemoviegod.com/turbo-kid-review/ and it’s great to see them back together here, despite the two not sharing many scenes. The performances are all solid- Ironside well and truly suited to playing the hard ass- and presents with an aptly dour front. As for Chambers, he gets to play by his own set of rules a bit more and I enjoyed seeing that. Young Luca turns out to be the surprise packet of Knuckleball, which is surprising because it’s usually a gamble when your lead character is a child. It’s not easy to keep audiences engaged for a full 90 minutes, especially when you’re a relatively inexperienced youth, so kudos to him.  The action elements in the film are adequately carried out, though perhaps without being overly memorable. One is likely to draw comparisons to Chris Columbus’s infamous “Home Alone” and in turn, Kevin McAllister’s manning of the house with traps. There can be no denying that Peterson’s script is much darker though (think something like Bereavement) and there are a few effective sequences that involve violence and blood and gore.

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THE BAD

Displaying Henry’s phone messages and gaming habits via a separate screen image in the frame isn’t a great look. I understand maybe establishing the medieval style game he plays on his phone in the beginning (if for no other reason than to show him being groomed for what comes later), but several more references in that same fashion to both the phone, the game, and a message, just feel stale. Some of the visual foreshadowing at the end of the first act is rather obvious (not sure if that was the intention), and so when Henry makes use of those items you often see it coming. Even though we do get some insight into Dixon’s motives, they don’t really present themselves until the very end of the film and that hinders how much of an effect his character has on the viewer in the lead-up. What we do learn appears to be a little lacking anyway. It’s made known early on that there’s been a sizeable fracture in Mary’s immediate family. A disconnect with her father and some emotional scarring regarding events that took place at the property during her childhood. One may deduce from that, that it might not be the best place for Henry, Right? I would’ve liked to have seen him either take longer to warm to Jacob (given how little they’ve seen of each other over the years), or the characters to have made mention of seeking someone else out for the “babysitting” duties, in turn, eluding to Mary’s father being a last resort. As I said, Luca’s performance is quite a good one, but Henry’s complete poker face and non-existent reaction to one particularly violent action (really the only one) doesn’t really help to sell the believability. In fact, for a lot of the more intense moments, Henry doesn’t appear to be all that worried. A situation arises that involves a drugging. My question is that if said drug is a hallucinogen (which I was led to believe it was given the trippiness that transpired after) why would you aim to use it on that particular character? On the contrary, if it wasn’t that and a sleeping pill of sorts instead, Why time the visual of those altering effects to coincide with the crucial soda pop scene? That part was a little hazy because at that point there’s no prior evidence of Dixon being anything more than just a little odd.

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Knuckleball is a darkly entertaining Horror/Thriller take on something like the aforementioned “Home Alone” or even last years “Better Watch Out” (only far superior to the latter film). The camera work is satisfying, the score is effectively moody, and Peterson tries to bring some family drama to proceedings. I thoroughly enjoyed the return pairing of Ironside and Chambers, and young Luca is a lot better than he has the right to be (at his age and development). Despite some conveniences here and there, things get entertaining as the storm approaches and Henry’s situation worsens. The cat and mouse game is fun and there are a couple of scenes involving some practical blood work. The negatives are mostly personal preference related. I’m not a huge fan of phone content being displayed in the fashion it is here and the foreshadowing is a little too predictable. The reveal of Dixon’s motive is left until late in the piece, Henry fails to react to something pretty shocking, and the drug plot device doesn’t play out all that clearly. In spite of its issues, Knuckleball is 90 minutes of good solid entertainment and I’m looking forward to seeing more films from Peterson and his production company. You can check out the official trailer for Knuckleball below and it’s now available for viewing on VOD (video on demand) and various other streaming platforms.

My rating for “Knuckleball” is 6/10